Absurdly good gear since 1983
This is the big question for most, "am I ready?" Unless you are a complete neophyte, the answer is probably "yes". Wall climbing has a unique way of yielding to various skill levels. For example, the Nose on El Capitan can go at 5.6 A1, or 5.10 A1, or all free in the high 5.13 range. So, are you ready? Yes.
Wall climbing is rarely about big skill and great shape. This is another plus in your favor. Wall climbing is systems and tenacity. With a basic knowledge of how to free climb, a good idea of how moving within the aid system works, and a bulldog determination to reach the summit, you will. So, in the most basic terms, here's what I recommend for somebody thinking about doing a first wall.
1. Be in good shape, especially in the cardiovascular area. Wall climbing is less about climbing and more about being able to bust your hump all day long. Most wall days are about 12 hours of toil. It is a lot like working on a shipping dock, except there is no floor.
2. Have strong legs. Hauling and Jumaring is just like going up flights of stairs. If you get a leg shake carrying in the groceries at home, do some leg work. Any good program of bike riding, talus hiking, or gym work will help you out in this area.
3. Have strong hands and forearms. Hanging on Jumars all day will bake you. Better technique will help you here, but on your first wall you will be gripping these units so tight that if the handles were coal, they might turn into diamonds. Cramping is also a big problem here. Always try to hang on your Jumars from the daisy chain to your waist rather than your hands and arms. A smooth technique here will save you tons of grief in the form of sore hands, cramps, and power failure.
4. Be confident. Break the wall down into small chunks rather than looking at it as a huge ordeal. Plan out your bivies and then hit the marks. Each day is a new day, and even if you rolled into the bivy at midnight the previous night, hit your mark today and then keep going. Think of each day as a mini wall. These little victories will keep you going.
5. Remember, it is supposed to be fun. Don't pick a partner that is an anus. The pressure that is put on any team will bring weird vibes and outright yelling to the surface. There is an old adage that "put a man on a wall and you'll see what kind of man you've got". Very true. Maintain an even keel. Everyone up there is trying to do their best. Berating your partner is a fools game. Work together as a team, not some macho solo act. You ain't Patton.
Ideally you should have everything we produce. Ok, we'll settle for a few standard items. At risk of sounding like a pimp, we make most of the wall stuff listed below. Other manufacturers make some great stuff too, and this is noted where applicable.
1. A large basic free rack.
This should include (for walls like the Nose or Salathe on El Capitan, the South Face of Washingtons Column etc) a double to triple set of small wired nuts, a triple set of cams to about #3, a couple of #4 cams, some extra free biners (the more the merrier), and some slings.
2. Specific aid hardware.
This is the stuff that you probably do not have in your standard crag arsenal.
Aiders: get two sets.
One set or using three is just not as fast or efficient. The people telling you that they use 3 or just one set are probably suspect. Ask to see their wall resume.
Daisy Chains: get two long ones.
You will need two for Jumaring and at least one while you lead. If you are doing any nailing or dicey hooking, you will use both while leading all the time. The shorter daises available are not very good for leading. They will work fine for Jumaring and for very easy and bomber aid. The fatal flaw of the short ones is you cannot reach over your head and place a piece with the daisy attached. This can be a problem.
Hooks: invaluable tool.
Even if you are on the easiest wall in the world, there will always be a place for hooks. If a bolt pops out of a bolt ladder, use the Leeper Bat Hook to get past the gap. If a big flake shows up while you are freeing out at your limit, plop a FISH hook on it for a needed rest. Use a Black Diamond Sky Hook for most of your basic hooking, as this is the most useful hook on the rack. For a multi purpose tool, take a Black Diamond Talon, another great hook.
Pulley: needed for hauling.
Drop the coin and get a Wall Hauler by Rock Exotica/Petzl. This unit includes a cam on the pulley so you don't need to set up the Jumar and pulley thing. Really good thing to have and will make your life much easier.
Haul Bag: mandatory unless you are going to knock off your walls in a day.
Get a size suited to your needs. For most walls, a standard size of 9000 cu.in. is ideal. This size bag is great for a 3-4 day wall with two people. Another way is to take two smaller bags, like a Grade V size (5000+ cu.in.). This way you have a personal haul bag for each person and a bit more flexibility. Avoid the Haul Drum models now available. They tend to hang up a lot, and usually your first walls will be lower angle than some others, compounding the problem.
Stuff Sacks: for food, little items, rain gear etc.
