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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 23
Author
leading confidently on trad

Nayda
1/02/2012
5:36:22 PM
Still on a steep trad learning curve having only put on a harness & shoes some 4-5 years ago, climbing intermittently since & only just started to lead some easy stuff - highest grade lead to date being a 12 (!). Reading some of the posts by the more experienced climbing machines here ticking off more challenging routes ie. 17+, Iím guessing that most of these climbers either never fall, or more likely are confident in their ability to protect falls. Have been learning as much as possible from books like Freedom of the Hills etc, but would be great to hear from some experienced climbers on this. So for your aspiring lead climber, what are the considerations you make before you decide to back off a trad pitch, & what are the keys to confidently scrambling up these more technical & demanding grades without needing to set off a rescue beacon & make page 2 of the local rag? How do you build confidence that your gear will hold a fall, & how do you know when to retire a piece of gear that's taken a fall(s)?


nb. loving the discussions on this site, & more importantly the attitudes of most climbers out there - finding it much more of a positive & supportive crew than the surfing community, which of late has been trending towards the "every man for himself" vibe, at least at my local

Superstu
1/02/2012
6:15:09 PM
You can climb for years on trad and never fall (and some people do), but climbing trad thats hard for you is rewarding. And you can always snap a hold or step on some wet moss on something easy anyway.

Learning to place gear well enough and being able to make a fair call as to its goodness is a skill to learn. You can't learn it from books (but read the books anyway) but nor is it rocket science. Learn from someone else who's been climbing for 20 years, falls regularly, and is still alive. If you don't know anybody in this category, employ one of those bums in Natimuk for a few days. Consider it cheap life insurance. A good guide will explain each piece of protection, how to recognise good and bad placements, and follow you up easy climbs giving you constructive criticism on your placements.

Once you've got your training, you need to do lots of climbing well below your limit, learning to hang around on climbs and spot good gear placements and choose a suitable piece without hesitation. All good for harder leading, but as you're still not testing your gear, you aren't learning what works and what will pip out and send you cratering. For this you need to fall on the gear. There are many approaches; ballsup, top rope leads, aid climbing, or lots of play at the bottom of the crag. From the ground, place something high so you can sling it and jump on it. Try and wiggle stuff free, clip it and flip the rope around to get it to come out. Tug, haul, wrench, throw your weight on it to convince yourself its gonna stick. Then go lead something, then from the top untie and throw the rope down, and get someone else to lead up on your gear and fall on all your pieces in turn.






Superstu
1/02/2012
6:19:45 PM
Oh and place lots of gear, double and triple up, because you can never get it 100% right and redundancy improves the odds.

Sabu
1/02/2012
8:21:37 PM
On 1/02/2012 Nayda wrote:
>So for your aspiring lead climber, what are the considerations
>you make before you decide to back off a trad pitch

Consider this in the reverse. What are the considerations you need to make before jumping ON the route. I look at grade, how committing it is, how confident I feel, height, number of pitches, exposure, rest areas, the moves, what the gear looks like, weather, is there access from the top to retrieve gear etc. Think about all the potential factors not just the grade when deciding whether you want to leave the ground. This process then continues all the way up. A good practice is to constantly weigh up the relative risk you are in for every move and beyond. If i decide to back off its usually because I feel i can't keep going safely (ie high chance of a fall with a bad result).

Remember that trad climbing involves lots of going up and coming down. Go up: sus out gear. Down: rest, grab gear. Up: place gear, check it. Down: rest. Up: fiddle. Down: f--- around trying to decide if its good enough etc. You get the idea! So its not as straight forward and a key skill is to be able to judge whether the remainder of the climb is still within your ability to attempt safely.

>How do you build confidence that your gear will hold a fall, & how do you know
>when to retire a piece of gear that's taken a fall(s)?

