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Multipitch etiquette

Original Post
Sam X · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

I had a quite unpleasant interaction with another party yesterday on a popular 7 pitch route and it got me thinking, how long do you wait to start the climb when a party is ahead of you? Assuming they are moving at a quick pace and competent. We were the first party at the base. The leader of the party of three after us (two inexperienced followers) started up the climb when my follower was literally 10 feet off the ground and proceeded to climb right below and beside her, then awkwardly topped out at the same time and cozied up to the anchor. What the heck? I always give parties ahead of me a pitch head start, so that we are not getting in each others way. I usually wait until the leader is well into the second pitch. And no we were not being slow. We led and followed the first pitch in about 10 minutes. 

T-rack · · Merced, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 185

Right.

Gumby King · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25

You're on a cliff.  Accidents happen....

This is going to be a growing issue.  I've seen similar issues happen with proclaimed guides.  For example, a guide was cutting in front of a party.  The party grabbed his harness and pulled him off the route (the "guide" was being a jerk).

That said, the best you can do is have a conversation with the person.  At the end of the day people are people and will continue to be people.

Conor Pesci · · everett, wa · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

I tend to do something similar to you but depends on the situation.  I usually start blasting off when the follower ahead of me either is about to get to the anchor or right after the follower leaves to climb P2.  When I leave depends on how fast/efficient the team ahead of me is, how comfortable I am at the grade or how the next belay is.  It can be pretty unsafe if you, as a follower, falls and hit someone on lead.  Sure, this situation can be a bit unique but can happen in your explanation.  I'm sure it could put some pressure on the follower or even the leader, in the first party, to pick up the pace or can even be amplified if you are pushing your grade.  Communication is key on these things, and most things in life.  If you are feeling uncomfortable with someone climb in and around you, say something.  Most people will understand.

shredward · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Entirely dependent on the rock quality, difficulty of climbing, size of the belay ledges, length of route etc.  Some routes I would follow right behind as you describe, sometimes wait until they are a ways up, sometimes bail if I see another party.  

But most important in any of these situations is to try to communicate with everyone around you so that no one is surprised by your actions.  I try to smile a lot when initiating these conversations.  

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620
Sam X wrote: I had a quite unpleasant interaction with another party yesterday on a popular 7 pitch route and it got me thinking, how long do you wait to start the climb when a party is ahead of you? Assuming they are moving at a quick pace and competent. We were the first party at the base. The leader of the party of three after us (two inexperienced followers) started up the climb when my follower was literally 10 feet off the ground and proceeded to climb right below and beside her, then awkwardly topped out at the same time and cozied up to the anchor. What the fuck? I always give parties ahead of me a pitch head start, so that we are not getting in each others way. I usually wait until the leader is well into the second pitch. And no we were not being slow. We led and followed the first pitch in about 10 minutes. Rant over.

Do you play golf? If not, it's the same game. Stay hot on the group ahead of you while being real nice, they will feel the pressure and let you through. If you're the one feeling the pressure, you wait while they pass. 

Gumby King · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25
Tradiban wrote:

Do you play golf? If not, it's the same game. Stay hot on the group ahead of you while being real nice, they will feel the pressure and let you through. If you're the one feeling the pressure, you wait while they pass. 

You must be from California...  PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE!

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620
Gumby King wrote:

You must be from California...  PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE!

It's the American way! 

Daniel Melnyk · · Covina · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 50

I was doing unimpeachable groping a few years back and this happened. Led the first pitch, my follower started up and so did the leader of the party after us. The belay was hanging and cramped so he decided to equalize the last 2 bolts in the first pitch for his belay. Total shit show. We were faster than them (a party of 4). no one else topped out that day because of they’re stupid shenanigans they continued to do 

Andrew Child · · Corvallis, Or · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 846

In situations like this it's really just up to the parties involved to communicate what they're comfortable with. The other group should have asked when it was ok to start, but it's also not hard for you to ask the people behind you to give you some more space. Most climbers aren't dicks, they're willing to comply with reasonable requests. The person behind probably knew that you would be climbing faster since they were a group of three and they didn't think sharing an anchor was a big deal.

Sam X · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

I might add that he was essentially free soloing right on my partners heels as he didnt place a single piece except a sling on a chicken head that fell off as he moved past it. Which made her very uncomfortable. Actual quote from his follower, "its ok, he knows alex honnold". 

