Author Topic: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo  (Read 8050 times)

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Offline scotto

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Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« on: June 21, 2011, 03:56:28 pm »
So, I've recently developed a desire to try my hand at soloing a wall and am headed to my local "wall" (N. Face of Looking Glass in North Carolina) to dial in my technique before potentially hopping on something much bigger this summer in Yosemite. I've quite a bit on various systems and have settled on what I think is most likely for me, but I'd still like to hear any "Don't forget to do X," or "have you considered Y" suggestions that folks have before a first aid solo.

As for my system:
I'm going to use the grigri as my belay and will likely get a steel oval to prevent cross-loading. I'm still undecided on modifying versus not. I'll probably make that call after my first couple of days out and before committing to the really big walls.

For hauling, I'm going to stick with rapping the haul line, freeing the bags, and then jugging the lead line. I'd rather stick with the safest method for now and consider incorporating fifi hauls (or other) only after I've got some solo walls under my belt. I do have a static haul line that I plan to use, although I know the arguments for an old lead line are strong. Unfortunately, my only old lead line is a 9.5 that I worry isn't burly enough to be a wall haul line.

I'll either use a piece rigged in opposition (if possible) or a kleimheist on the first bomber piece to keep the anchor oriented for an upward pull.

I plan to use screamers liberally. Same for lockers.

I don't plan to rebelay while leading for now. I'd prefer to keep fall factors as low as possible. I'll just deal with the device locking up.

My one nagging fear is that of jugging on a rope where nobody is up top to check if it shifted over an edge when it was loaded. I recently wore through a good bit of a sheath jugging over a slight edge that went unnoticed when we fixed the line the night before. Any suggestions (or good old threads - I've read a couple) about good ways to pad or avoid ledges? I do plan on rebelaying the lead line around edges as necessary and bringing a roll of duct tape for this purpose.


I really would appreciate any advice
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 03:57:59 pm by scotto »

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 04:24:18 pm »
always always always use a back up knot/stay tied when doing it up.

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 04:33:58 pm »
I definitely plan to use backup knots and keep the system closed when leading.

Offline Chad

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 05:08:40 pm »
I don't understand how re-belaying the lead rope and using the duct tape would happen at the same time. I'm not saying it would be bad to do both, but padding/dulling an edge and re-belaying or "tacking-off" the rope are two different things. In the re-belay, either with a Klemheist, or tying the rope into pieces before and after the edge. The rope wouldn't touch the edge at all. (I suspect you know that already). Also, it would sound better not to call it a FIRST AID solo : )

My advice is stay focused, stay hydrated, K.I.S.S., double-check yourself, take care of anything that could become an issue earlier rather than later. Always do something extra when you can. Any wall climbing is about highs and lows, highs and lows, from one moment to the next. One minute you're like this is harder, slower or scarier than I thought and the next minute your're feeling strong and chill. Andy Kirkpatrick has some excellent advices on solo climbing on his website and Pete Zabrok has been generous with advice for a long time. I've e-mailed people I didn't know with questions and they have been very willing to share. Big wall climbing is a brotherhood and sisterhood, make that a family, that is pretty remarkable.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 06:28:52 pm by Chad »

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 07:14:16 pm »
I didn't mean both at the same time. I'll either rebelay or use tape as the situation dictates.

I've been sifting through PTPP's stuff. It's pretty awesome - especially when I find what I'm looking for. Andy's site is new to me, but I'll take a look over there.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 10:19:34 pm »
Email me any question you might have, I'll buff you out.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 10:01:17 am by mhudon »

Offline YetAnotherDave

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 07:58:09 am »
Or post all your questions here, that way the next guy won't have to ask all the same questions.   :)

I've gotten lots of good advice from lots of people with more experience than me, but one of the key things was from Kate:  budget more water for solo than with a partner, cuz you're working more consistently.  And force yourself to take breaks to stay fed/hydrated both when things are going smoothly and when you feel like you're behind schedule.

Offline johnmac

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 09:46:35 am »
The big thing I would stay is don't put yourself under time pressure. Give yourself plenty of time to work and develop your systems.

Learning from other people is great and there is a wealth of information out there on the net and plenty of people on this site that are willing to share and help. The important point is that no two soloist do it exactly the same. You're end up developing your own systems that work for you. Have other people critique them to make sure they are safe, etc, but understand that it takes time to get a really smooth dialed in system. Be careful of not making things harder than they need to be.

Each time I solo something I find that there are little tweaks that I try. Sometimes I add things and think, yeah, that works, but I'll never do it again due to the complexity of setting it up. One example is fifi hauling. It works well when everything goes well, but can also turn to a complete CF, so I stay away from it.

