UKC

/ Adventures with Gumbies?

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.
Paul Sagar - on 11 Jan 2019

Usually picking up random partners in climbing locations is fine, but I recently had a bad experience that came from the person I was climbing with either being very dishonest, or very deluded, about their climbing ability.

details in my logbook entry, here 

Estrella Polar (6b)

I’m just wondering what other adventures with gumbies people have experienced? 

 

Post edited at 08:31
1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

It's not clear from the comments that he lied about climbing 6c. I remember onsighting 6c years ago when I was a pretty poor overall climber. It was soft, it suited me and I got lucky. I could still easily fail on a single pitch 6a.

Maybe worth doing some single pitch climbing first would be a good idea?

Paul Sagar - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Yes, not clear it was an outright lie, as opposed to over optimism and general lack of experience combining to bite off more than could be chewed. (Then again, I’m talking about somebody who couldn’t even make single moves on a 6b, and looked like they’d never climbed before - a regular 6a climber should be able to dog a 6b on top rope even if it takes a lot of rests. This guy wasn’t even able to do that - so 6c seems spectacularly unlikely. Also he claimed to have been climbing since he was 15 (so circa 10 years) which again seems unbelievable given his inability to even attempt the moves.)

And definitely my own over-enthusiasm to get on the climb played a role in creating the situation. I won’t attempt a MP with somebody i’ve not seen climb before, that’s for sure. 

Post edited at 09:01
Mick Ward - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

With time, you tend to develop a radar for people's judgement/abilities. Any doubts, best to test them out first. (And, of course, exactly the same applies for them!)  In any case, the first few pitches will tell their own story. Always best to have a better Plan B than this country has at the moment. IIADB - If In Any Doubt - Bail!  Retreat skills (even down climbing) are useful ones to have.

Mick

P.S. I've climbed with lots of people from UKC and no-one has ever lied about their ability. Some have been perhaps a little 'enthusiastic' but that's hardly a crime. If need be, you adjust your plans for the day and still have a great day out. No harm done.

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> a regular 6a climber should be able to dog a 6b

I't s not always that simple. I've been there before, more than once.

Grades can be very subjective, and specific moves even more so.

ianstevens - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Why don't you name them? As long as you stick to the truth it could help others who may end up in a similar scenario with the same person.

AlanLittle - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> And definitely my own over-enthusiasm to get on the climb played a role in creating the situation. I won’t attempt a MP with somebody i’ve not seen climb before, that’s for sure. 

Well yes, you certainly were rolling the dice deciding to go on a committing multipitch with somebody you didn't know.

Personally I've had nothing but good experiences climbing with random strangers - including a few I've met from these forums - but I'm awlays careful about what I start off on.

Jon Stewart - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

> Well yes, you certainly were rolling the dice deciding to go on a committing multipitch with somebody you didn't know.

I've taken many larger risks climbing with strangers and have never had a bad experience with it.

First time I climbed The Moon was with a UKC random - he was the better climber, so it was him that was taking the risk, with it being one of my first E3s. Abbing into Yellow Wall with someone you've never climbed with, for a super-classic serious multipitch route at your top of your grade is quite an intense experience.

Not reckless though. I met up with the guy, we had a cup of tea and a chat before we set off, which had the subtext of an interview I suppose, and it was pretty clear what each of us were about: we'd be alright down Yellow Wall. I don't think a bullshitter would have made it through the chat to proceed with the abseil in - one of us would have got the feeling something was amiss and decided to do a different route.

I've heard a few stories about sea cliff adventures going awry because the random partner turns out to be clueless, but it's never happened to me. But I think UK sea cliffs provide a bit of a muppet filter, which Spanish bolts probably do not.

Alex Riley on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I had a random partner arrive at the bottom of the Castell Helen abseil who left the rack at the top having agreed that he would bring it down. Fortunately we had one set of nuts, a handful of slings and a fair few grades in hand on lighthouse arete.

Post edited at 10:32
springfall2008 - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> a regular 6a climber should be able to dog a 6b on top rope even if it takes a lot of rests.

Not always, sometimes there is a move you just can't do as it's above your technical grade.

 

 

Jon Stewart - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

> I had a random partner arrive at the bottom of the Castell Helen abseil who left the rack at the top having agreed that he would bring it down. Fortunately we had one set of nuts, a handful of slings and a fair few grades in hand on lighthouse arete.

I've done at least a couple of sea cliff routes on just one half rope. As it happens, when it was me that forgot the rope, I could scramble back up and get it. I might have pretended I was going for a shit.

Paul Sagar - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to springfall2008:

> Not always, sometimes there is a move you just can't do as it's above your technical grade.

On top rope? Surely not. Also I’m not talking about a technical slab or equivalent but getting your hands in buckets, your feet up a little way, and heaving. The guy wasn’t even trying to do anything like the necessary moves, just getting absolutely nowhere and pumping out on the holds he was starting on let alone making it to the next ones. I climbed with a few 6a climbers earlier in the week and without a doubt they could all dog these particular 6b moves if necessary. After all on a top rope you literally only have to make 2 moves and progress can be gained, and then a rest, and repeat. 

