/ Hand traverse - oh my!

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fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
I searched the forums to see if anyone else has commented on this, but it appears not (though my search skill are pretty questionable, I'll admit...)

That hand traverse on Corvus... Diff? DIFF? What d'ya mean - only a DIFF!! That must be at LEAST E12!!!

I am just learning the ropes (literally) on leading, and although I only live down the road, I have never managed to second Corvus and it has been on my list for a long time. So I was very pleased to give it a whirl as part of my learning to lead process just last wee. I led the first five pitches without much ado, although I was getting mighty tired and brain-achey with remembering how to set up so many anchors. So I bailed out of leading the 6th pitch before realising it was the hand traverse, passing it over to my more experienced partner, who seemed to have no real issues with it, apart from the first move or two from the ground up to it.

So I thought it would just be another hand traverse to second that I wouldn't exactly enjoy, but would manage without to much ado. I managed the one on Milestone Buttress no problem.

All was well until I realised I has to leave the safety of the nice ledge for my feet and reach out a terribly long way with my foot to find another hold to transfer my weight onto. Or else just hang on with my hands and wriggle across. Now, this is ok if you have broad shoulders and biceps of steel, but I have a skinny set of pipecleaners for arms and shoulders - all my climbing is done via my feet and legs - my arms and hands are just there for balance. I can't do a single pull-up as I can't actually support my weight on my arms....

So, I accept that I am brasically-challenged, but even so, that is one hell of a scary move for a Diff and I really can't believe that nobody else has been muttering oaths of Anglo Saxon origin as they widget their way across, praying that their hands aren't going to give way under the mighty weight of their arse...

As I say - I was only SECONDING.... I think I would have suffered heart failure if I had been leading!

So, is there anyone - at all - out there who agrees that the hand traverse on Corvus is harder than a Diff hand traverse has any right to be?

Or is it just me?!
Offwidth - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

Firstly, the grade is correct but like all grades its an average: some climbers will find different diffs harder and easier. Secondly, many Diff leaders have got excited on that pitch, as it is one of the crux highlights of the route. Thirdly, it's possibly easier to lead than second. Fourthly, it's slightly slabby so so were likley overgripping and pulling in too much or leaning out to much with your feet too high: use your bum by keeping it over your feet. Finally, do some assisted pull ups to strengthen your arms: either use a gym machine or get some inner-tubes and pull-up on a bar using your legs in the rubber loop to assist; you don't need to be able to do pull-ups but you do need to be able to hold your weight on some lower grade climbs and some extra strength will help.
davidbeynon - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

Last time I did that I decided to do the route in big boots. It was raining, so I let my partner lead it.

"Do you think I should change into climbing shoes?" I asked.
"That", he replied "depends on what sort of experience you want to have!"
"What do you mean?"
"It depends on whether or not you want to fall off."

In the end I did it with the big boots, and managed not to fall off. Much to his disappointment. It wasn't easy though.
Pursued by a bear - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy: It's just you. It isn't that bad, really. Any blood or mangled body parts left on it usually wash off quite quickly so it isn't that off-putting...

More seriously, if you haven't done it you may wish to seek a second opinion from someone of a similar climbing mindset before trying Troutdale Pinnacle.

T.
Erstwhile on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
I remember doing an early winter ascent of Corvus. I put a brilliant peg runner in the hand traverse!
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Well, that is what is so weird - I have led two pitches on Troutdale Pinnacle and seconded the traverse without the sort of collywobbles I experienced on Corvus - which is why I asked, as to me (as a second on both traverse pitches) the one on Corvus was at least as tricky as the one on Troutdale Pin and ten times as scary. And Troutdale Pin is a Severe I think?
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:

That made me laugh :-)

At least you had the excuse that it was raining, which would increase the difficulty overall. I did it on a glorious, blazing hot day with the crag as dry as it will ever be....
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Well, I LIKE slabby! That is my preferred sort of climbing, but usually it is all about the feet and not much for the hands - no jugs to pull on. This time there was a HUGE indented ledge to hold onto, but for two moves (or only one if you are blessed with a reasonable length of leg)there was nothing for the feet. I am in no doubt that my technique went all out of the window. Terror tends to do that to me...

