Is there a course you do?

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Is there a course you do?

Post by tuongtndg » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:46 am

Hi there all

Ok so i want to climb, so now what?
Is there a course you do? Name of course? Where?

Or do you find someone like Gustav and spend a few days with him while he shows you the rope and thats all you need? :alien: :alien: :alien:
Last edited by tuongtndg on Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Justin » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:01 am

Yes.

Doing a course with an instructor is a very wise thing to do. You get taught how to do things correctly the first time round (and do not learn bad habits).

If want to do a climbing course in the Cape, contact me on - justin@climbing.co.za
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Warren G » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:05 pm

Go to a gym/ climb and learn, thats what 99% of everyone does. Taking a guided course is expensive, and entirely unnecessary. You mentioned Gustav, so presumably you're in Gauteng? Try a varsity club (Wits/ Tuks), The Barn, Wonderwall, City Rock or Join MCSA on beginners meets.
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by PeterHS » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:48 pm

I did the 4 day basic course with Ross Suter in Cape Town. We did everything from belays to sport to emergency drills to trad, seconding to leading. It was an excellent course and well worth the investment. The advantage of doing a course such as his over learning from mates (Warren G I disagree with you here) is that we covered all the emergency scenarios - escaping the belay, ascending an overhang using prussiks, abseiling up and down over knots etc. In my experience, my friends who started in the gym, then went sport and tried their hand at trad did not learn the basic emergency procedures. Its too late to learn when your alone over an overhang and out of rope and your belayer is out of sight and earshot due to wind etc .... Peter

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Justin » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:50 am

Well said Peter :thumleft:

I’ll add, there is nothing wrong going the route that Warren suggests (and it will be cheaper). However it will depend on who is teaching you and it will likely be a slower process.
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:16 pm

Courses are useful and are the easy way to learn the basics. But there is no substitute for experience. Ross Suter and Gustav have lots of experience as well as doing it by the book. Certified guides can stifle your adventure into trad climbing though as they learn and teach systems that have extra redundancy compared to just going climbing with an experienced climber.

Guides set up all sorts of redundant and equalized anchor systems that are overly complex and time consuming and require extra gear that is not necessary for ordinary safe trad climbing. They usually build anchors off which they belay directly with locking systems which are not necessary for trad climbing. Sitting on a stable ledge on your arse and with one or two solid anchors and then belaying directly off your harness is much quicker and safe.

So learn the basics from somewhere, then link up with an experienced climber and go climb.

Trad is all about efficiency. If you are not efficient you not going to get much done and often be climbing and walking in the dark.

I personally go climbing often with very inexperienced people at one of the most "out-there" trad destinations Yellowwood where they learn quickly. Tomorrow going with 2 bouldering school kids.....

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Old Smelly » Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:44 pm

I do differ in that I believe you should learn the basics from an instructor or someone who teaches standards and then later learn all your bad habits from your fellow climbers and buddies - such as those Snort is implying.

Reason being that some of the weird things you learn from fellow climbers, including useful shortcuts and tips, are the type of thing that are liable to get you killed (ask 5 people how to do something and you will get 5 answers) - whereas Mountain Guides and instructors teach to standards that are recognised and that will keep you safe. That is the point about their type of qualification.

I know this is a boring approach but once you have the basics right you can decide what to keep and what to disregard at your own leisure from a position of knowledge, not ignorance. Even those who have been mentored learn a lot when they receive "proper" formal instruction. Efficiency can come from knowledge, hardly ever safely from just trying new ideas - fun as it may seem.

That's my take on why you should learn things the "right" way from the start - but it seems like "Safety Third" is the new rule...
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:02 pm

Smelly I don't really see any difference in your post to mine really.

Learning by the book as I said has its merits but there are many terrible and some very dangerous methods and conventions used by guides that they use simply so as to retain their accreditation. One is the short-roping a system that kills several people each year.

Another convention that I see has even been taught at CityROCK is where a long tail is left after making a figure of 8 and then backed up with a fishermans with a huge gap as in this picture.
Knot.JPG
Knot.JPG (25.09 KiB) Viewed 753 times
It is absurd as it is totally unnecessary and bedevils your clips whether for sport or trad. I see no point to it and no need. In fact to the contrary is a huge hindrance. You could argue that it is for top-roping only but why even then? If you are gonna back up a figure of 8 with a fishermans then make the fishermans hard up against the 8 or feed the tail back through the 8 and tie a hitch or a fisherman's between the 8 and the loop going to your harness.

The other convention that is awful is following a "guide" with a locking system when you are trying to work out a move. You can't yo-yo as the system locks. This can be most frustrating and leave you dangling in the air out of contact with the rock if you cock up a move through an overhang.

The most important aspect of being a trained guide that is problematic and frustrating and even annoying is that once they have their certificate that have to do it by the book and cannot or at least are unwilling to modify their modus opperandi to the circumstances. This is where experience matters and flexibility is most important. In Chamonix I am appalled by how so many of the guides mis-manage their clients rushing and cajoling and hauling them up routes.

