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Will a pecker hold a lead fall?
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Perihelion


Oct 1, 2010, 9:33 AM
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Will a pecker hold a lead fall?
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I am primarily an alpine trad climber, looking to expand my bag of tricks to deal with situations when I can't easily protect a move with my "standard" trad rack. I often explore new areas, so I am very often not on an established route. I can never quite tell what I might find on the other side of the next rock.

I have no reservations about aiding past tough spots, or using pins & etc to protect runout sections where I can't set clean pro. (happens often) I'd prefer to learn this from a mentor, the problem is, I don't know anyone else doing this kind of mixed alpine/trad/aid climbing. I'm sure I'll hook up with someone eventually, but for now at least, I'm on my own. So it is that Im turning to total strangers on the Innertube for advice. I'm gonna die, no doubt about that. Whatever.

There are no big whippers on my menu, if I can help it. I save the fancy moves for established crags and the gym; in alpine territory, I am cautiously adventurous. When I say "lead fall," it is mostly like a slip on 4th class, low-mid 5th class, less than vertical terrain. That doesn't sound impressive, it wouldn't make dramatic video, but it has the potential to be really ugly or fatal. I want to avoid falling down the entire mountain, so at least my body will be easy to recover.

I have found a fair bit of info about using pitons, and I scored (cheap!) a decent selection of angles and lost arrows from an old timer who is getting out of climbing. I need to expand this collection to cover small seams and flared cracks, which will often be dirty, wet, or slightly mossy. I'll start by adding a few knifeblades and bugaboos.

I'm climbing where not many people ever go, so I'm not too worried about chipping the rock, but I'd like to minimize the damage I do. Pins are a last resort, not the first thing I turn to. When none of my clean gear works, I'll whip out the hammer and go to work.

That brings me to tomahawks, peckers, and hooks. I understand that hooks are mainly for aiding past a tough spot, not for use as lead pro, per se. I'll figure out how to use hooks soon enough after I start using them. I don't see any big mystery there.

Tomahawks and peckers (Can my Pecker hold a lead fall? That's a question I always wanted to ask, now finally I have a good excuse.) look good, with potential for both clean and hammered sets, but I'm not finding a lot of info about the proper use and potential pitfalls of those pieces. Most of what I've found shows these pieces set in pin scars, but that's not a realistic set in my world. It's enough to pique my interest, and make me think I'm on the right track. Are they suitable for lead protection, assuming a mild fall? What are the pitfalls of this kind of pro -- in other words, how can you set it so it looks good to the inexperienced eye, but is actually not secure? Will this all be fairly obvious after I start using these pieces? Point me to books & videos, and share your anecdotes and gibberish. I will proceed cautiously until I get the hang of it, but I'd like some input from "the community."

Thanks.


swoopee


Oct 1, 2010, 10:47 AM
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Okey, I should probably leave this to someone who knows more about big wall climbing but I can't resist... I really wouldn't want to take a lead fall on my pecker to find out. Blush


IsayAutumn


Oct 1, 2010, 10:59 AM
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I like your style. First interesting post I've read in a while. Where do you climb?


moose_droppings


Oct 1, 2010, 12:09 PM
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Perihelion wrote:
I am primarily an alpine trad climber, looking to expand my bag of tricks to deal with situations when I can't easily protect a move with my "standard" trad rack. I often explore new areas, so I am very often not on an established route. I can never quite tell what I might find on the other side of the next rock.

I have no reservations about aiding past tough spots, or using pins & etc to protect runout sections where I can't set clean pro. (happens often) I'd prefer to learn this from a mentor, the problem is, I don't know anyone else doing this kind of mixed alpine/trad/aid climbing. I'm sure I'll hook up with someone eventually, but for now at least, I'm on my own. So it is that Im turning to total strangers on the Innertube for advice. I'm gonna die, no doubt about that. Whatever.

There are no big whippers on my menu, if I can help it. I save the fancy moves for established crags and the gym; in alpine territory, I am cautiously adventurous. When I say "lead fall," it is mostly like a slip on 4th class, low-mid 5th class, less than vertical terrain. That doesn't sound impressive, it wouldn't make dramatic video, but it has the potential to be really ugly or fatal. I want to avoid falling down the entire mountain, so at least my body will be easy to recover.

I have found a fair bit of info about using pitons, and I scored (cheap!) a decent selection of angles and lost arrows from an old timer who is getting out of climbing. I need to expand this collection to cover small seams and flared cracks, which will often be dirty, wet, or slightly mossy. I'll start by adding a few knifeblades and bugaboos.

I'm climbing where not many people ever go, so I'm not too worried about chipping the rock, but I'd like to minimize the damage I do. Pins are a last resort, not the first thing I turn to. When none of my clean gear works, I'll whip out the hammer and go to work.

