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4-Person Multi-Pitch Trad Climb with 3 First Timers
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By Tanner Wixom
From Grand Junction, CO
May 8, 2013
Sending Millennium Falcon

My friend wants to take me and a couple other friends to climb an easy desert tower route (5.8+ to 5.9-) with four pitches. The two bottom pitches don't have any bolts on them, and my buddy says he has all the pro we need to climb the tower. One issue with the excursion is that he is the only one with a rack. The even bigger issue is he wants to haul up three people with absolutely no trad climbing experience.

Am I right to think attempting the ascent this way is a bad idea? My buddy's really stoked for the climb, and he insists it's easy climbing, so I don't want to ruin his fun by pansying out if doing the climb really isn't as big a deal as I'm making it out to be.

If this is not an inherently bad idea, I have another question about how he plans to do it. He wants to do two teams of two. He will lead and place the pro, then belay his partner up. I then am supposed to lead through the already placed pro a la sport climbing then belay my partner up. I don't think this is a great idea because (1) I get the feeling the pro might get moved or dislodged as the 2nd climber disconnects from it on the way up, leaving me with pro that may only be offering a false hope of protection as I lead through it, and (2) I've never climbed trad before!

Like I said, I'm pretty sure this is a bad idea all around, but I will feel less stupid telling my friend I'm uncomfortable with it if some experienced trad climbers back me up and tell me this is a bad idea. If I'm just being a pansy, feel free to tell me that as well haha.


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By JWong
From Los Angeles, California
May 8, 2013

It's a really bad idea. Not only for the reasons you mention, but what happens if he gets injured past the first pitch? While that may seem unlikely, if it did happen, you have very few outs f nobody can place gear or build an anchor.

Don't do it.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 8, 2013
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Yeah, really bad idea. No trad experience? Does that also mean very limited climbing experience and no multi pitch experience? Everyone involved is going to have a better time if it is just a group of three or just two at a time. Get everyone on the first pitch for a toprope and that should be a fun outing in itself.


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By Chris Nischan
May 8, 2013

BAD IDEA


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By Turnbuckle
May 8, 2013
shelf  <br />

Sonds like you guys are going to do ottos route. It also sounds like your friend is flying by the seat of his pants a little. Desert towers are the real deal and not the best place to have three novice climbers. Although with the right person in charge it's totally doable. Not a good idea to leave any gear unattended like you said it could pop or just get over looked. There is plenary of ways to do it safely however a desert tower is not the best place to learn. If he plans on the north chimmeney of castleton. I would not recommend that. Climbing a tower is earned in physical strength but more importantly knowledge on doing it safely. It sounds like you are doubting your buddies abilities or methods a little bit. Have a great time whatever you do and be safe. Remember it's going to eat up a lot of gear on anchors alone if there is two parties. And it sounds like he is going to have the first pich protected and then have to lead the second. In my opinion one rack on party. Your not being a pansy at all your using good judgment.


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
May 8, 2013
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

I think it might be fine if the climbing was 5.6/5.7, but I'm a fairly decent climber and have had trouble on 5.9 before (not saying you would fall, but coupled with the fear and anxiety I'm sure you will have, it could be problematic).

Couldn't your buddy just set up a top rope for the second team, or maybe there is a traversing nature to the climb.... Could still be done by trailing a second rope and having the second climber tie into the middle and clip both strands into the pro as he unclips the first rope... Sounds like a hassle, but not unreasonable if everyone is competent and understands the system....

How much do you trust your buddy's skill sets and safety? I have friends that if they said we could do something I'd follow them anywhere, but there's a lot of climbers that I completely ignore when they suggest something.

I think you should just go with your buddy the two of you and follow him up the tower and use it as a learning experience.


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By slk
From Reno, NV
May 8, 2013
me

BAD.BAD.BAD.


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By Tanner Wixom
From Grand Junction, CO
May 8, 2013
Sending Millennium Falcon

Stich

Yes, I also forgot to mention that I have done very little sport climbing anyway and never any multi-pitch--just more reasons not to get ahead of myself.

Turnbuckle

You're right on with Otto's Route. I'm originally from GJ. I've been looking at the tower my whole life and thought it would be sick to stand on top of it, but I think that may still be a little way's off. I've got a lot of experience to gain before I head up.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.


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By Tanner Wixom
From Grand Junction, CO
May 8, 2013
Sending Millennium Falcon

Rob Gordon wrote:
How much do you trust your buddy's skill sets and safety? I have friends that if they said we could do something I'd follow them anywhere, but there's a lot of climbers that I completely ignore when they suggest something.


I'm not really sure how much experience he has. We're old friend's meeting up for the first time in several years. We never climbed when we both lived in GJ, so I have no idea how much trad he does--prolly just one more reason to tackle something a little less epic.


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By Turnbuckle
May 8, 2013
shelf  <br />

I think the guy above was right I have brought several people up that without much trad experience. But I fully lined them out on multi pitch first. Maybe you and your buddy do it just the two of you. The belays on that are huge and could fit four no problem but every thing else will be a pain in the ass. That is a great first tower. And you need to get up on that. The other thing is its not the best look to be fully clogging up a route with four people that aren't fully confident it will add to your stress level when there is another party climbing up your ass


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By Tanner Wixom
From Grand Junction, CO
May 8, 2013
Sending Millennium Falcon

Turnbuckle wrote:
I think the guy above was right I have brought several people up that without much trad experience. But I fully lined them out on multi pitch first. Maybe you and your buddy do it just the two of you. The belays on that are huge and could fit four no problem but every thing else will be a pain in the ass. That is a great first tower. And you need to get up on that. The other thing is its not the best look to be fully clogging up a route with four people that aren't fully confident it will add to your stress level when there is another party climbing up your ass


Another good point. It hadn't even occurred to me yet that we could end up ruining someone else's ascent of the monument by clogging up the route. I'll see what my other friends feel like doing; maybe I can find time for a safer and less hectic two person ascent this weekend.