BTW iIhave developed a hybdrid system of using a locking guide system whereby I sit down and use it not only in guide system but it is also attached to my harness whereby i can easily undo do it and escape it and still have the benefit of it locking. If handing over the lead, I don't have to change anything and merely disconnect the device from guide lock loop at the back.

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Old Smelly » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:57 am

Good Points- some practices are so mindless! You do raise a very valid argument- the climber needs to learn to assess all they learn - from whoever. The real issue lies with those who do not have analytical minds so they blindly do what they are told, without evaluating the merits behind it. That is BAAAA...D.

Hopefully every climber learns the basics and somewhere along the line starts to think about WHY they do things...
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:57 am

Yes, there are courses that you can do.

Generally it's easier to pay someone to learn rather than finding someone to mentor you. I'd recommend learning best practice and when you have a firm grasp of that, and sufficient experience, you will be able to make considered decisions about safe shortcuts.

From a guide/instructor you'll also learn a bunch of techniques that may one day save your ass, like prusik knots, which you are unlikely to learn from a climbing buddy since they most will be focused on going climbing.
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Grey25 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:30 pm

Snort don't you part own Cityrock? If tying in that way is so bad then why not get your people to change the way they teach? At the end of the day we all want to see climbing grow and as you say, teach them the basics so lets teach them the right basics at your amazing gyms.

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:26 pm

That pic that I saw comes from you tube. People get into habits and most habits tend to be bad rather than good. When a habit good or bad becomes a social norm it is called a convention. Bad personal habits are very difficult to break. Conventions are even more difficult to alter. Thank goodness the convention of smoking in public places especiallyplanes has been changed but it required legislation that is also enforced and did not occur due to social pressure or "buy in" by people to do so.

In that regard, it seems "conventional" that people smoke in that tiny space or bar at De Pakhuys that is extremely poorly ventilated in winter. I had a really hard time with 2 smokers including one storming off in a huff when I took them to task over it. I am sure that most people there were not happy with the situation. Won't be back there that's for sure.

So this is what you see on you tube. OVery difficult to break the convention...



REI has a reasonable video. Many climbers that actually really climb work there...



The one from Thailand is the best



This one is OK too.



The last one is absurd with 4 loops but he does mention the gap to be small.



I think it comes from "more is better" mindset.

The kind of person who makes this knot will often if not usually have lots of redundant paraphernalia hanging off their harness, like cordelletes, 4,5 or 6 Screwgates, a pulley etc etc It all adds clutter and weight and wastes time

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by PeterHS » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:13 am

Grey25 wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:30 pm
Snort don't you part own Cityrock? If tying in that way is so bad then why not get your people to change the way they teach? At the end of the day we all want to see climbing grow and as you say, teach them the basics so lets teach them the right basics at your amazing gyms.
Just to relate my experience when completing the Belay and Lead courses at City Rock, I was taught (and examined) to tie the stopper knot close to the figure 8 and without the long loop shown in the photo above. I don't know where the photo came from but I also saw staff pick up on people who had tied in like that.

Ciao,

Peter

P.S. I have no connection with CR .....

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Old Smelly » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:14 am

:jocolor: ROFLMAO...

That is sooo... judgemental...applies nicely to me...

I have often had to explain that I WANT my prussik loops and carabiners with me when I need them...so I don't remove them from my harness because then when I do want them I realise they are sitting in a backpack somewhere...

So frankly I don't care how you judge me...my prussiks and a spare biner will be on my harness - because it works for me...maybe even a knife too...

FOR CUTTING THE CHEESE...

Now you may SNORT at me...
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:55 am

Old Smelly, you judged yourself. I merely made the point that one redundancy leads to another.

Speed is everything on mulitpitch trad and Alpine climbing and speed is directly related to weight and fiddling. Ask Alec Honnold about that. BTW one of the reasons that the recent speed record has been broken on The Nose is because of the advent and conventional use of rubberized crack gloves that have much better friction than tape! That is a really good carry and I routinely use them. The stove leg cracks that are only 5.9 (19) are extremely slippery and insecure and feel much more like grade 21 unless you have sticky rubber on your hands as well as your feet

As you get older, you get weaker and the only way you can mitigate that is to climb with less stuff and move faster.

Most not-so-good and/or inexperienced trad climbers have massive racks with doubles up to 4 cam and added hexes and stuff. Learn to back clean, put out less gear and analyze a pitch regarding gear. You can halve your rack. Make shorter pitches. South African trad climbing which is mostly sandstone eats small cams that are lighter. Hexes have no place in multipitch climbing on sandstone anymore. They are too clumsy to place and I only carry one occasionally to use as an abseil anchor as they can be threaded and the re-threaded later on when the tat perishes

Many a time I have had to leave my quite light rack behind to do a crux and then pulled it up afterwards.


Carry an extra lighweight biner rather than extra screw-gates, Gives you more options.

