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Continuous Loop Aid solo
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Partner soberpete


Jun 15, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Continuous Loop Aid solo
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Howdy,

Can someone explain the continuous loop technique? Is it basically leaving the lead line stacked in a rope bag at the belay versus carrying the rope with you? Any info would be helpful.
Thanks,

Pete


moof


Jun 18, 2007, 10:43 AM
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Re: [soberpete] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Look up passthepitonpete (aka the Canadian Assassin). He has a pic/cartoon in his gallery of his continuous loop rig. His cartoon has additional excess complexity about his double tagging rig. I've never used it, I'd recommend you not either. My understanding is:

1. Lead line goes from the anchor to you (normal).

2. Slack end goes back to the anchor where it is stacked in a rope bag.

3. The end of the slack end is tied to the beginning of the haul line, which is also stacked either in the bottom of the same rope bag, or in another rope bag next door. It must be stacked so as to all feed out nicely as you climb.

The advantages are:
1. No 50' loops of rope dangling off you as per the usual backed up style of self belay.

2. At the beginning ofthe pitch you have the absolute least amount of weight hanging off of you.

3. Unlike just dangling the slack end of the lead line this system doesn't have loose ends flailing around looking for a chance to snag.

4. There is always equal weight on either side of your belay system, so self feeding is less likely to creat gobs of slack in the system without you knowing.

Bad things:
1. Any snags in feeding are always at the anchor. Bugger it up and you'll have to figure out how to rap back to clear things up. Backup loops will also snag, but you have a better chance to see it coming and do something about them if it happens.

2. No backup knots, so you have 100% reliance of your self belay system. No if's, and's, or but's. You can't even hope that the haul line will only factor 2 you if your device fails, as your ONLY attachement your belay device to the loop.

3. You cannot clip the rope through a draw or such to help prevent slack from spilling out on a traversing pitch, as there is a knot joining the two ropes.


yetanotherdave


Jun 18, 2007, 12:41 PM
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Re: [moof] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Moof, are you recommending against the CL system or double-tagging? Even PTPP says double-tagging is overly complicated, so it _must_ be pretty complex. I've never bothered with a solo-tagging setup, since most of my solo aid climbs have been on routes I can (barely) do in a day, so I don't spend the time tagging takes. If I was already hauling I'd probably add a simple tagging system in to save energy.

on the 'bad things' listed above:

1) True, but in my experience a decent stacking job in a decent rope bag (I use the Fish double) pretty much negates this. Still have more issues with my backup loop snagging, even when I only have one.

2) You can still use backup knots with the continuous loop. I generally just have one knot, and when I get close to it I'll make a new one 20-30 feet further along the lead rope. PTPP may have left the knots out of his (already really complicated) diagram, but he definitely ties them.

3) True, and this can also be a liability on pitches that only traverse a bit but have features you want to keep the haul line away from. I avoid the CL system on big traverses.


moof


Jun 18, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Re: [yetanotherdave] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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I personally have never used either the double tag, or the continuous loop. I simply wanted to answer the question, while doing my best to make it clear I don't advocate using it. Frankly, no one should advocate soloing, so I was just being nervous about making the distinciton between advocating and sharing information. I probably was being overly cautious.


lambone


Jun 18, 2007, 1:21 PM
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Re: [moof] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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you can and should still use a back-up knot if using the poop method descibed above.

you can't however be tied into the end of the rope, because your haul line is tied into it instead.


stymingersfink


Jun 19, 2007, 12:46 AM
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Re: [lambone] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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lambone wrote:
you can and should still use a back-up knot if using the poop method descibed above.

you can't however be tied into the end of the rope, because your haul line is tied into it instead.
2nd the B/U knot...

2003 ANAM story about the guy who took a 30'er, only to have his grigri biner break, was caught by his B/U knot another 40' past that, for a total of 70'. Far less distance than he would have fallen w/o the b/u knot, fer sure, and probably a softer catch as well.


pmyche


Jun 19, 2007, 8:38 AM
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moof


Jun 19, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Re: [pmyche] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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I've done soloing. I feel it falls into the category of if you are ready to solo, you'll know it. No soloist should need validation from others, and most certainly not the net.


