Mountaineering Guide

Prusik Slings And Ascenders

Among the most important gear to help a climber out of a crevasse are slings, tied with prusik knots or other friction knots, and mechanical ascenders. A prusik sling can be as simple as a mere loop of 5- to 7-millimeter accessory cord. One of these slings tied to a climbing rope with a prusik knot will slide up or down the rope when loosened but grip the rope firmly when tightened. The Bach-mann knot does the same thing, but is tied around both a carabiner and the climbing rope. The Klem-heist...

Quick belays

Ice Axe Carabiner Belay

Snow climbers have a couple of quick belays for times the consequences of a fall would not be great, as in a sliding pendulum across a snow face. They are useful for belaying a climber who is probing a cornice or crevasse edge, or for providing a top belay to a weaker climber. The boot-axe belay is a fast and easy way to provide protection as a rope team moves up together fig. 12-36 . Despite some naysayers, it has proven to be useful, provided its principal limitation is understood it can't be...

Homemade Seat Harnesses

Improvised Seat Harness

Homemade seat harnesses are an option for linking yourself to the rope, and you can make a simple one from 22 feet of 1-inch tubular webbing. Starting about 41 2 feet from one end of the webbing, tie two leg loops in the webbing using overhand loops. Make the loops just large enough to fit over your clothing, and leave about a 6-inch bridge between the loops. Once tied, leave the loops in place. That completes construction of the harness. To wear it, step into the leg loops and wrap the webbing...

Fixed lines

Mechanical Line Ascenders

A fixed line is simply a rope that is anchored to the route and left in place. It allows safe, quick travel up and down a difficult stretch. Climbers protect themselves by tying into a mechanical ascender on the fixed line, eliminating the need for time-consuming belays. If you fall while climbing next to the fixed line, the ascender cam locks onto the line and holds the fall. It's also possible in some cases to climb a fixed line directly by hanging from slings attached to two ascenders and...

Self Belay Grip

Ice Axe Self Arrest

The first rule is to carry your ice axe carefully. Keep in mind what its sharp points and edges could do to you or your partners. Whenever the axe is not in your hands, be sure it's secure against slipping down a snow slope or cliff. When you're on the move and don't need the axe, the best bet is to slip it through the ice-axe loop on your pack and strap it down fig. 12-14a . It's a good idea to keep rubber or leather guards on the pick, adze, and spike, particularly on an axe that's sharp as...

The end run

When a crevasse pinches to a close at one end, the safest and most dependable technique is the end run (fig. 13-3). A quarter-mile walk may gain you only 20 or 30 feet of forward progress, but it often beats a direct confrontation with the crevasse. Fig. 13-4. Crossing a bridged crevasse under belay Fig. 13-4. Crossing a bridged crevasse under belay In late summer when the winter snow has melted down to the ice, you may be able to see the true end of the crevasse. But if fresh snow still...

Symmetric Chouinard Mid-size

Camming Devices Mechanism

Design variations in passive wedging chocks a, wide side, straight sides b, narrow side, straight sides c, wide side, curved sides d, narrow side, curved sides e, top view, rectangular f, top view, trapezoidal. Fig. 10-7. Wide-side and narrow-side placement of passive wedging chocks a, wide sides are in contact with the rock, a stronger placement b, narrow sides are in contact with the rock, a weaker placement. have slightly curved sides. They can also have a combination of straight...

Prusik knot

Prusik Knot

The prusik fig. 6-23 requires a few wraps of a light accessory cord around the climbing rope, and it's ready to go to work. The cord is usually a loop sling of 5-millimeter to 7-millimeter perlon, wrapped two or three times around the rope. Icy ropes or heavy loads require more wraps than dry ropes or light loads. The accessory cord must be smaller in diameter than the climbing rope, and the greater the difference in diameter, the better it grips. Webbing isn't used for prusik knots because it...

Routefinding And Navigation

Where am I How can I find my way from here to there Are we almost there These are three of the most popular questions in mountaineering, and this chapter shows how to find the answers by using routefinding, orientation, and navigation. By the time you finish this chapter, you will have a good handle on the tools of navigation and the proven, painfully acquired techniques of top-notch route finders. You will have the basic knowledge to eventually head into the wilds, work out the way to the...

Tyrolean Traverses

Tyrolean traverses are most often used to return to a main wall after ascending a detached pillar. Ropes are strung between the main wall and the top of the pillar, allowing you to traverse through the air, attached to the rope. You can establish a Tyrolean traverse like this 1. After setting up a bombproof anchor on the main wall one that can take both a horizontal and vertical pull rappel on two ropes to the saddle between the main wall and the pinnacle. (You can use just one rope for the...

Downclimbing

While you're learning lots of ways to climb upward, also allow some time to learn the valuable technique oi downclimbing fig. 9-38 . Down-climbing at times is faster, safer, or easier than rappelling, such as when rappel anchors aren't readily available. Downclimbing provides a way to retreat when you find yourself off route or on a pitch where the rock above is more difficult than you care to attempt. Downclimbing has its special difficulties, however, which helps explain why some climbers...

Bearings on the map

Introduction Map Bearings

The compass is used as a protractor to both measure and plot bearings on a map. Magnetic north and magnetic declination have nothing to do with these calculations. Therefore, ignore the magnetic needle. Never make any use of the magnetic needle when taking or plotting bearings on a map. The only time the magnetic needle is used on the map is whenever you choose to orient the map to true north, which was explained earlier in this chapter. But there's no need to orient the map simply in order to...

