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How To Get Asked Out on a Second Date

Original Post
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

Sorry boys and girls, this isn't what you were thinking. It is addressed to people transitioning to multipitch trad climbing who have found a willing leader and who want to keep being invited out. It is, of course, just my opinion. Others may have additional and/or different ideas.

1. Equipment you should have in addition to harness and belay device.

(a) Install a PAS on your harness. The best bet is the Sterling Chain Reactor, which won't break in a factor 2 fall. You'll have lots of use for it. You can decide when you get more experience whether or not to ditch it and improvise with slings as many recommend.

Girth-hitching a PAS to the belay loop is fine no matter what you read on the internet, as long as you don't keep the same harness for thousands of pitches and avoid never checking the belay loop. If you are concerned about concentrated wear, rotate the girth-hitched point each time you head out for the day.

(b) Get a shoulder-length sling for cleaning and three additional thin slings for general faffery. Cleaning onto a sling is much more efficient than cleaning onto your harness.

(c) In addition to your belay device and locker, get a nut tool and four lightweight locking carabiners to fully enable anchor manipulations.

(d) Tie up and carry two short prussik slings made with 6mm cord and learn how to efficiently ascend a rope with them in case you find yourself dangling in space. One of these slings will also be your rappel backup. If you aren't incapacitated, the leader should never have to rescue you.

2. Belaying. First and foremost, you have to be an excellent belayer. Bad belaying is a permanent deal-breaker. For sure you have to be fully competent at the gym/sport version of lead belaying, but there are some additional things you should keep in mind.

(a) Ditch the hanging "sport loops" in the leader's belay line sometimes seen at sport crags and the gym. You don't want to be short-roping the leader, but don't want a lot of slack in the rope either.

(b) Be totally attentive. No chatting with anyone around. If people try to chat with you, tell them politely that you need to pay attention to your leader.

(c) Anticipate potential problems, with the first piece especially. You can't normally stand way back with trad pro because it might lift or walk. Keep an eye on the rope so that you can deal with any tangles before they lodge in your belay device. If a tangle doesn't shake out, give the leader plenty of warning so that they can, hopefully, find a place to stop while you deal.

(d) Help the leader out with rope-path issues. If it looks to you as if a placement needs extending in order keep rope drag down, let your leader know.

3. Be good at cleaning gear. Of course, if you've never done this, you'll have to learn on the job to some extent, but ground practice can be very helpful.

(a) Nuts can sometimes be jerked up and out, other times will need tapping with a nut tool. Think about what you are doing before just wailing away. In particular, try not to drive the placement in deeper where it will be hard or impossible to manipulate.

(b) Try to envision the path the nut took when it was placed. Sometimes the nut had to be moved along the crack to a wider spot where it can be extracted.

(c) Small nuts that have the wires soldered into the head should not be jerked. Tap them out with the nut tool.

(d) Do not jerk on cams at all. They should be triggered and extracted. Sometimes, as with nuts, they have to be transported along a path to an extraction point. Be very careful about not walking a cam deeper in while trying to extract it, because you may also be further compressing the lobes and leaving no play for extraction.

(e) If a cam seems fully compressed, you can still usually use a nut tool to manipulate one cam at a time. So try to loosen up and rotate out one side just a bit, then the other side, and so on.

(f) Spitting on the cam lobe surfaces will occasionally allow them to slide out through a tight but possible constriction.

(g) Both hands will be needed to work on recalcitrant pieces. If at all possible, you should hang from another piece so you can work on the stuck one. This is one of the many moments in which your PAS will be invaluable. Often, you will have to place a piece that you have already cleaned, so you will want to have learned at least a little about placing gear. If it is truly impossible to place or hang from a another piece of gear already in place, then you will need tension from the belayer. Climb up until the recalcitrant piece is at foot level, call for tension, and then get lowered down a bit if you are too high. (If you just ask for tension, rope stretch will usually put you too low to work on the piece.) Remember that this is not going to work if the rope runs off to the side or over a large overhang.

(h) Dropping gear is another deal-breaker. You should have a standard procedure that keeps this from happening. Generally speaking, gear should be left clipped to the rope while you are working on extracting it. When a piece has been extracted, you clip it to the cleaning sling and then unclip the draw or sling from the rope. When clipping a piece to the cleaning sling, make sure the piece is down at the base of the carabiner and not up at the nose where it can fall out when the gate is open, and double check that the sling isn’t caught in the gate of the clipped piece.

If all this fails and you drop gear, it should be understood that you will replace it. But understand that missing a critical dropped piece on the climb can be a big problem.

(i) Until you understand your leader's racking system, keep everything that was attached to the cleaned piece together. Long slings can be clipped back to the carabiner on the piece so that they don't hang down too far. It is particularly annoying to have to redo a bunch of quickdraws a clueless second has undone.

(k) There are some special tricks for tricams and ballnuts---learn them if your leader uses this gear.