J-- Kaiser · · Southern California · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 80

I think it is best to work that out at the base of the climb when at all possible.  Last weekend my son (11yo) and I went to climb 'Right On' 5.6 in Joshua Tree.  However, when we got there there was a line of about 2 parties at the base.  The first group seemed to be having trouble with the crux of P1 so I decided that I didn't want to wait and my son and I started "Orange Flake" 5.8+ instead.  Soon after I roped up the first party sent the pitch and the second group started.  So I asked them "If my son can't send this first pitch, can I traverse over to your anchor station on "Right On" so he can attempt the P1 there?"  The group replied with a 'No I'm not comfortable with that'. Ultimately, they got totally frustrated at the crux, and never reached the P1, and bailed.  When I got to the P1 of "Orange Flake" and my son (following) was stuck about two thirds up the P1, and a new group had started 'Right On'.  I asked them if I could join them at their Belay Station too. but they also said no.  I am totally cool with others climbing through my group on the rock.  But I fully understand why others wouldn't want that happening to them, so I am not upset at the least that these groups were unaccommodating.  I could see they would be pissed if I had just climbed over there saying 'You don't own the rock, bitches'.  Oddly, cleaning the P1 traverse of 'Orange Flake' on the rap down, because my son asked to bail, was actually as fun as climbing it; I got to rope solo the off width section to get to chains on some 5.10 route to the right of Orange Flake.    

Mark Pilate · · MN · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10
Sam X wrote:....Actual quote from his follower, "its ok, he knows alex honnold". 

That’s awesome.  I’m gonna get a t-shirt made that says   “It’s OK, I know Alex Honnold”

ryan albery · · van world · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 290

Barring a few unusual situations, and unless a passing maneuver is in order, I personally don’t head up a pitch until I hear the belayer above is ‘on belay!’ from the pitch above that.  It’s kinda like tailgating in stop and go traffic, or standing super close to someone while waiting in line. You’re not going to get to the top any faster, and you’re just being rude by invading their personal space.  But then again with lines, traffic and climbing, that’s my American perspective.

Josh Rappoport · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 26

I would say the appropriate thing to do is wait at the start until party ahead is leading 2nd pitch.  Climb at your normal pace.  If you meet at anchor discuss whether you should be allowed to pass, keeping in mind they got there first

Senor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Tradiban wrote:

Do you play golf? If not, it's the same game. Stay hot on the group ahead of you while being real nice, they will feel the pressure and let you through. If you're the one feeling the pressure, you wait while they pass. 

You do that a lot at Tahquitz, Nick? Shit, I wait about 30 mins before following anyone or until the last toaster sized falling block has been settled at the base for an hour. 

Thomas Gilmore · · Golden, CO · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 95

Hasn't anyone ever climbed in Europe? It's interesting to see how much space North Americans need (personal and climbing wise). I've had parties come up and clip my anchor that I built while multipitching without even asking! 

Rob T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10

I’d say this is the corollary to the “First one there…” rule. It doesn’t matter how slow or incompetent you are, if you arrive first the route is yours for the day.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter how close the party behind you is, as long as they’re not messing with your gear, they’re just exercising their right to climb, just like you. 

Christina Moon · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 0

I was about to follow up the last pitch of Commitment. The leader of the party behind us was at the same anchor as me as I belayed. There was a bunch of loose rice-sized gravel at the top that you can't see so when you reach for the holds and step up some of it comes raining down. She had done the route many times and was annoyed that people weren't as careful as she was, knowing exactly how to sidestep it. As I followed up, she was right on my heels most of the way. A leader can be right behind me on a pitch and I won't mind, as long as they know that I will not feel bad when expected loose dirt and gravel falls right onto them

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620
Señor Arroz wrote:

You do that a lot at Tahquitz, Nick? Shit, I wait about 30 mins before following anyone or until the last toaster sized falling block has been settled at the base for an hour. 

I totally avoid climbing underneath people on certain routes at Tah but on clean routes I come up fast and hard with approach shoes on and an intentional obvious hefty run out below me to intimidate people to move aside. Always works.

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 125
Tradiban wrote:

I totally avoid climbing underneath people on certain routes at Tah but on clean routes I come up fast and hard with approach shoes on and an intentional obvious hefty run out below me to intimidate people to move aside. Always works.

i remember when i climbed 5.2.... ;)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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