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The Better Way to Clean an Aid Pitch
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Dec 9, 2007
The BETTER WAY to Clean an Aid Pitch
Try using a Grigri and Jug


If you've ever tried to clean a steep aid pitch using just a pair of jugs, you know what a struggle it can be, especially on overhanging rock. It seems you're always fighting that bottom ascender, trying to unweight it in order to clean gear, and worrying about whether or not you're going to die in the process while you are momentarily attached to the rope by only one toothed cam. Slings are hanging everywhere, your rope is blowing in the wind, and before you know it your wank factor has spiraled out of control.

Fortunately, there is a Better Way to clean aid pitches, and that is by using a Grigri and a ascender. Beneath you will first read how to set up the system, followed by detailed step-by-step instructions on how to perform each operation. Feel free to print off this post, and stick it in your 3-ring binder along with all your other Dr. Piton Stuff so you can take it up on the wall with you. Just don't forget to add a clip-in loop, eh?

When it comes to learning the Better Way to clean an aid pitch, don't take my word for it - check out Cybele as she shows us how on North America Wall, which is on the Southeast Face of El Cap.

By now you should be familiar with the Better Way of ascending a free-hanging fixed rope, which is the Petzl Frog System. Most wall climbers use the Yosemite System of ascending, which works well on less-than-vertical terrain, like on the fixed ropes up to the base of The Heart on El Cap. But the Yosemite System is a real bicep burner on the steep stuff, so if you are as wiener-armed [and as lazy] as the Doc, then you might want to make up a Frog rig for the next time you're hangin' in space. Besides, it's a compact rig that you can adapt to use for cleaning aid pitches, which is the subject of this post.

Note: The Doc is known to blow away the big o' bicep on free-hanging jugs, so there just might be more merit to this Frog System than you would first imagine. So don't knock it til ya try it, eh? If you want further information on the Petzl Frog System, you can find plenty of info on the Petzl website.

The Frog System uses two ascenders - a Petzl Croll ascender, you do not need for this method of cleaning an aid pitch, and a regular handled ascender, which you do need. Typically this ascender is the Petzl Ascension you can substitute most any handled ascender. While frogging underground, the Doc favours using the Petzl Basic ascender because it is so much more compact, which is important while caving.

Although you could rig your handled ascender using your adjustable daisy and aider, Dr. Piton highly recommends you instead set up a dedicated sling tied from tubular webbing and attach it to your handled ascender as shown in the illustration below.

Rock Climbing Photo: Froggy

Froggy illustrates the correct lengths for your dedicated jugging and cleaning slings - Illustration by Mike Clelland

By using this webbing instead of an aider, and by connecting it to your jug with a quick link instead of a crab, you will substantially reduce the clusterfuckage in both your jugging and cleaning systems. And you won't be tripping over your aiders all the time. It's true that your quick link is nowhere near as strong as a locker, but it's certainly stronger than your ascender, which is only rated for about 5 kN. {wink}

Rock Climbing Photo: Frogging Large
Frogging Large

Wee-Wee hitches a ride with Froggy who shows us the Better Way to jug - Illustration by Mike Clelland

Above you see the correct lengths to use on your dedicated jugging and cleaning sling. I recommend you attach the sling to the jug with a quick link as already mentioned - this will give you an extra Degree Of Freedom,such as if you need to scarf this jug and use it as the inverted ascender on your 2:1 Hauling Ratchet.

Besides your handled ascender with dedicated sling, you also need a Grigri. I use an autolocker to attach my Grigri to the belay doughnut when cleaning aid pitches. My dedicated Grigri autolocker has nice smooth curves to allow easy rotation of the Grigri. Note that your Grigri is not merely a backup device - in this system of cleaning aid, you will actually be using it as an ascender. This may appear counter-intuitive at first, but since I first published this method of cleaning aid pitches on the internet, it has pretty much become universally accepted.

Aw shoot, it's the Horse Chute!
Holly Cleaning the bottom of the beauty dihedral

Also note that when cleaning with this system, you don't need the Croll and the C26 Torse chest harness as shown above - that half of the rig is used exclusively for jugging. About the only place you might choose to clean on jugs would be a more or less plumb pitch where you could move faster on two jugs since the lead rope isn't zig-zagging through a bunch of crabs. But since most aid pitches overhang and many traverse, you will use this system more often than not while on the wall.

