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Saving gear for the anchor
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zekeo


Jun 24, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Saving gear for the anchor
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Did a search, didn't find too much on this.

I'm a new trad climber interested in hearing other's decision-making process on what gear to save for the anchor after a long pitch.

A few days ago I was towards the end of a long 4th pitch and found myself wondering whether to plug my last few cams on what was starting to feel runout territory. I hadn't been on this climb before and didn't know what options there would be at the top.

Things turned out great this time--when I got there I was very happy to see two shiny bolts.

I'm familiar with the option of back cleaning, but it seems like something to try and avoid if at all possible.

What does your mental process look like when you're low on gear?

Thanks!


bearbreeder


Jun 24, 2013, 12:21 PM
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Re: [zekeo] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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1. Get all the beta you can on the gear at the anchors ... If you arent going for a "pure" onsight

2. Try not to use up all your gear in a particular size ... For example dont use all yr #1s if you can get something else that fits just as well unless theres no alternative

3. Get REALLY good with nut placements, especially off stances ... Theyre lighter and you can carry more of em ... Many cams can be places passively in constricting placments, so cams are generally more flexible, save those for when theres no choice/pumpy placements/anchors ... Just be aware of potential zippers and act accordingly

4. Run it out ... Thats yr call ... But most long multis youll have to run it out on easier ground ... Just be aware that you can fall anywhere

5. Tricams ... They are light and useful for anchors if you decide to use em ... It also pays to learn how to use knots in a crack, im not saying that you should use em all the time, but test em out for thise times when you have nothing else but slings/cord/rope

6. Learn how to top belay off a good stance from yr harness ... Chances are that if you lack gear yr anchor may not be as strong a you like ... Belaying directly reduces the force on the anchors ... Not something you do every pitch, but essential to know

7. Learn how to use the rope for anchors ... Everyone should know how for emergencies

8 . Make a non-extendible anchor .... A potentially weaker anchor shouldnt have extension possibilties

And finally scream at yr partner "DONT FALL OR YR GUNNA DIIIEEE!!!"
Tongue


(This post was edited by bearbreeder on Jun 24, 2013, 12:22 PM)


dagibbs


Jun 24, 2013, 12:45 PM
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Re: [zekeo] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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As I start to get short of gear, my first thought is to look for somewhere to stop and build an anchor as I'm climbing. The thing about multi-pitch trad... there may be suggested pitches, but they aren't mandatory. So, if you've got a place with decent gear, think about building an anchor right there. Especially if the stance isn't too bad.

Sure, on a sport multi-pitch, you kind of have to anchor where the anchors are supposed to be. But for trad, the anchor locations are just suggestions.

Especially on crowded/popular climbs, it is pretty common for people to pick alternate anchor/belay positions to reduce crowding at the standard ones. Doubly true if the climb is, also, a rappel route or generally rapelled to descend.


zekeo


Jun 24, 2013, 1:27 PM
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Re: [dagibbs] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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All useful, thanks Bearbreeder.

Dagibbs, thanks as well. This was my first thought. I was in a spot with a deep 3" crack and I only had one bigger cam. I don't think I would have been able to build a good anchor there.


jacques


Jun 28, 2013, 8:27 AM
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Re: [zekeo] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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zekeo wrote:
A few days ago I was towards the end of a long 4th pitch and found myself wondering whether to plug my last few cams on what was starting to feel runout territory. I hadn't been on this climb before and didn't know what options there would be at the top.

When I began to climb, the guide book was a line on a photo where the route snake. As the lense make a distortion, the bottom and top look shorter than the middle of the route. Some are very long, eight pitch.

We have to find trick to know where to place the anchor and understand the feature of the rock. To stay in the topic, I will avoid to speak about route finding.

Before leaving home, one decision making is to have in our rack all the size that we will need on the cliff from rp's to three inches. I remembered climbing a route where I used all my 2 inches protection and was in a run out. Because I trained to use two stoppers together to make one pro, I was able to have a safe protection. So, training to use protection in different way before going to the cliff is also a part of good protection. Further more, tying the two nuts to sling to avoid that the rope drag pulls out all your pro is a thoughtful game. You have to train for that too. In some route, I was more proud of the way I place my protection, because I was safe, than in the climb (trad difference).