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By Isaac Therneau
From Rochester, MN
May 8, 2013
Me with Son of A Great Chimney in the background, shortly after an attempted ascent.

The "it's only 5.9 or 5.8" is how a lot of novice trad leaders get in over their heads, especially on multi-pitch. With that rack and three novices, coupled with multi-pitch, you are putting yourself in a very dangerous position.


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By H..
From Washingtonville NY
May 8, 2013

yer gonna die...


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By Cocoapuffs 1000
May 8, 2013

Tanner Wixom wrote:
I'm not really sure how much experience he has.


That clinches it - definitely don't do it.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 8, 2013
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Tanner, do the route with your friend and leave the other two out of it. I think you'll enjoy it a lot more without the extra complications. The final 5.9 pitch is not a gimmie. It's very exposed, too. There is also a wide crack on I think the third pitch that is awkward. I've only done the route once, but it was very fun.



TreSki and me and no third or forth wheels.


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By Alex Mitchell
From Cincinnati, OH
May 8, 2013
Me Climbing

Led a multi-pitch trip with three semi noobs before. It was horrible, never again. In short... dont do it.


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By Tanner Wixom
From Grand Junction, CO
May 8, 2013
Sending Millennium Falcon

Stich wrote:
Tanner, do the route with your friend and leave the other two out of it. I think you'll enjoy it a lot more without the extra complications. The final 5.9 pitch is not a gimmie. It's very exposed, too. There is also a wide crack on I think the third pitch that is awkward. I've only done the route once, but it was very fun.


Great pics haha. It sounds really fun. I looked at the pics on the route guide here on MP, and the top seems very exciting to say the least. I definitely would like to do this route; I just need to find the right opportunity.


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By Turnbuckle
May 8, 2013
shelf  <br />

Fun don't be discouraged the do with with two
Fun don't be discouraged the do with with two


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By Gunks
From Gunks, NY
May 9, 2013

Sounds like an epic/accident waiting to happen.


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By Greg D
From Here
May 9, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Some have suggested setting up a top rope on a tower. Simply retarded!


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By Cor
May 9, 2013
black nasty

Be smart, but just go for it Tanner...

Never know until you try!


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By Dave Alie
From Golden, CO
May 9, 2013
Photo Credit: The talented Pete Garceau

I rarely feel compelled to join threads like this one, but there so many red flags here that I thought I had to throw my lot in with the climbers who have already advised against this. Yes, climbing is filled with reward for people who push themselves, but stretching your limits needs to be done in a setting where you are acutely aware of the risks you are assuming, and aware of your ability to mitigate them.

Trad climbing, and the desert in particular, can be very different than what you've experienced before, making the grades unfamiliar. years back I was breaking into 5.11 sport right around the time I struggled up north chimney (5.8) on castleton. Now those moves seem easy, but it was my first time climbing in the desert and it definitely took some adjusting.

There is no end to the number of alternative classic routes that you can do in a much safer manner. I would strongly advise spending the time instead on an easier, shorter route and practicing placing gear, not to mention familiarizing yourself with your buddy's level of competency. Otto's route will be there for you when you want to come back to it. Being really psyched is a good thing, but not when it overwhelms your (friend's) ability to look objectively at your skill/experience level or degree of assumed risk.


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
May 9, 2013
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

Greg D wrote:
Some have suggested setting up a top rope on a tower. Simply retarded!


I wasn't really suggesting it. More just thinking aloud about a theoretically safer way to do the climb if they were going to go ahead and do it anyway. Also, I had the impression they would be on a tower unlikely to bother other parties, and now that I know that's not the case, I would not suggest anything but to figure out a better place to learn and not to try to climb with a group of that size and skill anyway.


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By Rob Dillon
May 9, 2013

"I think that may still be a little ways off. I've got a lot of experience to gain before I head up."

BINGO.


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By michael voth
May 9, 2013
2nd pitch of Womb.

Theres no issue with telling your other two buddies you two are going to go do something, happens all the time. HOWEVER, it sounds like he may think he can just drag people up anything he can lead, which many times is not the case and you will have much more fun on a multi pitch of the 5.6-.7 grade range if its your first one. Also, if your going on a trip with all of these friends it might then become unreasonable to ditch them at the campsite and bang out a sick route. I don't doubt that with proper logistics a team of four with 3 novices could be done very safely, however if your partner is not ABSOLUTELY dialed on his logistics of rope/gear management its an epic or accident waiting to happen.
One more thing, i remember starting trad climbing and always wanting to place my OWN gear. And from seeing people do the two teams and leave gear for the second team thing, it seems to take SUPER LONG.
have fun and be safe, tons of crags around there to teach somebody how to clean/place gear.


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By Alex Bury
From Ojai, CA
May 21, 2013
'Full Contact'

Perfect recipe for an epic.
I think the best advice I read was to do the route with ur bro as a team of two.


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