Offwidth - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

In my student club years (nearly 20), I introduced hundreds of beginners to trad climbing outdoors  I only met a few clear liars. One guy said he was at best a VS leader struggled to second a grade 2 scramble. Another who said he was a strong VS leader nearly killed himself leading an OK protectable Diff. The worst by far though was a guy who was pretty clueless and yet fancied himself as an instructur. We banned him pretty quickly from climbing with less experienced climbers in our club but he managed to pursuade a club member to climb with him. The poor victim had a stupid preventable accident and fractured his hip so badly he would never climb again. Later on after Uni someone else had a terrible accident under his instruction as well.

Like Jon, some of most memorable climbing days were with strangers, including my first true onsight HVS and most recently a great autumnal day at Agden with cragtyke, where fallen acorns on the path acting like skid inducers probably gave us the biggest concerns.

When trad climbing with beginners these days I always know the route and ensure I'd be happy soloing in case anything goes wrong. I wish more people would use this maxim given what I too often witness on multipitch mountain VDs. It's good you had the skills to get out of trouble in such tricky terrain:  mountain rescues because a leader lacked the skills to get their struggling inexperienced second out of trouble on below vertical rock is worrying.

Post edited at 11:16
bpmclimb on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

>  I've climbed with lots of people from UKC and no-one has ever lied about their ability. 

Same here, except once - I went climbing with someone "experienced", only to find that they didn't know how to belay a lead climber. My instinct had been to start with something relatively easy, but was persuaded - by his desire for bigger numbers and against my better judgement - to start with an E2. Despite my repeated cries of "slack, slack" I was being dragged backwards above every runner. Not a nice experience!

Mark Bannan - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Very interesting and honest logbook entry. 

I've not heard the term "gumby" before - I presume it is a random partner? What is the derivation of this term?

FWIW, I have almost always struck it lucky with UKC. Like others, I have taken bigger risks too! A brilliant Day out with Brendan on Central Gully Right-Hand 20 2011 still stands out particularly for me (cheers again Brendan - I'm sure we'll climb again!). The only bullshitter (who will remain anonymous) I climbed with was actually many years ago, long before I joined UKC. Luckily I got away with the situation (it was Agag's Groove and I had a grade in hand, so I was able to bail us out). I think the experience sharpened my radar to detect such liars - they are thankfully rare in climbing (as many folk have said, what is the point of lying about your grade - inconveniences others at best, could be fatal at worst!).

I have been a member of many clubs (Cairngorm Club at the moment who are very good), and I view UKC as a type of informal climbing "club" and a great one at that!

Post edited at 11:49
Mark Bannan - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I'm also interested for an explanation of the colourful term "Olive Branch"!

Simon Caldwell - on 11 Jan 2019
Francescaparratt - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Got a little frustrated when he overcammed two of my cams on the first 5.5 pitch leaving one completely jammed, but when he proceeded to take himself completely out of the system at the first belay, that was me completely done!

On a happy ending, managed to rescue the cam with a lot of huffing and puffing after bailing the route.

The conversation of cancelling our climbing plans for the next couple of days was a tad awkward though...

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Mark Bannan:

> I've not heard the term "gumby" before - I presume it is a random partner?

Tends to be used in the USA. Busy weekends at a popular crag in RRG are a good place to observe them in the wild.

https://www.climbing.com/people/crusty-corner-the-top-10-perma-gumby-behaviors-and-how-to-cure-them/

 

Alex Riley on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

The olive branch is a hostel in el chorro.

Mark Bannan - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

Cheers!

Mark Bannan - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Cheers also!

Mark Bannan - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Cheers again! I always appreciate a bit of Python!

barry donovan - on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I don’t get the do something lethally risky with a total stranger deal ? They say  “I know how to do this” - then you get 100 ft above them and have no idea what will occur if you peel off?  

Why don’t you get them to fix your brakes then test it driving at a brick wall ?  

Gumby is an insult by someone who has no idea about judging risk - the Gumby is the one on the pointy end while a total stranger is looking up from complete safety ? 

Who ends up in intensive care ?  what would you say to St Peter at the pearly gates  ? 

 

Pbob on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I once turned up at a big wall area without a partner. I contacted the local uni club who responded with "ask xxx, he's always looking for partners". The first climb was a straightforward 9 pitches. Very enjoyable. All good. The second climb was a two pitch sport route with a handful of bolts on each pitch. Xxx told me that he'd done the route before and that a single rope was adequate. We got to the bottom of the route (itself an exposed scramble) and got kitted up to climb. Something was nagging the back of my brain. I let xxx lead the first pitch, then pretty much bottled it. I called up that I wouldn't be seconding. It didn't take long to realise that there wasn't enough rope to lower him off. After tying him off I scrambled back to the car and came bsck with another rope. If I hadn't bailed out we could both have been left hanging on a belay two pitches up shouting for help.

