Haul bag question


Original Post
Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

Let me just preface this with saying that I have never big wall or aid climbed before, but am finally getting the gear together to make it happen. First stop will likely be Zion and Red Rocks, but plan to climb El Cap sometime next year once I feel ready. I have been reading forums and articles online all day about it and had a question regarding choice in haul bags. I currently have the mid-sized Touchstone 70 liter bag by BD, and was considering investing in the 145 liter version as well. Obviously, once I get my skills dialed in the odds of pulling off 1-2 day ascents will be much more feasible, but until then I want to make sure that I am allowing myself enough time to pull off the route with enough supplies to last me. I am also thinking that carrying a 145 liter pack full of supplies would blow pretty hard for any approach longer than my driveway. So my question is this, does it make more sense to go with two mid sized bags or a single 145 liter bag for 3 day+ routes? Would it be nice to have both a mid sized AND 145 liter for versatility based off the routes? I also have an Creek 50 pack that could serve as a haul bag if necessary.

Thanks,

Dan

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

Two 70s will be easier to manage. When the haulbags become very large, it's a major pain in the ass to get stuff out of the bottom because you have to empty the entire bag on your ledge to get to stuff on the bottom. That's why smart packing is important and you put extra water in the bottom so you dont need to access the bottom until later in the route. Long approaches with a pack do suck, but you'll get there if you're motivated...eventually. I did the lost arrow spire approach three times with a 100 lb pack. Between having no idea where I was going and having that much weight, it was basically a 3-hour approach contentiously uphill. I still made it, although in a not-so-efficient manner. If you're doing a single 145, you're probably going to make two trips. One with the bag maybe half full, then you leave the bag at the base and come back with more stuff. Likewise, you can have your partner bring a standard hiking pack full of water, cams and the ropes, then just put the hiking pack inside the 145 at the bottom.

I'd say a 145 + a 70 is a bit much unless you're going to spend five or more days on the wall or you're doing a party of three. You would be better off with the 70 + 70. Pack the stuff you want to access early in the bottom bag and the stuff you want to access later in the wall in the top bag. This is because when you start to take stuff out of the top bag, the weight of the bottom bag will compress the top bag making it smaller and while the bag is compressed you'll never be able to fit all your stuff back in the bag in the way you did on the ground. If you have a large ledge to set the bags on, this is less of an issue but it's not guaranteed you will so dont plan on it.

The one downside to using two bags over one large one, other than cost, is the two seem to produce a bit more drag while hauling, especially on routes with lots of slab such as The Nose, and it's a bit more complicated in terms of hauling logistics, more stuff for the bags to get caught up on, ect. If you're taking two 70s you're not going to make it in one or two days. No one hauls that much stuff on a one-day ascent (or any stuff for that matter), and a two day ascent is arguably even harder than doing it in one day becasue you have to haul and still be very fast. So in short either plan for 3-5 days or one day with no hauling (except maybe a mini pack). I'd plan for four days and see how things go. Keep in mind routes on El Cap are grade VI which starts at four days. Most are meant to be done in 4-6 and I'd plan on just getting to the top in any number of days for your first wall since that in itself will be enough of a challenge.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0

You will need to walk off the top. Therefore unless you are soloing, there will be two of you. Therefore you need two haul bags. Plus, if you are small like me, moving a big bag around on ledges or when rapping is difficult. Hence two mediums possibly makes the most sense.

However, my favourite combo is one small bag for me and one monster for my partner.......

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

Don't use the Creek 50 as a haul bag. It will get thrashed. You could use it as a spare bag for getting things to the approach or carrying things down after, but the 2nd would need to carry it while following. Even burly haul bags get seriously thrashed from hauling. It is surprising how the bag running over a little lip or corner can cause so much damage. I also recommend lining the inside of the haul bag with something. some people use cardboard. some, like me, like to use the cheap blue foam pads. Cut and duct tape to make a nice tube that lines the inside. Anything hard inside the bag that pushes out WILL cause a hole. Especially on the less durable BD bags. Metolius are more burly but not exempt from getting holes. I'll also put a plug in for the Metolius Wall bags. They are basically burly stuff sacks. Durable  handles that let you grab food and anything else you have shoved in them and clip them to the anchor for easy access while belaying. Well worth the cash. Oh, and have fun. Big walling is a lot of work and a ton of fun. 

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Yup, don't haul anything that is not a haul bag or haul pack. Hauling two Metolius type Quarter Domes is a great idea if you can fit it all in them. A Quarter Dome and a Half Dome is the next step and then two Half Domes will be your kit for longer routes. 