By this time, you should be completely familiar with Stuff You Need and How To Rig It - Your Aid Climbing System. This post will teach you how to set up your wall climbing harness, including your adjustable daisies and your Kong adjustable fifi, which is also known as a Kong Resting Fifi. Formerly difficult to find, adjustable fifis have really caught on [thanks to Dr. Piton promoting the things so much!] and they are now available from various U.S. gear suppliers.

Rock Climbing Photo: Yates Adjustable
Yates Adjustable

Yates Adjustable Daisy

Presumably you already have your adjustable daisy rigged with a keylock Lead Carabiner as described in the Dr. Piton post linked above. You will need to use this as a tether while you are cleaning. Clip this tether into the piece you are about to clean - this way you can''t drop anything. You must be tethered to the jug with a locker [or quick link, as I prefer] for a second point of attachment - your Grigri is your primary point of attachment. You already have your]adjustable fifi hook attached to your harness which you have rigged on your slippery 6mm cord, as shown below. I would suggest you wrap the pull cord on top of the fifi in coloured duct tape to make it easier to locate and grab.

Note that there are belay doughnuts on this harness to reduce crowding - highly recommended by Dr. Piton! When leading, I have one adjustable daisy on one doughnut, and one adjustable daisy on the other doughnut.

Rock Climbing Photo: Adustable Fifi
Adustable Fifi

Correctly rigged adjustable fifi hook on Yates Big Wall Harness

Use the slipperiest 6mm cord you can find, not 7mm. When cleaning, I put my Grigri and autolocker on the right doughnut [the same side as my "weak" hand since I am left-handed] and I put my short sewn sling and backup autolocker on the left doughnut, as described below.

You need to back yourself up as you clean, so dangle a wide-gate autolockersuch as a DMM Boa Locksafe from a short sewn sling girth-hitched to your doughnut. Put this on the doughnut on your "strong" hand side, which is the right side if you are right-handed. On the end of this sewn sling, you have a wide-gate autolocker, into which you will be clipping your backup knots as you clean. I use a colour-coded gold sling that is easy to spot among the clusterfuckage, and a gold-coloured wide-gate autolocker. You must always tie a backup knot, otherwise you could end up dead! And ending up dead is emphatically not cool.

It ain't difficult. Clip the safety cord of your dedicated jug sling into your harness with a locker as shown above. Duh. Next, you put the Grigri onto the doughnut of your harness with your smoothly-curved autolocker, and you angle the free end of the rope coming out of the Grigri to point away from you and towards your "weak hand". There are several orientations possible, but only one correct one, so suss it out properly. This setup will become apparent with practice.

An optional way to rig the upper handled ascender is to put it on an adjustable daisy]This way, after passing gear as described below you can cinch the ascender down using the daisy instead of the adjustable fifi hook as described below. I have not personally tried it, but it should work OK, and I look forward to someone's feedback on this. I am just so darn happy with my dedicated jug sling and adjustable fifi, I've never bothered trying it. I prefer the super-compact nature of the tied webbing and quick link, and can't be bothered farting around putting the jug onto my adjustable daisy.

Which hand operates the Grigri, and which hand operates the jug depends on whether you are right- or left-handed. I am left-handed, so when I clean an aid pitch, I pull the rope through the Grigri with my right hand, which is my "weak" hand. So I'm operating my jug with my left hand, which is my "strong" hand. Accordingly on my rig, the Grigri is on the right doughnut.

Kate shows us how it's done - cleaning one of my pitches on Wyoming Sheep Ranch
She like, looks a little tired, eh?

Note that when you pull the rope through the Grigri with your "weak" hand, you need to make sure your hand faces palm side up! This offers you a better mechanical advantage. It does not particularly matter whether you use a left-handed or right-handed jug in this system. But I don't think you can go wrong by buying a handled jug for the same side as your weak hand. I am left-handed, and use the blue-handled Petzl Ascension which is designed for the right side when using the Yosemite System. At first this seems backwards, but note that when you jug - even when [especially when!] using a handled ascender - you must turn the handle of the ascender from you. Don't grab the handle for jugging as you end up too far away from the rope - instead wrap your hands over the top of the ascender as Mr. Froggy demonstrates above. This is hugely more efficient as it pulls you closer into the rope!

