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When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group?
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Esnavely1


Jul 22, 2012, 6:14 PM
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When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group?
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As someone who's been climbing outdoors maybe 15 days total, I'm not ready to do this yet, but I'm interested in your opinions. When do you feel that it's safe to be the most experienced person when climbing outdoors? After several years of climbing outdoors? After competently leading a certain grade? Out of pure curiosity.


bandycoot


Jul 22, 2012, 6:47 PM
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Depends on the person. If you have to ask, and you're not ready, don't do it. If you understand everything that you're going to need to do for the day to keep the group safe, then you're set. There's a big difference between leading, say, a team of 3 up a multipitch at their limit and setting up a top rope where you can walk to the top and clip two well positioned bolts that you've set up before.

Josh


gblauer
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Jul 22, 2012, 7:38 PM
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Re: [Esnavely1] When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group? [In reply to]
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Be very careful...here are some recent posts:

"was at Ravens roost this mourning talking to the park rangers conducting the investigation of the fall. Apparently all 3 climbers were gym climbers and it was their first day climbing outside. The rangers said it was the webbing used for the anchor that failed, yet it had not been severed. Which leads me to deduct that it was the climbers error, and someone failed to tie the knot in the webbing correctly"
http://www.rockclimbing.com/...d;page=unread#unread


"Sunday, April 29th

Apparently a group of climbers set up a top rope on the tree above Black Fly (edited, actually they were on Easy Keyhole). According to the rangers, the rigging failed (6 or so slings somehow attached and wrapped around the tree). Apparently one climber was lowered to the ground, the second climber ascended and when she sat back the rigging failed and she hit the deck.

The rangers were very concerned about her well being as she was altered, very pale and had some type leg injury.

Thoughts and prayers to the injured climber and those who set up the rigging. I hope they all recover quickly. "

The climber actually died.


http://www.rockclimbing.com/...d;page=unread#unread

If you are the most experieced climber, others will be looking to you for guidance, safety and possibly rescue. Make sure you can fill all of those roles before "guiding" others.


(This post was edited by gblauer on Jul 22, 2012, 7:39 PM)


moose_droppings


Jul 22, 2012, 8:18 PM
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Esnavely1 wrote:
As someone who's been climbing outdoors maybe 15 days total, I'm not ready to do this yet, but I'm interested in your opinions. When do you feel that it's safe to be the most experienced person when climbing outdoors? After several years of climbing outdoors? After competently leading a certain grade? Out of pure curiosity.

Never.


USnavy


Jul 22, 2012, 8:57 PM
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Contrary to popular belief, the number of years you have been climbing is not necessarily an accurate indicator of your experience. Let me back this with an example. You got some kid that has only been climbing a year. But in that year he has climbed 300 days, and 2,500 routes. You have a dude that has been climbing for three years. But he only climbs two weekends a month, and he only gets in a few easy pitches per day. Who is more experienced? This notion can also be extended to trad climbing where experience is more accurately measured by how many falls you have taken on gear than by how many years you have been plugging pro. I mean who do you think knows more about making solid placements, the kid that has only been climbing trad for two years, but has taken 300 lead falls on cams, or the old man who has been climbing trad forever, but never climbs harder than 5.8 and never falls on or weights his placements?

Anyway, none of the information I talked about above is a perfect indicator of someone's experience. To determine the true level of someone's experience, you have to look at the person from a holistic view and consider all information relative to climbing such as grade ability, experience on the rock, time on the rock, experience in different forms of climbing, and on and on.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Jul 22, 2012, 9:08 PM)


Partner rgold


Jul 22, 2012, 9:04 PM
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Unfortunately, I think this question is almost impossible to answer. By far the most critical ingredient isn't some particular level of experience, and it certainly isn't some particular climbing grade, although I'd say that climbers who can't competently lead 5.6 or in a variety of outdoor venues have no business instructing anyone else yet.

Most critical is understanding really clearly what you know how to do and are safe doing and what you don't know how to do and aren't safe doing, and the ability to be honest with yourself about when you will be in over your head.

Added to that is a sense of basic judgement about what is and is not appropriate for the less experienced people you are out with---something that is sometimes lacking in experienced climbers, who can get into serious trouble with beginners because they think, from time spent with other experienced climbers, that they can control situations more than they can when they are the only ones in charge.

