/ old vs new ways of doing things

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Landy_Dom on 21 Mar 2013
I noticed a few things when watching the excellent recent videos of Joe Brown, Don Whillans and Ron Fawcett...

Hardly any gear extended with quickdraws.

Ron pre-clipping a snap gate to the lead rope, then dragging this up to clip into another snap link on the piece of gear.

Common use of snap links clipped to each other to extend gear.

Why do people think this was done / is not generally done any more? Were the great pioneers doing things we now consider poor form, or was it due to limitations of the gear? Is what we accept as normal now better? if so why? might things change again, and what we consider normal now change again?

I found it a source of interest and wonder what the UKC populace think - especially those old enough to have experienced directly the pros and cons of both approaches.

Cheers!

Dom.
EeeByGum - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: Is it not a simple case of the fact that back in the 70's and 80's, just about the only gear you could buy was moacs and snap links. Hence you used what you had to hand.

I bought most of my gear in the mid 90's and it looks pretty dated by today's standards.
AlanLittle - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

What surprised me was Chris Gibb belaying Ron with a waist belay on Lord. I thought sticht plates were pretty much universal by the late 70s
Fredt on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

In the seventies, generally gear was on slings that made them around a foot long, (and we slung them ourselves, you bought the chock or hex, and some appropriately sized rope, and put them together, no sewn slings then). Being that long, the need to extend them was the exception rather than the rule. For this I would have a couple of slings over my shoulder, with krabs. Wires were new, and when introduced were much shorter, about half the length of the existing gear we had, so we had to look at extending these as a rule rather than an exception, and I believe this led to the development of quick draws, then shorter pre-slung gear arrived, including Friends
I still wonder if it was step in the right direction, because I seem to carry a lot more gear nowadays. Back then you'd have a dozen peices of pro on your harness, albeit dangling and clanking around your knees, but no quickdraws, which have seemed to double what you carry. 2 to 3 times more krabs required!
tlm - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>
> What surprised me was Chris Gibb belaying Ron with a waist belay on Lord. I thought sticht plates were pretty much universal by the late 70s

Yeah - but you often just stick with what you have been used to doing - just look at the plentiful people you still see around using old style gear. We used body belays, classic abseils and no harnesses when I started climbing at school in about 1975. We were told to wear a sturdy shirt with long sleeves and a collar..... heh heh!

Gordon Stainforth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

It was all done because of the limitations of gear. Before quickdraws, runners got flicked out incredibly easily (and the ropes were stiffer too). It is now about a 1000 times easier and safer.
cyberpunk - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: Due to rope drag pitches were often shorter back then. Nowadays at larger cliffs you often hear "that can be done in a oner" (one pitch). Fairhead is a great example of this as many routes now go in 1 50-60 metre pitch.
EeeByGum - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to cyberpunk:
> Nowadays at larger cliffs you often hear "that can be done in a oner"

Agreed, but sadly, that doesn't stop the very slowest parties from doing 60m routes in 4 pitches over several hours. :-(
Jamie B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

> sadly that doesn't stop the very slowest parties from doing 60m routes in 4 pitches over several hours.

Often because the guidebook has told them to! It took me a while to overcome the tyranny of the guidebook and discover the joy of running things together...


Jamie B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

As someone who extends everything and doesn't even like stubby "sport-draws" on trad routes, I find the idea of using two snaplinks as an extension horrendous. It just sounds like a recipe for lifting gear and major rope-drag. And doesn't metal on metal amplify shock-loading? Sometimes the greater simplicity of past methods can look quite appealing, but with quickdraws/extenders I'm happy to embrace the modern!

So just out of interest, when did QDs start to appear?
Calder - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Fredt:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>

> I still wonder if it was step in the right direction, because I seem to carry a lot more gear nowadays. Back then you'd have a dozen peices of pro on your harness, albeit dangling and clanking around your knees, but no quickdraws, which have seemed to double what you carry. 2 to 3 times more krabs required!

I bet your rack now weighs about the same as your old rack though, no?
deepstar - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>
>
>
> So just out of interest, when did QDs start to appear?

