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walkie talkies for communicating with an out of sight climber
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By William Rhyne
From clayton, nc
Mar 20, 2012

So Im interested in carrying a set of walkie talkies with me up routes whenever i go out of sight or on super windy days. I just see time slipping away when im sitting on belay thinking what the heck is taking him so long, in a case like this a little communication would go a long way. There have been countless times when climbing with new leaders where they finish a pitch and start to build the anchors and set up belay and get all ready then tell you you can take them off belay!!! I want to learn little tricks in saving time and climbing more efficiently. Maybe if you use walkie talkies what kind what brand.... any helpful knowledge would be great Thanks for all your help.


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By Dr. Ellis D. Funnythoughts
From Evergreen, Co
Mar 20, 2012
You can tell Lenny any of your sport climbing problems. He's a great listener.

www.amazon.com/Dick-Tracy-Two-Wrist-Radio/dp/B0011WK1DW


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Mar 20, 2012
El Chorro

William Rhyne wrote:
I want to learn little tricks in saving time and climbing more efficiently.


If you do this, then you don't need the walkie-talkies. In regards to the specific case that you mentioned about the leader not going off belay soon enough, perhaps it is just a case of educating your partner a little.

I remember doing the same thing when I first started climbing in areas where I had to build natural anchors. I would build the whole damn thing, get comfy, take off my shoes, etc - all the while my partner is wondering what the hell is taking me so long. I had a parnter tell me once when I left the belay - "remember to let me know as soon as I can take you off belay." Ever since then I have always made it a priority to look for a bomber piece and a small ledge if possible, so that I can go off belay before building the entire anchor.

Anyways, Motorolla walkies always seemed to work for us when I used to run a summer camp. They are heavy though, and if you get a good system down w/ your partner then you don't need them.

Climbing w/ a new partner is just that, NEW. It will never go as smoothly as it would w/ someone you are used to, but there is nothing wrong w/ coming up w/ a system and some plans before you leave the ground.


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By bevans
Mar 20, 2012

You'll eventually (or quickly) decide that they are more hassle than you want to deal with and are, in reality, unnecessary anyway.

Setting expectations before leaving the ground/belay, knowing your partner's habits and abilities, and having some form of non-verbal communication options all serve to eliminate the need for strapping on yet another piece of kit that will...in the end...only serve to complicate your life/climb (batteries, straps ....... offwidths .... chimneys ..... pack hauls.... tangled messes of gear...etc. etc.).

Focus instead on overall efficiency of movement and transitions instead of the need to hear your partner's voice before you can make a move.

There's a reason I've only ever used a radio on one climb ever...the very first alpine climb I ever did. And we still got benighted! =) We moved slowly for countless other reasons. If anything, they just made sure we could TALK about moving a lot more than actually MOVING. Have never used one again. It's never been necessary.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Mar 20, 2012

The search function on this website works well. Here, these should provide some information for you:

mountainproject.com/v/rope-tug-communication---what-do-you-t>>>

mountainproject.com/v/communicating-on-multi-pitch-routes/10>>>

mountainproject.com/v/communication-with-belayer/106374219#a>>>

www.mountainproject.com/v/2-way-radios-for-climbing/10717421>>>

mountainproject.com/v/multi-pitch-communication---when-you-c>>>


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By Hamlet73
From Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2012
pic taken in J-tree

People using walkie talkie have always annoyed me, there are several ways to communicate commands to your second(s) that do not involve a lot of noise. But that is my personal opinion, do with it what you will. ;)

I have never been in a situation when I wished I had walkie talkie. I have been extremely successful with rope commands, especially when using doubles. However, the rope commands need to be agreed upon before the leader start the pitch.

I usually do the following:

1) If leading with doubles I tell my second(s) that when the blue rope gets pulled rapidly for more than 10-15 feet it means I am off belay, and when the other double, let's call it the red rope, comes tight it means that in 15 seconds they will both be on belay. I also generally build the anchor and put the belay device (in this case generally a reverso) on it before I pull the rope up. That way as soon as the rope is pulled up it takes me 5 seconds to put the ropes through the belay device.