Partner soberpete


Jun 19, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Re: [moof] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Thanks everyone for the good discussion. No need for validation here. Moof, thanks for spelling it out in detail. I always use backups, thanks for the safety concern.

Peace,

Pete (not the canadian assassin variety)


pmyche


Jun 19, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Partner holdplease2


Jul 1, 2007, 8:31 AM
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Re: [pmyche] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Knowing how to solo is an important skill for any climber/aid climber.

When your partner will be jugging your line, and you have no way, other than duct tape, to protect edges (it can happen) you can make them safer by pulling the slack through the system, fixing the rope below the sharpness and again above it, and soloing.

On a recent wall, the rope drag was so bad that my partner made the decision to pull up rope and start soloing rather than further risk a fall due to extreme rope drag.

When there is much work to be done on a wall (for example, having to move all of the pigs across ledges, etc,) there can be benefit to having one partner soloing while the other partner does some other important work, or even hauls/frees pigs from edges or roofs, during leads.

I think every aid climber should be able to solo a pitch or two here and there in good time, just by the nature of the climbing on walls. Much work to do, jugging that happens on lead lines, etc.


As far as rack tagging goes, its not that important for C1/C2 routes, where you only carry a cam rack. You can still move under the weight of the rack, the additional weight is unlikely to initiate a fall, and you can usually always retreat to the belay if you need more gear.

On harder aid with nailing, though, the weight of a full pin rack and a full cam rack along with screamers is a tremendous burden, which could be enough to initiate a fall on weak gear. Additionally, on harder pitches, it can be impossible to build an anchor suitable for reatreat to the belay and jugging. With the need for specialized pieces, you can really get into trouble when soloing hard aid without the ability to get gear...or when trying to climb with enough gear to get you through. This is the home for the tagged solo rack. Best to practice with it on easy ground, though, as it will slow you down and there is plenty that can go wrong. Plenty.

Pete's system works great, if you can figure it out. If its confusing to you to read, then work solo without it until you are so familiar with things that the rack tagging makes sense to you.

If climbing with the continuous loop system, do consider using a steel biner on your grigri (though the grigri loop can still snap) and consider a steel biner for your backup knot.


-Kate.


lambone


Jul 1, 2007, 6:43 PM
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Re: [holdplease2] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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welcome back Kate. Nice scend! hope you had a good time!


Partner holdplease2


Jul 2, 2007, 7:06 AM
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Re: [lambone] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Hi Lambone:

Thank you for the welcome back! We had a great time and are happy to be down and safe. Now its time to kick back for the rest of the summer and wait for cooler weather. :)

-Kate.


dirtbagger


Jul 2, 2007, 7:43 AM
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Re: [holdplease2] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Hi Kate

I second the "great send" comment of lambone! It was great reading the daily updates from Tom on taco. Can't wait for the TR! :-)

regarding your comments above re: PTPP's continues tag loop! I have read as much as possible about his method, and some other people's (MightyHikers et al). I have a tag rack and am practicing with it on easy aid practice pitches, but am still a bit confused. Having a full tag rack "accidentially" fall off the last pro, you hooked it on, still scares the crap out of me! I mean a solid weight, like a full (pin) rack, dropping say 70 foot can create some serious forces!

I would be very interested in hearing your views/methods on solo aiding, with respect to taging the tag rack!

I have a fifi hook on my solo tag rack (as illustrated by PTPP's pic), with a backup rope to a locker! I guess if its really iffy terrain, then "locking" the solo tagrack to a bomber piece of gear, would eliminate the risk of it ripping, but would require going back down to free it (unlock), which defeats the purpose!

Does that make sense? I hope so, otherwise will try to explain better next time

cheers

Dirtbagger


Partner holdplease2


Jul 2, 2007, 8:12 AM
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Re: [dirtbagger] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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Hey Dirtbagger:

Thank you for the congrats.

If you look at Pete's posts, you'll see reference to an overhand slip knot, so that if the wind (or whatever) knocks your fifi off, the knot holds, but if you pull on the other end of the rope, to tag the rack to you, the knot releases.

Another key is to keep your tags short and to control the length of the tag line. I tag every 40 feet or so, and I control the tag line length with an ascender clipped to my harness so that if the rack falls off the piece after, say, 10 feet of climbing, it won't go to the end of the tag line that is with me in the bag.