An other think consideration in leading a pitch was to anticipate our need. If you climb a perfect crack, two inches, all the way, you have to decide where you can fall in the air, without injury, and where you can't. You have to be able to anticipate the pitch to use the gear at the more efficient place. If there is no danger of injury, why should you take a good gear, and if there is... you will be able to use the pro that you keep in case of.

To resume, it is all strategic. When I began climbing...how happy I was to find a piton to save me. After three or four years, I was proud of my job as a leader. When I climbed with some partner and he saw the good job of protecting a pitch with a possible safe fall of forty feet, but three good pro in the easiest part where a fall means an injury...I know that I can climb at a higher any where.


billcoe_


Apr 2, 2014, 2:12 PM
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Re: [dagibbs] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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dagibbs wrote:
As I start to get short of gear, my first thought is to look for somewhere to stop and build an anchor as I'm climbing. The thing about multi-pitch trad... there may be suggested pitches, but they aren't mandatory. So, if you've got a place with decent gear, think about building an anchor right there. Especially if the stance isn't too bad.

Sure, on a sport multi-pitch, you kind of have to anchor where the anchors are supposed to be. But for trad, the anchor locations are just suggestions.

Suggestion? Unless you know the route, this might be hosing your partner. If you are swapping leads back and forth, this could lead to your partner having to set up a hanging belay off a single 10 feet short of a perfect belay ledge with 2 bomber bolts when she runs out of rope cause you didn't go full pitch.


dagibbs


Apr 2, 2014, 2:49 PM
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Re: [billcoe_] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
As I start to get short of gear, my first thought is to look for somewhere to stop and build an anchor as I'm climbing. The thing about multi-pitch trad... there may be suggested pitches, but they aren't mandatory. So, if you've got a place with decent gear, think about building an anchor right there. Especially if the stance isn't too bad.

Sure, on a sport multi-pitch, you kind of have to anchor where the anchors are supposed to be. But for trad, the anchor locations are just suggestions.

Suggestion? Unless you know the route, this might be hosing your partner. If you are swapping leads back and forth, this could lead to your partner having to set up a hanging belay off a single 10 feet short of a perfect belay ledge with 2 bomber bolts when she runs out of rope cause you didn't go full pitch.

Yeah, and if the next pitch is a rope-stretcher, that's going to be noted in the same information where the suggested belay is noted, and I'll take that into account. We might short-pitch to the suggested belay, then go on from there. My partner's also not going to be happy with me if I bring her up on a crap anchor, either.

It isn't uncommon for people to "link pitches", even on climbs they've never done before. They're treating the suggested anchor positions and pitches as exactly that -- suggestions -- and climbing right past approximately half of them. And, yeah, sometimes you run out of rope, or end up with horrible rope drag when you do this.

Another time when the suggested anchors/belay spots are commonly not used would be on very crowded/popular climbs where using an alternative belay/anchor place can reduce a charlie foxtrot situation.

So, they are suggestions that it would be a good idea to belay at this point and that point in the climb. But, you can apply your own judgement as a climber and leader, and I think you should do so, in deciding whether to follow those suggestions, or to make a different decision.


billl7


Apr 2, 2014, 7:07 PM
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Re: [zekeo] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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zekeo wrote:
I'm familiar with the option of back cleaning, but it seems like something to try and avoid if at all possible.
It depends.

I've never thought of back cleaning as something to avoid if at all possible. It's more like, do it if it makes sense under the circumstances.

Even so, I've rarely back cleaned in 10 years of regular weekend warrior leading. Once I recall doing it because I wanted more slings for the upcoming pro. Once I recalled after-the-fact that I should have done it (or down-climbed) to retrieve a 3" cam placed early in the lead.

Usually, there's enough features to make do with what's left on the rack for the places I've climbed and the typical size of my rack (it's not exceptionally large compared to others in my area ... perhaps even on the small size). I might have to stretch to reach that only-available small-nut placement or work hard to get something to work well. Be willing to take the time needed.

Bill L


dac33


Apr 7, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Re: [zekeo] Saving gear for the anchor [In reply to]
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This is a really good question. I've climbed for a long time, and I don't think I've ever not ended up with the gear to build a belay. This has always puzzled me.

It might be because most pitches in the UK are short compared with US ones and don't follow splitters, but I've climbed a bit in the USA, and a lot in Europe, and this has never happened.

There has been several times where I couldn't build a belay because there were no placements to be had, or because the rock was poor, but for some reason I always seem to run out of gear building the belay but still have enough for a belay, not before the belay.

It really is magic.


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