FISH How-To Pages, Big Wall Climbing


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.