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Change overs


Original Post
leo qiu · · Davis, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 38

Hi,

I am getting into big wall climbing, and cannot wrap my head around the change over between climber/leader and follower. I tried to find some online material to read through, but could not find any. Could someone spare their time explaining the steps for the change over in different scenarios(switch leader or not)?

Thanks!

Here are a couple images I found here, but not really understanding how the person changed from being over the haul bag to the very left side of the station. How could this change over happen?



Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 200

Well it's a cartoon so.......
it's not a big deal, lead the pitch, anchor yourself, anchor the lead line, yell or have a system that lets your buddy know to start cleaning, rig to haul, haul. Your partner arrives, swap out gear and organize to your liking, take the haul line and take off. Repeat. Maybe a few more steps but it's pretty basic.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350

I'm going to assume you're talking about normal wall climbing and not speed climbing/short fixing

It's really no different from trad climbing multipitch changeovers. The only real different is being aware of the haul/tag line not being underneath the lead line. You and your partner should both know how to dock and release the pig via a munter-mule unless you're just going to clip it to the anchor which is hard work and thus stupid.

Other differences between trad climbing changeovers and bigwall off the top of my head.

both of you should have your own chest harness. (It sounds faster to share a chest harness, but really, it isn't and having a well fitting chest harness while you clean is key to not getting blood over your brightly colored top.

use an autolocking belay device

Don't rack for the full pitch, just rack for the first 20' or so. Your partner sorts the gear while you're inching up the route and will send you what you need as you go. (if you have a separate tag line from the haul line then do this the whole way, if you're using a lead and a haul line only, then get everything you'll need before you pass 30m of rope being out)

Force your partner to drink water at each changeover. Have you partner force you to drink water then too.

Do your team a favor and look into space hauling (especially for lower pitches) and expect your partner to assist with that while you're hauling the lower pitches rather than just getting up to the belay and saying, "I'm finished cleaning, are you still hauling? Looks hard. You should drink some water."

Are you leading in blocks? use a masterpoint cordalette or whatever. Are you switching pitches? use the rope to make an anchor.

Ugh, I need to get back to work.

csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 330

leo, I'm a relatively new bigwall climber with a lot of multipitch trad experience. And I agree that it is confusing and it is difficult to grasp without actually getting out and trying it. Bigwall books gloss over a lot of the changeovers. Even Kevin above has glossed over a simple step that might have caused confusion...can't start cleaning until you've released the bag. I live in Davis too, so if you want to meet up and climb and/or go learn some bigwall skills together, I'm always up for climbing.

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 200

Can't stress enough about what Kevin said about drinking and I'll add eating to that. I stepped off a ledge while rapping after Space Shot without clipping into my rap device and I attribute it almost all to not taking the time to eat and drink. Skip those steps and you start doing stupid stuff.

MacksWhineturd · · Squaw · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

You will be very dehydrated, drinking water won't be a problem. Releasing the pig with your lead line tangled with the haul line will be a problem... Maybe someone can enlighten you on changeovers 'cause i still end up thrashing around wrestling the bags at about half my belays.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350
csproul wrote: Even Kevin above has glossed over a simple step that might have caused confusion...can't start cleaning until you've released the bag.
True, but this falls into (hopefully) the category of "same as multipitch changeovers" in that your second doesn't start cleaning until everything at the lower belay is broken down and packed up. But while on the topic, you will want to be very clear before leaving the belay about the steps you'll take when you get to the end of the pitch: normally, "I'll build the anchor, secure the lead line first and yell "lead line fixed", then prep the haul and take out the slack (unless there's a lowerout for the bags in which case you'll fix the haul line and your second will short-tie the haul bag to the haul line to use the remaining line to lower out), yell "ready to haul", you'll release the bags, I'll start hauling and you start cleaning.

If there's edges the haul bag can catch on the second should stay generally near the haul bag to help get it over the edges if it catches. (If the bag is waaay out there -after a lower out) and it gets stuck, the second will need to clean high enough to lower on the lead line out to where the bag is- it sucks and takes forever but it's the name of the game. There's plenty of tricks to get around it but I'll leave those for another thread.

