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bertusgeert


Sep 20, 2010, 1:16 PM
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Want to get into big wall...would like advice
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1st post here, so go easy on the new guy...

I've done a lot of sport climbing, but in my few years of climbing I've never met anyone that's into big wall. That said, I've never been in a place where I had reasonable access to big wall either.

I just moved to AZ (two weeks ago) and I'm looking to change that.

The aspect that has drawn me to climbing when I was a mid-teen, was seeing a picture of a bivy on El Cap. Whether it's El Cap or another significant big wall (read, personal achievement) I would like to now pursue this long time dream. Preferably The Nose, as this was the first fixation with climbing I had at 12 years old.

What is the best way to get into big wall? I'm hanging around the climbing gym for now, trying to meet climbers to get outside with. And maybe that person that is knowledgeable, trustworthy, as well as willing to teach.

Other than that, I'm working my way through Super Toppo's How to Big Wall Climb by Chris McNamara, just found it and started Ch.1.

I haven't been climbing for the last couple of years, but I was at the 5.11 level before that. After two weeks, I'm back on 5.10's and with goals to climb 5.12 as soon as possible. That's something else I notice - 5.12 ability is probably not a necessity, but I can't imagine it will hurt to be confident in your moves.


charlie.elverson


Sep 20, 2010, 4:03 PM
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learn to trad climb first.


dindolino32


Sep 20, 2010, 4:07 PM
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yep, lots of trad


USnavy


Sep 21, 2010, 3:16 AM
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Like everyone else has said, you need to learn trad first.


shimanilami


Sep 21, 2010, 10:02 AM
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There are two ways of getting into big walls (or multipitch trad, for that matter).

The first way is to read a bunch of books, then take TR lessons at a gym, then lead lessons at a gym, then hire an instructor to teach you how to TR outside, then hire a guide to take you on your first multipitch climb, then hire an instructor to teach you how to lead outside, etc. etc. etc.

The second way is to just get your ass to a big wall and climb it, partner or not, ready or not. Fuck it. Just climb it. And if you get bouted the first time, go back and finish it the next time.

Both approaches are valid. Both will get you there. The trick is to figure out which approach is better for you.

(For my $0.02, the latter approach is far more rewarding. Of course, I don't take instruction well and am anti-social. So go figure.)


climbingaggie03


Sep 21, 2010, 10:42 AM
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So I'm no big wall expert, but I have been up one or two and I'd agree with what other people have said, start trying to get some mileage on long trad climbs. My wall partner and I are far from the fastest guys on walls, but we do have really good change overs and anchor/rope systems, we just have to climb faster.

Being familiar with gear, anchors, and rope work will go a long ways in helping you get ready for a wall. I wouldn't say that the nose is a bad goal, but I do think it's not a good first wall. I'd look at something like the south face of washington column or west face of leaning tower, or something in Zion, since it's closer.

after or even during your trad climbing time, you can do some aid climbing (preferably on top rope to start) you'll get used to placing gear, and actively testing your pieces.

I never took any classes or got lessons from any of my friends, but I sure didn't jump straight on a big wall either, I climbed for over 10 years before I got on a big wall. I think you can get on a wall pretty soon, especially with some guided/focused instruction and mileage, but it takes some time to get ready for one.


sspssp


Sep 21, 2010, 10:51 AM
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I don't disagree with the "lots of trad" posts above. But one thing I would add, set up a toprop on a crack climb (doesn't matter if it is an "easy" climb) and aid up it on top rope. Trying to aid up climbs can help you learn about placements for trad free climbing anyway.


Partner drector


Sep 21, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Re: [shimanilami] Want to get into big wall...would like advice [In reply to]
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shimanilami wrote:
...then take TR lessons at a gym, then lead lessons at a gym...

Skip that part. There is no reason to do any climbing in a gym unless you enjoy climbing in a gym.