Chimney Technique

Chimney Technique

A chimney is any crack big enough to climb inside, ranging in size from those that will barely admit the body squeeze chimneys to those the climber's body can barely span. The basic principle is to span the chimney somehow with the body, using counterforce to keep from falling. Depending on the width of the crack, you will either face one side of the chimney, or face directly into or out of the chimney. The best body position and technique to use depends on the situation and on the size of the...

Techniques Of Protection Leading A Pitch

Reducing Drag Quick Draws Zigzag

After you get to know the tools for protection and how to place them, it's time for the next move literally. It's one thing to recognize a Stopper and a hex and a Friend and to be able to use them in individual placements. You can learn all this at home or while standing safely at the base of a cliff. It's another thing to get up on the cliff and take the lead. You now need to learn the protection techniques that let you use these tools safely in mapping strategy for an entire pitch. You'll...

Swami Belts

Swami Belt

Swami belts fig. 6-30 , another method of tying into the rope, are usually commercially made and are secured to the waist with a buckle or a water knot. The climbing rope is tied through the belt with a re woven figure-8 or a rewoven bowline. The belts are wide enough to provide support around the middle of the waist and lower back and to help distribute the force of a fall. Still, if you are left hanging, the belt can creep up and restrict your breathing. Adding leg loops keeps a swami belt...

Magnetic Declination

Declination Washington State

A compass needle is attracted to magnetic north, while most maps are oriented to a different point on the earth, the geographic north pole true north . This difference between the direction to true north and the direction to magnetic north, measured in degrees, is called magnetic declination. A simple compass adjustment or modification is necessary to correct for magnetic declination. In areas west of the line of zero declination, the magnetic needle points somewhere to the east to the right of...

Tying into the anchor

Three Point Self Equalizing Anchor

The belayer ties in to the anchor with the climbing rope itself, using the first few feet of rope as it comes from its tie-in at the belayer's harness. The rest of the rope is available for use by the climber. The belayer faces quite an array of choices when it comes to knots and methods for tying in to the anchor. Let's take a look at them to identify some of the more useful. One method of dealing with a large natural anchor is the simple technique of looping rope around it and clipping the...

Aid Climbing Equipment

Homemade Aid Climbing Protection

Probably more so than in any other type of climbing, you're now in for the true nuts and bolts of the sport. This section details the range of equipment used in aid climbing, and builds on all the gear and techniques described in Chapter 10. If you're not interested in aid climbing, this section may hold all the drama of a hardware catalog. But if you've become intrigued with the subject, you'll find this material both thorough and fascinating. BASIC EQUIPMENT FOR CLEAN AID CLIMBING Clean aid...

Using Ascenders

How Use Ascender For Climbing

Although you could ascend fixed climbing ropes on slings attached with prusik knots, mechanical ascenders are both safer and more efficient fig. 11-28 . Attach an etrier and a daisy chain to each ascender. The etriers give you a platform to stand on, and the daisy chains positively connect the ascenders to your harness. Use a cara-biner not a fifi hook to clip each daisy chain to an ascender. To expedite the process of preparing your ascenders, mark the loops in both the daisies and etriers...

How to read a topographic map

Topo Map Most Beautiful

Consider this a language lesson, but in a language quite easy to learn and one that pays immediate rewards to any wilderness traveler. Some of this language is in words, but most of it is in the form of symbols drawn on a map. The best way to follow the lesson is to study it along with an actual USGS topographic map. Any one will do. Each map is referred to as a quadrangle or quad and covers an area bounded on the north and south by latitude lines that differ by an amount equal to the map...

The Zpulley

Crevasse Fall

The Z-pulley fig. 13-12 magnifies the muscle power of small climbing parties by offering a 3-to-1 theoretical mechanical advantage through the use of two pulleys. It can be set up and operated with no help from the fallen climber, making it valuable in rescuing an unconscious person. Fig. 13-12. Raising a climber with the Z-pulley The Z-pulley system, which uses the accident rope, requires more equipment and is somewhat more complicated than the C-pulley. You can get to work on the Z-pulley as...

The hip wrap

Arm Position For Hip

The hip wrap fig. 7-14 amplifies friction by passing the rope around your back just below the top of your hips and around your sides. Its main advantage is the speed with which you can belay a follower who is moving rapidly over easy ground. It can be set up quickly and requires no hardware. The use of the hip wrap in climbing on upper fifth-class rock is rapidly declining. Because your back and sides provide most of the friction on the rope, you must wear a lot of clothes, preferably several...

What The Belayer Can Control

Three factors, which are at least theoretically under your control, determine the amount of friction that your belay will produce. The strength of your hand grip is one factor. Since the belay ampli Fig. 7-27. Comparison of some dynamic belay methods Fig. 7-27. Comparison of some dynamic belay methods fies this grip, your choice of belay method is a second factor. Both of these factors are shown in figure 7-27. For example, virtually anyone can grip a rope hard enough to hold a 50-pound pull. A...

Belay methods

Belay Device And Carabiner

You have the choice of using a mechanical belay device, a Miinter hitch, or a hip belay. The anchor set-up is the same in any case. Your choice will probably depend on what you're accustomed to and on your degree of confidence in the anchor. The hip belay tends to be somewhat dynamic, with a bit of movement at the belay resulting in a slower stop to a fall but less force on the anchor and intermediate protection points. Belay devices and the Miinter hitch, on the other tend, tend to be less...