That brings me to tomahawks, peckers, and hooks. I understand that hooks are mainly for aiding past a tough spot, not for use as lead pro, per se. I'll figure out how to use hooks soon enough after I start using them. I don't see any big mystery there.

Tomahawks and peckers (Can my Pecker hold a lead fall? That's a question I always wanted to ask, now finally I have a good excuse.) look good, with potential for both clean and hammered sets, but I'm not finding a lot of info about the proper use and potential pitfalls of those pieces. Most of what I've found shows these pieces set in pin scars, but that's not a realistic set in my world. It's enough to pique my interest, and make me think I'm on the right track. Are they suitable for lead protection, assuming a mild fall? What are the pitfalls of this kind of pro -- in other words, how can you set it so it looks good to the inexperienced eye, but is actually not secure? Will this all be fairly obvious after I start using these pieces? Point me to books & videos, and share your anecdotes and gibberish. I will proceed cautiously until I get the hang of it, but I'd like some input from "the community."

Thanks.

Yes, they can, but as you probably already know, it depends.

The dependents to mention a few are:
A. individual strength of the piece itself.
B. The strength of the swaged cable (you can clip direct).
C. The rock quality.
D. The placement. Tipped out, not fully in the crack etc.
E. Fall Factor.

Mix and match any of the above and you can see there are any number of falls that may be held. Placement and rock quality are going to be your two biggest limiters IMO, but I still wouldn't expect them to hold to high of a FF. BD doesn't give any force ratings on the piece, but if clipped in direct and very good placement into hard and sound rock, I'd imagine they could take a fairly good fall.

Bottom line, I wouldn't count on them for much.


Punctuation edit.


(This post was edited by moose_droppings on Oct 1, 2010, 12:21 PM)


kennoyce


Oct 1, 2010, 12:14 PM
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Really it all depends on the size of your pecker.Wink


shimanilami


Oct 1, 2010, 12:21 PM
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I have fallen on hooks. I have fallen on peckers. Some held. Some didn't.

In my experience, the issue is not the strength of the pieces themselves. Assuming you're not taking massive falls, and assuming that the cables are good, hooks and peckers are plenty strong.

The issue is the quality of the placement: the rock, the "set", the angle of the pull, etc. If all of these are "good", then the piece may hold. If any of these are "bad", then the placement is likely to blow.

Unfortunately, placement quality isn't something that can be taught effectively via the internet or a book. It requires experience. And personally, I wouldn't be comfortable seeking that experience in an alpine setting. Preferably, you'd find a place where you can try these things with a bomber piece a few feet below ... and a hospital nearby.

I like your style, though. Good luck.


malcolm777b


Oct 1, 2010, 1:13 PM
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I believe the pecker was first invented by taking a crack-n-up and sawing off one end to be able to hammer-place it as an aid piece. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here. As such, a good placement should be able to hold a fall if placed well in sound rock (as others have mentioned).

I've hand placed peckers that I would consider to be truck, lightly tapped peckers that required funking and hammering to get out, but another time I had a thoroughly bounce tested, pounded pecker rip on me after about a minute of standing on it (this was in shitty Smith rock tuff though, and the shitty stuff at Smith is basically hard mud). That was the only fall I have ever taken where, after the catch, I was thinking, "what the hell just happened???".


Perihelion


Oct 1, 2010, 6:47 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Mostly, you are confirming what I'd picked up from other sources. That's good.

I climb in the Olympic Mountains.

I'm planning to buy left and right, medium Tomahawks to start with. I like the offset bend, and the larger cable, and what look like more options to place and clean compared to the BD Pecker.

I hope this doesn't lead to some sort of aid addiction. I have enough expensive hobbies already.

(edited to pare down the length)


(This post was edited by Perihelion on Oct 2, 2010, 7:22 AM)


skiclimb


Oct 1, 2010, 8:43 PM
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A good pecker placement will definitely hold a decent lead fall.. I've fallen a couple times from about 4 ft above one..

Certainly adds to the pucker factor though.

As far as judging a good placement.. find a place to mess around with em .. you'll see.


lumineferusother


Oct 7, 2010, 8:10 PM
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Have you tried hammering in a KB above/on top of the pecker for added protection from it popping out? This is something I've tried a few times on shitty boulders no one ever uses to test the feasibility of the idea. If it doesn't add any real protection to the pecker placement it definitely gave me some mental assurance....sometimes that's all you have to go by...


Partner xtrmecat


Oct 7, 2010, 9:16 PM
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  Had a partner fall on one from about six feet above one and it held fine in wet slimy rock. the piece he fell from was a pecker that failed on body weight in the same seam. Go figure. Both had the appearance of bomber. As stated above, depends.

