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Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough!
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Jul 8, 2002, 9:55 PM
Post #1 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 62

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough!
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Dr. Piton, theres never enough room in my pig. No matter how I pack it, I always seem to fill it up way before everything's in. Even on grade V walls, I always have to bring another smaller bag or a backpack for the overflow. Cleaning with a backpack on sucks. Dr. Piton, there has to be a better way to stuff that hog.

[ This Message was edited by: danskiz on 2002-07-08 15:30 ]


Jul 9, 2002, 5:12 AM
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Registered: Feb 18, 2002
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Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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Yeah, go for catch lines before you double up on pigs and hual lines. When the wind kicks up, two bags dangling can quickly wrap around each other.


Jul 9, 2002, 5:48 PM
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Registered: Oct 10, 2001
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Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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It is always gratifying and indeed flattering to Dr. Piton when the New Guy makes his first post ever on the website right here in the Aid Climbing Forum to Ask Dr. Piton. Not only did danskiz come to the right place, but he even "gets it" as evidenced by the phrasing of his question.

And "getting it" is fundamental to your survival on the big wall!

Welcome aboard, mate.

What in the hail is it about pigs?! It doesn't matter how big that sow is, she still never seems to be big enough!

I believe in the Pig Corollary of Murphy's Law: "you always pack to the available space, and the pig is always full."

Fortunately, there is a Better Way to stuff that pig - there is ALWAYS a Better Way.


Whether you're makin' bacon or preparing to climb a big wall (or even makin' bacon on a big wall - which Dr. Piton would never admit to, even for a moment, nor suggest that such a thing could ever have happened to him) you need to prepare your pig.

The first and most important thing you must do is line your sow with a foam pad. Get yourself a blue closed-cell foam pad (not one of those stupid Ridge Rest thingies, you'll be fighting the bumps all week!) and cut it to the correct size to perfectly line your haulbag. This is fundamental to the survival of your pig! Without it, you will wear holes through your pig's hide. This is not Big Wall Prophecy - this is Big Wall Fact. Use lots of duct tape to join the foamy together the right way. You might need to buy more than one foamy which you will need to cut and duct tape to shape.

While you are fighting all your stuff trying to get it out of, and into, your pig, you will poke holes in the foamy liner. Fix them immediately with duct tape to save yourself heartache.

Dr. Piton recommends a few Porcine Product Enhancements, as well.

Cut a circular piece of cardboard, and line the bottom of the pig. You can't use foam or it won't drain so well should it fill with water during a storm. The bottom of the bag is the first part to fail - the cardboard will help it last a bit longer by protecting the bottom from tin cans and the like.

Next, I recommend you construct an internal daisy chain for your pig. You can tie this yourself out of 4mm cord. It dangles from the main Suspension Point Locker and hangs directly into the bag. You can clip stuff onto it while the stuff is still in the bag!

One of the riskiest maneuvers in Championship Pig Wrestling is when you are taking stuff out, or putting stuff back into your pig. There is always the potential to drop stuff - unless - you happen to know the Better Way. [Funny you should ask, eh?] If you have an internal daisy, then you can simply clip in stuff as you lift it into and out of the pig, in such a way as it is never unclipped. This way, it is
much more difficult to drop stuff. It also protects you from losing stuff that you have clipped to the daisy should your pig develop a hole.

Clever, eh? Can't take the credit for that - it's Chongo's idea. And it works, believe me.

Finally, I recommend you permanently attach a haul bag strap load release knot cord to the short strap on your pig. If your pig straps are the same length, then you should shorten it by tying a knot in it. The cord is nothing more than a designated piece of 6mm perlon that you use to tie the bag shut so you don't have to fight clipping a carabiner onto and off of your Suspension Point Carabiner.

Think about it - your pig weighs well over a hundred pounds. How are you going to clip that one strap into the suspension point? You can't lift half that weight! Either it's a major struggle, or more likely that strap will end up not weighted very much at all, meaning your pig will hang off-centre, and be more likely to snag beneath roofs. The haul bag strap load release knot cord ensures a balanced pig, which is easy to open and close. You can cinch it up to equally weight the two straps.


This is worthy of its own Ask Dr. Piton post, if not an entire chapter in a tome.

I'll just touch on a few points. I recommend you read my ULTIMATE BIG WALL CHECKLIST, and see if I might have missed anything.

Make sure everything has a clip-in loop, because

"If it ain't clipped, it's gone." This is Big Wall Fact

"Anything" becomes a "Big Wall Anything" with the addition of a clip-in loop. Example: Big Wall Spoon, Big Wall Wine Bottle, Big Wall Microwave

Big Wall Water Bottles can be made from nothing more than two-litre pop bottles and a short length of 3mm cord. Tie a half-a-double-fisherman's-knot in one end, and cinch it tight around the neck of the water bottle. Put a simple overhand loop in the other end. Leave yourself three or four inches of cord in between. Good enough

Note: Putting duct tape on your water bottles to "reinforce" them, or duct taping a sling around your water bottles, is overkill, and a sure sign that you are a Big Wall Theorist

Get yourself a bunch of bags of all sizes - each bag with its own drawstring and its own clip-in loop. You can buy bags like the ones Fish makes, which I really like, or you can make your own. Look around for old sleeping bag bags or whatever you might have lying around, take them to the shoe repair guy in the mall, and have him sew a clip-in loop on it for you

In my experience, it is impossible to have too many bags!