Yup, you need two packs to hike all that crap off the top, no way around it. 

Yup, Metolius Wall Bags for all your food, clothes and Misc. Try to color code them. 

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0
Mark Hudon wrote:

Yup, don't haul anything that is not a haul bag 

Wait, I shouldn't use my REI flash 18 as a haul bag in Epinepherine??? 

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/108949468/i-got-shot-down-on-a-return-to-rei-today

Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

Great info guys thanks. I really appreciate it. Noted, not to use the Creek 50 pack for hauling. So, when hauling two bags would you just tie the second (top bag) into a bite above the second one on the haul line? Then just tie them off onto the anchor at each belay so that the top bag is level with the masterpoint?

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Daniel, oh there is so much you need to learn. Your last post has pages and pages of answers.

Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

Mark, yes I know man... Trust me I'm trying. I've been watching SuperTopo videos all day today, and just finished your big wall clinic videos on youtube. I promise I'm not trying to be lazy in pulling all of the answers from a single thread! Everything I've seen so far just discusses hauling a single haul bag though. Even freedom of the hills doesn't mention it. I plan on picking up a few books, but this is all I have to go off of in the mean time.

Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

When I first started trad climbing in 2012, I forked out the cash to learn all of the systems, self rescue, multi pitch techniques, etc. from Bob Gaines company in Jtree but I just don't have the same kind of money to cover big wall skills so I am hoping that I can just learn everything at a slower pace on my own through self-study and practice.

Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

I just pulled the trigger on the necessary gear after coming back from a 2 week trip to the Valley and the Sierras, so the stoke is high right now

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

Last wall we used ten or so feet of 11mil static line to tie our two large bags in.  Figure 8 on a bite in the middle of the static with two more figure 8 bites a few feet down for the bags.  Ledges and poop tube hung from the bottom of the large haul bags.  If I recall the Hudon clinic videos correctly he discusses doing something similar.  We hated this tho cause the bags were so far below the anchors.  

Read and watch everything Hudon has posted, seriously the guy is the man.  

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
David Coley wrote:

You will need to walk off the top. Therefore unless you are soloing, there will be two of you. Therefore you need two haul bags. 

Mark Hudon wrote:

Yup, you need two packs to hike all that crap off the top, no way around it. 

Not true at all. I've walked off with one bag before. Much of the weight you start with you dont finish with. Eight gallons of water is just under 70 lbs, which is easily half of your total weight. Your partner carries both of the ropes on a butterfly backpack coil and the rack around his shoulder and you carry the rest in the haul bag. Harness and personal gear stays on since you need it for the raps anyway. Easy--not complicated at all. You get the sport climber chingaling going all the way down the East Ledges with your rack, but it works fine. It's easier with two bags, but it's not hard with one.

Dan Evans · · N Scottsdale, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 40

One more question, how many extra biners do you normally carry on your aid rack aside from what is already on your cams, alpine draws, etc. According to Chris's El Cap Rack, he carries 50 biners: supertopo.com/climbingareas... -- I can't imagine that he is talking about spare biners, so how many of these are spare in your experience? How many lockers should I have in reserve aside from what is dedicated to my minitraxion/protraxion, haul bags, etc.? Is there a hidden need of extra biners that I'm unaware of coming over with a trad multipitch mindset?

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

You use extra biners to clip nuts, heads and other crap. If you brought draws for all of that, you'd be bringing like 40 quickdraws. Thus it's customary to skip draws and just use a single carabiner on wires unless they need to be extended. I dident read the article, but 50 extra, free biners is not that uncommon for more serious walls, especially if that includes extra lockers. However, you dont want to use a single biner on a pin as the rope can easily come unclipped. For pins (LAs, KBs, angles, bongs, basically anything other than beaks) you should use actual draws (alpine or otherwise).


On routes that are more free climbing focused, you'd want to focus more on draws than extra biners since you're probably not going to be climbing a 150' pitch of nothing but heads and tiny wires, and more likely to be clipping cams and other more traditional gear.

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Learning all this stuff is fun. 

Go to my site, hudonpanos.com, and download the Haul bags PDF. 

There are many ways to skin the big wall cat. I have my way that works for me, many other ways work for many other people. I never use Master points, I never use a lower out line, I have my bags hung side by side and everything else on tether cords. I like those techniques. Other people don't and still have fun on their walls and get up them in appropriate times. It's up to you and the techniques you like, have wired and are comfortable with.

