/ 'Big wall' on a shoestring

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NottsRich on 29 Apr 2013
The idea of big wall climbing is becoming more appealing to me, as is doing routes (or new routes) in faraway places. Now when I say 'big wall' I mean big for me, and by 'routes' I don't mean anything at all hard because I won't be able to climb them.

I'm getting a bit of practise with aid climbing for the odd tricky spot and am happy to retreat without shame when it all gets a little hard.

What got me thinking about this is an idea I've got for a climbing trip to a remote but warm place and the idea of hiking in for a few days, just chilling and climbing short (2-5 pitch) routes and coming back to camp, and just enjoying life, a few beers, and a complete lack of people other than those I'm climbing with. As a part of that I'd love to do a longer route or two that need a bivvy on the wall. These probably won't be longer because they're big, but longer because I'm slow. Perhaps limited to 1 night on the wall at first...

Because it's a budget trip (what isn't?), I was thinking about all the problems like expensive portaledges, so I started thinking about ways around it. The obvious solution was to use a hammock. The weather will be fine, I'm used to sleeping in a hammock, sometimes in a sleeping bag, so what can go wrong? Has anyone had any experience of sleeping in a hammock on a wall? Any particular tips? Any reasons to avoid it completely? I can imagine being squashed against the wall but I haven't though of a way around that one yet. Are there cheap alternatives to hammocks that have been used reasonably succesfully?

And while I'm at it, can anyone think back to their first 'big wall' trip, back before you knew what you were doing? What did you manage to do on the cheap and make do with? Any tips that you wish you had known beforehand? I want this to be an adventure, but equally don't want to go into it completely blind! Things like "don't try to cook in a hammock" are very valid pointers that I would appreciate learning beforehand! I look forward to your stories of woe and lessons hard learned, so that I'll probably go and make the same mistakes and then kick myself for not remembering what I was told on UKC!
GrahamD - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:

I'm not sure you really thought this through - hiking in for a few days is not generally compatible with chilling out with a few beers !
NottsRich on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to GrahamD: It's just an idea, plenty of room for improvement. Whisky! There ya go, easy! Or a boat. Hmmmm.....
Bulls Crack - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:

Think you'll need a proper rope though....
IPPurewater on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: Hammocks were used in Yosemite on a lot of the earlier big wall routes.

Cooking- you need some sort of hanging kit for the stove.
Here is an example: http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/heat-it-classic-p153690
but I'm sure you could improvise something.
martinph78 on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack: Or maybe bootlaces. Don't know if you'd clip them as twins or halves though?

:)


I'm sure it can be done on a budget. Good luck, and be sure to keep a blog!
Ian Parsons - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to NottsRich)
>
> I'm not sure you really thought this through - hiking in for a few days is not generally compatible with chilling out with a few beers !

Hah! Misread that; thought the OP said "bears".
Ian Parsons - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
<I can imagine being squashed against the wall but I haven't though of a way around that one yet.>

Spreader bars. Or a route with its own ledge.
The Ex-Engineer - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: I don't think you have quite got your head around what big wall climbing is all about. It is all about blood, sweat and tears. It is tedious, exhausting, painful and scary. You resort to 'big wall' techniques through absolute necessity not through any sort of choice.

Trying to climbing anything other than genuine 'big walls' in a multi-day style is just utter pointless and self-defeating.

If you want a fun, chilled out adventure what you probably want is some classic alpine or mountain rock climbing. There are loads of places in the UK, Alps, Norway etc. where you can camp in beautiful remote locations in the middle of the mountains right next to stunning climbing.
jimtitt - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to NottsRich)
>
> I'm not sure you really thought this through - hiking in for a few days is not generally compatible with chilling out with a few beers !

Carrying a few beers is nothing compared with the rest of of the gear.Hiking isnīt the word Iīd use either in association with a big-wall rack.
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: With respect, I think it is you who hasn't got your head around what I'm wanting to do. Maybe I didn't explain it particularly well, sorry. Maybe what I want to do is utterly pointless and self-defeating for you, but to me it's something new that I haven't done before and want to try. If you have to climb 'genuine big walls' to get that same feeling then that's great for you, well done. I'm happy to try smaller 'big walls' with a few beers and enjoy the location for now thanks.

By 'big wall' I mean a little wall. I want to sleep, possibly in a hammock or on a ledge, 3 or 4 pitches up a cliff, in a beautiful area, waking up to the view. I'm not trying to accomplish a 20 pitch route, I'm trying to do something that I haven't done before.
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to jimtitt: Hi, thanks for that. I certainly wouldn't be taking what normally constitutes a big wall rack. Probably more combining a few normal trad racks with a few hooks and daisy chains just in case.

But I quite like the idea of rowing a boat over a fjord to somewhere relatively inaccesible by foot. That way, kit and beer can be taken easily!

Hammocks in the trees, 2 (short) days climbing, back in time for some fishing and a BBQ (and no bears), then back in the boat and off to somewhere else. Chilled, fun, not scary and whatever else it's apparently meant to be.

http://www.shltrip.com/sitebuilder/images/6s_fjord_cliff_Quebec_Trip_2011_656-984x747.jpg


(Just an example, and probably bigger than I'm looking for at the moment!)
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Ian Parsons: Spreader bars are a good idea, I'll have a think about that. Thanks. And hopefully no bears! Can bears climb rock?
Baron Weasel - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Baron Weasel: Lots of good info on Supertopo.com - go to forum and latest articles.

