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How I managed to turn a 5.6 into a micro-epic
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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 1, 2012
Just got back from Linville/Table Rock and did Cave Route as my first multi-pitch ever(to lead or follow). The first two pitches went no problem. Then it started raining on us for about 20 mins (didn't know about the gully to walk down). Decided trying to rap down pitch two was more sketchy than climbing. So we continued up - except we started into My Route P1 instead of P3 of Cave Route.

I didn't adequately extend a couple placements and had such terrible rope drag (having to pull slack before every move)I decided to build an anchor at the first bolt (75 feet above the belay ledge). Brought up my second and continued up. I passed the bolted anchors that were previously out of sight and got to the roofish section. Wasn't sure where to go. Pulled the roof twice but didn't see any obvious gear. Thinking it was Cave Route and a 5.6, decided that wasn't the route.

I sank a nut and cam and moved out waay right through a god awful slabby section with no hands until I got to a crack system. Continued up and left. Had no slings at this point. Placed a cam to protect the 30+ footer onto low angle, leg breaking rock if I slipped. Climbed up and left and saw a bolt. Clipped the bolt directly with a biner (still no slings). Pulled slack and climbed back down and removed the lower cam that was creating huge drag.

Climbed back up, and then above the bolt. Found a great platform and built an anchor. I then proceeded to try and pull up the slack. Rope drag was again terrible, and I wore four rope burns into my hands trying to bring tension. Used a prusik and the reverso even....but still a struggle. At this point my second has been ought of shouting distance for some time. I had been able to get most of the slack out but the rope was pretty kinked up and she didn't know if she was on belay. After MUCH yelling (30 minutes+) she finally heard 'climb on'. She moved up and we were finally at the top. We had to belly crawl through briars to gain a clearing and the trail back down. It was a hell of a day.

Does anyone know the name of the section/route that goes to the right at the start of P2 of My Route? That slab section was much more than I had bargained for.

I learned MANY lessons that day - almost too numerous to list. Just thought I'd share the story.

FLAG
By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Oct 1, 2012
Its been my experience that everything I remember from the topo is forgotten by halfway through the second pitch. Learn to draw so that you can sketch out the relevant topo instead of bringing the guidebook, or a photocopy thereof, with you. I was benighted on a 5 pitch 5.7, but our path off-route took us through some 5.9/5.10X climbing. You pointed out all of the ways you could've gotten killed, so use that as motivation to actually learn, not just as an "oh my god I almost died!" story.

FLAG
By Br'er Rabbit
From The Briar Patch
Oct 1, 2012
'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en ...
Hang in there.
I'd offer that if you are willing to put in the mileage (climbing AND driving), if you are cognizant of your errors, and if you're not a buffoon....the NC mountains are a great place to learn multipitch skills.

Also check out the way right end of Steele (Golden Arches), other NE AL places, Suck Creek (Bombs Away), Tallulah Gorge (Digital Delight), and Looking GLass (The Nose area, the South End) for good moderate multis or shorter routes that necessitate intermediate belays.
Good practice.

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By doligo
Oct 1, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
The most important question is - is she going to climb with you ever again?

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 1, 2012
doligo wrote:
The most important question is - is she going to climb with you ever again?


Yeah, she'll climb with me again...I still have her rope.

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 1, 2012
There are no less than two dozen things I would and will do differently. I really liked Linville Gorge and want to go back. A fair bit of Steele is above what I'm comfortable leading on gear, but I'll get there. I want to check out Yellow Bluff some time soon, and Looking Glass is towards the top of the list for the next out of state trip. Mount Yonah looks to have some easy multi-pitch as well. Thanks for the info

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By Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Oct 1, 2012
Siberia wrote:
Clipped the bolt directly with a biner (still no slings). ... Used a prusik and the reverso even....


You can always use your prusik as a sling.

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By AnthonyM
Oct 1, 2012
Maroon Bells-Bell Cord Couloir
You can use nuts as extenders by clipping a carabiner to each side (by sliding the nut down the wire)... This wont work with Offsets as they wont slide on the wire. This can save you but can also hurt you later on in that same pitch (by using nuts you may need later on). This saved my butt on a climb with one very long pitch in RMNP.

When I started leading trad, I carried some cord/extra webbing and a knife around for the purpose of finding appropriate pro and keeping everything in line even when I thought that the climb was straightforward.

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By Bill M
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 1, 2012
Instead of a knife, I carry a small razor blade wrapped in electrical tape in my chalk bag. It's great for cutting rope, digging thorns out, etc.

