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Getting down from a trad route


Original Post
Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

I don't know why I've been thinking about this, But how do you get down from a big climb when only using cams (and the like) on a climb without bolts at the top. You see these movies of people climbing HUGE wall with cams. However, how do you collect your gear on the way down? Hopefully that made sense! Thanks.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,734

Different ways.  Many times there's a walk off.  Take El Capitan in Yosemite for example.  Some routes or walls have established rappel stations to get down- whether they be bolted, natural (trees, slung rocks, etc) or fixed gear of some sort.  There are some areas still where there are fixed gear rap stations that consist of a variety of bolts, or fixed hexes, slung trees, etc.  There are even single pitch areas that have rap stations made of mostly fixed gear that somewhat relies on good stewards to inspect and add gear to if necessary.  Guidebooks are your friend.  If you're planning on climbing a multipitch route, do your research.  The descent is just as, if not more important than the ascent.  Don't get on something and try to tackle it without knowing how to bail safely, or without knowing the descent.

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Jake Jones wrote:

Different ways.  Many times there's a walk off.  Take El Capitan in Yosemite for example.  Some routes or walls have established rappel stations to get down- whether they be bolted, natural (trees, slung rocks, etc) or fixed gear of some sort.  There are some areas still where there are fixed gear rap stations that consist of a variety of bolts, or fixed hexes, slung trees, etc.  Guidebooks are your friend.  If you're planning on climbing a multipitch route, do your research.  The descent is just as, if not more important than the ascent.  Don't get on something and try to tackle it without knowing how to bail safely, or without knowing the descent.

Thanks, Jake! No intentions of doing any of that...yet! I've only been climbing for about a month. Makes sense. So do you then take the same path down to collect your cams?

Also, how about on first ascent type climbs?

Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to learn! Thanks!

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 367

They all base jump when they get to the top ;). Generally speaking, you're walking, down-climbing or scrambling down a less technical descent route. This might include leaving tat around trees or rock threads, sacrificing gear for anchors, using a bolted rap route for another route, traversing a ridge, climbing roped or unroped down easy terrain, walking on an easy hiking trail. As you can see it really depends! 

If you're asking how you get your cams back you need to realize the definition of the term "pitch" a long multi-pitch climb like you're describing is arbitrarily split up into section called pitches which might end at a natural ledge, or when the lead climber runs out of rope at which point he'll build an anchor and belay their partner (sometimes called a follower or second) the follower collects all the gear along the way and that gear is used to lead the next pitch. In this way we don't need a 3000 foot rope and 300 cams to climb El Captian. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Michael Mancuso wrote:

Thanks, Jake! No intentions of doing any of that...yet! I've only been climbing for about a month. Makes sense. So do you then take the same path down to collect your cams?

Also, how about on first ascent type climbs?

Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to learn! Thanks!

Michael,

Do you an experienced climber you climb with and learn from? Have you climbed outdoors yet?

John mac · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 105
Michael Mancuso wrote:

Thanks, Jake! No intentions of doing any of that...yet! I've only been climbing for about a month. Makes sense. So do you then take the same path down to collect your cams?

Also, how about on first ascent type climbs?

Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to learn! Thanks!

The first person up, the Leader, places the cams on the way up, builds and anchor out of several pieces of gear, or a tree, or whatever.  From there they belay the second person, the Follower, up.  The follower collects the cams on the way up.  As someone already said, often they take a different route and simply walk off.  This works because they already have all the gear that the follower collected.  Other times they will rappel.  In this case either there are already stations made of bolts, webbing or a tree that they use to rappel.  If it is a first ascent, they would have to make anchors that are left in place.   

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Not yet. But I'm currently taking an intro class, and plan on taking another outside when it's nicer out. 

FrankPS wrote:

Michael,

Do you an experienced climber you climb with and learn from? Have you climbed outdoors yet?


Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks so much for all the responses! It all makes sense now!

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,734
Michael Mancuso wrote:

Thanks, Jake! No intentions of doing any of that...yet! I've only been climbing for about a month. Makes sense. So do you then take the same path down to collect your cams?

Also, how about on first ascent type climbs?

Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to learn! Thanks!

No problem at all.  Everyone starts somewhere. You're doing the right thing by asking lots of questions.  Generally speaking, if it's just a single pitch route, you can clean on the way down whether you're rappelling down, or being lowered.  Do tons of research on this too, because there is lots to learn here, and it's super important.  If you're climbing multipitch, the leader goes up, anchors, then belays the follower up.  The follower cleans the gear, you reorganize at the anchor, then start the next pitch.  If you're interested in getting into it, get some books, do tons of research, seek a mentor locally, and hire a guide.  I never really had a mentor, and never hired a guide, but there certainly are times when I wish I had.  It really can ease the learning curve.  Good luck man.  Take it slow and stay humble.

Don Ferris III · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

Climbing is extremely dangerous and you will most certainly die. But before you die you’ll become homeless and estrange lovers and family members in pursuit of the high. Get out while you still can. 