4. Facilitate belay changeovers.

(a) Clip in to the anchor with your PAS as soon as you arrive so that you are immediately off belay. Either hand the leader the cleaning sling, which should have every piece cleaned on it, or clip the sling to a pocket of your PAS so the leader can deal with it easily. It goes without saying that you must not drop the sling.

( b) While the leader is re-racking the pieces you cleaned, tie into the anchor with the rope, (If you are very new to the game, the leader might prefer to do this step.) Immediately restack the climbing rope so that it will run out to the leader without a hitch, and put the leader on belay. Take off and hang the pack and loosen or remove your shoes if needed. When everything is ready to go, have a sip of water or a snack if the leader isn't ready yet. Ideally, the leader shouldn't have to wait for you.

(c) When the leader has gone off belay at the top of a pitch, move your PAS to the best single piece, clean all the others, unclip the rope, and do up the cordelette if the leader has used one. (If the leader pronounces the anchor to be sketchy, wait until you are on belay from above to take down the anchor.) If there is a pack, get it on. Put your cleaning sling on over the pack so you can pass it to the leader without first having to take the pack off. If you took off your shoes, get them back on. When the leader says you are on belay, unclip the PAS from the final piece, remove it, and go. Your goal is to start climbing almost immediately after you are put on belay.

An efficient leader will not, in general, stay on belay while setting up an entire anchor. As soon as they have something they judge to be good (either one or two pieces), they clip in with their PAS and go off belay. Thus while they are finishing the anchor rigging, you are undoing your anchor. This minimizes the time anyone stands around doing nothing while someone else is busy.

5. Rappelling.

(a) You should of course know how to set up a backed-up rappel. The leader will probably want to rap first, with your device already installed and clipped to your harness via the PAS. The device shouldn't be much above neck level when you aren't hanging from the system. The leader might not want you to use the backup but rather be protected by a "fireman's belay" from below..

6. Expedition mentality.

Even if you're only cragging, don't just stand around while the leader does stuff, and certainly don't sit down and eat lunch or do other personal things while the leader is still busy with tasks from the climb. Look at what needs doing and do it. Be a team member, not dead weight (figuratively speaking).

Some things you might do while the leader is occupied with something:

(a) Pull the rappel. Make sure you know which strand should be pulled.

(b) Coil ropes. Learn how to do this well and neatly. If you make a mess of it and the leader has to redo it, you haven't helped.

(c) Fetch the packs and/or shoes if they've been left in another place not too far away.

7. Self-preservation

Sometimes your esteemed leader is not good relationship material themselves. Some clues:

(a) The leader climbs sideways or diagonally and does not place adequate protection to keep you from bad swings. This is a deal-breaker.

(b) You aren't comfortable with your leader's belay anchors. Another deal-breaker. Of course, you may not have the expertise to make an informed judgement, but if your gut tells you the anchors are sketchy, best to climb with someone else.

(c) Your leader insists on dragging you up routes that are way too hard. Sadly, this is often a feature of experienced men taking less experienced women climbing. Another version of this is you've basically just met and your leader wants to go on a one-week back country trip.

(d) Your leader is easily frustrated and crabby with you because you are a beginner at this. They shouldn't be doing this if they don’t have the patience that is predictably required.

(e) Your leader insists on using using every inch of a very long rope and continually belays far out of sight and earshot. It is far better if they can belay in sight and if the two of you can converse if necessary. Since you are just starting out at this game, your leader shouldn't be choosing routes that require 60 or 70 meter leads; there shouldn't be any problem with doing shorter pitches.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 507

take this with a grain of salt as i have limited experience with multi-pitch:
if you don't have anything else to do while your partner is pulling the rope from the previous rappel you should start feeding the free end through the next set of rings/links. and don't forget the put a stopper knot in the ends. i would suggest a double overhand for such a knot

Also if you don't want to shell out the money for a PAS such as sterling reactor, you can make a very strong, slightly dynamic PAS by getting some 1" tubular webbing and tying in a loop via either water knot or, even better, double fishermans. if you tie it with a double fishermans, it will likely be stronger in tensile strength to the PAS. rgold correct me if i'm wrong but a double fishermans conserves 80% strength in nylon: 22kn * 2 * 80%= 35.2kns

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

This is probably all excellent advice for how to get asked out on a second climbing date by rgold. Some very good guidelines for certain, but some of this is definitely going to be personal preference that will vary depending on who you are climbing with.

But, yikes, 4.c ...
If someone is a new enough climber to need this list of advice, I would be very hesitant to trust in their ability to judge which piece in an anchor (if any) is solid enough to trust as a single-piece anchor to hang their life on. Furthermore, I think deciding to eliminate all redundancy to save a few seconds on a climb is a very personal choice, and not one I would ever want to impose on someone else. Particularly a new climber who may not yet know enough to think critically through the ramifications of the decision and will just follow your "rules" somewhat blindly.