There was no way he'd climbed the route before. I felt very stupid for letting myself be convinced that a single rope would be OK. I was pretty shaken by the experience and didn't climb again for 6 months. I'll never climb with someone again without a strong personal recommendation. Limiting yes, but better safe than sorry.

mountain.martin - on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Sounds worrying and definitely, to me, like he was lying.

I would be interested to know what he said to you after this fiasco, I am quite understanding and forgiving but I would certainly been asking him some questions and giving him a stern talking to. He could have got you into a very dangerous situation if his inexperience hadn't become apparent until a few pitches higher up, and he could repeat this behaviour unless someone gives him a bit of a bollocking.

Jon Stewart - on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to barry donovan:

> Gumby is an insult by someone who has no idea about judging risk - the Gumby is the one on the pointy end while a total stranger is looking up from complete safety ? 

What's to say that your very-low threshold assessment of risk is correct?

I don't say no to something because it has a non-zero risk of being catastrophic (but many people do). I try to evaluate the likelihood of something bad happening, and weight it up with the severity and the benefits if the risk doesn't materialise.

I don't think that my own high-threshold risk assessment is right for other people, but it's worked for me fine, and given me access to loads experiences that I would have said no to (climbing examples being among many others) had I taken the low-threshold approach. It's fine to be conservative and take very little risk, but don't presume that approach to be superior.

 

Michael Gordon - on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to Pbob:

> The second climb was a two pitch sport route with a handful of bolts on each pitch. Xxx told me that he'd done the route before and that a single rope was adequate. We got to the bottom of the route (itself an exposed scramble) and got kitted up to climb. Something was nagging the back of my brain. I let xxx lead the first pitch, then pretty much bottled it. I called up that I wouldn't be seconding. It didn't take long to realise that there wasn't enough rope to lower him off. After tying him off I scrambled back to the car and came bsck with another rope. If I hadn't bailed out we could both have been left hanging on a belay two pitches up shouting for help.> 

Do you mean the only descent from above the route was by abseil? (If not, I don't yet understand what the issue was)

Paul Sagar - on 13 Jan 2019
In reply to mountain.martin:

> Sounds worrying and definitely, to me, like he was lying.

> I would be interested to know what he said to you after this fiasco, I am quite understanding and forgiving but I would certainly been asking him some questions and giving him a stern talking to. He could have got you into a very dangerous situation if his inexperience hadn't become apparent until a few pitches higher up, and he could repeat this behaviour unless someone gives him a bit of a bollocking.

It was all a bit awkward. I mostly was trying not to lose my temper, as that wouldn’t have helped anything when I realised we were in a pretty serious situation, and when we were back on the ground I just wanted to be shot of him. I did say that he shouldn’t lie about his grade and he sort of made noises to the effect that he just didn’t have experience of overhangs (so, he’d never been to a bouldering gym, ever?) 

One thing that threw me is that he had all the relevant gear and it all looked well used. He just didn’t seem to be able to climb more than (i’d estimate) about a VDiff. To be honest my overall impression was that he wasn’t very bright as well as being prone to exaggeration (to put it kindly). He later told third parties at the OB that he had to bail because he only had single pitch endurance, and was too tired by the time we got to the 6B pitch. Given that these people knew full well he’d climbed a single 5b pitch beforehand, this claim was greeted with awkward smiles. I avoided him for the rest of my time, which fortunately wasn’t long as it was my last day. 

Bulls Crack - on 14 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

What dio you expect if you climb with this lot? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA1kFA0Viug

Pbob on 14 Jan 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Yep. No way up, left and right unless you can climb significantly harder and happen to be carrying a drill and several hundred bolts.

Michael Gordon - on 14 Jan 2019
In reply to Pbob:

That's a strange one. I guess if the bolts on the pitches were good you could get down eventually, maybe with the loss of a couple of krabs, but definitely not ideal!

Dave Garnett - on 15 Jan 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

After decades of only climbing with people I've known forever, over the last couple of years I've climbed with quite a few people who were friends of friends or members of a regular climbing group, and even this can be a slightly awkward to start with but that's just down to personal quirks or using a strange rack.  

I've also climbed multipitch trad with a number of complete unknowns through contacts on here or Supertopo and have had nothing but good experiences.  To be fair, this has always been people who responded because they were local experts on areas I hadn't visited before and they were running a much bigger risk than I was.  It's pretty easy to tell whether someone really does know a crag well and if they pull a well-used rack out of their rucksack and put their harness on the right way round you are probably OK. 

On occasion it's been obvious that I'm being checked out too, which is absolutely fine.  So far I've not failed the interview!

     

Dave Garnett - on 15 Jan 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> But I think UK sea cliffs provide a bit of a muppet filter, which Spanish bolts probably do not.

Definitely.  If you've always done it seems normal, but multipitch sea cliff climbing can scare the bejesus out of people quite experienced in other styles. 

daWalt on 15 Jan 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> On occasion it's been obvious that I'm being checked out too, which is absolutely fine.  

More than fine, it's actually reassuring. People certainty shouldn't be shy of checking out what their partner is doing.

 


Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.