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

I think it might be worth saying, that at least in my (reasonably) limited experience Trad climbing, the walk to the abseil (chains, bolts, whatever) or in fact the walk off (if that's possible) is sometimes the most dangerous and scary part of the climb.  After bringing up the follower and dismantling the anchor that has been built, you're unprotected.  Often, the path you take to the abseil or to the walk off is narrow and risky.  This is the time that many accidents occur; not on the actual climb, but when the actual climb has finished. I always take extreme care at this point, and if I'm down climbing at all I do it with the utmost attention and use all my climbing techniques as if I'm free soloing (which I am really).  Even though the down climb to a walk off or abseil in comparison to the climb is often very easy I do it very deliberately and slowly.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Carl Schneider wrote:

I think it might be worth saying, that at least in my (reasonably) limited experience Trad climbing, the walk to the abseil (chains, bolts, whatever) or in fact the walk off (if that's possible) is sometimes the most dangerous and scary part of the climb.  After bringing up the follower and dismantling the anchor that has been built, you're unprotected.  Often, the path you take to the abseil or to the walk off is narrow and risky.  This is the time that many accidents occur; not on the actual climb, but when the actual climb has finished. I always take extreme care at this point, and if I'm down climbing at all I do it with the utmost attention and use all my climbing techniques as if I'm free soloing (which I am really).  Even though the down climb to a walk off or abseil in comparison to the climb is often very easy I do it very deliberately and slowly.

The "actual climb" is not finished until the party is safely back on the ground.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Carl Schneider wrote:

I think it might be worth saying, that at least in my (reasonably) limited experience Trad climbing, the walk to the abseil (chains, bolts, whatever) or in fact the walk off (if that's possible) is sometimes the most dangerous and scary part of the climb.  After bringing up the follower and dismantling the anchor that has been built, you're unprotected.  Often, the path you take to the abseil or to the walk off is narrow and risky.  This is the time that many accidents occur; not on the actual climb, but when the actual climb has finished. I always take extreme care at this point, and if I'm down climbing at all I do it with the utmost attention and use all my climbing techniques as if I'm free soloing (which I am really).  Even though the down climb to a walk off or abseil in comparison to the climb is often very easy I do it very deliberately and slowly.

If the walk-off really feels that sketchy, rope up for it. You're carrying all the gear already. 

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Michael.....   as others have pointed out, getting down is sometimes the most problematic part of it all.

I have left almost a complete giant rack of cams behind. 

But arriving back on the dirt in one piece is whats important after all. 

have fun

Chris Johnson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Was just thinking this as I start making objectives for the summer that include some multipitch (sport) routes. Say there's a route that's a bunch of trad pitches, no walk off, no fixed gear (say like a first ascent a la the stuff up in the Arctic Circle), no one's ever even been there before. What do? Do these guys (again thinking of the guys from say Dodo's Delight at RR11) just not mind leaving gear since they're sponsored? I can't imagine a way to get every last bit of your gear back...

Just curious!

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,734
Chris Johnson wrote:

Was just thinking this as I start making objectives for the summer that include some multipitch (sport) routes. Say there's a route that's a bunch of trad pitches, no walk off, no fixed gear (say like a first ascent a la the stuff up in the Arctic Circle), no one's ever even been there before. What do? Do these guys (again thinking of the guys from say Dodo's Delight at RR11) just not mind leaving gear since they're sponsored? I can't imagine a way to get every last bit of your gear back...

Just curious!

Actually, one of Alex Honnold's latest interviews- the one with Rich Roll talks about this very thing.  Yes, they left gear for rap stations on the descent.  No, I doubt they cared because you do what you have to do to get back to the ground and because they are sponsored quite well.  

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Chris Johnson wrote:

Was just thinking this as I start making objectives for the summer that include some multipitch (sport) routes. Say there's a route that's a bunch of trad pitches, no walk off, no fixed gear (say like a first ascent a la the stuff up in the Arctic Circle), no one's ever even been there before. What do? Do these guys (again thinking of the guys from say Dodo's Delight at RR11) just not mind leaving gear since they're sponsored? I can't imagine a way to get every last bit of your gear back...

Just curious!

Some people bring a bolt kit.

Douglas Syrjala · · Marquette, MI · Joined 6 days ago · Points: 0

Im also wondering somewhat of the same... What if its in a circumstance of getting to the top of a trad climb OR even a sport route where there is no bolts or rings for an anchor, so I set up my own. If I set up say, a few slings and a carabiner, around a tree and repel down because there is no way to hike down. Would I lose my carabiner and slings?? Basically, is there a way to retrieve ALL my gear if I was climbing a spire that had never been climbed before?? Ha Ha does that even make sense? Thanks... and sorry if this turns out to be a stupid question. 

Jeremy S · · Southern California · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 45
Douglas Syrjala wrote: Im also wondering somewhat of the same... What if its in a circumstance of getting to the top of a trad climb OR even a sport route where there is no bolts or rings for an anchor, so I set up my own. If I set up say, a few slings and a carabiner, around a tree and repel down because there is no way to hike down. Would I lose my carabiner and slings?? Basically, is there a way to retrieve ALL my gear if I was climbing a spire that had never been climbed before?? Ha Ha does that even make sense? Thanks... and sorry if this turns out to be a stupid question. 

If there's no walk off or fixed gear, yeah, you may need to leave behind a sling or two and some hardware (see: 'tat'). It's also likely the last party to climb it has left some behind. It's like that old Mastercard commercial;

Sling: $8
Carabiners:$6
Living to show off your summit selfie: Priceless.
Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Em Cos wrote:

If the walk-off really feels that sketchy, rope up for it. You're carrying all the gear already. 

Yes, generally I do.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Douglas Syrjala wrote: Im also wondering somewhat of the same... What if its in a circumstance of getting to the top of a trad climb OR even a sport route where there is no bolts or rings for an anchor, so I set up my own.
If it's an established route, there will be some way to get down. Consult the guidebook.

 If I set up say, a few slings and a carabiner, around a tree and repel down because there is no way to hike down. Would I lose my carabiner and slings?? Basically, is there a way to retrieve ALL my gear...
... if I was climbing a spire that had never been climbed before??
That wasn't your original question.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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