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What you SHOULDN'T Do on Big Walls...
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By Sure-man
From Boone, NC/ S.F.
May 12, 2014
On Las Aguajas with TW0 summit in the background
So there are a million resources now for learning about aid and big wall climbing before setting out, but what I am interested in is **ADvice from Veterans** about things to avoid while on a big wall. THINGS YOU SHOULDN'T do. Dangerous things to look out for when setting up systems, leading, following, hauling,, etc. When accidents happen while big wall climbing, what are little things that should have been avoided or not missed? I think its just as crucial to learn about what not to do, as it is what you should do. So, what do you all have for me? This is a general discussion, but PLEASE do not highjack the subject or respond with anything but positive input! Thanks.

-Brett

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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
May 12, 2014
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of ...
don't bail

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By Mickey Sensenbach
From San luis obispo CA
May 12, 2014
me at the top of higher spire!
I aint no veterain but from what I have learned...


never trust just one thing, back up haul, back up jugs, back up self belay...

dont sew it up on easy pitches (unless you have crazy amounts of gear...)

dont do frantic things, slow and smart.

1 more thing... the hardest of things...

try not to get scarred and freaked out! (I struggle with this step a lot!!)

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By Tug
May 12, 2014
Think about the concequences of your actions before you do something.

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By Moof
From Portland, OR
May 12, 2014
Don't get dead.

Mostly it boils down to setting realistic goals, hitting them, and not quitting.

So many "don't do" things are hard to think of, as common sense and experience eliminates them from the equation.

A few I can think of:

1) Don't rap or jug a line held by a hauler, usually only an issue if soloing. Pre-threading is fine of you are rapping the haul line while soloing, but don't engage the cam and set a load release knot to hold you. After freeing the bags and cleaning the pitch you can engage the cam and release the knot to start hauling. If the cam of the hauler slips because of a jolt (sudden stop while rapping for example) it can shred the rope and shock load things, maybe giving you the chop.

2) Don't screw your partner at lower outs or when back-cleaning. If your partner has to lower out from a fixed piece, make sure there is a decent tie off there for them to do so (don't be cheap). Trying to thread a tie-off (if you have one) through the eye of a pin with a loaded biner on it is a real hassle and a major time waster. Even using long slings on very overhung or traversing terrain can leave your follower in a bad position to clean stuff.

3) Don't fix ropes using existing tat rap-slings. It messes up the rap station and is not worth it. The worst I saw was a gal who came up behind me on the first pitch of Tangerine Trip. She clipped a locker into a single piece of 7mm sun bleached cord and tied off her partner into that and called it good. Horrifying.

4) Don't clip bolts with a single biner if you can at all avoid it. If the line of bolts is overhanging, or leaning at all it makes cleaning more difficult and frustrating than needed. Bring the right number of draws, or sacrifice a cam plus a free biner to make a draw.

5) Don't take daisy falls. Most are avoidable (if not all?). If the next piece is at all dicey you should thoroughly test it, clip the rope into the lower piece, unclip your lower daisy, and only then extend out your daisy (I only use adjustables, YMMV). I try to never have a slack daisy clipped to anything. Chris Mac pushes a sequence that is less cluster prone than what i use, but exposes you to a longer fall if the top piece pops, your choice. My style is slow, but if you are looking for advice on the interwebs, you are not likely trying to set speed records. My goal is to get back from vacation in one piece, not to set speed records.

6) Don't struggle. With enough practice you should not be brute forcing any of the aiding or cleaning sequence. Top-stepping is strenuous for sure, but that is very different than struggling. Cleaning should not burn out your forearms, if it does you are likely struggling as the result of bad technique or poor setup.

7) Don't yell at your partner. If they are just moving slow, understand that they are likely doing the best they can. Encouragement is OK, even ribbing, but yelling at someone who is taking a little too long to setup an anchor, or get the haul setup is generally counter-productive. If you partner is frazzled from the lead, they likely need the extra time to make sure the anchor setup is not stupid or unsafe, or to make sure they don't drop something. On the other hand, if they are just chronically too slow for your taste, just go find a different partner for the next wall.

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By david goldstein
May 12, 2014
Somethings you'll have to figure on the wall, but others can be dialed in before you leave home e.g. an efficient jumar setup or becoming very proficient in setting up the portaledge while hanging in slings. Expecting to figure it all out on the wall is a recipe for failure and/or epic while having some degree of proficiency in the basics considerably increases your chances of having an enjoyable and successful experience.