When I am taking out a new partner and taking on the role of mentor/teacher, I expect things to take a little bit longer and would gladly sacrifice a few extra minutes at each belay changeover in exchange for giving them a high margin of safety until they have enough experience to decide for themselves where their comfort level lies.

But like I said, personal preference. Just my two cents.

tim · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 182

I can't imagine anyone reading all that.

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

I hate having a 'crowd' of stuff all over my belay loop, or near it. Tie in rope is in the area; the rappel device for coming down is attached; last thing I want is two more things, my PAS system. I always loop them directly into the waistbelt, just to the left and right off center. There is usually a spot where they will attach and stay pulled aside by the harness construction design on many types out there. Just grabbed a Wild Country harness off the floor right now.,,, and it has a spot between two heavy stiched spots just 3 inches to the left. And off to the right past the buckle assembly is a spot between a bungee strap and a soft leather 'keeper' slot that will hold the right side back on direct. It helps you work with ease to have it off the belay loop. And don't forget your Sterling loop to attach to leg loop for that backup prussik or other favored knot. I hate tangled crowded hand work near my harness buckle area...just my opinion. Try for a waist belt connection if you can.

bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065

Be fun

Be positive

Be safe

Be willing to learn

Be available

Be a hawtie (guy or girl, whatever yr preference)

Be ready to climb at yr limit

Be ready to climb many many pitches and not make excuses

Buy beer, food and pay for gas

Thats all there is ... Everything else will come with time


teece303 · · Highlands Ranch, CO · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 596

Be a decent human being, that's it. I can probably teach you the rest.

Decent human beings can be pertty damn hard to find, sadly.

Brady3 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 15

Eli, actually a waterknot is stronger in webbing than a fisherman's bend (or double fisherman's), this is because it's flat and the waterknot keeps more of it flat than the fisherman's bend.

As Em says, it's a lot of personal preference. I would also add that you should ask questions if you're unsure. Such as how the leader would like to have the cordellette coiled, or how to rack the draws. I know I would rather answer the question in the beginning then have to correct it later.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877

You had me at hello.

Martin Harris · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 180

I made it to u have to have a PAS then lost interest

ZANE · · Cleveland, OH · Joined May 2011 · Points: 25

#1 on my list is not to write a big list of things I need to be a good partner on the internet.

"I made it to u have to have a PAS then lost interest"

^^^ For real.

DesertRat · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 196

Wow! Excellent Post! I feel like copying it and disseminating.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70

Read the book:…

..and now only nine dollars! :)

But I would add, bring food, and most of the gear on the walk in, and be fun.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
David Coley wrote:Easy! Read the book:… ..and now only nine dollars! :)
Haha, I'd second that. A far longer list of course, but much more attractively formatted.
Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417

I got stopped at 1. a) when you're advocating someone buy a PAS?

Seems this thread has gone on too long without ensuing into opinionated ranting, so ergo, Why does your follower need a PAS?

Some people just want to watch the world burn...

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417
martinharris wrote:I made it to u have to have a PAS then lost interest
ZANE wrote:"I made it to u have to have a PAS then lost interest"
LOL, just made my day to lookup and see
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Tom Sherman wrote: Why does your follower need a PAS?
Especially for folks new to multipitch, I think they facilitate and make safer a bunch of things. I mentioned three applications specifically in what I wrote. I also quite specifically said to try it out and ditch it if you don't think it is all that useful.

There seem to be some people whose religious beliefs are violated by a PAS. There is obviously no point in even discussing it with them.
Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417


But seriously, what does a PAS do, that a shoulder/ double shoulder length sling girth-hitched w/ locker, can't do.

I was taught this technique, mentor called it a chickenwire, the name still sticks for me. I used to use a 24" length for this application, but now I use the 48" and if I need shorter, i loop it through anchor and the locker gets clipped back to my loop. BOOM PAS-esque!

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
DesertRat wrote:Wow! Excellent Post! I feel like copying it and disseminating.
You realize you're in a growing minority, right?

It is advice freely offered, so feel free use it.
. Mobes · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865

yep, after the PAS comment it became TLDR(I did read it)...

the funny thing about the east, maybe more like the NE, is that people love their little gadgets and doohickeys hanging all over their harnesses. even in the gym you'll see old crusties with about 5 different pieces hanging from their harness. Maybe the difference between coasts is that in the west people sometimes have to hike in for hours to get to the crag so being minimal is kinda important and the norm, where as in the east you have places like the Gunks where the 5 minute hike from the car allows folks to bring along multiple cordalettes and PAS thingamajiggers.

Attitude is all I care about with a new partner really.

Crotch Robbins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2003 · Points: 150

I would add:

Keep the gear you clean organized on your cleaner sling. And learn to organize it the way the leader likes to rack.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Beginning Climbers
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