At the end of the day, both the continuous loop and the tag rack add exponentially to both the complexity and risk of Aid soloing.

I wouldn't recommend messing with either method until you have soloed a few walls the simple, safer way.

For the first few walls:
* Be tied into the end of your lead line. This isn't possible when using the continuous loop.

* Be tied into your haul line and use a dynamic haul line, it can work as backup to your lead line in a worst-case scenario.

* Climb with the gear you'll need on your rack. For a non-nailing route, this isn't a terrible load. If you need more, for any pitch C3/A3 and under you should be able to go back to the station to get it.

The continuous loop system removes two significant backups to your system, that is being connected to two ropes via a knot.

The tag rack adds the following potential risk:

* Falling and having a nasty interaction with the tag rack...like snapping the cord that connects you to it, knocking it free and being hit by it, tangling in its cord on the way down.

* Knocking it off of its fifi and having it shock load onto you

* Getting it stuck and being stranded without the gear you need AND without the haul line that you would use to rap back to free it.

Not to be redundant, but these are complex techniques that add significantly to the danger and complexity of aid soloing, an activity that can be dangerous and complex enough the first few times you try it.


-Kate.

Edited for spelling


(This post was edited by holdplease2 on Jul 2, 2007, 8:28 AM)


dirtbagger


Jul 2, 2007, 1:36 PM
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Re: [holdplease2] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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hi kate what an excellent post! again i can only repeat myself! what an amazing fountain of knowledge you are and the fantastic thing is, you actually answer and explain a lotta complex and difficult procedures which we noobs ask you about! i guess ptpp did the same and also read about it in chongo's book but your explainations make sense to me!
regarding your warnings, they make sense! don,t worry, i won,t be soloing any a2's any time soon! hopefully doing my first el cap route with some awesome mentors, one of whom has soloed reticent wall ! so hopefully will gain a lotta beta

regarding your actual info! yeah totally forgot about ptpp's slip knot above the tag rack! makes perfect sense! which makes my question show for the noob i am :-( can you give me further details about the ascender you mentioned to shorten the slack in the tag haul line? is it attached to your belay loop?

many thanks for your feed backin advanced!
will you by chance in the valley during sept? if so, i will love to buy you a few drinks! you rock!

cheers arun (dirtbagger)


(This post was edited by dirtbagger on Jul 2, 2007, 1:47 PM)


Partner philbox
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Jul 3, 2007, 8:11 PM
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Re: [dirtbagger] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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I'd recommend a steel beefy D Mallion in lieu of a carabiner for attaching the Gri Gri to ones harness when soloing. It's not that big a deal to undo when needing to remove the Gri Gri at any time. It does take a little longer to undo when compared to a carabiner but really the peace of mind is there knowing that the Mallion is capable of handling any sort of load in any orientation whatsoever.


papounet


Jul 4, 2007, 10:53 AM
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Re: [philbox] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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philbox wrote:
I'd recommend a steel beefy D Mallion in lieu of a carabiner for attaching the Gri Gri to ones harness when soloing. It's not that big a deal to undo when needing to remove the Gri Gri at any time. It does take a little longer to undo when compared to a carabiner but really the peace of mind is there knowing that the Mallion is capable of handling any sort of load in any orientation whatsoever.

The manufacturer of Maillon rapide would be happy of your confidence, but maillon although better for this application can NOT resist on the short axis really better than a normal screw lock

http://www.peguet.fr/...montagne_normal.html
http://www.peguet.fr/...ntations/EN362%2Epdf

Please only consider the maillons certified as EPI devices . they are tested and certified as life-bearing equipment.

The device you should be looking at is the petzl Omni
15kn in any direction,
http://en.petzl.com/...Produits?Produit=557


(This post was edited by papounet on Jul 4, 2007, 11:02 AM)


dirtbagger


Jul 4, 2007, 1:13 PM
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Re: [papounet] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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i have tried the Omni ( I actually use it for chest harness) but for a grigri it is really not good! th reason being, due to the edges! The grigri gets stuck on the edges/corners and can get some nasty cross loading!!