A couple of specifics I remember from my big wall days/phase two decades ago:
Packing and racking at home is likely to save you day; in one case we started driving from the Front Range of Colorado after the normal end of work and, since we were fully packed and read to go, were able to jump on El Cap first thing the next morning. This running start allowed us to beat a huge, unexpected storm (barely) and finish our route. If we'd futzed around racking and packing in El Cap meadow that first day we would have ended up bailing part way up the route and rapping through waterfalls.
Don't clip in too short and/or don't "lock" yourself into an anchor somehow or other. I recall a miserable haul on another EC route where I had about 6" of play in my setup because of some bodge with how I clipped into the anchor; this mistake was so limiting that the haul essentially had to wait for my partner to finish cleaning the pitch, a waste of maybe 15 minutes.

One of my favorite aphorisms: The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.

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By Mickey Sensenbach
From San luis obispo CA
May 12, 2014
me at the top of higher spire!
"I recall a miserable haul on another EC route where I had about 6" of play in my setup because of some bodge with how I clipped into the anchor; this mistake was so limiting that the haul essentially had to wait for my partner to finish cleaning the pitch, a waste of maybe 15 minutes. "


that same thing happened to me! well, my partner! after leading the first pitch of the leaning tower he had the same problem!

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By Josh Allred
From Salt Lake City, UT
May 12, 2014
P3 on Nutcracker.
Don't learn to big wall climb on the nose.

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By Greg DeMatteo
From W. Lebanon, NH
May 12, 2014
Don't follow the Kor Roof if you haven't practiced cleaning overhangs/traverses on jugs.

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By Elliott Bates
May 13, 2014
Sweet Moves on El Barrio! Foto by the one and only...
+1 on the not bailing advice. Part of the early stages of big walling is just continuing to go up, no matter how long it's taking you to get to the bivy. Get there at 1am if you have to, then wake up and do it again. Make a plan for what bivys you'll make that day and get there. No bailing because you're slow.

One little thing that can F you if you don't pay attention: make sure the haul line runs cleanly from the previous anchor to your belay. It's easy to rush at this stage- you're tired and thirsty after a long lead and you just want to get the pig. ...Watch for flakes that the haul line get caught on, especially on traversing pitches. I didn't do this once and told my partner to release the bag. He did, but the rope was running over a flake horizontally, then down to the bag, and I couldn't haul it until it was dislodged from the flake. I yanked and yarded, but nothing would free the rope. Finally, and very stupidly, I wrapped my hand/wrist around the rope once to get more purchase and pulled as hard as I could. The rope came free from the flake and the pig took a huge pendulum, and the entire weight of it cinched around my wrist and ripped me off the ledge. I flailed around in space, upside down, and instantly lost all circulation to my hand. My partner was still jugging so he couldn't help. After a few seconds of yelling about how I was going to lose my hand, I realized I could just unwrap my wrist from the rope.

So that sucked. Lesson: make sure your haul line runs very cleanly before your have your buddy release the bag. REALLY obvious in hindsight, but day 3 on a wall when your thirsty as hell and just finished a 2 hour lead... Not as obvious.

Good luck!

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By kevin deweese
From Oakland, Ca
May 13, 2014
Birds and Beards
Adding to the sub topic of not screwing the second:

When the leader gets to the anchor on a windy or cold day, it's easy for the leader to futz about because they're warm from moving still. The problem is your second is freezing from hours of being still so it's important not to hold them there for longer than needed. Obviously you shouldn't move too fast and make mistakes, but just keeping the different conditions in mind will help you to keep moving until the anchor is set and the line is fixed before taking a rest.

This is one of the main reasons I solo most of my walls; to always be moving and warm.

---------
All of Moof's points are solid. Really good advice there.

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
May 13, 2014
Dont cluster fuck yo belays.


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By Mark Hudon
May 13, 2014
On the North America Wall in 1977.
Lot's of good, honest suggestions so far.

Don't learn to wall climb on the Nose is one I would heartily second!

I poo pooed rope bags for years but I swear by them now. Don't forget rope bags for the lead line and haul line. If you are in the wind band on the Nose (the lower Stove Legs), you might even want the leader to climb with one for the haul line.

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By Caleb Padgett
From Rockville, utah
May 13, 2014
core sh%t
core sh%t

Dont whip after running it out 60ft off the bealy.
And if you do make sure you didnt forget your jugs at the belay so you can rescue yourself.

