Author Topic: I forgot how slow aid climbing is  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline tolman_paul

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I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« on: September 20, 2011, 03:37:51 pm »
We had a pretty good downpour last night, and have a nice dusting of snow on the peaks.  So a no go to free climbing today at lunch, but it wasn't raining and things were starting to dry off.  So I figured since I haven't aided anything in a long time, I might as well jump on one of the few crack climbs we have on our local choss and clean aid my way up it.  How long could it take to clean aid ~30'?  There is a single bolt to the left of the crack for a 5.11 face climb, and I figured this would be the perfect anchor for my soloist.  Trouble is, it was a 5.11 move to get to the bolt, with a not so hot landing.  I tried looping two wired nuts together as a cheater stick, but I found I was a few inches shy of clipping the bolt.

Not to worry, I'd just aid my way up the crack, traverse over to clip the bolt, as my anchor, then back into the crack.  I'd just gotten a #1 low/byrne ball off of flea bay, I could tell the cables were kinked from the pic, but for $5 and change shipped, I figure it would be ok for aid climbing.  Here's the unit before it was placed



Well, I found a perfect placement for it at the base of the crack, but was concerned that the sandstone might blow.  I kept putting more and more weight on it, then stood on it.  Kerpow!  I figured the rock must of blown.  Great was my surprise when I found that my lowe ball was now nutless.  The cable braze joint had failed on both sides.  I'll have to post a pic in the future.

Needless to say, having your first placement explode doesn't do much for ones confidence when aiding.  I got a bomber stopper, climbed up the aiders and found an overhead flared horizontal seam that took a #1 flex friend.  It seemed to fine bounce testing, but now I had to trust another active piece of pro.  I wasn't that high stepping up in the aiders, but the landing was just bad enough that I wouldn't be suprised if a fall would result in a broken ankle.  I was able to travers over and clip the bolt for an anchor, and worked my way up on cams.  I was aiding tentatively in my 3rd steps, so not making much upward progress with each placement.  Also I only carry a small selection of cams on my rack as most of free climbs are bolted, so why tote the full rack around.  So, while a couple of #3 and a #4 camalot would have nicely zipped up the rest of the growing crack, they were safe and sound at home.  There were some chocks wedged in the crack, and gardening between the chock and side of the crack yielded some stopper placements.

I was debating a final placement vs. freeing the last moves in my approach shoes, but the rock was still fairly damp, and I?d torn my meniscus a few years back slipping on a wet hold, so was leary of a repeat performance.  The last placement was another gardening job, and oh so fun when the chock slipped a few inches shortly after weighting it.  As I hadn?t brought a hammer, that last placement didn?t respond to my feeble attempts to clean it.

Can?t believe it took me nearly an hour to aid that thing!   I definatlely need to work on my speed.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 03:51:21 pm by tolman_paul »

Offline tolman_paul

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2011, 08:59:20 pm »
Here's what's left of it.





Looks to me like either a cold braze or insufficient flux on one of the cables.  The other one sheared off.  I have no idea where my nut went.

skully

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2011, 09:06:26 pm »
Whoa....That's one dead ballnut.
Yeah, it can take a while.....

Offline lambone

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 12:47:20 am »
those things suck, throw it away and use a cam hook.

Offline tolman_paul

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 11:36:37 am »
Unfortunately I'd left the cam hooks at home, it was one of those spur of the moment climbs.

There is something to be said for practice aiding before heading out to the big stone.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to discover that the piece was defective way up there thinking I had the pefect special piece of gear for a trickly placement.

Offline lambone

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 11:50:42 am »
Yeah, I use to carry the smallest two sizes on my rack (red and blue), to use in a pinch. They can be a good clean aid tool. But I have blown more of them in testing then any other piece, and they get fixed so easily. i just don't really trust them. Over time i eventually stopped reaching for them. After carrying a set up El Cap 4-5 times without using them once i just said 'fuck these things" and now they reside in my old gear bin.

And yes, aiding is slow, and practice is very worth it. The thing is speed aid climbers like Ammon don't move exceedingly fast on the wall, just very smooth, steady and methodical. The key is to eliminate any pauses and wasted time in the process, the quicker you are at picking the right piece for the job ahead the first time (and as far as you can reach ahead) makes all the difference.

skully

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 09:16:44 pm »
I keep a brace of them....ballnuts, that is. Cam hooks bite sandstone in a bad way.

Offline cobbledik

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Re: I forgot how slow aid climbing is
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2011, 09:40:49 pm »
I thought ballnuts were amazing when i was freeclimbing because i never fell on them, then i used them aiding and had every other piece blow on me. The scariest weapon in my quiver imho
Sometimes the difference between a layman and a journeyman is simply what he is allowed to believe himself to be.