/ NEW ARTICLE: Staying Alive: Some tips for Single Pitch Climbing

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James Thacker is a qualified Mountain Instructor and takes us through a few tips to help us keep safe whilst single pitch climbing this year. Although single pitch climbs are often though of as safer - the one thing that hurts (the ground) is actually nearer...

"Endlessly groping for the perfect hand jam, and shaking like a shitting dog, I gave in and slumped onto the nearest runner. Which promptly pulled!"

Read More: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1238
Morgan Woods - on 15 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

timely article....just glad i haven't heard of a repeat of the stanage bank holiday rescues after this weekend's good weather.

"shaking like a shitting dog"

interesting turn of phrase!
mark20 - on 15 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
I can't get the link to that BMC page to work
flaneur - on 15 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Some good suggestions.

A couple of comments:

It might have been worth mentioning that trying to find a first runner that takes an outwards pull is a good idea to help prevent the dreaded unzipping runners. It’s not always possible to stand in the line of the climbing such as when the route wanders.

The photos could have illustrated points in the essay rather than being generic/entertaining.

(The BMC link doesn't work for me either).
James Thacker - on 15 Sep 2008
shark - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to James Thacker: On a short single pitch crag there is often only the top runner keeping you off the ground should you take that fall. If it pops either because it is just a bad placement, or badly placed, there will be more slack in the system. Make every runner a good one.


A case for one of the advantages of two ropes is that the slack caused by the top runner coming out is that if the next lowest runner is strategically clipped on the other rope this wont be an issue.

Another trick for a crucial runner on a short route is that when the route allows it a strategic downclimb to the ground to tug or weighting the rope/runner from the ground will test it and get it seated in better.
Pete O'Donovan - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Good article. Having personally witnessed the helicopter rescue at Stanage over the August Bank Holiday (Dave Hesleden and I were actually co-opted in to help carry the stretcher) as well as numerous dodgy moments on Gritstone edges just about every weekend, I can honestly say that the more articles appearing like this, the better.
There seems to be a growing willingness amongst inexperienced climbers to really go for it, often to the point of falling off, and frequently coupled with poor gear-placing skills — a dangerous combination, and bloody frightening to watch!
The poor lad who fell off Left Unconquerable has already been put through the ringer here, and I don't want to add to that, but really, if you can't protect LU adequately, you can't protect anything.
Today's young, wall-trained climbers can quickly reach high levels of strength and agility, but this in no way prepares them for how to stay safe on real rock. Perhaps someone should introduce courses solely teaching gear placement? I remember, as a youth, walking along the base of a crag on a rainy day (indoor walls weren't around then!) just practicing putting nuts in cracks. In the end I learned to judge the required size so well that I rarely needed a second go, and that was before friends. It's a skill, and just like many other skills, one better learned before your life really depends on it.
Pete.
James Oswald - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to Pete O'Donovan:
Perhaps someone should introduce courses solely teaching gear placement?

I think PyB already do them.
James Oswald - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Good article by the way!
tommyzero - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to Pete O'Donovan:

Hmm. I wondered (as two references were made to accidents over the bank holiday weekend at Stanage) if it was me you guys were talking about.

I actually don't feel put through the ringer, but perhaps I have missed the odd thread where I am being slated (and I have been a bit out of it since then)? If so I suppose it is all I deserve. I made mistakes on that climb and I got injured because of those stupid mistakes. I was careless and I shouldn't have been.

With it being such a popular crag and UKC such a public place I suppose I am in the firing line and Pete - everything you have said is true.

I've done a couple of climbing courses but clearly didn't take my time trying to 'bag an E1'. I got over confident and out of my depth. I made some bad decisions and know now not to get into that situation again.

What can I say about articles like that and the bad decisions I made. Do I feel bad. Sure I do. It was very easily avoidable.

I have no memory of my fall or even how I got to hospital. But I'd like to sincerely thank everyone that helped. From what I am beginning to understand about it it sounded like lots of people helped and it was quite busy. So I apologise.

**hangs head in dismay and shame**
Pete O'Donovan - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to tommyzero: Absolutely no need to apologise, and please stop 'hanging your head in dismay and shame'. When I mentined the term 'put through the ringer' I was thinking more of your own self criticism than what others had said. Let's get one thing straight: climbing is a risky business — if it wasn't it wouldn't be half as rewarding. It's just that, what with all the genuinely unprotectable stuff out there, I hate to see keen, young climbers like yourself gambling with their bones/lives on routes which have traditionally been considered 'safe' leads — whether you actually get to the top, or not.
Just for the record: I was very happy to assist with your rescue. My real regret is not having a camera with me so I could present you with a souvenir picture!
Regards,
Pete.
John Gillott - on 16 Sep 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

I'd add: place more than one runner at a time if you're in a not-too-tiring situation and you're able to. In addition to the obvious benefit there's the added advantage that you're less likely inadvertently to kick out a pair of runners as you pass them than a single one.

I've also found that bigger gaps between clumps of runners compared with smaller ones between single placements helps in flowing up a route - both physically and psychologically. A nest of two or three good runners sets you up to climb through a sequence of moves without stopping. The crux section of the Left Unconquerable is a good example.
tommyzero - on 17 Sep 2008
In reply to Pete O'Donovan: OK. Cheers Pete. It's just a bit freaky to hear things about the event for the first time - on here! I was so out of it.

A souvenir picture would have cheered me up! Thanks for helping with things.

**Picks head up slightly**
Brendan - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Pete O'Donovan:

"Perhaps someone should introduce courses solely teaching gear placement?"

