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General aid help!!!
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By Brandon Ware
From Littleton, CO
Nov 28, 2011
phoenix pays attention and hangs out at the crag

Hey guys, I'm reeeeealy fresh to this aid stuff and still pretty young. If you don't mind answering a few questions I have, that would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

1. When fixing a line for the follower, what knot system do you prefer?
2. What type of rope is preferred for the follower to ascend?
3. Using a 2 aider system, thoughts on what kind to get. I'm thinking Yates or Fish.
4. Is anyone in the Boulder or Golden, CO area that would be down to show me how to really place some gear and show me a system or two?


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By aaron hope
From Walnut Creek, CA
Nov 28, 2011
Staying Warm on South Face of Washington Column

Hey Brandon:
1) Figure eight on a bight (simple!)
2) Definitely Static - preferably at least 10mm. Dynamic rope stretches and is harder to ascend and bad for the rope.
3) I've use the Yates for constant aiding (its comfortable) and I use the Petzl Wall Step Etrier for free/aid mix becuase they are lightweight.
4) I'm in Cali, sorry.


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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Nov 28, 2011
25' drop...wheeeeee!

I'm in the same boat (really green to aid).

I don't know how much reading you've done on the subject or if you've come across this yet, but Chris McNamara is in the process of writing a book on aiding, and the in-progress version is freely available: www.supertopo.com/a/How-To-Big-Wall-Climb-Table-of-Contents/>>>

Lot of good info in there.


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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Nov 28, 2011
Living the High Life.

1. Figure eight on bight
2. Static. at least 10 mm. 11mm is best (more resistant to wear) CAN be done with dynamic, not recommended.
3. I have ladder-style 6-step Yates. I like them. Personal preference.
4. Lets do it. PM me.

Do you trad climb? I would get a few years of gear placement under your belt before jumping in. If not, you will take some falls when gear pulls. It could be bad. I would be happy to take ya out to chat about gear and placement. Let me know. I'm in Golden.

My two cents.

Cheers!


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Nov 28, 2011

1. Eight on a bight.
2. The follower normal prefer static, but most likely the rope you just lead on. I hope you lead with dynamic rope.
3. Yates or Fish or Metolius Ladders. Which ever you can get cheaper.
4. Sorry, in NY.


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By jane-gallwey
From Ireland, mostly
Nov 28, 2011
Terradets, Spain.

I'm really not very experienced so take any advice with a pinch of salt. This has all worked for me but that doesn't mean it's right or that it should.

1) I like to use a clove hitch backed up with a fig 8. You should always have the fixed line backed up and the clove hitch is easy to untie once you've been weighting it.

2) I'm guessing you mean for cleaning in a 2 man team, in which case the second will be jugging on the lead line. Which will be dynamic. Fatter the better in my opinion but I always go slow and heavy. If it's for jugging the haul line as a 3 then it'll be whichever rope you haul on, I like static but there's arguments for both.

3) Dunno, I use 4 cos I'm terrible at standing on one foot.

4) If you make it5000 miles over to Ireland I'd happily show you around...


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By Stiles
From the Mountains
Nov 28, 2011
Rough

Yer gunna die!

Read books, lil bro. The library will get them for you free if you request.
-jared ogden 'elite technique'
-long and mittendorf (spelling,my appologies) 'how to aid climb'
-jeff lowe made a movie on clean aid

Nailing is the fun part of aid, but you dont go nailin nuthin till youre confident placing bashies


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By TheIceManCometh
From Albany, NY
Nov 28, 2011
Chiller Pillar, Adirondacks

For multi-pitch aid routes, do folks really bring along a static line for the 2nd to follow on?

I've only climbed big walls that were mostly free, and traveled pretty light. We'd use a 11mm dynamic rope for the leader and the second would jug on the same. The haul line was an 8.8mm dynamic rope that could backup as a lead line.

