/ Backing off routes?

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Bertbee - on 20 Jun 2012
I've realized a 'block' in me pushing myself out of my trad-leading comfort zone is my uncertainty in backing off and cleaning routes if I bail on them. As a result, I'm not attempting any routes unless I'm certain that both myself AND my seconder are going to complete them.

This is a big problem if I'm climbing with a partner who is quite inexperienced. Perhaps I'll only go up a VDiff, so that I'm certain my partner can second it, usually resulting in an underwhelming experience for both myself and the seconder, who doesn't get an opportunity to push themselves.

So - In the scenario that I bail halfway through a route, or my seconder can't finish, what are my options? Is it simply that I've got to abseil down to clean the route?
JLS on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

Yeah, for trad climbing you need to embrace an element of uncertainty.

How you get your gear back if it all gones pete-tong depends where you are. Sure an ab is a strong possibility but if it's a three star VS at Stanage then my guess is, the party queuing behind you will offer to retrieve it as a way of speeding things up.
balmybaldwin - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

Pretty much yes, unless you can retreat safely by "de-leading" i.e. down climb and take the gear with you. Or else if there is an easier climb within reaching distance that you can use to retrieve the gear.


What is your issue with abseiling?
Bertbee - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to balmybaldwin:

My issue with abseiling is mostly with routes that snake about - so it's not just a case of abbing straight down.

It just seems all-too-likely that I'm going to end up abandoning precious gear all over the crag, or spending the majority of the outing retrieving gear my partner doesn't reach!

(for note, the seconder in question is often my gf, so can't just abandon her for another partner!)
Luke90 on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:
Unless the route features a fairly substantial traverse you can normally get away with collecting all the gear on abseil. If you think you might need to swing about a bit to reach some of the gear then make sure you put something under your rope to protect it where it runs over the edge.
JLS on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

If I think I'm likely to be messing about on abseil I'll use a Petzel Shunt (and ATC) to control the rope. With a knot back-up I can go hands free which speeds up, getting into position and fiddling with gear and generally make abing feel a less serious business.
Bertbee - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to JLS:

I was hoping that a prussik would suffice for abbing (giving you the peace of mind!)? At least whilst we're talking about single-pitch stuff?
JLS on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

And there was me thinking all climbers love an excuse to by a new bit of shiny kit...
Bertbee - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to JLS:

:D
Too much new gear - time to use what I've got!
balmybaldwin - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:


Don't abandon your GF as a partner, but be aware that being asked to constantly go up routes that are out of reach for her (and then muttering and being annoyed at having to retrieve gear) is a good way of loosing your partner as a girl friend.

Find another partner more matched to your level of climbing, and find your GF similar. It will help both your and her climbing, as well as avoiding domestics at the crag! - That doesn't mean never climb with her, just climb stuff she can do.
Richard Alderton - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

If you're talking single-pitch routes, then another option for routes that meander would be for you and your second to switch places. He/ she walks round to the top of the crag and gets into the belay, and you walk down to the bottom and second the route.

Time-consuming, but an option.
Bertbee - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to balmybaldwin:

"Don't abandon your GF as a partner, but be aware that being asked to constantly go up routes that are out of reach for her (and then muttering and being annoyed at having to retrieve gear) is a good way of loosing your partner as a girl friend."

It's been 8 years... but I think you're right, it might push it over the edge! "What do you MEAN you can't climb up that!"
matt.woodfield - on 21 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:
A basic self rescue course would teach you how to do simple hoists (to get your second past a hard move) and retreat off a route in the safest manner. Just search on Goggle or the UKC classifieds for them.
jkarran - on 21 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

> So - In the scenario that I bail halfway through a route, or my seconder can't finish, what are my options? Is it simply that I've got to abseil down to clean the route?

Sort of depends how and why you're bailing. I've never been one for resting on gear then either continuing or lowering off but if that's your escape route of choice then obviously you need to get the kit out somehow. Either finish up the route, finish up an easier route or lower off and set up a rope at the top. Once you have a rope up you can ab or top-rope to retrieve gear.

If you're backing off from a wet/loose/hard crux above easier climbing you can downclimb stripping the gear as you go.

If you're worried about your partner being unable to follow or pass a hard crux then you could think about leaving them an aid sling, using rope tension or even set up a bottom-rope so they can haul past the crux easily by pulling up the rope (you get mechanical advantage). Similar hauling systems are possible for top-roping but given you sound relatively inexperienced I'd give them a miss.

The final and maybe best option is to pick more enjoyable 'easy' routes :)

jk
Monk - on 21 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

This massively depends on what you are climbing. For something short and single pitch, then there really is no issue. If your second can't follow, just either ab off to get the gear (doesn't take long once you are slick) or get her to haul up on some gear as you haul up on the rope to pass a difficult bit. Abseiling is simple to rig with practice, and a simple prussic to protect yourself (and a wrap of the rope around your leg when you want to stop for a while) will protect you. Gear to the side or short traverses are really not a problem to clean.

If you get stuck halfway, then you'll just have to lower off some gear and either leave it or ab for it.

Multipitch is a bit different, and I have to admit that I wouldn't start up anything that I knew would be beyond my partner unless they were happy to use ascenders (which is tiring and dull).

My one piece of advice is to push things rather than acquiesce to your partner. I spent many years in Sheffield climbing harder than many of my partners, and I would very often just have easy days out. They were all fun, but I now feel that I could have done a lot more. If you are only doing one harder route in a day, it doesn't really amount to a large degree of selfishness and shouldn't take too much time. And you might find that your partner enjoys having a crack at some harder stuff too.
Kemics - on 21 Jun 2012
In reply to Bertbee:

As a second you can get up pretty much anything with enough help from the rope.

I've been dragged up some stuff I wouldn't have a hope in hell of climbing without very hefty belaying :)

Helps particularly if you have an ATC guide or gri gri or anything locking so you can really haul em up

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