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So I just got a new portaledge...
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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Just picked up a Metolius Double Bomb. I bolted a mock belay station into my wall at home to practice setting it up. Upon rigging it for the first time, I can see that LOTS of practice will be needed before I'm dialed enough to run up a big wall. I'd appreciate any tips others have accumulated thru their years of climbing.

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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Apr 10, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber
Great idea getting out and practising setting it up. You really need to get it well dialed, otherwise it just isn't any fun "fighting" it all the time on the wall.

Even more important is to practise setting up the fly, and putting the ledge underneath it. This is a much more complex operation than you would imagine, especially if the fly has a floor!

And it doesn't count as "practice" unless you're standing in aiders at the time.

You want to know how to adjust the straps for an asymmetric hang, which often happens when your pig anchor and ledge anchor are too close together. You shorten the straps on the pig side, and lengthen the straps on the opposite end. You also want to be familiar with the tensioning straps on the bed - those can be tricky to tighten and release.

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Thanks Pete, seems like I'm on the right track. Unfortunatly, the ledge broke my bank so fly is going to have to wait. What method do you use to tie yourself in while on the ledge? I can think of a hundred different ways, but I'm curious to see how others do it. I assume it involves using the rope to make a long "sling" to which my partner and I can attach our daisies to. Also, is there an ideal height the ledge should be set at relative to the anchor, or do conditions and comfort dictate that? And last but not least, I've heard of people marking the webbing on their ledge so that they know when it's level when adjusting. Seems relative to the belay setup, is it worth marking? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Come on. Help me out.

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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Apr 10, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber
Holy crap. No fly? You'd best hope for a perfect weather forecast, or you might be charged for the cost of your rescue. It is inconceivable to go on a long wall, like you'd want a ledge like this for, without a fly. But you should be ok on shorter walls, with a good forecast. Make damn sure you have bomber rain gear and bivi sacks.

Better yet, get yourself a big tarp. Half of something is better than all of nothing. Rig an attachment with a big wired stopped stuck up through the bottom centre of the tarp, well padded so as not to poke a hole in the tarp, and hang it all off a prusik wrapped around the shaft of the wire outside of the tarp + stopper. Get it? Obviously you will be backing up this assembly with some dynamic rope run low under the ledge. Clip some pins to the loop, so that it hangs below the level of the ledge so water doesn't run in.

I don't use a rope to tie in. I take a double-length sling, girth hitch it around my waist, tie an overhand knot in that, and clip it into my power point with the appropriate amount of slack, which is 'not much'. I can't wear my Yates Big Wall Harness at night, because it has big holsters on the side. So I take it off. I have never fallen out of my ledge, nor even come close.

You want as much horizontal separation across your bivi anchor, and on south facing walls like El Cap, you want your pig on the left and your ledge on the right to catch the morning sun. You want the bed of the ledge to be a foot or two below the top of the pig, touching it, but not weighting it, so you can get stuff in and out of the pig easily. This is why you need more horizontal separation, which is not possible on all belays.

Depending on how your ledge sits against the wall, and your pig, and the orientation, you will be fine-tuning the lengths on your ledge straps to get a good hang. The textbook hang you get while hanging perfectly against the side of your perfectly vertical house, with nothing to get in the way, will only happen there. In the real world, you will have to adjust to suit. Accordingly, no need to mark webbing on the ledge for that purpose, as each time you use it it will be adjusted a bit differently.

You might want to mark the straps that go against the wall, for at a glance orientation when you set it up, if it's not immediately obvious which part goes against the wall. Some ledges have coloured straps included when you buy it, most do not.

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By Abram Herman
From Golden, CO
Apr 10, 2013
Viking helmet cover, yep.
My partner and I are going through the same thing right now, except we got a BD double cliff cabana rather than the Metolius. The first time we set it up on the ground took over an hour, but after a couple more times we got it to 15 minutes. This past Saturday we went up to an empty crag and practiced it on the cliff, and were back to over an hour. It can be frustrating, that's for sure! Definitely good to practice before you get on the wall.

Edit to add: I think fabric stretch will eventually make a big difference in ease of setup based on what I read after our first attempts, so here's hoping...