Detecting Crevasses

The first step in staying out of crevasses is to know where they are. Sometimes you can even get a head start before the trip by studying photos of the glacier, because crevasse patterns remain fairly constant from year to year. On the approach hike, try for a good up-valley or cross-valley look at the glacier before reaching it. You may see an obvious route that would be impossible to discover once you're there. Consider making notes or sketches to help in remembering major crevasses,...

Retrieving The Rappel Rope

Retreiving Rappell Rope

Successful rope retrieval after a rappel depends on some important steps even before the last rap-peller starts down the rope. It takes just one frightening experience with a stuck rappel rope to guarantee that you'll always take these precautions. If you're using two ropes for the rappel, they will be tied together near the anchor. It's critical that you know which rope to pull on from below. Full the wrong one, and you'll be attempting the impossible task of pulling the knot through the...

Moderate to steep slopes

Piolet Poignard

With steeper ice, other variations of the French technique are called for. At some point, the German technique of front-pointing comes into play. On moderate to steep slopes, you can switch the axe from the cross-body position piolet ramasse to what is known as the anchor position piolet ancre for more security. Your feet remain flat, with all bottom crampon points stamped into the ice at each step. To place the axe in piolet ancre, begin in a position of balance. Grip the ice-axe shaft just...

Twin Rope Technique

Rope Course Cable Guide

Chock picks, left to right shelf bracket, pit on type, Lee per, skewer type or tent stake. Friend of a Friend. to remove a chock. Give up if it refuses to budge. Wasting time trying to remove a badly stuck chock only tires you out and delays the climb. In addition to chocks, carabiners, runners, anda chock pick, a rock climber often carries a belay device, a chalk bag, and tie-off loops for such uses as emergency prusiking and for tying off a climber after a fall . Once you've...

Team arrest roped but unbelayed

Running Belays

Team arrest depends on each climber to stop a personal fall and on the rest of the rope team to provide backup in case the attempt fails. Everyone involved uses self-belay or self-arrest. Relying on team arrest as the ultimate team security makes sense only in selected situations, such as on a low- or moderate-angle glacier or on a moderate snow slope where a less skilled climber could be saved from a dangerous slide by the more proficient members of the rope team. On steeper, harder slopes you...

Hanging Belays

Hauling System

Upon reaching the end of the pitch, the leader establishes an anchor as a new belay station fig. 11-27 . Place this anchor, when possible, to the side of the route especially if you are sack hauling so that your second can easily climb through. Also try to place at least one aid piece at the start of the next pitch to give the second a stance while changing leads. When establishing your anchor, make sure all anchor points including the haul anchor are connected to all other anchor points. If an...

Throwing down the rope

People Throw Down Rope

After the rappel rope is looped at its midpoint through an anchor, it's time to get the rope ready to toss down the rappel route. Beginning from the rappel sling, coil each half of the rope separately into two butterfly coils. You'll end up with four butterfly coils, two on each side of the anchor. Throw the coils out and down the route, one at a time. Start on one side of the anchor by tossing the coil nearest the anchor, then the rope-end coil. Repeat for the other half of the rope fig. 8-15...

Aid Placements

Proper Piton Placement

The main rule for aid climbing is to place each aid piece as high as possible. If you make placements at 5-foot rather than 4-foot intervals, over the course of a 160-foot pitch you'll save eight placements, many more carabiners, and much time. Most of the techniques for placing free-climb-ing protection apply to aid climbing. For aid climbing, if possible, you'll shorten the slings to your pieces and often use hero loops on fixed protection rather than clipping in directly with a carabiner....

Snow Anchors

Pickets Anchor Webbing

Anchors are needed in snow for the same reasons they are needed on rock. The equipment is different but the purposes are the same to anchor belays and rappcls. But rock anchors are usually easy to inspect and predictable in performance. Snow anchors are not. They vary widely in strength depending on snow conditions and placement, and their strength changes during the day with changes in the snow. This uncertainty makes it even more imperative than on rock to check and recheck any belay or...

Lowering The Victim

Lower Loop Victim Mentality

Before deciding to lower a victim, be sure that's exactly what you want to do. Once started, it's very hard to reverse. It can be especially tricky with a small party, in which there are not enough people to provide an independent belay or help out if complications arise. If you go ahead with lowering, watch that the rope doesn't dislodge dirt or rocks. There are several possibilities for getting the affected person down the mountain, depending on the extent of illness or injuries Downclimbing...

Ice Axe Maintenance

What Positive Clearance Ice

The ice axe fig. 12-1 is one of the most versatile and important pieces of mountaineering equipment a climber owns. Without it, safe alpine travel is restricted to easy scrambles. With an axe, and the skill to use it, you can can venture onto all forms of snow and ice, enjoying a greater variety of mountain landscapes during more seasons of the year. The modern ice axe is an inherently simple tool with many uses. Below the snow line, it's used for balance, as a walking cane, and to help brake...

Climbing With Crampons

Modern crampon technique, evolving from the French and German styles, moves an ice climber efficiently upward with minimum fatigue. Flat-footing is generally used on lower-angle slopes and where point penetration is easy front-pointing is most common on slopes steeper than 45 degrees and on very hard ice. In practice, most climbers blend them into a combination technique. In any technique, the most important element is confident use of the crampons. Practice on gentle and moderate slopes helps...

