Sunday, 4 December 2011


I deserve it for my hubris i guess? Put off a gear-photoshoot in Snowdonia for the last three months,and got clobbered by foul weather for the entire week.Got my pics,but not the ones i realy wanted.Ah well!?
Trouble with climbing solo with ropes is you have to do everything three bloody times over! There is no way round this if you want to keep all your gear,though i do keep searching for a way!

Dudeist Tai Chi.

The soloists dream of a fluid,rolling ascent on a continuous rope-loop is a myth.It sounds great in theory but when you get down to the practical,you still will have to abseil to retrieve your gear and haul yourself back up again! Until somebody invents disposable,vapourising protection or plasters every climb on the planet with bolt-hangers,this is our lot and we are stuck with it.
Not having the skills or the inclination to aid-climb big walls i stay within my meagre abilities,and just bumble along keeping my rack as light and multi- purpose as possible.
Some of my scariest moments in 45yrs of climbing have been on narrow windy ridges and hairy loose traverses.So i have worked out the following technique which (albeit lengthy and tiresome) has kept me alive to the present on anything that requires a difficult lateral move to get me out of trouble.

Protecting the traverse or ridgeline.

Useing my rope-loop i move across on Petzyl-Shunt or Classic Prusik as a fall-arrest system.I place a realy bomber anchor-system or disposable rope-sling at the start of the move.That way,if all else fails and i fall,i will have a horrible bumpy pendulum that i may just survive to climb out of. I use older,reliable gear as placed protection and back it up with disposable rope-slings made from my old half-ropes (allways carry a couple in my sack)rather than expensive tapes and quickdraws.
When i reach safe ground i then have the option of "chickening out" and leaving my old tat,retrieving my rope-loop and buggering off,or returning across the gap to recover my gear.

For the return there is a dual option of protecting myself.I can rig up a Via-Feratta system using HMS-Krabs and my super-strong Mammut Industrial slings,or reverse the fall-arrest direction of the Shunt and move back on that,or do both!? (see pic above)

When you get back to the primary-anchor point again STOP! Check your gear and take time to think very carefully before removing the anchor! Is the Shunt in the correct fall-arrest position for the final traverse to safe ground?! Are you protected?!

 On the final crossing,remove protection as you go,making sure to Krab your loose rope away on the harness (If possible),or just let it drop behind you as you lift the protection. DO NOT!! (whatever you do!) Coil the rope around your neck like the "soon to be deceased" dickhead in the above picture who should have known better!

Good climbing,