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Messages - Tito

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Big Wall Forum / Re: Lurking Fear?
« on: July 10, 2013, 08:45:01 am »
If cobbledik isn't interested in your ledge when you are ready to sell I certainly am. After lugging the metolius double down the east ledges a couple of weeks ago I am definitely looking to lighten my load.
I definitely found the yellow/orange offset metolius master cam to be useful.  I back cleaned almost every time I placed it on WFLT and Zodiac.  Might not be necessary for LF though.

Big Wall Forum / Re: Daily Needs/Spare Rack Bag suggestions
« on: March 18, 2013, 05:49:39 am »
Thanks again!
Just a few more questions (hopefully) on your rope management system.  In regards to your anchor system, it seems that it is optimized for swapping leads and soloing.  Leading in blocks would require breaking the anchor down and re-stacking and building a new anchor, or swapping ends of the rope. 
Do you even bother to pull up the extra lead-line before fixing for your second? 
If you do not pull up the extra line, how does the second manage the excess lead rope to prevent snags etc?

Big Wall Forum / Re: Daily Needs/Spare Rack Bag suggestions
« on: March 17, 2013, 01:57:54 pm »
Thanks for the super quick response!  So you would not suspect the same mule jamming issue with the short side release/closure cords as you would with the docking system? Thanks again for saving me time testing which may or may not cover the realities of walling.

Big Wall Forum / Daily Needs/Spare Rack Bag suggestions
« on: March 17, 2013, 01:01:20 pm »
Howdy all,
Getting ready to be in Yosemite for all of this coming June.  Most of my aid climbing has been done in the SE on routes that require at most an overnight bivy, so I haven't had to deal with the amount of water necessary to do an el cap route.  I did a quick pack the other day and realized it is probably cutting it pretty close to use just one haul bag.  I do have a second haul bag and have studied Hudon's system.  I have a couple of questions that I hope you all can help with.

1)  Recommended Daily Needs/Spare Rack Bag to be tethered?  (Is a Fish beef bag sufficient if it is on a tether?)
2)  Is it better to just use a second haul bag rather than a tethered daily needs/spare rack bag(s)?

My other question is in regards to the cord choice in Hudon's multiple haul bag system.  Hudon's system used double thin cord for docking and short side bag release/closure.

3)  Is there any real disadvantage to using a thicker single length of cord with a munter/mule?

Big Wall Forum / Re: Touchstone Wall mandatory free climbing beta request.
« on: December 18, 2012, 05:52:15 am »
Thanks for the beta, I kind of figured that was the case.  At this point I have little intent to rap the gully, but I won't have a ledge or be hauling.   

I'm also curious to know if a 70 m rope will reach the ground from the top of pitch 2.

Big Wall Forum / Touchstone Wall mandatory free climbing beta request.
« on: December 14, 2012, 08:31:18 am »
Howdy all,
I'm heading out to Zion between Xmas and New Years and I'm hoping to get on something weather permitting.  I was wondering if anyone might have insight into mandatory free climbing on Touchstone.  I'll be rope soloing with a SP and I'd just like to get my head around what free climbing is necessary versus what most folks do when climbing as a team.  I tend to be very cautious free climbing when soloing (ie. I'd rather avoid it if possible and stick to 5.7 and under if necessary).
Thanks in advance

Big Wall Forum / Re: Glass Menagerie recommended rack?
« on: March 02, 2012, 05:42:26 am »
One good resource for a GM rack is
My buddy Chris Brown wrote this up years ago and it is still valid (

I would fill out your TCU rack and have doubles of 00 and 0 (or similiar), especially if you are planning to take it to the top.  Cam hooks are a must (for the open book pitch and for the alternate traverse, pitch 2, to the hanging belay below open book pitch) as are a talon.  Yes, you do need two #4 camalots for the offwidth pitches above the roof, and we used 4 # 1's on the final hand crack (it was pouring  rain on us and the crack was filled with water).   I saw a lot of parties that had to bail because they did not have offsets and enough small cams for the pitch leading up to the roof.   At least one set of some kind of brass offset is necessary.

Iron and heads are NOT neccessary on GM.  There is a dead rurp nest near the end of roof pitch traverse (much longer than you might expect),  all of the cables are frayed or gone.  You can however tension off of the fixed piton just prior to the rurp mess around the corner to a crack near the belay instead of placing yet another rurp and adding to the damage/mess.

Other beta:  wait until after 10 AM in the summer to climb that way you will be in the shade.  Once above the roof though, there is no hiding from the sun, until late afternoon.  I prefer to jug up to just below the roof rather than the pitch below that, I've done both and if you fix to the lower belay your rope will rub on some small  sharp knobs where it gets slabby just below the anchors and there is nothing you can do about it.  I've done the free hanging jug up to there enough to know that I'm not doing it again, I'll just be prepared to haul to below the roof and bivy there and do the route in a long push.