I was wondering, have many (any?) people tried going to a crag and taking test falls on to gear, with a top-rope for back-up?
I think part of the problem is that it can be hard to tell what's bomber and what isn't until you actually take a fall, by which time it's really too late!

"There seems to be a growing willingness amongst inexperienced climbers to really go for it, often to the point of falling off, and frequently coupled with poor gear-placing skills — a dangerous combination, and bloody frightening to watch!"

I wonder how much this has to do with people watching films such as Hard Grit and E11 and assuming it's normal to take huge falls on to gear? That's not a criticism of the films themselves, I just an observation.





Michael Ryan - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Brendan:
> (In reply to Pete O'Donovan)

> "There seems to be a growing willingness amongst inexperienced climbers to really go for it, often to the point of falling off'

Evidence?

In reply to Brendan:
>
> I think part of the problem is that it can be hard to tell what's bomber and what isn't until you actually take a fall, by which time it's really too late!
>

I would say it is easy to tell at least 95% of the time if gear is bomber or not. It really isn't rocket science.


Chris
Michael Ryan - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Brendan)
> [...]
>
> I would say it is easy to tell at least 95% of the time if gear is bomber or not. It really isn't rocket science.

Actually it is rocket science, which is a euphemism for 'experience'.

To know that gear is bomber takes experience, it is something that you learn. It may appear obvious in some cases, not obvious in others unless you have the 'experience'.

Experienced climbers must learn and understand that what is obvious to them is not obvious to others and that it has to be learnt through 'experience'.

That's not rocket science is it?
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

It is basic simple mechanics - not rocket science, which requires and altogether a higher skill set!

Chris
Brendan - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to Brendan)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Evidence?

That was a quote from Pete O'Donovan's post, not my comment! The crags I climb at tend to be pretty quiet so I don't know if this is the case.

In reply to Chris, the original article gives an account of the writer trying to rest on gear and it pulling, I assume he thought that placement was pretty bomber. I certainly don't think there's any harm in testing your gear in a safe environment.
Jonas Wiklund - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Brendan:
> In reply to Chris, the original article gives an account of the writer trying to rest on gear and it pulling, I assume he thought that placement was pretty bomber. I certainly don't think there's any harm in testing your gear in a safe environment.

Why? If I am convinced that the gear is bomber, the fall is clean etc... I usually just go for it. On the other hand, if the gear is not good enough for a hard fall but I think it is good enough to rest on I may sit on it if I am really pumped and the climbing above looks hard. It is very hard to judge placement that are not bomber but not totally crap either.

I agree with Chris Crags though: most of the time it is really easy to evaluate gear.
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Michael Ryan - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> It is basic simple mechanics -

Which has to be learned....through experience.

Placing gear which will hold a fall is a learned skill.....it may be basic to our craft, and then later, through experience, it becomes an advanced skill as you get smarter at placing it; knowing what will hold at the limits of simple mechanics and being creative.

You should run a course on it Chris.

SultanofMull - on 18 Sep 2008
In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

I think folk with alot of experience tend to see things as very easy and be a bit dismissive but when you are a novice its not that simple. I have seen plenty of people who struggle to see what experienced folk see as the obvios or best way to place gear.

It's technically very easy to ride a bike once you know how!! At least in the process of learning to ride a bike you can fall off and your not to far from the ground.
Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to Dan Goodwin:

Is there any kind of long learning process in learning to ride a bicycle? I have no memory of such. Just a vague memory of someone holding the saddle for a bit, and then, once I was peddling, letting go. Viola! - I was riding a bicycle.
shark - on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

It varies. My eldest son is less coordinated and it took him a while and he is still not that proficient manoeuvring. His younger brother took to it straight away. In general people are differently wired to learn skillls at diffrent rates and in different ways and some never get there. Some have talents in one field and useless at another. Some people will never be good drivers for example however many lessons they have.
a lakeland climber on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Well to everyone in general rather than trying to teach Mick to suck eggs!

A good way of getting to get a feel for how gear will behave is to walk along the bottom of a well featured crag or quarry , put in a bit of gear at about shoulder or head height, clip a sling into it and hang off it. Some will hold, some will fail. If it comes out you will only drop a few inches and you can then have a look at the placement to try and understand why it failed. Try vertical, horizontal, slanting crack, pockets, whatever. Eventually you should get a feel for what is good and what isn't.

If nothing else, your "lessons" are in relative safety.

ALC
GrahamD - on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to a lakeland climber:

This 'climbing too hard for your gear placeing ability' behaviour is one of the reasons I think people should learn to lead straight away, rather than second or top rope to refine the physical skills out of all proportion. Doesn't seem to be a universally held belief, mind !
In reply to GrahamD:

Sounds rather logical to me actually - but then I am old skool!


Chris
Al Evans on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to a lakeland climber)
>
> This 'climbing too hard for your gear placeing ability' behaviour is one of the reasons I think people should learn to lead straight away, rather than second or top rope to refine the physical skills out of all proportion. Doesn't seem to be a universally held belief, mind !

Absolutely, my point, which has contested on here several times, it is important to get out on real rock as soon as possible if you ever want to climb on it, as POD has said and Chris has said, starting and continuing indoors makes people belive climbing is not dangerous. It can be, but its danger can be minimised by proper experience, never to be learned by just climbing indoors.
SultanofMull - on 19 Sep 2008
In reply to Al Evans:

I agree, the whole point of 'rock climbing' is to climb on rocks! I think though seconding is a good way to get watching a few leads defo helps people learn the way it all works IE how the rope gets to the top !

Dan

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