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soloist for leading trad???
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By kenr
Dec 18, 2012

D.E.W. wrote:
how are you guys tying your back up knots??? It took me forever cause I stack my rope in a 20 liter pack and pre tie the knots every 8 or so feet give or take. Is there an easier way????

One recommended method is to tie a clove hitch around a carabiner as a backup knot -- because then you can remove the knot by just unclipping the biner.

Easier way? Tie fewer knots - or No backup knots.

There's lots of ways to get seriously harmed out there ...
(1) fall soloing "lead" and your self-belay device fails.
(2) fall leading with partner, but thru mis-communication or inattention, your human partner fails.
(3) fall soloing because you started the next (easy) move but one of your backup knots caught on something and prevented you from latching the hold you were reaching for. Then your self-belay device held your fall but not before you hit a protruding rock -- so now you're bleeding rapidly, trying to extricate your mobile phone, hoping it will then get voice reception so you won't have to somehow tap out a text -- Never would have happened if you'd been climbing free-solo with no rope at all.

Pretty tricky to quantify those risks.

Want to play it safe?
how about ... Stay home and read climbing forums on the web.


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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Dec 18, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey

Awesome link loved the comments from other readers complaining about not understanding the lingo an what a bs article haha.

This is something very interested in. Thank for the wealth of information guys!


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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Dec 19, 2012
Me on Supercrack

D.E.W. wrote:
Please don't beat me up too bad but how are you guys tying your back up knots??? It took me forever cause I stack my rope in a 20 liter pack and pre tie the knots every 8 or so feet give or take. Is there an easier way????


Since I don't use a device, this might not help you but..., I keep at least one loop of rope hanging between lockers attached to my harness (two loops is safer but then you need another locker). The rest of the rope just hangs down below me. Typically I just drop one clove hitch to advance the rope past the next piece of pro, then retie another clove behind the one(s) still hanging form my harness. You can add more lockers and loops if you have a longer section to get through before you can retie your cloves. Mostly, I just hang from a piece (Fifi or draw) to retie knots when needed. Occasionally I will slide a clove hitch to get more rope length, but if you fell with your fingers in the clove hitch...YOUCH! I don't lead rope solo very often. I occasionally practice the technique so it's in my bag of tricks when I need to use it. My approach is to use only things I would have with me on a typical multi-pitch climb.

If I really wanted to do a lot of this, which I find strangely appealing, I would probably look into a method like Healyje uses. I actually think it could be very safe and efficient as long as you are totally focused and maintain control.


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By nbrown
From western NC
Dec 19, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai

D.E.W.,

There are several different ways to go about setting up a rope-solo system. Obviously, different systems will dictate a number of different variations in details such as using back up knots, and how frequently you'll need them, etc. I've logged a huge amount of real-world time on my soloist and am quite comfortable climbing very close to my limit (low 12's) of any style (slab to overhanging, trad to bolted). So, if you'd like help with any specific details, I'd be happy to offer at least one person's opinion on what seems to work rather well - just send me a pm.


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By Healyje
Dec 19, 2012
girl40

nbrown wrote:
D.E.W., There are several different ways to go about setting up a rope-solo system. Obviously, different systems will dictate a number of different variations in details such as using back up knots, and how frequently you'll need them, etc. I've logged a huge amount of real-world time on my soloist and am quite comfortable climbing very close to my limit (low 12's) of any style (slab to overhanging, trad to bolted). So, if you'd like help with any specific details, I'd be happy to offer at least one person's opinion on what seems to work rather well.


nbrown, maybe write up a Soloist article for here or RC. It has been used to do a rope-solo of Astroman so it definitely has a following. That said, an old, very experienced partner broke four ribs in a horizontal body-orientation fall where the device never locked. But then they all have issues and no rope-solo system is perfect.