2) Leading with one rope, I use a similar idea. I generally tell my second that when the rope comes tight, they will be on belay after 15 seconds. The strategy at the anchor is the same, I first build the anchor, I attach myself to it (daisy chain, knot, whatever) and I get all set up to belaying them. Then I pull the rope up quickly for 10-15 feet which should tell them that I am indirect. Whether or not they get that I finish puling up the rope and immediately put them on belay. Then I get the rope tight and wait.

This agreed upon strategies have always worked in the rare cases where verbal communication did not work.

Hope this help.

A few times I even saw people using whistle to communicate commands, which was even more annoying than walkie talkie.


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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Mar 20, 2012
Stoked...

as has been said before... batteries and electronics fail and when they do it's usually at the most inopportune time so you MUST have a backup system.

That being said . . . at areas like the Gunks where there are hundreds of people the walkie talkies can cut down on a lot of yelling if something "non-standard" occurs (ie, out of your rehearsed rope tugs).


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By Josh Janes
Mar 20, 2012

Under normal circumstances, climbers on multipitch routes only ever need one command, and that's "Off Belay." And even that one is optional.

It's very simple: When the leader arrives at an anchor (or builds one), and anchors in, he yells "Off Belay." The belayer then takes him off belay.

How does the belayer know when to begin climbing? Easy: Once the rope comes tight. A good leader will have already taken care of all his business and gotten the belay set up and ready to go: The very last thing he should do is pull all the extra rope up. Then, in just a matter of seconds, the leader can put the rope in the belay device, which, once again, should already be in position and ready to go.

In doubt about whether or not the leader said "Off Belay"? Just keep him on until the rope comes tight then start climbing.

That's it. Very simple. I do this with countless clients who have never climbed a multipitch route before and even they seem to get it. Forget shouting matches (this is just a drag for everyone), rope tugs (was that three tugs or is he clipping?) and walkie talkies (BLIP BLIP).


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By John Farrell
From Phoenix, AZ
Mar 20, 2012
Chilling on Moby Dick, Cochise Stronghold.

William Rhyne wrote:
So Im interested in carrying a set of walkie talkies with me up routes whenever i go out of sight or on super windy days. I just see time slipping away when im sitting on belay thinking what the heck is taking him so long, in a case like this a little communication would go a long way. There have been countless times when climbing with new leaders where they finish a pitch and start to build the anchors and set up belay and get all ready then tell you you can take them off belay!!! I want to learn little tricks in saving time and climbing more efficiently. Maybe if you use walkie talkies what kind what brand.... any helpful knowledge would be great Thanks for all your help.


Have a backup system figured out because radios aren't always reliable. Then after a bit, you'll find the backup system is all you use because radios become more of a hassle than they are worth.

Unlike the movies, radios are line of site, and rock is very good at blocking them.


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By Tradoholic
Mar 20, 2012

While all of the above is pretty good advice I do find radios pretty helpful and not a burden to carry at all. Check out the small Motorolas, pretty useful.

I use them religiously when climbing with someone who is pretty new to climbing or just new to multi-pitch. Things will inevitably get bungled sometimes and for a nube to ask questions or get reassurance directly and without shouting can be very helpful. Also, sometimes plans change based on the circumstances so having a clear way to communicate that is a pretty good idea.

What I HATE is the incessant shouting among partners about whatever, "OFF BELAY", "WHAT?!?!?" "OFFFFFFF BEEEEEELAAAAAAAY!", "WHAAAAAAAAAT?", etc. Granted, this could easily be avoided by the methods mentioned above and you should still know these methods but radios can be a great help sometimes.

I have these currently. www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Service>>>


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By ParkerKempf
From atlanta, GA
Mar 20, 2012
sweet belay on El Cap Spire, Salathe Wall El Capitan

hey will! hope all is going well for yah!
i don't use walkie talkies, i also dont use tug systems or "pulling the rope quickly" systems because sometimes when there is rope drag, i tug the rope to give myself a little slack, make a move, then pull a little more, thus creating seeming "tugs"...but im still on lead
sometimes there is an easier section in which i am doing fast climbing and the rope is feeding quickly....easily miscommunicated.... i also tend to try and link pitches alot, so just "running out of rope" doesn't do it for me either.....

what i always tell my second on low-communication days (wind and whatnot) is that as soon as they see their clove hitch (because that is all anybody ever needs to be attached by, no daisies or any of that frivolous fluff) pulled so tight that there is no way i am on lead and creating that kind of tension, they know that they are on belay...sure its hard to get the biner out, but hey, at least they know that they are safe...no words needed


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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Mar 20, 2012
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.