When I do first ascents I make rope slings from old (skinny) ropes to use as tat and leave the equivalent amount of slings off my rack as you only use them to escape when necessary. Whats the point of taking extra rope or cordelletes. I am today cutting up my old 7.6mm Bluewater rope that has several core shots and making 60mm slings that by the way I tie with the "Death Knot" and not a fishermans so I can easily undo them if necessary.

My chalk bag is secure with 6mm cord that I use as a prussic or tat as needed.

It is all about efficiency which makes you faster and safer. Not weighing yourself down with extra stuff makes for efficiency.

A lot of climbers dress up with a rack the way some woman put on their face (make-up). It's not about the stuff. Focus on the climbing.

The lighter your rack the steeper and faster you can climb and the safer it gets.

The more you carry the longer you take and greater your risk of everything...

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Justin » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:06 am

SNORT wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:16 pm
Courses are useful and are the easy way to learn the basics. But there is no substitute for experience. Certified guides can stifle your adventure into trad climbing though as they learn and teach systems that have extra redundancy compared to just going climbing with an experienced climber.

Guides set up all sorts of redundant and equalized anchor systems that are overly complex and time consuming and require extra gear that is not necessary for ordinary safe trad climbing. They usually build anchors off which they belay directly with locking systems which are not necessary for trad climbing. Sitting on a stable ledge on your arse and with one or two solid anchors and then belaying directly off your harness is much quicker and safe.

So learn the basics from somewhere, then link up with an experienced climber and go climb.

Trad is all about efficiency. If you are not efficient you not going to get much done and often be climbing and walking in the dark.

I personally go climbing often with very inexperienced people at one of the most "out-there" trad destinations Yellowwood where they learn quickly. Tomorrow going with 2 bouldering school kids.....
Ok, here we go... :P

I'll liken this to learning to drive a car (or teaching someone to drive a car). Best to start in a relatively safe spot, cover the basics, ordinary car (don't start teaching them in a Ferrari).
Once you have the basics of driving and are a safe driver, then its time to start learning about advanced techniques. Most guides know how to move quickly - I've taught people tricks and shortcuts - I've also warned the hell out of them - that this is not standard and that you will not pass any tests using a particular technique.
However as someone who may be following a beginner (who may be prone to making mistakes on the ledge 55 meters above you), you want redundancy (over complex and time consuming or not!)!
If you want to learn more advanced techniques and which gear to leave behind - just ask your local guide/instructor.

Snort, I have no problem coming up behind you with your arse on a ledge and one anchor (please just let me know that there is only one anchor - so I can adjust my climbing style i.e. no crazy dynos, etc).

Agreed, efficiency in (high level) trad climbing is a thing.
Snort: Keep in mind you've been (trad) climbing for a long time and have your 10'000 hours + You've also spent 3 years developing Yellowwood - you have made the place Awesome :thumleft: Keep in mind that you are at expert level when it comes to Trad Climbing. It is my opinion that you may be putting too much emphasis on beginners not learning to walk before they can run (in particular during an emergency situation when the leader is not able to function).

Learn from others, if you can, just make sure its from someone who knows what they're doing. I was very fortunate to learn this way (the MCSA wasn't prepared to teach kids back then - I was 11 years old).

Again: The one problem of taking out inexperienced people (and I'm not saying don't do it), is should 'things happen' and if the leader of the group is not able to function, then you have a problem of a first time climber(s) sitting on a wall not knowing what to do.
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Justin » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:12 am

Warren G wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:05 pm
Go to a gym/ climb and learn, thats what 99% of everyone does. Taking a guided course is expensive, and entirely unnecessary. You mentioned Gustav, so presumably you're in Gauteng? Try a varsity club (Wits/ Tuks), The Barn, Wonderwall, City Rock or Join MCSA on beginners meets.
Ok, don't take this personally Warren... 8)

If memory serves, Search & Rescue came to your aid a while back when your second (that you were not able to hoist) got stuck (presumably did not know how to prussik either?) in space?
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:36 am

Justin your comments are all valid and yes everybody can and probably will get themselves into a spot at least once in their climbing lives. I am lucky to have never required a rescue and never been seriously injured and I do very much put it down to luck.

However, I still make the points that too many climbers even after years of experience stay with conventions or habits that really have no merit and stifle their abilities and their progress.

As for a single bomber point and a stable belay sit down point. If that is all I got, that is fine but I never only put out one point if there are two or even three. I do not necessarily equalize the third but will always equalize the other two using my two ropes and with clove hitches.

I again see so many climbers using slings to secure themselves to points which is wasteful and clutters the stance and requires excess gear or limits the next climber. Once you in the habit you not easily going to break it.

Finally and quite frankly, when belaying individuals that may fall off and away from the rock and that are not experience, the guide system is contra-indicated and you must rather belay them off your waist and through a biner pulley above you. It is still easy enough escaping the system by using a prussic or T-bloc that I always have with me. You can also then use your weight on the pulley and pull with one hand to assist the climber that you cannot do if the guide system is locked above you.

