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darkside


Nov 25, 2001, 8:08 AM
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Routes to do a body good (Ontario)
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Dear Dr Piton

My Ex-girlfriend says I.....oh hang on wrong advise forum, this is the rock thingy..!!

You have previously advocated aiding and cleaning your own pieces to improve/gain confidence in placements. I was thinking of trying it, especially as the colder weather is coming but the ice is yet to arrive. Can you recommend any routes that would be good for clean aid along the escarpment. Routes that might be fun in the Milton area would be good.

Thanks.



passthepitonspete


Nov 26, 2001, 11:33 PM
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Dear Darkside,

I greatly admire anyone who would want to go out aid climbing in the cold. This is generally considered to be "sick behaviour" and is a necessary prerequisite for the big wall. As you know, "climbing big walls is just a different kind of suffering," but I believe it was Jim Bridwell who said, "you don't practise suffering!"

After I finished climbing Pacific Ocean Wall on El Cap (click here to read about my ascent and when I hung out with Jim Bridwell) Chongo told me it was time to "join The Club, this club being the elite and crazy few who choose to climb El Capitan by themselves.

There was a very inspirational passage in the book which I quote,

"There is another approach to choosing a climb that is appropriate once you have acquired a little experience. This way may be risky, and could even have the potential for creating a true living nightmare that lasts for days on end. You could even die a horrifying death. But this approach just may be more fun and will probably, no matter what happens and provided that no one is harmed, teach you a great deal more.

"This other approach is that of reckless abandon, the path to conquest and glory: to choose a climb that is longer and more difficult than any you have done before. You may not succeed, yet there is an equally good chance that you will [at least, eventually]. If you survive, yo may just have had one of the best experiences of your climbing career. If it is a living nightmare, then you may have learned one of your best lessons. So either way, you win.

"Regardless of the outcome, provided you survive with your health, this is the path you will only rarely regret. This is the path of the "epic climb", the odyssey that will not end. This path begins with your announcement to the entire world of your intentions. This way, you are committed. And the more people you tell, the more
committed you become. This can be a good thing and this can be a bad thing. It all depends on your dedication, tenacity, motivation, and genuine need for real excitement and real adventure. To be fun, there has to be some risk. Risk your reputation as a climber. Risk your status in your peer group. Risk anything except your life and health. All else can be recovered or replaced. Opportunity may not, so choose well."

Quoted from THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BIG WALL CLIMBING VOLUME ONE: THE GROUND MANUAL by Charles V. Tucker

I decided to solo Iron Hawk because it was a route that I had absolutely no prior knowledge of, except that Warren Hollinger had told me that he enjoyed it. It was also a little bit harder than anything I had yet climbed. I also planned to do it solo.

My rigorous training program for my big wall climbs is the stuff of legend. It is called "off the couch". This saves me from the generally tiresome burden of working out and becoming fit. These are things that happen while you solo a big wall anyway, so it would be a waste of time and effort to do it ahead of time when you know you will end up that way anyhow. I am basically lazy and prefer to do things with the least amount of effort possible.

I decided that I needed to go learn how to solo climb. This I had never done before. I bought myself a Solo Aid which is a horrid thing requiring two-handed operation, and absolutely obsolete when compared to a Gri-gri. I also needed to learn how to operate the 2:1 hauling ratchet if I were ever to be able to pull up enough stuff to live on the wall for a couple weeks.

So out I went to the local Milton Area crags, filled my pigwith rocks, and used it as my belayer. Once I reached the top and rapped the pitch, then jugged back up and cleaned it, I hauled up the bag of rocks. Karl Seidenschmidt made fun of the sound my Rope Ratchet made, as this was in the days before I started using adjustable daisies. (I will be talking about adjustable daisies and fifis in the post entitled "moving up" which I hope to address shortly.) When I explained to everyone that I was learning to solo so I could go solo El Cap, it forced me to become committed. I did not want to return home from California empty-handed and embarrassed. I also phoned ahead to the Camp 4 kiosk and asked them to post a note that I was coming down to solo El Cap and wanted to hire some sherpas. This also saved me the work of carrying my gear to the base.

At any rate, here is a list of climbs that I have solo aided and practised prior to soloing El Cap. The two-pitch route allows you to set up an intermediate belay to haul up your bag of rocks. You can practise the Load Release Knot at an intermediate station. I chose these routes because they are more or less continuous cracklines.

Nemo from L to R:

Strike One
Dufte
Dick's Direct
Axolotl
Cat's Tail
Peanut Butter Brothers (2 pitch)

It's possible you might have to phantom the first three. I'm not sure about the access.

Buffalo Crag:

Rainy Day Women (bring your hooks!)
Operation Evaporation (L thru roof, not by bolt)


Note: When you get your pigto the top of the crag, you will have to toss off the rocks rather than leave them sit at the top. This can pose a bit of a distraction on busy weekends. If you tell people you are planning to solo El Cap they will think you are bitchin'. If you return from California without having climbed El Cap, they will know you are not.


[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-11-26 23:44 ]


darkside


Nov 28, 2001, 11:34 AM
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Wow Dr Piton
You write posts as long as passthepitonspete but good reading all the same.

I never thought of it as "sick behaviour" but then again I've shivered my way through a 2hr belays dodging chunks of ice and denied being crazy to non-climbers (am I in denial?)

I'm not sure I want to commit to a life of aid as much as just be capable should I ever choose to follow the path for a journey or two. I like to trad and thats what I intend to keep doing but while I can clip bolts, boulder on occasions, swing tools, and place gear, I had yet to venture into the darker side of aid. I figured starting some clean aid would be a start so a couple of weekends ago I took off to Bottleglass Crag and set up a fixed line on Sphinx Crack. I pretty much ignored my friends who were further along the cliff doing some free climbing and spent ages on one climb. I was using a gri-gri as a belay device and used my trad rack to aid. A number of things struck me.
-How that little brassie held my weight bouncing on it is beyond me.
-Standing in etrier's(sp) for any length of time sucks on the feet.
-I was pretty happy with the majority of my placements.
-Now I know why the top step would be known as a "hero loop", especially on anything less than bomber gear.

I have used the "tell to commit" method myself. I had naysayers some years ago before going backpacking around Australia. So my answer was to tell everyone; I spent seven months away including five in Australia. I now have all sorts of tales to tell and experiences to remember.

As for my original request for route suggestions, I will be trying to aid some of them in the near future so thanks for whats yet to come.


passthepitonspete


Nov 28, 2001, 2:41 PM
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Brit accent which is rather Monty Python-ish:

"Roight then, lad! Why, when I was young, we used to dreeeeeeeeeeeeeam of belays that only lasted two hours!"

You are indeed correct, a mere two hours does not even begin to qualify as "sick".

When you also clean your own placements, you will get a very good idea of how good they are. I am a much better aid climber after having soloed El Cap a few times than I ever was before. Solo aiding works - you learn a lot.

The very difficult mechanics of top-stepping will be discussed in a future post entitled "tell me about moving systems" and will also talk about proper use of adjustable daisies and fifis. Stay tuned!

Now go get some hooks and scare yourself on the headwall of Rainy Day Women.

We look forward to your announcement to the entire world, right here in Dr. Piton's Forum, that you are going to solo El Cap.

You will be assured of receiving the appropriate response regardless of the outcome of this adventure.



[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-12-21 06:19 ]


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