While I prefer the Basic ascender for ascending a free-hanging fixed rope using the Frog System, especially when underground, I prefer the handled ascender for cleaning aid pitches as it gives me a little extra leverage when the rope is pressed tightly against the wall. It can also be removed from the rope more easily than an ascender without a handle. Hell, I don't even] a own a yellow-handled Ascension - I only own a Croll since I am so familiar with the Frog System. And I bet I've jugged over twenty vertical miles using it.

Holly Beck cruises on up the Horse Chute!

To summarize, the Doc uses an Ascension and a Grigri when cleaning a typically overhanging aid pitch. On the odd chance the pitch hangs plumb, he might clean it on a pair of jugs. When he is jugging a free-hanging rope, he uses his Basic and Croll to frog while underground, but uses his Ascension and Croll to frog while on the wall. And yeah, it's true - the Doc doesn't even know to properly set up a Yosemite System for jugging! Sheesh. He probably should, however, especially for the next time he jugs something low-angle like the fixed ropes up to the base of The Heart.

When acquiring wall climbing gear, the Doc recommends you do not buy a pair of Ascensions - instead buy one Ascension for your "weak" hand side, and a Croll - this is pretty much all you need. Do not fret if you already own two handled ascenders - you can convert ]any ascender to the lower jug in the Frog System by using a Torse C-26 chest harness.

Cybele Cleaning Dihedral Wall


You must always tie a backup knot when cleaning aid pitches, otherwise you could end up dead. Ascenders can and do pop off the rope, especially on diagonaling and traversing pitches, so beware! The tragic death of the climber on Tangerine Trip on September 8, 2004 could have been prevented had he been tied into the rope, or had he been using a Grigri.

When to tie backup knots, and when not to tie them, was a long-running thread debated by BWTs on rec.climbing, and was one of the posts that got me started here because nobody really knew the answer! If you don't know the answer, then you can click here to find out when to tie backup knots. The basics are that you must be attached to your rope or your anchor by at least TWO points of contact at all times, hence you would not tie backup knots when ascending a fixed line. When crossing knots or rebelays while jugging or rapping, you would need two points of contact, which is any combination of ascenders, tethers [known as cows' tails in caver parlance] and backup knots. Two points of contact is especially important when you remove your rappel device! The reason I know this stuff is because I am a caver, and for the most part cavers have nothing better to do with their time than to perfect their jugging systems.

In fact, you would be well advised to never challenge a caver to a jugging race. Some old fart with a pot belly and no hair could likely kick your Young Bull ass, and would fly up the rope on his super-charged fine-tuned jugging rig before you could even leave the ground. Fortunately, you can save yourself no small amount of embarrassment [and a huge serving of whoop-ass] by knowing when you are up against a caver - just look for the mud. Cavers can't hide it - it's everywhere. You can always tell a caver because he's squinting, about as comfortable in the sunlight as your generic Transylvanian vampire. Carefully inspect his ascenders looking for those tell-tale bits of sand grinding against all the moving parts, and those worn teeth on his cams are a dead giveaway. If his helmet is scratched and dented, and his dedicated jugging slings are abraded and dirty, you had best git while the gittin's good! A closer inspection of this most likely vile-smelling creature would reveal bits of mud embedded in his hair and ears [you can never get rid of it all] but getting so close to a caver is not for the faint of heart.

Yvette looks a little gripped her first day on a big wall, already nearly a thousand feet off the deck!

I've got her on toprope as she approaches the subloads which dangle beneath our pig on Catch Lines When you are cleaning an aid pitch the Better Way, technically speaking you do not need a backup knot because your Grigri is a "running backup." You could simply leave the rope to dangle, like you do when jugging using the Frog system, but this will create unnecessary clusterfuckage, especially if it's windy. In fact, it's downright dangerous, though the danger comes not as risk to you - the danger is what could happen to the rope!

There are three problems with letting the rope dangle.

Firstly, it could be blown sideways and hang up in a flake a hundred feet to the side. If you read of Matt Maddaloni's bitchin' big wall solo of Against the Grain in Pakistan, found in Gripped Magazine, you will understand that it is fundamental you keep your rope tails under control. Matt had to waste an entire day drilling sideways around blank corners to retrieve his hung-up rope! Sheesh. I bet he doesn't let that happen again, eh? Don't you let it happen, either! Secondly, if you don't tie backup knots, the weight of the rope makes it hard to pull the free end of the rope through the Grigri. Thirdly, it takes longer to re-stack the lead rope in the rope bag when you get to the top of the pitch.