MacksWhineturd wrote:You will be very dehydrated, drinking water won't be a problem. Releasing the pig with your lead line tangled with the haul line will be a problem... Maybe someone can enlighten you on changeovers 'cause i still end up thrashing around wrestling the bags at about half my belays.
Two words: munter-mule (actually the hyphen makes it one word, but whatever)
In keeping with the cartoon style of the thread, here's one:



You WILL get dehydrated, BUT you can't depend upon that to make you drink, by the time you're thirsty, your body is already in a bad state, muscle cramps, bad decisions, etc. Drink before you're thirsty and you'll have a better time.
Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Forget the Power Point and the Clove hitches.

On today's small bieners, a clove hitch is going take up a lot of space. If you are like most wall climbers, you'll have all sorts of junk clipped to those biners. If the shit hits the fan, and you have to get to the rope, you're going to have to remove all of that junk and then untie those clove hitches. The very first clove hitch, the one that was jumared on, is going to be very tight and difficult to untie. When the feces flies into the fan, I want everything to be clean and easy and fast!

The Munter-Mule on a 30 foot cord is a good trick for docking and lowering out. BUT if you are using a 70m haul line, you have enough cord to lower out the bags on 99.999% of all routes you will ever do. Also, a docking cord for each bag (if you are hauling two bags) is way nice. Each cord backs up the other and if you dock each bag to a different bolt, the bags will separate nicely and allow easy access.

Forget the knot protector too. In more that 30 walls, I've never damaged my rope.

Keep it clean, keep it simple. Notice how I've created a "Power Point" with the rope on the middle and right bolt.

The red and purple cords are the docking cords for each haul bag.

Power point created with the rope.

More rope power points.

Get creative!!!!!
Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

So, more to your question.

I get to an anchor, Let's say the anchor is on the right of the climb. I set up the anchor and haul on the far right side to keep the bags out of the second's way. I hang my rack on the bolts near the climb so that when the second gets there, he can stay hanging from his jugs and grab from my rack what he needs.

Hanging rack.

I use the Yates gear slings. I have an 18" cord tied to the top shoulder loops. I clip each cord to a bolt so that the rack hangs open as shown above, making it easy to get gear from.

While the second is grabbing gear, I offer him/her water and food and my thoughts of which gear to take.
I have the haul kit all repacked and I have the haul line clipped to it and hanging on the bolt closest to him.

While he/she is getting ready, I reach down, grab their tie-in and put them on belay. They never need to get off of their jugs (as a team, we usually have only one set out. There is no need for each climber to have a set) until they are ready to move up and get going on their pitch.

If you can't do this change over it 15 minutes, tops, really and honestly, you are not ready for the big time.
PLAN IT! TALK ABOUT IT WITH YOUR PARTNER!
DO NOT FIGURE IT OUT ON THE ROUTE!
nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90

2 things that I learned and have been helpful for me:

1. If the next pitch moves to the right (and especially if you'll be lowering the pig out to the right), dock the pig on the right-hand bolt. That way when it comes time to lower the pig out it will swing free and not have the potential to get tangled in the anchor material.

2. When you're stacking the lead line and haul line, keep the loops short and tidy. Rope clusters are the biggest time-suck on a wall. And getting a loop caught around the bag can be a real pain. Don't ask me how I learned that.

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415
nkane wrote:2. When you're stacking the lead line and haul line, keep the loops short and tidy. Rope clusters are the biggest time-suck on a wall. And getting a loop caught around the bag can be a real pain. Don't ask me how I learned that.
Rope bags, baby, rope bags!!!!!
kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350

The fish snake charmer is fantastic for a rope bag. (Because rope bags are awesome and worth the extra weight)

Also I forgot to add, for your first few walls BRING WALKIE-TALKIES. Everyone will tell you that they are heavy and take up space and they're correct BUT!!! there are millions of weird little things that will go wrong on your first few walls that no amount of prep is going to prepare you for. Being able to easily communicate with your partner to suss out the situation and figure out what to do is going to be much better than telling WHAT!?! over and over. Once you've got a few walls under your belt don't worry about the radios as you'll have enough experience to figure things out with minimal communication

leo qiu · · Davis, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 38

Thanks guys very much!! This is very helpful! I am going to practice all these in my backyard before I go!

