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General Climbing Discussion

 Page 2 of 6. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 100 | 101 to 113
Solo Aiding a beginners intro

1:03:21 PM
You are correct, but most of your body has pretty much the same air resistance (unless you have webbed feet) so this doesn't explain it.

My point was that because air resistance only determines a force applied per unit of surface area, and the actual effect (deceleration) is proportional to mass also.

So, if you have a 1kg block of parmesan and a 2kg block of mozzarella, both of which are the exact same shape (only possible if mozzarella has twice the density of parmesan, but bear with me)... both will experience the same upward force due to air resistance, but the equation F=ma says that the mozzarella will only be decelerated at half the rate, and hence will hit the ground first.

With a shuttlec*ck, the fins are very light with a lot of surface area and the nose is heavy with a small surface area, so the deceleration on the fins is much greater and the shuttlec*ck always lands nose first.

This effect doesn't really apply to climbers except in super-big falls where you get a LOT of air resistance due to your speed.

Sorry bomber for hijacking the topic. Maybe we should have a "Physics" forum?

2:14:12 PM
Hmm, more to this air resistance thing than I thought - so much for me trying to be smart :-)
Here endeth the thread hijack (from me at least)

3:04:13 PM
All this talk about toppings is making me hungry!!! All I need now is some hot salami and i'll have a large supreme......

3:19:45 PM
M=UMC ?,or is that A / CIA + p{aci} - O(rca)+Ascf+Tcia = a piece of cordolette, I was never any good at

Phil Box
3:54:13 PM
Think about what happens in an aid climbing fall. You are usually hanging from a hook to your pro with your feet against the wall. If the pro lets go your feet will propell you out in a gracefull yet noisy swan dive which will pitch you head first down the wall. You don't generally get any warning like you do on a sport climb where you can spring off the wall like a cat.

Thus the need to protect oneself from those nasty head first dives in an aid fall. Wear your helmet.

Online Now
5:41:20 PM
Very true Phil.

... And no-one has yet mentioned inversion due to rope (or ettrier) getting caught behind your leg.
... Or because you have taken a wandery line (as per PB post), or indeed a direct line through a roof; ... you are then looking at a possible pendulum into the wall ... so the air time need not be big to get the same bang for your nut(#).
Wearing a helmet should be mandatory, but like common sense it isn't !

Thanks for starting the thread Bomb.
I will post a longer addition to it when I have time.
... Not too sure about your definition of M grades, particularly M9 (witness Copperhead Road at Buffalo), but I understand your intent.

(# see this link below; ... and this was while wearing a helmet; ... imagine the result without one.)

7:24:10 PM
On 30/01/2007 bomber pro wrote:
>M1 solid gear/new bolts, M2 solid gear, but with the occasional dodgy
>piece, or run out good gear, M3
>mostly dodgy gear with the occasional good piece, M4 dodgy gear could
>rip out,solid belays, M5
>dodgy gear and occasional hooks, solid belay, M6 mostly hooks with occasional
>dodgy gear, solid
>belays, M7 mostly hooks, solid belay, M8 all hooks off a ledge,or deck
>out potential, M9 all hooks
>including the belay, in the case of a fall certain death, for leader and
>This is of course open to enterpretation. feel free to list your own ladder
>of M grades to give others a
>chance to get the general idea.

This seems wildly out to me!

M4 = Ozymandias = Mostly bomber gear with occasional sections of less than 5m on body weight
only gear. Any hoks at this grade will be BOMBER.

M5 = Ozy Direct =Bomber gear - some of it might be a bit fiddly to place and you might need to run a
few marginal bits together for a few metres. Still nice and safe.

M6 = Lord Gumtree = Again lots of bomber gear on the pitch but some sections will involve 4 to 5 bits
of marginal gear (that is still pretty easy to place). You might need to do two or so hooks moves in a
row. A fall might be a little nasty - but no too bad. Up to 10m or so.

M8 = Clouded Queen = A4ish = Quite long way between good bits of gear (up to about 20m). Fiddly to
place some bits and falls can be nasty (onto ledges, corners etc). Lots of specialized gear usually
required. Linking lots of hooks in a row could be possible. Still certainly not death.

