Matt and Joanne’s Page

May 14, 2007

Aid climbing weekend

Filed under: Climbing — joannestamplis @ 1:54 pm

Last weekend was aid climbing weekend. Finally, it’s something that Matt and I don’t know about so we were pretty excited about it. Another reason we were super excited is that finally the session is held in Rocky Butte, Portland and we get to spend the weekend at home instead of doing long distance travelling.

On Saturday, we learned about the basic aid climbing sequence, both leading and following. Maybe it’s my first time doing pure aiding on lead but it’s really freaky to put all your weight on 1 piece of protection. And I’m not even allowed to clip my rope to it until I climb past the protection because the idea is that if that piece blew and I clip it above me, then I would take an even longer fall than necessary. All this time when I’m free climbing, the protection has always been a safety feature in case I fall. But now, it’s the only thing that will keep me from falling. Another thing I learn is that pure aiding is just super slow. Moving even 5 feet can take 10 minutes while in free climbing, all I need to do is take 2 steps and I’m there.

On Sunday, we got to learn some more advanced aiding skills like hauling and cleaning on traverse pitches. If you think aiding is slow, add hauling to make it even worse. There’s so many steps to take to haul a bag on the vertical wall. There are so many ropes, biners, pulley, my safety, bag safety, etc that I have to think about. I just can’t imagine doing this on a big wall. I guess I have to practice the skills many many times before I’m willing to do this on an actual big wall. We also did a multi-pitch climb (super short pitch) so we get to practice hanging belay and lead transition. From this experience, we learn that it might be a bad idea to use your anchor piece as your 1st aid piece especially when it’s a hanging belay anchor…

On my 1st pitch, I climbed about 15 ft off the ground and set up a hanging belay with 3 pieces of gear. One of these pieces was placed blindly above my head. I set the anchor using a cordolette ~ strong but not equalized. When Matt got to the anchor, he decided to set off by aiding on that blind placement to avoid placing another piece. I did warn him before he place his full weight on it. Well, not surprisingly the moment he placed his weight on it, that piece blew and hit him in the mouth. (Lesson #1 – always anticipate where your piece is going to go flying when/if it blows).

Now, my 3 piece hanging belay anchor became a 2 piece hanging belay anchor and suddenly didn’t seem so strong. I had used a cordellete on the anchor and now all our weight is on 1 piece (no equalization). (Lesson #2 – always anticipate your big fat heavy partner to blowing a piece of your anchor at a hanging belay and think about equalizing. And tell them to place their first piece of pro independently of the anchor).

All in all, we learned a great deal from the weekend. Kudos to all the instructors that were helping out especially during Mothers’ Day. One big key item I take from the weekend is to think real hard before we want to commit to a real serious aid climbing in a remote area.


1 Comment »

  1. Aamzing shots in your blog. Thanx for sharing I will comeback for next shots from your climb.R.

    Comment by Rich — May 19, 2007 @ 7:42 am

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