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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Dec 19, 2012
Me on Supercrack

nbrown wrote:
D.E.W., There are several different ways to go about setting up a rope-solo system. Obviously, different systems will dictate a number of different variations in details such as using back up knots, and how frequently you'll need them, etc. I've logged a huge amount of real-world time on my soloist and am quite comfortable climbing very close to my limit (low 12's) of any style (slab to overhanging, trad to bolted). So, if you'd like help with any specific details, I'd be happy to offer at least one person's opinion on what seems to work rather well - just send me a pm.



I'm definitely interested in your approach, if you take the time to type it up why not post it here for everyone (pictures help too). I'm looking to step up my system to one where I can actually climb a decent multi-pitch in a day. The more info I have the better!


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By nbrown
From western NC
Dec 19, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai

Healyje wrote:
nbrown, maybe write up a Soloist article for here or RC. It has been used to do a rope-solo of Astroman so it definitely has a following. That said, an old, very experienced partner broke four ribs in a horizontal body-orientation fall where the device never locked. But then they all have issues and no rope-solo system is perfect.


No doubt they all have issues and are dangerous... I definitely don't mean to imply that it is safe - sort of a middle ground between free soloing and climbing with a partner. I never felt terribly comfortable free soloing (duh), but due to my career choice, generally end up with a lot of partner-less week days to climb. So, I developed rope-soloing hard routes into sort of a game for myself. A much safer way to push the envelope...

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion, maybe I should do a little write-up. There are a lot of useful tid bits that I've picked up over the years that would've been very useful when I was starting out.


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By david doucette
Dec 19, 2012
Top of Intersection Rock, Joshua Tree NP.

nbrown wrote:
I've logged a huge amount of real-world time on my soloist and am quite comfortable climbing very close to my limit (low 12's) of any style (slab to overhanging, trad to bolted).


did you ever use the silent partner? or just stick with getting really good at using the soloist. i'm definitely interested in getting either the soloist or silent partner. there seems to be more of a following for the soloist.


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By Healyje
Dec 19, 2012
girl40

nbrown wrote:
No doubt they all have issues and are dangerous... I definitely don't mean to imply that it is safe - sort of a middle ground between free soloing and climbing with a partner. I never felt terribly comfortable free soloing (duh), but due to my career choice, generally end up with a lot of partner-less week days to climb.


Yeah, a decent write-up from someone solid with the Soloist would be helpful given the number of them in circulation and the amount they get picked up and given a whirl.

As I said in my article, not really my cup of tea given I don't like anything on my chest when I climb. I am, however, just about as comfortable roped-soloing as I am with a partner and quite often more so; but that's after a few decades and thousands of pitches. And every season when I start back up it takes me about a dozen pitches to get it all back and I have a set circuit of pitches I use to get re-acclimatized every year.

Please post up if you do write one.


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By Healyje
Dec 19, 2012
girl40

david doucette wrote:
did you ever use the silent partner? or just stick with getting really good at using the soloist. i'm definitely interested in getting either the soloist or silent partner. there seems to be more of a following for the soloist.


I don't know, it's hard to gauge each devices 'following'. There have likely been way, way more Soloists manufactured in total, but in active use? I'm guessing Soloists and SPs probably run neck-in-neck with a lot of Soloists laying around never really seeing the light of day much.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Dec 20, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

david doucette wrote:
did you ever use the silent partner? or just stick with getting really good at using the soloist. i'm definitely interested in getting either the soloist or silent partner. there seems to be more of a following for the soloist.

I don't think that I have ever met anyone who preferred the soloist to the silent partner for free climbing. That you see more of the Soloist out there might have something to do with the price compared to the Silent Partner!


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By D.E.W.
From NJ
Dec 21, 2012
Westkill Mtn catskills

thanks for your input everyone


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By nbrown
From western NC
Dec 21, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai

csproul wrote:
I don't think that I have ever met anyone who preferred the soloist to the silent partner for free climbing. That you see more of the Soloist out there might have something to do with the price compared to the Silent Partner!