As for arm strength - I have a pull up bar in my room (two actually, left there by previous occupants) and I regularly give it a go. I also have a very physical job and my arms do as much as they are capable - I actually have visible biceps you know! Unfortunately, whilst these arms could pull me up if I was a slim-hipped teenager they fail to cope with the massive arse of a shapely woman that I actually am. It's a question of the narrowest part of me having to hoik up the heaviest/widest part of me. A broad-shouldered guy has the opposite equation - the strongest part of them is lifting the narrowest/lightest part of them.

But my point is, that usually on a slabby diff I have no need to haul my arse up by my arms. My feet do the leg-work (so to speak!). I avoid steep but juggy climbs as I know that is not what I can cope with. But I have never before come across a diff - even a steepish diff - that has relied on using ALL my arm strength before. It was out of kilter with the rest of the climb and seemed so much hoistier. As I said somewhere else, I found it so much harder and scarier than the traverse on Troutdale Pin.

I'm guessing it IS just me!
Ann S on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

Led it years ago (I think in big boots) but as I don't like hanging my weight off my arms either, I managed to scrabble up and turn it from a hand traverse into a foot traverse about halfway across, much to the amusement of my partner.
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

It's not just you, but it's still just a Diff. It's not as steep as it looks, so there are more foot holds available than you might think.

And Offwidth's right, it's probably easier to lead than to second!
Jamie B - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

I lead it in bendy boots in the wet years ago and found it desperate. Last year I assumed that it would be much easier with dry rock and rock-shoes and went up to solo it. I got the fear, especially on the last move. The route is probably worth VDiff overall.
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Ann S:

How I wish I had thought of that! I might well have done (I think that is what I did on Milestone Buttress come to think of it...) but I was being watched and advised by a 3rd person who was helping me with my leading. There was lots of encouragement to just get it over and done with as quickly as possible, but no advice on looking for an alternative method to reach the belay stance!

Great advice - thanks :-)
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to fionafluffy)
>
> I lead it in bendy boots in the wet years ago and found it desperate. Last year I assumed that it would be much easier with dry rock and rock-shoes and went up to solo it. I got the fear, especially on the last move. The route is probably worth VDiff overall.

I think I love you!

It is SO nice to have someone acknowledge the fear on the same route :-) I was beginning to think it was TOTALLY me and only me in the whole climbing world who thought that was hard and hoisty for the grade.

Mind you - I had a rope....

So maybe you are superhuman after all...I might have to take my love back now :-(
Jamie B - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

Definitely not superhuman, just get the occasional "enthusiastic" moments. Your love is not misplaced..
Ann S on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

Bit of a habit of mine. There is a hand traverse on Direct Route on Glyder Fach in Ogwen which I did entirely as a tiptoe traverse. You do have to remember of course that if you come off you'll fall further than if hand traversing!!
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Ann S:
> (In reply to fionafluffy)
>
> Bit of a habit of mine. You do have to remember of course that if you come off you'll fall further than if hand traversing!!

Hmm, yes - there is that of course! I'll still bear it in mind for the future...

anaesthetic on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:
Did this about 10 days ago. Had led up to that point in approach shoes but changed to climbing shoes after watching the pair in front scrabbling around with their feet on the hand traverse. I'm short (5'3") with pretty puny arms too (like you I like slabs) but didn't find it a problem. I don't remember having to use arm strength too much - I spent some time putting quite a bit of gear in to reassure my nervous second. The foot placements are there if you look closely enough for them (experience?), no scrabbling around required, I think there was maybe one slight smear. Maybe you could practise technique on the traverse wall next time you're indoors?
Pursued by a bear - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Ann S:
> There is a hand traverse on Direct Route on Glyder Fach in Ogwen

That's a good hand traverse, that one; a tough bit on a fine route, harder than the hand traverse on Creag Dhu Wall at Tremadog, a route of similar grade. Good effort to foot traverse the first; it would be an even better effort to foot traverse the hand traverse on the second.