Tie your backup knots every twenty to thirty feet, and stick the backup knot through the dedicated wide-gate autolocker that dangles on the colour-coded short sling girth-hitched to your doughnut. If it's really windy, tie backup knots more frequently. A figure-of-8 on a bight as a backup knot is definitely overkill - a simple overhand loop is more than ample. If you're feeling guilty, then tie an alpine butterfly, which is stronger than the 8 and superior in every respect. Figures-of-8 on a bight have no place anywhere in climbing - use a butterfly.

The Better Way to stack a rope in a rope bag - get those hands right INSIDE the bag. You'll perform this operation repeatedly, so get it right.

Photo by Richard Heinrich - "Spike’

Tying these backup knots every twenty to thirty feet will keep the free end of your rope under control, and you can easily stack the rope back in the rope bag when you finish cleaning the pitch, untying each backup knot in order. Remember when you are stacking your rope to run it through a carabiner a foot or two above the mouth of the bag, as shown in the illustration above. This will greatly increase your speed - especially when it's windy - since you can pull the rope straight down instead of up and around. Be sure to stick your hands right inside the bag as you do this, and stack the rope quickly with a smooth hand-over-hand motion. You should be able to stack sixty metres of rope in about a minute, and it pays to know the Better Way to do this as it will save you much time in the long run, since you repeat this process many times during the course of a wall.

On very steep ground, or when you find yourself hanging free in space, construct yourself a 2:1 Body Hoist [also known as the "Yvette Ratchet" - see below] by passing the free end of the lead rope through a carabiner on your jug to set up a "zed-pulley". While this is nowhere near as fast as simply pulling the lead rope through the Grigri with your "weak" hand, it is much less strenuous when the going gets steep.

To operate, pull the free end of the rope downwards through the crab on the jug while at the same time thrusting your hips upwards. It's an almost effortless way to ascend the rope!

Some people - especially women - prefer to use the 2:1 Body Hoist all of the time, even when the rock is not so steep. See what works best for you, and know when to switch back to 1:1.

An additional application for the 2:1 Body Hoist is Lead Fall Recovery. Imagine that you have just taken a huge whipper, and you find yourself hanging out in space either on the end of your rope [when using an assisted belay or else dangling by your Grigri. You are concerned about jugging back up the lead rope to reach your high point, because you are afraid the piece you are jugging on could rip, and you could end up taking another leader fall - this time being caught by the toothed cams of your ascenders! Jugs are only rated to about 5kN, and have extraordinarily sharp teeth that mouth your lead rope with all the affection of an underfed Great White Shark. A fall in this instance could prove fatal.

The first thing you need to do is to attach yourself to the lead rope with your Grigri, if you are not already self-belayed by it. Next you clip your ascender to the lead rope above you, and set up the 2:1 Body Hoist. Now you can safely inch your way gently back up the lead rope, knowing that if the piece you are jugging on fails and you fall again, your second leader fall will be caught on your Grigri, and not on the toothed cams of your ascenders. This is a hugely safer way to regain your high point.

If you are really nervous about your piece blowing, substitute a Prusik [really a Klemheist!] for the ascender, and crawl up that way. Note that in a pinch, you can make a Klemheist from a standard shoulder-length sling. If your sling is made from Spectra, remember that the stuff is pretty slippery, so you will have to make sure that when tying your Klemheist you make a few extra wraps around the rope.

Yvette demonstrates the 2:1 Body Hoist - Nice adjustable fifi hook!


In keeping with my mandate to personally test all of the systems I describe here, the instructions you read beneath were taken from notes I made while on the wall when I soloed El Capitan's The Shortest Straw, I completely rewrote and updated the post when I moved it here to

Let's assume the worst case scenario when cleaning an aid pitch - you are approaching a carabiner that is clipped directly into a pin or bolt, therefore missing that Degree Of Freedom that an extra crab or sling would have provided. The pitch is both traversing and overhanging, and so the rope passes through the carabiner at a wicked and awkward angle. It seems virtually impossible to unclip the rope from the crab.