Dave


shimanilami


Sep 21, 2010, 12:01 PM
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drector wrote:
shimanilami wrote:
...then take TR lessons at a gym, then lead lessons at a gym...

Skip that part. There is no reason to do any climbing in a gym unless you enjoy climbing in a gym.

Dave

Agreed.

However, the gym is how most people get into climbing these days. Consequently, the majority of new climbers lack the "vertical savvy" necessary to go out and do things on their own; they need to be brought along with baby steps. For many, those baby steps are the only way they feel comfortable enough to climb at all.

I'm OK with it. Whatever gets it done, right? But there is a much more direct path, assuming one has the gumption and balls for it.


shimanilami


Sep 21, 2010, 12:19 PM
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sspssp wrote:
... Trying to aid up climbs can help you learn about placements for trad free climbing anyway.

For me, big wall climbing greatly improved my trad climbing, and this was after ~10 years of consistent trad cragging, multipitch, and alpine climbing. Big wall climbing requires a whole different level of savvy in terms of planning, gear and rope management, route finding, partnering, safety, mental toughness, etc.

Once a person has become fluent in big wall technique, trad climbing is like child's play (aside from the difficulty of it, of course!)


majid_sabet


Sep 21, 2010, 1:24 PM
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read john long's big wall book first


socalclimber


Sep 21, 2010, 1:56 PM
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majid_sabet wrote:
read john long's big wall book first

Great book. I wouldn't agree with first, but I would be reading while I learn the other zillion lessons you are going to need.


bertusgeert


Sep 21, 2010, 10:49 PM
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socalclimber wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
read john long's big wall book first

Great book. I wouldn't agree with first, but I would be reading while I learn the other zillion lessons you are going to need.

All, great advice, thank you. I'll focus on the things mentioned, and go from there. Hopefully I'll meet some people here in AZ who can show me the way, and find those people I'd actually want to be on the wall with.

I remember reading Long's book freshman year of college on the bus, then passed it off to a friend. I just asked him for it back, now that I can actually begin applying what I read.

Thanks


thenose


Sep 21, 2010, 10:52 PM
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shimanilami wrote:
There are two ways of getting into big walls (or multipitch trad, for that matter).

The first way is to read a bunch of books, then take TR lessons at a gym, then lead lessons at a gym, then hire an instructor to teach you how to TR outside, then hire a guide to take you on your first multipitch climb, then hire an instructor to teach you how to lead outside, etc. etc. etc.

The second way is to just get your ass to a big wall and climb it, partner or not, ready or not. Fuck it. Just climb it. And if you get bouted the first time, go back and finish it the next time.

Both approaches are valid. Both will get you there. The trick is to figure out which approach is better for you.

(For my $0.02, the latter approach is far more rewarding. Of course, I don't take instruction well and am anti-social. So go figure.)

And one will get you killed and the other will not. Go ahead, send a gym rat to go climb the Nose. I bet you he doesent even finish the first pitch... You have to learn how to walk before you can sprint marathons...


(This post was edited by thenose on Sep 21, 2010, 10:52 PM)


mach2


Sep 21, 2010, 11:05 PM
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I'm not sure it's in C-Mac's book but learning to be very patient and learning to drink king cobras or old E also seems to be part of the big wall learning. As said above learning to place gear and become confident doing so seems to help. Screw the gym, they don't let you drink beer there anyway.


socalclimber


Sep 22, 2010, 12:39 AM
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Re: [thenose] Want to get into big wall...would like advice [In reply to]
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thenose wrote:
shimanilami wrote:
There are two ways of getting into big walls (or multipitch trad, for that matter).

The first way is to read a bunch of books, then take TR lessons at a gym, then lead lessons at a gym, then hire an instructor to teach you how to TR outside, then hire a guide to take you on your first multipitch climb, then hire an instructor to teach you how to lead outside, etc. etc. etc.

The second way is to just get your ass to a big wall and climb it, partner or not, ready or not. Fuck it. Just climb it. And if you get bouted the first time, go back and finish it the next time.

