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Learning how to use rope

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Learning how to use rope

Postby mountainlover153 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:41 pm

I did a search of the forum and didn't find the results I was looking for, which somewhat surprises me but whatever. I live in PA, which makes training for 14ers and doing actual decent climbs very difficult most of the time. Yet, like many, I make a yearly trip out to Colorado for a few weeks to do some 14ers, and I've knocked many off the list at this point. I like climbing, it's a lot of fun, and I've gained some really good experience. This year, I wanted to attempt a class 4 peak: Pyramid and/or the traverse between El Diente and Mt. Wilson (via the class 3 El diente route) to take things up a notch. I fully feel that I'm prepared for this, I've done several class threes including Crestone Needle and as a meteorology major I know better than most when its time to turn around. But as I've grown older, to the ripe old age of 20 I might add :roll: , I've reached a point where I really need to learn how to rope climb in a mountaineering context to advance further.

In the east, especially where I live typically (Philly in the summer, State College for...er..College, in the fall and spring), we don't have much class 4/5 terrain. So, what I've found in my area, at the few places (primarily rock gyms) in the area, are people who have NO experience with technical climbing, and those who are EXPERTS at technical climbing. Neither party is very helpful in suggesting ways for ME to learn climbing. The first group is self-explanatory, the second is telling me I need several years of indoor experience, thousands of dollars and intense practice to get to a point where I could actually attempt such peaks.

The fact is though, I’m not, at least at this stage of my life, attempting to tackle the diamond on longs or the traverse on Maroon. I just want to have a way to remain safe on a class four with rotten rock that has killed before, and will undoubtedly kill again. Moreover, it’s one of those things where its “good to know”, even if I may not use it in every situation.

So, I want to know what those of you who have learned how to climb with rope in the mountains did to get to where you are today. Is it expensive (I’m a college student)? Is it really not possible to gain the sort of experience I need without actually living out in Colorado or another place with abundant outdoor class 5 terrain? Is there some intermediate rope knowledge I could gain that would allow me to be safe in the 14ers, without necessarily being able to do a 5.11?

--MT
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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby TeamDino5280 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:58 pm

I think it is awesome that you want to further your climbing ability. There are a few places I would start....

-If you don't own it already buy Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills. This is an excellent bible for all things mountaineering and will at least educate you on the concepts behind some technical climbing aspects. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_23?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mountaineering+freedom+of+the+hills&sprefix=mountaineering+freedom+%2Caps%2C917 there is one copy for $20

-Do some more research on the climbs that you are thinking of doing and see what others have done in the past as far as what they used to complete the route.

-Find someone that is willing to mentor you out in PA as far as outdoor climbing is concerned Im sure that there is some out door climbing there (and if not, this is why I live in Colorado.)

-Maybe this one should be at the top but MOST importantly become educated in Wilderness aid with something such as WFR http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/wfr.shtml



Also being a college kid maybe you should contact the Auraria Outdoor Adventure center which does ll kinds of outdoor training and trips for CU Denver and MSU Denver. Being a college kid I bet they would let you come and join a class. http://www.msudenver.edu/campusrec/programs/outdooradventure/
"Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person."
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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby jomagam » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:00 pm

You can learn the basics, like belaying, rappelling in a rock gym way before reaching the 5.11 level. If you want to place your own protection then you want to learn to lead trad climbs. There will be areas to practice that at a lower level, say 5.5 or below. The closest such place depends on where in PA you are. Might be the Gunks in the Catskills or the New River Gorge or some place else.

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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby mountainlover153 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:11 pm

TeamDino--

Thank you for the quick and helpful reply. I've met a couple at school who are willing to help me but for several reasons things haven't worked thus far (I'm a meteo major+physics minor doing undergrad research so I'm short on time during the year, and state college gets VERY cold during the winter & it snows every single day for a week sometimes).

-Jomagam--
I can belay and repel already, I've learned that, and I did a 5.8 pitch in a rock gym on Wednesday of last week. Trad climbs is probably what I need, but I don't have the resources (IE, a car, and the time..IE..an entire day every week) during the school year to devote to it.