Organization is the key. Food bags can be made for a daily grab or one big bag holding all the food. Get ones that are strong. You won't be disappointed with our Wall Bags or the Metolius versions. Both are durable and very strong.
Rain Gear: take it, even in summer.
Take the best you can afford. Being wet not only sucks, but can kill. If you are doing a wall that does not require a portaledge, take a bivy sack and maybe even a tarp. Cave as it sounds, a tarp is actually pretty good protection from the elements in a lot of situations.
The Little Things: these can make an epic casual.
A good headlamp with extra batteries. Gloves for Jumaring. Kneepads. Duct tape. A basic first aid kit. Aspirin or some other anti-inflammatory for "big wall fat hands" and stiff joints. A hat for the vertical desert. Sunscreen and lip balm. A Swiss Army type knife and extra eating utensils.
Here is where it all begins. Hopefully you have a good base in free climbing to help you out with the basics of movement on rock. A basic scenario would go like this:
The leader prepares to lead the pitch. With him/her is the following stuff: the lead line, the zip or haul line, a substantial and adequate rack, his/her personal Jumars, the pulley device, a hammer if needed, and perhaps a pint of water if the pitch is going to take a long time.
Leader checks to see that he is on belay and starts either freeclimbing or looking for the first nut placement. If free climbing just continue on and place pro as needed, hanging if necessary (holster your pride and go for the summit, not some ego crap that might jeopardise your chances) and watching for the next belay. If the leader is aiding the pitch, use your daisy chain to attach yourself to the high nut before placing it. This method is twofold: dropped gear will not be lost and if the piece you are standing on blows, the pro on your daisy might catch you before a real ripper sets in. So, with the high nut in, clip in your aiders and adjust so they are against the wall. Step into the lowest rung of the aiders and start to apply weight. If nothing happens, start bouncing a little and then a lot on the piece to test it. Ok, it's holding. Now climb up the aider to the second step and clip in short to your waist. I use a small runner or quickdraw for this first clip at my waist. I now release my daisy chain from the piece and just drop it so it can hang out of the way. Get adjusted in the aiders and then clip in close, a single biner away from your harness. Relax and start looking for the next piece. Pick the next piece and attach it to your long daisy. Place it as high as you can and give it a jerk or two to make sure it is set. Clip your second pair of aiders directly into the piece under your daisy so they lay flat on the wall. Clip the lead line into the piece you are standing on. Repeat the above, releasing your waist clip in as you go, and at about half way up your aiders, grab the set you were standing on on and clip them to your harness or gear sling. Repeat this about 35 times and the pitch is in the bag.
At the station:
We'll pretend the anchor is an all bolt anchor. Go to the far bolt and then pull out about 5 feet of slack for you to goof around on. Work backwards tieing up the anchor with the lead line from the last bolt on down, equalizing as you go. As soon as you are satisfied with the anchor, let your follower know that you are "off belay" and the anchor is secure and you will not be using any more lead line or pulling on it in any way. The follower can now put his Jumars on the lead line an prepare to get the haul bag ready to go out of the lower station. During this time the follower can dismantle any nonvital parts of the anchor while waiting for you to haul.
The idea now is to set up the haul. Continuing from the previous section.....
Take the hauling pulley and haul line from your harness and attach it to the middle section of the anchor. This idea allows you to be on the top of the anchor, the hauling will be done on the middle of the anchor and your follower has the lower part of the anchor. If you have an absolutely bomber upper piece you can haul from this to give you some added oomph to the haul. But, if this high piece ever blows out while you are hauling from it, all bets are off...you might just die. That's why I use the middle section of the anchor. Ok, now set the hauling pulley up on at least two protection points and ideally equalized between the two. Thread the haul line into the pulley and don't drop it during this operation. Clip the now ready to haul set up into your equalized point and pull up the slack. At this time yell out to your partner that you are ready to haul. This means the follower knows the pulley and holding cam are in place and the rope is going to go up until taught at the bag. During this time the follower can get the haul bag backup knot out of the system and leave the bag hanging on its daisy chain and remove any other pieces of the anchor that are not necessary. The line comes taught, the leader yells out "hauling" and starts honking on the haul line. As soon as the bag is unweighted from above, unclip the daisy chain and clip it to the top of the bag and cast it off. The follower should now have a skeleton anchor to clean and is already on his/her JUmars and is ready to clean the pitch. Make it a goal to be out of the station within about 2 minutes after the bag has left.