In the same way as you rack your rack for redundancy, you must also pack your pig for redundancy. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't do like one Big Wall Theorist did and put both his headlamp and his penlight into the same container, which he subsequently lost. If you do not understand the concept of racking for redundancy, then be sure to click the link. Basically, it means to split stuff up so if you happen to drop one bag, you have not lost everything that is vital

The points above describe ways to organicize your pig. You must alvays have a vell-organicized pig.

How to Make a Vell-Organicized Belay and Bivi is the subject of an upcoming Ask Dr. Piton post, when I will share with you Big Wall Tips on How To Minimize Your Clusterf*ckage And Reduce Your Wank Factor


Packing your pig for portage is not what we're talkin' about - that's how you get your sow up to the base. There is, indeed, a Better Way to accomplish this. What we're talkin' about here is how to pack that pig for the wall, and this you do at your liftoff point.

Make sure you're at the proper lift-off point, incidentally! You don't want that pig swingin' through the trees and hanging up on something, like what happened to me when I soloed ZM and lost a half day when I couldn't lift my pig off the ground because it had snagged! I ended up having to rap down four hundred feet to free it. That wasn't what bugged me - what bugged me was the unnecessary four-hundred foot jug the next day, which I could have avoided had my pig been sitting in the proper location when I attempted lift-off!

Since the Pig Corollary says the pig will be overfull, you should already have decided what stuff you can hang outside of the pig on your Catch Lines. A Catch Line is a type of tether that allows you to leave stuff outside of your pig, thus saving precious space inside. As the lads above have mentioned, and if you are not already familiar with the system, please click here to read about how to 'organicize' your Catch Lines.

If you do not already know everything there is to know about Catch Lines, then read no further and click the link above. Otherwise you will be wasting your time. You can't pack your pig til you know what's goin' inside of it! If you properly organicize your Catch Lines, you will create huge volumes of space inside of your pig, within which you can now more easily work.

The first thing you need to do when packing that porker is to suss the backpack straps. The old designs required that they be removed, and normally you would put those in the bottom of the pig where you would not remove them until you reached the summit. The newer designs eliminate much of this clusterf*ckage, however there may still be some items you need to stow first. Along with the backpack straps which I won't need until the summit, I also stash my car keys and wallet.

The next thing you do when packing that porker is to line the bottom with water bottles. Dr. Piton highly recommends the round two-litre kind - they pack much better than the square-ish ones, and more importantly, they comprime much more easily when you are finished. You will actually be creating a layer of water bottles on the bottom of your pig. Typically this could be anywhere from eleven to fourteen bottles, which co-incidentally enough is about the right amount of water for one person for one week on El Cap. Don't lay them on their sides - stand them straight up. Duh. You don't necessarily need clip-in loops on every water bottle - if you tie them as I have described above, you can move the clip-in loops to other bottles once you have emptied the current bottles.

Make very certain that you have fully stuffed that bottom layer, and that the bottom of your pig is fully expanded. This is critical. If the bottom of the pig is not stretched out as wide as it can go, then you are hosing yourself up higher. Look for "stuffable" items that you can ram down in between water bottles. Cylindrical items with smooth corners work best - fuel bottles, giant summer sausages, bivi sacks rolled tightly, and candy food cans.

Note: My Big Wall Wine Bottle would stuff beautifully, but being glass, I usually wrap it in sweaters and keep it nearer the top. I always make a point of enjoying my wine and cheese party when I reach a ledge that is big enough to set up my solar-powered shower.

When it comes to packing, make darn sure you leave out the day's water near the top of the pig. The worst time to pack your pig is not when it's sitting comfortably on the ground - it's the next morning after your first bivi when the bag is hanging in space! Nothing ever seems to fit back inside the same way! You sure don't want to be digging to the bottom of the pig until your second night on the wall. As mtngeo points out, disemboweling your pig is a distasteful experience, to say the least. Keep what you need for the first night and next morning right on top.

Typically, I next organicize my food into several bags. If I am on a "long" solo, then I will have enough food to pack for redundancy. I'll have two dinner bags and I'll have two breakfast bags. In case I drop one, I have not lost everything. But on a shorter voyage, I will have one big supper bag and one big breakfast bag. I'll have a snack bag/lunch bag, too.

How you pack the rest of your stuff is largely a matter of personal preference. The best tip is to keep things compartmentalized in designated stuff sacks, and remember which sack you put which stuff into. It is something of a balancing act as to when to keep stuff together for convenience, and when to separate it for redundancy. For instance, I would never put something as critical as all my light sources into one bag, but for the sake of convenience I do put both of my CD cases in the same bag.

