Author Topic: Big Wall Dreams  (Read 340 times)

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Offline philstennett

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Big Wall Dreams
« on: July 06, 2015, 12:21:41 pm »
I'm posting here because I've read this forum for a long time, and can see that there are a lot of experienced and dedicated climbers here whose opinions I feel are rather more trustworthy than some of the noise on other sites. Hopefully someone can offer a little guidance!

In the last few years of my climbing I've had my targets pretty clearly set on some of the big stuff down in Yosemite as a life goal for me (The Nose mainly, but not exclusively). I've done a lot of training and taken trips places that would help me build up the skills I would need. Bought just about every piece of gear conceivable and basically gotten myself to the point where I feel I could comfortably handle it with a partner of almost the same standard.

Unfortunately a year or so ago there was a great deal of unpleasantness in our local climbing community and has left isolated from the majority of the climbers. I stopped going to the gym and found myself avoiding other climbers as much as possible except for a small core group. Now the more experienced climbers in that group are kind of drifting away in terms of interest... fortunately some great newer people have come along but this whole ordeal has left me doubting how I can achieve my goals. The people who I am climbing with now either don't really share the same goals or are a long way from the levels required (basically just starting to learn to place gear).

So basically my question is:

Have people had any luck with finding climbing partners for bigger objectives like this through the internet? I'm a fairly nervous person both socially and in terms of climbing safety, so I feel like that could be somewhat challenging. Or is it best to focus on my group of friends and try and help someone with the right motivation get up to the levels they would need? I live way up in Newfoundland so just going to Yosemite and hoping to meet up with someone or give it a shot is kind of out of the question... If I am going to make the trip down I need to have a reasonable chance of success!

Bit of a weird question / issue I know, but I was getting a bit stressed out about it today and thought it best to start moving in the right direction.

Offline Garbonzo

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2015, 02:16:20 pm »
Big wall is such a rare pursuit that partners are a major issue.

More than half of my wall partners have been ones that I had never really met before roping up with.  Usually there is at least a beer shared over a topo, but my best partners were all just that and no more before we headed off to the valley.

Partner A:  Knew from a crowd of friends, but we never roped up.  We did a couple pitches to suss things out and went up WFLT OK (other than him being actually a bit scary, like PTSD coming out on the wall scary).

Partner B:  Internet find, had a beer and went up the Prow in good style.  He later broke his leg before the next wall season and we never did a second wall before I moved.

Partner C:  Another internet find, we got baked off of WFLT, but went back in good style.  He then bailed after 3 pitches of Tangerine Trip with bad nerves.  Oh well.

Partner D:  Knew him from the crowd, he really wanted to do Tangerine Trip.  He quit after 4 pitches (his ~10th bail, as I found out later).

Partner E:  Internet find, we've done WFLT, Prow, Tangerine Trip, Mideast Crisis, and Zodiac.  We have more future plans.

Partner F:  Internet find, though he is a friend of my wife's best friend and we met at her wedding without knowing either one of us climbed.  We did a couple walls is good style, but frankly I was not up to his level and we drifted apart.  I hope to someday get in better shape and maybe do something big with him again.

I am probably leaving some folks out.

The point is that there are others in your same position looking for partners.  Also, consider getting a guide for your first outing if you really want to get up there.  It will go really far with potential future partners to have a completed wall under your belt regardless of how you got up it.

Offline philstennett

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2015, 06:08:09 am »
Well that sounds promising! What sites have you had the most success in posting on?

I'm certainly not above hiring a guide to get the experience, unfortunately the price is a little restrictive for me!

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2015, 09:58:45 am »
Filling up your dance card, as Mike. once called it, is not always straightforward.  If you live in the valley or stay there long enough you will meet climbers who want to get up the walls. It's more about time available. For working stiffs, this is harder. Best to get, find or make a local climber and get them sussed out on aid climbing. Ultra stoke goes way far.

I'm reticent with my partners, as they are with their partners. Too many dumb climbers out there not to ask lots of questions. But ya gotta get out and ask.

Not sure that helps.

Offline philstennett

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2015, 10:37:07 am »
Thanks for the response, any info helps!

Unfortunately it's unlikely I'll get a chance to hang out in the valley for an extended time as I am one of those working stiffs, and one that lives a very long way from any big walls at that. I will keep working away with my local climbers, the concern is always that the rotation of people getting up to speed and losing interest makes me wonder if I'll ever find the right person.

Being reticent with partners pretty much sums up my concerns, as I am as well, and I feel like the kind of climbers I would want to climb with would be hesitant to join up with a random internet person for such a big objective as well! Stuck between a rock and a hard place!

I might as well put it out there that I will be in San Francisco from 15th-18th September for a conference anyway and would extend that trip in either direction if an opportunity arose. I am confident that nobody would describe me as a dumb climber and have plenty of experience on longer multipitch, just no walls. In addition to climbing skills I am excellent at carrying heavy bags and would make a fine wall chef ;)

Offline cobbledik

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2015, 10:38:31 am »
Based upon how far away you live, is there anything of appropriate higher to practice on with a partner in Newfoundland? No matter how much you train someone near you, if you don't have the exposure, you'll never really know (for your partner or yourself) how someone will react once the pain and suffering of humping loads and working day in and day out to get higher and higher sets in. Hard to buy a ticket for two people with no bigwall experience to find out the answer. Finding someone over the Internet who has that experience increases the odds of success (minus the probability of people living about their experience or being experienced but out of the game and not being able to do what they once could do.

Add that to the fact that climbing the nose has the added insult of it being a conga line where often you bail not because your party can't do it but because the party in front of you takes many days to finally give up leaving you to do the same because they out you behind schedule with their speed and bumbling.

Add to that the weather which can be unpredictable and shuts down your climb no matter the other parties or your own prep.

The bail rate on walls is high even with experienced partners. If anything, expecting to bail (even when you tell yourself you won't) is a large part of the equation.

Not a helpful post but something to consider.
Sometimes the difference between a layman and a journeyman is simply what he is allowed to believe himself to be.

Offline philstennett

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2015, 10:50:49 am »
That does make sense for sure, and I definitely understand the reality of climbing with the changing conditions and the possibility of bailing due to weather, I just want to maximize my chance of success. I have certainly considered not tackling the nose first because of the crowding issue, and just choosing something where I am more likely to be in control of the success. I tend to avoid crowds where possible, waking up very early to get on long routes before people etc. But obviously it's not quite as simple as that with a multi day route!

Doing trips in the past with potential partners I have aimed for places with good long routes specifically so that we could figure out if exposure or anything like that would be an issue. Making those trips is only really possible once or maybe twice a year though, so getting a partner up to speed and to a point where I can be confident in them takes a long time. The longest thing around here is 2 pitches... and that isn't even 2 full rope length pitches, so it is pretty tame!

I've been up the Chief, a few of the spires in the Bugaboos and some longer stuff in Red Rocks so I know that I can deal with (and love!) the exposure and the hard work, but like you say it can be hard to know how someone else will react.

Offline cobbledik

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2015, 03:55:10 pm »
Good. Sounds like your was will be prepared for the climbing. A person once told me (as I was bailing) that it's never the climbing that gets you on a wall, it's the carpentry. Never underestimate the amount of pain and energy spent on hauling and dealing with logistical nightmares.

Keep us updated, I can't wait to cheer you on from the meadow!
Sometimes the difference between a layman and a journeyman is simply what he is allowed to believe himself to be.

Offline swarren198@gmail.com

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Re: Big Wall Dreams
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2015, 04:38:42 pm »
This might not help but stop looking at partners and learn to solo bro! Sounds like you got the skills sorted!
Get on it