Now, the guy on top who is doing the hauling should have a Jumar hooked to his waist, riding on the haul line just below the pulley . A demented motion of up and down straining should get the bag moving. The motion is just like doing deep knee bends while sliding the Jumar up toward the pulley after each stroke. Another method is the leg haul. With this method the force is put into an aider attached to a Jumar situated on the haul line under the pulley. Step into the aider and press down with all you can. The aider goes down, and the bag goes up. This method is pretty good for light loads, but seems to not work real well on the big loads. For that you might need to "body haul".
The body haul is very effective and can be the most dangerous method of hauling. In a nutshell you are untieing from the lead line and then tieing into the haul line on the free end, or the end opposite the haul bag. You use your full body weight to counter the weight of the haul bag. As you apply weight you can also point one of your Jumars downward on the line with the haul bag and pull up on this to increase your effectiveness. This method can be frighteningly fast and you can haul the bags in one shot at high speed. Using this method with a very light bag would be insane and the speed of your descent would be extreme. Problem with this method: If the haul line cuts, you will probably go to the deck.
A safer method involves the same technique, but instead of just hanging on the other end of the haul line, you tie the haul line slack off at the anchor and then lower down just as far as it will let you. On a really long pitch, this may not be too far. You can also haul the bag a ways, then retie your length of slack to allow you to lower down more and more with each hauling effort. Jumar back up to the anchor after each event and start over.
Now the bag is at the station. Jumar up and clip in the haul bag daisy chain to the anchor. Slowly lower the bag until the hauling apparatus is under no load and the haul bag is hanging only on the daisy chain. Now, do not take the rope out of the hauling system until you have pulled out some slack on the haul line and tied the haul bag off for real into the anchor. We do this so if the haul bag daisy breaks or rips out of the bag, it will only go a few feet instead of to the end of the rope, usually about 165 feet of terror. Once the bag is tied off for real, undo the hauling apparatus and prepare it for the next leader to take out on lead. This includes lap coiling the haul line and making sure the bag will clear the station with no tangles.
This is probably the most asked question we get. And with good reason. Climbing walls with three people has a lot of advantages, including speed, relative workload, and gives you somebody besides the leader to yell at while belaying. In the basic form, you will have someone out on lead, someone cleaning the pitch and someone belaying and if possible, hauling. All this is going on simultaneously, so as you can see, things will happen pretty fast if everyone does their part .
The various methods:
Method #1 ( you need: a static haul line, a zip line, 2 cordalettes or 15ft. sections of 7-9mm rope, and 2 lead lines)
The leader (#1) goes out on lead with (a) the lead line, and (b) the zip line. The zip line can be a light rope like a 7mm or 9mm. The pitch is lead, and the leader sets up the anchor with the cordalette and then secures the lead line (a) to one end of the anchor. The leader (#1) now pulls up the zip line. Attached to the zip line is the real haul line that is ideally a static cord (c) and the next lead line (d) attached to the next leader #2. The leader #1 then secures the next lead line (d) and the haul line and tells leader # 2 to Jumar on up to the station on the haul line, with the lead line (d) acting as a safety from above. While leader #2 is Jumaring, the leader #1 sets up the haul on the slack between the hauling device and the anchor point #2 is Jumaring from. Once leader #2 gets to the station he weights the haul line to free the bags from the station below. Once the bags are free, the leader #2 takes all the rack left and heads out on lead, with the zip line (b) attached to his harness. Leader #1 is belaying leader #2, the bags are hanging free waiting for the Cleaner (#3) to assist in the hauling, and the cleaning of the last pitch is underway. After cleaning the pitch, leader #1 and the cleaner (#3) haul the bags and eventually secure them at the station.When leader #2 has reached the anchor, he will set up the anchor with a cordalette and then haul up the zip line. Attached to the zip line is the real haul line, and the rope that #3 will lead on, the one that was clipped to one end of the anchor. Then, #3 can Jumar the static haul line (which can already be set up to haul, but a loop has been taken and clipped directly into the anchor as not to Jumar on the hauling device) while top anchored by his soon to be lead line. He can tie off on this line from above as needed for added safety while Jumaring the haul line. Once at the station, the #3 leader helps get the haul bag off the station below and then goes out on lead with the zip line attached to his harness. Leader #1 now starts cleaning the pitch and will help haul the bags when he gets to the upper station. This method is continued all the way up the wall.
