New trad climber...problems.


Original Post
Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

I consider myself to be an experienced climber by virtue of time on the rock in both top rope and sport climbing but I am very green when it comes to trad leading. I have followed quite a bit over the last couple of years but am just starting to lead. So here is my issue. Yesterday while out doing some easy single pitch trad lines I found that my stoppers kept lifting up and out of placement. After the first time this happened I went back and did the route again placing gear even "more" carefully then the first run. The nuts were placed in good quality rock with a maximum amount of surface area against the rock. The placements were quite deep within the constriction of the crack with no chance of blowing out in the direction of fall nor in an outward pull. Basically I am saying I would have had no problem taking a fall and feeling confident with the placement (even my belayer thought the placements were very good). So as I continued up the route one nut lifted up and out as I continued placing gear and after hitting the anchors and weighting the rope to be lowered two more came loose. Even the couple of cams that I placed were being pulled in an upward direction. So I considered that maybe I needed to extend the alpine draws that I was using even though the line was pretty much straight up (slab). Third times a charm right? Nope, while extending the draws helped a little there were still at least two placements that came out after weighting the rope and one cam walked a little. So being new to leading trad I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I've never seen this happen before and it's never happened to me on multi pitch leads. Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated. The rock is metasandstone if that is of any concern...

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 45

Are you giving your placements a yank to set them?

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 3

Did you set the nuts? 

Matt Pierce · · Denver, CO · Joined May 2010 · Points: 276

Sounds like you don't have as good a placements as you think. If you really set those nuts properly and maybe extend them and don't kick them loose as you climb above etc they shouldnt come out that often.

bheller · · SL UT · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 928

If it's not 100% obvious to you that the stoppers are lifting out due to an upward pull by the runners/rope/belay system than you should quit right now. Nuts should be seated, but clearly if you eliminate the upward pull potential with judiciously placed runners you will eliminate the popped nuts.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Brian, this happens to the best of us at unexpected times, but it should not be happening on every placement.  Make sure that you are getting as much metal-on-rock contact as possible and that you set your nuts with a light tug.  Too much "setting" makes the nuts needlessly difficult to remove.  Make sure that you are properly extending your placements as well, it will cut down on cams walking and nuts lifting out.  

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053
David Kerkeslager wrote:

Are you giving your placements a yank to set them?

Problem identified, if they do that climbing past them they'll zipper out with sideways pull in a fall too. JB

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Yes the nuts were set... I even hung on one after setting it on the last attempt.

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Most of them had at least 90 percent metal to rock. Not every nut popped either. As mentioned in the original post I extended every placement thinking that was the problem. Is there any possibility that the belayer could be causing the problem by keeping me too tight? I noticed this on my last attempt. BTW this was all on the exact same route and as noted before this has never happened on a multi pitch climb.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053
Brian Bean wrote:

Yes the nuts were set... I even hung on one after setting it on the last attempt.

Nope, you give them a pop to set them, hanging on one is not the same as a good pop.They are set good if the second complains....... ;)

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0
bheller wrote:

If it's not 100% obvious to you that the stoppers are lifting out due to an upward pull by the runners/rope/belay system than you should quit right now. Nuts should be seated, but clearly if you eliminate the upward pull potential with judiciously placed runners you will eliminate the popped nuts.

bheller it was an upward pull that was causing them to pop out. Even with extended runners there was an upward pull on the gear.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 143

Brian, you're missing the forest for the trees. There is something fundamentally wrong with your approach to placing passive protection if this is happening on a regular basis. It's hard to diagnose through the internet, because you describe yourself as doing all of the right things, but the problem you are having indicates that you are not. Most telling:

The placements were quite deep within the constriction of the crack with no chance of blowing out in the direction of fall nor in an outward pull.

If this statement was true, you wouldn't be seeing the problem you are having - even without judicious extension of nut placements. It sounds like you are placing extremely sub-optimal gear, which makes this statement even more worrying

I would have had no problem taking a fall and feeling confident with the placement

Have you fallen on gear in a real-world lead scenario? At the grades you list leading on your profile page falling at all is generally a terrible idea, even if the gear holds.

Anyway, you asked for advice. There is a ton of merit in the "find a wise, experienced partner" advice that gets tossed around here constantly. You should definitely do that, if you can. If you currently have one, you should re evaluate their wisdom and experience. If you can't find one, you should spend some time aiding on top rope with the aim of improving your understanding of what constitutes a good gear placement. You should do that anyway, actually..

Edit: what you describe in the post above this one is what every trad climber I know thinks of as 'outward' pull on the gear.

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Here's a shot of the third attempt that shows the upward pull. There were two more placements below this that were pulling the same way. All placements are extended in this shot too.

Tim Meehan · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 260
splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 5

From the photo it looks like maybe your belayer is short roping you. He should give you a little more slack to avoid such a tight rope.

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0
Alexander Blum wrote:

Brian, you're missing the forest for the trees. There is something fundamentally wrong with your approach to placing passive protection if this is happening on a regular basis. It's hard to diagnose through the internet, because you describe yourself as doing all of the right things, but the problem you are having indicates that you are not. Most telling:

If this statement was true, you wouldn't be seeing the problem you are having - even without judicious extension of nut placements. It sounds like you are placing extremely sub-optimal gear, which makes this statement even more worrying

Have you fallen on gear in a real-world lead scenario? At the grades you list leading on your profile page falling at all is generally a terrible idea, even if the gear holds.

Anyway, you asked for advice. There is a ton of merit in the "find a wise, experienced partner" advice that gets tossed around here constantly. You should definitely do that, if you can. If you currently have one, you should re evaluate their wisdom and experience. If you can't find one, you should spend some time aiding on top rope with the aim of improving your understanding of what constitutes a good gear placement. You should do that anyway, actually..

This isn't happening on a regular basis. This was the first time yesterday. I am new to trad leading not following. Yes, you are correct I am doing something wrong hence the reason I posted this. I have spent the last six month's top rope soloing placing gear because I wanted to start leading trad. No I have not fallen on placed pro (most likely because the grades I have lead on trad are easy grades) but yes I have fallen on sport leads many times. My statement about the gear being placed properly in the direction of potential fall as well as an outward force are what I believe to be accurate so I am not sure I understand your statement.

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0
splitclimber wrote:

From the photo it looks like maybe your belayer is short roping you. He should give you a little more slack to avoid such a tight rope.

That was my concern too. Not blaming it on him...I am new to this too.

Chase Giltner · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0
Brian Bean wrote:

Here's a shot of the third attempt that shows the upward pull. There were two more placements below this that were pulling the same way. All placements are extended in this shot too.

Is the rope weighted in this pic? If not then your belayer is keeping you WAY too tight on lead. 

Jonny d · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 40

I'd be uncomfortable if I looked down my rope from the top to see my slings almost fully extended horizontally from the gear to the rope and pulled tight against the rope like the bottom-most item in your photo.  I like to look down and see my slings draping comfortably down-and-out from the pro to the rope.  With that approach, I've only popped a nut out once-- and it was a nut that I didn't set very well.  But, each to his own.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 143

My statement is essentially this: the issue you are having does not correlate to the things you say you are doing. That makes this essentially impossible to 'diagnose' through the internet.

Also, getting short roped is annoying but it doesn't have anything to do with this problem. Say you took a fall on the piece above the one circled in red. If the circled piece and the two below it popped, that would be really, really bad. If those pieces popped when you were just climbing, or being lowered, they would definitely pop if you took a fall.

Brian Bean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Tim Meehan... This is the best advice/read I've seen. I think I now know what the problem was. Thank you all for the replies. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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