Fortunately, you know the Better Way to clean gear on an aid pitch. If you follow these directions, you will be able to clean anything, and you will never drop it. NOT DROPPING STUFF is fundamental to]your worth as a wall climber. There is never an excuse for dropping stuff! [Don't do as I do, do as I say....]

  • Approach the next piece of gear you are about to clean - remove your jug from the rope, lift it over the piece, and re-attach it to the rope above the piece. You might want to check at this point to see if you need to tie another backup knot or not

  • Put your adjustable fifi hook directly into the handle of the jug, and cinch the fifi until it is tight. Alternatively you can cinch down on the adjustable daisy attaching you to your jug

  • Dr. Piton highly recommends you try using the adjustable fifi as it is much easier to remove after you have completed the operation, as described below

  • Much of your weight will now be hanging on the upper jug as held by the fifi [or adjustable daisy]

Since you are cleaning this pitch the Better Way, you are using only one jug for this operation. You have also tied yourself up a piece of webbing to use as a designated sling on your jug, and have attached your jug to this sling with a quick link. You therefore have an adjustable daisy free and available as a tether

  • Tether into the carabiner on the piece you are about to clean using your adjustable daisy tether. Always clip into the spine of the carabiner at the piece, as this will make it hugely easier to unclip, and you won't hose yourself on the gate.

  • bIf there is a draw on the piece, then clip your tether to the carabiner that is closest to the piece, and not to the crab that connects the sling to the rope. Make sure you always clip the spine side of the crab, and not the gate side

  • For cams, clip directly into the cam if possible, or into the cam's sling, rather than into the carabiner

  • Now here is the really beauty part of using the Grigri as an ascender. Once you have cinched tight onto your upper jug using your adjustable fifi or adjustable daisy, you can open the handle on the Grigri to allow slack to come into the rope between you and your upper jug to more or less fully weight it. No more fighting that lower ascender to try to unclip it! Is that sweet or what, eh?

  • With slack now in the lead rope, easily unclip the rope from the crab. You are still tethered to the piece you are cleaning with your adjustable daisy

  • Stand up in your jug's designated foot loop, and pop out the fifi from the ascender in order to get the fifi cord out of the way. Alternatively you can release the tension in the adjustable daisy on the jug

  • As you are momentarily and awkwardly standing in balance in your jug's foot loop, grab the free end of the rope [with the palm of your hand facing upwards] and pull it through the Grigri in order to tighten yourself up and to put your weight back onto the Grigri. This step is the crux of the operation - especially in awkward and overhanging situations - but with practice, you can perform it in about two or three seconds

  • If you are a real pro, then you can combine the two steps above. You pull the rope in partway through the Grigri as you stand, then with the same hand as you are using to pull the rope through the Grigri, you pop out the fifi with your thumb, then continue pulling through rope, all in one smooth motion. It is for this reason I prefer the adjustable fifi over the adjustable daisy

  • While still tethered to the piece, continue jugging up until your shoulders are directly horizontal with the piece. This will maximize your reach when the pitch is diagonalling or overhanging. You need to get the piece within reach as close to you as possible so you can best work on removing it

If the pitch is traversing and there was no place to leave a piece of gear directly above this one [or your leader was an inconsiderate wanker and didn't leave a piece for you directly above!] then you may have to "time your swing" into the piece to put slack into your daisy. This isn't too bad with a cam you can pull out with one hand, but is really tough with something that requires more persuasion

Cybele Cleaning on NA Wall

CAUTION: Do not be tempted to unclip your tether in this situation - you could swing out of reach from your piece and have no way to get back to it, therefore leaving it as booty for Someone Like Me [who is very bitchin' at cleaning aid pitches!]

  • While you are still tethered to it, remove the piece

  • Clip the piece onto your Cleaner's Rack first

  • THEN after the piece is clipped to your Cleaner's Rack, you unclip the piece from your tether

NOTE: You will never be unattached to your piece. It is impossible to drop gear when you clean it this way!