Coiling The Rope

For carrying or storing, the rope is normally coiled, most commonly in the mountaineeer's coil fig. 6-3 or the butterfly coil fig. 6-4 . Most climbers prefer one or the other, but knowing both is useful. The mountaineer's coil is advantageous when the rope is carried over a pack. But the butterfly coil is faster, doesn't kink the rope, and ties snugly to your body if you are not wearing a pack. Whatever your method, uncoil the rope carefully before use. Untie the cinch knot and then uncoil the...

Stepcutting

The earliest method of ascending steep ice was simply to cut steps. The invention of crampons reduced the need for step-cutting, but never eliminated it. Climbers still encounter sections of ice when they are not carrying crampons or face short ice problems that may not merit taking the time to put on crampons. A broken crampon, or an injured or inexperienced climber, may be reason enough to cut steps. Even if you're wearing crampons, you might welcome a slight step chipped out by the axe for...

What Determines The Forces In A Fall

Static Running Dynamic Belay Definition

The simplest belay is the one the word originally meant. The sailor wraps rope around a cleat so that it cannot be pulled the earliest climbers wrapped rope around or over a boulder or rock horn or the like, hoping for the same result. The only difference between this and tying the rope directly to an anchor was that the rope could be fed out or taken in without untying and retying a knot. Today, a firm grip on the rope, coupled with a sufficiently small protected fall, produces the same...

The single pulley Cpulley

Pulleys For Mountaineering

Smaller groups without enough muscle to pull the climber out by brute force need a more sophisticated system. The single pulley gives rescuers a 2-to-l mechanical advantage, doubling the amount of weight that each puller can raise although friction somewhat lowers this ratio . Several considerations enter into a decision to use the single-pulley also known as the C-pulley . The fallen climbcr must be conscious in order to help by clipping into the rescue pulley. A separate length of rope is...

Leather boots

Stiff Firm Rigid

A general mountaineering boot is a compromise between conflicting requirements. It should be tough enough to withstand the scraping of rocks, stiff and solid enough for kicking steps in hard snow, yet comfortable enough for the approach hike. In a single day of climbing, the boots may have to contend with streams, mud, logs, brush, scree, hard snow, and steep rock. The classic leather mountaineering boot fig. 2-1 has the following features high uppers 5V2 to 71 2 inches to protect the ankles in...

French technique flatfooting

French technique is the easiest and most efficient method of climbing gentle to steep ice and hard snow once you learn how to do it. Good French technique demands balance, rhythm, and the confident use of crampons and axe. French climbers developed the flat-footing technique, thus their terminology is commonly used. Terms using the French word pied refer to the feet terms using piolet refer to the ice axe. Pied a plat, for example, is French for flat- footing. The name describes the technique...

German technique frontpointing

Developed by the Germans and Austrians for climbing the harder snow and ice of the eastern Alps, front-pointing can take an experienced ice climber up the steepest and most difficult ice slopes. With this technique, even average climbers can quickly overcome sections that would be difficult or impossible with French technique. Front-pointing, in contrast to the choreography of flat-footing, is straightforward and uncomplicated. The technique is much like step-kicking straight up a snow slope,...

Gentle to moderate slopes

Crampon French Technique

Many climbers find fiat-footing awkward and needlessly complicated when they first try it. Once mastered, however, it provides great security because it keeps you in balance over your feet, with maximum penetration of all vertical crampon points. Ankle strain can be eased by pointing your boots downhill more and more as the slope steepens, so the Hex needed to keep your feet flat comes from the more normal forward flex of the ankle and from the knees, which are bent away from the slope and...

The stairstep prusik

Harness Chest Improvised

This system of climbing the rope uses a separate sling for each leg. You can make a set of slings for yourself, and 25 feet about 8 meters of 6-milli-meter accessory cord is plenty of material for both of them. Getting the size right requires some experimentation. When all the work is done, you should end up with two slings one as long as the distance from your foot to your ears, the shorter one as long as from foot to elbow. Each sling consists basically of a single strand of cord, tied with...

The Texas prusik

Ascending Foot Prusik

This alternative method of ascending the rope also uses two slings, but this time only one goes to the feet while the other attaches directly to the seat harness fig. 13-9 . The foot sling has a separate loop for each foot though an option is to provide just a single loop used by only one foot. As with the stair-step method, attach the slings to the climbing rope before you start walking on the glacier. The seat sling should extend to head level when you slide the prusik knot upward. The prusik...

The Bilgeri rescue

Friction Knot

The Bilgeri fig. 13-13 is a sort of team self-rescue. It involves the rope-climbing techniques used in the stair-step prusik and the Texas prusik except that the friction knots or ascenders are operated by a rescuer topside, not by the fallen climber. 1. Secure the accident rope to an anchor with a friction knot or ascender the standard procedure after any crevasse fall. 2. Tie a foot loop in the end of a length of rope either a spare rope or the loose end of the accident rope . 3. Lower this...

Seconding long pendulums

Belay Pendulum

All long pendulums require at least one rope in addition to the climbing and haul ropes. There are a number of ways to second a long pendulum, but the method shown in figure 11-30 will handle all such cases. Figure 11-30a All pendulums begin with a leader, of course, who rappels off a bombproof pendulum point using either one rope or two ropes tied together, depending on the width of the pendulum. The rappel rope should be clipped into the anchor so there's no danger of losing it. While on the...

Raising The Victim

Lowering a person puts the force of gravity on the side of the rescuers, and therefore it's the preferred way to go, but sometimes there's no alternative to raising a victim up a steep face. Rescuers then have a choice of two general methods the prusik system, which depends upon the victim's own efforts, and the pulley system, in which rescuers do the lifting. These systems work on steep rock, snow, or ice, but they are usually associated with crevasse rescue. (Several versions of these systems...