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By iceman777
From Colorado Springs
May 13, 2014
0
Moofs advice is solid ! +1000!

I don't do walls anymore , too much work and too old to care about em like I used to .
Although I did have a delusional thought of completing the direct finish on jimmy dunn's Cosmos with jimmy at one time, but we decided were better off being old farts and doing old fart stuff . Lol ....

If I can add one more tidbit of info it would be .... Get comfortable with the hight ! Stay focused with the tasks at hand no matter how tired you are ! Never trust any fixed gear always back everything up ! And never ever become complacent !



Walls go like this
1st: scared shitless ! Wants to bail !
2nd: a little poop creeps out once n awhile
3rd: sphincter is tight but no noticeable leakage
4th: relaxed sphincter , focused mind , beginning to enjoy the climbing
5th: relaxed ,attentive , only brief moments of puckering depending on the route/weather/ ect

But to answer your question : not having fun !!!!
Cheers

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By JohnnyG
May 13, 2014
Don't break a sweat

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By Sure-man
From Boone, NC/ S.F.
May 14, 2014
On Las Aguajas with TW0 summit in the background
Thanks for the helpful input everyone, there is some great advice in there. Feel free to keep adding more.

-Brett

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By Mark Hudon
May 14, 2014
On the North America Wall in 1977.
Another thing you don't want to do: Don't come down! You WILL feel like a piece of shit the minute you hit the ground and pull your ropes. 99% of the time your reasons for bailing will melt away once you hit the ground.

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By kevin deweese
From Oakland, Ca
May 14, 2014
Birds and Beards
Agree with Mark. Additionally, if you reach a point where you (and/or your partner) are stumped and can't figure out how to pass a section, instead of bailing, fix your rope to that point (or the closest spot with good gear) and head back to the belay. Rest, think of other things, enjoy the view, etc. Often times your mind will work out how to pass a section once the stress of the immediate moment has passed.

Better to get a half day behind or so than to figure out the obvious move/placement halfway down to the ground.

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By Wes Goulding
May 14, 2014
Good stuff ^^^

Thanks

Wes

PS As a big wall noob I find that reading about what to do is a great help. Dont skimp on doing your research. In addition I find that actually getting out to my local crag to practice all the cool stuff is very helpful. Turns out jugging a free hanging rope is not as easy as I thought it was going to be. Also no matter how many times I read about Not creating a mess at the belay I had to try it out (with out trying) anyway. Spending time doing these seemingly easy and basic things will payoff big time on the wall.

M2C

Good luck

Wes

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By SirTobyThe3rd
May 19, 2014
Hello
Don't bring too much shit. 1L of water and 40 GU packets, run the PDL and really go for it.

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By brian hess
From Logan, Utah
Jun 17, 2014
the glorious pitch 7
Don't leave your waste on the wall. I was on lead in a chimney recently and there was a ziplock bag full of shit sitting on a chockstone. If your on a busy route or just in general urinate in piss bottles. It is actually easier than pissing off a portaledge and you won't stink up the belays for future parties. Likewise, carry and dispose of your shit.

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By Dustin B
From Steamboat
Jun 17, 2014
It's always a party.
Don't flag the ledge if there is the possibility of high winds, cause if they start halfway through a haul you will see some shit break.



Edit-oh yeah, don't drop stuff

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By kevin deweese
From Oakland, Ca
Jun 17, 2014
Birds and Beards
Dustin B wrote:
Don't flag the ledge if there is the possibility of high winds, cause if they start halfway through a haul you will see some shit break. Edit-oh yeah, don't drop stuff


As long as you have a good funnel as a rope protector so the biner on the bottom of the ledge can spin around it you'll be fine. I've flown my ledge many times on many routes in some pretty insane winds and as long as it could spin, no harm came to the ledge.

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By Mark Hudon
Jun 17, 2014
On the North America Wall in 1977.
You SHOULD NOT get all excited on the last pitch or second to last pitch that you've "done it". You can still die and it can still be a nightmare. Hauling on the last pitch is frequently a giant pain in the ass and can take a lot of time and effort.

Only when you are well back from the edge along with EVERYTHING else and you can safely take your harness off are you truly done.

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By Phil Esra
Jun 17, 2014
Figure out how to set up your portaledge while hanging. This was said above, but needs to be emphasized. The most frequent cause of bails that I know of firsthand is people unfamiliar with their Black Diamond ledge. I have had great results with my Fish econoledge.

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