I can remember when were first able to buy tape(which we had to Knot)the late Bob Blessley using slings with two krabs on routes like Mikes Mistake at Avon Gorge to negate the rope drag on the pegs below the overhangs.This was in the early 70`s and we all thought it was a natty idea.
GridNorth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: It wasn't just the gear that was primitive back then, communication was also rather lacking and there were not too many climbing shops around. I know that there were alloy nuts on slings knocking about in the 60's but I never saw any for sale. I found a simple sticht plate in the Dolomites part way up a route in 1967 and brought it home. It was a just a 1/4 thick piece of rectangular alloy with 2 slots cut in it. We didn't know what it was for until several years later. Overall I think it's better now mainly because it's safer but I do sometimes miss the days when route descriptions were passed around literally on the backs of fag packets,the reputations and "real" difficulty of routes was by word of mouth and you did not need to pay out much money to get started. I began with a 100 foot nylon hawser laid rope, a couple of slings and perhaps 2 or 3 Ex WD steel krabs.
deepstar - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs: Were the big boots in the Sweden shot Hawkins "Scaffell"? I had a pair of them,really comfy!
Robert Durran - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> So just out of interest, when did QDs start to appear?

In the eighties we had quickdraws, but didn't call them that. They were "extenders" and we only used them whem we felt a runner needed extending (otherwise just clipping direct or with two krabs). I'm not sure when the term "quickdraw" started being used - possibly with the advent of the popularity of sport climbing?

a lakeland climber on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
>
> So just out of interest, when did QDs start to appear?

I think they started appearing around 1983 or so. I started climbing in 1980 and we used the double krab system - and were "surprised" when things lifted out!

When was Captain Tripps at Kilnsey first done? (just checked - 1980) I remember a photo in Crags magazine of Dave Knighton on the first ascent and he was using hand knotted slings larksfooted directly on to the wire, basically like a single-krab quickdraw. Didn't seem safe to me even back then.

So people were experimenting with various systems to extend wires but were somewhat limited by the weight of the kit back then.

ALC

Wiley Coyote - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:
When wires first come in we used them with a single krab and they often lifted out so someone thought of using two krabs for greater flexibility which reduced lift out. Then it was realised that two krabs together could twist and unfasten themselves so we added a loop of tape (which as someone has said, we bought off the reel and knotted lourselves). Some people learned the hard way that you could not save the cost of a krab by larksfooting the onto the wire. Then along came pre-sewn quickdraws, which IIRC correctly we called go fasters for some reason.
It's all just about refining the kit and the way of using it.
Rog Wilko on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: I think it was about 1969/70 when I saw my first sticht plate. It was (if memory serves) one of those with a spring at the back to stop the rope jamming up in normal use. Have I seen a return of these to the shops recently? For a while I only had about 6 crabs and thought I was well equipped. Tape was off the reel so maybe that plus our our impecuniary state explains the crab to crab clipping. A lot of crabs were ex-WD so their quality was unknown. No doubt two clipped together could easily break or bend in a fall, but we just didn't give it much thought. I think that because we were already taking what today would be seen as unacceptable risks that these extra risks, well, we didn't have safety at the front of our minds.
As for purpose-made chocks etc, rather than old engineering nuts slung on tape, my first was the admirable Moac (for which I believe there is a placement on every route!) on a piece of 9mm kernmantel (threading that through when you bought it took about half an hour of persistence I seem to recall). I then acquired a smaller version which was threaded by some very stiff and heavy wire. I kept it on my harness with a dedicated crab, no quick draws in my life then. It usually pinged out before you reached the top of the route. I also recall a thin wire going through a piece of hex section brass, about 4mm diameter, which never went in anywhere.
Looking back, this was very scarey, and explained my lack of ambition at the time (I had a wife and daughter), but the up side of it was you could reach the crag without high altitude porters.
Wiley Coyote - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:
The real mystery is why it took so long to invent a commercial lightweight nut key. I lost two or three expensive (I only had a paper round to fund my cragging) nuts before I started carrying an old peg as a 'broggler' but even so the blade always seemed to be too fat to get into narrow cracks when the nuts got stuck.
ads.ukclimbing.com
The Ex-Engineer - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:
> Hardly any gear extended with quickdraws.

I do think that on average, modern UK climbers probably carry too many quickdraws. I've also been thinking about this in the context of having a really lightweight rack for scrambles, easy mountain routes and potentially easier winter climbs.

Later this season, on some easy climbs I intend to experiment with a rack having larger nuts on spectra cord (as opposed to wire) and ditching all the quickdraws. I think it will work fine, but until I've used it, I won't be able to really tell.

Even then, it is probably a moot point as the latest quickdraws on sale are now down to 45-47g each - http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Quickdraws-2/Quickdraws/Nineteen-G-Qui...
GridNorth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: You might find this of interest: http://needlesports.com/NeedleSports/nutsmuseum/nutsstory.htm

I think some of the dates are a little misleading. I started climbing in 1964 but I don't recall getting my hands on a MOAC until the late 60's. The first "proper" climbing shop I was aware of was Tanky Stokes in Sheffield.
In reply to deepstar:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs) Were the big boots in the Sweden shot Hawkins "Scaffell"? I had a pair of them,really comfy!

