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Pro for Slab Climbing?

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Pro for Slab Climbing?

Postby WalksWithBlackflies » Fri May 28, 2010 12:12 am

First, I'm not a true rock climber. I don't have any climbing gear other than a helmet, 3 biners, two slings, and a static rope. I've only used the slings and rope on fixed anchors (trees) for rappeling down short cliffs while bushwhacking. All of my "climbing" has been in the NE, and typically consists of granite slab... mostly Class 4 with some low Class 5.

Below are some photos of typical conditions where some pro would have been nice:
http://www.summitpost.org/image/129883/ ... de-1-.html
http://www.summitpost.org/image/213534/ ... point.html
http://www.summitpost.org/image/436071/ ... -wwbf.html

I'm going to climb a large Adk face this weekend, and am thinking about bringing one or two wedges or cams just in case we encounter a steeper pitch in an otherwise straight-forward route. As you can see in the photos, such a pitch would not result in a free-fall, but even so I'd rather avoid a slow 100-foot long skin scrape. There aren't many cracks in the face to begin with, and in my experience, those that exist tend to open up towards the surface (width decreases with depth of crack). Therefore, I don't think a wedge would work. Would a spring cam work in such cracks? Tri-cam? Any other suggestions?
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 28, 2010 1:38 am

Back in the old days, I loved climbing slides; but they seemed very hard to protect. Unless they are recent, the moss/lichen is very obnoxious and the cracks are few. I really think they are more dangerous than higher-angled stuff out west.

How about a simple handline attached to a tree on the side? Or do you try to avoid the balsam at all costs? I remember escaping off one of the Giant slides in a thunderstorm ~1973, and facing a 5' dirt-rock birm that left me clinging to roots.
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Postby TheOrglingLlama » Fri May 28, 2010 2:04 am

Image

:mrgreen:
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Postby nartreb » Fri May 28, 2010 3:50 pm

Fortmental, those slabs are solid granite, about as far from choss as you can imagine. Picture Whitehorse ledge, only with lichen and moss. Footing is tricky and pro is rare, but the pro is solid where available.

You are right, however, that using a static rope on lead is tantamount to suicide.

WWBF,

Use a dynamic rope if you're going to lead climb. Whenever you're roped up, at least one of you needs to be anchored to something solid. Anchor-building is a bit of an art, probably not something you want to try for the first time when you're a hundred feet up a slab. Likewise, placing pro is surprisingly slow and nerve-wracking until you get very good at it. For now, consider bypassing tough sections using the old vegetation gambit. But if you get a chance to practice first and/or want to bring some pro along just to test whether it would hold at all in the actual cracks you encounter, see below.

Sometimes the opportunities for pro are just plain infrequent, and you have to choose between a route that keeps you near possible pro and a route that's easier to climb.

I agree that stoppers are unlikely to be very useful in the types of cracks you're most likely to find on those slabs. I'd experiment with the following:

Slings - for trees. Rig with long extenders to your quickdraws so the rope doesn't stay too close to the sides of the slide (where it could get caught on branches)

Tricams - work over a wider range of crack sizes than stoppers. Even in slightly flaring cracks you can often get a good placement on a rugosity. One of these stopped a very long slide when my partner stepped on a wet spot on Whitehorse.

Cams - the closest you can get to a piece of pro that you can be sure will work with the cracks you find - as long as you have the right size. There's a recently-introduced version that elongates down to an extremely narrow shape when open, giving you a much larger useful size range - why can't I remember what they're called? [edit. Consider that last suggestion withdrawn. See rhyang's post below.]
Last edited by nartreb on Fri May 28, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby rhyang » Fri May 28, 2010 4:02 pm

nartreb wrote:There's a recently-introduced version that elongates down to an extremely narrow shape when open, giving you a much larger useful size range - why can't I remember what they're called?


Perhaps you are thinking OP Link Cam (not exactly recently-introduced though) -

http://www.omegapac.com/op_products_linkcams.html

I have a couple. They are known for breaking under load in some situations :shock: Not something a beginner should be using.