I bought one of the first commercially available silent partners, I think it was late 90's. Anyway, the company (rock exotica at the time) was having issues getting mine to work properly after I returned it 2 times (both times the failures were confirmed by the company). No need to get into that as they have since corrected the issue with a different manufacturing/painting process.

I have at least 1 friend currently using the silent partner regularily and he reports no problems. He also climbs well into the 12 range with it and isn't afraid to fall. That being said, I got rid of mine and started using the soloist again. Been using it ever since.

The soloist has several advantages:

Simplicity (arguably)
Price
Ease of dogging (working routes)
Less bulky
Doesn't require biners to attach to harness

Obviously it has it's disadvantages as well.


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By kenr
Dec 21, 2012

nbrown wrote:
> The soloist has several advantages:
> ... Ease of dogging (working routes)

A nice feature of the Soloist that I've used is that even with full body weight hanging on the rope I can immediately switch to going downward a short ways on the rope -- just tie a backup knot below and clip into it, then lean way way back.

Like if I'm climbing on top-rope solo, and I fail on a sequence, and then I want to restart from three feet lower, rather than from the exact previous high spot where I gave up or fell off.

Also nice when cleaning the rock for a route from top to bottom (so I don't dump dirt and moss down on the holds I've already cleaned), with the rope anchored at the top. Clean a section hanging on the Soloist (with backup knot), tie a new backup and lower a few feet, clean another section - (and maybe work some of the moves if it's a tricky section, make sure I've more thoroughly cleaned the most critical holds).

Also sometimes in wierd unexpected situations, I might need to transfer body weight to something other than the self-belay in order to escape.

Is that trick also possible with the MicroCender pulley?

Ken


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By dancesatmoonrise
Dec 21, 2012
avatar

nbrown, I'll add to the list of folks that would like you to write something up about your experiences with the soloist.

I'd reply to the OP, as I personally had a couple years in the late 90's where I was climbing hard on weekdays in remote places, bolting solo on the lead, but, like many others here, I don't really have any experience actually falling with the device.

I've used it some recently, again, and would like to get more comfortable with it again. So hearing your experiences with it would be most welcome.

Seems roped solo is frightening no matter what you use; unfortunately Healy is right, there's no perfect system - at least none that I've found - though I keep looking.

D.E.W., thanks for starting this thread. Nice to have the issue come up again; maybe we can all learn something from the few brave souls pushing the roped solo envelope.


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By Portwood
From Your moms house last night
Feb 4, 2013
Me

20 kN wrote:
I have soloed aid. Adding a screamer to your anchor at the bottom will create for a softer catch, but at the expense of $30 per fall. But this is kind of the nature of the beast, completely static belays suck. You can try to offset this a bit by using a very dynamic rope such as one manufactured by Beal.


I belive it's www.climbingextreme.com that carrys reuseable screamers.


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By James Arnold
From Chattanooga
Feb 8, 2013
Chew toyed

Healyje wrote:
P.S. Be aware the Soloist may fail if you fall in a horizontal orientation (and has).


^^^^^^(!!!) I used a soloist for a while, but ended up soloing the column and el cap with a Solo-aid, because after a lot of messing around with the soloist, you find that the angles at which it releases and won't catch are somewhat unpredictable; probably variables like rope diamterer etc play into this. Real solo falls can pitch you over backwards/sideways quite easily (say, top stepping a poor piece or slipping out of a crack awkward). The soloaid is a pita to free climb with, of course...

Echoing stich and a few others, if I were leading a lot solo, I would probably invest in a SP.

slim wrote:
i did a handfull of tests with a loaded haulbag to simulate traversing falls with the soloist in the late 90's or early 2000's and it failed miserably. also, it doesn't catch very consistently on slab falls (the jerk rate isn't able to engage the cam). for this reason i quit using it.


^^^^^(!!!!)


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By nick serrano
From Albuquerque, NM
Feb 9, 2013
Chest Full of Kind (IC 5.10)

I've used the soloist for a couple years and though I am far from an expert at rope-soloing, I like it. You just have to get your rope-management systems down and use the backup knot(!).


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