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Progress capture for simul-climbing on doubles


Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
rgold wrote:

Ok, this works once (with the better not fall situation i mentioned the rest of the time), so how many progress capture devices is the leader going to carry?

As many as necessary to protect the length of the simul blocks you're going to do.  In this thread, Mikey talks about using 2-3 of them to protect large simul blocks, placing them every 60m:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113276193/tips-for-moving-fast-on-multi-pitch-climbs?page=5

  My main point, though, is that it is extremely hard to adhere to free solo protocols when you have a rope attached to your harness running through protection points below.

I'm not sure I follow what you mean by "free solo protocols"?

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

What I mean is that there is a certain mental state one enters when free soloing.  I could  try to describe various aspects but they are perhaps so personal that they won't be very applicable to anyone else.  This mental state, which keeps one alert and alive when unroped, is, I think, easily compromised when you have the trappings of ordinary leading but without all of its safety factors.

But whatever---I've made my point and it is off-topic.  Carry on.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

i am pretty much with rgold on this one. i have never really been keen on using progress capture for simulclimbing. i think there are too many potential snags. one being that the 2nd assumes the leader placed one...

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
rgold wrote:

Ok, this works once (with the better not fall situation i mentioned the rest of the time), so how many progress capture devices is the leader going to carry?  

Practically speaking, I'll carry 2 or 3 usually, depending on terrain and whether they are tiblocs or micotraxions.

My main point, though, is that it is extremely hard to adhere to free solo protocols when you have a rope attached to your harness running through protection points below.

Totally fair, and I should be clear that I don't wish to diminish that point. 

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
slim wrote:  one being that the 2nd assumes the leader placed one...

Why would the second necessarily assume that, and if they do, why would that necessarily be a problem?

  • You can agree beforehand whether or not you will place them, and both climbers can adhere to that agreement, just like you might agree beforehand not to pull the rope tight on the second unless there is a secure anchor built.
  • The second can assume they are simul climbing as normal (sans progress capture), climb accordingly, plan on not falling, but have extra protection in the catastrophic scenario that they do fall, if the leader places one.
  • If you're roughly a half rope length apart (typical simuling distance), you can often communicate and/or see when the leader is placing one.
The second "assuming" the leader placed one is not any more dangerous than the second assuming that they are on belay during a normal pitched climb.  You just need to talk to your partner and make sure you're on the same page.
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

but it is probably more dangerous than assuming that the leader hasnt placed one, and the 2nd absolutely cant fall right? i would think so.

practically speaking, coming up for a plan for where you will place them for every pitch on a route you havent done just doesnt seem very realistic.  sure, maybe, i guess. i just prefer to keep things pretty simple.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
slim wrote:practically speaking, coming up for a plan for where you will place them for every pitch on a route you havent done just doesnt seem very realistic.

Huh?  If the pitch can be lead, protected, and belayed in the normal manner, it can be protected for simuling.  You don't need any more of a specific "plan" than you do when onsighting a typical trad pitch.

Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 318

Regarding how many to carry, I find 1 or maybe 2 adequate. They're not used systematically, but are useful for protecting moves that are a bit trickier than expected but where you're unsure if it's worth the time to stop to make a belay. For instance, there's some verglass, or a loose block and you wonder if your partner will see it in time, but the move isn't bad, so you drop a progress capture device just in case your partner misses the risk and eats it. On a long route (>1500') this can save a lot of time in the long run by cutting out several belays you might otherwise stop to give.

Makes a lot more sense when there's a glacier approach, since they serve double duty as a progress capture for a z-pulley system (much faster and easier to setup than if using only cord/webbing). If you preload them on the rope for the approach with a crevasse rescue scenario in mind they transfer immediately to a simul climbing scenario once you hit the rock without any reracking needed. So if it's already going to be there...

I don't think I've ever carried any if there wasn't also a glacier involved somewhere in the mix.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
Kyle Tarry wrote:

Huh?  If the pitch can be lead, protected, and belayed in the normal manner, it can be protected for simuling.  You don't need any more of a specific "plan" than you do when onsighting a typical trad pitch.

i mean more in terms of where you will place the microtrax.  say you have 2 and you want to do a 600' block, ideally you would put them at 200', 400'.  however, what if there is a long stretch from 180 to 220 that doesn't have reliable protection, or would cause crippling drag, etc, so you don't place it.  what if you are out of sight/communicaton as the belayer starts climbing (they think they have a microtrax for protection, but not really).  so now, you could be 30 feet out from the 180 piece with a second who might not be in death pact mode.

do you understand what i am saying now?
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
Bogdan P wrote:...For instance, there's some verglass, or a loose block and you wonder if your partner will see it in time, but the move isn't bad, so you drop a progress capture device just in case your partner misses the risk and eats it....

i think this is the kind of complacency that rgold and others (including myself) are concerned about.  i have heard/read numerous folks basically say that the second falling on microtrax/etc is NBD.  honestly, i find it pretty suboptimal.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
slim wrote: 

i mean more in terms of where you will place the microtrax.  say you have 2 and you want to do a 600' block, ideally you would put them at 200', 400'.  however, what if there is a long stretch from 180 to 220 that doesn't have reliable protection, or would cause crippling drag, etc, so you don't place it.  what if you are out of sight/communicaton as the belayer starts climbing (they think they have a microtrax for protection, but not really).  so now, you could be 30 feet out from the 180 piece with a second who might not be in death pact mode.

do you understand what i am saying now?

Why would you climb into a 40' blank section if you were about to run out of rope?  You wouldn't do that on lead if you're doing a normal pitched strategy, and there's no reason that simuling would be any different.

