Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

What your instructor never taught you. Continuing your education and learning from others. Climbing safety topics and accident/incident discussions.
Post Reply
Heinrich1981
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:49 am
Real Name: Heinrich Krugmann

Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Heinrich1981 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:34 pm

Hello fellow climbers,

Hope you all had a great week so far.

I am still a novice when it comes to trad climbing and have read a lot in books and on the internet about how crucial it is that your first piece should ALWAYS be multi-directional (a typical example of a multi-directional piece would be a cam, as it will take upward, downward and sideways pulls, according to the literature I have read so far). Obviously this is just theory to met at this stage and only people with years of trad experience will be able to provide valuable feedback to me regarding this so-called maxim "that the first piece should ALWAYS be multi-directional".

As I understand the literature, the reason for always placing a multi-directional piece as your first piece, is that it can prevent the deadly "zippering effect"(gear being ripped out) in the event of a lead fall.

Any comments regarding this "maxim" will be greatly appreciated by me, as the advice one gets from experienced trad climbers, can help a lot in preventing a potential future accident.

I understand that trad has no hard or fast rules and that a lot of the time decisions will be made based the specific circumstances and one's own risk assessment, but GUIDELINES from others can help a lot in steering someone into safer waters when it comes to trad climbing.

Kind regards.

Heinrich

Brussel
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:52 pm

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Brussel » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:57 pm

Until you know when a non multi-directional piece is not needed you should always use a multi-directional piece.

It is a nuanced art and the need for it depends on a multitude of factors. No two climbs are alike and the nature of the game is managed risk and that is something one can only learn over time

There are plenty of times when I've not used a multi-directional piece as the first piece:
  • first piece is so high up that the zippering effect is negligible
  • the terrain is easy and the chances of a fall are very low and the second piece is a good multi-directional
  • the first piece protects a hard move after which the climb is easy and the fall risk is low
  • the only decent piece is not multi-directional and I want a piece to protect a bold start

mokganjetsi
Posts: 1751
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:32 pm
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
Location: Cape Town

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by mokganjetsi » Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:27 pm

Heinrich1981 wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:34 pm
As I understand the literature, the reason for always placing a multi-directional piece as your first piece, is that it can prevent the deadly "zippering effect"(gear being ripped out) in the event of a lead fall.
been climbing trad for 10 years and never thought of this - but makes sense. wouldn't make it a 100% rule however; there are a lot of factors at play. :thumleft:

Heinrich1981
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:49 am
Real Name: Heinrich Krugmann

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Heinrich1981 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:00 pm

Hello Willem and Brussel,

Thank you for setting aside the time to read through my post and providing feedback, much appreciated :)

If anyone else want to comment on my post, please feel free, we learn so much from one another.

Kind regards.

Heinrich

Heinrich1981
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:49 am
Real Name: Heinrich Krugmann

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Heinrich1981 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:08 pm

Hi Brussel,

A big thank you for the specific pointers you have raised. Will keep these in mind.

Heinrich

mokganjetsi
Posts: 1751
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:32 pm
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
Location: Cape Town

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by mokganjetsi » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:26 am

another thought: the old adage of "bad" gear is better than no gear. if your only option for a first placement is directional rather do that than run it out and risk a seriously high factor fall. generally however one should always aim to have a "bomber" first piece - reduce fall factor, protect the belayer and stance, and the zippering effect is another good reason.

Heinrich1981
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:49 am
Real Name: Heinrich Krugmann

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Heinrich1981 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:21 pm

Thank you for the last thought Willem, appreciated :)

SNORT
Posts: 1300
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:53 am
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Location: Cape Town

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by SNORT » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:11 am

Bear in mind that even if the first piece(s) are multi directional angular forces may occur and zipper the higher pieces. It depends where the piece is and where you belay in relation to it.

One thing people do not realize is that you NEVER have to extend a first piece and can even clip a cam short. The reason for this is that there is no weight on the rope. Thereafter any kink in the line of the rope will cause drag.

SNORT
Posts: 1300
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:53 am
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Location: Cape Town

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by SNORT » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:12 am

Bear in mind that even if the first piece(s) are multi directional angular forces may occur and zipper the higher pieces. It depends where the piece is and where you belay in relation to it.

One thing people do not realize is that you NEVER have to extend a first piece and can even clip a cam short. The reason for this is that there is no weight on the rope. Thereafter any kink in the line of the rope will cause drag.

By extrndi

Heinrich1981
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:49 am
Real Name: Heinrich Krugmann

Re: Trad climbing: should the first piece ALWAYS be multi-directional??

Post by Heinrich1981 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:35 pm

Hi Snort,

Thank you for your feedback, much appreciated :)

Have a great week.

Post Reply