Does such a thing exist?
We've all heard of the crucial wires, tri-cams, sky-hooks, RPs, threads, etc. that are the only thing potentially keeping you off the ground off the crux. Can anyone think of a route where you'd be venturing into dangerous territory without your trusty yellow hex?
And old boys, I'm not talking about a crack where a cam will suffice. Yes, I know that hexes work much better in joggly polished limestone cracks. Yes I know that's all you had back in the day and made it work. I generally always carry green, red and yellow but I climb a modest grade and it's rare that you see people carrying them into the mid->high extremes.
Hex haters gonna hate. Convince me I shouldn't carry them.
The Hex rules.
Nothing like a hex for beating the end of your nutkey with for that terminally jammed nut
On which basis always ditch them low on a pitch for your second to carry....
> ... your trusty yellow hex?
> ... I generally always carry green, red and yellow ...
I have no idea what the colours you're referring to mean. What size hexes (indeed - what brand hexes) are you referring to?
To your initial question: yes - there will be a 'crozzly pocket' somewhere which needs a particular size hex.
I want specifics!
I use WC hexes but those colours cover a similar range with DMM's torque nuts.
I can think of a few routes in Avon/Wye where they are very advantageous to have, but crucial? I'm not so sure.
A hex 11 is a lot cheaper than a Friend 5.
Hexes are indispensable*
*For weighing down nuts and stopping them pulling out, the bigger the better!
> Does such a thing exist?
And I'll stick with that opinion till someone actually provides an example.
In terms of carrying them, I would say it depends on what you want to do. If you want to push your grade then drop them. If you want to enjoy nice classics with easy climbing and lots of gear, keep them and enjoy placing them.
> Does such a thing exist?
I believe Diet of Worms (Curbar) was first done with two hexes stacked against each other in the break. No big cams back then.
A small one was touted as necessary for Souls in Huntsman's Leap. I suspect the placement is now either gone or blocked with the rotting remains of a stuck hex. I've not been on it.
Hexes will always have their place in winter climbing. In summer, I cannot come up with a single instance where I have placed a hex but a cam would not also have worked. When conditions allow it, cams are simply more flexible and convenient.
Now, small to middle tricams, that is an entirely different story. Their are plenty of small, fiddly holes that will not take a cam or hold a nut, but offer bomber protection with a pink or smaller tricam!
> there will be a 'crozzly pocket' somewhere which needs a particular size hex.
There was a well known one on Lord of the Flies. I know this not because I have ever set foot on Lord of the Flies, but because Johnny Dawes & Andy Pollitt "borrowed" a specific one of my hexes when they went up to do it. I don't recall ever getting it back.
That was then - early/mid 80s - when rigid stem Friends in half sizes were the latest hot thing in camming protection. I assume there's probably a cam that fits that placement perfectly now.
The logbook comment for this route: https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/gogarth_south_stack-612/helmet_boiler-4382 states that a hex is "helpful". Although not the same as 'essential', routes graded E5 5c usually have a dearth of gear, so I imagine that helpful becomes pretty desirable!
That sounds monstrous.
Useful (not essential) for Scoop Face at Castle Naze
I find hexes go in well at Pembroke.
Once did an E2, at Symonds Yat, that had a pocket, 10ft above my last bit of gear, that would only take a hex inserted horizontally and then turned through 90 degrees to lock it in. It was another 20ft of gearless dirty rock to the top. Possible deck out with out it.
I climb with someone, occasionally, who prefers hexes to cams in gritstone breaks (he climbed about E5)
Smaller hexes are lighter than the Rocks/Wallnuts of the same size and certainly lighter than Cams at a given size.
On ceratin types of pocketed limestone the small hexes on cord (1-3) are invaluable as you can push them to the back of the pocket (edge on) and then rotate them through 90 degrees and pulling forward to create a bomber placement (this cannot be achieved with wires or wired hexes). I seem to remember some such placements on High Tor for Supersonic / Tales of Yankee Power and they can be found all over crags like Beeston Tor and Rienstor, so when nothing else will fit ....
There are plenty of routes at Swanage where you just know a cam will just walk or lift in a big rattly crack but a hex is solid.
