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Multipitch etiquette

Gumby the White · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 126

I always pass people if they are egregiously slow, yes I have been cussed out but if you are moving way faster then them there voices trail off soon.

Seen tradiban blow by other parties at tahquitz too sometimes sending 5.11 in socks and approach shoes!!! 

Robert S · · Driftwood, TX · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 403

If no other parties are waiting, then I start when the second starts climbing. Otherwise, I start when the second reaches the anchors unless it's going to be a hanging belay.

Robert S · · Driftwood, TX · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 403
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.

I had an experience like that once. The other leader kept starting right after my follower did and was climbing in her fall zone. Even when she pointed that out and stated her discomfort, he kept at it.

They never asked to pass. And I never offered, mainly because they were asses.
Josh Rappoport · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 26


Gumby King · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25
Gumby the White wrote: I always pass people if they are egregiously slow, yes I have been cussed out but if you are moving way faster then them there voices trail off soon.

What do you say to a group behind you trying to pass?

Alex T · · SLC, UT · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0
Thomas Gilmore wrote: 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! 

True. I was ice climbing over there and before our guide had even topped out another two parties started up. Then they proceeded to scream at our guide for knocking ice down on them. They even dropped some gear on the approach and we carried it up to the climb for them... 

Gumby the White · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 126
Gumby King wrote:

What do you say to a group behind you trying to pass?

Go for it! Really don't see the issue with passing. If they caught up to you chances are you aren't gonna see them after long.

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

Go for it! Really don't see the issue with passing. If they caught up to you chances are you aren't gonna see them after long.

Gumby the Grey would say something different...  you've transcended ;-)

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188

If I am not planning on passing I give most parties 1/2-full pitch. Rare that I have another party right behind me. But the key is communication ... but hey if they like butt sniffing that is their prerogative.

Anna Brown · · New Mexico · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 951
Mark Pilate wrote:

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

Count me in for a t-shirt too. 

Mark Pilate · · MN · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10

$29.95. While supplies last
Dave Meyer · · Ventura · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 55
Mark Pilate wrote:

$29.95. While supplies last

I'm definitely buying one. Said in the right situation, i.e. run out 50 feet while a terrified party watches you, is some of the funniest shit I've ever heard.

Gwillim · · Milwaukie, Or · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 48

What route?

Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 105

I once got glared daggers at for asking a party of 4 (3 followers, one leader, three ropes lmao wtf) if I could start ahead of them. Anyway, we ended up jumping on a different route next to theirs and topped out the formation before they finished the first pitch.

I don't think there is a well defined etiquette to be honest. The more parties on a wall, the more weird stuff happens. Generally, quicker party should pass. If you are way faster - best way to do this is to state what you are doing as you (safely) pass them via linking through them instead of asking to pass or getting bogged down in conversation. If the section you are passing them on is easy - this is a good excuse to break out the micro trax and simul. If you can't climb past them due to route features, pitch lengths, anchor locations, etc, then you'll generally have to actually "ask" first. I think the newer climbers, who are also prone to being slow, are super gripped and can get kinda catty about this, so you may have mixed results - be prepared to rappel so you can still get some climbing done somewhere else.

That being said, ever since having rockfall pulled down on me by other parties (and a separate incident where a paper bag full of poop was dropped on us from like 5 pitches up in Potrero), I have stopped fucking around with climbing behind/under others. I now simply change my plan for the day if I spot people on the route I'm approaching and jump on something else. There is always something else that is good.

Sam's incident sounds pretty outrageous though. I think that dude behind him was trying his hardest to pass an already fast party, so he just ended up being kinda obnoxious. Maybe he sized y'all up and thought you would be slow? Idk. 

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

The situation on this in the USA does seem to me very difficult than in Europe. I was on snake dyke last year wanting to simul climb it then royal arches. We asked the line if we might go ahead. With the exception of a guide, People were most unhappy. We got comments like, I don't want to be scraping your bodies off the rock, and I've been waiting 2 hours, so you can too. Given no one was going any where, with parties ahead taking more time to secure themselves and flake the rope at each belay than us climbing the whole route, we would not have added a second to anyone's day. 