Partner philbox
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Jul 4, 2007, 3:50 PM
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This is the mallion I am referring to. Not the standard type of mallion but rather the D shape specifically.


ptpp


Oct 31, 2007, 11:40 PM
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Man, I'm scratching my head trying to remember ... what the ... what the hail is the Continuous Loop anyway? There are as many permutations and combinations as you can think of, each one exponentially adding more clusterfuckage and danger than the next!

I suppose the basic idea of the Continuous Loop is that you have your rope bags at the lower station. Your lead rope begins at this station, goes to your pig, up to you, then your backup, then back down to the rope bag. As you pull out lead rope, you eventually reach the point where the free end of the lead rope is tied to the top of haul line. Then you can start pulling that up. The end of the haul line is connected back to the station to complete the continuous loop, and that is your route back after you rap. BWT's will think you can clean your aid pitch on rappel, which works great when cleaning plumb pitches, which are rare on big walls.

The advantage is that when you are climbing with the continuous loop, initially you are trailing only the free end of the lead rope, not both it and the top of the haul line, which would be the case if you had the top of your haul line clipped to your harness, the traditional way. So it saves you weight initially. Once you're near the top of the pitch, it's about the same whichever way you do it, but initially you win.

What you see in my illustration is the Continuous Loop with Solo Tagging. This is *extremely dangerous* and you could well die if you blow it, as buddy above points out. Imagine the consequences of falling, and knocking your big-ass heavy solo tag rack off its fifi as you go whipping by, and now you're both falling. Kate correctly describes the hopefully-safer technique of a chain of slippery overhand backup knots above your Solo Tag Rack, which in theory should prevent the thing from getting knocked off. This is a theory I have yet to test!

Forget the Double Tagging - it's too scary, and too clusterfucked with the third rope. It can be done, but the benefit of the "free hauling as you rap" is more than lost with the additional crap. It's just too scary with that other pig hanging there on a fifi, although the time I tried it [solo attempt of Native Son in '98] I hadn't devised the slippery overhand knot chain trick.

The solo tagging technique is better left to the Real Pros, but let me also say that plenty of Real Pros have soloed some Really Hard Walls without doing it, too. You really need to practise on easy ground and see if it's right for you.

There is a real benefit in the A3-A4 range where you need to carry a heavy pin rack and lots of other crap, and it's just too much to put on at the beginning of a long pitch. The harder the pitch, the more likely you will need a ton of stuff and will want to tag, but the harder it will be to tag because the pro is so bad!

On hard stuff, I have often got to a point where I had a few decent pieces, and have downclimbed two or three moves while creating a vertical series of sliding X's to build a mini power point in the middle of the pitch in order to tag, and then hang my tag rack. [Yes, you tie a knot in the X - sheesh] This is really time consuming! You probably don't want to do it more than once per pitch. And you sure don't want to have to try to do it in the middle of some nasty A4 hooking section!

Plenty of people have soloed plenty of routes carrying everything they think they will need with them at the start. If buggered, they could always construct the mini-power point and rap back to the anchor for more stuff. At which point you'll be thinking, "why didn't I learn that tag thing?"

This is scary, dangerous, nasty stuff. You could die by following my advice! Maybe you should just stay on the ground and play it safe, or spend lots of time carrying your stuff up to the base and soloing a few pitches before you realize it's not for you. According to Tom Evans' El Cap Reports, there was lots of that going on this fall season.

Or .... you could just shut up and climb. This works for me [usually]. Bring enough food and water - more than you think you'll ever need - and just don't quit til you reach the summit. Being stubborn really pays. Being a bit crazy doesn't hurt, either, for no fully rational person would want to solo a big wall.

There was some stuff in another post about rebelays and so on. Rubber bands will work, but you miss out on the huge advantage of using a long Klemheist rebelay, which is that when properly done, you can have the Klemheist take your weight mid-pitch, and therefore your rope will never rub on the rock when you're jugging it. You can start a solo of a big wall with a new rope, and finish with a new rope, too, which is impossible with a partner jugging on it.