I don't carry hexes that often but when I do I think there is a good reason.
What's a Hex?
> Does such a thing exist?
Sometimes, in practice. If you knew you were going to do a route mostly consisting of a wide, parallel crack, with little else in the way of gear placements, you might decide to take a couple of larger hexes as well as cams.
Scoop Face was also one that sprang to my mind. I think one of the older guides, maybe On Peak Rock, specifcally mentioned to take a hex for the slot?
I have my hexs on wire rather than rope/cord and just treat them like big nuts. I still only every use the smallest few in summer.
In winter i take the full set and regularly hammer them in too!
Re: Souls in Huntsman's Leap, Pembroke.
You suspect wrong.
The hex 3(?) placement is neither blocked nor blown. Some of the old fixed gear lower down is what makes this route less popular these days.
Incidentally, a Camp tricam nut 0.25 (black) also fits...
West Wing (E2 5c) in Cornwall has two horns that stick out on the crux with an open ended crack that forms between them. Everyone that led it from our climbing club swore by a bomber hex that sits perfectly in a little divot in the middle of it. Perhaps not "crucial" to prevent decking etc but definitely makes the exposed moves feel a lot safer!
https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=269672 Image here of someone lobbing it in
Good to know. It sounds even less appealing now though!
I carry a few hexes just for those routes where you know the corresponding size cam will be essential further up.
These routes are becoming rarer as my climbing buddies and I get richer and buy more cams.
> West Wing (E2 5c) in Cornwall has two horns that stick out on the crux with an open ended crack that forms between them. Everyone that led it from our climbing club swore by a bomber hex that sits perfectly in a little divot in the middle of it. Perhaps not "crucial" to prevent decking etc but definitely makes the exposed moves feel a lot safer!
I remember that well, doing the route onsight with no beta; luckily, I happened to have a couple of larger hexes with me
By the way, it still mystifies me that WW gets E2 but South Groove only E1.
A small hex on the left wall before the crux. Maybe a micro cam would work nowadays, but that was regarded as crucial in the 90s.
Back when I used to climb a little bit, I strung the first two pitches of Direct Route (VS 5b) together, running it out in the grove before the bay belay at the top of the second pitch I struggled to slot a hex in. It went in eventually. Bomber. I then got lowered back to the ground off it having run out of courage.
That is one of the greatest climbing pics I have ever seen...
You're clearly not a winter climber.
I should have been more specific. Obviously hexes>cams in verglassed cracks. I'm talking summer rock.
That gear-throw on West Wing looks very optimistic!
Pretty much any climb at Ilkley these days. Crucial for beating the the assembled ner do wells
Any route with aggressive birds, fulmars, gulls, etc etc.
Is there not some flared crack at Brimham that only takes hexes?
I also think that a hex on the roof of the sloth is considered to be in the spirit of the route, rather than a brash cam stabbed into its heart.
I'm in the same camp at swanage as Graham. A good large hex at swanage is a thing of beauty when the rest of the face around you is a crumbling rattly affair.
Lets face it, hexes are safer than cams when the rock is fragile.
> On ceratin types of pocketed limestone
Sounds hairy, and hard as nails.
Cams are shit.
I seconded my mate up an Almscliffe route once and kept finding the odd bit of metal work, one of his cams had fallen to bits. That would never happen with a hex.
Now a well placed MOAC, I'd happily take a fall factor 2 on 😄
I can think of an E46a which has a handy hex placement. The roof crack flares inwards so a cam would just walk around in there (and out). I think every bit of gear has it's place. Hex's must be one of the most versatile bits of gear going, I can think of at least 8 different placement modes and have bounce tested a variety of the stacks. Their sheer weight gives them a number of uses including as a hammer, for weighing down dubious pieces as an anti-avian weapon apparently! I've used them for make-shift extenders on occasion and for a rescue scenario when they pulled a pully attached to an inverted jumar down the rope to the 2nd to improve the efficiency of a haul (unconscious beer barrel casualty ) , I think in the same way as with tricams, most of the haters have maybe just simply never really used them. Granted they still often get ditched, especially 11 but then so do the large cams and tricams.
The pocket on The Shelf at Crookrise takes an 11 hex turned sideways.
