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General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
Solo Aiding a beginners intro 30-Jan-2007 At 3:24:36 PM muki
This like all the other subjects I have written about is open to constructive additions, please feel free
to add to this if you feel that somthing is missing.

The first step to Solo Aiding is to get familiar with trad gear, and how to place it safely.

The other equipment that is aid only, will be harder to learn/trust and will at times fail if shock loaded.
the equipment I am talking about is rurps,mashies,copper heads,sky hooks,cam hooks,leapers and
other marginal gear, to some extent RP's are in this same category.

But as a beginer in this field I would highly recomend that you progres to these higher levels of Aid
after mastering the basics on solid gear first. ei on A1 routes or as the Auatralian system goes M1,
"A" bieng the American system and standing for Aid, the Australian system uses "M" for mechanical.

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 belayer.
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.

First lets describe the system, and the dangers.
The belayer does not exist, infact you are solo,this is the greatest danger,if you come unstuck
nobodys going to bail you out, remember that and prepare accordingly.
Let others know where you are how long you will be and perhaps have a top rope and helper standing
by the first couple of times out.

The potential for falls (big ones if using the high end, eg rurps, hooks ect) will mean that a helmet is
mandatory, some may argue this, but in my experience the extra gear,eg
etriers,jumars,hamer,pitons,extra cams,extra wires,hooks,screamers,knee pads,water,first aid ect ect,
will make you top heavy ,and more likely to invert in a fall and come in head first.

So the system that I and many others use is a simple one, and will be easily used by anybody who
has trad experience.
The system can be broken up into its parts, belay, gear, anchor,


first you need to modify a gri gri (with time and experience you might be able to find and use a different
devise) the body needs to be held up with a keeper string, find the plastic back of the gri gri and line
up the part that says "made in france" on the main body, drill a small diameter hole through the middle
of the plastic back exactly where the "M" in "made in france" is, no larger than the diameter of the
string you plan to use as the keeper.
Next cut a triangular hole to intersect the hole you have made at 90 degrees, first find the triangular
shape, again in the plastic inside the gri gri, open the sliding cover and look next to the stainless axle
that the cover swings open on, using the triangular shape of the plastic that is next to the steel axle as
a guide, cut a triangular hole that lines up with the hole you made for the keeper string, but at 90
degrees to it.
You should now be able to melt a point in the keeper string, 3mm is fine for the diameter, the string is
NOT a conection more of an alighnment.
Thread the string through the round hole and then out the triangular hole, tie an overhand knot in the
string and cut of the point that helped get the string through,re-melt the string to prevent fraying and
pull the string out the round hole to position the knot inside the gri gri's plastic body, the tighter the
knot the easier this will be to do.
Next allow 100mm of clean string before the loop, say 250mm total, before the knot is tied, I tie the
knot ,then cut it after it is exactly how I want it,and melt the end to prevent fraying.

Next cut the flap of aluminium that is on the swinging cover of the unit, it is quite easy to find as it is
the piece that sticks out 90 degrees to the cover, make sure that you make the finished job as smooth
as possible with a metal file (I make it rounded to protect the rope from abrading against a sharp edge)

The next thing you need to get to complete the unit is a steel D malion, to conect the unit to your
harness at the normal rope tie in points.(never use an ordinary aluminium biner or even a steel
biner,ONLY EVER USE A STEEL "D" MALION.due to its abillity to take the load in all directions
without cross loading, or three way loading.

The keeper string is used to clip to a chest harness to keep the unit upright when bieng used, a regular
snap link will do for this, depending on your level of paranoia, I repeat this is not a conection ,but
merely an orientation keeper for the unit, but the keeper string is also great for keeping the hot devise
from burning you after a long rap or lower, and keeps it from bieng dropped on multi pitch rapels,or
belay change overs.


well now for a brief demo on how it all works, first of all you lead off from the anchor (auto belayed)
the rope is conected to the anchor in an upward pulling situation, the rope travells from the anchor,
through the gear to the unit, the rope should enter the bottom of the unit at the picture of the climber,
and exit the unit at the top, at the picture of the hand, and down to the coiled or flaked pile of rope that
is feeding up to you as you climb higher,the rope that runs down to the anchor is the rope that gets
clipped into the gear, don't clip the wrong rope (that would be bad)
At the point that the rope becomes heavier on the lead side of the rope, as apposed to the flaked side,
the rope has a disturbing habit of sliding through the devise and down to the anchor,due to gravity.
To prevent this and as an extra safety back up some people back tie the rope to prevent the rope
sliding through, in the situation that the devise fails to lock.(this is simply tieing of the rope on the
flaked side of the unit with a couple of meters to play with until you retie a new knot and undo the old
one so the rope can continue to feed through the devise)
I use an alternate method of employing small one way auto blocks, such as tiblocks or ropemen, a
french prusic will do, just before halfway, connect the prusic from underneath the gear and onto the
rope, preventing the rope from sliding down to the anchor, and climb on, this will allow you to climb
above half way, without the rope sliding through due to gravity.

A knot in the end will also be a life saver in the advent of you climbing to the end of the rope and
having it slide all the way through,leaving you on a completely solo adventure.


Now the anchor is also very important, for many not so obvious reasons, firstly if you place some
screamers on the anchor ,then this allows it to be more dynamic in the advent of a fall, if you are
multi-day climbing and have a "pig" (haulbag of supplies) then this can be incorporated into the anchor
as a dynamic load absorber, ie the load comes onto the pig first, then pulls the pig up as far as the
slings will allow, before the anchor comes tight and takes the remainder of the load, especially
important if using higher end gear, as are individual screamers on the thin gear in question.

Now you're at the top of pitch one.

Step one wil be to connect the rope, and make safe, then re-rig the unit for rapell.
Cleaning as you descend, once at the bottom of the route then rig a jumar in conjunction with the unit
for ascending, clean the anchor and attach a haul rope for the pig, or if no pig, then jug the now free
line to the top of pitch one, recoil the ropes and repeat till the top.


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