Do not take shortcuts with this method, like I often do, unless you are prepared to risk dropping stuff. I only start taking shortcuts after I have been on the wall for several days, have my systems and concentration completely dialled, and have dispensed with the usual "first day butterfingers syndrome"


Still not convinced? Then I think you should ask the shagadelic ClimbChick. Not only does she know the Better Way, but she is far more bitchin' than me! I taught Yvette this method of cleaning aid pitches in only a couple days on the rock, and she spent a lot of time practising in the gym. A few weeks later I met her in Yosemite, and we sent a big wall together. You can find all our stories on her website by clicking the photo below. At the time, Yvette had only a bit of experience in trad climbing, but by learning this system, she was able to safely climb a big wall with her Wall Doctor

Looking more relaxed now and oh-so-determined as Yvette cruises on up past Dr. Piton's Crab-O-Ledge
The weiner-armed Doc is envious of her burly biceps

This is one of the most useful Dr. Piton Big Wall Tips of the Day you will EVER read! In fact, the Doc is certain that once you try it, you'll never go back to cleaning with two jugs. Most likely, it\'ll only take you about thirty or forty feet to realize conclusively that this is indeed the Better Way to clean an aid pitch! Learn this stuff, and with any luck, one day you will stand on the summit - you and all of your gear.


The Doc

Rock Climbing Photo: Petzl Ascension
Petzl Ascension
Rock Climbing Photo: Petzl Basic
Petzl Basic
Rock Climbing Photo: Petzl Croll
Petzl Croll

Petzl Ascension, Basic and Croll Ascenders
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 10, 2008
Great Post Pete ... Nice Pictures too! John McNamee
From Littleton, CO
Joined Jul 29, 2002
845 points
Jan 11, 2008
Great info Pete--muchos gracias! Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Joined Jul 15, 2005
0 points
Jan 11, 2008
Pete: Good reading. Items from me:

"The basics are that you must be attached to your rope or your anchor by at least points of contact at all times, ..."

How many points of contact? Also, I would offer to make this statement, once corrected, in bold print.

"When you are cleaning an aid pitch the Better Way, technically speaking you do not need a backup knot because your Grigri is a 'running backup'."

The problem I have with this is there is always a chance you can inhibit the cam, even though it's a viable point of contact, if the cam gets inhibited, the device won't stop you.

Also something to consider, the gri-gri is limited in the range of diameter; some don't consider the rope they use could be inappropriate.

Okay, previously discussed, a fixed line being jugged don't use knots, you've got 2 points of contact without a safety knot by using ascension devices; I can see it. However now in this post topic you indicate there is danger to the rope if you don't control the rope ends.

So possibly some further insight into this as it seems more than likely fixed lines are acceptable as fixed in one point, they freely dangle, correct or am I not getting this?
Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
545 points
Jan 11, 2008

1. 2 points of contact at all times.

2. Running gri-gri backup has little chance of getting fubar'd as when jugging 2:1 style it is right there in your face, and is always under tension (little chance for crossloading it's biner for example). You still have your other jug in case the gri-gri gets fubar'd, so the very small chance the the gri-gri getting hosed is mitigated by the second legit attachement point. Usually you tie backup knots anyway, just to prevent wind related mishaps.

3. Gri-gri rope diamter. If you are on a big wall with <10mm ropes, then you need to get your head examined. Last I heard they were rated down to ~9.6mm or some such shoelace material.

4. Two rope ends under control: Fixed lines should not be allowed to flap in the breeze, but should be held in tension. Flopping in the breeze lets them abrade against the rock, get wrapped around trees at the base, etc. If you are on your final trip up, grabbing the rope as you go by to blast, then yes, you'll be able to take the rope end with you on your way up, and tie backups.
From Portland, OR
Joined Dec 11, 2007
0 points
Jan 12, 2008

Typo is fixed, thanks. TWO points of contact at all time.

Grigri as a running backup on a skinny fixed jugging line does run the risks you mention. It might could well not work if you are jugging skinny 9mm rope. An example where this could take place would be if you used a 9mm static haul line to fix the first pitch of your route. You should use two jugs, and clip in if you cross a knot or rebelay to maintain two points of contact. You would never jug a fixed rope using a Grigri as an ascender, the way you clean an aid pitch. It is just way too slow.

You would also never clean an aid pitch by jugging a rope that skinny, as Moof points out. Nobody would lead an aid pitch on a single rope any skinnier than 10mm, on which a Grigri will work fine as an ascender, or as a backup to two jugs.

You have to control the ends of the rope so they don't blow in the wind and get hung up. What would you do if the end of your rope blew fifty feet sideways, and hung up on a flake? You would probably have to cut it. I think it was on Shipton Spire, Matt Madaloni [sp?] was soloing a new route, and his rope end got hung up this way. He had to spend an entire day bolting sideways across a blank wall to retrieve it!