 Have fun! 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Daniel Evans wrote:

One more question, how many extra biners do you normally carry on your aid rack aside from what is already on your cams, alpine draws, etc. According to Chris's El Cap Rack, he carries 50 biners: http://www.supertopo.com/climbingareas/bigwalls.html#aidrack -- I can't imagine that he is talking about spare biners, so how many of these are spare in your experience? How many lockers should I have in reserve aside from what is dedicated to my minitraxion/protraxion, haul bags, etc.? Is there a hidden need of extra biners that I'm unaware of coming over with a trad multipitch mindset?

I tend to like to extend things so I usually use quickdraws as opposed to single biners. I think I usually have 30-35 quick draws, including the alpine draws with extendable slings. I also have a half dozen spare carabiners. You end up needing carabiners a lot for clipping stuff at the anchor. Rope bag or hook, clipping the rack that is left behind, food/water that you want access to while you're belaying, etc. I know that Mark doesn't like master points because a single bolt can hold everything, but I have a wife and kids and I like the standard safety protocol of backing things up so I end up needing around 10 lockers for master points, rigging the ledge, etc. My partner and I usually have 2 anchor setups already rigged with carabiners and a locker on a double length sling. Leader takes one, and obviously one is left with the belayer at that anchor. 

You'll learn that the belayer is always doing something. Fixing the inevitable rope mess of the haul bag and lead lines, sorting the rack so the next changeover happens more quickly, and eating. Always eat and drink at the belay. You never know when a pitch is going to end up taking extra time because of difficulty or problems and it's really easy to end up going 4 hours or more without eating or drinking if you skip it at one belay and think you're next lead will be fast. That's enough time to end up weak and dehydrated on the surprisingly hot and windy side of El Capitan. 

Just do a bunch of practice walls, get good at aiding and belay changeovers. Then when you're solid there, add in some practice hauling up a multi-pitch route that sees little traffic. Then do a few small big walls. Once you do that you'll have things somewhat dialed and you can hop on the big stone and be reasonably assured of a summit. Every step always adds in some difficulty and problems. The step up to El Cap is no small thing, even if you're dialed on everything else you've done. It's just so BIG. Just know that you can overcome any issue that happens and push upward and you'll get it done. 

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

I know that Mark doesn't like master points because a single bolt can hold everything, but I have a wife and kids and I like the standard safety protocol of backing things up so I end up needing around 10 lockers for master points....

So non master point anchors suffer catastrophic failure left and right and people die all the time? Bad reason for your argument. You use master points because they make you feel safe. Remind me again when any El Cap anchor bolt failed? 

Standard protocol? Let me tell you, all of the advanced wall climbers don't use master points,.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Mark Hudon wrote:

I know that Mark doesn't like master points because a single bolt can hold everything, but I have a wife and kids and I like the standard safety protocol of backing things up so I end up needing around 10 lockers for master points....

So non master point anchors suffer catastrophic failure left and right and people die all the time? Bad reason for your argument. You use master points because they make you feel safe. Remind me again when any El Cap anchor bolt failed? 

Standard protocol? Let me tell you, all of the advanced wall climbers don't use master points,.

Mark, I wasn't making a jab at you. I think you're a rad dude. I was just stating some facts that you don't worry about a master point because the anchors on El Cap are solid. Perhaps I should have said "historical standard protocol" :) 

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Ah! There ya go. That's much clearer. 

No prob, felt no jab.

And then, don't miss my previous, "there are many ways to skin the big wall cat" post. If the technique works for you, you feel comfortable with it, by all means go with it.

Another thing I'll say is to never let anyone dictate your safety level unless you've fully thought it out and are comfortable with it.

My apologies also for being a bit abrupt.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0
Dan Evans wrote:

One more question, how many extra biners do you normally carry on your aid rack aside from what is already on your cams, alpine draws, etc. According to Chris's El Cap Rack, he carries 50 biners: http://www.supertopo.com/climbingareas/bigwalls.html#aidrack -- I can't imagine that he is talking about spare biners, so how many of these are spare in your experience? How many lockers should I have in reserve aside from what is dedicated to my minitraxion/protraxion, haul bags, etc.? Is there a hidden need of extra biners that I'm unaware of coming over with a trad multipitch mindset?

I'm no expert, but I put a carabiner/locker on everything, i.e. each cam, each draw, the trax, belay plate, then then add in 6 more light weight lockers and 10 carabiners as "spares" - which always seems to be used

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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