I think stu covered this nicely. As for retiring gear, the rule of thumb is if you are uncomfortable with it then stop using it. But the reality is you won't be falling much and a few falls won't damage your gear to the point where it will need to be retired (unless something has gone over a sharp edge or something). You mainly want to keep an eye on slings, quickdraws, ropes, harnesses etc. Anything with webbing or something that can become too frayed and worn down. Hardware like nuts and cams don't really need to be retired unless they look really manky.
citationx
1/02/2012
8:25:36 PM
I have fallen (ie, lobbed off, not just resting or slumping) onto trad gear... 4 times? That's climbing up to 22 on gear.
When I first went to araps I was confident at leading 18 on sport but only jumped on two 16s, all the rest were easier. As next couple of years progressed I pretty much climbed at least 40% of the climbs at each grade between ~7 and 18 at araps (and lots in the blueys). I was onsighting 24s on sport before I had a single go at a 21 on trad (i onsighted that, too).
Basically by the time I came to that point I was more willing to trust my gear, know I could place it quickly and know my body's limits because I'd climbed so much trad at the time. Mental edge also increases the more you do it.
Having positive and enthusiastic (but not necessarily tools that think they know evrything) climbing partners helps. Perhaps partners that encourage you to, but don't abuse when you don't, do things harder.

Zarb
1/02/2012
8:57:06 PM
If you learn to climb in a more static method, and try to make every move reversible, it does a lot for your confidence on trad lead.
If you can move up, and lock off in a comfortable position to skope out the moves and holds, it is much better than making a dynamic move, realising the holds are crap, or finding out its a chossy friable hold.

Just go around and place a shite load of gear. Not even on climbs, just grab the rack and walk around the base of the cliff with someone who knows the inns and outs of gear. Place as much as you can, sling it, and bounce test it. See how the gear moves under weight, etc etc.

shortman
1/02/2012
10:33:56 PM
On 1/02/2012 superstu wrote:
>Then go lead something, then from the top untie and throw the rope down, and get someone else to lead up on your gear and fall on all your pieces in turn.

Gold superstu!

I treat climbing trad like soloing - simultaneously careful and ballsy. I'm not a big fan of allowing too much internal dialogue when I'm leading. Leave the ground committed and stay committed. Sure, back off if you have to, but don't allow fear to dictate. Lots of up and down and resting like the others said. But keep it simple inside yourself. Either climb the thing or don't climb the thing, nothing in between.

And falling on gear will eventually just happen. And it's scary as.

Use lots of it!

shortman
1/02/2012
10:37:32 PM
On 1/02/2012 Nayda wrote:

>& how do you know when to retire a piece of gear that's taken a fall(s)?

When it's bent or deformed or worn through.

Don't buy second hand gear!
mikllaw
2/02/2012
9:15:49 AM
Solo toprope aid, it'll speed up your ability to place good gear, and you get to load it, and you have to get it out.
On an easy lead you waste someones time for an hour and place 20 pieces, and geenrally load none.
solo toprope aid a crack and you'll place 50 pieces.

Placing gear is a matter of percpeption and you can't get it from a book

then worry about security - how easily pieces will flick out, where to add slings. This is largely analytical.

When you lead, have someone experienced critique your gear.

Then get on the occasional very well proetcted route that you know you will fall off.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
2/02/2012
4:31:39 PM
There is good advice in the above responses to the original posters questions.

I find it interesting the number of replies that highlight 'going up and coming down' technique, as this is only something I may do if I am climbing trad at my limit.
More often than not I find that my limit involves making moves that I cannot reverse easily, if at all!
I find it much better to look ahead and suss out rest spots, then climb from my present stance to the next rest spot, ... which coincidentally often provides opportunities to place protection.

On 1/02/2012 Nayda wrote:
>So for your aspiring lead climber, what are the considerations you make before you decide to back off a trad pitch,

Giving something a go is one thing, but sussing out retreat options is a skill worth practising before commiting to moves on a climb. If you sandbag yourself and get caught out then something that makes life easier when cul-de-sacked, is to at least have appropriate (sacrificial) gear to leave behind when you abseil off!


>& what are the keys to confidently scrambling up these more technical & demanding grades without needing to set off a rescue beacon & make page 2 of the local rag?

Practise. Nothing beats mileage on rock.