The downside of bringing a static line seems to outweigh its benefits.
a) the static line can't be a backup in case you lose your primary rope.
b) when doing a big wall, you'd have to lead on one rope and trail two others (the haul line and the static line).

Yes, a dynamic rope will stretch more than a static, but you pretty much get used to it. And once weighted (i.e. stretched out), the dynamic rope for the most part performs just like the static kind.


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By Yarp
Nov 28, 2011

ChooChoo wrote:
...once weighted (i.e. stretched out), the dynamic rope for the most part performs just like the static kind.



Just wanted to make sure everyone saw that part.

This is a great thread.

Keep the advice coming.

It's entertaining as all hell.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Nov 29, 2011
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

Are you people leading on a static?! How are you cleaning on a static?


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By SteveZ
From Denver, CO
Nov 29, 2011
Lion King with the pup.

Hey Brandon,
I've only done a couple of el cap routes but my preferences (and similar to reading those more experienced) were:
1. In my opinion the key is to use something that is easy to undo after being heavily weighted (ie. jugged on). A clove backed up with an eight like Jane said is good. We used an alpine butterfly which is also pretty common.
2. Again, what Jane said. As a party of two you will almost always be jugging the lead line (and this is pretty much mandatory to clean gear if the pitch traverses or is overhanging) which is dynamic. We used a 10.2 and it was fine for the fifty some pitches we did. If you're doing hard aid I would go thick because you're carrying a ton of shit already. If it's a mostly free route, maybe consider a thinner-than-11 mil?
3. If you go ladder style aiders I would opt for something with a spreader bar or make your own. Without it it sucks to put your feet in the steps (especially the high ones) which over the course of a long route adds up (especially if you're not high-stepping). Or if you're doing easy/not much aid perhaps get the lighter offset step etrier style.
4. I think aid climbing is super boring (though it takes us mortals rad places), but if you can't get a hold of anyone let me know and we can do the basics.

Have fun, and I'm sure you are already but make sure to read a lot, like people said there's a bunch of good info out there. Chris Mac's stuff is good and the guy definitely knows his way around a wall.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 29, 2011
El Chorro

ChooChoo wrote:
Yes, a dynamic rope will stretch more than a static, but you pretty much get used to it. And once weighted (i.e. stretched out), the dynamic rope for the most part performs just like the static kind.


Not true. It can be dangerous to jug a dynamic line. If it is touching an edge anywhere then the jugging creates a sawing action that can wear the rope and cut it pretty fast. I'd say that's quite a disadvantage when compared to static.


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By Tim McCabe
Nov 29, 2011

Ryan Williams wrote:
Not true. It can be dangerous to jug a dynamic line. If it is touching an edge anywhere then the jugging creates a sawing action that can wear the rope and cut it pretty fast. I'd say that's quite a disadvantage when compared to static.


Ryan I am no expert aid master, only did the one big wall and that was 21 years ago. But I don't see how your going to have someone follow and clean on a static line if you don't lead on one (and I know your not saying that).

When I did the Magic Mushroom the guy I was with had 18 other El Cap routes under his belt and he wanted nothing to do with a static line. Not even for hauling, there had been, he told me, more then one death from dropping the haul bag on a static line. As I recall it was 3 all in one party but none the less.

It's the leaders job to make sure he uses a runner or comes up with some way to eliminate running the rope over sharp edges.

No disrespect intended I just don't see how your going to pull it off. Seems like you would have to have an extra rope that is only used for the second. And then if it's not clipped to each piece, or at least most of them, how will you be sure the second can get to them.


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By Dobson
From Butte, MT
Nov 29, 2011

Static lines aren't immune to abrasion/cutting, either. That's why cavers are so picky about padding their 11mm super-beefy pit lines. Many will set up rebelays so the rope never touches rock.

If I'm fixing a pitch for the next day I like to use a static, but for everything else I go dynamic. Lately I've been using a clove to bear the weight of the second. It's easier to undo.