It was a pity I didn’t know this on my first attempt as I might not have ended up with 2 ground falls. One on to the terrace then a bounce on to ground below.
> In summer, I cannot come up with a single instance where I have placed a hex but a cam would not also have worked.
The obvious cases are cracks which flare inwards.
That seems plausible, but I only claimed that this has not happened to me in my climbing career. That said, most inward flaring cracks I can think of having used for pro were in Elbe sandstone, where cams and hexes are both banned.
However, chucking large monkey's fist knots into the top of such cracks, sometimes from a couple of meters away, is standard practise.
I seem to remember Robbie Phillips inserting quite a few in his bridge crack roof
Any pinch points in fact, plus certain weird pockets. I always carry a hex or two on big routes. On limestone trad they are arguably better than cams. The extended throw for out of reach placements and the nut key basher are also common uses. I use old hexs with cord threads for maximum flexibility.
Yeah there's something so simple about a good hex placement. My monkey brain in all states of fear trusts that that big chunk of metal will clearly never fit through that constriction. Cams with their complexity and moving parts make more sense to the conscious thinking brain but sometimes that more primitive part is more skeptical. I guess a lot of our gear is the same, like we learn to trust our ropes and systems and have to convince our more primitive brains that we won't just simply fall to the ground. Maybe that's just my monkey brain though! Sure we can train all these things.
> Hexes are indispensable*
> *For weighing down nuts and stopping them pulling out, the bigger the better!
I read that this morning and put it to good use a couple of hours later! Thanks - turned what could have been a bit of a run out into some protection (if only psychological).
Is this the piece mid way though the runout after a horizontal break of small wires and before the upper flake?
On Don't Get Fooled Again Don't Get Fooled Again (E2 5c) there is a placement that protects the first hard move. It takes a yellow or red hex or cam but the crack is so smooth that the cams don't inspire confidence. I used modern hex (I think I a red one to leave more space for a handjam) and it felt bombproof.
Literally every hard winter route!
The only reliable piece of gear on the crux pitch of Helmet Boiler (Mousetrap Zawn) is a red hex. Aside from that its just slings on blunt chunks of quartz embedded in mud. A cam would fit but be far more likely to blow the placement.
Apologies if I've spoiled anyone's treasured on sight of this major North Wales classic
This was my first thought! Much easier to trundle a hex along a crack than to do the same with a cam.
> This was my first thought! Much easier to trundle a hex along a crack than to do the same with a cam.
Watching the video Robbie explained how the bridge crack only took hexes well, cams walked and tipped out because of the taper.
To the O P. On Hadrian's wall, E4, on Hard Knott crag ( missed off ukc database ) the only gear to fit in the first 8 metre is a hex 6 sideways or the modern equivalent. Too flared for any cam. Situations like this are usually mentioned in the guidebook text.
I think hexes often work better than cams whenever you're dealing with cracks that are:
- really dirty, wet or icy
- wider at the back than the front
- really uneven (e.g.crozzly limestone)
- very shallow
- in poor-quality rock
But, cams are much faster to place, being less fiddly and more likely to fit first time; much easier to remove; usually absolutely bomber, even in limestone. And, just like hexes, they can be keyholed into placements - in fact, this is normally even easier than with a hex, since you can actually retract the lobes. Climbing on Lakeland rock and limestone in the NW of England, I've stopped carrying hexes and I've never missed them. I might take a couple if I end up visiting some limestone or chossy sea cliffs.
I'm a big fan of the pink tricam, though! Very versatile, racks with my bigger nuts, and I've found some vital placements that were unprotectable with nuts or cams (e.g. a limestone pocket) - e.g. Izzy the Push at Trowbarrow. Having taken a few whips onto it, it's now got a place in my heart.
There's a conglomerate route near me that relies on a hex. Wide sandstone crack with stones protruding out of it everywhere. Wouldn't dare use a cam for fear of it blowing with the pebbles.
Sounds about right. Placed to the left, about halfway up the "run-out" flakes. (I don't recall the horizontal break but my memory is pretty terrible.)
Incidentally, I though it was a hex 2 (like John A in the second link; but wrote hex 3 because of Gary's comment in first link [hadn't seen John's comment at that point]).