I love my two-way radios. Keep in mind that communication issues are the number one cause of accidents in climbing. I think they are pointless for singe pitch routes unless you're near a river or a road, but they are priceless in the alpine and on multi-pitch anything else. If you have ever been on an alpine or multi-pitch climb when wind and weather rolls in, you will know that it's nearly impossible to hear one another. Further, rope pulls and tugs don't go over so well when your route meanders and you start linking pitches, you're dehydrated, tired, and at altitude.

It blows my mind when climbers and mountaineers will embrace all sorts of technology when it comes to harnesses, carabiners, etc., but will snub their nose at something that will save lives. With radios you speak clearly and climbing parties can move a lot quicker without the call and response delays. Whoever said they're noisier than call and response is not thinking clearly. You don't need your radio volume jacked all the way up, and your communication is over and done in a minute or less. With call and response you are literally screaming at other climbers. If you're at a popular crag on the weekend (Read: BoCan, Eldo, etc.) then you also have to start using names so other parties don't get confused and take their ready to lower leader off below.

If it makes you a safer climber, do it. You don't need any radios with a 40 mile transmission radius. Climbs are vertical, and you can get the tiny ones for relatively inexpensive. Just like a GPS user being advised to always carry a map and compass, don't forget to have a plan if the radios stop working.


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By Phill T
Mar 21, 2012

I'd use a radio more if I could find one that was super reliable, lightweight and compact. The few that i have used in the past always seem to turn themselves off or other nonsense. They are great when they work, but when they dont (which seemed to be more often than not), just a pain.


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By Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Apr 15, 2012
whitney east buttress

I used radios for the first time on Whitney's East Buttress a few years ago. I have climbed for decades and thought I would give it a try because of a partner who had never climbed before and I have been on the same route several times before and know that wind and terrain can hamper communication. They worked slick and I am going to use them again next month when I take my 11 year old son on Snake Dike. We know how to climb without them and have our signals down but he wants the comfort of being able to talk with me and I am fine with that. I wont make radios a habit but on certain climbs they sure come in handy.


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By Janne M
May 14, 2012

tldr;

I have a pair of cheapish leisure activity walkietalkies. range 5km max.

I recommend that if you are going to get something, cough up the cash and go for something professional kind of equipment. just double check that they include public channels also.

The 5km range should be regarded as "out of box, premium batteries and clear day on sea range" forest, small hills etc you will get much less. I could not reach my friend while downhill skiing on a small hill.

It worked acceptably when climbing. Sound, speakers, mic.. I was left wanting better.

upsides on my pair. cheap so financial loss was acceptable. Light so they are easy to take with you.


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
May 14, 2012

Hamlet73 wrote:
I generally tell my second that when the rope comes tight, they will be on belay after 15 seconds. The strategy at the anchor is the same, I first build the anchor, I attach myself to it (daisy chain, knot, whatever) and I get all set up to belaying them. Then I pull the rope up quickly for 10-15 feet which should tell them that I am indirect. Whether or not they get that I finish puling up the rope and immediately put them on belay. Then I get the rope tight and wait.

I do this also, except I use 20 seconds (30 seconds with partners who are not as familiar with this method). Works great.


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By todd w
May 18, 2012

To all those who are bad-mouthing walkies:

How on earth do you communicate to your belayer that you left the weed on the last belay ledge? Morse-code via rope tugs?

Walkies are great. I'll never go multi pitching without em again.


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By doligo
May 18, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style

Morgan Patterson wrote:
That being said . . . at areas like the Gunks where there are hundreds of people the walkie talkies can cut down on a lot of yelling if something "non-standard" occurs (ie, out of your rehearsed rope tugs).


I find walkies especially annoying at busy crags - I've witnessed them in use while climbers are still within earshot from each other, so it actually adds to the noise pollution instead of reducing. Oh, and it does not help couples' selective hearing problems, and actually exacerbates them. "I said 'Take'!!!!"

If you are not comfortable having your partner out of sight/hearing range and are not familiar with each other's habits, I'd say shorten your pitches and/or extend your belay stance to the edge if the route is going through roofs etc.


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By T Howes
From Bozeman, MT
May 21, 2012

Everyone has their own system. Radios seem like a ridiculous thing to carry...