Pay anal atention to rope managment. Be very very careful how you stack your ropes in your rope bag and envision where the rope will run.

Post up any questions you have. Don't be shy.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 12:10:44 pm by johnmac »

Offline Mike.

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 12:07:46 pm »
Sounds like you're pretty dialed.

You could be just as hosed jugging with your partner above you at the belay. He may not be able to see a trouble spot, and may not be able to practically do anything about it anyway. Bring a rope protector if it eases your mind. Mucci makes one out of garden hose; Fish Grain Tamer?, etc. Duct tape usually just makes a big mess and doesn't pad pointy stuff very well.

Docking/releasing techniques/skills.

Realize the disparity in speed from low pitches to upper. Mental and physical momentum count for a lot.

Cache some water at the summit, etc. if you think you're cutting it close or want a buffer. I wouldn't hesitate to rap the last pitch and leave water there to keep safe from pedestrians and bears.

Eat, drink and enjoy the position. Sometimes we forget...


PS: You know a steel oval won't prevent cross-loading, yes?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 12:11:50 pm by Mike. »
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2011, 03:17:31 pm »
Whatever you do, my main rule is If you're manhandling something, you're fucking up!

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 06:14:32 pm »
Sounds like you're pretty dialed.

You could be just as hosed jugging with your partner above you at the belay. He may not be able to see a trouble spot, and may not be able to practically do anything about it anyway. Bring a rope protector if it eases your mind. Mucci makes one out of garden hose; Fish Grain Tamer?, etc. Duct tape usually just makes a big mess and doesn't pad pointy stuff very well.

Docking/releasing techniques/skills.

Realize the disparity in speed from low pitches to upper. Mental and physical momentum count for a lot.

Cache some water at the summit, etc. if you think you're cutting it close or want a buffer. I wouldn't hesitate to rap the last pitch and leave water there to keep safe from pedestrians and bears.

Eat, drink and enjoy the position. Sometimes we forget...


PS: You know a steel oval won't prevent cross-loading, yes?

I'm definitely going to cache. I hadn't even considered that, but that would provide nice peace of mind.

For the PS: Haha, yeah. Should've said to prevent the badness associated with cross-loading.

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 06:29:33 pm »
I guess one question/concern that I have is with my haul line. I have a 9.5 bluewater haul line. I really like it, and it works great when doing walls with a partner. I am somewhat concerned about rappelling it after a traversing pitch. I feel like it's a little on the small side to be trusting my life to on a wall, but I've read through some old threads on here, and it sounds like it's something folks do.

It has done me fine over the 10 or so pitches I've used it, but it did get abraded almost to the core at one end after jugging on it over a minuscule edge. I can't imagine it's going to take that much abuse just hauling and rapping, but it's a nagging concern of mine.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 06:33:58 pm by scotto »

skully

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 10:52:55 pm »
When it comes to cords, I err towards fat. Anything can happen up there. Consider it training weight. Or insurance.
I dunno, pick one, all, or make another.
Not so hip with the spider threads.

Offline Mike.

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 01:18:34 am »
What skully said.

Don't bring up gear you don't trust 100%. You'll have plenty to think about without also worrying if your rope is thick enough to not be cut while you rap it.


Good one, Mark. I do fuck up at times, but try to keep it from getting out of hand...
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 01:21:09 am by Mike. »
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Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 09:39:52 am »
You only have so much energy stored in your body and you can haul only so many calories. Soloing is terribly hard work and if you run out of energy/calories before you reach the top life is going to suck big time!

When I need to pull up my tag bag, I use a mini-trax and pump it up using my foot. When I need to move the pigs, I rig a quick 2:1 and use my Gri-gri to grab and release the rope. When cleaning, I have my jugs set up perfectly for me and I use both arms together rather than one and one. Recently, on ZM, I was just barely able to haul 1:1 but I went with 2:1 simply because it was less effort. My docking system, since it is utterly foolproof, never requires any strength to release.

It's all about the details.

BTW: if you cache on top, make sure to bring it down. After ZM, I cleaned out the entire area of water bottles left in the bushes, 5 gallons worth. Unless it has a name and date on it, I consider it garbage and will be removing it from the top whenever I can.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 09:52:47 am by mhudon »

Offline *Mucci*

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2011, 10:25:38 am »
BTW: if you cache on top, make sure to bring it down. After ZM, I cleaned out the entire area of water bottles left in the bushes, 5 gallons worth. Unless it has a name and date on it, I consider it garbage and will be removing it from the top whenever I can.

Thank god for Porters :)

Hauling other peoples crap off the top is a selfless act by a standard team, Solo with porters is just plain smart.