Both approaches are valid. Both will get you there. The trick is to figure out which approach is better for you.

(For my $0.02, the latter approach is far more rewarding. Of course, I don't take instruction well and am anti-social. So go figure.)

And one will get you killed and the other will not. Go ahead, send a gym rat to go climb the Nose. I bet you he doesent even finish the first pitch... You have to learn how to walk before you can sprint marathons...

Ain't that the truth. Ignore the run out and jump on a wall advice. That will only get you into trouble or worse. Walls are no place to screw around. When the shit hits the fan, it happens fast.

One area you will need to get VERY good at it is belay station management. Standard trad belays will only be an introduction to what wall belays are like. If you're not careful, they can get cluster fucked fast!

I would also recommend that you start learning to aid climb. Excellent way to start learning how to place good gear. There's nothing like a bounce test see how solid your placements are. Find some nice 5.10 cracks and harder. Don't be shy to start on a top rope first so you don't end up on the deck.

Finally, start making friends. You're gonna need them when you set out for your first wall, because you are going to be borrowing a ton of stuff. That is unless you're wealthy.

Wall climbing is expensive to get into!


(This post was edited by socalclimber on Sep 22, 2010, 12:50 AM)


julio412


Sep 22, 2010, 3:50 AM
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Commit a petty crime where the punishment is drudgery and hard manual labor.
Study esoteric math while working on live electrical items in a tub full of water and fire ants under the influence of acid.
Pray to gods you know don't exist.
Drink stale water and eat old food.
Know fear.
And if you get a chance, go climbing.
How I miss it so.
Mario


shimanilami


Sep 22, 2010, 9:30 AM
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thenose wrote:
...And one will get you killed and the other will not...

Get you killed? Walk before sprinting? That's a bit hyperbolic, don't you think?

Not knowing the OP personally, it's hard to say how capable he is. If he is a pure gym rat, then he probably won't get up to the pine tree, much less the first pitch. But that's not the same as dying. And it's not like he has to finish the entire thing on his first attempt. If he makes it up 4 pitches, he'll learn more about big wall climbing then he'd learn in 5 lessons on the ground and on single pitch crap.

Neither I nor any of my partners has ever taken a lesson, yet we all climb walls and none of us has died. Sure, it took me 3 attempts to complete my first big wall, but each of my "failures" was an awesome learning experience. I wouldn't do it any other way. (But that's me.)


skiclimb


Sep 23, 2010, 9:34 PM
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shimanilami wrote:
thenose wrote:
...And one will get you killed and the other will not...

Get you killed? Walk before sprinting? That's a bit hyperbolic, don't you think?

Not knowing the OP personally, it's hard to say how capable he is. If he is a pure gym rat, then he probably won't get up to the pine tree, much less the first pitch. But that's not the same as dying. And it's not like he has to finish the entire thing on his first attempt. If he makes it up 4 pitches, he'll learn more about big wall climbing then he'd learn in 5 lessons on the ground and on single pitch crap.

Neither I nor any of my partners has ever taken a lesson, yet we all climb walls and none of us has died. Sure, it took me 3 attempts to complete my first big wall, but each of my "failures" was an awesome learning experience. I wouldn't do it any other way. (But that's me.)

Bingo

with a minor caveat.. if a trip to yosemite is a major trip for you then you may want to try to prepare more before hand..

If it is just a 9 hour roundtrip..like it was for me today.. damn fine day today btw. Then just go for it and learn as you fail till you get it.


(This post was edited by skiclimb on Sep 23, 2010, 9:36 PM)


skullyambro


Sep 24, 2010, 7:33 PM
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Meh.
That's the way I started BigWall climbing. I got some stuff, climbed around the Valley, Then looked to the Big Stones. They brought me there, after all. Actually, I'm headed that way, here pretty soon. A new friend I've not yet met has inspired me. So here we go, yet again. El Cap bound. I'll let you know how it goes.CoolPirate


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