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PLEASE. learn your rope management on the deck before getting on the rock
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By Nathan Torres
From Golden, CO
Apr 24, 2006

A friend and I climbed yesterday in Clear Creek Canyon, and noticed something quite unsettling. A Belayer was shouting to his partner how to tie himself into and clean anchors, while at the anchors. I'm all for people learning to climb, but at this point one wrong move cleaning and/or re-tieing yourself could be real bad news. The belayer ended up asking a stranger to scramble up (5.4 pitch) and assist his partner with his rope work. SCARY!! Although a super easy pitch, good to learn on, still bad to fall on.

If you are teaching someone how to climb, please make sure that they can tie the basic knots with their eyes closed, and if you ask them (or they want to) learn something new, like cleaning anchors belaying a second etc..., it should be practiced multiple times on Terra Firma!!!

Gravity shows no leniency for the inexperienced or uneducated.


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By Ian Wolfe
From Fayetteville, NC
Apr 24, 2006
Another contemplative moment for me on Resolution Arete, a climb which turned out to have more self exploration than physical climbing for us.  Photo by Tom Gray.

The first time I learned how to clean a sport pitch was at the top with my partner telling me what to do. It was easy and straightforward and all his directions made intuitive sense when I was up there. On the other hand, I definitely knew all my knots and other systems inside out and had done quite a few trad multipitches by that point.

I suppose teaching methods depend on the student?


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By Jason Kaplan
From Glenwood ,Co
Apr 25, 2006
avitar pic <br />

5.4 hu? where were ya at, the cat slab? I went there the other day to go soloing only to find I left the silent partner at home, doh. had to get creative. anyway if that's where that was the route is pretty safe IMHO and with basic skills like figure 8s and clove hitches then it's pretty straightforward. but you are right, it's better to be safe since your life is in your hands.


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By Nathan Torres
From Golden, CO
Apr 26, 2006

yep. Cat Slab, we were on the routes to the left of the 5.4, and hear something on the order of..."no, no, not like that.....put the rope through the anchors, don't forget to tie into the anchors," etc...

I agree that that route is super easy and safe and a good beginner route. I just know I learned on the ground, and am a complete believer in the "accidents can happen" idea. My thought was, what if he was going to rap down after cleaning the anchors and did not set-up up his belay device correctly? Lean back too much, even on a 5.4, and it's cheese grate city all the way to the deck.


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By Mike Mullen
From Littleton
Jun 23, 2006

I agree learn on the ground. If there are enough people and a climb next to it I will also climb the climb next to it and talk/watch the newbe clean the route. You can never be too safe.


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By Buff Johnson
Jun 23, 2006
smiley face

This is a topic of great importance. Though it is so simple in method, people get killed at this stage in a climb and it's 100% preventable.

I've seen 2 methods to do this safely. Take & Lower OR Off Belay & Rap. I prefer the second method because I think it's more self-reliant. There are somewhere between 11 to 13 basic gear steps in these methods to remain redundant.

Nathan's post is right on the money, don't go over this when one person is on the ground and the other up at the anchor. Practice these steps on the ground.

Make sure you both talk about what the plan is to clean the anchor; you BOTH should have absolutely no question as to whether or not the belay is necessary or not.

Whether one method is preferred over another, I don't give a sh*t; calling for an Off Belay and expecting a Take & Lower more than likely could be the end of your life.

If any doubt as to what is necessary to keep yourself safe: get a basic skills book (I prefer Craig Luebben's: ROCK CLIMBING: MASTERING BASIC SKILLS -- Mountaineersbooks.org -- he takes a very practical approach to help everyone enjoy safe climbing); join a club participating in climbing; and/or go to a guide/guide service.


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By Joey Faust
From Pocatello,ID
Jun 23, 2006
San Rafael Swell

I'm seeing this more and more. Just last weekend my wife was up top changing over, when she noticed the girl on the climb next to her was having problems. Luckily my wife rappelled over and helped her with the change over. Come to find out this was her very first time climbing. Her boyfriend was impressing her with his lead climbing, but never showed her how to changeover. I don't get it. Everyone I have taught has always learned on the ground. Then when there is 3 of us, i do a toprope climb. while they climb i walk around and clip in up top. Then i watch to see how they do and correct any errors immediately. Up top by yourself is no place to learn. I glad i didn't learn that way. This has been the 3rd time this year already that we had to help out someone. We don't mind helping new climbers, i just hope there is someone up top to help out. CLIMB SAFE AND HAVE FUN!!!


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By Lee Smith
Jun 24, 2006
You can love your rope but you can't "LOVE" your rope! <br />(Back by Popular Demand.  There you are Mom) <br /> <br />

This post illustrates a theory I have held since the early '90s. Bolts and sport climbing does NOT make climbing a "safer" sport. Sure the anchors are better but that doesn't guarantee their proper use. Learn on the ground from a very experienced climber or a professional. Unfortunately, many of today's "teachers" were never taught correctly and in turn pass on the bad habits.