MacksWhineturd · · Squaw · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0
kevin deweese wrote:for your first few walls BRING WALKIE-TALKIES.
Definitely bring walkies. And try and remember to turn them off at night.

Leo: Practice in the backyard is good, but it looks like you live in Davis? Get yourself up to donner summit in the spring. Climb the bolt ladder on Peanut Gallery. Go out to star wall (morning-midday in the summer is best for star wall, so there wont be anyone crushing out there) and C1 yerself up Star Wars Crack. Star Wars Crack is steep enough that cleaning it forces you to actually learn how to jumar. Better to learn how to clean steepness on the summit than on the Kor roof. Fill your haul bag with rocks and haul that thing up, then figure out how to ride the pig down.
Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Bring walkie talkies but don't depend 100% on them. You could drop one or leave one on and kill it's batteries.

leo qiu · · Davis, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 38

More thanks, more questions:

1. What is the trade off between doing it in blocs vs swinging leads?
2. Why is it a bad thing to learn on a regular free-able routes? I heard people telling me not to practice it in a regular free route, but I dont get why. I understand if it is crowded, but what if i just pick a route that most people won't usually climb it.

leo qiu · · Davis, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 38

And I found this really useful, not sure if it is the best practice for everything, but seem to do the job. These instructions actually do go into detail on how to set up haul bag, anchor, docking/undocking, lower out, 2:1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHvcaqpg4Jg&list=PLSBCdjXVEITAPgzXi3Mm4xdayAyLvYsZ1

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

That vid link doesn't work.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
MacksWhineturd wrote:You will be very dehydrated, drinking water won't be a problem. Releasing the pig with your lead line tangled with the haul line will be a problem... Maybe someone can enlighten you on changeovers 'cause i still end up thrashing around wrestling the bags at about half my belays.
Slow and deliberate is fast. Everytime you clip anything into the anchor, before you clip it, doublecheck to make sure it is running where you want it. Having a plan when you get to the anchor helps too. Visualize where the bags are going and where the follower is going. Also any tangles get fixed immediately. They will not work themselves out, they will only get worse. As someone else mentioned rope bags/buckets are very useful, particularly in windy situations, but I use them religiously. Takes a little extra time and attention but if it save you one tangle, you make out in the long run.
Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Excellent comments from Stagg54.

As far as a plan goes, the old adage is true, "failure to plan is a plan to failure".

On Freerider/Salathe recently, we were behind three guys. At first, they seemed to be moving along nicely but it didn't take long to realize that they were completely planless. They had three ropes and were well set up to always have someone climbing but they seemed to be figuring everything out every step of the way. The leader would call "off belay" and nothing would happen for 10 minutes. The leader would call "ready to haul" (a call I personally feel is useless) and the two guys below would yell up "Hold on, wait a minute"! The bag would start moving, the two guys would jug off and then all three would be at the upper anchor for 10 minutes with nothing happening, haul bag dangling far below.

Of course, they arrived at their intended bivy site, late at night, and bailed the next day. "not enough food and water" was their reason.

Go get your partner and the topo to your intended route and discuss how you are going to do EVERYTHING!!!!!!

IN DETAIL!!!!!!

FIGURING IT OUT OVER BEERS IN YOUR KITCHEN WILL GO A LONG WAY TO SUCCESS ON THE CLIMB.

I climb walls with guys who are very experienced and we still go over the topo and talk about it.

Paul R · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

A lot of people are recommending using rope bags/buckets here. Last time I attempted a wall, rope management definitely caused us to lose a couple hours with tangles and stacking over the course of the day and these sound really appealing.

How do you typically use them? Do you wait until the second is up at the anchor and then you put the haul line in one and the lead line in another? Or does the leader tag one up for the haul line to fill as he is hauling? Thanks in advance!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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