The fatal flaw with this #1 method is the extensive use of cordalettes. Each anchor must be set up real clean in order to free up the various lead lines at the given time. All of the free Jumar lines must be able to get released from the anchor at will. This takes planning and meticulous attention to the layering of the anchor. It can be done, but there is an easier way.
You will need all of the above but skip the cordalettes and take 1 extra lead line.
This is the method I prefer and is easier to manage than method #1. All the techniques are the same as the above except for a few things. At the anchors, you will set them up using all the available slack in your lead line. This gives you room to move around at the anchor to haul and dodge big blocks from above. When you haul up the zip line, the real haul line will be attached, along with a free lead line that should be attached to the next leader. The next leader Jumars the haul line with this free lead line as a top anchored rope for tieing off to while Jumaring. The other lead line can be used to lower him out prior to Jumaring, and give an additional belay if he is going mental. After reaching the upper station, this line he was trailing can be clipped into the anchor and then used as a chicken line back down to the cleaner. This method give everyone the option of having a chicken line just in case of bad edges or wig sessions. Another good thing is the additional rope might come in handy if you chop a lead line or plan on fixing a long way from a "porta-city" that is a great or protected belay.
These are the instructions that come with our Headmaster Kit featured in the catalog. The concepts are easily duplicated with your own version of a Headmaster Kit, or to get an overview of the heading process.
Congratulations! You have just purchased a set of wall tools that only a truly sick person would need or want. Hopefully you alredy have some idea about what copperheads are and how to use them. If not, either get some practice, or continue reading, underliner in hand.
Ok, here we go. A spot of history: Copperheads were invented by Bill Forrest. The soft copper heads were supposed to grip better in cracks, when used as a conventional nut. But, next thing you know, wall climbing deviants are pounding on these soft "heads" and making them stick just about anywhere. Voila! Hard aid was born. Enough with the history lesson, let's get to pasting.
You are going to need some heads to practice with, right now. Don't have any heads? Hmmm......Ok, keep reading, but get some before you go up on a wall. Whipping this pamphlet out during a lead on El Cap would be bad form. Try your magic on the ground first.
In its most elementary form, copperheading is nothing more than forcing a blob of copper into a rock groove. You can go about this like an ape or a surgeon. The headmaster kit will get you pasting like a surgeon in no time.
I'll hit the high points of placing each size head first. You'll hear a lot of mumbo jumbo about guys airing it out on #0 heads, certain death below, grim seam above. Don't belive it. The #0 head is a full size smaller than the cable on your Friends. In an ideal situation (no rock rubbing the cable, perfect bond, in a lab) they test out to about 220 lbs. Sure they will work, but in the real world ie: El Cap etc. they are best left at home. Note: All load ratings given are for the cable and sleeve in a perfect world. Once you start to beat on these things, all bets are off. Use the strength numbers as a guide only.
#1's- Usually these are made of copper, as aluminum is too soft, and the cable actually will peel out of the head under load. The cable size is 1/16", and goes to 480lbs. If the placement you are looking at is too small for a number #1 head, that is, more than 1/3 of the head would not fit in the seam, try this: Lay the head flat on the wall, cable folded flat against the wall, and give it a few taps with your hammer. This will flatten the head enough to slip into the seam. For a standard placement, use the smallest punch in your kit. If you have a wire brush, use it to clean the placement area. Size the head with the above method until you get a very tight fit. With the small punch, tap up and down the entire length of the head. It should start to deform into the crack. If it does not deform, and just slips or skids into the placement, it is probably no good. You should remove it and try again. If you think that removing it will destroy the placement, be it damage the rock or break the wire, just punch another head right in on top of the first one. Continue to work the head with the small punch until the feeling you get through the hammer is a solid one, with no moosh. If you missed the head and hit the cable, inspect it carefully, for the chances are the cable will break under load. If you beat on the head too much, cable will show through on the side you are hitting. That's it, the placement is smoked. Remove this head and place another. The key to #1's is not to beat them too much. Another hot tip for #1's is always place two, mere inces apart, then equilize them with a tieoff. Pseudo bomber!