Moof, only on rare occasions do men cleaning aid pitches with a jug and a Grigri use the 2:1 "Yvette Ratchet" configuration - it is just too damn slow. Women don't have the same power to weight ratio as men, especially in the shoulder areas, and sometimes they find it hard not to use the Zed. However burly chicks [like Kate - look at those biceps!] have no problem at all.

Almost always, you will pull the rope directly through the Grigri with your free hand, in a 1:1 configuration. You pull the free end of the rope upwards, holding it with your palm up. Because you are pulling upwards with your hand, you do get a small amount of mechanical advantage, though not the full 2:1 you get in the Yvette Ratchet my making a Zed in the rope.

The only time I use the Yvette Ratchet is if I happen to find my self dangling free in space, and am not touching the rock. Then I will Yvette Ratchet myself up a few moves, before returning to standard 1:1 "straight hand pulling" on less steep rock.
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 12, 2008
Moof wrote:
If you are on a big wall with <10mm ropes, then you need to get your head examined.

Russian and Polish climbers. Granted, they are crazy.
John J. Glime
From Salt Lake City, UT
Joined Aug 28, 2002
1,045 points
Jan 12, 2008
It's common in caving to use thin static "push ropes" of 9mm or so in exploration, because they are so much lighter than 11mm ropes. Cavers, however, are usually much better than climbers in rigging rebelays around edges, and in using rope pads. You CANNOT let a 9mm rope touch the rock when you are jugging it!

I have almost died twice this way - once in Mexico, and once in Alabama - full-on core shots both times.

I am super wary when rigging and jugging skinny rope.

Peter Zabrok [formerly Zaborowski]
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 12, 2008
I guess I'm girl... i love the Yvette ratchet, especially on free hanging ropes! Thanks for the tip!

Also, just my humble opinion... I always tie back up knots. Keeps the rope under control, less chance of death, takes less than three seconds to actually initiate. When you can't do this (such as jugging a line you want to leave fixed) I use the standard Yosemite system an let my GriGri trail along behind as the backup.
Adam Wilson
From Provo, UT
Joined May 31, 2006
55 points
Oct 26, 2008
Thanks Pete for the illustrations and photo's. Brad "Stonyman" Killough
From Alabama
Joined Jan 18, 2008
5,070 points
Oct 26, 2008
cleaning a traverse ... good footage showing use of grigri as backup

John McNamee
From Littleton, CO
Joined Jul 29, 2002
845 points
Oct 27, 2008
Nice info, thanks John. Brad "Stonyman" Killough
From Alabama
Joined Jan 18, 2008
5,070 points
Oct 27, 2008
I have a hard time getting beyond the pictures...
Thats Kate, Cybele, Yvette, and Holly as big wall partners.
Pete, it suggests your talents go far beyond the 27/1 hauling system.
Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Joined Apr 9, 2006
1,915 points
Site Landlord
Oct 27, 2008
Sam Lightner, Jr. wrote:
I have a hard time getting beyond the pictures... Thats Kate, Cybele, Yvette, and Holly as big wall partners. Pete, it suggests your talents go far beyond the 27/1 hauling system.

Excellent point Sam. Pete must be an exceptionally talented partner!
Andy Laakmann
From Bend, OR
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,805 points
Dec 13, 2009
bump (for cleaning / jugging questions/comments) njsmail
Joined Jan 26, 2009
0 points
Jan 1, 2010
Really appreciate the info Pete. Thanks. Kevin Landolt
From Fort Collins, Wyoming
Joined Jun 1, 2009
580 points
Jan 2, 2010
I don't get it.

Let's just say the pitch is straight up but a bit overhanging. I'm left handed so my jug is in my left hand and my grigri is on my right.
I get to a piece, I snug up the grigri and then move the jug over the piece and slide it up as far as I can get it. I'm hanging in my harness from the sling on my jug, I unclip the piece and then snug up my grigri again.

At it's most basic, is that it?
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
0 points
Jan 8, 2010
Pretty much. The trick is that you don't have to unweight an ascender on your harness, instead you pull the lever on the Grigri to unweight the rope.

