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 Post subject: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:00 pm 
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Real Name: Jonathan
Ok - I am expecting to get severely mocked for asking this question, but Google and Youtube haven't helped much...

The biggest problem with climbing in the Drakensberg is usually big lead-outs on shaky gear and relatively bad rock. I know many of the harder routes will be done with the use of aid, but not usually above A2.

Now assuming I am leading a route and I have a lead-out that exceeds the distance between the last piece and the ground, or perhaps I am traversing on the route and would swing - or any other position where the danger in the event of a fall is rather severe, would a setup where I had 2 aid hooks on a sling/chord looped through my waist and leg loops on my harness, and before making a move I place each of these hooks as high as I can (i.e. so they would catch me when I have just slipped or the rock/vegetation has just broken - I know they are strictly body weight only).

While this wouldn't replace a rope and gear, it could prevent/catch a fall.

The question:
- Has anyone out there tried this?
- Anyone got any reasons why this is a bad idea?
- Any important info I need to know regarding any part of this subject?

Ps. trying to look up the info for this has made me think that aid climbing could actually be quite fun :eye:

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:47 pm 
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Real Name: Pieter du Toit
Hi Jonathan

This sounds like a good idea instead! Although I would bare in mind the following:
When you place the hook(s) and move upwards and you fall, the sling which is static will put a huge amount of shock on you, the hook and more importantly (in this discussion of theory), the little piece rock you've hooked. Even if a fall factor 2 is not involved here, a mere ff0.3 is enough to break rock. (the rock also plays a part of course, but you get the point...)
But you have a great idea, and it makes perfect sense that one would still want to be able to free climb with the benefit of an AID backup if something goes wrong. - Life's obviously more important in this and any other scenario.
If i could make a suggestion; use a screamer (shock absorber or an ice draw) in your system between you and the AID placement to lessen the impact force. Also bare in mind that some shock absorbers will "scream" at forces of 4000N (400kg-f) or more. That would mean that replacing the slings with pieces of a very dynamic rope would also work better.
Then very important, use eye protection and don't look at the placement while moving on/towards it. These hooks have a tendancy to take out eyes and teeth :pirat:

I hope this helped a bit...

AID = Always Intense Dialog :thumright

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Real Name: Jonathan
Thanks Pieter - hadn't thought of the shock and hooks flying at my face :bom:

Would sun glasses be good enough as eye protection?

Is it possible to get dynamic access chord? I have only ever seen static ones. Can't find them on the MMO website - any recommendations on a specific product?

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:39 am 
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No dynamic accessory chord. best we can do is 37 m of BlueWater 7.8mm ice floss.
That's almost accessory chord diameter anyway.

Sounds like that Via Ferrata wasn't such a bad idea after all :)


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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:04 am 
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mountainmailorder wrote:
No dynamic accessory chord. best we can do is 37 m of BlueWater 7.8mm ice floss.
That's almost accessory chord diameter anyway.


I can't find that on your website - could you send a link?

mountainmailorder wrote:
Sounds like that Via Ferrata wasn't such a bad idea after all :)


Without trying to start a debate - the problem with the VF was that the Drakensberg is a trad only area. The pro is poor but with the amount of mist the area gets and the poor quality of the rocks I don't know how long bolts would last anyway.

Aside from Jack's Beanstalk, Paradigm Shift and Not So Auto - all the routes in the range were opened on trad and thus its disrespectful to retrobolt them, even if it wasn't against the rules of the area. A big percentage of the substantial lead outs aren't even at grade 12 difficulty, so you really shouldn't fall unless the vegetation you are holding breaks or the rock breaks. Some of the harder routes like Thompson's Route on the Column (F3) were opened by means of free solo (in the 1940's) - although I hear that is one of the better protected routes.

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:06 am 
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Whilst your 'self protecting' method would probably work, I am of the opinion that you would expend more energy placing hooks into protective positions.
Also, hooks don't always stay in place.