#2's- Usually these are made of copper, but aluminum ones are available. The cable size is 3/32", and goes to 920lbs. Ahhh.... the #2 head! This is the most popular size head on the hard nailups. This head will take a pretty severe beating and still hold out for more. For placing this head you can use the Small Dull Chisel, the Small Punch, or The Anteater, depending on the placement. For a seam type placement, use the Small Dull Chisel to get it started, and then upgrade to a new tool if needed. When using the Small Punch, paste these units with a circular motion until no more copper is going anywhere but outside the seam. Fold any escaped copper back onto itself and then let it be. Pounding on it any more will only weaken the placement. If the placement is a blown out "V", lay the head into the slot and beat down on it with a wide tool, like the Big Chisel or Anteater Punch. The idea is to force the head into the "V" slot so it can act like a nut, while mooshing enough copper into the surrounding rock to make it stay put. Again, as with all placements, use your wire brush to clean the area of detritus before pasting. Hot tip for #2 heads: If you run out of rivet hangers, just turn the #2 head over and use the clip in loop as a #2 rivet hanger.
#3's & #4's- Usually the #3's are made of copper, and the #4's are made from aluminum. The cable size is 1/8", and goes to 1700 lbs. These are the standard head for the big blown out trade routes. The #3's are sturdy beasts and can be re-used a few times before retiring them. The #4's are made of aluminum, and for this reason they stick better for the size, but wear out faster. Usually the area you are going to place one of these babies will be easy to see. Clean the placement and then set the head in there with the pointy end of your hammer. Choose a large tool, like the Chisel, and start to paste "X's" up and down the head. This cross hatching should show about 5 of these "X's" on total head body. The next step is to hit the top of the head with the edge of your chisel and watch for any movement. If it moves, repeat the first steps. If it does not move, try the same thing on the bottom of the head. No movement? Good. If you see dust or rock appear at the bottom of the head while rocking it with the chisel, this is also a warning sign. Repeat step one. Ideally the head will fill every little feature in the placement. If you know there is a constriction or lip or anything that might increase the holding power, use it. Remember where it is, then force the head around, through, or over this area. Remember, you are a surgeon, not some goon just haphazzardly hitting away on a blob of copper 2000 feet in the sky.
#5's & #6's- Usually these are made of aluminum. The cable size is 5/32", and goes to 2600 lbs. Baboom! Bring on artillery. These monster heads are rarely used, but can also be just the ticket for that special placement. Usually these will go in some destroyed pin scar, or weird pocket. On these guys your surgeons touch will be forcefull and firm, yet cautious and direct, kinda like CPR on a rhino. Get the head to stick in the placement with the blunt end of your hammer. Remember all the points from above and apply them here. My personal choice is the Big Dull Chisel for this job. A Punch has the tendency to punch right through the aluminum without forcing enough of it into the placement. Dont be too shy about pounding on these larger heads. The extra force is needed to get the aluminum to flow into the placement.
Headmaster Top Ten Rules :
1. Don't be an idiot and ruin placements by trying to clean heads until the cable breaks.
2. Heads placed on top of old heads will work, but are to be avoided.
3. Fixed heads are always suspect. Test them thouroughly before loading.
4. If there is old copper in the placement (see what the idiot did in rule #1) use the sharp chisel to get it out. Here's how: Slice the copper right down the middle, then fold the sides in toward the center. This usually does the trick. If it seems hopeless, at least get the cable out of the old copper and then paste yours right on top of the old one, fingers crossed.
5. Never use the chisel or any of these tools to enhance the placement. For openers is ruining the rock and is definetly the trademark of a woos and ball-less coward. Scraping and cleaning is one thing, but outright chiseling a placement is intolerable.
6. Use circleheads (copperheads formed into a loop) for placements in horizontal seams or roofs. The design makes the pull equilized from both sides of the head, instead of it trying to peel a regular head out of the placement.
7. Use a Cool Jerk or similar device to clean heads. A biner chain also will work. Be wary while using these for they are capable of generating a whopping force, thus putting you up there with rule #1.
8. Always try to place a piton or nut first. Filling up pin scars with copper is not cool. After all, these routes are not self healing. You will ruin a placement forever unless you are careful and honest about your abilities.
9. Wear safety glasses while heading. Rock chips, chisel shards, etc. are hard on the eyes.
10. Confused? Practice,Practice,Practice. Then call us for more info.
Ok, there's the basics of advanced heading. The key to all this stuff to get out there and practice. Take a buddy out and play the game of "who can make it stick" or "pop a piece and buy a round". Experiment with the most ludicrus placements you can find. More of them will hold than you think. Try out new ways of combining heads pinned in with pitons (a very sneaky weapon against hard aid), or equilized heads, or ? Go out and try it. Happy Pasting!