Don't use clove hitches! Good grief! Use a butterfly if you must. Ditto for figures-of-eight-on-a-bight - these knots do knott have a single valid use on the wall, and can always be replaced with a butterfly, which is not only hugely easier to untie, but is also stronger. [finally found that test somewhere, Bluewater I think, I had said it for years, but someone tested it and validated it, thanks]

Get yourself a bunch of LONG prusik loops tied from regular 5mm perlon, not that stiff slippery Spectra stuff. Use them carefully, with wisdom. Understand that they are a one-way knot, and will slip in the event of a fall usually. [This theory I have tested by falling off while soloing - several times!] Still, use them with long slings so you don't increase your fall factor. Understand the mistake Matt made putting a clove hitch in the middle of his pitch, and why he could have died doing it if he had fallen close to it [HINT: potential Factor 2 mid-pitch]

If you don't get what I mean by Klemheists and fall factors and all that, don't do it. Don't rebelay your lead rope at all unless you understand how and why.

Finally, please remember that Dr. Piton does not purport to teach the Best Way or the Only Way, merely the Better Way - and the Better Way is whatever works best for you. [Which might not be this stuff at all, eh?]

Cheers,
Pete


lambone


Nov 1, 2007, 10:09 AM
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ptpp wrote:
Understand the mistake Matt made putting a clove hitch in the middle of his pitch, and why he could have died doing it if he had fallen close to it [HINT: potential Factor 2 mid-pitch]

Cheers,
Pete

Let me elaborate on that since I don't think I posted it in this thread, it's in a few other places though.

Here's what I did wrong. Soloing Zodiac on the Nipple pitch. I led across just fine and got to the Nipple where there use to be bolt. Thinking that I didn't want the lead line to rub on the edge as it turned the corner above, I tied off (re-belayed) the lead line to the bolt with a clove hitch.

I made one move above the bolt on to a fixed piece, then popped an offset alien on the next move. As Pete said, luckily the fixed piece held or I would have factor twoed onto that bolt.

Since I only had about 15ft of rope out after the bolt, the catch was quite hard and jarring. I saw stars a little, but was ultimately fine.

A few years later as I described my fuck up on Supertopo, Werener told me people have decked off El Cap doing what I did because the clove broke when it smashed into the rock.

So that's that...


(This post was edited by lambone on Nov 1, 2007, 10:10 AM)


imnotclever


Nov 1, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Re: [lambone] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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lambone wrote:
A few years later as I described my fuck up on Supertopo, Werener told me people have decked off El Cap doing what I did because the clove broke when it smashed into the rock.

So that's that...

I remember him saying that. Did he say what causes the clove to break. i.e. is it the friction on the two inside legs of the clove or the rubbing against the rock or something else, maybe pinching between the rock and biner?


ptpp


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Re: [lambone] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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A good tale to learn from!

You really REALLY have to watch out not to Factor 2 when soloing. It's very easy to do, especially near the beginning of the pitch. If you are on a wall and have a pig, you can start the end of your Lead Rope at the Power Point, run it down to your pig [put a Screamer on top] and then back up through the bolts. This puts extra rope length into your system right off the bat.

Use Screamers generously, especially near the beginning. And plenty of lockers, too. When Kate [Batgirl] and I were leading in blocks on the Ranch to keep the ship moving, she often used a couple of the long Yates Screamers [with the yellow plastic-y covering] at the beginning of the pitch, sometimes with the lead rope rigged using a butterfly. But you still have to be careful about not reducing your Fall Factor!

When I soloed Iron Hawk, I led the Knifeblade Traverse, but didn't haul it. I next led The Spoon to come out over top of my pig, and do a direct haul. This is why it's handy to have an extra-long lead rope and haul line, so you can link hauls. Anyway, when I led The Spoon, I had no pig to use as my "belayer" so I had to construct an upside-down belay off of the bolts. Unfortunately the next moves were a bit tricky, and a Factor 2 was a real possibility. I did not have Screamers back then ['97, stupid me!] but sure should have.

Incidentally, I think you're crazy to climb a wall without at least a dozen Screamers. I'll take twenty Screamer draws on a hard wall. I like John Yates' Screamers the best, because they deploy smoothly and maintain a very steady load of about 875 lbs while doing so. His Scream-Aids are great for marginal aid like heads.

Use your long Klemheists to hold the lead rope in place. Start with shorter loops, and use longer ones as the pitch lengthens, or else extend them on a sling.

