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Solo aid climbing

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Solo aid climbing

Postby gwave47 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:16 pm

Ok, I'm going to preface this by admitting it could be the dumbest idea to ever exist. I may definitely be overlooking something. Everywhere I read says that the drawback of the double carabiner clove hitch method while solo leading is that you have to reclimb the route. I keep thinking that there has to be a better way, especially on a shorter pitch.

Here's my thought.... Couldn't you set up an anchor at the beginning, tie into one end of the rope, run the rope through the anchor, double biner clove hitch the rest of the rope to your harness, feed the rope as needed and place protection as needed, then at the end of the pitch just untie and pull the rope through. I mean you'd have to have a good line without much drag. Ideally I was thinking of this for just one pitch, or else you'd have to bring a lot of protection, but then when you're finished you just clean up your protection while rappelling down.

I had this in mind, for a single pitch of about 25m, maybe two pitches of no more than 30 m each, so obviously you'd have to bring extra protection for the second pitch. Does anybody see any safety issues that I am clearly overlooking?

Go easy guys, it's just a thought, I'm not presently dangling from a rope trying to figure out how to get myself out of a bind. I know how the testoterone gets flowing in these forums.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby MattGreene » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:45 pm

I found this an interesting question. I climb a lot of trad, and it's always good to discuss different rope/gear scenarios. After making a quick diagram, it looks like your idea wouldn't work. Wouldn't you kind of create the same design as a flagpole, with you being the flag? If I understand you correctly, you've basically got a circle of rope running through biners at fixed points. Your weight in a fall would cause you to lower (very quickly!) just like a flag. There are variations of your idea that could avoid that problem, but then you'd likely have too much drag to pull the rope when you're done. I've got to add that I never aid climb and never rope solo, so it'd be nice if someone who knows more chimed in.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby gwave47 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:51 pm

Matt, thanks. I knew I was overlooking something. I'm going to keep thinking about this and will jump back in if I think I found a solution. Thanks again!
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby gwave47 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:56 pm

If I clipped in the rope running both directions both down from me and up from the anchor, that should stop the flag pole effect. It would increase drag when trying to retrieve the rope, but should still be doable. What do you think?
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby MattGreene » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:10 pm

If you were clipping both rope sections into each piece of protection, that'd probably give you 6-10 pinch points. I'd expect severe drag, but could be wrong. If you were clipping each rope section into separate protection, you'd still have the flagpole effect, just not as severe. You'd never be protected by your highest piece, because you'd always flagpole down to the highest piece on the other line. Plus, to keep drag at a minimum, instead of alternating which rope you clip, you might have to use one rope for all protection on the right, and another for all protection on the left. So, you might clip left, right, right, right, then fall, which would flagpole you further down than your last clip on the left. If a key piece pulled, it would be even worse. In the end, even if you found a way to do this safely, I think you're underestimating the rope drag. Still, it's fun trying to think of a way it could be done. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll ever work!
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby gwave47 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:11 pm

Are you thinking it would pinch on the other section of rope, or on the biner? Could I put two biners on the same piece of protection and run each rope through a separate biner? This would still take out the flag pole effect, but would also prevent the ropes from rubbing each other and pinching when being pulled back through? Let me know what you think? Still too much friction?
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby Rob » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:45 pm

Everywhere I read says that the drawback of the double carabiner clove hitch method while solo leading is that you have to reclimb the route.


That "drawback" isn't limited only to the clove hitch method, it is the drawback of soloing period. Since you have no follower, YOU must do the cleaning. On a single pitch, you don't have to reclimb it though...just clean on rappel.

The drawback to the clove hitch is, that you have to use two hands to feed rope. which is fine for aid, but not good for freeclimbing.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby kamil » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:23 pm

In my very limited experience with rope soloing (no aid) I used a prussik instead of a clove hitch. More dangerous in case of a fall (less friction, possible rope melt) but can be moved with one hand and the slack is always shorter than with a clove hitch where you've got to pull some slack in advance. It's always a trade-off, rope soloing ain't much safer than free soloing :)
Interesting discussion, thanks guys!
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby mvs » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:38 am

Clove-hitch rope soloing gets really irritating unless you give yourself a LOT of slack, as you can only pay out more rope on ledges where you have two hands free (not completely true of course, but practically, it's difficult to work one handed in awkward stances). Reclimbing the pitch is just the price of admission, part of the fun, really!
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby mvs » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:42 pm

I'm getting nervous that we haven't been castigated by a real climber on this thread for talking so openly and speculatively about a dangerous and advanced climbing procedure whose improper (or even proper) execution could get you killed. But then I remembered that the Chief is gone, RPC is gone, etc.

We are on our own, I guess. Don't f*(k up! :D
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby gwave47 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:28 am

I keep waiting for Chief too, where'd he go? I thought he would have told me by now that I don't know what I'm doing and only he could pull off such a maneuver.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby kamil » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:53 am

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rope Soloing* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) :lol:

Some good reading:
http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/blog/view/r ... 101_part_1
I don't quite agree with the figure 8 method (I think it was also mentioned by The Chief somewhere here but can't recall where), cos every potential fall would have factor 2. Correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm guilty as charged of using a prussik, albeit on easy ground (about IV aka 5.6), just decided it was the best of bad solutions I had at hand, having no special gear.

Another discussion to get your own opinion:
http://forum.climbing.ie/index.php?topic=2748.30

And another read:
http://www.rockclimbing.com/Articles/Tr ... y_675.html
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby MattGreene » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:52 am

I was thinking the ropes would pinch together with each other and also with the biners. Also, if you got to the top and tried to drop one rope, even in the best situation it most likely wouldn't fall through every single piece of protection. I'd expect it to get hung up and create a big "Z", so you'd be pulling through 3 changes in direction, which I know would be tough. I'm happy if my rappel rope pulls like it's supposed to when I've only got one set of rings to pull it through, and gravity on my side.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby kamil » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:15 pm

Yeah you're right Matt, rope drag would be enormous then.
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Re: Solo aid climbing

Postby dan2see » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:35 am

I'm not sure that I understand your description in the OP, gw, and I'm not sure what the other replies mean, either. Just the same, that handicap won't stop me from spewing my opinion.

"Lead" means from the ground up. On solo, your belayer is the bottom anchor. The anchor must be secure and strong, and that end of your rope must be securely attached to it. There's no option on this.

Then you climb with some sort of gadget attached to your harness. That gadget feeds your rope out, as you climb. When you put in some pro, you clip the rope, just like normal lead climbers do, and move up. Don't forget your backup.

So when you reach a belay station, or top anchor, you tie your rope unto that. Again, strong and secure.

Well! How do you get that bottom anchor untied? You can down-climb, using your now-fixed rope, for safety. Or rappel on that same fixed rope. Either way, you must get back down. There's no option on this, either.

Now, to get back to your now-secure top anchor, you must re-climb the entire pitch. There's no option on this, either.

What I'm trying to say is: You've got plenty of options on belay and pro, and plenty of choices for gadgets, too. But you must climb up twice, and down once.

But I forgot: You still want to get back to the trail, and get home. So you must down-climb, or rappel, yet again. Two climbs up, two rappels down.

Unless there's a walk-off.
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