Not sure - it was quite a while ago!

Running it out above a tied-off peg in wet boots impresses me - I wouldn't do it now!

Chris
Andy Long - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
The "double krab" system was a hangover from the days when peg protection, usually left in on the first ascent, was much more common. A couple of krabs in series was simply the quickest and simplest way of clipping into a peg, which wasn't going to lift out. OK, so they can rotate come open, but we didn't know that and anyway were just glad to get something on. Also, steel krabs were more tolerant of abuse.
Incidentally, those old mild-steel pegs often lasted for years and years, being much more resistant to corrosion than chrome-molybdenum ones. Last year I did a summer route on the very esoteric Barrel Buttress of Quinag. The only sign of previous human presence was a peg placed by Patey himself in 1963. Apart from a thin patina of rust it looked as sound as the day it went in. It was one of those beautiful Simond angle-eye blades, the Rolls-Royce of mild steel pegs. Being a doctor he could afford the 5/6d apiece. Our schoolboy economics limited us to the 2/9d Cassin blades. Sorry to ramble on...
Richard Baynes - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
on some easy climbs I intend to experiment with a rack having larger nuts on spectra cord (as opposed to wire) and ditching all the quickdraws. I think it will work fine, but until I've used it, I won't be able to really tell.

It'll work. I still keep a few of nuts on rope - hexes and an old rock, and I'm pissed off that it's impossible to get more nuts for rope. I wrote to a mfctrer and they admitted it was all about elf and safety, punters could not be trusted to tie knots. Modern lightweight crabs are bringing the weight of extenders (this is their name; quickdraws is pretentious gunslinger cant!!) down but the overall size, bulk and weight of a rack seems much greater, even before you start on cams. Roped nuts with wiregate crabs are a pretty weight-economic combo; one of the other useful things about nuts on rope or tape is you can pull the sling through and use it as an extender/sling etc, with the nut itself not in play, so it's more versatile. Some of the modern quickdraws (OK, I give in...) are so short and stiff I think they are maybe losing the original purpose, to give a flexible link to the rope.
GridNorth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Richard Baynes:
> (In reply to The Ex-Engineer)
Some of the modern quickdraws (OK, I give in...) are so short and stiff I think they are maybe losing the original purpose, to give a flexible link to the rope.

I thought that they they were specifically designed for sport and not trad. I agree that it would be handy to be able to thread some of the larger nuts on cord. IMO there is something that just doesn't feel right about the larger Rocks on wire.
The Ex-Engineer - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Richard Baynes:
> I'm pissed off that it's impossible to get more nuts for rope.

I did seriously think about asking DMM whether they could supply Wallnuts 7-9 on 8mm dyneema tape, but decided that the cost (10+ each) and lack of demand would probably never make it feasible

However, I have acquired a decent selection of WC Rocks and the original DMM Wallnuts on 5.5mm cord (which will need replaced). I only plan to use a couple so if there is any particular size or sizes you are after, you are welcome to drop me an email.
johncoxmysteriously - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

You still get people using waist belays on sandstone. I remember the locals scaring the crap out of me by this method before lowering me off Moving Staircase into a bank of head-high nettles. I had the impression I wasn't the first visitor they'd caught that way.

jcm
ericinbristol - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Andy Long:

Not at all - keep it coming. Precious fragments of the history of the sport, great to read.
GridNorth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: There was a harness with leg loops available in the 60's, I think it was called the "Davek" or something like that, but it was an aid climbing harness and I don't know of anyone who considered using it for every day climbing.
tlm - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Richard Baynes:
> (In reply to The Ex-Engineer)
> on some easy climbs I intend to experiment with a rack having larger nuts on spectra cord (as opposed to wire) and ditching all the quickdraws. I think it will work fine, but until I've used it, I won't be able to really tell.


The only annoying thing about this is that it reduces how far you can reach to place the nuts as the spectra is so floppy. I used to always have them like this, but have now swapped them all to wire.
RichardMc - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)

> So just out of interest, when did QDs start to appear?

There is an article in the first edition of Rocksport (April 1968 - cover price 2 shillings from a man Ogwen car park) in which Derek Ellis describes how to make what he called hero loops out of 2 feet half-inch webbing. Their main use was for tying off pegs but he mentioned the idea of using them to reduce drag.



Fredt on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Richard Baynes)
> [...]
>
>
> The only annoying thing about this is that it reduces how far you can reach to place the nuts as the spectra is so floppy. I used to always have them like this, but have now swapped them all to wire.

Reach? If you place protection above your waist it's toproping!

LaMentalist on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

Interesting thread with even better replies . Would be interested to read whats the dodgiest or most suspect bit of gear that has held some of the old timers or most experienced climbers ( ;0) ) in a fall ?