For example, there was a recent thread in which a person with modest experience wanted to lower beginners over a sea cliff, one whose only escape is climbing out. No matter how good you are and how much you know about emergency raising procedures, thinking that this is a good early experience for beginners constitutes what I'd characterize as a total absence of appropriate judgement.

Once you put yourself in charge of others, you have to know how to respond to anything that can go wrong, which typically means that you need to know a lot more about climbing systems, rope tricks, and basic self-rescue techniques than would be expected for a group of people of similar experience who are not all looking to one person to keep them alive.

But you also have to be intelligent enough to stay far away from situations that might call on these techniques. Knowing how to do an improvised 3:1 raise should not motivate you to put novices in a position where you might have to call on that knowledge. (And if you know how to do such a haul but haven't had enough experience to have learned that it is not always possible, then you are also a potential danger to your friends.)

An absolute minimum level of competence would be the ability to safely perform improvised rope-solos up and down anything you are on. That's minimum. If you can't do that, then you may not be able to safely go to the aid of a beginner who for some reason cannot move mid-pitch.

In earlier times, I would say that only through a fair amount of long multipitch climbiing and some big wall routes would a person ever acquire the appropriate background knowledge to deal with emergency situations. Nowadays, much of that knowledge is contained in books and taught in courses and so can, at least superficially, be acquired by people who have never been anywhere near a long route.

We recently had a most terrible tragedy in the Gunks, the second time in the East in the last several years in which a top-rope anchor failed, resulting in the death of a participant. We've seen other situations in which climbers trusted ridiculous anchors---completely detached fallen trees not big enough to be impervious to being dragged over the lip---and ones in which a belayer had, as part of their anchor chain, the wire loop on a belay device. There can be little doubt that such things are the tip of an iceberg.

The whole point about novices is that they can't make independent judgements and evaluate for themselves what is going on. So if you are going to take out beginners, you have to ask yourself, "am I going to kill someone today?" And by god, you had better be sure about your answer.


notapplicable


Jul 22, 2012, 10:50 PM
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Never. Those nOObs will be trying to kill you every moment of every day. By definition, that is all they actually know how to do at a crag.


bearbreeder


Jul 22, 2012, 10:57 PM
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depends ....

- setting up TR anchors on bolts at the bluffs .... as long as you learn how to do it properly and everyone knows how to belay, not too worried

- sport cragging ... as long as you know how to belay properly and rap/lower/clean the anchors ... and not to get yr foot caught behind the effing rope ... not too worried

- trad cragging ... bit more involved

- multi ... better know and pratice a lot more

- alpine ... know and practice even more

- anything on RC ... yr gonna die anyways ...

it depends very much on the person as well ... there are people who have been climbing for years who i would not trust one bit ... and others who havent all that long who i would

the only thing i can suggest is that you go out and often as much as possible, learn as much as possible, and then make yr own honest judgement on when you are ready ... and whether others in yr group are as well

or you could come on RC and ask Tongue


iknowfear


Jul 23, 2012, 12:52 AM
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Esnavely1 wrote:
As someone who's been climbing outdoors maybe 15 days total, I'm not ready to do this yet, but I'm interested in your opinions. When do you feel that it's safe to be the most experienced person when climbing outdoors? After several years of climbing outdoors? After competently leading a certain grade? Out of pure curiosity.

I recomend you read this thread.

The poster thought he was ready, everyone else (respectfully) disagreed.

Ask yourself why that is.

Dont be the short sighted leading the blind. When you go with a group, know your stuff.

(ps: Even if you know your stuff, climbing with a group is incredibly stressfull)


stagg54


Jul 23, 2012, 5:27 AM
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USnavy wrote:
Contrary to popular belief, the number of years you have been climbing is not necessarily an accurate indicator of your experience. Let me back this with an example. You got some kid that has only been climbing a year. But in that year he has climbed 300 days, and 2,500 routes. You have a dude that has been climbing for three years. But he only climbs two weekends a month, and he only gets in a few easy pitches per day. Who is more experienced? This notion can also be extended to trad climbing where experience is more accurately measured by how many falls you have taken on gear than by how many years you have been plugging pro. I mean who do you think knows more about making solid placements, the kid that has only been climbing trad for two years, but has taken 300 lead falls on cams, or the old man who has been climbing trad forever, but never climbs harder than 5.8 and never falls on or weights his placements?

