Climbing past anchors?


Original Post
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Okay, not what you think, deceptive title, I admit it! :-)

I don't need help here, just thought it would be fun to get the two cents from some of you crusty traddies, here.

On my tick list is a climb called, creatively, "Standard route". This is our oldest recorded route on the black cliffs. It is a fun, easy chimney for the bottom part, then some more easy climbing to almost brand new anchors with chains, still a ways from the top of the cliff.

No anchors originally. When we climbed it last fall, my partner placed gear, climbed to the anchors, and set up top rope for me, and I also climbed to the anchors.

Problem is, talking to the FA, he said that often the most interesting part of these climbs was getting over the top (and yes, you could then walk off).

So, we want to do this again, and could do so several ways. At the very least, we want to bypass the anchors and top out. But, I have yet to lead anything, and this could be the promised first lead. I also have zero gear placements as of now.

Honestly, these characters were probably soloing this for a warm up, or, a top side hip belay at most.

The range of theoretical options:

1. Free solo
2. Walk up, build top rope anchor on top.
3. Partner walks up, gives belay from top.
4. Partner trads up, builds anchor.
4A. I lower him, he cleans, and I top rope up.
4B. I lower him, he unclips his gear, I lead on his gear.
4C. I follow as a second, and clean.
5. I save this climb to repeat if I am ever able to trad lead.
6. Or ???

And, ignore the anchors entirely, or clip them as you go by? Top is maybe 15-20 feet up from the anchors.

Again, just asking your input. It's a special climb, and I do want to top it out, one way or another, eventually. I do plan on lead climbing this year, but on my own gear placements might be expecting too much, as I simply don't get to climb nearly as often as most of you, and have plenty of "try hard" but still a lot of challenges as a climber.

Best, Helen

J-Wright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 0

Just go climbing.

500 words vs. 20 ft is the wrong ratio.

Learn how to trad climb through the myriad methods on this site and many others, then go back and climb the full pitch when you know how to do it safely.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

Yes. Use your best judgment.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
FrankPS wrote:Yes. Use your best judgment.
Frank, I think you know me well enough to know I can form an opinion?
Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 228

You need to know enough to evaluate the anchor to decide if it is safe to climb above. Rings may be okay. Clippable "cold shuts" may not be:
https://www.mountainproject.com/v/a-tragic-lesson-anchor-shuts-from-above/107614432

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 101

If your partner has the gear and ability to lead the whole route, I'd ask him to lead it, build an anchor up top, and belay you from there as you clean the route. Then walk off.

If the anchors are rings or just hangers, then yes, I'd probably clip one of them.

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 13

No reason not to clip a bolt as you go by... From there 15-2- feet to the top? Depending on the comfort of the leader they might just choose to run it out.

My opinion: find someone to lead it, you follow and clean, then walk off. The leader can decide what they want to do pro wise while they climb, although if you can convince someone to lead and place TONS of gear that gives you practice cleaning it. And cleaning tons of gear is a good element to learning how to place gear, as you get to see different placements and get some hands on time with it without trusting your life to it right away.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

It seems like you're overthinking it, H. #4C or 5 are the ways to go. Clip the anchor (I can't imagine that someone would install coldshuts on a multipitch, but if they did, clip directly into the bolt), then topout, build an anchor, and belay the second off of the harness (belaying off the anchor after topping out is often a PITA, since everything's on the ground, but it can be possible depending on the terrain). Whether it's you leading or your partner, the approach is the same. The terrain at that point is usually very easy (can be low 5/4th class scrambling), but slipping and falling at that point would pretty much certainly kill you, so you may as well take a belay.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

My first leads were climbs I had already followed, so I vote for 4C. Come back and lead it yourself later if you progress in that direction.

Unless you are trying to prove a point, by all means clip bolts that are already there on the way up.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

start with 4c. If you're feeling solid and you get a good vibe from the route, come back and do 4b.

You know better than this by now... Keep it simple, stupid!
I'd say clip the anchors unless doing so poses an issue with rope drag. If it's only another 20' to the top then just do it one pitch cause doing a 20' pitch sucks.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888

Have fun with it, one of you leads to the anchor. Second cleans it to the belay. Leads out the last 20 as a second pitch. Builds anchor and belays the first to the top. Walk off. Repeat as needed. JB

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Thanks, all! I'll check with the rope gun, too, see what he'd like to do, but I know he wants to go back and top it out too.