The first Klemheist rebelay you stretch tight. This keeps your lead rope oriented, and avoids any possibility of cross loading your belay crabs. As mentioned above, your belay should depend on several lockers, not just a single one. You will be surprised how much slack you can hand-pull out of your rope the first time - slack that would lengthen your fall if you hadn't done it. Because you are only hand-pulling your lead rope tight, not cranking it, you haven't used up any of the fall-catching elasticity in the rope.

The Klemheists serve two advantages - the first is that it keeps the weight of the rope from pulling the rope through your Grigri, introducing unwanted, dangerous and usually unnoticed slack into your system. This can be accomplished with rubber bands, however.

Meanwhile, back on the Ranch, huffing and puffing during hauling:

"Yo, Batgirl! You've got four feet of slack dangling here! Pull some rope back through your Grigri!"

Hey, you know what? This idea was just Born in my head. Here is what might be a PERFECT situation to use the rubber band "rebelay" trick - when climbing in blocks and the solo leader takes off again while the seconder cleans and hauls. She [the leader] can rebelay with elastics while I [the seconder] clean and possibly haul while she keeps soloing. When it's time to put the leader on belay, and slide the slack through, hopefully we can bust the elastic bands. Just don't use hair bands which are pretty strong and might not break - a Bad Sign. Stick with the office variety elastics.

I think this idea would work well Under the right conditions, like leading in blocks, at least in theory.

Anyway, back to soloing. The second Klemheist rebelay should be in about thirty feet or so, just about the time the weight of the rope starts to pull slack through your Grigri. Rebelay the rope just before an edge or a rub point. This way, when you later jug and clean, you get the second benefit that your weight is taken on the Klemheist rebelay, and not on the top anchor which will cause the rope to rub on every bump and edge on the whole pitch.

You have to use two hands to do this - with one hand you cinch the Klemheist tight while with the other hand you are holding the free end of the rope. If you don't cinch it, it will slip.

And remember you are tying the Klemheist upside-down!

The trick here - it's an art and a science, and you just have to practise til you get it - is to put about a foot and a half of slack in the rope when measured against the very first [rope-tightening] Klemheist. This is so when you jug, you pull that eighteen inches of slack tight, the Klemheist bites, and your weight is on it.

If you don't put this slack in the system, what happens as you are jugging and cleaning is that your weight will not end up being Borne on the Klemheist above you, but rather by one agove that. They will often all end up slipping, and while you get the rope-holding benefit of the Klemheist, you don't get the rebelay benefit.

So the first Klemheist has stretched the rope tight.

The second Klemheist has been tightened onto the rope with two hands, and you leave about eighteen inches or so of slack in the system.

Climb another thirty feet or to a rub point, and repeat. Use successively longer Klemheists as you go up the pitch. And you "get" why, right? Use the same technique to tighten the Klemheist around the rope so it doesn't slip.

Again, at Klemheist #3 you need to put another eighteen inches of slack in the rope. Now, I don't mean to ADD this foot and a half to the system thus making three feet, rather you are going to "re-use" it. In other words, the eighteen inches of slack isn't measured against Klemheist #2, it's measured against Klemheist #1.

[Some of you techno-solo geeks like me are nodding your heads and going, "I get it, I get it" while others have no frickin' clue what I'm talking about]

So when you tighten Klemheist #3 [and all subsequent ones - you need about a half-dozen for each pitch] you will always tighten it with eighteen inches or so of slack measured against Klemheist #1.

If you do it right, when you jug, each time your weight will be taken by each successive Klemheist, thus completely eliminating any rope abrasion.

Caveats:

- be really careful that you never reduce the ability of your lead rope to stretch upwards in the event of a fall, like Matt so well describes above. In old posts, and in one photo, it appears I did this, and Bryan Law took me to task for it

- use a Klemheist, not a Prusik. A prusik is a symmetric knot, while the Klemheist is asymmetric. If you blow it by not putting enough length in your Klemheist and you fall, the lead rope actually will slip through the one-way Klemheist. This has been tried and tested by Dr. Piton [Doh!] But the prusik is symmetric, and will grip the rope in both directions, which you don't want. Plus a Klemheist has exactly twice the grip of a prusik, because half the prusik wraps don't bite the rope.