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2011, 08:49:54 pm »
I guess another thing I'm going to have to figure out a method for is what to do with the lead rope. Ideally I'd have the Fish snake charmer. I only have one rope bag, though, and I'm going to use it for the haul line. I can't decide if I should rig up a homemade rope bag for the lead line or try to carry it with me in loops on my harness. Harness loops will be annoying for sure, but I also don't want to end up with a tangled cluster at the anchor.

Offline johnmac

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2011, 09:52:44 pm »
A rope bag will work best. A stuff bag or even one of those reusable shopping bags that you use at safeway, king soopers, etc works at a pinch.


Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2011, 09:59:45 pm »
Use a rope bag, leave them at the anchors or on your tag bag, don't carry it. Also, don't spend any money on it. I use the large Metolius Wall Bags but a Yosemite Village Re-Usable Grocery bag will work just as well.

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2011, 10:30:12 pm »
Use a rope bag, leave them at the anchors or on your tag bag, don't carry it. Also, don't spend any money on it. I use the large Metolius Wall Bags but a Yosemite Village Re-Usable Grocery bag will work just as well.

There's another concept I'd like to get worked out before heading up anything big. I've read a lot of PTPP's posts about aid solo methods. Some of them allude to photos of the tag bag setup, but all the links are broken. It sounds as though it's a third rope, but this one attached to a third rope bag with the "tag rack" inside it, fifi'd to the anchor.

I don't want to overcomplicate my system, but I'd also prefer not to carry a 40 pound rack on every pitch if I can avoid it.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2011, 10:55:20 pm »
I've soloed two El Cap routes in the last two years. I use a tag bag system and only two lines, a lead line and a haul line.

The bottom of the lead rope is tied off to the anchor. Your self belay device is clipped into the rope right there. The rope goes from the anchor to you and back to it's rope bag at the anchor and then to the tag bag. As you move up you pull more and rope out of the rope bag as you put more and more distance between you and the anchor. The lead rope is both your lead rope and tag line. If your rope is 60 meters it is roughly 200 feet long. Once you are 100 feet from the anchor, the lead line goes 100 feet up to you and 100 feet back down to the anchor and Tag Bag.

Get it?

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2011, 10:58:48 pm »
I think so. So after you go up 100ft, further progress pulls the contents of the tag bag up with you. Thus, it makes sense to pull up the tag bag before you go 100ft and attach it to a bomber piece higher up so that you're not weighted down by its contents.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2011, 11:15:15 pm »
I just wanted to make sure you have that part solid in your head.

Okay, Part two.

Now, you've been observant, you've noticed a few good cam placements right where 100 feet would be (you could have added 40 feet of 8 mil to the end of your lead line, since you'll never be leading on it but it will give you an effective 240 foot rope allowing you to go 120 feet before tagging). You set up a quick, easy, lite anchor, whip out your Mini-Trax, slap it onto the tag line and a convenient placement and haul your tag line off the anchor and up to you. You restock your rack, drink some water, re-load the rope into your rope bag and take off again. (now though, you have only 100 feet of rope left and have to tag 50 feet further up (50 up and 50 feet down = 100 feet of rope) (another reason for the 8 mil tag line extension).

Get it? See it? this is all very important so it must be crystal clear and logical to you.

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2011, 11:23:10 pm »
I love it. Makes total sense. I'm really glad I asked about the tag bag now.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2011, 11:33:42 pm »
Tomorrow we'll do Part 3, The Slippery Knot, the knot that safeties the whole thing.

skully

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2011, 11:47:53 pm »
The Crochet loop, man. Just another application. I can dig it, though.
Carry on.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2011, 09:55:45 am »
Sort of a better way to understand it is to call it a Crochet loop.

Here is a vid I made that explains it.

The "Slippery Knot"

Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2011, 10:44:59 am »
Thanks. I'm going to put that to use this weekend when I'm out practicing.

Offline Mike.

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #28 on: June 24, 2011, 11:07:21 am »
Cool vid, Mark.

I almost always just bring bring what I need on lead and skip the rigging and tagging. If I plan to tag, I just clip that gear to the end of the lead or tag line that gets stacked in the Snake Charmer--no extra rigging or worry about it falling off the anchor. 100' x 8mm tag extension on the lead line works for me. It needs to by big enough to rap single line in an emergency.

Whoever named tying-the-tag-or-haul-line-to-the-lead-line "continuous loop" must have been high. It's not a continuous loop. No wonder nobody knows WTF it is when they hear it. Pointless esotericity.
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Offline scotto

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Re: Things you wish you knew before your first aid solo
« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2011, 01:14:14 pm »
Also, tangentially related...

Is it possible to register for more than one day at a time at camp 4? Say I'd like to stay there five days, but some mornings leave for climbing before the kiosk opens. Can I just register for five days on my first morning?