Care Of The Feet

Because of their distance from the body core, extremities have the poorest circulation. To make matters worse for your feet in winter, they are always close to snow or ice. The same factors that keep your body warm adequate insulation and staying dry will also warm your feet. The advent of plastic double boots made it much easier than before to keep your feet warm and dry. The plastic shell is an absolute barrier to snow and water, while the inner boot provides the insulation. In some...

Rewoven bowline

Rewoven Bowline

The rewoven bowline fig. 6-16 is another excellent knot for tying into a seat harness at the end of the rope. It can be used in place of the rewoven figure-8. If the rewoven portion of the bowline comes untied, you are still tied in with a single bowline. The girth hitch fig. 6-20 , the overhand slip knot fig. 6-21 , and the clove hitch fig. 6-22 are simple knots that can be used to tie off partially driven pitons or ice screws.

Terrain Considerations

Major terrain features present both obstacles and opportunities fig. 12-40 . Some you use, some you avoid, but they all have to be reckoned with. A main avenue for all mountain climbing is provided by angled gullies couloirs . They can hold the key to upward progress because their overall angle is often less than that of the cliffs they breach, offering less technical climbing. Deeply shaded couloirs are more often lined with ice than snow, especially in late season. Even in spring, however,...

North American Rating Systems Rock climbing

In 1937, a modified Welzenbach rating system was introduced in America as the Sierra Club System. In the 1950s this system was modified to more accurately describe the technical climbing that was being done at Tahquitz Rock in California by adding a decimal figure to class 5 climbing. This has become known as the Yosemite Decimal System YDS . This system categorizes terrain according to the techniques and equipment required to travel that terrain. Class 1 A hiking scramble to a rocky gradient...

Artificial Protection

Example Artificial Passive

In the absence of natural protection, climbers use artificial protection devices. These devices include chocks artificial chockstones , bolts, and pi-tons. In most cases, the leader will use a chock or bolt, although pitons still have their uses. On a climb, the leader secures the piece of protection in the rock, providing a point of attachment for a runner, which is then connected to the climbing rope using carabiners. Chockcraft the art of placing and removing chocks is the preferred...

Mountaineering Boots Thick Or Thin Socks

Socks cushion and insulate your feet, absorb perspiration, and reduce friction between the boot and the foot. Socks made of wool or synthetic materials can perform all these functions, while those made of cotton cannot. Cotton absorbs too much water, which destroys its insulating qualities and increases friction between the boot and the foot. Most climbers wear two pairs of socks. Next to the skin, a smooth polyester or polypropylene sock transports perspiration from the foot to the outer sock....

Internal And External Frames

Large Frame Pack

Soft packs with internal frames fig. 2-10 that help maintain the pack's shape and transfer weight to the hips are by far the most popular packs among climbers and ski mountaineers. These packs allow the weight to be carried lower, and they do a better job of hugging the back. Internal frame packs are designed to move with you, while external frame packs tend to shift suddenly as you climb or ski. The sudden movement of 40 pounds or so can easily make you lose your balance. The volume of most...

The Munter hitch

The Munter hitch is a very effective method of using only the rope and a carabiner to provide the friction necessary to stop a fall. This method requires a large pear-shaped locking carabiner in order to allow the knot to pass through the interior. It amplifies the effect of your braking hand with the friction both of rope on rope and of rope on carabiner. When attached to the front of your harness it works much like a belay device. Although no belay method is foolproof, the Miinter hitch...

How Belays Are Used In Climbing

Tensionless Anchor

Before we move into the details of belay setups and procedures, it might be helpful to get a general feel of how belays are used on a climb fig. 7-1 . For the moment, picture just the essentials of a belay. There are two climbers, each tied into an end of a 150-foot rope. As one climbs, the other belays. The belay is connected to an anchor, a point of secure attachment to the rock or snow. The belayer pays out or takes in rope as the climber ascends, ready to use one of the methods of applying...

Preparing For The Pull Of A Fall

There are two general approaches to belaying, depending upon whether the forward pull of the fall goes first to your body, or directly to the anchor. Belaying from the anchor Belaying directly from the anchor fig. 7-2a requires, at a minimum, complete confidence that the anchor is bombproof in short, it will not fail under any conceivable force. If you are using one of the many available belay devices for applying friction to the rope, you must be able to assume a specific brak Fig. 7-2....

Preparing to belay the leader

Belaying the leader is a big change from belaying the follower because the pull is from a new direction, usually above. A new stance is often necessary. The anchor for belaying the leader must hold a pull toward the first piece of protection, possibly straight up, so your existing anchor may have to be revised or augmented. Fortunately the follower has brought up all the hardware from the pitch below, so you should have plenty of gear to work with. Before setting up your belay, pull in all the...

Rope Handling And Communicating

Ideally, when you are belaying the leader, the rope is never taut, which would impede the climber's next move. An alert belayer keeps just a hint of slack and responds immediately to the leader's advance by paying out more rope. When the climbing is easy, more slack is permissible. As the leader climbs, it is inevitable that some friction will develop along the rope. This rope drag can greatly increase the difficulty of the climb or make the leader stop, creating time-consuming extra belays,...