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Justin » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:49 am

Snort your comments are all valid and I look forward to going up to Yellowwood again :P
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Tristan » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:07 pm

@tuongtndg Everyone has jumped the gun and not asked what type of climbing you want to learn how to do: indoor, sport, trad? The advice is different slightly for each. But seeing as trad advice has been given:

There are, clearly, two schools of thought here - guides v non guides. None of Snort's advice is current international best practice but it works well for him, even when his rope gun forgets his harness 8)
And Warren could well have avoided entertaining the S&R guys with a different approach, skill set and necessary equipment (again, to echo Justin, don't take it personally, but if you are going to offer advise which contradicts your actions / experiences and potentially is not the best advice to the guy asking for beta, expect to be called out).

Equalising anchors with your rope
- not international best practice
- not always faster, and rarely significant enough as to warrant the cost in other area's
- while you can technically still escape the system, you've lost the use of your rope

Auto-locking-guide-technique can't yo-yo second
- incorrect. Poor implementation of the technique = can't do

Equalising anchors and rigging auto-locking is slower
- not international best-practise
- not always, and how will you know when to sit your arse down or not?

It is better to use a biner-pulley (aka the redirect belay, popularised in the 90's) than auto-locking-direct belay
- not international best-practice
- limited advantages
- assuming you apply the other recommendations of not carrying spare screw-gates, the implication is that this is a standard gate :shock:
- it is easier to assist the second with a helping hand in the guide mode
- Not using the redirect leaves you free to move around so you can assist from above or below the fulkrum
- in guide-mode the set-up is pre-rigged to z-haul where-as a redirect requires a system escape and then re-set-up and only THEN can one haul. Not exactly efficient

"...many climbers even after years of experience stay with conventions or habits that really have no merit and stifle their abilities and their progress..."

True, and exactly the advocate for professional instruction. A well presented course will teach best practice, as well as provide a platform for debating where to bend the norms. This is the instructors JOB - kind of like asking a physio to fix and rehab you versus a massage therapist.

Related to this and the belay-technique, on one commonly guided route, I use a sitting belay, a redirect and a guide-mode on the three different stances because each stance/pitch has nuances which make the belay method better - there is NO one way!!!

"...so many climbers using slings to secure themselves to points which is wasteful and clutters the stance..." again an advocate for being taught best-practise, professionally

Speed is related to skill. Skill is honed by experience AND education. Comprehensive instruction gives you the theoretical base to make educated decision on how best to achieve your goal and where to become more efficient. Advocating to a newbie that it is acceptable to leave their rack to do the crux is paramount to encouraging them to solo into the hardest part of the climb without the means to survive a fall and borders on irresponsible. No doubt that experience may make this a justifiable risk to some, but it is, again, not international best practice.

Knotted rope v sewn slings - pro's and con's to both, but an instructed course will give you the theory behind each...and you can choose to limit the potential human error of knot's or not

Marc Twight once wrote about his route 'The Richard Cranium Memorial' that: "...The rack was anorexic for the route, and we wasted time. A healthier, heavier rack would have let us go faster". He then wrote about how "and with every beer we drank, took a little more off the rack" which he attributes to their success on a different route. Same (reasonably accomplished) climber, two completely different bits of advice.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some personal experience. The first time I did Oceans of Fear, we did it in a day. I knew little better than the hand-me-downs of non-formal teaching. It worked. That was 2002 (I think). These days, amongst other things, I guide and instruct (NQF & MDT). What I know now would actually increase my efficiency for O.I.A.D...AND be safer.
The first time I tried The Frendo Spur was '01/'02 and put (borrowed) crampons on for the first time at the glacier - learning as I went. We spent 2 days getting to the top of the crux rock pitch and a day rappelling off in a storm! One of my more memorable epics. 10years later I climbed it in 7-8 hours from the cable car. Experience AND better knowledge helped achieve that.

I've recently instructed our "Accelerated Trad Leader" and "Combined it with our "Master-Class Trad, Tricks and Methodology" course for people wanting to learn how to go faster and climb bigger more committing stuff. I instructed this to a guy who had done things like Oceans of Fear before me, and climbed 8a, but he wanted to round out his knowledge.

So there is clearly merit in a course if such people feel it adds value. The trick is finding the right course for you.

As a disclaimer, like Justin, I am a guide and instructor and own Vertigo Adventures, which operate out of Bloc11 in Cape Town.
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:42 pm

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Tristan » Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:38 pm

Your comments prove the point I make that guides use conventions that they believe is best practice. It often is not and one has to taylor ones climbing modus to the situation. Period.
Quite the contrary - I point out that on one route I use 3 different stance set-ups because they are better situationally.

You seem pre-occupied with guides for some reason, but one of the reasons that they may appear overly redundant is precisely because they spend the vast majority of their guiding time with people without the climbing experience or skills to climb a given route. Precisely the type of person who asked the original question - not your would be Yellowood first timer. But that should be moot if safety is being compromised for marginal nett-gain of time and ease to the leader.