Hooking will flat out age you. Ok, it's done with. Now there is no need to be overly scared, because even old guys can hook.....on rock I mean. There are only a few rules to hooking, and they are as follows:
1. Use the right hook for the job. Using a big Fish Hook on a thin edge on a slab is not the way to go. Pick a hook that fits the hold you are trying to assault. If it is a wide flat edge, use a Leeper Flat. If it is a basic small flake, use the BD Skyhook. If it is a flake as wide as your wrist, use the Fish Hook etc.
2. Cover the hook with your hand while weighting it. There is nothing sicker than a guy hooking his own eye out while looking at a sketchy hook that pops off under full load. Don't watch the hook, but listen to it..feel it...be it. Just don't look at it until you are above it. Then hurry up and get off it.
3. Tie your hook up the right way. Follow what the manufacturer advises for rigging your hooks. I have seen more hooks tied the wrong way than you can imagine. Give yourself a fighting chance by using the tools the right way.
4. Carry them all. They weigh practically nothing and get you past 5.10 face, big flakes, expando cracks that have the edge broken, missing bolts, and are useful on following pendulums, lower-outs, and clip cleaning roofs.
When you are actually hooking, here is a good method. Use your long daisy chain and put one set of hooks on the end loop. Search around for the best hook placement trying a few of your various hooks. Get a good one and then put your aiders right into the webbing on the hook. This keeps the load on the hook as designed, reduces weird torque, and gets you a bit higher on the piece as opposed to clipping into a biner or one of the daisy loops. If there is more than one hook move needed, do the same thing with your other long daisy. When getting on the next hook, leave the previous hook in place (if it will stay) for if this hook you are getting onto blows, this is your only shot. As you move up the lower hook will usually dislodge and just hang from your waist waiting for the next move.
Here is some stuff that maybe you can use next time you get in a real bind. Some of it is sketchy, but hey, it works.
Cleaning roofs and traverses:
Use hooks on your aiders instead of biners. It is faster and makes the long reaches under roofs a bit easier to manage.
For short pendulums, simply pass a bight of rope through the piece you are lowering off of and either clip it into your harness or simply hold onto it. Suck up the slack until the bight/loop of rope is now supporting you. Unclip the rope from the piece and slide your Jumar up as far as you can. Now transfer your weight from the bight toward the Jumar and slowly lower yourself out until you are hanging directly on the Jumar. This will usually put you directly below the next piece you are going to clean. Release the bight and pull it through the piece you just lowered from.
This is a great method for getting really heavy bags off the station in a situation where you are under a roof or at the start of a big traverse. When you haul the bag to the station under the roof, put a tie off loop around one of the anchor points. Get the bag up to the station and clip the haul bag daisy into this loop. Be sure to always tie the bag off for real with the actual haul line after doing this step. Now, lower the bags to release the hauling device and wait for the next pitch to get done. When it is time to haul, the leader will not be able to help you at all get the bags off the station due to the roof over your head. So, when he is ready to haul and pulls all the slack out of the line, untie the safety loop in the haul line. After the rest of the slack is pulled out of the haul line, simply cut the tieoff. The bags will rocket out of the station with great violence. If needed, set up a small belay type thing to lower the bags out. Also, if you cut the bags loose, be sure it is a clean escape or it can rip you out of the station or get destroyed by hitting something after the exit. If playing with knives makes you nervous, you can hit the tieoff with your hammer for the same effect. This is probably more fun anyway.
The Fish Hook can be nailed in like a piton behind big flakes to keep it in place and left as pro while you climb by. Use a 3/4" angle for the best pinning action if you need to pin a Fish Hook to a small ledge with a crack on the back edge. This trick works pretty good on expando stuff as in the event of a fall the load will be applied downward, instead of outward, as if you used the piton alone. On wacko-psycho hooking it is not uncommon to take duct tape (for taping on hooks) or hanging heavy objects on hooks mid-pitch to keep the hooks in place.
Look for drilled holes if an area is yielding no secrets on how to pass. Holes are small and well hidden in most cases. But, don't even think about drilling your own holes. This is a sin against nature and all humanity. Bring a BD Skyhook that has the business end filed to a point. There are a lot of "enhanced" hook placements lurking around. What went on was the FA party or some ball-less coward after the fact would whip out the 1/4" drill and punch a real shallow hole on flat ledges so the hooks would not skate. Without this pointed job, you will be diced out for sure.