M9 = Copperhead Row = A4+ = not suicidal, belay is good and you might get a handful of solid bits in
40m. Expect up to 40m falls if you really botch things up!

8:07:30 PM
Yeah ,I just wrote down a bunch of stuff so others could get adament about what was actualy going on,
and give people a good idea of what was what.
Grades are so dependant on interpretation, so I'm glad that you put in this comment neil.
Everyone who does this activity should have a go at describing their interpretation of the grading system
for others to look at.

Online Now
12:36:28 PM
On 11/01/2007 bomber pro wrote:
>>On 11/01/2007 M9iswhereitsat wrote:
>>Yes, the initiative in kicking off these threads has been excellent.
>Great, my next one might be about solo aiding trickery, feel free to add
>to that so the diminishing demograph may once again flourish.
>It's routes are maybe the deepest in our climbing history....the bomb

You are right.
In the early days the intent was to ‘get there’ and any tactic was permissible, due ethical considerations within climbing not having even been thought of then!

Interesting that this thread ‘jumps in at the deep end’ of solo aid as a beginner topic! & I also consider modifying gri gris as being far from beginner practise …

You have started a thread that is close to my passion and I will probably post a number of lengthy replies dealing with issues as I pick them up, so consider this to be the first of them ...
Bomber Pro wrote;
> First lets describe the system,
>Everyone who does this activity should have a go at describing their interpretation of the grading system for others to look at.

Below is a Chockstone link to the HISTORICAL explanation of USA aid grades and how they relate to the Australian M system.

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& further ...
18 February 2005, M9 wrote (now revised after Copperhead Road was put up);

>I have been giving the Aid Grade conversions some thought and have come up with the following if anyone is interested.

Australian USA
M1 = A0
M1 = A1
M2 = A2
M3 = A2+
M4 = A3
M5 = A3+
M6 = A4
M7 = A4+
M8 = A5
M9 = A5+
M10 Yet to be established in Australia.
M11 ~ and ongoing due to being an ‘open-ended’ system …

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Online Now
12:37:31 PM
IMO The default definitive guide to Australian M grades is the current 5th edition 2006 Mt Buffalo Guide by Kevin Lindorff and Simon Murray, published by Victorian Climbing Club.
It describes them as follows;

Ranges from ‘resting’ on gear to making progress for short distances on solid straightforward placements.

Easy aid on good gear, perhaps a little longer or steeper than M1

Some thought required with the placements, most of which are pretty good.

Usually more sustained undertakings than M3. Solid placements interspersed with more fiddley and/or tenuous placements inducing a little more anxiety.

Includes a few dubious pieces of gear in sequence, perhaps awkward and/or strenuous to place. Some 5m – 8m clean air-time potential.

Good gear is significantly more spaced. Longer series of suspect placements are guaranteed. 15m clean fall potential – long enough to induce bowel or bladder evacuation but not generally life-threatening.

Scary extended leads requiring astute gear placement and testing as well as finesse in easing carefully onto tenuous gear in order to avoid long falls.

Scary and uncertain undertakings. Requiring clever and careful gear placements to ensure that a tenuous placement doesn’t pull and cause a fall that unzips up to 10 consecutive aids. Such falls are risky affairs – happy endings not guaranteed.

Trouser-fillers! As for M8 but more “fall-off-able” i.e. not just having the potential for long falls with potentially dangerous landings, but greater likelihood of having such falls because gear is more difficult to place and/or the placements available are more marginal/tenuous.

Yet to be established in Australia.

As a side note …
There is also a casual grading clarification that goes along with the above …

M1-M3; Bring your Granny and have a party. Well trafficked trade routes, piece of cake.
M4; No big deal (a bit harder).
M5 / M6; Demanding some respect. A bit tricky, providing a good mental and physical workout.
M6 / M7; What was I thinking?! Seemed like a good idea in the pub but a different proposition face to face. Pretty damn hard and scary.
M8 – M9; Say your prayers. Thin, scary, facing long falls, possibly over sharp objects and ledges. You will know you’re alive – you just won’t be sure for how long!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just because a climb has a modest aid grade does not mean that your safety is assured. Human error can lead to injury or death on even the easiest of pitches.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Having said that, I strongly admonish readers of this thread to adopt CLEAN AID practices wherever possible.
This basically means hammerless aid.