That you fail to grasp the end-of rope concept tells a story. You are thinking purely of you, the leader here and not the second or your responsibility to them and the possible solutions to a potential situation.
By utilising your rope in the anchor system you remove it as a potential tool for a variety of situations. When you arrive at your stance you have xyz meters of excess rope. This is a tool and the available length increases as the second climbs. There are a host of reasons or scenarios where that rope can be an asset - assisted hoists, pulling up a seconds pack, lowering a knotted-handle (easier to hold then a rope strand) etc.etc.etc. By committing the rope ends to the belay you loose that tool immediately for no definitive real-world gain because it is mostly not necessary to integrate the rope into the anchor, certainly not worth the supposed time-saving.
In the scenario where I choose to belay off of my harness (particularly if the anchors are set well back, obviously I use only one rope to leave me the other as an option. Importantly that rope I'm committing to the system (and effectively backing me, the arse-on-ledge-anchor up) goes back to an Equalised MASTER POINT!

But insisting that it is always better and faster is showing exactly the lack of adaptability which you say is a guides trademark.

I am happy to test the efficiency with you as an experiment. Remember that in the experiment each methodology must, then, also be subjected to possible 'situations' - second falls, second needs a little help, second is hanging in space, second has a seizure...second completely freaks out. So if my sling-equalised direct belay takes 30 seconds longer to rig (and the only time it takes longer is with anchors which are far apart), then I do not believe that it warrants being advocated as the less efficient system when it can handle a variety of situations better and more efficiently.

By using the rope in the stance you make yourself the master-point. BUT you then happily advise that a redirect pulley off of ONE anchor point is now advisable to everyone. Assuming that you are 4 feet from the pulley and the pulley anchor fails when loaded by a falling second, there is now 8 ft of slack in the system before your harness-belay takes the load which has the potential to pull you onto your now two piece anchor!

As for the non-locking-biner point I make I assumed that you were suggesting a biner alone and not a pulley (this because elsewhere you chastise people for carrying what you consider superfluous gear - yet here you are carrying a pulley AND a tibloc!? ), and for the same reason as the single anchor failing a non-locking biner used as a redirect-pulley with just the rope has high chance of the rope clipping itself out = same resultant shock-loading momentum.

I strongly contest that redundancy is both unnecessary and time-consuming. Particularly given the advantages.

Ultimately remember the nature of the topic - new climber wanting to learn to climb and they should, surely, be offered the best possible advice when it comes to safety? By the time they are ready to benefit from tradecraft short cuts on some big multi-pitch wall, my job (as an instructor) is done. That said, and I re-iterate, a good course will discuss and teach all of the techniques providing insight into the merits.

As for knots and rope guns, I'm pretty sure you titled Willem your rope-gun, but maybe I misread that. Knots, personally I prefer the Yosemite finish.
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Grey25
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Grey25 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:53 pm

tuongtndg wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:46 am
Hi there all

Ok so i want to climb, so now what?
Is there a course you do? Name of course? Where?

Or do you find someone like Gustav and spend a few days with him while he shows you the rope and thats all you need? :alien: :alien: :alien:
Tuongtndg if you are still reading this I hope you have learnt all the fast, efficient ways to do things and the slow, redundant, won't be needing rescue ways.

But to answer your question without selling my guiding company, giving you very advanced, unessecary detail or getting off topic:

If you are in Jhb go visit the guys at CityROCK, I did their lead course earlier this year and was told to have the knot close to my harness etc and I haven't had a problem. The course was great and the guy giving the course was not just some 'taught from book' guy, he had some very interesting stories and experience to share.

They have some cool workshops every now and then as well that help you get better with your climbing and general skills.

If you are closer to Boven then Gustav is your guy, he has loads of experience and can get you started correctly, he will need to advise you on his details and rates.

Good luck, see you on the wall:-)

Old Smelly
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Old Smelly » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:21 am

I am sure that in the context Snort understands that we all respect his trad skills and experience and appreciate the points that he is making in terms of skills and thinking things through.

I am also pleased that for once the guides spoke up for themselves - what's the point in being so highly qualified if someone can say don't bother with them and then they reserve the right to respond! I particularly appreciated Tristan's input and I am curious about that advanced course thing!

I do think the point should be made that if you just want an intro level course then intro level instructors are great - and if you want advanced instruction then you want to go to high level instructors like Gustav, Tristan and Justin. The problem still lies with some people thinking that what they have learned from their buddies or basic level instructor makes them fully capable, but those people will rapidly learn the error of their ways. The onus lies with the climber to learn the skills they need.

In fact I think this discussion - if slightly wayward from the original inquiry -was actually helpful in getting much needed viewpoints and info out there.
Really, its not that bad...I think it's my shoes...