Apologies for slight hijack Landy Dom , hope you don't mind ?
GridNorth - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom: I remember a picture in one of the mags showing a climber on a route on Cloggy, might have been Troach, with several slings over small nodules/spikes. The slings were held in place with sticky tape or something similar to stop them lifting.
Rob Parsons on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ... I'm not sure when the term "quickdraw" started being used - possibly with the advent of the popularity of sport climbing?

Correct.

And the name was specifically coined since you could have all the extenders *pre-clipped* to the live rope coming from your harness, with the 'bolt' ends clipped to the loops on your harness, and then just clip in fast - Wild West 'quickdraw' style - to each bolt when you reached it.

Great in theory - and also, often, practice - but scope for getting in a tangle if you got the clipping sequence wrong.
nniff - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Landy_Dom:

I habitually clip the rope first and then use the QD as a pulley when lifting the rope up to some geaar. I started doing that when I saw Ron do it in that film way back when.

Pairs of old D krabs were harder to twist open because of their shape and the strength of the gate. the newer Clog offset D has nice soft gates and the shape that we are familiar with now, and then people realised that they could open. That's when the blue hand tied 'tie-offs' appeared.

I bought my first petzl dog bone QDs in 1987 (turquoise with rainbow stitching) but i had a few short stitched slings before then - Wild Country. They became viable when WC introduced the bar tack stitching that we are familiar with now, which made short slings feasible. Stitched slings before that had joins that were about 9 inches long.
rgold - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to RichardMc:

Hero loops, both the objects and the name, originated in Yosemite, probably in the late fifties or early sixties, but quite it bit before 1968. We used to carry ten or so stuffed into our pockets for tying off aid pins. But tied-off pins were needed for free-climbing protection too, so folks started making up some hero loops from 9/16 inch tape, which was much more robust than the half-inch webbing used for aid hero loops. It was inevitable that those beefier loops would also end up being used to extend piton placements, but the quickdraw wasn't born until someone decided to carry the extenders pre-made rather than just having some webbing in your pockets and fiddling with each placement.

I first saw these pre-made quickdraws in Yosemite in 1970; I don't know how much earlier they were in use, but it is worth noting that this seems to be about ten years earlier than people here are saying quickdraws appeared in the UK, and their adoption predates both the use of nuts in the US and sport climbing. The term "quickdraw" was also coined by Yosemite climbers, and is a play on the same term as it applies to old West gunfighters.

As for chaining biners, many American climbers knew of Mark Powell's accident, in which chained carabiners unclipped, resulting in a long fall and badly shattered ankle, an injury that changed the course of Mark's career and has remained a serious problem for his entire life. For this reason, we didn't trust chained carabiners from the late fifties on, and always used some sort of sling as part of the extending mechanism.
Fredt on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to LaMentalist:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>
> Interesting thread with even better replies . Would be interested to read whats the dodgiest or most suspect bit of gear that has held some of the old timers or most experienced climbers ( ;0) ) in a fall ?
>

We were descending the Blaitiere in 1980, and got off route, and resorted to abseiling. I found myself dangling in the middle of a vertical blank wall, with only a vertical quarter inch crack. I hammered my last piton in but it would only go in about an inch or so. Had to use bootlace to tie it off, though it was proper 3mm cord. I clipped my last sling to the tie off and my harness and hung there.
My mate came down, and we clipped him to the peg too. Both hanging, nothing to stand on.
We pulled the ropes and threaded them through the krab on the tie-off, and he gingerly transferred to the ropes and continued down. I was screaaming at him not to bounce as I could see the peg, 6 inches from my face, moving in the crack, sand trickling out as it slowly sagged in the crack. Although I was hanging off it, I was trying to hold it in with both hands.


Boogs on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Fredt:

Bloody Nora Fred ! Just a little sketchy .
Carless - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Rob Parsons:

Seem to remember there was a harness called the Gunslinger which had 2 (or 4) velcro tabs for quickdraws so you could be really quick on the draw
Rob Parsons on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Carless:

> Seem to remember there was a harness called the Gunslinger which had 2 (or 4) velcro tabs for quickdraws so you could be really quick on the draw

Yes, exactly! Wild Country made it.
paul__in_sheffield - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>
> What surprised me was Chris Gibb belaying Ron with a waist belay on Lord. I thought sticht plates were pretty much universal by the late 70s

I asked Ron about this the other day. He said from what he could remember neither he nor Chris Gibb had a sticht plate, didn't think of using one for the film. Impressive thing is that Ron reckons he led the route 16-18 times to get all the shots for the film.

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