It will generally add a grade or two to your climb*, but will also add an incalculable amount of good for the environment and prestige/joy in your ascent-achievement.
(* eg M4 or M5 with a hammer, will become M6 if done without a hammer etc).

To quote Steve Grossman
>”Clean aid climbing requires diligence and practice, but there is a payoff: the deep reward of having taken nothing away from a route but the grin on your face.”

Sidenote: nm’s post higher in this thread referring to Buffalo Aid Climb grades, are for CLEAN AID grades!
As a generalisation it can be assumed that whenever an aid grade is stated in a guidebook that it refers to Clean Aid unless otherwise specified, ~ or indirectly specified by reference to use of equipment such as pitons, mashies etc., that require the use of a hammer.

Online Now
3:23:42 PM
>modifying a gri gri.

I don’t have a gri gri and have never laid eyes on a modified one so can’t add much to that topic other than to point out that many hard solo aid climbs have been done by people using them.
Here in Australia Malcolm Matheson used one to do both Ozymandias Direct and also Lord Gumtree both solo and in a single day!
I think he also used it when he put up Copperhead Road.

My humble roped solos (spanning many years now), have involved the Clove Hitch system; the Backup Loops system; the Barnett system (as described in Advanced Rockcraft by Royal Robbins 1973); and later, after I decided I wanted to do a lot more of it, a Silent Partner.
I have also experimented with variations on the general themes by incorporating Gibbs Ascender, prussiks, etc. from time to time.
As Phil Box says on P1 of this thread in reference to different devices
>They both (all*) have their advantages.
(*and can also refer to differing systems).

Personally I reckon the Silent Partner is the Rolls Royce of ways to go, though there is nothing wrong with the other systems that patience and a propensity to not panic during clusterjambs can’t cope with! Kind of like in free-climbing, when on double ropes as compared to singles. They both work but to greater or lesser extents depending on circumstances.
The biggest problem on less than vertical ground with a SP is the rope loops snagging features on the climb. I find a ropebag on a short tether to my harness helpful (though can still be a pain), in this situation.
Backup clipping to the rope or at least tying-in to the end of it (and/or end knots), is mandatory imo. It would be more problematic indeed if one ‘lost’ their rope on lead than dealing with snagged loops!

gsharrock’s Munter hitch-Sticht Plate system is a good contribution to this thread.
I imagine that the Munter hitch-Sticht Plate system is adaptable to many modern belay devices also.
It should be noted that many of these systems make excellent ‘self-rescue’ techniques in the event of mishap with a partner while on adventure climbs …
The techniques are worth learning even if you hope never to have to use them in earnest!

Regarding chest harnesses.
Most of my solos have used one in some form or another and I like them. I can vouch from experience that they will not necessarily keep you from falling in a head down orientation!
One thing to be aware of if using a chest harness (improvised or otherwise), is the possibility of gear connected to it in front of your chest (even if also attached to your sit-harness), catching you under the chin in the event of a fall. This applies to the rope passing through same as well!

Like Phil, I prefer fat furry ropes for this aspect of climbing, though I did (after much cogitation) purchase a 10.5 mm lead rope (skinny!!) to use with my Silent Partner for greater efficiency when using the SP.

Regarding re-belaying during a pitch.
I prefer to use cotton shoe laces as intermediate prussik attachments. They are plenty strong enough to take the weight of the rope (preventing backflow through the device), and in the event of a fall will likely break rather than try to weld themselves to the leadrope when stretching due sheath-glaze friction one against the other.
NOTE also that any use of this form of re-belay (regardless of material or diameter), needs to be attached such that it does not grip the rope at such a length as to cause the protection piece to which it is attached to lift out upwards during a fall; especially if this piece is the only substantial piece between you and a nasty fall (zippering gear etc). The best way to do this is to also clip it to a piece suitable for an upward load, which can be achieved by backing up with more pro if necessary.