Burly Bob


chrisnovak


Oct 7, 2010, 9:32 PM
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I agree - this post has me interested. I'm certainly no wall-master, and I've never actually used a pecker in real life - but I have a few just in case. However, I am a bit confused by your plans for use - and as such, I wonder if clarification might not be helpful to you.

It sounds to me, although I am reading between the lines, that you're going out solo (i.e., you're "on your own" and you "don't know anyone else doing this kind of..." climbing - that is, you're the most experienced person in your party doing this...or you're the only one doing it and haven't found a partner yet...although perhaps this just applied to the mentor part and having to learn on your own?).

If you're out with another climber on 4th class/easy 5th and you need to place a pecker, well then you're just leading and the above advice is good - and hopefully the rest of your system will back you up.

However, since it's not clear to me, I am wondering if you're out solo. If you're rope soloing, then again, the above should be fine...although I am concerned that if you're out exploring areas fast and light then perhaps you're not using a rope very often. Which takes me to my concern.

If you're clipping directly to the piece for a short bit of aid to get through a hard move, and you're not using dynamic material (e.g., using a sling or daisy instead of a rope) then a lead fall onto any piece could be bad - the intensity of the fall on you would probably be severe, and even if you are ok, the intensity may be enough to blow the piece (especially a small piece like a pecker). Therefore, I think that how you intend to use the piece (as part of a system or as a single piece to protect a move) is important to clarify. Otherwise, it might just be psych-pro...which is fine, but it's better to know it.

Unless I am completely missing something...in which case, I apologize. Just wanted to be sure you're safe. Enjoy your adventures!

Chris
PS - consider looking into camhooks. Excellent clean aid piece to have in the bag of tricks - and they might work well where a pecker might take longer to place/remove.


ryanb


Oct 7, 2010, 11:16 PM
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Perihelion wrote:

I climb in the Olympic Mountains.

Oh man, there are some adventures to be had out there...I grew up on the peninsula and did a bit of the third class scrambles but never sacked it up enough to trust gear in that rock (mostly low quality basalt)...occasionally tempted to go back with a rack but now live close to the ample granite of the cascades ... though some of the spires and faces out there are pretty cool.

I wouldn't trust tiny gear to hold much of a fall in that rock but consider asking what other Olympic climbers use on cascadeclimbers.com or contacting OlympicMtnBoy who posts on that site and this as he does a ton of new routing out there (and elsewhere).


malcolm777b


Oct 7, 2010, 11:19 PM
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Perihelion wrote:
Thanks for all the replies. Mostly, you are confirming what I'd picked up from other sources. That's good.

I climb in the Olympic Mountains.

I'm planning to buy left and right, medium Tomahawks to start with. I like the offset bend, and the larger cable, and what look like more options to place and clean compared to the BD Pecker.

I hope this doesn't lead to some sort of aid addiction. I have enough expensive hobbies already.

(edited to pare down the length)

I'd be terribly concerned about the rock quality of the Olympics....Most Olympic climbers I know pound pins primarily as pro. Except for certain exceptions, it's considered standard to have a piton rack if you're climbing Oly choss.


julio412


Oct 8, 2010, 2:37 AM
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A couple of things.
Screamers help and 2 ,you might check; andykirkpatrick.com, he published a pamphlet alittle while back just on pins and hooks, available @ lulu.com.
Also, if you're using doubles, that'll help.
I hope your partners know first aid.
Mario


Perihelion


Oct 8, 2010, 7:12 AM
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In reply to:
"There are only three sports, auto racing, mountain climbing, and bull fighting, all others being mearly games." Earnest Hemminway (or pretty close)


Actually, Ernest Hemmingway probably never said that. It sounds like him, but the consensus is that it is falsely attributed to Hemmingway. I prefer this variation:

"If it can't kill you, it isn't a sport."


Perihelion


Oct 8, 2010, 7:19 AM
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Perihelion


Oct 8, 2010, 7:23 AM
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julio412 wrote:
A couple of things.
Screamers help and 2 ,you might check; andykirkpatrick.com, he published a pamphlet alittle while back just on pins and hooks, available @ lulu.com.
Also, if you're using doubles, that'll help.

Aha, this helps. I'll check that out. Thanks!

julio412 wrote:
I hope your partners know first aid.
Mario
Aha, this blows. I could have lived without that. Yeah, we're all trained ("MOFA"), but the best first aid is the first aid you never use.


Perihelion


Oct 8, 2010, 7:29 AM
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ryanb wrote:
Perihelion wrote:

I climb in the Olympic Mountains.

