Sunday, 10 April 2011

BLOODY ROPE TECHNIQUE MANUALS!! (Complexity Theory and Compound Error)


It seems to me that every Mountain Instructor or Guide who happens to be bored or short of a few quid these days,feels the need to inflict yet-another of these things on an allready overburdened market!?
Dont get me wrong!? Some of these are quite good,even amusing,if not a tad repetitive,and thats the problem i have with them!
"What the f***!!!!"(Actualy this pic comes from a realy great manual!)

A load of the same old rubbish (much of it from natural-fibre,static rope days.) is trotted out time after time like Great Grandads old photo album. And you just "know" that the lazy bugger who copied them from a thousand other similar publications in the past,has never even tried those techniques,as they are unworkable and virtualy useless!!
I refer in particular to the realy "overcomplicated systems" that would confuse an Einstein! And allso those horrible abortions known as "unassisted hoists",that short of being raised as a Lowland Gorrilla,you would never be able to get to work! (I know!? Ive tried them all!!)
I am allways on at people to broaden their ropeing knowledge by checking out ARBOR,MARINE, and IRATA techniques.Ok, so a lot of it is not applicable but every so often you come across something thats a little bit magic,and thats not only useful its allso great fun!?
Yacht-Boom Vang.(Has lotsa other names too!)

Dont be afraid to experiment with alternative hoist and pulley systems that will work for you! The above picture is a heavier version of the "6 to 1" system that i modified from a Dinghy Vang.I just replaced the rope with 5metres of  7mil Perlon,and now i have a Super Lightweight (180gm) hauling system that can pull a small truck! I added a Krab on one end and a good strong Prusik on the other,and now have an instantly workable tool that can be used on everything from "crevasse rescue to unassisted hoists"! At £15 thats not a bad result from a stall at a Boat Jumble Sale.?!
Dont take just any old written technique as Gospel,you are just paying some lazy assed bugger for a book you probably dont need?!
Play with your own ideas! Improvise,adapt,and practice safetly to see what can work for you!

Good climbing!


SOLO MOUNTAINEERING.(Stoves,Slings,and other things!)


I fell in love with the Jetboil from the moment it hit the retail market.Now i am on my second one,as the first is in tiny bits at the bottom of a big Swiss mountain.The main problem with it has allways been its londitudinal shape and wobbly base-bracket which makes it very easy to knock over.Which is how i lost the first one!
I never cook anything in mine,its solely for heating water for drinks and dehydrated ration packs,and melting snow and ice for water replenishment.I advise others not to cook in them either as they are hell to scrub out!Two tips to pass on,-Allways carry a second ignition source(lighter or matches),dont trust "Piso" ignition systems.Mark the gas cannister usage(on the can) as theres nothing worse than running out of gas when you need it!
I finally figured out how to secure the stove after seeing Andy Kirkpatricks effort on his blog .Mine is lighter and not so ellegant as his.

All i did was fit a 6inch wide "marine stainless steel" Jubilee Clip,bought from my local chandlery,and fastened 2-feet of braided-brass "picture frame wire" to each side,in order to hang it.I prefered this wire as it is bendy and can be twisted around protection to lock the stove in place.Its allso imensely strong stuff! There are loads of great mountain stoves on the market of course!? But this one suits my budget and soloing needs perfectly!


ETRIER,means "stirrup" in French and is a simple piece of kit that is incredibly useful for giving a solo-climber a "leg up",especially creaky old codgers like me! You can buy a 5-step Etrier for about £25,or make your own out of Nylon Slings.I prefer nylon as its cheaper,easier to pull apart after use,and less likely to rip if you use crampons on it!
Dyneema on the other hand is stronger but very easy to damage,more costly,and locks up solid when you knot it and add weight. Theres a strange little video on (a useful and fun website)that shows you how to rig Etrier with simple overhand knots,if your not sure how to do it?!
Make sure you make the steps with enough room to take an Alpine Boot,and dont make your etrier too long(4 to 5 steps are fine!).Its better and more useful to carry two small ones,than one long one! Practice rigging and using them often as they can be very unstable to climb on,and its best to stay familiar with them.
Peggy demoing finished variation.

Use a Krab or two,to counterweight the ends,or the slightest wind will blow the thing up around your ears and drive you nuts! Attach the top ends to a second sling or lanyard(one full arms length long),then attach that to your belay-loop on your harness.This sling or lanyard must be able to take your full weight and can be used as protection ,when clipping into a gear placement in the rock. It will allso save you money and a lot of tears and pain if you should drop the Etrier.
Rob doing "bounce test".

Finally make sure you bounce-test the device before you commit to useing it,in the same way you test a gear placement when you clip an Etrier to it and commit your body weight.
Technically,using Etriers can be considered as "Aid Climbing" even if only used to get you over a small,difficult, rock or ice step or to escape a crevasse!? The lightweight and very simple system that i employ,"must not" be construed as suitable for Technical Aid Climbing or Big Wall Aid Climbing! That is a very different skill-set alltogether,that should be learned from experts in that field.I have "no" skills or expierience in that type of climbing at all!
My use of these techniques and devices are simple systems to help me overcome short difficult pitches,where my solo-climbing abilities are overstretched!

Best to all,and good climbing!