Leading And Placing Protection

Climbing Protections

Climbers who have learned the basic techniques of rock climbing and who know how to belay and rappel are ready to take up the study of leading and of placing protection. Leading is the skill of climbing first up a pitch, utilizing a belayer, rope, and intermediate protection for added safety. To many climbers, leading is one of the most satisfying activities in all of climbing. As leader, you're not just following you've taken on the challenge and responsibility of determining the direction of...

Tension Traverses And Pendulums

These techniques allow you to move horizontally across blank sections of a wall that would normally require placement of bolts. Tension traverses are the simpler technique, useful for short traverses. The leader takes tension from the belayer, then leans to the side and uses friction on small holds to work sideways. Pendulums let you cross wider blank sections without bolts but often require more ropes and pose special problems for the second climber. Start by placing a bombproof anchor at the...

How to cross a questionable slope

Nobody likes it, but sometimes there's no way to avoid questionable avalanche terrain. The problem then is to make the passage with the least danger of disturbing the slope, and to minimize the consequences if the climbers set off an avalanche or one sweeps down from above. Before heading out onto a questionable slope, check that your electronic avalanche rescue beacon is switched to the transmit position. Everyone in the party should carry one of the small battery-powered devices. If one...

The Rescue Belay

Knots Belay Rescue

The belay is an important component of the system of raising and lowering persons who are ill or injured. Whenever possible, the person being moved should be on a belay that is independent of the mechanism that is being used for raising or lowering fig. 17-2 . With this independent belay, the victim is safeguarded in case of any disaster to the raising lowering system, such as failure of the main anchor, rockfall damage to the rope, loss of the lowering brake or of the raising pulley, or injury...

Natural Protection

Some of the very best protection is already in place, just waiting for you. It's natural protection trees and bushes, horns and flakes, chockstones, boulders, and other natural features. The leader can save the fancy hardware for later in the climb. Only the simplest tools runners and carabiners are needed to take advantage of these gifts from Mother Nature. The basic technique for using all natural protection is identical position a runner around the natural feature, clip a carabiner to the...

Ice climbing

The variable conditions of snow and ice climbing make rating climbs difficult. The only two factors that do not vary greatly from year to year are length and steepness of the ice. Snow depth, thickness of ice, and temperature affect the condition of the route these factors plus the nature of the ice and whether or not it offers good protection affect its difficulty. Three rating systems have been introduced in North America the New England Ice Rating System, first described in the early 1970s...

The middle person

It's an awkward situation when the middle person on a three-person rope team falls in a crevasse, and there are no other teams around to help. The fallen climber is temporarily left hanging while the only two people who can help are separated by the crevasse, each in self-arrest. To get out of this fix, the climbers start by deciding which side of the crevasse is the rescue side that is, which side should the fallen climber come out on Usually, one of the two rescuers in self-arrest is holding...

Twoperson rope team

Glacier climbers on a two-person rope team traveling alone really need to know their stuff when it comes to crevasse rescue. Each climber must carry enough equipment for an anchor and a hauling system. The topside climber not only stops the fall but must set up the anchor while staying in self-arrest. As the sole rescuer, first secure your arrest position by digging in your feet and pressing the ice axe firmly into the snow. Try to free one hand by rotating the upper half of your body but keep...

Climbing Code

A climbing party of three is the minimum, unless adequate prearranged support is available. On glaciers, a minimum of two rope teams is recommended. Rope up on all exposed places and for all glacier travel. Anchor all belays. Keep the party together, and obey the leader or majority rule. Never climb beyond your ability and knowledge. Never let judgment be overruled by desire when choosing the route or deciding whether to turn back. Carry the necessary clothing, food, and equipment at all...

Performance Tests

The UIAA tests equipment to determine which gear meets its standards. In a sport where equipment failure can be fatal, it's wise to purchase equipment that has earned UIAA approval. A principal UIAA test checks the strength of single ropes, the basic ropes used in most climbing. These ropes generally measure between 9.8 and 12 millimeters in diameter. For the test, the UIAA attaches an 80-kilogram 176-pound weight to one end of a 2.8-meter 9-foot length of rope. The other end is attached to a...

Rappel Systems

Rappelling

A rappel system has four basic requirements a rope, an anchor, someone to rappel, and a means of applying friction to the rope. The midpoint of the rope is looped through the anchor a point of attachment to the rock or snow , with the two ends hanging down the descent route. The rappeller slides down this doubled rope and retrieves it from below by pulling on one end. In mechanical rappel systems, the doubled rope passes through a friction device attached to your seat harness. In non-mechanical...

Size of the climbing party

The minimum size for a mountaineering party is considered to be the number of people who can handle an accident situation adequately. Traditionally, a minimum party of three has been standard. Thus, if one climber is hurt, the second can stay with the victim while the third goes for help. Variations from the basic unit of three depend on the situation. On difficult terrain or in adverse weather, when it would be dangerous for one person to go alone for help, four may be the safe minimum. On the...

Belay anchors

Set Belay Off Anchor

A standard anchor set-up for an ice belay takes two ice screws. Place the first screw in the ice in front of you, a bit to one side, at about waist to chest level. Clip in a carabiner and tie into it with the climbing rope as it comes from your seat harness. Use a clove hitch or figure-8 knot. Unclip from the hand tool that was placed as a temporary anchor and replant that tool above and to the outside of the ice screw. Clip the tool to the screw via the wrist leash or a runner as a backup to...