First part of that paragraph I wholeheartedly agree with. Second part, not so much. Experience in trad climbing is about mileage, not about falling. In fact the words trad climbing and falling don't really go together at all. That's from people bringing a sport climbing mentality to trad climbing and its just all wrong.


kobaz


Jul 23, 2012, 9:28 AM
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iknowfear wrote:
(ps: Even if you know your stuff, climbing with a group is incredibly stressfull)

Especially when you go out with a group of people from the gym who appear to be competent climbers and then later in the day you find them climbing a toprope they set up on the terror dome taking huge swings into the trees after drinking several six packs.


majid_sabet


Jul 23, 2012, 9:34 AM
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Esnavely1 wrote:
As someone who's been climbing outdoors maybe 15 days total, I'm not ready to do this yet, but I'm interested in your opinions. When do you feel that it's safe to be the most experienced person when climbing outdoors? After several years of climbing outdoors? After competently leading a certain grade? Out of pure curiosity.

are you trying to figure out when its time to be a leader ?


Partner cracklover


Jul 23, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Rgold gave exactly the answer I was going to give. One thing I'll add...

To be perfectly blunt, I think what it really boils down to is personality. It really has almost nothing to do with level of experience.

I've known people who could have taken a group out, and they all would have had a fun and a safe day, despite the leader having relatively little experience. If that person knew she could confidently and competently take the group out to, say, a bouldering location she knew well. Why not? Perhaps she knows enough to be able to talk accurately about more complex things she herself *has* experienced, while at the same time knowing her own limitations well enough to limit the activities to stuff that could safely be handled that day.

And I've also known people with far more experience who, while competent enough on their own, would make a day out a miserable death-trap for a group of beginners.

I'm not really certain you can even move yourself from one group to the other. You either are a safe, fun, confident, competent person who can keep things within their limit, or you're not.*

GO

*Of course, this is a spectrum - few of us are all the way on one extreme or the other.


USnavy


Jul 23, 2012, 10:55 AM
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stagg54 wrote:
USnavy wrote:
Contrary to popular belief, the number of years you have been climbing is not necessarily an accurate indicator of your experience. Let me back this with an example. You got some kid that has only been climbing a year. But in that year he has climbed 300 days, and 2,500 routes. You have a dude that has been climbing for three years. But he only climbs two weekends a month, and he only gets in a few easy pitches per day. Who is more experienced? This notion can also be extended to trad climbing where experience is more accurately measured by how many falls you have taken on gear than by how many years you have been plugging pro. I mean who do you think knows more about making solid placements, the kid that has only been climbing trad for two years, but has taken 300 lead falls on cams, or the old man who has been climbing trad forever, but never climbs harder than 5.8 and never falls on or weights his placements?

Experience in trad climbing is about mileage, not about falling. In fact the words trad climbing and falling don't really go together at all. That's from people bringing a sport climbing mentality to trad climbing and its just all wrong.
Yes and no. Millage is very important, but that only goes so far. First, lets consider the entire point of trad climbing. Why do we place pro on a trad climb? Because we want it to arrest a fall, should we fall. So how could someone who has never actually tested a piece of gear possibly be more qualified than someone who tests it all the time? At the end of the day, you can climb trad every day of ever year, but until you actually fall on a piece, its just a guess as to whether it will hold or not. Falling on pieces often and verifying they hold confirms that you have the appropriate skill set required to place good pro.

Now, I agree that taking whips on gear left and right is not a good idea for most people. But there are plenty of people out there who successfully do it, and those who do have much more experience confirming their placements are solid than the rest of us do. Again, I am not saying that you should just throw yourself into pieces all day, nor am I saying that if you dont fall you are not a qualified trad climber. I am simply saying that those who fall often are those who have actually confirmed their placements work.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Jul 23, 2012, 10:57 AM)


patto


Jul 23, 2012, 12:17 PM
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USnavy wrote:
So how could someone who has never actually tested a piece of gear possibly be more qualified than someone who tests it all the time? At the end of the day, you can climb trad every day of ever year, but until you actually fall on a piece, its just a guess as to whether it will hold or not. Falling on pieces often and verifying they hold confirms that you have the appropriate skill set required to place good pro.