It is a fun climb, anyway. To start, you have to squeeze through a crack to get inside, a real chimney. Then, you have columns on all sides, with a vertical crack, an off width crack, horizontal cracks, and plenty of hand and footholds to boot. Partner says it takes great and abundant pro, no surprise.

I admit, I hadn't thought of the two pitch option! I'll mention that when I talk to him, but that might be beyond my abilities at the moment.

FINALLY MELTING OUT HERE!!! Although that's bringing it's own problems...

But, still, climbing outside SOON. The climb I'm talking about here, I did late November. That was it for outside. We are confirmed for a record breaking winter here, like, all time records since they started keeping track.

At least we'll have water this summer, and, for much of the west, maybe a truly spectacular year for wildflowers.

Best, Helen

And thanks to all of you for getting me through this stinkin' long, difficult, winter. Intellectual, theoretical, climbing is better than nuthin' at all!

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 105

My $.02..... do not anchor into the new anchors and do a 20 foot pitch. If you pitched off of the last 20 feet you would do a FF2 fall.

Much better to have the R Gun lead it for you, make a mental note of the gear required and how its placed, what the top anchor is, how the R Gun set up the belay and then when you feel the urge... go lead it. Copy what they did.

But better yet.... chop the newly added top anchor and clean up the cliff. :>)

Michael McNutt · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

I've actually climbed the top out routes at black cliffs. Have you ever been on the canyon rim? The rock is dirt covered and really poor quality. You have to find some place to anchor to in case ypur partner blows it comming up. If you can find a large pile of choss, you can hip belay off of it. You can also bring pins up and hammer into the choss, because nobody is going to give a damn about some crap rock over the canyon rim. Be prepared whatever you do.

I would recommend the easy stuff at short cliffs for a first lead. Running it out a ways on a first lead seems like trouble to me.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

I dunno how to get more than one quote in here, but there's a whole two of you, so...

@Guy, the Fa is cool with it now, but we'll top it out.

@Michael, I've not gone up top, because I'm usually the body standing halfway down the hill so the rope gun/sagebrush slinger can find the right spot! I'm sure he'll figure it out.

Have to add, about the second thing climbing related I ever did was learn "wrap three, pull two", webbing on sagebrush anchors, to climb stuff at Table Rock. After the fire, when I took a bike ride up there, that was what he asked about, "his" sagebrush!

Thanks again, all!

No outside climbs yet this year. A couple short windows between rains, here and there, but, alas, I'm not dirtbag enough to play hooky from work. Bummer.

Best, Helen

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 105

McNutt.... just having some fun....in the olden days ALL climbs went to the top, except for the ones that didn't.... those were called unfinished climbs. :>)

Question for you.... are you any relation to the Late Great Southern California Climber... Ken McNutt??

Michael McNutt · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

Might be a long lost cousin. You never know.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40
Old lady H wrote:I dunno how to get more than one quote in here
Here's what that quote looks like. You can put 'em in anywhere you want as many as you want...

Quote format
Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615

OLH, this does not sound like a good first lead for you. Change your mindset from "IF I ever lead" to "WHEN I lead" - it really is doable. Find a nice 5.4 single pitch and just do it (once you understand the basics of gear placement). You and I are very alike, that we like to overthink things. This is a whole lot of discussion for a twenty foot top out :)

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Thanks, Nick! I think I said if I ever trad lead, but sport will be along soon enough, if I ever get to climb at all....

Like your rock stars! Way past my time, but great pic, anyway. I can't even remember who I liked in the 80's!

Best, H.

Forgot to add, I've not seen a 5.4 yet! We start at 5.6 around here, straight up vertical or steeper.

Apsu · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5
Nick Sweeney wrote:OLH, this does not sound like a good first lead for you. Change your mindset from "IF I ever lead" to "WHEN I lead" - it really is doable. Find a nice 5.4 single pitch and just do it (once you understand the basics of gear placement). You and I are very alike, that we like to overthink things. This is a whole lot of discussion for a twenty foot top out :)
Is your avatar Inquisition?

As for the question at hand, 4C sounds like the best option. Cleaning is a great way to learn placements for the eventual lead.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply