On Episode 190 of the Enormocast, I sit down with friends Andrew Bisharat and Steve Dilk take aim at foibles, dangers, and annoyances in climbing that continue to plague our sport and our minds. What’s on the block this year? Bad dog owners, simul-rappelling, snotty belay testers, speed climbing, and more. Fueled by our whiskey sponsor, lots of stuff gets said that may be TONGUE IN CHEEK so if your sacred cow gets skewered, try not to drive off the road in rage.
Our Episode Sponsor: Breuckelen Distilling.
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17 Replies to “Episode 190: TAPS 2020 aka The Things We Wished Were Cancelled Edition.”
My chihuahua Coco and I were on our first bivy (pitch two slab) of Moonlight when we listened to this. I feel so insulted and ashamed. How dare you.
Tell Coco to hit the hangboard and maybe she’ll send pitch 3.
The stuff sack objection is classic. Bivy bags, harness bags, doesn’t matter… I always motivate myself by reasoning that if all the matter in the universe once fit into initial singularity, then I can fit one last ounce of down into this seam-stressed abomination.
You mentioned right at the end of this episode that you think that girlfriends and boyfriends as climbing partners should also be “retired” due to the power imbalance, and I wish you had elaborated on that. I personally love climbing with my boyfriend but agree that it can cause certain issues that might not arise with other partners. Rather than putting a moratorium on romantic partners as climbing partners, I think it’s worth discussing how we can recognize and mitigate the potential pitfalls in these situations. Perhaps a subject for another episode?
One thing that I was not even mentioned during the discussion on simul-rapping was the use of a grigri for the rap. My partner and I almost exclusively simul-rap with grigri on multi pitch (as well as using grigri for all belays) and the reason is the efficiency and safety of the device. Yeah you can’t always do this and that’s a situational decision, but most of the time it’s our preferred method. The time savings/efficiency of rigging a grigri vs arc/autoblock multiplied by x amount of raps is worth it for me. Oh and if the thought of rapping on a single strand feels sketchy for anyone I assume they only climb with double ropes? And yes, we tie knots in the ends of both ropes and each carry a backup device. Maybe I need help with my grigri love affair…
I’ve never figured out how to give a good belay with a grigri off a lap coil. I feel like I need three hands: On to pull rope above the grigri, one to hold the device open, one to pull coils that get stuck. With an ATC, the brake hand does not need to be at the device so it can be freeing up rope while still holding the break. Incidentally, I’ve rarely gotten a perfect belay from someone with a gri gri on a multipitch free climb. At a hanging stance, they always end up shorting me a at least a few times as the rope, or the cog on the grigri gets jammed when I surprise them with needing some rope in a hurry. Plus its much heavier than an ATC.
In the conversation of simul-rappelling and tying backup knots at the ends, you guys talk about time saved vs. safety of the system. Tying the safety knot takes close to 0 time, and simul-rappelling doesn’t end up being that much faster than going one-at-a-time. But then a few minutes later Andrew talks about how he’s going to climb on a double bowline no matter what. Doesn’t that fit under the same argument? I know the bowline is safe 99% of the time, but just tie the figure-8 and maybe spend an extra minute untying it.
Andrew is a flawed human like us all. I also agree the bowline is dumb.
As to the idea of tying a knot taking Zero time, that is of course impossible in a normal universe (see our discussion of a quantum ascent of El Cap). Yes, to most of us, the seconds of inconvenience of pulling the fallen cord up to tie a knot seems like no biggie. But my essential problem with the simul rappel is that IF it’s being used to shave time, then the user will need to cut corners like pulling that rope up, etc. So it’s not the simul rappel technique itself that gets people but the approach to using it and the necessity to cut safety corners to make it actually faster.
Thanks for the diligent words on simul rapping. It’s hard to thoroughly address an issue with so much sentimental weight but you guys nailed it. I was going to mention pre-rigging both devices to avoid having to pull the rope end up to tie a knot but you beat me to the punch! I love how you relate this subject with leadership dynamics towards the end, which pertains to so many other TAPS topics.
The “Moonlight Buttress issue” is so so hard to pin down. On the one hand, unless you’re only climbing at a gym (probably not the case if you’re listening to this show), the aspects of esthetic and adventure are inseparable from your climbing experience. You are lured towards lines like Moonlight Buttress for their innate beauty and driven by the sense of adventure in this pursuit. If your ideal adventure consists of sleeping on the wall, and you think that the Moonlight Buttress is a beautiful line, who am I to tell you otherwise?
