Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kelly & Raleigh on the Potato

Yesterday it was 110 degrees in San Luis Obispo. Kelly and Raleigh had the day off so they decided to go visit the Potato Boulder. I was breaking a sweat just watching them climb in the heat. The first sequence of Kelly is a climb "6' right of the left edge". It starts under the bulge and then goes left. It's supposed to be V1 which would be around 5.10c or 5.10d.

This second sequence is of Raleigh climbing just to the right of the bulge. This line is slightly harder and is graded V2 which would be around 5.11a or 5.11b.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Belay/Rap Anchor Dilemmna @ Bishop Peak


I need your input on the type of fixed anchors for belay/rap stations at Bishop Peak. About 10 years ago, I started systematically replacing the bolts on various routes at Bishop Peak. These included rap/belay stations on many of the popular or "trade" routes including (but not limited to) Camel, 60 Seconds, Knee Surgery, P-Crack, and Desperado.

Below is a pic of the anchors on 60 Seconds that I replaced in 2004. These are the same as the Camel/Humps anchors. I wanted them to be completely "idiot proof". Literally, someone could show up with nothing but a rope, harness and shoes and start top roping. I have actually seen Cal Poly students sharing 1 set of shoes and 1 harness (they belay off a tree or use a swami harness).

So here's the dilemma. I have unintentionally taught an entire generation of climbers that it is OK to skip setting up your own anchor and to just run the rope through the rings. They also top rope directly through the "courtesy clips" on Only Way to Fly, Lama, Knee Surgery, P-Crack, Shadow & Desperado (among others). When I ask people why they don't set their own anchor, they say that's what someone taught them to do that. That "someone" is often the Poly Escapes instructor or an "experienced climber" that has been climbing at Bishop Peak going on 2 years now. However, before you jump on the "anti-Poly Students" band wagon it's not just Poly Students that do this.  I've seen very experienced and competent climbers (15+ years) top roping directly through the anchors on Only Way to Fly and 60 Seconds (among others).

Here's a pic of the "courtesy clips" in case you're unfamiliar with that term. Sometimes they are "mussy hooks" and sometimes they are stainless steel carabiners designed for marine use. The courtesy clips speed up rapping and lowering but are not intended for top roping your fat friend that hangs on the rope more than he climbs. I hate to be critical here, but if you have to "fall your way up a route while yelling "TENSION" the whole time", is it really climbing? Sorry, that's just a pet peeve of mine. I promise to try not to criticize you personally if I see you doing that!

There are 3 problems with top roping directly through the anchor.

One - the new climbers are not learning how to properly set up their own anchors.

Two - the constant top roping does wear out the fixed gear requiring it to be replaced.

Three - the gates on the courtesy clips are getting damaged and not closing properly. The gates on the Knee Surgery anchors were damaged (now replaced) and would not close. This reduces their strength from about 2,250 lbs (working load) to less than 600 lbs. If not properly backed up, this could potentially lead to anchor failure and everything that goes with that. 

To mitigate this to some extent, I have extended the chains on the Knee Surgery anchors to limit the load. The specific problem with the Knee Surgery anchor is that the rope pulls hard to the right of the anchors while belaying at the bottom of the gully. 

Pic of Before & After Knee Surgery Anchors. You can see how the increased chain length dramatically decreases the stress on each courtesy clip. These were replaced over a year ago and so far they seem to be fine. Plus, I have counseled a few people about the proper way to set up these anchors to avoid this impact. (note - After the 2nd pic was taken, I removed the old courtesy clip on the left side).

So here's where you come in:

1. Should there be a "standard" for all belay/rap anchors at Bishop Peak? If so, what is that standard? Courtesy clips, double rings, chains, etc. Provide details.

2. Should every anchor station be evaluated separately and an anchor set up installed that is custom tailored to each station?

3. Should we just leave things as they are and monitor them? It's not that big a deal to replace rings or quick links every 5 years or so.

A few more notes & pics below to get you thinking.

Doggie Style anchors "Before" and "After".

Wear starting to show on Rings on top of 60 Seconds. Check it out next time you're up there.

This is the original 60 Seconds Anchor. It's on the block up and left of the current anchor location. Not sure when these went out of use. Probably back in the 70s.

These are the original Shadow Anchors. They were only removed a couple years ago. Imagine
top roping from these babies.

These are the anchors above Letterman (2nd pitch after P-Crack). I replaced these a few years ago. They include 2 bolts, 2 quick links, and 2 rings. Pretty simple. The only downside of these is that it takes a while to feed the rope through the rings. Several people have suggested to me that this is the "ideal" anchor setup. Clean, simple, & bullet proof (it only looks messy cuz of the way I'm clipped into it). They also suggested that people can't top rope through these so they will have to set up their own anchor. That may be true in some cases, but I have seen many people top rope directly through ring anchors even when they are set further apart so there's about 8" between the rings or quick links. People top rope directly through the rings/anchors on top of Civilized Evil/Dirty Rats Crack all the time.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Working the Aid Route - UPDATE

We've been busy finishing the bolting/re-bolting work on the Diving Board Aid Route at the True Summit on Bishop Peak. Note - the new working name is "Fogcatcher". Working from the bottom up, these pics show a few of the aid moves necessary to climb the middle section of the route. 
The first pic below is the first move after you make it past the lower overhang. From beneath the overhang to the first bolt it's a tricky long reach, unless you're comfortable standing in the top step of your aiders. You can get some assistance by throwing in a hook move on a flake left of the bolt.When you make this move, you'll have a solid (new) bolt below you in case the hook blows.

Close up of the hook placement.

Once you pull the hook move, you'll reach up and slip a keyhole hanger over a 3/8" buttonhead contraction bolt. It was a bit tight to get a 'biner under it, so I slipped my hook in there.

Close up of the buttonhead with the keyhole hanger. I left the hanger in place as "fixed gear" but it's easily removed so don't expect it to be there for you. Bring your own keyhole hanger or slip a wired nut over the top of the buttonhead. 

The next move gets you to a bolt with the hanger smashed flat. Yes, I purposely smashed the hanger flat to make things more interesting. You can hook it or bring a short piece of webbing to replace the webbing that may have been left there. Probably easiest to hook it but you can decide when you get there. I've even seen people girth hitch a wired nut through a hanger like this (not an approved method from the manufacture!)

Once you leave the smashed hanger you'll need to search carefully for a 3/8" hole drilled about 4' above the smashed hanger. This hole takes a solid hook. From the hook move, you'll need to top step in your aiders to reach up and back to clip the first bolt on the upper overhang. Check out the upward angle from my Fifi Hook. Fortunately, the next bolt is a solid, new 1/2" , Stainless Steel, Rawl Bolt. Best bolt around.

The upper portion of the aid route (under the "Diving Board") should be finished in the next couple weeks. Here's a pic of the first couple bolts and one of the old, existing bolts. We did pull a 1/4" buttonhead (with Leeper) and replaced it with the 3/8" bolt. There was an old hole where the 1/2" bolt was placed. I wouldn't want to be the one that was hanging from an old bolt when it pulled out! 

More to come!