>How do you build confidence that your gear will hold a fall, & how do you know when to retire a piece of gear that's taken a fall(s)?

One can also gain confidence in gear by watching others take falls on gear!
allnewmaterial
2/02/2012
6:51:48 PM
If in fear, put in gear.

I'm only trad leading in the teens. But if I'm feeling scared I might down-climb back to a rest stance. Where I can chill out for a bit, and faff around with more pro.

Some other stuff that has helped me.
- Practice by setting bomber top rope / top belay anchors (the standard 16 point cam nest).
- The occasional mixed route (or taking trad gear up a bolted route that you know you've got dialed)
- Lots and lots of easy stuff, well below your limit.
- Lots and lots of seconding, seeing what trickery others get up to by way of pro
- And read the guidebook, if it says the protection is dicey then perhaps give that route a miss until you are more confident.

Olbert
2/02/2012
7:02:47 PM
On 2/02/2012 allnewmaterial wrote:
>marginally new stuff
You passed this time but just know that I'll be watching and waiting for you to post repetitions of what others wrote. Be warned!

Heh heh heh
mikllaw
2/02/2012
7:12:51 PM
passive pro
it won't try and kill you as often as cams
allnewmaterial
2/02/2012
7:17:31 PM
just assume that I'm being ironic

Nayda
3/02/2012
10:24:15 AM
very much appreciated chaps & chapettes, some great advice that with a little luck might just keep me off the deck & out of the paper. may the gods of karma indulge u all!
rolsen1
3/02/2012
1:53:00 PM
If you have a partner that climbs at the same level of you, then taking turns on climbs a bit too hard for you both can be worthwhile. You get the mental break between shots while the other one has a turn and you get plenty of chances to fall/rest on the gear. Yes it is a danger that resting on gear becomes a habit. Knowing you will fall makes you focus more on the placements and knowing your partner will be examining/testing. Plus you get great satisfaction from each new high point. Make sure you pull the rope between turns.
citationx
3/02/2012
2:31:31 PM
On 2/02/2012 allnewmaterial wrote:
>If in fear, put in gear.

Pfft. Horrible advice. Remember, the faster you climb, the less pumped you'll be.

"When in doubt, run it out!" Less time faffing with gear. You'll be fresher by the time you get to the anchors.
....

evanbb
3/02/2012
2:42:50 PM
The premise of this thread seems to suggest some people aren't constantly shitting themselves leading trad?

Interesting idea.
Olbert
3/02/2012
3:52:14 PM
On 3/02/2012 evanbb wrote:
>The premise of this thread seems to suggest some people aren't constantly
>shitting themselves leading trad?
>
>Interesting idea.

I think the premise is that some people are not constantly shitting themselves whilst leading trad and they dont do harder routes because they fear they will be constantly shitting themselves.

The general gist of this thread is that you will be constantly shitting yourself whilst learning to push yourself on trad - I sure was - but that confidence can be gained over time - I did.

Now I only shit myself some of the time whilst leading trad at, or near, or sometimes above(!) my limit.

ado_m
3/02/2012
4:07:37 PM
1. retiring gear? if it's clearly absolutely f*cked ie the lobes of the cam have been sheered off, then think about throwing it away. otherwise, you're bad placements are more likely to kill you than gear failing i bet

2. confidence in gear? know how good the rock quality is, try placing gear on the ground and then trying to pull it out at different angles with simulated rope falls/pulls. practice practice practice. do an aiding weekend with the VCCC, that should get you thinking about how good your gear is.

Falls on anything which isn't vertical or overhanging is in my mind a pretty scary prospect, and I'd want at least two bomber pieces between me and anything I'm likely to hit if there is any real chance of slipping or falling.

Sugges you climb well below your limits - at least until you're really sure and confident of what you're doing, and can accurately assess the risks of what you are doing. I suggest you tick off at least 20 routes at a particular grade before progressing to the next grade....(I made the mistake of jumping grades too quickly and that contributed to a trip to hospital...)

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There are 23 messages in this topic.

 

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