Rappel Anchors

Anchor Rope Rappel

You will often be hanging your full weight on the rappel anchor, which is simply some point of attachment to the rock, snow, or ice. Set up the anchor as close as possible to the edge of the rappel route providing you can get a solid anchor . This provides the longest possible rappel. It also makes it easier to pull the rope down from below after the rappel, and often reduces the danger of rockfall as Think about possible effects on the rope as you are looking for an anchor. Locate the anchor...

Natural Anchors

Anchor Rope Rappel

The best natural anchor is a living good-sized, well-rooted tree. The rappel rope usually goes through a runner that is attached to the anchor. If you can attach this runner to a tree branch rather Fig. 8-10. Runner looped around a rock horn a, a dangerous rappel anchor b, runner rides up and off rock horn. Fig. 8-10. Runner looped around a rock horn a, a dangerous rappel anchor b, runner rides up and off rock horn. than low on the trunk, it helps limit the rope's contact with the ground,...

Rappel Technique

Rappel Anchor Techniques

In preparing to rappel, you will go through a sequence of establishing the anchor, attaching the rope to the anchor, throwing the rope down, and hooking yourself into the rappel system. At this point, you are facing the anchor, your back to the descent route, ready to head down the rope. Here's how to do it. Start with a final check of the entire system seat harness, rappel hardware, attachment to the rope, and anchor. Then, unless you're the last to rappel, wait while a partner checks your...

Ice Axe And Crampons

An ice axe and crampons are as important for safe glacier travel as a rope and harness. Crampons help you keep your footing if the snow is icy or the glacier slope gets steep. The ice axe does its usual job of aiding with balance and providing a tool for self-belay and self-arrest. It's also what you use to stop a ropemate's tumble into a crevasse, by falling into self-arrest position with the axe. In order to keep the axe with you in case you're the one who falls in, attach a leash of...

Chest Harnesses

Improvised Chest Harness

A chest harness can be readily improvised with a long loop of webbing a long runner . One popular design depends on a carabiner to bring the ends of the harness together at your chest. Another uses a knot instead to attach the ends. The carabiner chest harness Start with a double-length runner. Give the runner a half twist to create two temporary loops, and push one arm all the way through each loop. Lift the runner over your head and let it drop against your back, then pull the two sides...

Ascending Snow

Images Diagonal Cane Technique

Climbing up and down snow slopes takes a set of special skills. Different techniques come into play depending on how hard or steep the slope is. The related skills of cramponing and step-cutting are covered in Chapter 14. As with rock climbing, staying in balance while moving on snow is less tiring, more efficient, and safer than struggling to keep from falling only by clinging to something in this case, the ice axe or the snow. Snow climbers move from one balanced position to another, avoiding...

Cautions About Compass

As you've gathered by now, there's a big difference between using a compass for working with a map and using a compass for field work. When measuring and plotting bearings on a map, the compass needle is ignored. Just align the meridian lines on the compass housing with the north-south lines on the map. In the field, you must use the magnetic needle. You may have heard that metal can mess up a compass reading. It's true. Ferrous objects iron, steel, and other materials with magnetic properties...

The Ice

Carrying Ice Axe

The tool is called an ice axe, but it's really an invaluable all-purpose item that often goes to work long before snow or ice is reached. The axe has a lot of unsuspected uses. It pro vides a third leg during stream fording. It gives a brief touch-and-go balance point while you hop across talus. It also helps with balance on steep trails, serving as a heavy-duty cane going uphill and a brake going down. The axe held diagonally across the body, spike touching the slope, will help you hold a...

Food and equipment

On expeditions to the remote mountains of the world, you cither take it with you or you do without it. Having the necessary equipment, in working order, is much more critical than on a weekend climb where home is a short drive away. Your expedition needs a complete equipment list, both group and personal, worked out in discussions with all team members. (See the sample equipment list at the end of this chapter.) Food constitutes the heaviest single category of weight carried by an expedition....

The Compass

The compass is a very simple device that can do a wondrous thing. It can reveal at any time and any place exactly what direction you are heading. On a simple climb in good weather, the compass may never leave your pocket. But as the route becomes more complex or the weather worsens, it comes into its own as a critical tool of mountaineering. A compass is nothing more than a magnetized needle that responds to the earth's magnetic field. Compass-makers have added a few things to this basic unit...

Essential Equipment

There is a selection of small but critical items that deserve a place in almost every pack. You won't use every one of these items on every trip, but they can be lifesavers in an emergency, insurance against the unexpected. Exactly how much insurance you should carry is a matter of debate. Some respected minimalists argue that weighing down your pack with insurance items causes you to climb slower, making it more likely you'll get caught by a storm or nightfall and be forced to bivouac. Don't...

Going For Help

If possible, send two climbers out together for help partly for safety and partly because two people can do a better job of obtaining aid. Be sure they have a clear understanding of the party's situation and requirements so they will know exactly what aid to seek. They should take with them a list of the names and phone numbers of everyone in the party, a completed accident report form, and a map that pinpoints the accident site. Fill out an accident report form (fig. 17-1) for each injured...

Preparing to belay the follower

Because there are so many things to remember and balance, setting up the belay is one of the slower tasks for beginners. The more aggressively you search for anchors and stances, the more likely you will discover a simple solution. Don't rush the visualization stage. Here are factors to consider as you complete leading a pitch and have just reached a spot to set up a belay for the follower Establish an anchor for yourself and clip into it, and then call out off belay so the follower can stop...