One other note, there is a horizontal traverse rated A1 in the old guidebook (I think) from the offwidth above the roof to another vertical offwidth.   There is a sunbleached, brittle, cable broken mess in at the beginning of this horizontal traverse for a tension traverse.  After a cursory inspection I decided not to use it (I had my sights on the little bit of shade in the next corner, and wasn't prepared to sweat it out fixing this mess).  Instead I ended up taking a whip onto a #1 BD nut in the horizontal crack (less than ideal) when a not quite right size TCU blew on me.  Unfortunately, the piece I needed was way below me somewhere in the offwidth.  I kind of question the A1 rating, whatever,  I just tensioned over the vertical crack and free'd it up to the belay spot above the horizontal crack.  Watch your natural belay here, the offwidth above is a drainage for the forest up top which gets regualr afternoon showers in the summer.  The crack here is gritty due to the runoff.

Big Wall Forum / Re: Zenyatta Mondatta, Solo, June 2011 Photos
« on: July 23, 2011, 07:42:56 am »
I was just trying to put together a 2:1 system and there is one thing I can't figure out.  How are you attaching the  jug pull down handle to the basic ascender?  I see the biners in photos but the basic ascender cam and thumb latch is in the way.  It seems that I'm missing something.
Many thanks,

Big Wall Forum / Re: Block leading and the dynamic pig belay
« on: May 19, 2011, 06:04:13 am »
Jared Ogden addresses this technique in ths book Big Wall Climbing: Elite Technique pg 173.  Basically you need the weight of the pig rignt on the power point of the upper anchor.  Just like stated above, I'd put a screamer into the lead line like normal for soloing (same text pg. 172).  Attaching the pig to the anchor would probably not be that helpful since the follower would be weighting the anchor while cleaning, which would keep the anchor cordage from flipping in the event of a fall.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Patagonia Alpine FAs, Video TR.
« on: April 13, 2011, 10:51:21 am »
Absolutely fantastic!  Great to see that 'Adventure' is alive and well with you cats.  Even sketcky Kelly and other curmudgeons (myself included) have to appreciate your efforts, totally full value stuff.  Plus I got to drink an extra cup of coffee while I took in your TR this morning.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Early Season Prow Solo
« on: April 06, 2011, 04:53:53 am »
Good on ya!  Have to say my favorite part is drinking the cobra with the helmet on....maybe I should have followed the approach last weekend so I wouldn't have 9 staples in the back of my head.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: MESCALITO
« on: March 09, 2011, 09:56:06 am »
Nice!  I don't think I'll ever be able to climb on ancient rivets without singing "manky rivet, manky rivet" now.

Thanks, Skully,  Oh yeah, I gotta new lid, well at least I started to use my Elios again.  For me its pretty much as critical as a harness, as my buddy says "if your going to be dumb you better be tough"  and I need to give myself a fighting chance.  I did put a sticker on it that says "I luv your mom's facebook page" though.

Heads are not necessary, although having a RURP is a good idea.  Personally I carry a hammer anyway to clean stuck nuts and to gently tap cam hooks in less than ideal placements to make them stick.  If/when those Leeper "bolts" blow you'll want something to bat hook with.  Don't get on Invisible Airways 2nd pitch without heads though.

Aid, though not in vogue, is an attractive style of climbing for me.  I started my climbing pretty late at age 33 and alpinism is my passion.   A couple of years into my obsession with climbing I found myself over a bulge with only two slings left, a few pieces on the rack, and another full traversing pitch to go to a ledge.  At the time I was filled with magazine ideas of style which require no weight to be placed on a piece.  I started down climbing and back-cleaning to a ledge I had climbed past.  Down-climbing the bulge I couldn?t find any decent feet and eventually my forearms pumped out and my hands slid off the quartzite horizontal that I had just cleaned a bomber green C4 from.   The fall was a long one since Dave, my belayer, couldn?t see me and there was slack in the line.  I ended upside down cracking my BD Tracer helmet in the process.   My definition of style changed that day.  I could have easily lowered and then tension traversed back over to a ledge.  Now my personal version of style primarily has connotations of self sufficiency, calm focused upward motion, and leave as little trace as possible ethics.  

Then there was my fist visit to Yosemite.  The basis of the trip was backpacking with my wife, brother, and sister in-law into Conness with a quick trip down to the Valley.  I only had time to climb one pitch on the last morning I was there, so I did Pine Line.  I felt pretty ridiculous when I looked up and thought to myself ?70? down only 2,930? to go?.   I?m not a gifted free climber, never have been able to free 10c, something about my lack of flexibility and having my foot shoulder high without jugs to yard on.   So I figured the only way up that giant stone for me was with aid.  Aid climbing has since served me well in the alpine, like when a buddy and I were off route and had to surmount a short overhanging section to tie into the middle of the Blackface on the Lower Exum in a snow storm. I?m lost a lot, but it is always in interesting places.  