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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:25 am

SNORT wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:42 pm
.
Well that escalated quickly! :shock:

Thanks for taking it down Snort. :thumright

Forums are always better when people play the ball not the man
Happy climbing
Nic

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climbcityrock
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by climbcityrock » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:45 am

Hi tuongtndg, I'm hoping the replies to your forum question were informative and not overwhelming for you! CityROCK would like to offer you a FREE introduction course at either branch to get you started in the climbing world. The Introduction course will teach you the basics to top roping. If you already know how to fit your harness, tie a figure 8-knot with the much debated stopper knot, and belay with a Gri-Gri then you can upgrade to our Lead course where we will teach you how to clip safely and belay a lead climber.

Please email cally@cityrock.co.za if you are interested in taking us up on our offer so we can make a booking for you.

Happy climbing!
Cally and the CityROCK team

SNORT
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by SNORT » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:23 pm

The two main skills I have learned in my life are Orthopaedic Surgery and Climbing in all its forms. Interestingly I paid no money to learn either of these skills. I was not "taught" either of them. In both instances I learned them from like-minded people who, apprenticed me, showed me and mentored me. In that regard, I have been showing and mentoring people in both skills my whole life.

I have never paid a cent to anyone to learn climbing or orthopaedics and never charged anyone a cent to teach or show either, but more of that later......

Orthopaedics is learned under the auspices or, actually, an apprenticeship of more experienced doctors and we spend 6 years acquiring accreditation which requires a sign off from your professor and some exams. We even get paid a bit while doing this apprenticeship and we work our arses off. The examination is one where theory and knowledge plays a minor role because it is assumed that after 6 years you know something but rather you modus operandi and demonstration that you are competent to safely manage patients is the acid test. One of the trick questions is this: "How do you treat a fractured ankle?" If you answer starts with: "I think" or "the options are", you are probably going to fail. By the time you do your exams you must know what you are going to do.

I personally do not know any guide including those mentioned in this thread that "paid" for a course to learn to climb initially. They, like me, learned from their friends, their fellow students, the MCSA or just went and did it.

And this is where the rub comes. All of a sudden there is a major drive to commodotize outdoor climbing by parties with a vested interest in so doing.

Outdoor climbing is a skill that I am convinced should be learned not taught. Money should not change hands on a for profit basis but of course there are costs to it. University clubs and the MCSA and other volunteer organizations and individuals are a dime a dozen who welcome the "come-along-and learn" or apprenticeship methodology. There is no doubt in my mind that that is the best way. This is not say that you must not or even should not do formal courses that you pay for.

Theory andounds on the internet, something that did not exist some 20 years ago when I and all the guides mentioned in this thread learned to climb.

At CityROCK, we teach people the basics so that they can comply with the safety regulations in our gym, a company that can be held liable for accidents if we do not comply with certain accepted standards. We keep them as simple as possible.

For outdoor climbing we direct individuals straight to the MCSA where there are willing and able, competent and experienced climbers at all levels that will apprentice and mentor anyone that is keen.

The guiding industry has its merits, no doubt, but I am sorry to say that many of their methods are extremely dodgy and it seems to be a Pavlovian response to default to these methodologies and the killjoy aspect outweighs the overall benefits as far as I concerned. It is very difficult to go climbing on an "equal" basis with an old mate who is now a guide because they climb professionally.

Two of my worst experiences ever in climbing was being short-roped but highly qualified guides AND experienced climbers who are also my friends. Never again. I felt extremely insecure and there was clear and present danger with every step for both of us.

The other problem is that there is always a barrier however subtle between trained guides and myself a trad climber with 42 years very active experience in some of the most hostile situations imaginable on rock. Considering how long I have been at it and more particularly how many ground up multipitch pure trad first ascents without fixed gear I have done at places like Yellowwood and Blouberg, I can safely assume I am one of the more experienced climbers in the world. Luck has played a major role in me being uninjured and indeed I have made mistakes from time to time.

But I learned from the best and experience counts for everything. I have also learned some new techniques from a climber who happens to be a guide, i.e. using a prussic below a abseil device above it on a sling. However this is not universally accepted as conventional or best practice.

A major problem is that every time I climb with a guide I can feel the nervousness and tension when I do not comply with "their internationally accepted" practice methodology. It dulls the "like-minded" chuminess of the situation and diminishes the fun even if only a little.

At the end of it all, it is mixing business with pleasure that is the fundamental problem, something that I don’t subscribe too in the outdoors.

I do have a vested interest in a business related to climbing but as far as I can gather this is comparable to other training gyms and the skills required are minimal in terms of being safe. For this we have short courses. It does not compare to outdoor climbing whatsoever. Even indoor bouldering is much safer due to mats and so on.

In conclusion,
I suppose in some ways I am a little old fashioned. Outdoor climbing or rather trad climbing in my view should be and remain an amateur sport with learning being a voluntary process.

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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by PeterHS » Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:05 am

tuongtndg wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:46 am
Hi there all

Ok so i want to climb, so now what?
Is there a course you do? Name of course? Where?

