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Dumb beginner question about backup knots

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Katarina Owens · · Bay Area · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 15

I followed a slightly less than vertical aid pitch and attached backup knots to my harness about every 20 feet. I found it difficult to push the bottom ascender up, I think because of the lack of weight on the bottom of the rope. Do I need to tie less knots or is there an ascender technique I'm not getting? Open the ascender mechanism more with my thumb?
Thanks

M Alexander · · SLO, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 32

Yeah right after you tie a knot you'll have to keep the cam partially open with your thumb to slide it up without bringing the rope. Practice makes it less awkward.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 2,384

That sounds like it was slow-going.  Not knowing more, where, what, the weather conditions etc.
 Back-tieing that often seems like an over-abundance of caution.

Clint Cummins · · Palo Alto, CA · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,223

I usually tie just one backup knot at the start of the pitch (clipped to my harness).
Then I do not tie another unless I am about to take one ascender off the rope.

Katarina Owens · · Bay Area · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 15

Good points. I was taking an ascender off to clean gear a lot, and going by what chris mac's big wall book says. In the real world how far between knots do most people do?

Quinn Hatfield · · Los Angeles · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

I usually only take the top ascender off to pass/clean gear, and let slack through the lower with the thumb catch if needed..
you will develop the skill of pulling the thumb catch after tying a knot, or at the bottom of the rope pretty quick..

I tie a knot about every 40ft unless I’m scared or doing silly stuff like traversing.. on a normal pitch it’s like 3- 4 knots 

Clint Cummins · · Palo Alto, CA · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,223

> In the real world how far between knots do most people do?

Essentially it is a backup, in case your lower ascender fails while your upper one is off the rope.
If you recently tied a knot, then you might not have to tie another.
It mainly depends on how far you would fall if the lower ascender fails, and what you would hit.
A secondary reason to clip a backup knot is if there are flakes / blocks the loop could get stuck on;
similarly if it's very windy.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 621
Katarina Owens wrote: Do I need to tie less knots?
Depends upon the terrain to decide about less or more knots. Dealing with the lack of weight below the lower ascender after tying a backup knot is just part of the game. 
 

Katarina Owens wrote:

Open the ascender mechanism more with my thumb?

Yes. When there's less weight on the rope hanging below you, you'll sometimes need to hold the rope below the ascender as well as you thumb the cam open to move the jug up smoothly. Over time, you learn how to angle the ascender along with thumbing the cam open without having to hold/weight the rope below it when you first moving off the anchor or have just tied a backup knot.

Katarina Owens wrote:
Good points. I was taking an ascender off to clean gear a lot, and going by what chris mac's big wall book says. In the real world how far between knots do most people do?
Only take the ascender off to clean a piece if you can't maneuver the angle and tension of the rope to get it unclipped first. Often swinging a bit to the left of right will allow you to unclip the rope at the apex of the swing, saving time.
Length between knots is situational. If the loops can get caught on flakes and in cracks, shorter loops can help or using a rope bag. If you're about to do something very traversing set a "knot" by adding your grigri in order to pay out rope as your lower out, etc. 
Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 2,384
kevin deweese wrote: Depends upon the terrain to decide about less or more knots. Dealing with the lack of weight below the lower ascender after tying a backup knot is just part of the game.
 Yes. When there's less weight on the rope hanging below you, you'll sometimes need to hold the rope below the ascender as well as you thumb the cam open to move the jug up smoothly. Over time, you learn how to angle the ascender along with thumbing the cam open without having to hold/weight the rope below it when you first moving off the anchor or have just tied a backup knot.

Only take the ascender off to clean a piece if you can't maneuver the angle and tension of the rope to get it unclipped first. Often swinging a bit to the left of right will allow you to unclip the rope at the apex of the swing, saving time.
Length between knots is situational. If the loops can get caught on flakes and in cracks, shorter loops can help or using a rope bag. If you're about to do something very traversing set a "knot" by adding your grigri in order to pay out rope as your lower out, etc. 

Thnx Kev!  'n I was waiting for another master of the game - This Master - to join in. 