Oh man, there are some adventures to be had out there...I grew up on the peninsula and did a bit of the third class scrambles but never sacked it up enough to trust gear in that rock (mostly low quality basalt)...occasionally tempted to go back with a rack but now live close to the ample granite of the cascades ... though some of the spires and faces out there are pretty cool.

I wouldn't trust tiny gear to hold much of a fall in that rock but consider asking what other Olympic climbers use on cascadeclimbers.com or contacting OlympicMtnBoy who posts on that site and this as he does a ton of new routing out there (and elsewhere).

I don't trust any gear to hold much of a fall in that rock. My operative assumption is no one piece is ever bomber.

Basalt is the good rock here, for some definition of good.


olympicmtnboy


Oct 8, 2010, 10:10 AM
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My standard Olympics rack, which I used for example on a traverse of the Needles earlier this year (Tyler to Martin and everything in between aside from the Sundial detour), is 4-6 cams (green alien-#2 camalot size), a half dozen nuts, and 3-4 pins (knife blades, a lost arrow, and a baby angle), plus of course lots of slings for horns, chockstones, and bushes. That will get you up most any Olympics peak unless you are trying to aid at the Elwha (not recommended) or something short.

On a hard FA in the Cascades I will sometimes carry one BD pecker and a talon hook for those emergency aid moves, but I really wouldn't trust them Olympics rock. If you can't get up it without relying on tiny direct aid you might want to wait until you can confidently free climb it, or you're putting up hardcore stuff and we should get together.

A good way to get a feel for how good (and bad) some of these placements can be is to practice some solo top-rope aiding (you aid but have yourself on top rope belay in case your piece blows). Pick a chossy cliff with no free climbing routes.

As to your original question, a pecker, especially the larger sizes can certainly hold a lead fall when places well in solid rock. Think of them as a hook that you can tap in, they need to have something to hook to, and they need to have solid rock to hook on (not crumbly basalt). The small sizes are plenty strong in the right placement although the cable can be a weak point, especially if you've missed the pecker and hit it with the hammer a couple times. They can be surprisingly strong hand placed pieces (I've done this to clean aid through stuff in Yosemite), but as mentioned above can also be crappy.

Hope that helps!


Perihelion


Oct 8, 2010, 10:54 AM
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olympicmtnboy wrote:
My standard Olympics rack, which I used for example on a traverse of the Needles earlier this year (Tyler to Martin and everything in between aside from the Sundial detour), is 4-6 cams (green alien-#2 camalot size), a half dozen nuts, and 3-4 pins (knife blades, a lost arrow, and a baby angle), plus of course lots of slings for horns, chockstones, and bushes. That will get you up most any Olympics peak unless you are trying to aid at the Elwha (not recommended) or something short.

On a hard FA in the Cascades I will sometimes carry one BD pecker and a talon hook for those emergency aid moves, but I really wouldn't trust them Olympics rock. If you can't get up it without relying on tiny direct aid you might want to wait until you can confidently free climb it, or you're putting up hardcore stuff and we should get together.

A good way to get a feel for how good (and bad) some of these placements can be is to practice some solo top-rope aiding (you aid but have yourself on top rope belay in case your piece blows). Pick a chossy cliff with no free climbing routes.

As to your original question, a pecker, especially the larger sizes can certainly hold a lead fall when places well in solid rock. Think of them as a hook that you can tap in, they need to have something to hook to, and they need to have solid rock to hook on (not crumbly basalt). The small sizes are plenty strong in the right placement although the cable can be a weak point, especially if you've missed the pecker and hit it with the hammer a couple times. They can be surprisingly strong hand placed pieces (I've done this to clean aid through stuff in Yosemite), but as mentioned above can also be crappy.

Hope that helps!

Excellent info. Yes, we should meet sometime, because it sounds like we're on a similar trajectory except that you are lightyears ahead of me. I will crack open your head and feast on the grey goo within... so to speak. Wink

I am carrying a similar rack, but with more nuts and the addition of tricams, and lacking the pins -- until now. Lots of slings, yes. Few cams. Good, good... I'm on the right track.


tomtom


Oct 8, 2010, 8:30 PM
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Yes, but only if you wrap the rope around it twice.


olympicmtnboy


Oct 8, 2010, 10:01 PM
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Sure, drop me a line if you're in Fremont (Seattle).


kristoffer


Oct 18, 2010, 11:43 PM
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They will hold. If you are really concerned change the cable from 3/32 to 1/8 or simply donít use the cable at all and use tie off webbing when the clip-in eye is obstructed.
I have so much confidence in them that I own 20 of each size and they are all I want in thin nailing situations. I have only had them zipper from extreme placments

Beaks and Peckers are a must for any serious nail up.


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