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Thanks. Yea the fly will happen before any big walls, but the damn thing is almost as much as the ledge! It's in the budget.

You method of tying in seems pretty lax. You've got lots more expierence than me so I can trust that works, but for my first couple walls, I might try managing the harness attached to a long clove hitch with the rope.

I figured that the wall at my house was never going to happen in real life. I can see how the conditions will be dependent on belay stations. Looks like getting out and setting it up on a wall is the only way to figure this out. Guess I know what's next...

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Also good to see others are having the same struggles. This is where I really value the input of MP members. After all, we all have to start somewhere.

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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Apr 10, 2013
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.
Ryan N wrote:
Guess I know what's next...


Yer gunna die..?

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
I hope not.

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By Steve M
From MN
Apr 10, 2013
Dude, get that thing up one of those big ass trees you wrote about!

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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Apr 10, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber
So think about it - it's the end of yet another long hard day, it's starting to get dark, you just had to try to get in another pitch, and you didn't stop when you should have.

And now, in the dark, it's about to rain. The last time you practised setting up your ledge, it took you an hour. And that was without the fly.

Now it IS dark, and it's pissing down rain, you're still fighting your ledge!

Anyway, if you can imagine the above, you can see why it's worth putting in the effort in a controlled environment to practise it until you can do it in your sleep.

I flag my ledge almost 100% of the time. I can sit in it during belays and changeovers, and it's already set up when it's time to crash for the night. Always consider this option....

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
Apr 10, 2013
RJN
Pete do you know if you can flag the double bomb? I've heard conflicting reports.



Oh it's getting up into a tree, it's a very complicated endeavor though. Got about a third of the way up one a week ago. Though, this was just a random thought I had. The intentions of acquiring a ledge were with hopes of bagging some Yosemite big walls.

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By S Denny
From Carbondale, CO
Apr 10, 2013
Abram Herman wrote:
I think fabric stretch will eventually make a big difference in ease of setup based on what I read after our first attempts, so here's hoping...


it will. get it wet and stretch it out. those things ship TIGHT!

Ryan N wrote:
You method of tying in seems pretty lax.


maybe, but...

"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok wrote:
I have never fallen out of my ledge, nor even come close.


you'll understand someday


just keep setting it up, on a cliff, and with the fly when you get one.
as far as ledge location on the anchor, on trade routes in Yosemite and Zion you're usually working with one high portaledge bolt that you backup to a lower anchor.

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By Mark Hudon
Apr 10, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.
The material will stretch but it will take a dozen nights or more.

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By Tim Hudgel
Apr 10, 2013
You'll figure it out, everyone else has.
Don't over think everything and follow the instructions.
Your first time set-up experience is the same as as mine, exactly; Slow, faster, then slower.

Make your practice anchors a lot higher than you may think (>15' off the ground).
This allows you to move freely around, even under the ledge with jugs.

It takes a lot of work to get up a wall and setting up a ledge is part of it.
Just because you have a sweet ledge, doesn't mean you'll have a reservation at
the Hyatt every night.



Bivy, top of pitch 6 - Lunar Ecstasy - Zion March 2002
Bivy, top of pitch 6 - Lunar Ecstasy - Zion March 2002

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By Abram Herman
From Golden, CO
Apr 11, 2013
Viking helmet cover, yep.
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok wrote:
I flag my ledge almost 100% of the time.


Could you explain that to me in big-wall-gumby-speak?
Do you just mean you don't break it down while you're hauling it?

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By S Denny
From Carbondale, CO
Apr 11, 2013
correct, just clip it to the haul line like a flag

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By Dan Allard
From West Chester, PA
Apr 11, 2013
Day at Summersville Lake
Abram Herman wrote:
Could you explain that to me in big-wall-gumby-speak? Do you just mean you don't break it down while you're hauling it?


A well written explanation can be found here:
mountainproject.com/v/flagging...

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By Abram Herman
From Golden, CO
Apr 11, 2013
Viking helmet cover, yep.
Thanks!