Climbing, even sport climbing, is deadly serious and should be treated that way.


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By Buff Johnson
Jun 26, 2006
smiley face

Here is what I saw over the weekend, person at the anchor position cleaning, person on ground. Anchor position was off belay. The person at the anchor position was not quite sure of the steps; however, it was clear they had practiced gear steps for the Off Belay & Rap. Person at the anchor & person on the ground were within talking distance & had eye contact without any interference (wind, river, traffic, etc..). Person at the anchor kept talking about each step taken: I'm doing this, I'm doing that, Is this right? Is this not right? what am I doing next?

Though there wasn't a 100% confidence of everything, you gotta get field experience at the anchor and get talked through each step if need be. I thought they were taking safety responsibility seriously, the situation at hand seemed to be re-enforcing skill steps practiced. Whether the ground person was at the lower position or tied in on top at the anchor position (to talk the climber through each step) didn't seem to make a difference as ability to communicate was adequate.

Person at the anchor made it to the ground without any problem.

Cool or not to engage in this type of field training?? Any problems with this??


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By crimpergirl
Aug 12, 2008

Is Cat Slab open again??


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By Nikolai Daiss-Fechner
From Boulder, CO
Aug 13, 2008
Bouldering at Bishop

I agree that being shown on the ground how to do it is the way to go. That said, I just kinda climbed up and figured it out when I got there. Then again, my partner and I learned how to toprope and then lead with the trial and error method...Not recommended


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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Aug 13, 2008

Agree - unless the person is right next to you to observe you closely, it is best to learn these techniques on the ground.

A lot of safety related training issues could be solved if people would just READ more before acquiring equipment. The gym-to-outdoor sport climbing path seems to be causing people to feel they can short circuit the necessary pre-flight research. I generally don't want personal instruction in anything until I've done my reading. It's a good cross-check. Time honored publications like Freedom of the Hills or Long's How to Rock Climb series are going to show the correct, safe way to do things. Then if someone later gives you some advice, you'll be in a better position to evaluate and understand that information.


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By seth0687
From Fort Collins
Aug 13, 2008
Leading the first ice pitch of the NW Gully-Thatchtop

Sounds like I have alot of steps/reading/practice etc... to be done on the ground before I get a chance to climb....It's been so long I'd say that most of my knot tying abilities have dwindled down to nothing aside from the figure 8 haha. Back to the cordette and books for me :).


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By Ian
From Boulder, CO
Aug 13, 2008
Way Rambo

There were 4 guys gang-roping Cosmosis at Bell Buttress this weekend. 1 belayer and 3 guys climbing on the same rope at the same time. Once all three climbers got to the top, the belayer started climbing on what is left of the rope while another guy rapped on the other end of the rope. What a clusterf***!!


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By AJS
From Boulder, CO
Aug 13, 2008
In the sea of Cortez - Baja California, Mexico

Not So Famous Old Dude wrote:
A lot of safety related training issues could be solved if people would just READ more before acquiring equipment...It's a good cross-check.


This is a great thread for me to read. I'm definitely one of those 'gym to sport climb' folks. I have pretty good climbing technique and climb pretty hard for only climbing for a year so when I climb with someone new outside they often assume that I've been climbing for longer than I have been. I'm always very careful to make it clear that I'm new.

I guess a lot of this has to do with communication!

And, yes, I second the pre-reading suggestion. FOTH lives on my bedside table!


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By Daniel Trugman
From Los Alamos, NM / Stanford, CA
Aug 13, 2008
Final steps up Blanca after a snowy traverse. <br /> <br />Photo by Jason Halladay.

A good way to practice is to set up a system on a bunk bed. That way they get to practice cleaning while hanging, but there isn't a risk for injury. Has to be a sturdy bunk bed though...


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By Dave Pilot
From Boulder, CO
Aug 13, 2008
Jack Ripper

Nathan Torres wrote:
yep. Cat Slab, we were on the routes to the left of the 5.4, and hear something on the order of..."no, no, not like that.....put the rope through the anchors, don't forget to tie into the anchors," etc... I agree that that route is super easy and safe and a good beginner route. I just know I learned on the ground, and am a complete believer in the "accidents can happen" idea. My thought was, what if he was going to rap down after cleaning the anchors and did not set-up up his belay device correctly? Lean back too much, even on a 5.4, and it's cheese grate city all the way to the deck.

Cat Slab was the scene of an anchor cleaning fatality several years back. Unfortunately gravity doesn't care if the climbing is easy below the anchor. Practicing on the ground before trying things out 50-80 off the deck is definitely in order. If the teacher (on the ground) believes the student (at the anchor) is sketchy, then the teacher needs to make the call to lower the student to the ground and practice again.