I didn?t even get off the ground on my first trip to attempt Glass Menagaerie (GM).  It was February and raining.  Although the North Face of Looking Glass is overhanging, rain was undercutting the ice on top.  My wife, Ang, and I camped on the ancient moraine just downhill from the face and we listened to the ice crashing down all night right where you would have to belay from.  We went on a waterfall tour of Pisgah National Forest.

On my second attempt I ran into some fellow Big Wall Forum guys on GM.  Ang belayed me up the first pitch and I rope soloed the second pitch roof variation only to be stymied by the lack of a rope bag for belay management for a hanging belay, and to be honest a little insufficient psych.

On my third attempt in December 09 Dave was once again back with me in hopes of freeing the first .11c pitch on toprope and having a go at the .13 pitch too.  Little did he know how cold he would be belaying a north face in winter and the pain associated with trying to free climb in cold and shade.  At least this time I didn?t scare the hell out of him (he also belayed me when I took my first leader fall and hit the ground years ago).  I did let him struggle leading on the Nose Area eyebrows though in retribution and to shut him up about sport 11s.

It was November before I could attempt GM again.  This time I had a Fish Snake Charmer, more time, and better weather.  My plan was only haul the rope bag and to use just one rope until two were necessary.  The goal was to make it out through the roof and rap to the ground from there.  There are two more pitches above the roof but I?m not really hip on rope-solo free climbing entire pitches. Finding an aid climbing partner has been problematic.  Most people I know are inexperienced, incompatible, or not interested.  So I have resigned myself to rope soloing, which has its appeals.  

Ang and I drove in from FL arrived mid-afternoon and humped loads into the moraine at the base of the north face.  I don?t know how much my haul bag weighed but it was way more than I have ever carried on a five day alpine trip.  Next time I?ll carry the ropes and rack in a separate load.  Ang humped in another load and setup camp while I fixed the first pitch (she is afraid of heights).  

This was the first time that I had rope-soloed this pitch.   Although it was familiar terrain, the free climbing mantel after the 5.7R opening slab in approach shoes with tree detritus covering it put me in one of those positions where you say to yourself ?hopefully this works out okay?.  The other section that gave me pause is a second step hook move where you flag one leg way out and toe hook.  I?ve taken whips here previously and started to barndoor again but managed to down-climb, regroup and get the toe hook/body position right.   From there it?s a ladder over a bulge to three really rusty 60-70?s Leeper ?bolts? from which you transition up and right onto a ledge.  I groveled up this but forgot to use a hook on the last ?bolt? and found myself in a less than desirable position still attached to the bolt below.  Luckily there was a crack in the back base of the ledge that I could sink a few cams in and unscrew myself.  The cleaning and preparation for day two went smoothly after that.

That evening was the daylight saving time change, and although I set two alarms to get an alpine start I slept through both of them.  When I woke up it was full light.  I really don?t believe in doing a damn thing until after I have had my coffee, so it was 10:30 before I was set to lead out the second pitch.  Not exactly the alpine start I had planned on.   At this point all I wanted to do was cover some new terrain.

Last year there were three ?fixed? pieces on the roof traverse variation, these are all gone now.  Medium cam hooks and a talon help to get through this section, rate it what you feel like.   The sideways rap back to the first pitch belay went smoothly and it was noonish when I was ready for pitch 3.

Two times before I had looked at the opening moves to this pitch and couldn?t quite figure it out.   A high step on an anchor bolt into a high step on a cam hook, gently tapped to seat it, was the trick to clip the sling hanging off the bolt above.   Ah-hah! That is why the sling is there.  Up the bolts with a few TCU placements intermingled took me to point where I had to bust out the topo.  The route goes left from the top of the open-book to a small roof with jugs and plenty of placements to help the transition to the belay.   After rapping, cleaning, and reorganizing I let myself eat and enjoy the view of the surroundings in fall color.

The next pitch is up an overhanging, arching, chimney, water-groove, crack thing and it is awkward.  I started to free the first couple of moves only to find myself jammed up and not being able to reach the pro that I needed.  So I had to down-climb a few moves and then aid/thrash my way up, plugging away with HB?s, nuts, cam hooks, and TCU?s.  A good cam just before the belay ledge and one just above it help the mantle up onto the poster child belay of GM.  

4 PM, two hours of daylight left.  If I rap, clean, and haul I won?t be able to do the roof today.  It is pretty much fixed from here through the roof and I can see a quick- link out on the edge of the roof, the belay must be there.  When is the next time I?m going to be here?  Do I really want to do a 60 meter free hanging jug back up to this spot tomorrow?  I can make it before dark.