On routes I do not know I try to use the bolted belays. It's very quick to build a anchor off bolts and you get all your gear back for the next pitch.

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 2, 2012
Yeah, I didn't think about using the nuts or prusik as a sling. Something else to add to the toolbox. Thank you

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By coppolillo
Oct 2, 2012
other improvised slings! chalk-bag belt/tether/attachment. gear sling, too....

good job, dude, you made it and your buddy is still talking to you. those are two major criteria for a "successful" day out...

keep on it!

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By J mac
Oct 2, 2012
Zermatt
coppolillo wrote:
other improvised slings! chalk-bag belt/tether/attachment. gear sling, too.... good job, dude, you made it and your buddy is still talking to you. those are two major criteria for a "successful" day out... keep on it!


I like the creativity, but if its not going to hold a fall its not a good improvised sling.

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By nbrown
From western NC
Oct 2, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai
I use a piece of perlon or webbing for my chalk bag for this purpose (as well as emergency anchors). Might as well use gear that can serve multiple functions if the need arises.

Also, I'd like to add that from my experience in places such as Linville Gorge where the routes wander quite a bit (or has overhangs), it's usually best to do shorter pitches so that you can stay in earshot or eyesight of each other. This is especially true if you're not extra confident with your follower. Makes a big difference in communication, and is always worth the minor amount of extra effort of having to do maybe one more pitch.

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 2, 2012
I have a set of metolius nuts, and the heads are swaged?brazed?soldered? to wire ends - not like BD with a full loop where you can push the head down. Any problem with using these in a pinch(not that I intend to ever run short of slings again)?

I could see the cable getting kinked on smaller ones but other than that....?

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By Mike Wysuph
From Broomfield, CO
Oct 2, 2012
Whoa... mp.com turned off snarky comments. Kinda cool.

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By wes calkins
Oct 2, 2012
I agree with Nathan. Just because you have 200 feet of rope doen't mean you have to use it. I have learned that belaying right above the crux gives the most protection for my seconds. Also I use a peice if cord for my chalk bag belt for emergency situations. Another good thing to have is an emergency rap kit. mine consists of sacrificial cord or webbign and a crab with duck tape on the spine so that I can make a locker out of it if the need arises.

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By Jonathan Petsch
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 2, 2012
Was that on Saturday? I was climbing the Daddy in the amphitheater when it started raining. Things got real soggy. Had to bail and come back the next morning to get all my gear.

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Oct 2, 2012
It was on Friday. My friends were on the Mummy Friday. We all went to the Chimneys on Saturday and got drenched. Most of that day was a refrain of 'Man, I'm glad i'm not in the amphitheatre right now.' Glad all went well.

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By boo
Oct 3, 2012
nbrown and B.Ben gave you great advise. Shorter pitches and practice, practice, practice.

NC moderates w a n
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Seriously, that could be the gear/route line on a 100ft pitch. Extend everything until you get used to the routes. Carry a few 60 inch runners and don't be afraid to use them. For a long time, my runner count was greater than my gear racked.

Tri-cams can be used as slings, but it'll eat up carabiners.

Keep after it. Linville has sooo much to offer to every-level of climber.

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By Chris Massey
Oct 3, 2012
Man that is a great story. Reminds me of my early days leading some multi pitch NC moderates. Everything was an onsite b/c I never had a partner that knew the way either, so go off route many times. Not sure where you ended up. I know that 2nd belay on My Route well. Bailed off it myself one time in the rain. Could you have worked your way over to Second Stanza (5.8+)? No bolts there however from what I recall though. My regualar partner accuses me of over extending my pieces. I hate rope drag however, so he will have to live with it. Another recent posting on the site about someone who decked at Joshua Tree b/c his #4 camalot walked on him. If extended it probably would not have. Risking the extra 2-4 feet of fall distance sure beats decking or having to pull hard on the rope the whole pitch. Glad you made it off safe. If you learned from it then consider it a good trip. Keep at it.

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By Dr. Rocktopolus
From Chattanooga, TN
Oct 5, 2012
Whipping on the redpoint crux of " The Theate...
Epics are part of climbing, im glad you are alright.

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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Oct 13, 2012
I was pretty bummed when they didn't greenlight my...
it's hard to learn good multipitch skill in the SE, somewhere like Boulder's Flatirons are way more chill, less confusion, just an all around good intro.

Saw someone mention Bombs Away in Suck Creek? Great route, but don't go do that yet, it's chossy up top and requires really good forward thinking to keep rope drag from being terrible, and the descent can get a bit hairy with rotting leaves and loose ground. Suck Creek ain't T-wall.

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