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Anyone trad climb without cams?


Original Post
Timothy Nolan · · Vermont · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 5

GASP

So I was taught to trad climb on a rack that only had 1 cam.

There is a lot of talk on here about cams, and I guess I wanted to take a straw poll of climbers to see how common it was for people to climb only on passive pro.

Does anyone now (or have you in the past) climb with on a rack that was all or mostly passive protection?

How common is it for today's trad climber to reach for a hex or a stopper before to reach for a cam?

saxfiend · · Decatur, GA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 4,225

I'll occasionally lead a route intentionally using nothing but passive gear. I just do this as an exercise to force myself to not rely on cams as much and increase my skills at placing passive pro. On routine leads (i.e., when I'm not doing this specific exercise), I still try to place nuts, tricams or hexes whenever I have the opportunity.

JL

jack roberts · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 0

Same as Saxfriend, I occasionally only use passive pro as a way to keep my skills sharp and to actually add more "fun" to my rock climbing day..............

I find that relying on cams all the time makes me lazy.

Paul Shultz · · Hudson, Ma · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 510

Believe it or not, there were days before cams.

Royal Robbins used nuts only for a first ascent and shocked the world.

I think that being able to do a route with just passive pro is great! Cheaper rack and far lighter, unfortunately, I think that many have found cams to be indispensable because of the little variation that have.

I've climbed several routes where I used up a whole bunch of nuts and barely touched my cams. Nuts are simple and are the most solid thing out there.

Timothy Nolan · · Vermont · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 5
Paul Shultz wrote:Believe it or not, there were days before cams. Royal Robbins used nuts only for a first ascent and shocked the world. I think that being able to do a route with just passive pro is great! Cheaper rack and far lighter, unfortunately, I think that many have found cams to be indispensable because of the little variation that have. I've climbed several routes where I used up a whole bunch of nuts and barely touched my cams. Nuts are simple and are the most solid thing out there.
yea, when i was first learning I was given a copy of "rockcraft 2" and told to read it 5 times before i even went out to go climbing

I know there were people climbing 5.12 before cams existed.

I just wonder how common it is now.
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

Releated thread...

mountainproject.com/v/trad_…

Abram Herman · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined May 2009 · Points: 20

I've done a couple, more because I was sport climbing for the day and only brought up a set of nuts, and then saw a trad line I wanted to do; it's definitely a good exercise though, for sure. Most climbers now seem to eschew hexes in favor of cams, seems like every time I bring mine up (I generally only bring them on a loooooong multi-pitch) some other climber makes a comment along the lines of, "You still use THOSE THINGS!?!?!". I still love 'em though :) Put in that bigass blue BD hex and I feel like the wall is gonna fall apart before the hex ever falls out. The only climber I know who doesn't use cams and only uses hexes/nuts is Jim Erickson, but he's also a certified old-school badass; he says he doesn't trust cams because of all the moving parts (which I find kind of funny, in the new Eldo guide they have a picture of his first "clean" rack with a WOODEN hex!)

Tradster · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

If you are as old as me and started climbing in 1974...you sure climbed without cams. I remember doing Soler and Ecstasy at Seneca Rocks with perloned hexes and flat-faced stoppers...that was the second year, I believe, they were on the market. I thought EBs were the bomb back then. Seriously, although I have a nice rack of cams and stuff now, practicing just with hexes and stoppers would certainly give you a real idea of what old schoolers experienced. Back then if you couldn't get a placement in within a few minutes on a difficult section, you just said screw it and ran it out. Back then:

'When in doubt, run it out' saved my ass from flaming out while trying to get in a manky piece of pro. I'm glad to reach down and have a nice selection of cams to use these days. I wouldn't really recommend the old school approach now. However, like Saxfiend and Jack Roberts, you should be trying to place stoppers, tricams and hexes when possible. You'll be a smarter, craftier leader.

Basic and Advanced Rockcraft by R Robbins were the word regarding trad instruction back then. I still have those books.

Shawn Mitchell · · Broomfield · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 250

Yeah, like Tradster, I climbed camless from '77 to '80, including some big walls. But I climb moderate trads now that I laughed up in my teens and wonder what kind of brass balls I had to climb them on stoppers and hexes. Perspectives and comfort levels change I guess. I also used to run it way the heck out...and had some absolutely desperate, frantic, panic-suffocating experiences. Glad I'm still alive!