When I lead a pitch I basically expect that my belayer has kept me on belay until they start climbing or just shortly before. It takes just a little common sense. When the rope stops moving, put a knot on the break end and get your shoes on and whatever else you need to do to start climbing. When I've built my anchor I will pull the slack up. Once I feel it go tight I will let about 10 feet of rope slide back down. I put my second on belay, they know when the rope goes tight on them the second time they are on belay.


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By T.C.
From Whittier, NC
May 21, 2012

Love radios. I use them every time on long trad. I can't believe more people don't use them. Put a leash on it, so if it comes unclipped you won't lose it.


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By Dr. Rocktopolus
From Chattanooga, TN
May 25, 2012
Whipping on the redpoint crux of " The Theater Of Pain " 5.13b Cooks Wall, NC

Smoke signals... Kidding will I could not resist. Rope signals are great for on belay when you are out of communication. For instance, I have you on belay from above and I need to let you know it's ok to climb. I pull the rope til its tight and I can feel you, then I give two tugs with about a 2 second interval between tugs so it feels consistent. Then in return you give me three tugs back. Simple and effective.

Communications when multi pitching can be tuff And at hard grades a radio is just more stuff to carry and fumble with. The key is a partner who you know and trust. One you have an understanding of how each other work. This is key for multi pitch into tuff grades with little communication. For me my multi pitch partners are far more select than the rest.


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By Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Jul 19, 2012
whitney east buttress

Just did Crystal Crag with my 11 son and it was WINDY. We had no radios, I told him to sit tight until the rope came tight on his harness then take apart the belay and start climbing. This worked fine but he was a little freaked by the high wind and loss of visual and verbal communication. He dropped a #2 Camalot and tried to yell to me to lower him to retrieve it but I could't hear him. This was one circumstance where a radio would have come in handy and I would not have lost a new Camalot to the party that followed us after we summited. I will in most cases say no to using radios but climbing with my kid might be the exception to the rule.


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By alpinglow
From city, state
Jul 19, 2012

The Ouray ice park is the only spot where I have seen walkies come into their own.

Climber getting lowered needs to stop before he goes in river, river very loud, belayer back from the ledge out of sight, belayer busy posing down anyway. If you drop radio you are 30 seconds from a new one.

I climb mostly with my wife now, the thing I care about most.

Our rule...as stated, "when the rope comes tight, climb on..."


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By Andrew Hildner
Jul 19, 2012

So, I've been in both camps: "these are neat-o!!!!", and "radios are for effin' sissy n00bs!!"

Truth is, they're not 'needed' 98% of the time because short, clear voice commands work well and you should have a rope tug backup plan. Single pitch, or busy crags are definitely NOT the place to use them. But on multi-pitch, they definitely reduce the stress factor if a cluster occurs or you're with someone newer to climbing.

I have a pair of these: www.target.com/p/motorola-black-8-mile-2-way-radios-fv150/-/>>>. Cheap, small, light (occasional accidental button hit). I rarely use them, and rarely miss them, but sometimes acutely wish I had brought them.

They're emphatically the sh$t though on big walls if you're trying to move fast and/or hauling a bag (YMMV). There's a lot more communication required and when the afternoon winds in the Valley start up it can be hard to hear. I figure it's faster/safer to be able to precisely problem solve with a detailed plan to uncluster something, rather than screwing around tugging a rope and trying to "feel the bond" between myself and my partner (how many tugs for "unwrap the haul line from the lead rope?"). I think this is also true in cases where you're doing a combo of free/simul/shortfixing, or there are a lot of tension traverses.

I think the important rule to follow if you do use them is to communicate with them like you would your voice commands; short, precise, relevant messages. Don't make it a running conversation about anything/everything. That makes me go Hulk, and it also shouts n00bness...


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By Jacob Neathawk
From Nederland, CO
Jul 19, 2012

These are very helpful at rifle for spraying beta when you dont want to be the guy shouting from the bottom of the wall all weekend. Also, you never know when a random cattle drive or deisel truck is gonna come through and cause a lot of noise which could ruin a flash attempt


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By Dan Petty
From Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 5, 2012
Overlooking Roanoke, VA after completing the Blue Ridge Marathon the previous day.

I didn't even realize that Rifle had trad routes...


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