This years peaks (in regards to TeamDino):

Lindsey (With mother)
S. Maroon (Confirmed with climbing partner/may switch due to time constraints he has)
Pyramid? (Possibly--looking for climbing partner with experience--in same trip with S. Maroon).
El diente (with mother). Want to do El diente traverse with her, which is a good "taste" of class four without having many actual class four moves, but she won't do it without significant rope experience (its a bonding thing for us to climb...but her knee's aren't as good anymore and she's very slow and timid). That's what brought me to post this in the first place.
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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby nyker » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:21 pm

Hey MT,

The Gunks in New Paltz can be a nice daytrip for you from Philly to get into some solid rock climbing and learn rope use and get used to some techniques, exposure, etc.
There are a few guides that work in the area, a Google search will get you a few.

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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:22 pm

I think it would be good if you clarified what you mean by "using a rope."

Are you talking about leading and belaying pitches? If so you need to go to the Gunks with someone who has the know how and the equipment (i.e. $500 worth of trad gear) and learn to place protection, follow and clean gear and belay a second.

If you are talking about being roped together for a "sense" of security, I would recommend learning a bit more about simul-climbing. This is an effective and efficient method for two experienced climbers to cover substantial technical terrain quickly. However, the idea of you and your mother being roped together on a ridge traverse to create a "sense" of security is, IMO, a bad idea. When simul-climbing, the second must never fall. Otherwise both climbers go.

Here is a great discussion at SuperTopo.

The final element this equation is that most of these traverses are riddled with rock horns, cracks, chickenheads, gaps and holes just looking to snag a rope. Think about trying to reach for a somewhat desperate move on a 4th class ridge just to have you rope caught on something and pulling you back...

This is just my opinion, but speed is safety. Ropes and pitches are slow.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby Garrett » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:27 pm

Dragging a rope up class 3/4 terrain does not necessarily make it safer and in some situations will make it more dangerous, for example rock fall and significantly slower speed. I don't think people typically rope up for any of the routes you are talking about doing and it may be better to focus more on physical training and conditioning rather than technical work. Good luck

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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby crossfitter » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:29 pm

Start here:

http://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=22068#p262517

You can learn climbing quickly, cheaply, and safely but generally only two adjectives at a time. If you are not mechanically inept and are able to teach yourself new things without intense supervision, it need not be expensive to learn. You can get essentially everything you need for around $1K, or a fraction of that if you have equipment you can borrow. If you're willing to shell out a few hundred dollars for a weekend semi-private lesson with a AMGA guide you can learn enough to safely continue learning on your own at whatever pace you want.

That being said, technical climbing may not accomplish what you have in mind. Ropes will not save you from loose class 4 peaks where the greatest danger is rockfall, and in fact can make it substantially worse. Falling is generally a bad idea on anything under 5.7-5.8 due to the high chance to hit something on the way down, so it also won't help you unless you have a stronger climber to belay you from above. There might be a handful of extremely short sections where you could rope up on a standard route, but by the time you have all of the requisite skills to do it safely you won't need to rope anymore.

So, the short answer is that learning to climb isn't really worthwhile for the 14ers, but it's totally worthwhile if you have greater ambitions in mind.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby Steve Climber » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:30 pm

Dave B wrote:I think it would be good if you clarified what you mean by "using a rope."

Are you talking about leading and belaying pitches? If so you need to go to the Gunks with someone who has the know how and the equipment (i.e. $500 worth of trad gear) and learn to place protection, follow and clean gear and belay a second.

If you are talking about being roped together for a "sense" of security, I would recommend learning a bit more about simul-climbing. This is an effective and efficient method for two experienced climbers to cover substantial technical terrain quickly. However, the idea of you and your mother being roped together on a ridge traverse to create a "sense" of security is, IMO, a bad idea. When simul-climbing, the second must never fall. Otherwise both climbers go.

Here is a great discussion at SuperTopo.

The final element this equation is that most of these traverses are riddled with rock horns, cracks, chickenheads, gaps and holes just looking to snag a rope. Think about trying to reach for a somewhat desperate move on a 4th class ridge just to have you rope caught on something and pulling you back...

This is just my opinion, but speed is safety. Ropes and pitches are slow.


+1 to this. A lot of ridges (esp El Diente from what I understand) are riddled with terrible rock as well, that would likely crumble or spit any protection out in the event of a fall. Your gear is only as good as how/where you place it...junk rock = junk protection = much scarier being roped together than scrambling apart.
Dave B wrote:And/or line thy helmet with tin foil and realize this is a freaking mountaineering website.


Steve Climber wrote:So that's your backpack, huh?

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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby mountainlover153 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:33 pm

Nyker- Thank you, I will look into that.