Tony A. Davis · · Golden, Colorado · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 155

Like Tradster and Shawn I started climbing quite a while back with big hexes and tube chocks, all passive gear. Now I always carry stoppers and RP's for small stuff but really like to use up my cams, I like to think that knowledge about placing a wide range of pro is a good thing and makes the practice of placement even better.

Tradster · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

Another thought on passive pro. If I'm leading a long pitch, I usually will deliberately use my passive gear first, because that way when I reach the belay, I will have more cams left to rig the belay with, plus you are 'saving' the cams for up higher when you may be a bit tired or perhaps passive placements have vanished. Just a thought.

Jon Cheifitz · · Superior, Co · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 65

My first while in trad climbing was on passive gear only. (and yes I am young enough that cams already existed when I started to climb.)

It was how I learned and I think it was the best advice I was given. I push for new climbers to start on passive gear only. I still carry way more passive pro than most folks I climb with and use it. (You best have a nut tool and be good with it when you climb with me.)

-Jon

GG Park · · Santa Cruz, CA · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0

I've been climbing for several decades, so I had several years of climbing in before using my first cam. I agree with the Jim Erickson perspective on moving parts, but nevertheless now own and use cams frequently. I do, however, still enjoy doing routes without cams, and sometimes seek them out specifically for that reason. A good, all chock (and maybe no chalk.....) climb that is way worthy is Mainliner at Lumpy Ridge. The 2-mile walk in encourages leaving the cams at the car. With two or three sets of chocks (I've done it with just wireds) you won't miss the cams. I recommend occasionally doing climbs, where feasible, on all passive gear for several reasons: security (nothing makes me feel secure like a well-set chock), economy, weight, aesthetics and simplicity. Just one more way to enrich the climbing experience.

half-pad-mini-jug · · crauschville · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 1,740

For the first several years I climbed, it was all trad and I had one first generation friend and the rest nuts and hexes. I hardly even used the cam too, cuz it was a hand-me-down and looked old and brutal, passive pro's where its at.

jmeizis · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 225

When I first started trad climbing all I could afford were nuts, hexes, and tricams. Up until about a month ago I had to borrow other people's gear if I wanted to use cams. Now I've got a pretty well rounded rack. I rarely use the hexes, occasionally use the tricams, often use the nuts, and same for my new cams.

I also try to save cams for the more difficult parts of a pitch or higher up where I may be tired. The first fall I ever took was on a nut solo aiding, the second was on a cam. It also has a lot to do with the rock you climb on. I learned in New England where nuts and tricams are both commonplace and bomber, now I climb a lot in Colorado and Utah on sandstone where cams are just easier and more secure in many placements.

It's kind of weird because as soon as I moved here I started using cams a lot more and feel like I waste a lot more time when trying to pick the right nut because I'm out of practice.

Marc H · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 250

Henry Barber.

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

Ya Henry and rumored John Bragg

Colin Simon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 355

Butterballs was done exclusively on nuts!

Sergio P · · Idaho Springs, CO · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 185

I will sometimes go 90-100% passive if:

A. there is a very long approach (saves weight on my back and crippling knees) and

B. the route is well with in my ablities

Outside of that I love to plug a cam and keep on trucking whenever possible. They were invented for a reason.

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266

I suppose like a lot of people here I use a cam often as my first piece for a multi-directional. Many times I'll fire up a pitch after that and get to the top without placing anymore cams. Psychologically I need them on my rack though.

I climbed with a guy last spring who usually uses tricams instead of slcds. He has been climbing for a long time and claims he can put them in faster and better that slcds.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,275
Timothy Nolan wrote:GASP So I was taught to trad climb on a rack that only had 1 cam. There is a lot of talk on here about cams, and I guess I wanted to take a straw poll of climbers to see how common it was for people to climb only on passive pro. Does anyone now (or have you in the past) climb with on a rack that was all or mostly passive protection? How common is it for today's trad climber to reach for a hex or a stopper before to reach for a cam?
I learend to climb on passive pro. Still got it all. Still reach for a stopper before ANYTHING else. But I don't carry hexes and large tricams anymore unless I'm in the alpine arena. Cams are less work and sometimes more secure in straight cracks.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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