Or do you find someone like Gustav and spend a few days with him while he shows you the rope and thats all you need? :alien: :alien: :alien:
Thanks for the original post. It may have gone a little off topic but one never knows - or can control - where the threads for a post go to or end up. One thing that I have found from climbing in general and this excellent Forum in particular is that climbing is a broad church. There are some clear wrong things, for example an unsafe way to tie a particular knot, but many right. Every climber has unique experience and attitude to risk etc. The breadth of views and opinions, even if they can get a little tetchy at times, is a strength and not a weakness. Stay open to other ways of doing things, talk about with those who know more than you, and stay safe. Ciao. Peter

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Tristan
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Re: Is there a course you do?

Post by Tristan » Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:39 am

@old smelly it's a rough forum out there, one of the reasons that other's don't "stand up" is their disinterest in suffering the type of reply's which have now been deleted. It is incredibly hard for it not to come across personally when someone makes statements or promotes practices which are, arguably, poor advice for the (beginner) audience. It looks like its personal, but, then, if you write enough contestable text, it may feel like its all about you.

I hope that the replies can be kept to the subject matter, for the readers sake - if I wanted to fight with ppl I'd go shout at parliament.

As has been pointed out, the internet is a public place which did not exist 20 years ago - it is full off varying information on how to climb. Including this thread. If the response had been something like: "Courses have their place but Guides tend to be over cautious and if that's not your thing then find a mentor is my recommendation", then that is fine and I could have prolonged my forum absence.

However
  • - it is the sweeping generalisations which discredit an entire genre of people, potentially threatening their livelihood that requires an address so that forum users can make an informed decision of their own
  • It is offering what I consider technically flawed methodologies more suited to experienced traddies whilst denouncing internationally accepted norms which requires counter for the sake of the climbers reading this thread who deserve to have the rounded info
Statement: "The most important aspect of being a trained guide that is problematic and frustrating and even annoying is that once they have their certificate that have to do it by the book and cannot or at least are unwilling to modify their modus opperandi to the circumstances."
Counter: Just off the top of my head: Alex Lowe, Conrad Anker, Sara Huenicken, Jules Cartwright, Steve House, Vince Anderson, Gaston Rèbuffat, Lionel Terray, Will Gad, Michel Croz (in like 1860!), Pete Janshek
These folk have done some cool things, many of which require some modification of their M.O to the circumstances. But they, also, happen to be (have been) guides / instructors.
Importantly these types of people can instruct best practice AND teach the ability to choose when to not apply it fully. This is far safer than not being taught the best practice at all. In my opinion.

Statement:"...there are many terrible and some very dangerous methods and conventions used by guides that they use simply so as to retain their accreditation. One is the short-roping a system that kills several people each year."
Counter: Indeed short-roping kills several people each year - including my friend Jules Cartwright. It is one of the primary reasons that I never persued guiding in the Alps. HOWEVER
- how many lives does it save?
- what is the alternative method to ascend a steep (snow) slope with a novice in tow where there are no natural anchors to belay from, certainly not efficiently. As mentioned elsewhere, speed and efficiency are king so, on occasion, short-roping is the best of a list of poor options.
- what are the many other terrible and very dangerous methods "guides use"?

Statement:"The kind of person who makes this knot will often if not usually have lots of redundant paraphernalia hanging off their harness, like cordelletes, 4,5 or 6 Screwgates, a pulley etc etc It all adds clutter and weight and wastes time"
Counter: So what? Are they going climbing, yes. Can they learn to trim, yes - either through peers or by instruction.

As an aside, personally I can't stand prussik's. It's how they dangle off of my harness which infuriates me. I, personally, also, carry a mechanical rope grabber - however when I instruct I am able to explain why a prussik is better and why a mechanical grabber is...and then the student/climber can make an informed choice

Statement:"...Most not-so-good and/or inexperienced trad climbers have massive racks with doubles up to 4 cam and added hexes and stuff. Learn to back clean, put out less gear"
Counter:I agree with the second part of the statement, but I have a huge problem advocating it directly to the "not so good/inexperienced" climber. By default that person is
- likely scared and hesitant as they learn to leave the belay nest. As such they inherently feel the need to place lots of gear. Ergo, they need to carry a large rack
- likely less skilled at placing good gear with a high probability of that gear holding if fallen onto. By suggesting less gear/back-cleaning to "not so good/inexperienced" I feel is tantamount to increasing their risk of getting hurt should they fall and their gear pops as there is now less gear in their system.
- not everyone is bold. Some people are quite happy to spend 5 hours on Staircase - it's their thing, and that, too, should be cool. If they have aspirations to climb bigger stuff, then that is a progression.

Statement:"Carry an extra lighweight biner rather than extra screw-gates, Gives you more options."
Counter:It may be lighter but, what are these "more options"?