Dave B-- So for some reason the last post I made on the other thread didn't send. In short, yeah, for a sense of security. I didn't really feel I needed a rope to do the El diente traverse, or pyramid, but my mom does for safety. Simul-climbing sounds like what my mom wants, but isn't actually something useful.

Honestly, I don't think ropes are needed (or more correctly aren't helpful), based upon what I've read, but, then again, I've never done a class four so maybe I'm wrong and I need to spend a couple years learning rope climbing very well before attempting either one. My mom on the other hand, is looking for safety and nothing else. She is very, very slow. So slow that I actively look for other climbers on here for class 3+ peaks because it endangers both of us in our climbs. I'm not fast either. I come from sea level. But I'm 20, and I'm very fit, so I typically travel at around twice her speed, which has created issues in the past. What I can't figure out is whether it's safer on Pyramid and the El diente traverse to NOT use rope, or use it. I have an entire month from now where I can theoretically prepare, outside of my typical gym training regimens. But I don't have money for a guide to teach me, and my mother works 5 days a week and certainly doesn't have time to learn. Would it be unadvisable to attempt either peak without knowing how to use rope? I ask that for me personally, not my mother. Either way, I want to learn, but I doubt I can do it in a month, and without significant monetary investment. Trad gear is one thing, 20+ lessons...err..that's another.
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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby crossfitter » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:48 pm

mountainlover153 wrote:Honestly, I don't think ropes are needed (or more correctly aren't helpful), based upon what I've read, but, then again, I've never done a class four so maybe I'm wrong and I need to spend a couple years learning rope climbing very well before attempting either one. My mom on the other hand, is looking for safety and nothing else. She is very, very slow. So slow that I actively look for other climbers on here for class 3+ peaks because it endangers both of us in our climbs. I'm not fast either. I come from sea level. But I'm 20, and I'm very fit, so I typically travel at around twice her speed, which has created issues in the past. What I can't figure out is whether it's safer on Pyramid and the El diente traverse to NOT use rope, or use it. I have an entire month from now where I can theoretically prepare, outside of my typical gym training regimens. But I don't have money for a guide to teach me, and my mother works 5 days a week and certainly doesn't have time to learn. Would it be unadvisable to attempt either peak without knowing how to use rope? I ask that for me personally, not my mother. Either way, I want to learn, but I doubt I can do it in a month, and without significant monetary investment. Trad gear is one thing, 20+ lessons...err..that's another.


You don't need years to learn it, but in a month you'll only learn just enough to be dangerous. Basically what you are asking for is the knowledge to guide someone up a loose peak. In the right hands, a rope could be used to increase safety (marginally) on a Colorado 4th class, but in the wrong hands it'll slow you down, increase rockfall, and provide nothing more than a false sense of security in the event of a fall. You certainly don't need a rope for what you have in mind. Focusing on route finding and management of objective hazards will do far, far more to increase your margin of safety.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: Learning how to use rope

Postby Brian C » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:04 pm

Dave B wrote:...I would recommend learning a bit more about simul-climbing. This is an effective and efficient method for two experienced climbers to cover substantial technical terrain quickly...


Sorry Dave, but I disagree with this. Even in the hands of experienced climbers, simul-climbing puts you at the mercy of the other climber, when if soloing you'd be only at the mercy of yourself. I do agree that it allows you to move between sections of terrain that a belay is needed for the climbers ability level (alot of climbers simul-climb up to 5.6-7) without having to coil the rope, but it does not add safety. If you're using a rope, do not do so without being able to recognize and use SOLID anchors.

Garrett wrote:Dragging a rope up class 3/4 terrain does not necessarily make it safer and in some situations will make it more dangerous, for example rock fall and significantly slower speed...


I completely agree. Several years ago I saw some climbers being "guided" up Pyramid. The amount of rope-caused rock fall was absurd, and the amount of extra danger it put all of the other climbers on the mountain in was ridiculous.

You have been alot of good advise and I think if you work toward a goal in a methodical way, you'll be able to achieve it! I'd say the biggest thing is to not get in a rush and to not push the comfort levels of people you're with. Climb with experienced people (mountainproject is filled with people who will help beginners), take classes, and get out in the hills. The more stuff you do (especially if you work up gradually in difficulty) the more comfy you will be.

Have fun and be safe!

BC
Brian in the Wild
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"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." - Wordsworth

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