Absolute rubbish, even when it comes to placing gear. Furthermore there is alot more skills to climbing than placing bomber trad gear.


Partner drector


Jul 23, 2012, 1:05 PM
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USnavy wrote:
So how could someone who has never actually tested a piece of gear possibly be more qualified than someone who tests it all the time? At the end of the day, you can climb trad every day of ever year, but until you actually fall on a piece, its just a guess as to whether it will hold or not. Falling on pieces often and verifying they hold confirms that you have the appropriate skill set required to place good pro.

Maybe you are just falling on the pieces that are places well and have never fallen on the crap placements you make every other time. I don't me "you" personally but in general, placing gear is all about placing gear correctly and securely every single time, not just the times when you happen to take a fall.

There is no "guess" about a piece holding or people would be getting hurt constantly. A competent trad leader needs to place gear properly without the need for testing it and that takes instruction, a high IQ, some mechanical inclination, and some common sense, not a lot of falls.

Or do you fall on every piece to find out if it will hold?

Dave


kiwiprincess


Jul 23, 2012, 3:00 PM
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I think when you know the System, Understand it, feel 100% comfortable.

Below are only a few of the Things you'd need to think about

Do you have enough understanding of belaying to supervise different devices?
Do you know how to set up good anchors, even if something is different to normal? Do you realise Personal Anchoring and Group topropes are different and Why?
Could you rescue someone if say their hair got tangled in their device?
Do you understand Dangers: Ropestretch / Falling low. Holds coming off/People dropping stuff not standing at base of climb to watch.
Seriously If you take people you need to have everything thought through from sun burn to Sensible clothing and nutrition as well as The Ropes side.

Not all Experienced people are, so read How to climb etc and think for your self, your experience grows fast if you think about things and question. Just doing what you were taught because that's the way it's done will keep you inexperienced. I know people who climb really hard who have no idea how to do a rescue, who Multi pitch out of coverage with no Prussicks etc, who Belay in the fall line, who don't protect the belay. A bit of misfortune and They are in big trouble yet most beginners will look up to them as good climbers.


Esnavely1


Jul 23, 2012, 4:12 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. As I said, I pose this question out of curiousity, not because I'm thinking of leading anyone else out to climb. I am at least experienced enough to know that it would be incredibly unsafe for everyone involved. I think it does give me a bit better of a perspective of what to look for and what to avoid in a climbing partner though. I'm moving in a week near to some world class sport climbing, so I'll keep in mind your comments as I make new climbing friends in the coming weeks.


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In reply to:
Hi,

Esnavely1 has replied to your post in the Climbing Information: Beginners forum.

Subject: Re: [moose_droppings] When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group?

You can view the post here: http://www.rockclimbing.com/...post=2592992#2592992

Rockclimbing.com Adminstrator

?


herites


Jul 23, 2012, 5:15 PM
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It depends. Sport cragging is not rocket science, if you know how to lead, belay, rap and set up an anchor then you should be safe enough. Practice makes perfect, play with your gear at home, read and learn every climbing related book you can get your hands on. (If you can, go the gym when it's deserted, and practice how to set up a rap, if the staff allows it)

When I first took out my gf and my friend climbing none of us was climbing for more than 3 month, in a gym, and only I was leading. Went to the library a week before, studied the books there (a Steve Long one and a national issue book, which is exam material for the summer rock climbing course). Went to a popular crag, near the city, in case some shit happens and chose the first few routes well beyond my ability. Make sure that you can focus on doing things right, not climbing hard for the first few times. Doublecheck everything and keep things simple.


distantThunder


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Esnavely ... here's a simple - but important - suggestion. It may be one of the most important things you can do to improve your safety, and also keep your friends safe.

If you are thinking about doing outdoors climbing, maybe with friends who are inexperienced, why not do a training session with a professional guide before you hit the rocks? I can guarantee you that the money spent would reward you handsomely - in terms of reviewing old techniques PLUS learning some new ones. If you just plan to go top toping, then a 1-day review with a guide on setting anchors, lowering off climbers, avoiding pitfalls, and showing new climbers "how to climb" - would be fine, If you plan on some simple lead climbing, then a weekend spent reviewing anchors, belaying, rappelling, placement of pro etc would be a very smart investment of your money.