In the end the team in the front of the line wanted to wait until there was 2 pitches between parties, which we knew looking at those climbing, would take an hour, so the guide said go now. So we did. As I approached the second belay, the guy clipped to it refused to let me clip it with a draw as he felt the bolts were not good enough. So I just stood there unbelayed. This processed continued up the whole route. And took 4 hours. I just stood at his ankles unbelayed at each belay until they left it. We had some lovely conversations with his wife about travel and the world, but he wasn't giving in. Being British I would have collapsed under the social pressure. 

As an outsider, what felt interesting is that Americans as individuals are some of the most friendly people out there, but I get the impression less good with concepts such as, for the greater good! At the base of the route there seemed to be be 5 or so teams all very much siloed into individual teams sat 10m apart, not a collective of like minded individuals with the same goal on a sunny day. No one except the guide looked happy. I thought I might lead a group sing along, but felt I might get shot. No one had brought a guitar or a stove to brew up some tea. Tea is often critical. 

I'm not in the slightest implying any form of criticism. I love this kind of stuff. It is why I travel. And it would be boring any other way.

I guess we should have done RA first as there are more over taking opportunities.

A few months later I was topping out on el cap and ran into an exhausted team who I think had spent 8 days on the nose. We gave them some hints on shuffling loads down the captain, the other climbers around just got angry with them for getting in the way and dropping the odd thing. The people who most impressed me were Tommy and Alex, who just said,

cut them some slack, they have just climbed the nose, that's just cool man.

Or words to that effect. This impressed me as a flying grigri had just zapped past all of us. 

Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696
Gumby the White wrote: Seen tradiban blow by other parties at tahquitz too sometimes sending 5.11 in socks and approach shoes!!! 

From what I have seen of T's moving ahead of other parties on a route, he's generally cordial, quite polite, and when he says "We won't hold you up" - he's right.

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?
I think the more experience there is in the involved parties, the less this is an issue - most of the time - regardless of actual relative speeds.  It seems most experienced parties are willing to chat it up at the start of a climb and make decisions about changing order (or not) based on that.

Still, there will always be those "Sea Wolf" kind of folks out there ... and also some inexperienced letting their egos get in the way of a good day.  Nothing to do but deal with these on a case-by-case basis.

To directly answer your question - I'll usually wait until their leader is leading the next pitch.  By then, I've probably seen them lead a pitch and transition between pitches.  So you can get a pretty good feeling of whether you should just follow them up, try to pass, or climb the route another day.
Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696
J-- Kaiser wrote: 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 ...    

I love climbing that route.  The route rating, run out, and varied climbing really suckers in many beginners - perhaps me too the first time.

The penultimate time on the route, we stood by waiting for a team struggling through P1.  And the last time it was a party of four in two teams with apparently only one person comfortable with being on P1.  We found some sun in which to wait and see, and eventually followed them up. Fortunately, no other parties jumped in front of us.
Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188
Mark Pilate wrote:

$29.95. While supplies last

I am confused, why is there a rope? I know Alex Honnold, and Alex Honnold doesn't use a rope.

Greg Davis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

Did you consider letting them pass? was that an option?

If it is between, having someone crawling up your butt who is faster and waiting for 30 min while they go away and you never see them again, I don't know why it was an issue. I let people pass all the time if I'm feeling even a bit annoyed by them being there. 

Ryan Mac · · Australia/US · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 0
David Coley wrote:Tea is often critical.
Thank you for conforming to the stereotype as much as humanly possible, I got a good chuckle out of this.

On the topic at hand I'd play it by ear. "Wait until the first party's second is about to climb" is a decent general rule but not a hard and fast one. It depends on how fast they climb, how fast I think I'll climb, if I know how big the belay ledges are, and how long the line is.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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