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By JohnnyG
Nov 29, 2011

Chris Macnamara has an incredible Book online with lots of videos. I trust everything he has here, from techniques to gear he likes.

Here is the link to the book:
www.supertopo.com/a/How-To-Big-Wall-Climb-Table-of-Contents/>>>

and a good video on the finer points of jumaring:




Have fun!


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By Yarp
Nov 29, 2011

Ryan Williams wrote:
Not true. It can be dangerous to jug a dynamic line. If it is touching an edge anywhere then the jugging creates a sawing action that can wear the rope and cut it pretty fast. I'd say that's quite a disadvantage when compared to static.


Haven't done much aid have you Ryan.


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By Phill T
Nov 29, 2011

Clove backed up by an 8 as others have said.

screw statics as a haul or jugging line.

  • edit* changed my mind. Hauling with a nice static is easier, and the argument of having a backup lead line is kind of moot, if you coreshot your main line you are bailing. The reasons to use a dynamic lead line are mainly 1) you can use an old fatty dynamic you may have sitting around ($$$), and 2) if god forbid, your pig takes a ride, dynamic>>>static. /edit.

Yates/fish/metolius. any ladder style with a spreader bar that fits your budget.

I would also say that learning to place gear aid climbing might be better than placing a bunch free climbing. You get instant feedback as to whether or not the gear is good (at least for bodyweight). Free climbing, you will most likely not fall on or even weight a piece of gear for a VERY long time (if you climb timid on gear like me, took about 2 years). Of course this is a bit sketchy for the first 2-3 placements of an aid climb, as if any of them blow you are going to deck from 6-8 feet up, but past that if anything blows you are taking a wee little fall onto your next piece, and that next piece is going to be bomber if you are staying in the c0-c2 range.

The one area you will need to learn is setting up bomber 3-5 piece equalized gear anchors. Not everything has bolted belays.

Good pitches to cut your aid teeth in the front range:
-Aid Crack into Nightvision at Cob Rock in boulder canyon. 3 pitches, 95% c1. I'd recommend taking a camhook (p1) and a regular hook (p2) for two tricky spots but you can get by without them. Super awesome learner aid route, was my first pitch, also my buddies first aid pitch. Entirely north facing, all day shade. p1 is gear belay, p2 is slung boulders, p3 giant tree.

-Country Club Crack, Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon. 2 pitches, some trickery on the first getting into the crack, but then cruiser c1 for 1.5 pitches. South facing, pretty much all day sun. Both anchors bolted.

-Gill Crack into Black Crack also on Castle Rock. Small C1 with a bit of reachy blindy trickery transfering into black crack. South facing. Bolted anchor.

-Aid Roof, also castle rock. 30' horizontal roof crack. might be better once you get some experience, cleaning is a pain, but good practice! Also good for learning/practicing lower outs. South facing. Bolted anchor.

-RoadRunner and 30.06 at Wall of 90s in CCC. Both can be done in one (long) or two shortish pitches. Gear anchors for the first pitch, bolts at the top. Again, mostly C1 with a bit of trickery at various spots. afternoon sun, kinda.

-Supremacy Crack in Eldorado Canyon. Overhanging/traversing C1, good to get your cleaning/jugging systems down! kinda south/west, mostly shaded.

I would also look into the 'frogging' style of jugging. Rather than using two ascenders and your ladders, you use one ascender with a pre-measured foot loop and a grigri/cinch. Bit less gear to contend with, its more secure (pretty much impossible for a grigri to pop off the rope on traversing/overhanging stuff), and arguably easier once you get the hang of it.

www.mountainproject.com/v/the-better-way-to-clean-an-aid-pit>>>

www.mountainproject.com/v/jugging-the-froggy-way/106076796__>>>

I might be convinced to take ya out, most of my free days are spoken for tho...

good luck, have fun!