I HIGHLY recommend professional instruction - throughout your rock climbing career. It's one of the best things you can do.

dT


(This post was edited by distantThunder on Jul 23, 2012, 6:49 PM)


USnavy


Jul 23, 2012, 8:40 PM
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drector wrote:
USnavy wrote:
So how could someone who has never actually tested a piece of gear possibly be more qualified than someone who tests it all the time? At the end of the day, you can climb trad every day of ever year, but until you actually fall on a piece, its just a guess as to whether it will hold or not. Falling on pieces often and verifying they hold confirms that you have the appropriate skill set required to place good pro.

Maybe you are just falling on the pieces that are places well and have never fallen on the crap placements you make every other time. I don't me "you" personally but in general, placing gear is all about placing gear correctly and securely every single time, not just the times when you happen to take a fall.

There is no "guess" about a piece holding or people would be getting hurt constantly. A competent trad leader needs to place gear properly without the need for testing it and that takes instruction, a high IQ, some mechanical inclination, and some common sense, not a lot of falls.

Or do you fall on every piece to find out if it will hold?

Dave
Except in my example I was comparing someone who had taken 300 falls versus someone who had never taken one. If you have taken 300 lead falls and all of your pieces have held, it is pretty crystal clear that you know how to place gear. And yes it is a guess. I dont care how high your IQ is or how many times you scored a 36 on the ACT, until you fall on a piece of gear, you dont know for certain it will hold. If there is one thing I have learned climbing trad I would say it is that just because a piece looks good, it does not mean it is good. Always have at least two pieces between you and the deck.

There is a guy on here (Caughtinside I think) who ripped three "textbook" .75 Camalots in parallel placements in good rock. Metolius also conducted a study awhile back in which they found 1 in 20 placements they were confident was bomber ended up pulling on a fall. Cams are not bolts, there are no guarantees. I have ripped a green Alien on bodyweight in Yosemite. It was in a splitter crack, and it was a textbook placement. Well the lobes just dident engage. The cam slid out when I bounce tested it. I have also ran into that same issue other places. Cams have limits, if the rock is too smooth, they wont work, it is as simple as that. That is one of the reasons why some climbers believe that climbing trad on limestone is dangerous. Limestone can be notoriously smooth at times.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Jul 23, 2012, 8:45 PM)


moose_droppings


Jul 23, 2012, 10:55 PM
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USnavy wrote:
until you fall on a piece of gear, you dont know for certain it will hold. If there is one thing I have learned climbing trad I would say it is that just because a piece looks good, it does not mean it is good.

Right. That's why not falling is your first line of protection in trad.

In reply to:
Always have at least two pieces between you and the deck.

That's fine and dandy for a some falls. Cracking a rib or twisting an ankle is better than decking but, sometimes it's just better to back off and not push it.
Depending on where your at, a little injury can turn epic real quick.


bearbreeder


Jul 23, 2012, 11:40 PM
Post #24 of 47 (4163 views)
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Re: [moose_droppings] When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group? [In reply to]
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if you want to climb and send at your limit on trad you WILL fall ... its a judgement one has to make depending on the gear, the grade and how safe the fall is ...

those who dont fall on trad are those stuck to climbing well within their limits ... nothing wrong with that if thats what you enjoy ...

i dont know anyone who climbs 5.11 or above trad who doesnt fall at some point or isnt willing to take a fall should the gear be good and the fall safe enough

IMO if you havent taken a few falls in trad at some point, youll be sketching out and shaking above your pieces on anything close to your limit ... ive seen it over and over again


iknowfear


Jul 24, 2012, 3:44 AM
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Re: [kobaz] When it it safe to be the most experienced climber in a group? [In reply to]
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kobaz wrote:
iknowfear wrote:
(ps: Even if you know your stuff, climbing with a group is incredibly stressfull)

Especially when you go out with a group of people from the gym who appear to be competent climbers and then later in the day you find them climbing a toprope they set up on the terror dome taking huge swings into the trees after drinking several six packs.

I was refering to all the factors that you have to constantly keep in mind and check for everyone - but that too! (this is why you should not allow/bring alcohol on a group outing - people are inovative enough in finding new methods of hurting themselves or others without reduced judgment and increased ego).

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