FYI, many people simul less than a full rope (200') apart to ease communication and reduce rope drag.  Approximately 100' apart is really common, which means you could probably talk to your partner during all of this.  If the communication gets really bad, you always have the option to stop simuling and build a belay.


 i have heard/read numerous folks basically say that the second falling on microtrax/etc is NBD.  honestly, i find it pretty suboptimal.
People toprope solo on a microtrax all the time and nobody's freaking out about it.  It's not exactly the same, but when TR soloing people plan on falling on the microtrax repeatedly, whereas when simuling it's a rare occurrence.  Even though it's not as good as a TR belay, it's WAY better than no belay at all (soloing) or simuling and potentially pulling the leader off.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
rgold wrote: What I mean is that there is a certain mental state one enters when free soloing.  I could  try to describe various aspects but they are perhaps so personal that they won't be very applicable to anyone else.  This mental state, which keeps one alert and alive when unroped, is, I think, easily compromised when you have the trappings of ordinary leading but without all of its safety factors.
Ice climbers manage this on every lead.
Maybe the fact that I come from that side of the climbing world and do a lot of my simuling on ice explains our different perspectives?
Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 318
Kyle Tarry wrote: Ice climbers manage this on every lead.
Maybe the fact that I come from that side of the climbing world and do a lot of my simuling on ice explains our different perspectives?

How do you simul on ice? On alpine routes ice pitches are the one place where I stop to belay without a second thought. I've never found a way to simul climb them without risk of debris from the "leader" hitting the second.

Agreed on the mental state thing when ice climbing to a point. I haven't soloed rock enough to know how it compares to soloing ice, but I do solo ice on occasion and it's different from leading ice on rope, just as leading ice on rope is different from leading on rock. It's all on a continuum, so yes, I agree that leading on ice is a different mental state than on rock, but leading on ice is not the end point of that continuum for me.

Most of my simuling doesn't involve "soloing protocols" though. Most of it happens while alpine climbing, which has its own unique mental state but it's not easy to characterize it along the same dimension as soloing vs. leading. The time pressure, objective hazards, effects of altitude on the mind, and responsibility for your partner are the dominant factors in my experience. Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that if I fall and break a leg it's going to be a very serious problem to get out, and that's assuming the gear holds and I don't fall to the bottom dragging my partner with me (a consideration that ups the ante a bit over just plain old soloing). So I'm definitely climbing with a "no falls allowed" mentality, especially when the gear is crap, and theoretically it should put me into more of a leading on ice or soloing mindset, but usually that component falls to the back of my mind. I think the altitude and exhaustion dulls the experience of acute fear on lead, while the objective hazards bring time to the forefront as the real enemy, creating a persistent low level state of anxiety which goes mostly unnoticed except as a kind of mental fatigue at the end of the day. In this context simuling is the default, and the question isn't whether or not something should be simuled, but rather whether or not something should be pitched out. If it's snow, under 70 degrees, and supportive, it get simuled. If it's rock it may or may not get simuled depending on many factors, if it's ice it gets belayed.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
Bogdan P wrote:

How do you simul on ice? On alpine routes ice pitches are the one place where I stop to belay without a second thought. I've never found a way to simul climb them without risk of debris from the "leader" hitting the second.

That's a real risk, in my experience you just manage it and make calls accordingly.  The second definitely does get bonked occasionally.  I can think of a few routes where there can be looooong sections of easy ice (like AI2-3) where pitching it out would take approximately an eternity, especially with a team of 3 and a short(er) alpine rope.  For example, we had a team of 3 on Rainier and there was like 800 feet of easy ice up high, pitching that out with 3 people and one 60m rope would take hours.  So, simuling (or soloing) is really the only realistic option.

Most of my simuling doesn't involve "soloing protocols" though. Most of it happens while alpine climbing, which has its own unique mental state but it's not easy to characterize it along the same dimension as soloing vs. leading. The time pressure, objective hazards, effects of altitude on the mind, and responsibility for your partner are the dominant factors in my experience. Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that if I fall and break a leg it's going to be a very serious problem to get out, and that's assuming the gear holds and I don't fall to the bottom dragging my partner with me. So I'm definitely climbing with a "no falls allowed" mentality, especially when the gear is crap, and theoretically it should put me into more of a leading on ice or soloing mindset, but usually that component falls to the back of my mind. I think the altitude and exhaustion dulls the experience of acute fear on lead, while the objective hazards bring time to the forefront as the real enemy, creating a persistent low level state of anxiety which goes mostly unnoticed except as a kind of mental fatigue at the end of the day. In this context simuling is the default, and the question isn't whether or not something should be simuled, but rather whether or not something should be pitched out. If it's snow, under 70 degrees, and supportive, it get simuled. If it's rock it may or may not get simuled depending on many factors, if it's ice it gets belayed.
This definitely lines up pretty well with my experiences too.  In the alpine, the "lead or solo" mindsets seem like a false dichotomy, there are lots of other places on the continuum.
Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 318
Kyle Tarry wrote: That's a real risk, in my experience you just manage it and make calls accordingly.  The second definitely does get bonked occasionally.  I can think of a few routes where there can be looooong sections of easy ice (like AI2-3) where pitching it out would take approximately an eternity, especially with a team of 3 and a short(er) alpine rope.  For example, we had a team of 3 on Rainier and there was like 800 feet of easy ice up high, pitching that out with 3 people and one 60m rope would take hours.  So, simuling (or soloing) is really the only realistic option.

I see. In that case I'm in the same boat. Depending on the season alpine ice can be a lot less fragile than water ice. There's an entire continuum between water ice and snow that I didn't discuss in my last post, where the decision of whether or not to simul is mostly driven by the likelihood of the second getting hit.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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