On the other hand, think about the scale of impact. One climber aiding one pitch could shut down a dozen free climbers. Is your idea of adventure more important than theirs? Maybe you don’t care, but I like to think that our community has a sense of mutual appreciation for each other’s objectives. That’s why we join together to build trails, clean up trash, and respect locals, so that we can have access and collectively pursue our passions. So to be brutally honest, taking on a popular free climb as an aid route is one of the most direct disservices you can make to the climbing community. Again, if you don’t care, that’s too bad, I’ll go climb somewhere else. That soft rock in Zion scares the bejesus out of me.
Incredible episode you guys. Hilarious, thoughtful, warm and the perfect mix of reverent and irreverent. I laughed harder than i do during most stand up specials and i thought the discussion about simul-rappeling was on point. Especially because i was considering doing some simul-rappels tomorrow, but after thinking about the simple math you guys put down, i’m gonna pass on it from now on.
Thanks for the compliments. Just use the simul rappel judiciously and with care and its a fine tool. Especially if you climb big routes with two grigris as your only devices. And of course, tie knots.
In response to the point of why people don’t knot the other side of the rope after pulling: if you do a single strand reepschnur rappell (fig eight on a bight on the mid mark with a biner backing it up) with a gri-gri or ATC (if you have to), you only ever need to knot one end of the rope, since the other end is the pull end. And you also only need to find the middle mark of your rope once to set up the rappell for the first time, and thats it, which saves you tons of time setting up the next rappell – just thread the next anchors, tie the knot, pull the rope, keep pulling until you hit the knot, reclip the biner, and set off again.
This is my preferred rap system – it’s fast, specifically because it makes the logistics of setting up the rappel very very simple and quick.
Cool. Also, another variation is if you rig both your devices before the first person leaves, the second device on the rope would accomplish the same thing in terms of holding both sides if the first guy hits only one knot at the ends. Since the device needs to be rigged before or after, no time loss doing it first. Especially effective if the device is extended from the harness. Really, your partner’s hand ought to be on the downside of the hanging rope as a break, but I bet it would essentially work with just the weight of the ropes acting as break.
I’m an aging trad climber trying to embrace sport climbing ideas. Couple of things about Big Walls and something like Moonlight Buttress – part of the allure of crack climbing is the aesthetics of the line. Just because someone can’t climb 12b shouldn’t exclude them from the climb. Sure you want to be proficient and move as quickly as possible but some of us might have to aid a few sections.
The other thing I wonder about is when people are working a wall top down, isn’t that equally intrusive and somewhat obnoxious. Ok so I wouldn’t give Alex Honnold grief for having 1200 ft of fixed line but then again I’m not likely going to be anywhere he would be, well maybe the free blast??? So I think it comes down to etiquette and being aware if who is around. I remember leaving camp IV to climb the nose at 4:30 am, my partner and I had both done the lower pitches – I got rained off – so we opted to jug the fixed lines, they were 3 sets aka cluster fuck. Anyway, as we pull out of the parking lot a pair of headlights comes on and son of bitch if we didn’t get into a race with 2 Italian climbers. They got ahead of us which was ok. All 4 of us ended up bailing from the Stove Legs in a downpour. Somehow their rope got stuck and they cut some off and wanted to use our ropes, uh no! They did not speak English and we didn’t speak Italian, at one anchor the one guy starts to help me clear the anchor and its like get the fuck away from me. I got to my partner at the parking sign which turns into a fucking waterfall. He decided to swap ropes because they were carrying on so much about their shortened rope. It was fine, except the overhand knot they tied almost capsized, it was really close by the end of the last rappel.
As for dogs ~ unless they are really well trained aka a good owner the best crag dog is the one left at home! I love dogs but mine was just too nuts to take along.
So what the hell is happening at Indian Creek that there are so many accidents, haven’t been there since 2008 when I moved back east, yeah not by choice! Red River Gorge is close, so thats a good thing, it does get to be a cluster fuck on weekends.
Ok, maybe my Moonlight thing was a little harsh. But you know, its food for thought, because a lot of great lines somehow became bad style to do full on slow and heavy ascents. How did this happen? Moonlight is getting there. Yes its a great line, yes everyone has the right to head up there, but maybe its time to say “bummer i can’t fire that thing, so many other routes to do…” But of course, everyone can do whatever fuck they want.
I just think we need to rethink fixed lines in general. Its like we give all this lip service to commitment and things like leave no trace, and then FIXED LINES!!!!!!
Indian Creek has become exponentially popular even since 2008. Sport and Gym climbing I think is leaving a lot of folks unequipped to make a safe transition to climbing there. Or maybe its just statistics: 10 times the people, 10 times the accidents.
The graphic of the Texas Flake wormhole is the best thing I’ve seen all year.
Just remember to drop the right acid before you go through.
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