And then I'd love to learn more about this hybrid belay system, but I have a few questions:

In the first paragraph of your one comment you lament the direct "guide" belay as frustrating because you can't yo-yo to work a move. Two paragraphs later (SAME POST) you hint at a hybrid system whereby you use a guide system off of your harness and benefit from its ability to auto lock but gain in that you can still escape the system and transfer into lead belay immediately/seamlessly. Now I might misunderstand the set up but

If your second falls and the belay locks
A: how do you release him so that he can yo-yo the move? (Unless you are using a Tre, which is no longer commercially available and ergo poor advice)
B: how do you lower him back to the ledge should they prefer that? (Unless you are using a Tre, which is no longer commercially available and ergo poor advice)
C: How do you haul them (they are now dangling 3 ft under the piece of gear in the overhang mentioned)?

Like I say, perhaps I mis-read how your hybrid set-up works?
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SNORT
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Hybrid belaying with a reverso or similar system.

Post by SNORT » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:33 pm

The best way to demonstrate this is with a video which I don't have the time to do now.

The system works best if you can find a seated belay facing outward. Ideally you are seated on a block with your feet on a firm and level surface below a bit like a low chair. This is not essential but makes your life easier if you need to escape the system.

Put the climber following on belay as normal with the gate of the locking biner facing to the opposite side to the rope rigged as in the next step. This is to allow for easy escape from the system

From an anchor behind or above you to which you have a rope clovehitched, use the part of the rope that is not attached to your harness and level or just above your waist attach a biner with a clove hitch and attach the guide ring at the back to this biner. Some practice and experimentation is necessary to ensure that when pulling in the rope it feeds nice and easy as with non-guide belaying and also then, that it locks if it is weighted.

Escaping the system is easy by opening the gate and disengaging your belay loop from it and then wiggling away.

Feeding out slack is no problem if the system is not locked as it feeds out the same as if you are belaying in non-guide mode

Releasing a locked system depends on how much weight is on it and how strong you are.

If someone wants some slack and the rope is not weighted or heavily weighted it is very easy to release a locked system merely by pulling on the biner attached to your harness belay loop and feeding the rope out. This will work in most cases.

The worst case scenario is a heavy climber dangling in the air that you have to lower. Again if you are strong enough which is the case for most people, pulling on the biner will tilt the system sufficiently to unlock it. Because the system is not above you like in standard guide mode and rather below you, most people will have sufficient leverage and power to release a locked system and I speak from my experience where I am getting weaker as I age and climb with people mostly heavier than me.

If you are not strong enough then use the leverage of a biner or a nut pick that fits into the small hole in the front of the belay device to tilt the belay device. If you do not have something to lever with, then this is where you need to stand up. But don't let go of the rope and even put a back up knot first! You will have more than enough strength in your legs to unlock the system by merely standing up and this is where it will be easier to have a seat where your feet are on a stable system lower than your butt. However, I find there is enough play in the system for me to stand up even if seated with no differential between my butt and my feet. This may require two hands which means a knot on the belay end of the rope is imperative and a prussic (not a T-Bloc which is difficult to release) on the rope going to the climber below is also wise because if the knot ends up against the belay device you are in a dwang to undo it.

If you are really concerned about someone falling off and dangling off the rock and you do not have an ideal seat then set up the system with you standing. In this case the level of the biner attached to the guide loop must be a bit lower than when you are seated to allow for more play in the system, Belaying will be as normal with no locking unless you want to escape the system in which case you just bend your knees a little so that the system locks. There must obviously be some play in your personal connection to the anchors. To unlock the system just straighten your knees and it will release the tension on the ring. It would be very unusual for anyone climbing not having enough power in their legs to und the locking. This can also be assisted by using a biner or nut pick in the small hole as a lever.

There is of course something also called the Edelrid Joule which I have already described on the forum somewhere. Unfortunately these are not available in South Africa as far as I know. This basically negates all the problems of locking systems as it can be released a bit like a Grigri. There are lots of You-Tube videos that show its remarkable advantages and I strongly advocate learning to use this device but it is not intuitive and takes quite a bit of getting used to. It can be used in a similar way as described above but in guide mode the rope is fed through the joule bottom up and has to be changed over when someone carries on and leads off. Because it autolocks anyway it can be used for normal belaying provided you do not envisage having to escape the system although this is not very difficult to do. In this case make sure that there is some play in the rope that attaches you to the belay anchor. Attach the loose rope or a sling connected to the belay anchor directly to your belay biner attached to your harness with a clove hitch if you anticipate the need to escape. Otherwise just make sure that you have a sling or rope attached to the anchor at hand. You can then connect it by using a spare biner and connecting it in tandem to your belay biner and escape the system that way. Use the play in the system to release your belay loop from the biner making sure there is a knot in the rope in case it slips or hold the rope. Lowering the person is then easy using the lever on the device. Although the Joule does lock when used in this way it is not bomb proof like guide mode and slippage does occur so hold the rope!

I shall post pics once I have done my day job
Last edited by SNORT on Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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