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By Dustin B
From Steamboat
Nov 29, 2011
It's always a party.

rather than get snippets of advice from random people on the net, you need an understanding of all the components, then you can learn to apply them to 'systems'

you should start by reading cover to cover through the middendorf book, and the ogden book. also, john longs climbingg anchors book, 2nd edition, should also be high on your list to read. chris mac has some video series out there on the net that are also very good.

if you just take bits of advice and apply them without an understanding of why things are the way they are, your setting yourself up for disaster. having a mentor also helps, but you should learn as much as you can.


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By jane-gallwey
From Ireland, mostly
Nov 29, 2011
Terradets, Spain.

Dustin's right, you do need an overall understanding of what's going where and why.

I learned to wall climb (slowly and inefficiently but still going up) in one year, entirely from Middendorf's book, plenty of practice, MP users and PitonsPete online. Alternatively you could always show up in the Valley and carry people's bags in exchange for picking their brains.

Read everything, practice it, draw cartoons of it in work and eventually you'll be able to efficiently pass out a snail on some largeish rocks.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Nov 29, 2011
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Brandon-

I'm new to Aid climbing also but I have a pretty good understanding of it. Done a decent amount of trad too so I can help ya with gear placements if you need it. Just moved to Boulder last week and I'd be willing to get after it with you. I have a background in industrial rope access in addition to recreational climbing. Only working part time now so I should have a decent amount of time off.

-Nick


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By aaron hope
From Walnut Creek, CA
Nov 29, 2011
Staying Warm on South Face of Washington Column

Clarification. I mentioned that static line is the 'preferred' following option, but like others have indicated, you typically don't have that luxury. Because you'll have to follow on the dynamic lead line (10mm or so)and haul on a thick static. That's what I do. But some folks may argue that you might as well haul on a dynamic so that you have a back-up lead line if something happens to the main one (core-shot, etc).

Also, when learning to aid - books are great, but never stop asking questions! Have fun!


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By Wally
From Denver
Nov 29, 2011

Hauling with a static rope sucks. Hauling with a dynamic rope really really sucks. Too much bounce - even if you are using a 2 to 1 system.

Lead line - 10 to 11 mm dynamic. Second jugs this.
Haul line - 8 to 9 mm static.

If the lead line gets trashed - pretty rare occurence - it is probably time to bail.

Climb Ohn. Wally


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By Gregger Man
Nov 29, 2011
gg

+1 for froggy style with a Cinch.
The recent 170' fall on Washington Column (posted on the Taco) made me appreciate the Cinch as the lower connection even more.


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By Caleb Padgett
From Rockville, utah
Nov 29, 2011

I would highly recommend learning the Alpine Butterfly knot. Its non binding properties make it easy to untie after its been loaded. I use this knot exclusively for tieing in the haulbag and for fixing lines. Your fingers are gonna get thrahsed bigwall climbing, having knots that are easy to untie will make your life easier. An alpine butterfly is plenty strong and is great for rigging anchors as well. It gets my vote for the most underrated/underused knot.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Nov 29, 2011
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Caleb Padgett wrote:
I would highly recommend learning the Alpine Butterfly knot. Its non binding properties make it easy to untie after its been loaded. I use this knot exclusively for tieing in the haulbag and for fixing lines. Your fingers are gonna get thrahsed bigwall climbing, having knots that are easy to untie will make your life easier. An alpine butterfly is plenty strong and is great for rigging anchors as well. It gets my vote for the most underrated/underused knot.


used all the time in rope access =)


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By aaron hope
From Walnut Creek, CA
Nov 29, 2011
Staying Warm on South Face of Washington Column

Caleb Padgett wrote:
I would highly recommend learning the Alpine Butterfly knot.


Not so sure about using it to fix a line to an anchor, but I would agree that the Alpine Butterfly is better for lowering out the haulbag. In my opinion, it handles the weird angle from the lower out point, to the bag, and then up to the anchor better than an Eight.


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