Unless setting up to avoid sharp edges I prefer not to rig substantial (in the full sense of a belay), re-belays during pitches. The whole process (for me at least), is sufficiently time consuming (and gear intensive), that the additional time in ‘short-pitching’ is often counter productive when going solo.

The technique of short-pitching can be very beneficial when leading in blocks with another partner on long climbs however, as by starting out the next pitch solo the team can save real time in this situation.

In case it is not obvious, all belays need to be good for both upward and downward loadings, i.e. multidirectional-bombproof. This is because the loading is upwards on the belay if you fall while leading, but downwards while descending off it to clean the pitch and re-ascend to your high point. Traverses and wandery lines add additional loading components that must be allowed for.
If hauling; belays need to be good for substantial loads, especially if the bag gets stuck. I have bent bolt brackets while Z-hauling heavy loads …

Phil Box wrote;
>Another method for getting the pig up to the belay is to counterweight hoist it (snip) Back this setup up with a quickdraw and step off into glory.

One can also ‘space haul’. This is basically the same thing except that you remain tethered to the top belay with as much or as little slack-rope that you feel comfortable with and jumar your weighted side while the haulbag raises on the other side of the one-way pulley device.

If using the fast method of hauling as Phil suggests ~ then be mindful of your descent rate and clamping action (potential rope damage?) of the one way hauling pulley should the haulbag snag.

As a generalisation be aware that sometimes the best thought out systems can still snarfu.
If your intention is to be efficient with your time, then it only takes one fouled ‘shortcut’ to gobble your efficiency!
Be mindful of the time. Solo aiding is very engrossing and time seems to fly! Trying to decluster a fouled system is 50 times more difficult in the dark!

Online Now
6:16:31 PM
An interesting side excursion link.

6:35:30 PM
ive done a grand total of 4 pitches of solo-aiding so im afraid i cant bring any experience to the table... but in terms of shock absorbers on your anchors- kong? make a little thing (might be intended for via ferrata?) that looks a little like a rigging plate and works by using a normal diameter piece of rope as a lanyard and dragging it through the plate... ive only ever played with one when i was taking pics of Macca doing some HARD solo-aiding on Dog Face recently and thought they might even have a use in rigging rope-jumps. anyone else used these?

Online Now
6:47:18 PM
Phil Box is a fan of these. No doubt he will enlighten you.

I reckon they could be good but I would have reservations about using them 'stand alone' at an anchor due to orientation issues?

As far as attaching one to my harness to 'soften' a catch from a fall, ... I already have enough cluster**** at my harness with the Silent Partner and b/u loops, so even if I had the room, I would still be inclined to incorporate screamers judiciously along the way and let the rope do its thing; ... after all, that is what the dynamic component of a rope is for!

However for Via Ferrata or high access industrial work, I reckon I would go with the item you are talking about .

>taking pics of Macca doing some HARD solo-aiding on Dog Face recently
So are we going to see these in Crux3 soon?

Online Now
1:38:52 AM
On 1/02/2007 andesite wrote:
>Anyone have any opinion on using the Trango cinch for solo aid? I don't
>have a gri-gri, am thinking of getting into solo aid, but wander if the
>Cinch is an alternative worth looking at - my net research seems to indicate
>it would work ok without any mods but would be good to hear from someone
>who has fiddled with the Cinch, either using for solo aid, or using for
>standard stuff. Don't like the idea of spending heaps on a gri-gri, and
>then taking power tools to it :o)
I have nil experience with the Trango Cinch but would think that the orientation issue requiring the modification to a gri gri would also be applicable to the Cinch.
Similar in the way that the Soloist belay device is not recommended for catching upside down falls as compared to a Silent Partner.

Here is a link to the Trango Cinch thread, but I am pretty sure (without looking) that the use of Cinch for self belay was not discussed.