I would sooner connect a hook to your harness tie in points on a very short sling. When you get pumped / need a rest then you place the hook and sit down for a rest and a double handed chalk-up :thumright

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:27 am 
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The technique you describe is not commonplace, and I'd suggest for good reason.
I reckon the chances of this system succeeding are quite low - low enough that it really can't be counted on, and if the effort was saved, you might not fall off in the first place.


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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:08 am 
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Real Name: Rag Muffin
I would have to agree with Ant on that. Anyone who has done any climbing in the berg will be familiar with the general quality of the rock. The probability of the rock breaking through the use of the system you have described, is very high.
If you feel the need to use hooks i would recommend rather clipping your climbing rope to the hooks allowing for a greater distribution of the force through the whole system in the event of a fall but again the chances of the rock breaking or the hooks popping off is gonna be high. Rather follow the correct procedure for aiding using daisy chains etriers and fifi hooks.


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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:01 pm 
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The idea will probably not work for 2 reasons:
1. The rock in the berg tends to be rounded rather than a smooth edge. It will be difficult to find a place where the hook actually sits
2. The flakes you do find break off when you look at them.

A better bet in the berg is to sling the grass or invest in some stakes to hammer into the ground... You are of course on your own here!


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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:09 pm 
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Got some replies from the climbers on VE - they all also say this idea won't work.

AndrewP wrote:
A better bet in the berg is to sling the grass or invest in some stakes to hammer into the ground... You are of course on your own here!


Slings around grass - that could be interesting!

I have considered tent pegs for this kind of thing before (just one of my usual random ideas) - are there actual stakes that one can buy for this purpose or would a tent peg actually be feasible/functional?

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:26 pm 
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Hi Jonathan

Your assertion that the Drakensberg is a Trad only area is slightly ill-informed, and misleading. The following link should explain it better.

WRT to your hook question:
- how much leading have you done
- how much of that in the 'berg?
- have you tried to simulate your suggestion on, say, a climbing wall?

Perhaps a trad lead course by a certified guide (there are a few of us based in KZN who could run one for you) might be easier than youtube and google. If yo pop down to Southernrock, I'll add some "flakes" to our treadwall so that you can test your theory and never be more than 1.5m above a nice cushy mat - not as prevalent in the 'berg. (I have hooks for this if you don't want to buy)


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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:50 pm 
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Hi Tristan

Tristan wrote:
WRT to your hook question:
- how much leading have you done
- how much of that in the 'berg?
- have you tried to simulate your suggestion on, say, a climbing wall?


- not enough! Pretty much just that 9 at Monteseel, Adam's Apoplexy, and a slab/chimney combo route at World's View that I opened by mistake when trying to climb Eager Beaver.
- only unroped up C/D grade scrambling on Sterkhorn, Tsepeng Pass (as you enter the gully there is an exposed D grade scramble - we may have been off route - bad exposure climbing on wet crumbly rock mixed with sand and grass) and a few other small bits here and there
- I haven't, but that's a good idea

Tristan wrote:
Perhaps a trad lead course by a certified guide (there are a few of us based in KZN who could run one for you) might be easier than youtube and google. If yo pop down to Southernrock, I'll add some "flakes" to our treadwall so that you can test your theory and never be more than 1.5m above a nice cushy mat - not as prevalent in the 'berg. (I have hooks for this if you don't want to buy)


Sounds great - I will make a plan to head down there some time. I have an upcoming big exam, so it won't be before the end of next month though. I'll get back to you on this.

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:03 pm 
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I can't believe nobody has mentioned rule #1 of 'Berg climbing yet!? - "If you find a good hold, put it back".

And everything else should flow from that...

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 Post subject: Re: Aid hooks
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:10 pm 
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Gustav wrote:
I can't believe nobody has mentioned rule #1 of 'Berg climbing yet!? - "If you find a good hold, put it back".


I took an American trail runner hiking up Judge Pass last year. We were sitting on a rocky outcrop on the hill just north of Bannerman Hut on the contour path and I was telling him about the bad reputation of Berg rock. He tells me it can't be that bad, he promptly tries to prove his point by grabbing a hold on a nearby rock - a cricket ball sized piece of rock breaks off...

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