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5 climbers+2 ropes+2routes=ok?


Original Post
Chris Fedorczak · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

4 newish climber friends and I went to Smith Rock this weekend. We knew it was going to be busy because of the Cragging Classic, so we got to the park early and found 2 adjacent routes under 5.10 to climb on – first in the Dihedrals and then at Waterfall Slab. Both times we showed up there was no one there.

At Waterfall, I put up a TR on Amelia Dearheart, come down, and someone else in my group starts to tie up on it. Since I'm the only confident leader, I flake out my other rope under 9999, tie up, and get ready to put up another TR when I start to see another group walking up the path. 

Me: "Hi, um.. what are you guys thinking of putting up?"

Them: "That one" (pointing to 9999)

Me (confused): "I'm just about to put that one up."

Them: "You guys are climbing on both of these?"

Me: "Yes, but I think there's another one around the corner."

At this point, the conversation just sorta ended, but it left me wondering: Am I being a jerk in this scenario by putting up two ropes on two routes for 5 climbers? Should I have offered to let them rotate in? What's the proper etiquette here?

(seriously curious)

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

I don't see any reason why you can't have two active top ropes up on adjacent routes. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

As long as both ropes were being actively used (not just hanging, unattended), you were fine.

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251

You say you are the only comfident leader, but failed to say if you are the only competent belayer.  Were there others who could belay climbers so both lines were active? 

Joshua Shockley · · Portage, Indiana · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Chris,

In this case I would have offered to share the climbs. Earlier in the year my partner and I were climbing Crumble Pie just to the right of this route and watched a scenario play out that we thought to be a little selfish. Group A of four climbers was being led by a pair of climbers. They had just put up Amelia and were getting ready to put up 9999 as another group had started making there way up the trail. The approaching group of three had asked how long they would have both routes and group A said it would be an hour or two and sent them away.  By the time my partner and I had finished our route both ropes were hanging while some in group A were snacking and the others chatting. It just didn't seem right. This spot in particular is a go to spot for people to take climbers that are new.  A top rope is likely what most in the group are looking for. Had group A offered to share the spot three others would have gotten to enjoy it and I don't think anybody would have missed out on any real climbing time.  

Cheers,

Josh

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 334

If both ropes are being actively used, you're fine. As others have said, offer to share the routes if you're not on them at the moment. I often have numerous people in my party, and we try to have one rope per 2-3 climbers. To date, our biggest outing was 13 climbers on 6 ropes; we have a lot of friends who climb, and a few of us have kids who climb as hard as the adults. (That was Resurrection, Chapter 2 from the Travelling Stopper thread, if anyone is interested in the trip report.)

As far as I'm concerned, this isn't much different than multiple parties of 2-3 people showing up at the same crag, and sharing ropes. We make sure not to let the ropes hang idle, and when we're done with a route, we pull it. If another small party happens by, we offer to let them lead through. When I see another climber eyeing up the wall, I'll ask what route they're looking for. I'll help them find it, and if it's a route we're on, I offer to let them rotate in or lead through. We've done this on multiple occasions, and have had some excellent interactions with some really cool people in the process. On another recent trip (another Travelling Stopper outing), we ended up befriending another party, and climbed with them for 2 days. We doubled the number of routes available to both parties.

Heck, one time we even had another party drop a top-rope on the wrong route. They wanted to climb push-mi-pull-yu at Devil's Lake, but misjudged where they set their anchor. We already had an anchor on that route, and they ended up using the same start as we were using; due to anchor placement, they had to veer left about halfway up the route. (We had 8 climbers on 3 ropes that day. The other party had 5 climbers on 1 rope.) Contrary to what MP might lead you to believe, no insults, animosity, or physical violence were necessary. We alternated with them on climber starts, and both parties were able to get all climbers up the wall without any hurt feelings.

sherb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 60
Chris Fedorczak wrote:


Me: "Hi, um.. what are you guys thinking of putting up?"

Them: "That one" (pointing to 9999)

Me (confused): "I'm just about to put that one up."

Them: "You guys are climbing on both of these?"

Me: "Yes, but I think there's another one around the corner."

At this point, the conversation just sorta ended, but it left me wondering: Am I being a jerk in this scenario by putting up two ropes on two routes for 5 climbers? Should I have offered to let them rotate in? What's the proper etiquette here?

(seriously curious)

Why were you confused?

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,075

I take fairly large scouting groups to popular areas quite often. We will have 12 to 25 climbers on a given outing. We will typically hang ropes based on our size. So for 25 people, five top ropes, two rappel lines would be standard. Rap lines out the way and off of climbs.