1:56:41 AM
High All,
Just a couple of quick points and comments -
It's all A1 (Until you fall . .) Then you really find out. Grading is very subjective and so far no one has
mentioned NewWave vs OldWave grades. Or the 'Casual Rating Aid Phrase' System (see note)

Most of the aid climbs I've been on still have the original grades. Gigantor is still listed as M5 - from
when Ewbank led it on a 100m rope with 90+ pitons and roughly the same number of biners and hero
loops, now it is a trade route with bomber gear (dubious rock in spots). Cleaning and modern gear
makes it pretty easy - only NTB. we even managed to free it at roughly 26R-28
Collossus's 10m clayband piton traverse gets M6 - with only 1 or 2 pieces that seemed ok - plenty of
zip potential (and a bad LZ as well but I don't think that should enter into the grade debate) danger
doesn't really make it harder - just scarier. It probably rates a PDH.
Didn't leave much scope for my new routes, thin nailing up a seam in poor rock to hooks and beaks
made me think M7R as it is more difficult than Collossus with good fall potential. RHU
So what about the Pecker Route - 20m of mostly beaks tapped in next to bolts that got chopped
about 40 odd years ago in poor rock straight off the deck - best pro on route was a 10mm dyna in a
old 1/2inch hole at half-way that hand-cleaned M8X ?? RHU/WTF. next pitch is pretty blank though.

Anyway what's in a grade, a route by any other grade can still get you freaked. But please, aid grades
are not open-ended. The hard stuff gets easier and the harder stuff just gets harder. And it never
seems as bad after you have done it. Ozy was A1 compared to Doggy - NBD/NTB

Note: - Casual Ratings are - NBD - No Big Deal, NTB - Not Too Bad, PDH - Pretty Darn Hard, RHU -
Real Heads Up, WTF - What the F . . .! Add an 'Engagement' factor for the danger/mental stuff.

So anyway where does all this leave us regarding grades? Well my mate Julian was in the Valley last
year and the gist he got over their seemed pretty lame - can't remember details but they would have
graded our 'Not as Thick as Some' A4/A4+(M8) - We called it M6 -(A3/+). I think we need to regrade
most of the stuff over here to reflect modern gear and attitudes. And keep the M system - or better yet
adopt the CRAP system - it is a lot more fun discussing climbs using it.

Anyway thats enough from me right now , have fun.

2:19:02 AM
Ooops Forgot to meantion a few things.

Any one using a grigri for self belay when free climbing should be aware of the danger of the rope
catching on the handle side of the device - it could really damage your rope - not as much of an issue
when aiding but it can still do damage - believe me.

The load limiters referred to earlier are the Kong KISA - awesome at the belay end of things - check it
out in a catalogue. They also make a small plate that you thread with a bit of rope for a reset-able
load-limiting runner - excellent for poor placements and reuseable. Don't leave ground without them.

As for the Cinch - I just got one of the guys at the Climbing Centre, came home to do a net search and
ended up here - spooky. It looks awesome and should work far better than a grigri without any
modification need either. Should be great for rope soloing - can pull rope easily for those hard clips and
no worries about possible rope damage - be able to push a few more grades with this baby. I will be
trying it out real soon and will post a report.

PS AID CLIMBING COMPETITION? Any one interested in have a new route aid route comp round the
time of the Festival? Just a thought at the moment, get back to me if you are interested. Or maybe
you are keen to check out some projects on Doggie?

10:11:58 AM
On 3/02/2007 M9iswhereitsat wrote:
>So are we going to see these in Crux3 soon?

shhh, its a surprise! :)

11:24:41 AM
A little to add to the solo (I have no friends this weekend) climbing. Don't know if someones already mentioned this (cause I'm too lazy to read the whole thread) but you can use a reverso (or black diamond ATC guide) without modification. Of course if you enjoy taking to your grigri with power tools just ignore.

It should be noted by the authors that making a primary anchor to a small potted plant is not advisable.

11:53:56 AM
On 13/02/2007 dougal wrote:
> Of course if you enjoy taking to your grigri with
>power tools just ignore.

This is the second time someone has mentioned power tools and gri gri modification.
It probably sounds good "dramatic", but the reality is that it takes 10/15 minutes with a pocket knife
(swiss) with a file attachment, I did one for a friend on tonsai beach in less time than it took for him to run
a single lap on "germans in tights" a short (10m) sport route.
At the end of the day it functions just the same or better than an un modified gri gri, and has a keeper
string to prevent dropping when hot or changing ropes on multi pitch routes.

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