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By Mark Hudon
May 13, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.
I have a Metolius Double, this is how I do it. It usually takes me about ten minutes.

Get the ledge hanging from the bolt you'll be sleeping on. Tie your rope over there with a good sized loop, attach yourself to the loop via your Gri-gri and lower down so the the long side poles are at about your shins. Make sure the ledge hanging straps are fully lengthened.
Get the log side poles together and get the ledge nice and organized. I call this the "canoe" position. Get the straps all straight and the end poles folded nicely into the bed material between the two log poles. Make sure the bed tightening straps are fully loosened and that the bed is fairly centered on the long poles.
I have a 1/2" hero loop (Only us old guys know what a hero loop is, btw) girth hitched to the center of the outside pole next to the ledge harness strap. In fact, I've duct taped it there permanently. Clip a biner into the hero loop and reach up and clip it into the same spot the whole ledge is hanging from, high enough so that the whole ledge is now laying flat against the wall, hanging completely from the outside pole. This will keep it out of the wind and will also allow you to swing back and forth and set the end poles.
Swing to one end and set the end pole, snug up the bed straps a little bit. Swing over to the other end and do the same. Swing to the middle, I doubt there is a spreader bar on a single but if there is, put its end into the wall side pole, get your toe alongside it, cup its outside end in your hand, give the wall side pole a little bounce and pop the spreader bar into the air side pole at the same time.
Your ledge should now be assembled, still hanging flat against the wall. Unclip the hero loop, drop the ledge down flat, crawl into it and tighten up the bed straps. After that, tighten up the hanging straps and then position it up and down, using the Yates adjustable daisy you have connected to the main ledge tie in point. I like to have the ledge about 12 to 8 inches below the bottom of the haul bags so that I can comfortably stand on the ledge to get into my bags. I tie a little sling from the end the bags are on (better to have them overhanging your feet rather than your head) to another part of the anchor so that it doesn't swing out when I'm standing on that end.

When you disassemble the ledge, lengthen the ledge harness straps, loosen the bed straps and all the rest in reverse order. Don't forget that if you stuff the ledge into its haul sack nice all neat and organized, it will come out of the haul sack, at the end of the day, when you're beat and tired and maybe in the dark or rain, all nice and neat and organized, making it far easier to set up.

There ya go. Make sure you practice this, actually hanging, half a dozen times at your local climbing gym.

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
May 14, 2013
RJN
Thanks for the info Mark, did I read that you attach your ledge to the bolt via an adjustable daisy?

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By Mark Hudon
May 14, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.
Yes, a Yates since they are the strongest. That way, you can raise or lower it as needed. I girth hitch it through all the individual ledge straps at the same place as Metolius runs their loop. That way it leaves that loop free and un-clustered should you need it for your fly or something.
I don't worry too much about it but given that the Yates Daisy is rated to "only" 1500 pounds, I back it up when there are two people sleeping on the ledge, when I'm soloing, I don't bother.

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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
May 14, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber
Now give credit where it is due - the "ledge hanging from an adjustable daisy" trick is Kate's idea, passed down...

But it is a brilliant idea that really helps you with your big wall camping. So easy to adjust the height of the ledge to the most convenient point. Keep your adjustable daisy right on top of your ledge at all times, especially when flagging. That way when the ledge arrives at the upper station, you can just grab the daisy [also clipped to the haul line] and clip it wherever you want it, before you unclip the flagged ledge.

Makes setting it up very quick and easy. Be sure to back up the daisy appropriately. [duh]

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By Ryan N
From Palo Alto
May 14, 2013
RJN
How do you guys deal with the ledges haul bag? When I set it up, there's a point where the bag is just being held by my partner. If you attach a cord, I imagine that it would be more of a hassle to deal with than the benefit it offers?

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By Mark Hudon
May 14, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.
I have my ledge bag directly tied into a tether cord whose top is attached to the main haul bag biner just below the swivel. That way you can never accidentally drop the bag. I extend the Yates daisy, clip it into it's eventual hanging point and then pull the ledge out of the bag. The ledge is ALWAYS clipped in and even when it's in the bag, it is clipped to the bag's dedicated tether cord.

FLAG


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