What about the main overhang at Kilnsey (C2) for your vertical camping trip?

Check the picture at the bottom of this thread for idea's about sleeping in a hammock :-)

http://forum.slackline.com/archive/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1382&postday...

BW
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Baron Weasel: Excellent! A tensioned rope with prussics to hang the hammock off. Perfectly adjustable. Good idea!
Baron Weasel - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: There's some thing about sleeping in a hammock on the N face of the Eiger in the Boardman Tasker omnibus (I think it is in the Savage Arena book by Joe Tasker) which could be worth a read too.

BW
Ian Parsons - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:

Last time I checked (two or three years ago) the only commercially available climbers' hammock I could find was Pika's Parasite model. Can't seem to find Pika anymore - at least not as a portaledge/hammock manufacturer - so maybe they no longer exist.

You may want to check this site for their Bat Hammock:

http://www.mosquitohammock.com

When thinking of ways to pitch a hammock on a route - especially if you're considering using one that isn't designed specifically for climbing use - a good start would be to imagine doing it on any of the various belay stances you've occupied recently; because that's what a hammock/portaledge bivvy site normally is - a less-than-accomodating belay stance when night sets in. If you were using a two point suspension hammock would there have been suitable horizontally-spaced anchor points, probably 8 to 10 feet part, to rig from? And, on a confined stance, could you have actually reached them? You certainly don't want to find yourself trying to rig something complicated on unknown ground - a tensioned rope out in space, for instance - when it's getting dark!
The Ex-Engineer - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: I think this is more an issue of a confusion over terminology rather than anything else.

What you are describing, is sounding to me more and more like a 'lite' version of summer alpine mountaineering rather than a 'lite' version of big wall climbing.

There are plenty of alpine rock routes where it is common to bivvy on the summit or high on the route, before then descending the next day. Routes like the North Face of the Petite Dru, or the South Face of La Meije come to mind and there is no reason why the same lightweight bivvy approach would not work well on smaller objectives. However, that would have nothing much to with 'big wall' climbing in terms of ethos, approach nor equipment.

As I tried to suggest previously, I think you would be better off thinking about this in terms of established alpine and mountain rock climbing venues. You can then subsequently narrow things down to consider quality routes with good bivvy spots near the top.
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
All, thanks for your suggestions, particularly the Eiger hammock reading.



In reply to The Ex-Engineer: I'm really not after a ridge route with a bivvy, but thanks for the suggestions anyway. I am looking for a (near) vertical 'face' with a hanging bivvy halfway up it, by choice rather than necessity. Imagine Millstone if you've ever been there. Climb up halfway, haul you second and kit up, have a few beers in your hammocks (or whatever) and sleep, and the next day climb to the top and walk out. Now take that to something that is 5/6 pitches high rather than 1, preferably with a view somewhere amazing, away from people, and next to a loch/fjord as well. I don't disagree that something like that might exist in the Alps, but I'm looking to get away from areas like that (huge generalisation I know) and away to some places I've not been before. Sorry if my terminology has confused you and others - I tried to make it clear at the start that this was just a case of 'having a go' and by 'big wall' I did not mean big by any stretch of the imagination.
Bob_the_Builder - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:

You're in luck!

"Yes bears can climb rocks. Blacks are better climbers than brown bears. I'm assuming you saw a brown bear?

I have seen black bears climb in some very impressive places. I also once watched a black bear do this incredible mantel over a snow cornice. I guess his built in crampons did the job!"

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=392122

I'd be well up for some "Little walling" in California this autumn. Lots of good, longer multipitch in the Sierras that would probably be an ideal candidate. Like usual, it would be two fools with no idea what we're doing. It's worked well so far!
Sankey - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: So basically you are after a 5-6 pitch climb, somewhere nice? I don't think you will be too short of options! Maybe providing some preference for country/region etc. will generate some replies, or just search for highly stared routes on the UKC database...

Have fun.
GrahamD - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Sankey:

The country choice rather determines how much of a shoestring !
The Ex-Engineer - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: Good luck in trying to find somewhere that meets all your criteria.

I am just struggling to think of anywhere remote that isn't either a multi-pitch sport climbing venue, an established alpine/mountain climbing area with routes where hauling etc. wouldn't really be ideal or is one that has much longer grade V big walls.
NottsRich on 30 Apr 2013
This wasn't meant to be about asking for recommendations of places to go - I've got a few in mind already. It was asking for lessons learned the hard way when you first had a go a bivvying on a wall, back when you didn't know what you were doing.

Some good info about hammocks so far - thanks.
Babika - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
Spreader bars?

Have we gone off topic?

What sort of trip are you planning???

Baron Weasel - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to NottsRich: Check out this stuff Rich if you haven't already - best info out there!

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/forum_articles.php

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzqr1zm1QHc

Make sure any bags you haul can take the abuse, especially on lower angle stuff - I have holed more than one bag dragging it up a pitch!

BW

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