To make this happen, all your weight needs to be on your upper jug above the piece you are about to clean. You can do this by putting this jug on an adjustable daisy, or else by popping your adjustable fifi into the handle of the jug.
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 24, 2010
Excellent. I'm looking forward to practicing the Better Way on my miniscule local crags. Might have to go up about 3 routes to get the required 40ft of convincing though.
From Golden
Joined Jun 26, 2008
200 points
Jan 25, 2010
Welcome aboard, Jane! Perhaps you can bring the luck o' the Eye-rish over to Yosemite sometime soon, eh?

Don't be discouraged about your little crags. [Some men prefer them smaller] I learned to solo El Cap on eighty-foot crags, setting up a belay partway up, and hauling bags of rocks. Look for continuous cracklines, sort of 5.9 to 5.11 ratings - or whatever the heck you guys use over there, maybe like those crazy Brits? - and look for steep and traversing lines. You can figure out everything you need to know.

If you plan to solo El Cap, practise your 2:1 hauling so you know you can bring enough food, water and Guiness to hang out on the Big Stone long enough to guarantee success.

See you on the bridge, eh?
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 26, 2010
I'm over in June.
But not for soloing, my mental strength isn't up to that yet, I need to have a good bitch and moan with my climbing partner after scaring myself silly...

Just out of interest, what's the maximum weight haulbag that a 140lb girl can reasonably haul with a standard body haul setup? Or is it almost always easier to set up the 2:1?
From Golden
Joined Jun 26, 2008
200 points
Jan 28, 2010
Excellent! See you on the bridge in June for beers, then!

As to how much you can haul, it TOTALLY depends on the physical layout of the hauling belay, and whether your pig is hanging in free space or not.

If your pig touches the wall, or your haul line bends over the belay ledge because the wankers who installed the belay bolts put them too low above the ledge, then that is going to make things a lot harder, having to overcome friction in those two places.

The hauling device you choose has a profound impact, too - hauling a big load with a Mini-Trax is hard because the pulley is small, the converse is true with a Kong Block-Roll.

So you really have to think about how you set up your hauling station. I'm not kidding when I suggest practising hauling bags of rocks, so you know what you can and can't do. The 2:1 will work really well for you once you get the hang of it, but the first or second pitch of a big wall is not the place to learn! You need to practise with the thing first, because there are any number of ways to set it up wrong, and you need to play around with it until you get it dialled. You may find that you can haul a free-hanging pitch no problem one to one, but on the next pitch you find your haul line rubs across the ledge, and you can't, so you'll have to add the 2:1. But the 2:1 will take you twice as long to haul with, so you don't want to use it unless you really need to. And the only way you will know this is to practise ahead of time.

Also, if you have a partner, she can get on the end of the haul line with you if needed.

The whole idea is to have as many arrows in your quiver as you can, and even more importantly, to know how to use them. Don't wait til Yosemite or you could be a sorry puppy. Suss it now, get it dialled, and then when you get to Yosemite you can have a fun time, and not an epic.

If you email or PM me, I can send you some 1:1 hauling tips and stuff.

"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 28, 2010

I got your email via this website, but it doesn't tell me what your email is. Could you please drop me a line, and in the body of it tell me what your email is, then I can reply directly?

"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
0 points
Jan 28, 2010
Pete -- I think when you hit reply on your own e-mail program, then the correct e-mail send-to address shows up. Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
545 points
Feb 14, 2010
I worked this method for about 25 feet on a vertical wall and I have to say, I am SOLD!
I love my old jumars and I HATE the Petzl jugs. Now, with the Grigri method, I have to deal with the Petzl jugs only half as much.
Thanks, Pete!
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
0 points
Feb 14, 2010
I know you like to go fast, but there is no way you can jug efficiently or quickly with the grigri/frog method. Try this trick out and see what you think.

When you are at a piece you are ready to clean and have set your upper jumar above the piece and weighted it, grab the rope below your lower jumar with one hand and feather the camlock on your lower jumar with the other. Pulling up with your one hand is easy as you have a 2:1 going off the piece and it takes the tension off the lower jumar allowing you to slide it down the rope a foot to unweight the piece. You should be able to find a video somewhere on the internet that Hans Florine made showing this really works.

BTW we met once when you and Richard Wright were climbing the Yellow Wall, my wife Lauri and I were on the Casual Route. Your early mostly free ascent of the Salathe, and the article you wrote has been a big inspiration to me.

Keep Cranking.
Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Joined Oct 20, 2002
325 points

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