There are four things you must never run out of on the wall: water, food, light, and beer. So shop when you're hungry, fill your bottles when you're thirsty, and bring lots of spare batteries. Bring more than you ever think you will possibly need, and you may actually end up with enough. Never lay your beer cans on their side as you are asking for them to be punctured. Stand them upright, and carefully wrap them in soft stuff like a couple sweaters.

Now, pay attention here!

If you happen to be over-provisioned, never dump out water! NEVER!

Think of how much work it took you to get it this far! Share the wealth, and give it to someone.

If you are on the wall and close to summitting, leave your excess water sitting on a ledge or on top for someone else, or else tie it off to an anchor.

Do not under any circumstance dump it.



"Get it?!"

Even if you should bail from the wall, do not dump it! Return it to the base, and give it to someone.
Presumably, that someone will be myself - I am the Acting El Cap Water Commissioner in Chongo's absence.

By making a donation to the Water Commission, you have the chance to later partake of its services.

Having been a beneficiary of the Water Commission on several occasions, I can tell you that the mere possibility of one day enjoying the Water Commission's benefits, you should be eager and willing to donate your extra water given the opportunity!

The excuse that "you need to keep your water bottles" is the lamest-ass excuse you could offer. There is NO reason to not donate your water. Only a Big Wall Theorist would want to retain his water bottles. Doing so will get you permanently black-listed by the Water Commission, so don't blow it.


These are just a few tips on how to pack that porker. Generally speaking, you should get the biggest sow you can afford, because you will never regret having that extra space.

You should now click here to read the Dr. Piton SIGNATURE POST entitled, Help Dr. Piton - it's eating me alive! Here you will learn further tips on loading your sow, as well as many clever ways to minimize your wank factor, and keep yourself vell-organicized.

I also suggest you read through my ULTIMATE BIG WALL CHECKLIST, and see if there is anything I might have missed, or if there is anything that you would like me to further explain.

This and many more exciting topics will be featured in the upcoming Dr. Piton Series entitled "Championship Pig Wrestling"

I am Dr. Piton,

and I have wrestled many a pig in my day

P.S. Who the hell disabled my pig smilies?! They were really cute, and they don't work any more...

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2002-12-18 21:27 ]


Jul 9, 2002, 8:33 PM
Post #4 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Nov 28, 2001
Posts: 149

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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I would like to add another recommendation to the good doctor's fine advice.

Line your pig with a foam pad as Pete directed. Then get yourself something else to sleep on. That's right, the traditional method( = stupid way) is to wrestle the pig each night to free your lone pad from its walls for sleeping. The only thing worse than this horror is getting that f**king pad back in there the next morning.

I found a Cordura stuffsack that was a good fit (read: not too tight) for my full-length RidgeRest. I had a bomber clip-in strap sewn onto the stuffsack. The strap is 9/16" supertape with each end bartacked to either side of the sack, about 3" down from the opening of the sack. This provides an equalized, centered, bomber clip-in point. The sack rides beneath the pig on a catch line.

Since this pad's stuffsack is A) made of Cordura [not], 2) not in tension from being overstuffed and III) filled with a very light load that is self-padded (duh) it does not suffer from much abrasion. Even on slabs. And remember, don't follow subject-less sentences with sentences that begin with "And".

One more thing: return to Dr. Piton the forum that is rightfully his.


Jul 9, 2002, 8:56 PM
Post #5 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Apr 27, 2002
Posts: 124

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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yeah, return the Dr Piton Forum


Jul 10, 2002, 5:34 AM
Post #6 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Jun 16, 2002
Posts: 127

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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I'm just amazed by how PTPP has so much time to answer almost every question that anyone asks him. I have no job (start in Sept) and a cable modem but still kill all my time at without even posting much. PTPP, on the other hand manages to write 4 page discourses on anything and everything that comes at him...incredible.


Jul 10, 2002, 6:04 AM
Post #7 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 416

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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  Perhaps he's really a machine, and the images we see of him are computer generated so that we accept him as normal.

I wish to retract the use of the word "normal" in this case, and replace it with the words "big wall theorist".


Jul 10, 2002, 8:13 AM
Post #8 of 8 (4039 views)

Registered: Oct 10, 2001
Posts: 2183

Dr. Piton, my pig's not fat enough! [In reply to]
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Spoken deadpan in Arnold Schwarzenegger/Robocop voice:

"Yes, I am a writing machine. Zey modelled Max Headroom off of me. Zey did not like it ven I kept pasting poor Max vith my chisel. Zat is little aid climbing joke. Ha ha."

You will note from my checklist that I bring along a 3/4 length ultralite thermarest.

Only a BWT would wrestle his foamy out of his pig!

Note: Recently in Gripped Magazine, a Canadian publication, my partner from Reticent Wall - Sean Easton - published a few tips about wall climbing.

He actually advocated doing precisely that! Using the liner to sleep on!

I couldn't believe it! Sean is one bitchin' climber, but his suggestion simply could not work. It is impossible to put the liner back in when your pig is crammed with water bottles and the like.


But man, can that boy climb.

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