In any case, a (black) Camp tricam nut 0.25 fits too.
I disagree that cams are normally absolutely bomber and that they are significantly faster to place than a hex on limestone. They can approach that with experience but too many climbers I see don't place cams correctly (and you can't rush that on limestone) and don't extend them enough when required (so they can walk to a bad placement) . When a badly angled cam rotates to the direction of the shock load of a fall they can move to a less ideal placement and sometimes even skid; this is much less of an issue on parallel sided sandstones, granite or volcanics
Routes like Organ Grinder (HVS 5a) would be an absolute horror show without hexes. Placing gear under extreme duress with a properly joggly crack. I can't imagine trying to get a good cam in cracks like that. A hex you can just throw in and it'll find it's bomber spot.
I was secretly hoping there would be a route or two in the upper extremes where a hex is vital but it seems there aren't too many examples!
> I was secretly hoping there would be a route or two in the upper extremes where a hex is vital but it seems there aren't too many examples!
I'm not sure but I thinkDeath Wish (E7 6b) has an in-situ hex. The book describes it as a poor hammered nut. Needless to say, I haven't eyeballed it.
> I disagree that cams are normally absolutely bomber and that they are significantly faster to place than a hex on limestone. They can approach that with experience but too many climbers I see don't place cams correctly (and you can't rush that on limestone) and don't extend them enough when required (so they can walk to a bad placement) . When a badly angled cam rotates to the direction of the shock load of a fall they can move to a less ideal placement and sometimes even skid; this is much less of an issue on parallel sided sandstones, granite or volcanics
Well... Let me qualify my statement then: cams are normally absolutely bomber and significantly faster to place than hexes... if you know how to place them.
No heavier than a cam and at the time the only option. The small hexes on rope are great for protecting cracks.
Couldn’t agree more. It was just that I remembered Sacre Couer as being Rocks 1 and 2 nearly all the way up.
Whether cams are quicker to place than hexes is entirely dependent on the placement.
> Whether cams are quicker to place than hexes is entirely dependent on the placement.
I don't think so, actually: perhaps a little dependent, but a long way from being entirely dependent, unless you only climb choss.
Rock doesn't have to be chess to be just much more amenable to quick hex placements. Any number of limestone crags fit the bill.
Horses for courses, isn't it ? Hexes and cams just have different strengths and weaknesses. I will concede that cams are the more versatile, but they don't replace hexes.
Just given a like to your last post.
I like carrying both rockcentrics and cams.
Despite their usefullness , I doubt I would carry the hexes if I had to have them clanking because of the similar length tapes or wires. I can only cope because I have reslung them on varying lengths of dynema and carry the four middle sizes on one krab.
> Routes like Organ Grinder (HVS 5a) would be an absolute horror show without hexes.
Organ Grinder is a gear-fest. There are numerous good placements for both larger cams and hexes (plus one or two good smaller wires in cracks in the right wall if you want them). FWIW I've led that route 8 times over the years: for about half those ascents I had hexes with me, and for half I used cams. Always been fine both ways.
If you get so gripped and pumped that all you can do is vaguely lob a hex at the crack and hope for the best, well .......
> No heavier than a cam and at the time the only option. The small hexes on rope are great for protecting cracks.
I always carry 2,3,4,and 5 on rope.They're light,quick to place and very versatile especially in the granite here Cornwall and if I can remember back that far, in limestone cracks and pegged out grit.
I always get annoyed when I hear people say Hargreaves Original on Black Slab was much harder, nigh on unprotectable, before cams.
Bollox, you could get at least 3 big hex placements on the horizontal breaks, which were bomber.
Just before the hard move on Javlin Blade - Idwal Slabs there is a crucial sideways hex placement that saves you from a potetial 40ft lob.
There is an art to placing hexes in slightly flaring breaks and care required to ensure they don't fall out if flicked by the rope. You can also place a just oversized nut pointing inwards at the top with the wire bent back at the top (the same trick was used to protect shot holes pre tricams and narrow head cams..... but it tends to damage the wire if you fall on them). I've also tied a knot in a hex cord loop and used that as a runner placement (Czech sandstone style).
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