I set off through the roof scavenging every biner left on the rack to link the pitches.  I placed a couple of TCU?s between a lower out sling and the next real bolt.  There are a lot more of the Leeper ?bolts? with rusty spinning hangers and rivets partially pulled out between decent bolts.  I got to the quick-link and realized, oh, the route traverses waaayyyyy left to a water groove. At least it?s not overhanging anymore, better get moving.  More rusty Leepers leaving only a single biner every once in awhile since A; I don?t have many more and B; the fixed gear doesn?t look like it will take much of a fall anyway.  A piton with a lower out sling is the first decent piece in awhile but it?s followed by a RURP with a fraying cable hanger.  This looked terrible and you have to tension off of this to the left.  I carefully eased onto it and peaked around the corner.   Good there is a small horizontal crack. Buts it?s weird and the TCU I need is below me.  I get a too small TCU to stick and carefully ease on to it making certain not to shift around to the angle it won?t hold and blindly slam a #1 into the crack that was out of reach before.  Ahhhhhhhhh, feels good. I get a look at the cam and its bomber.  If I had known about this spot I would have brought a RURP with me, there is already one dead one there.

I rig the ropes, lose the rack, and slide down to the lower anchors out in space.  I?m not wasting any time being neat since I can sort it all out on the ground.  Things are going fine until I get to the second TCU I placed in the roof section.  I had girth hitched a sling to the TCU, to save the extra biner, and extended it making it very difficult to clean.  I thrashed around here for a bit half upside down, and then clipped into the nasty Leeper next to it so I could clean my pro.  In retrospect I should have just back cleaned this section, but it seems a long way down into free-hanging space if you fall.  After that everything goes smooth and dusk is settling in when I get to the anchors.  I throw the remains of the rack that I left at the station over my yard-sale rats nest and start my rap to the ground.  I tied a 70 m and a 60 m rope together because although it says 60 m on the guidebook topo I heard this gets you to trees.  My plan was to tie a knot in the 60 m side let it jam in my belay device and let the 70 feed through the chains to reach the ground.  Unfortunately, in my rush I rigged my autoblock on the below my belay device and I let this jam.  I could have self-rescued using a prusik to get the weight off my the autoblock but Ang showed up and just swung me into the trees letting me fix my snafu and finish the rap in the dark.

My hands were nearly useless that evening and I didn?t even have to really haul.  My hat is off to you cats that can do this stuff multiple days in a row.  

Am I fast enough?  I don?t think I can move faster than 1.75 hours per pitch to lead, rap, clean, haul, and rerack. What?s next?  I don?t know. My alpine climbing partner will be in France this summer.  Am I ready to try something in the big ditch?  I?m leery of the tyranny of success, GM is after all a C1/C2 route.  What I do know is that I had been pretty stressed out and this short solo helped put my headspace back together.

Big Wall Forum / Re: Best route name for a big wall
« on: February 04, 2010, 06:51:07 am »
For a FA solo
I don't have any friends and and my nuts are too small

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Once More Through the Looking Glass
« on: November 27, 2009, 03:41:50 pm »
Better question is why the portaledge on a huge ledge?

Big Wall Forum / Re: BallNutz or Brass Nutz?
« on: November 21, 2009, 11:44:47 am »
HB offsets all the way.  Everything has its place(ment), but you will probably use the HBs more often.

Big Wall Forum / Re: Looking Glass
« on: November 19, 2009, 04:08:50 am »
I have to give credit where credit is due.  The pictures I posted where taken by Chris Brown of  He also took the one of woman freeing GM, and it is Chris working his way up Zombie Zoo.

Big Wall Forum / Re: Looking Glass
« on: November 18, 2009, 04:34:52 pm »
A few more for IA

And the trip down ancient fixed gear lane on the 3rd pitch of IA.  Well worth doing to setup the IA swing.

Psychedelic Delusions of the Digital Man another sweet line on the other side of LG, I'm about a third of the way up the 1st pitch.  Take 3 sets of HB offsets.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Once More Through the Looking Glass
« on: November 17, 2009, 04:40:10 am »
Nice pics of the Glass, they give an idea of what a spectacular place it really is.  I love watching the first rays of sunshine light up the north face in the morning with a good cup of coffee. 

Kuntor and Chris nice meeting you cats.  I was wondering where you guys where when I hiked out Sunday morning.  I should have known it had to do with the sangria.

Big Wall Forum / Re: NForce Ascenders
« on: November 04, 2009, 01:07:51 pm »
I have a pair that I have been using for about a year.  They work fine but there is a learning curve for passing pieces when you are cleaning a traverse.  The locking mechanism has a couple of stops that can catch on you.  My impression is the the petzls are easier to take off the rope and put back on.  Now that I have used the BDs for awhile I don't even think about the necessary maimpulations.

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