T.

fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to anaesthetic:

Gosh - all these folk who do it boots and approach shoes - I had my climbing shoes the whole way...

I am the same height as you exactly so clearly I can't blame my incompetence on my stature! However, I think you and I might have somewhat different definitions of foot placements! My partner and the third person who was there to help/advise on my leading both declared there were no footholds (except the one that was just out of my leg stretch) and that I would just have to go for it - getting it out of the way sooner rather than later...!

It may be that you are more flexible than me and could reach the foothold that I remember, or you may just have been more practised at looking for holds despite being told that there aren't any and in the face of rising panic - which was how it was for me!

I don't do much indoor climbing - particularly traversing - I find it scarier indoors than outdoors as you can't be on a rope and have to drop off onto a mat. This woman can't jump - the fear is way too strong...!

Am aware I have just revealed how feeble and how uncommitted a climber I am... I was hoping to keep it under wraps just a LITTLE bit longer!

Think of me as your nervous second....
davidbeynon - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to fionafluffy:

It's just experience and practice. The first time I did it I hadn't been climbing long, and i found it hard for the grade in climbing shoes. A few years later it was straightforward, and a few years after that it was challenging in big boots and in the wet.

Keep at it and you will be able to climb that sort of thing easily, but to be honest I envy you a bit - it's more fun when it feels hard!
VS4b - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:

My first and only time was with davidbeynon (and mike) oddly enough! Brilliant route, scary as a beginner but a great day out. Hi David!
davidbeynon - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to VS4b:

That was a good day out. It's been a while hasn't it? Don't really want to think about how long ago now! :)
fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to fionafluffy)
>
> It's just experience and practice. > Keep at it and you will be able to climb that sort of thing easily, but to be honest I envy you a bit - it's more fun when it feels hard!

Hee hee - really?!

I like my climbing without the fear. Actually I like all my adventures to be without fear - just lots of sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer...!

My favourite route (so far...) is Oxford and Cambridge on Grey Crag in Buttermere. The grade does what it says on the tin and the climbing is flowing and seamless. I think I am really a scrambler at heart - I like to keep moving without too much ado (all that gear placement and setting up anchors....!). Maybe a pause here and there to work out the best holds for making the move, but not a complete stop and rising fear... Fear makes me - um, fearful... It spoils the memory of the rest of the climb for me (I am a rare adrenalin-phobic. It is the opposite to adrenalin junkie - rather than a buzz from the adrenalin I am drained and morose.

I just have issue with the grading - last week I did Gillercombe Buttress which is a severe and I didn't come across anything as hairy as that traverse. So, it less about practice perhaps than about translating the grade into real terms. And in real terms that hand traverse was seriously the most scary thing I have yet done - even scarier than the couple of HVS's I have seconded. And as I was the second on this particular pitch, then they are comparable situations.

I'll swap my fear for your breeziness any day!

fionafluffy - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to VS4b:
> (In reply to davidbeynon)
>
> Brilliant route, scary as a beginner but a great day out.

Yes, brilliant route and not at all scary either before or after that ten metres of hell! It did marr what would definitely have been a fabulous day out and would have been in my top three mountain days out otherwise.

But glad you can see it could be scary (even though I am a seasoned second - just a beginner leader...)
VS4b - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
Far too long ago, and sadly I've lost touch with mike over the years too :-(
Ann S on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

I recall the traverse on Creag Dhu Wall when I seconded it. It was neither hand nor foot-' twas all a bit of knee, hip, arse, elbow and head I think. A Shetland pony could have made a better effort.

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