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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Aug 13, 2008

Any particular reason this 2+ year old thread got revived? Not questioning the relevance or value of the info, just curious.


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By xxxxxxx
Aug 13, 2008
owl

Saw a group up at monastery do the same thing, only difference was that the guy on the ground was shouting up directions as he read them from freedom of the hills, scared the crap out of me but he got down safely.


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By Rob Kepley
From Westminster,CO
Aug 13, 2008
Yosemite Valley..

Ian wrote:
There were 4 guys gang-roping Cosmosis at Bell Buttress this weekend. 1 belayer and 3 guys climbing on the same rope at the same time. Once all three climbers got to the top, the belayer started climbing on what is left of the rope while another guy rapped on the other end of the rope. What a clusterf***!!

I'm still trying to figure this one out. That was one cramped anchor! Sounds like a Cirque du Soleil act out in Vegas.


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By Tradster
From Phoenix, AZ
Aug 13, 2008

Not So Famous Old Dude wrote:
Agree - unless the person is right next to you to observe you closely, it is best to learn these techniques on the ground. A lot of safety related training issues could be solved if people would just READ more before acquiring equipment. The gym-to-outdoor sport climbing path seems to be causing people to feel they can short circuit the necessary pre-flight research. I generally don't want personal instruction in anything until I've done my reading. It's a good cross-check. Time honored publications like Freedom of the Hills or Long's How to Rock Climb series are going to show the correct, safe way to do things. Then if someone later gives you some advice, you'll be in a better position to evaluate and understand that information.


Reading up first is the way to go and NSFOD has good recommendations. Does anyone remember 'Basic Rockcraft' & 'Advanced Rockcraft' by Royal Robbins. Those were the text I learned from. Things were simpler back then.


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By Buff Johnson
Aug 13, 2008
smiley face

JulianM wrote:
Any particular reason this 2+ year old thread got revived? Not questioning the relevance or value of the info, just curious.


If anything it reinforces the point that there is still potential for a serious accident over something that seems so un-importantly simple.


Keep in mind, that my former example that has been expounded upon, did indicate there was already initial instruction on the ground -- the question was: for hands-on field work, continue the instruction at the anchor together, or go ahead and separate if the partners have good visual & communication?

I've found the former (both together at the anchor) is a better teaching method, though it may be more uncomfortable. Still, a person will need to do it on their own, sooner or later -- nothing wrong with asking questions between partners & nothing should be considered a stupid question, either.

One thing you could do is setup a separate anchor for use with a secondary safety line that wouldn't interfere with the bolt anchor work if partners wanted to separate; but that's not as timely nor convenient & might not have gear if all you're doing is just sport climbing off of draws and using one rope.


As far as I know, Catslab is still not worked into the Clear Creek Cty greenbelt easement yet. Also, the fatal incident there some years back was not for lack of experience nor was it a matter of mis-communication or failure in the rigging, it was just an unfortunate oversight by the climber; it was dis-heartening for everyone.


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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Aug 14, 2008

William Dacier wrote:
Reading up first is the way to go and NSFOD has good recommendations. Does anyone remember 'Basic Rockcraft' & 'Advanced Rockcraft' by Royal Robbins. Those were the text I learned from. Things were simpler back then.


Yep. I have both of those. Good books for describing, as you say, a simple, bold climbing style with the focus on NOT falling if at all possible. Back in those days, it was strictly an adventure to climb.


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By YDPL8S
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Aug 14, 2008
Korea 1 1975

NSFOD, those were the ones I learned with. I'm curious as to why you call the info from these a "bold" climbing style. Are you saying that there are better techniques nowadays that are less bold, or is it just the change in equipment?


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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Aug 14, 2008

Scott M. Mossman wrote:
NSFOD, those were the ones I learned with. I'm curious as to why you call the info from these a "bold" climbing style. Are you saying that there are better techniques nowadays that are less bold, or is it just the change in equipment?


I guess I'm just referring to the attempt to free climb things without all the modern gear we have now. I don't know, it's just a feeling I get when reading the accounts of ascents and looking at old pics from those days. Also, I've climbed routes put up by Robbins and many of those old climbers and looked down at the lead all nicely sewn up with a #5 Camalot, and TCUs, and a Lowe Ball in tiny placement protecting an otherwise really run-out section, and thought "now how would I feel right now if I were looking down at 40 feet of nothing below me and I had to make this insecure smear move to that jug?"


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By YDPL8S
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Aug 14, 2008
Korea 1 1975

Yeah, you'd feel gripped, and that 5.10 route would probably be the hardest thing on the crag because anything thinner wouldn't take pro, and you wouldn't even think of bolting. But you'd look good in your white painter's pants, bandana, and lumberjack shirt!


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