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POTOMAC/Trad rack advice needed


Original Post
marc · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

long story short. Ive bouldered in and around Chattanooga for a few years and then moved to OK and have been trad climbing with 2 different partners using their gear now I'm moving to MD and POTOMAC is close by and I want to build a rack for myself. does anyone have exp climbing there and would like to shoot me a list of gear I should buy with about a $500 limit I already have a full sport rack ie. 10 draws 4 shoulder slings 4 double slings 3 sets of 8mm cord, lockers(4), one set of nuts Black diamond(1-13), atc, grigri, nut tool. lay some knowledge on me mountain project lol 

Derrick W · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 549

Yeah...sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no one trad climbs at Great Falls or Carderock. The rock is gneiss, which basically means that any pro is almost worthless.  You should buy 100ft of static line and some lockers for setting up topropes.  There's some sports climbing an hour away, a small trad area (Sugarloaf) about 45 min away and a decent bit of trad in the 2-3 hour range.  Good luck.

marc · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

do you know the level of sadness you just brought to my heart lmao I will drink beer and cry myself to sleep now. but thanks for the advice lol

bkozak · · Sterling, VA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 70
marc wrote:

long story short. Ive bouldered in and around Chattanooga for a few years and then moved to OK and have been trad climbing with 2 different partners using their gear now I'm moving to MD and POTOMAC is close by and I want to build a rack for myself. does anyone have exp climbing there and would like to shoot me a list of gear I should buy with about a $500 limit I already have a full sport rack ie. 10 draws 4 shoulder slings 4 double slings 3 sets of 8mm cord, lockers(4), one set of nuts Black diamond(1-13), atc, grigri, nut tool. lay some knowledge on me mountain project lol 

Looks like all you need is some cams.  BD camalots 0.3 to 3 or equivalent sizes of another brand would serve you fine.  As you climb more you can fill in smaller or larger cams if you feel you need them.  If you plan to climb at Seneca, then more slings and alpine draws would be highly beneficial.  Quickdraws won't cut it in on most climbs there if you don't want heinous rope drag.

Also, if by "Potomac" you mean Great Falls and Carderock, then you should know the rock isn't good for leading.  It's a kind of Schist that is pretty slick and quite brittle.  I've personally seen some rock pulverize from tricam and nut placements just from pulling on them by hand.  Sugarloaf Mountain, Harper's Ferry, and Annapolis Rock have better rock for leading.

marc · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
bkozak wrote:

Looks like all you need is some cams.  BD camalots 0.3 to 3 or equivalent sizes of another brand would serve you fine.  As you climb more you can fill in smaller or larger cams if you feel you need them.  If you plan to climb at Seneca, then more slings and alpine draws would be highly beneficial.  Quickdraws won't cut it in on most climbs there if you don't want heinous rope drag.

Also, if by "Potomac" you mean Great Falls and Carderock, then you should know the rock isn't good for leading.  It's a kind of Schist that is pretty slick and quite brittle.  I've personally seen some rock pulverize from tricam and nut placements just from pulling on them by hand.  Sugarloaf Mountain, Harper's Ferry, and Annapolis Rock have better rock for leading.

would be able to recommend a guide book for the general area of sugarloaf, harpers and Annapolis or is there a separate one for all of them?

bkozak · · Sterling, VA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 70
marc wrote:

would be able to recommend a guide book for the general area of sugarloaf, harpers and Annapolis or is there a separate one for all of them?

https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Climbing-Virginia-Maryland-Regional/dp/1560448121

This book is a great resource for all of those and much more.  Harper's ferry has some smaller areas not in there, but MP covers them pretty well.  There's also a newer version of the book, but the old one works just fine too.

CTB · · Cave Creek, AZ · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 185

Watch out for these fuckers tucked behind flakes and cracks!!! They may not be as ferocious as an angry chuckwalla, but they still bite!!!
TaylorP · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
bkozak wrote:

https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Climbing-Virginia-Maryland-Regional/dp/1560448121

This book is a great resource for all of those and much more.  Harper's ferry has some smaller areas not in there, but MP covers them pretty well.  There's also a newer version of the book, but the old one works just fine too.

I have it and it's great for finding spots to climb. If you are going to the same spot often, I'd get a specific guide for that area  (NRG or Seneca, etc). PATC also sells guides for Carderock and Great Falls that are better than this book. Enjoy!

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

While folks have given you good information about the areas close to DC, it is worth mentioning, just in case you don't know, that you have several world-class trad areas within 'reasonable' weekend range of the DC areas---as long as you don't mind driving!!! I'm not from DC , so am only guessing on the driving times (locals can correct me) but Seneca Rocks is about 3 hours, New River Gorge about 41/2, Red River Gorge (west) and Gunks (north) about 6 hours. Old Rag in VA is not quite as good (though still very worthwhile) but is closer (1 1/2 hour?) drive but long walk in. In all these areas you really need a varied trad rack with at least one set of nuts and a range of cams--with mid-range sizes being the best to start with. The cracks tend to be varying so variety is more important than multiples of any one size. As someone above mentioned, 'alpine' draws and slings are very important as placements are rarely in a straight line in most of these locales.

marc · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

Thank you everyone for all the A+ advice I really appreciate it and can't wait to finish my move up there and get some climbing in! 

Chalk in the Wind · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 3

I've led several routes at Great Falls and a few at Carderock, but you need to be careful about the routes and the rock. For example, cams are suspect in some (most) of the routes. I once saw a party using cams on Romeo's Ladder and Romeo's Left and thinking it was really sketchy, but I felt okay leading the Ladder with stoppers and hexes.

When contemplating leading at GF, I found the following blog very informative:

Leading on the Wissahickon Schist

Because of the controversy, I'm not going to recommend routes and gear beyond what I already wrote. Read that article, get a feel for the rock on TR, and then decide for yourself.

If you decide to lead at Sugarloaf and Annapolis Rock, a set of stoppers and the classic starter set of C4 0.5-3 cams, or something similar, will cover almost anything. I don't think you need doubles unless you're thinking of multi-pitch out at Seneca. There's also good trad in Shenandoah NP at Old Rag (long, often-brushy approaches) and Little Stony Man. LSM can be a little chossy, but it's a great setting, there are lots of easies and moderates, and at up to 100', they're about the longest routes you'll find in Virginia.

Jake G. · · Maryland · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 0

Sounds like your pretty good then man. Just get your hands on some cams. A standard rack around here I'd say usually would include a set of cams up to atleast a BD C4 #3. I've noticed that the #4 is also really popular now around here. Tri cams and/or TCUs are also pretty common but I think that's more or less because most people in Maryland go to the gunk's quiet a bit and there's a ton of horizontals there. Also if most of your climbing has been done out west you will need to come to the realization that faces here are not big and flat and up and down like out west, how ever many slings you think you might need, double that number because rope drag is going to be a big factor. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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