Training Goals And Regimens

A training program should be designed to develop and maintain strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Added benefits will be greater confidence and fluidity on the rock. The energy required for muscular contraction is derived from three energy-producing systems each of which produces adenosine triphosphate ATP , the final common source of chemical energy for muscle . The primary source of energy for sustained or repeated muscular contraction requires oxygen and is referred to as the...

Making The Crossing

Unfasten the waist and chest straps of your pack before trying any stream crossing that would require swimming if you fell. You must be able to shed the pack in a hurry. A foot log is a great way across, with an ice axe, stick, or tightly stretched handline to help with balance and support if the log is thin, slippery, or steeply inclined. Sit down and scoot across if that helps. Boulders offer another way. Move from boulder to boulder but only after mentally rehearsing the entire sequence of...

Rope management

Keep the rope extended, without slack. This is the most important rule of rope management on a glacier. A rope that is fully extended between climbers is your insurance against taking a long plunge into a crevasse. A slack rope means you drop farther, increasing chances of hitting the sides or bottom or becoming wedged where the crevasse narrows. For the climbers on top, it can mean a much greater hit on the rope from the fallen climber and the danger of being pulled into the hole. To help keep...

Objective Hazards The Mountain Environment

Objective hazards are the natural processes that exist whether humans are involved or not. Darkness, storms, lightning, cold, precipitation, high altitude, avalanches, and rockfall are powerful, impersonal environmental conditions that can easily overwhelm humans. These objective hazards of the mountains are eternally persistent and changeable. We cannot control these forces, but we can learn to recognize them and act to minimize their dangers. You will find detailed information throughout this...

Bivouac Sack

Mountaineering Deadman Placement

For super-lightweight alpine traveling, the bivy sack takes the place of a tent in providing shelter from wind and rain. The sack is a large envelope of tightly woven fabric with a zipper entrance at one end. The bottom, usually of waterproof coated nylon, goes against an insulating ground pad. The upper side, of a breathable, waterproof material such as Gore-Tex, allows moisture to escape into the atmosphere. The bivy sack is designed for one person, two in an emergency. It needs no poles or...

Protection for mixed terrain

Previous chapters have detailed the types of protection used on rock, snow, and ice. Mix them all together, however, for winter climbing and there are some additional considerations. Given a choice between a rock anchor and a snow anchor, the rock anchor is usually the one to use. It's relatively easy to check the soundness of rock anchors not so with most snow or ice anchors. Even a good anchor in snow or ice has less strength than one well-placed in rock. You may have to do a good bit of...

Rock climbing Australian

The Australian system uses open-ended numerics 1-33. See Table 1. The rating of climbs in Brazil is composed of two parts. The first number gives the general level of difficulty of the route ranging from first to eighth grade or degree , which is written as grade 5 . There is no comparison to the YDS for this part of the system. The second part gives the difficulty of the hardest free move or sequence of moves Fig. App. 2-2. Rating systems used throughout the world United States Quotation marks...

Setting Up The Rope

Joining Two Rappel Ropes Together

To get the rope ready for rappel ling, you attach it to an anchor. In the simplest case, you would untie a runner and retie it around a tree as a rappel sling. Then the midpoint of the rope is suspended from the sling fig. 8-1 la . If you're using just one rope, put one end of the rope through the sling and pull it until you reach the midpoint. Or you can put the sling around the midpoint before you retie it around the tree. If Fig. 8-11. Rappel rope attached to tree a, rappel rope through a...

Snow Travel And Climbing

Climbing in snow is a fundamental part of mountaineering. Snow adds beauty and challenge but even if you wanted to avoid snow, it wouldn't be easy. Climbers work in a world in which their medium, the mountains, is sculpted by the action of snow, ice, and water. To avoid snow would mean climbing in only a select few mountain ranges or for only a few months each year. Climbers like snow for at least a couple of reasons. First of all, it makes many climbs a lot easier by providing a pathway over...

Using Intermediate Objectives

Following Bearing

A handy technique is available for those frustrating times you try to stay exactly on a compass bearing, but keep getting diverted by obstructions such as cliffs, dense brush, or crevasses. Try the technique of intermediate objectives. Sight past the obstruction to a tree or rock or other object that is exactly on the bearing line to the principal objective fig. 4-16a . Then you're free to scramble over to the tree or rock by whatever route is easiest. When you get there, you can be confident...

Ice screws

Ice Screw Placement

A favorable location for an ice-screw placement is the same as for an ice tool. A good choice is a natural depression, where fracture lines caused by the screw are not as likely to reach the surface fig. 14-38a . A screw placed into a bulge in the ice, on the other hand, can cause serious fracturing that weakens the placement or makes it useless. If this happens, move the screw a foot or two and try again. Generally keep screw placements at least 2 feet apart more in rotten ice to reduce...

Composition Of Foods

Each of the three major food components carbohydrates, protein, and fats provides energy, and each must be supplied in approximately the right amount to maintain a healthy mind and body. Food intake for mountaineers can go as high as 6,000 calories per day, possibly even more for larger folks. You will have to determine what is best for you depending on how demanding a trip you are planning and your own size, weight, metabolic rate, and level of conditioning. Carbohydrates are easiest for the...

During the trip

Get off on the right foot by making sure that everyone understands the route. Gather the crew around a map and take time to discuss the route and make contingency plans in case the party gets separated. Point out on the map where you are and associate the surroundings with the piece of paper in front of you, orienting the map to true north if you wish. This is a good time for everyone to make a mental note of the main features the party will see during the trip, such as forest, streams, or...