But for the original poster -- this really isn't a good plan. If you want to learn how to place trad gear, learn how to trad climb and get some practice at a crag first, before going way out there far away from rescue if you do manage to hurt yourself (or your partner). These skills take a while to develop .. knowing the difference between a good placement and one which is useless is going to take a lot longer to develop than this weekend :shock:

And I hope you aren't thinking of trying to 'lead' with a static rope ..
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Postby The Chief » Fri May 28, 2010 4:04 pm

nartreb wrote:Fortmental, those slabs are solid granite, about as far from choss as you can imagine. Picture Whitehorse ledge, only with lichen and moss.


Please don't rag on Fortmental... he is well versed on Slabs and how to successfully and safely ascend them. He has of course established many a first ascent line on various different slab features throughout the country/world.







On a SERIOUS note, the OP can ask permission to establish some BOLTED routes.

Seek out an experienced individual that is knowledgeable in the establishing routes with either one of these AFTER ASKING PERMISSION from the LAND OWNER....
Image

or by this method..

Image

in order to properly place these....
ImageImage
ImageImage

You can consider utilizing one of these of course as well as anyone versed in establishing routes on this type of potentially awesome feature would clearly know and understand how to...
Image
Last edited by The Chief on Fri May 28, 2010 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby nartreb » Fri May 28, 2010 4:16 pm

rhyang - yes, I was thinking of Link Cams. If I understand the info at the link correctly, the problem is that the lobes are weak under torque (i.e., when the pull is not along the direction of the stem). That makes proper placement critical, and I agree beginners should stay away.

I still want a couple for myself. There's nothing worse than not having the right size cam when you need it. (Well, maybe finding a core shot in the rope at the same moment...)
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Postby The Chief » Fri May 28, 2010 4:20 pm

Just to add as well, many of today's well established and classic stout slab routes, throughout the U.S., originally looked just as the ones that are in OP's photos.

Something to consider.....

These incredible Eastcoast "Choss Pile" locations quickly come to mind...

Image
Image
Image
Image

Etc etc etc etc........

edit: Addition
Last edited by The Chief on Fri May 28, 2010 5:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby rpc » Fri May 28, 2010 4:39 pm

it sounds like the OP is nearly set gear-wise:

helmet, 3 biners, two slings


at least for stone mtn :)
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 28, 2010 4:49 pm

Well, as a technicality, it's actually anorthosite, not granite; the crystals are fairly large, and the stuff weathers with very little surface relief. Most of the slabs are actually "slides," where the soil and trees let loose after a big thunderstorm; the original surcae, exposed by the slide, was probably worn smooth by the ice sheets long ago. The slides are usually very slick, often wet for a large part of the year, and have lots of moss and lichen. Almost all are on NYS land in the Adirondack Park, so placing bolts is probably quite iffy. Nearly all are bounded by "trees" (sometimes very small balsams), but there is often an unstable birm between the rock and the trees. The brush on the sides is often so thick that it is nearly impenetrable.
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Postby The Chief » Fri May 28, 2010 4:50 pm

rpc wrote:it sounds like the OP is nearly set gear-wise:

helmet, 3 biners, two slings


at least for stone mtn
:)


I missed that part but you are absolutely correct!!!!!

God I miss that Choss Pile.
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Postby rpc » Fri May 28, 2010 7:13 pm

the thought of Stone gives me sweaty palms and a stomach ache but damn, I'd love to go back (to scare the living shit out of myself again!!) :lol:
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 28, 2010 10:00 pm

Again, "slide" mainly refers to geography and the manner in which it forms. A lot of the slides in the ADKs are historical -- people actually saw a slide (where there hadn't been one before) after a big storm. The surface exposed may well be only slightly modified after retreat of the ice sheets; it's just devoid of the trees and soil and loose rock that was there previously.

The first pic from the OP looks like one could actually put pro in the crack, but on the others, the trees on the sides may be the best solution.
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