Living In The Vertical World

Living for days on a vertical wall of rock brings some intriguing problems.

Dropped gear, for instance. Once dropped, it's gone. All vital items must have clip-in loops. Learn your gear so you can work it confidently. Get acquainted with unfamiliar items, such as Por-taledges or hammocks, beforehand.

It's usually necessary to carry all your water with you. Each climber generally needs 2 quarts per day. For hot weather, especially if the route gets a lot of sun, you will need to carry even more.

Waste disposal poses another challenge. Tossing garbage down the wall is not acceptable, so you'll have to haul it up and off the climb. On popular routes, use paper bags for your excrement and toss these off the wall—warning climbers below when you are about to launch a bag. On seldom-climbed routes (or when no portion of a popular route is in your fall line), you can let your excrement fall out into space because this waste will decay far more quickly when not bagged. Keep all bivouac sites clean and sanitary, with no sign of your passing.

After completing a major wall, you need to get your gear back down. In the past, common practice was to toss the haul bag loaded with gear off the wall. Today, sack tossing is illegal at popular climbing areas like Yosemite; it endangers climbers below. Furthermore, many climbers have had their gear stolen by the time they got down to it. Carry down what you hauled up.

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