- prusik can be a generic term for any knot that grips the rope, although above I mean it in its true symmetric orientation. Prusik knots are like figures-of-eight-on-a-bight - useless. Use Klemheists and butterflies respectively always

- if you think this stuff sounds like rocket science, and you need to be a professional engineer to solo a big wall and not die trying, you are probably right. Nowadays, with dummies like me telling you on the internet it's "easy" to solo a big wall, more and more people are trying, some of whom don't belong up there

- you really do need to become a Wall Engineer, and by this I mean a "technical problem solver in a hostile environment", because climbing a big wall, especially solo, is a continuous problem-solving process

- the tips above will help you, if you do them right. They could well kill you if you do them wrong, so be frickin' careful, eh?

It should be every trad climber's goal to climb The Nose on El Cap. And it should be every wall climber's goal to one day solo the Big Stone, and become part of The Club [as Chongo used to say!]

There are a bunch of people around here who have given it a go, and more and more people every year are taking to the big walls solo because there is finally a way to learn how. [Um, hi....]

Lots of us who solo big walls aren't the greatest climbers, but we have a few things in common. We are all thinkers and problem solvers, who can understand this stuff. And we are stubborn and motivated, and too stupid to quit til we get there. We don't mind suffering when the goal of the summit is within view.

But I'm a pretty crappy climber! I am the world's worst gym climber, that's for sure. I can't seem to focus unless I am scared. I don't bother climbing at home, all my gear is in Yosemite waiting for my return next spring. The last time I touched rock was at the base of Lurking Fear after Holly and I rapped off [we climbed Horse Chute, then rapped Lurking Fear] and the next time I touch rock [or plastic] will probably be when I walk up to the base of El Cap next spring. But you can get away with this in wall climbing if you know what you're doing. Just don't ask me to free climb.

If you have tried and failed to solo a big wall, don't give up yet, unless you are really certain it's not for you. Have you guys heard of "Big Wall Pete" Takeda? He used to fail so much, but he was too stupid to quit, too. He'd bail, then grab his rack, and go try again. "Hey, it's Big Wall Pete! Hey Pete, which big wall are you going to bail from this time?! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!" Well, you know how he ended up, and maybe you can, too.

One of my favourite great success stories is Ricardo, who showed up at my bear box one day with an empty pig. "I'm here to help schlep your loads to the base, and to learn how to solo big walls." He had never climbed a big wall, and for his first big wall he soloed Zodiac on El Cap. How cool is that? If this is you, write me, maybe I can help with your problem solving.

So go practise your systems at your local crag. I learned to solo by climbing single pitch crack climbs here in Ontario, and setting up a belay in the middle of the pitch. Then I practised cleaning and jugging, and then I hauled a huge bag of rocks! Honest! I figured if I could haul a couple times my body weight, I could carry enough food and water to succeed on El Cap, which is what happened. I win by attrition - it doesn't have much to do with "talent", that's for sure. But determination, stupidity, comprehension, beer, good problem solving skills, extra food and water in the pig, and lots of time usually see me to the summit.

When you practise, look for awkward overhanging and traversing lines so you can master your rope techniques. If you can clean on rappel, you chose the wrong line! Load those pigs up with rocks. Choose round ones with no sharp edges, and make sure your pig is lined with closed-cell foam. When you get to the top of the crag, don't chuck the rocks off, but instead practise rapping with the pig.

The solo tagging is pretty complicated, but there are all the diagrams and photos and instructions you need in my Technical and Teaching Albums [see passthepitonspete profile]

Right then, who's soloing El Cap next spring?

Cheers,
Pete


wolfdog


Jul 28, 2008, 4:39 PM
Post #25 of 26 (4595 views)
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Re: [holdplease2] Continuous Loop Aid solo [In reply to]
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I've been doing a bit of solo aiding this summer, and this post and Kate's comments are very enlightening and right-on. Helps me to sort things out in my own mind now and recognize all the consequences of my actions and benefits, ie continuous loop- tagging. I've been using a steel biner for my grigri, but is it really neccessary to use a steel biner for the back up knot as my assumption has been that it was just to hold the knot in case the grigri failed to catch and the knot would wedge in the grigri. I never thought the back up knot would need to withstand the total force of the fall if using a steel biner for the grigri. As the grigri would never detonate,... would it?

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