I really hope that, when climbing with another climber who is also "newer" to all the rigors of aid-climbing. That you get onto steep stuff very early if not first.
The reasons for hopping on a steeper terrain to learn, is the way that gravity sucks, it gets you immersed in the work right from the jump...
There is no way or time to take a stance; you start out hanging, dangling above gear,  and move up on aid, re-assuring your unconscious mind that the gear works.

Wall climbing is total immersion in the arcane pursuit of combining all the skills that make up climbing & using every type & trick to gain passage to the heights.
 There is nothing more bitter than a broken, broke, broke-down one-time wall Rhat who's age and frailties having finally conspired to ground them.
Caught up with the needs of life, the fitness escapes long before the drive to climb dies,
Saying that; go get after it!
look up & down, enjoy the ride, go those extra miles while you can  and go get more than just some....
Brandon Adams · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 1,252

Use a gri

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 621
Brandon Adams wrote: Use a gri

Using a grigri doesn't help with the ascender issue unfortunately as once you pull slack through the gri the lack of weight on the rope comes back exactly like tying off a backup knot. I've taught a bunch of people to aid and have found that when tying backup knots climbers will wait longer but with a grigri they pull the slack through more often. 

Kristoffer · · North Bend, Wa · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 51

+1 for using a grigri.

My 3 reasons: always backed up, always ready to do a lower-out, and upon arrival at the anchor I’m ready to turn the short-fix into a belay. 

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 621
Chris H wrote: https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/111342878/jugging-two-ascenders-vs-ascender-and-grigri 

...

but for some advice from one gumby to another, I like the ascender + grigri:

just 1 grigri (belay loop), and 1 ascender (on daisy with 1 ladder)

always backed up, can rest any moment, never take a short fall onto a stiff daisy, always ready to rappel or lower out, don't necessarily have to own a 2nd ascender or 2nd ladder or carry the extra weight (since you always have a grigri anyway, right?!), and when you tie backup knots, it doesn't slow you down at all, since the system doesn't rely on the rope being weighted, so maybe you tie more of them.  A grigri is potentially more secure than a 2nd ascender.  The short fixing reason was great too if you are lead rope-soloing aid with a partner after fixing at the anchor... bit beyond what I actually have experience with so far.

can make a 2/1 pulley from grigri back up to the ascender (through a dedicated carabiner - don't saw through anything else by sharing a carabiner with the ladder!!!) back to your hand so you're always pulling down and with advantage, but I don't do it that way anymore - i just pull up through the grigri.

also, was advised by a russian guy who did professional skyscraper window washing and arborist work to hold the ascender by the top lightly (instead of putting hand in handle), otherwise you just end up doing partial pull-ups. Therefore don't hold the ascender in a way where you can pull yourself up unless you have to really do that for a move.  hold it lightly to insure that your legs are doing maximum work in the ladder/stirup and against the wall and pull through the grigri as you go.

2 ascenders might be the faster/more efficient option if you're actually good at it though... wouldn't know yet.

I've tried this method and suggested it to others in the past. I no longer suggest it. Does it work? Yes. Is it the best or the most efficient or the easiest or the anythingest? No. 

Using one ladder instead of two on the upper ascender is ridiculous in terms of concentrating effort into one leg instead of two.
Take a short fall onto a stiff daisy? How does this happen when jugging/cleaning?
Who doesn't own a second ladder or ascender and is legitimately trying to climb aid or bigwall?
It literally takes 10 seconds to put a grigri on the line if it's not always there so the benefit of running the gri instead of a second ascender.
It doesn't slow you down at all? Pulling the rope upwards through the grigri will very quickly become tiring causing more resting which is slower, if you setup the 2/1 redirect you can avoid that issue but then you're taking more time to cycle through the system, additionally pushing the top ascender up requires the pushing of the rope wight below it which causes you to tie backup knots more often, so slower.
A grigri is no more secure than a second ascender.
Short-fixing with a grigri and single ascender? what are you even talking about? Leading and following are completely different systems

This is a horrible method for anything less than vertical. Also can be difficult with fixed lines. This method has always felt like something that is beneficial for people that need to get up a short section of rope but for someone actually doing a wall, though the method may work, it's far from the best method available. 
Katarina Owens · · Bay Area · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 15

Thanks for all the replies! 

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70

Not sure if this has been mentioned, but does anyone run with the microtrax rather than a back up knot? 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Big Wall and Aid Climbing
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