I've learned a lot over the years, no climber ever need be a stranger in this situation.

Typically people will walk up and look at what's going on and say nothing. If they are looking at a particular climb I (or others in our group) will engage them and say "If you want to lead that we can whip our rope out of your way as soon as this climber is off" If they say "We were going to top rope it" we offer to let them climb on our rope as soon as they are ready. And offer the same for any of the other routes we have ropes on.

It lets people know you don't think you own the place, that you're willing to share, and that you aren't going to hold them up if they want on something.

It's easy to let people jump in between your climbers, it gives your belayer a break and everybody smiles, crag dogs get extra petting, and friends get made. People bond over lunch and it's pretty cool when people are calling your boys by name and encouraging them while they climb.

The whole "run to the front, me first, you're holding me up" world we live in has no place at the crag. It's supposed to be fun............... ;)


Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 1

Generally, I find it pretty annoying when climbers are in large groups and there's only 1 competent leader. In John's case above (scouting), I totally understand as he's exposing younger kids to the outdoors and being as safe and accomodating as possible for his party and those around them.  But for adults, I feel like we should be able to keep the ratio of competent adults to total party size greater than 1/2 (guiding services excluded).

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 565

At a typical, single pitch crag with hundreds of quality routes, early bird gets the worm. 


In an area with limited quality routes, I would keep my party on 1 route at a time. 

Chris Fedorczak · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Good advice all around. Just for clarification: the ropes were active at all times. While I was the only confident leader, everyone else could TR and belay. This was the second or first time outdoors for most (other than me), and as soon as we were finished climbing, we pulled the ropes. 

I was a little confused/taken aback because I was literally tied in under 9999 with a flaked rope at my feet when another party walked up and stated their intention to hop on it (benefit of the doubt: maybe they couldn't see the flaked rope from down below, but it felt weirdly declarative/aggressive as opposed to a request).

I would have been happy to let another group rotate in on one or both ropes, and I should have more overtly said that they could totally do so. Will definitely be more explicit in the future.

Thanks all.

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 1
Chris Fedorczak wrote:

I was a little confused/taken aback because I was literally tied in under 9999 with a flaked rope at my feet when another party walked up and stated their intention to hop on it (benefit of the doubt: maybe they couldn't see the flaked rope from down below, but it felt weirdly declarative/aggressive as opposed to a request).


I am with you then.  If you are there and ready to lead, its absurd for them to walk over and expect to skip you just because you had friends on an adjacent route.  

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

Groups like yours are a scourge. 

Marcelo F · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
caughtinside wrote:

Groups like yours are a scourge. 

Melodramatic, much? OP introduces new people to the sport, has a group where everyone can belay so they are efficient and keep the top ropes moving, then comes online asking for advice on how to be even less intrusive next time. I think they're okay.

Chris Fedorczak · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0
caughtinside wrote:

Groups like yours are a scourge. 

Lol. This guy...

I'm sure you came out if the womb crushing 12s, but if you are really that bothered by some new climbers on out-of-the-way, sub-5.9 routes, you may want to consider sprinkling some Prozac on your Cliff Bar.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

Ha ha! I'm bothered by lots of annoying climber behavior thanks! The common trope of one scarcely  competent 'leader' guiding a gaggle of noobs and boobs is merely one. But don't worry, there is no shortage of irritating behavior from chest puffers at the other end, or the 'dirtbaggier than thou' types. Glad you had fun and were able to fend off the party that tried to vibe you off of 9999. 

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

my comment got deleted by the thought police. hopefully no one was offended! ironic that my post was about sensitive smith rock climbers!

coldatom · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 70

Seems completely fine.  As long as you don't have people who are climbing one route while calling dibs on TRing the other route.  

What's not OK is using "myself" as the subject of a sentence.  (Sorry.  For some reasons this happens a lot now.)

"4 newish climber friends and I went ..."

"I went with 4 newish climber friends to ..." 


mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Isn't 9999 the first pitch of Wherever I May Roam?

Chris Fedorczak · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0
mediocre wrote:

Isn't 9999 the first pitch of Wherever I May Roam?

Nah, that's Adventurous 9904.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Chris Fedorczak wrote:

Nah, that's Adventurous 9904.

Thats right. 

So no, you were totally fine. As long as both ropes were in use and nobody is calling "dibs" on another route you're good. 

Keep in mind that you're questioning the actions of a guy who shows up at the most popular area of an already crowded crag during a cragging classic and acts butt hurt about crowds. Probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer to begin with.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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