When aid climbing, the transition from your nice comfy aider steps into free climbing a few 5.6 moves can be surprisingly terrifying. After you know these two clever tips from big wall expert Chris McNamara, it's a LOT easier.
British big wall expert Andy Kirkpatrick has some battle-tested advice for staying relatively comfortable on a big wall, even when the weather goes sideways. These tips are from his excellent book, “Higher Education”.
Headed to Yosemite or Zion in the summer to try a big wall? It’s gonna be HOT! Here are two lightweight and inexpensive things to bring to make your vertical camping trop a little more bearable.
Sometimes, aid ladders always seem to be trying to trip you up. And when you're free climbing, you have to keep them tidy and out-of-the-way, but instantly accessible to transition back to aid. Here's a great technique to do just that, from expert climber Libby Sauter.
Connecting your haul rope to the haul bags with a Micro Traxion (or similar progress capturing pulley) can make your life easier in a lot of ways.
Do you have an ascender with a pretty much useless little hole in the bottom? Yeah, so did I until I did this simple modification.
On a longer wall, with bigger loads, using some sort of mechanical advantage system to get your bags lifted can be extremely helpful. Here's a deep dive into the 2 to 1 “Z pull system.
A summary of various tricks and tips to aid climb more efficiently, also known as “just about everything I wish I knew when I started aid climbing”. These tips may take years off your learning curve.
Ever wonder what that hole is for in the top of your fifi hook? You're not the first one. Tie a short loop of cord in there to let you easily remove your hook off of pretty much anything.
There is a right (and definitely a wrong) way to rappel with a heavy haul bag. Also, learn some specialized crafty rappel tricks if you have a traverse or overhang. (This tip courtesy of Climbing magazine.)
On your next vertical camping trip, use a “big wall bucket” with a Gamma lid to keep delicate items from getting crushed, and to keep day use gear close at hand.
When ascending a rope with jumars, the length of your daisy chains is critical. Here’s a way to get them set up right every time, and a good reason why you want both of them the same length.
A lot of new aid climbers want the reassurance of adding a “safety” carabiner into the top hole of their ascender. It’s not needed most of the time, and there’s one reason why you may really want to skip it.
The carabiner(s) clipped to the top of your aiders should be carefully selected, as big wall climbers will use it more than any other carabiner you own. Choose wisely.
Rope soloing is dangerous. I don't encourage anybody to do it. Having said that, if you have to, here’s a good method.
Your gear rack is arguably the most important, and certainly most expensive, thing you have on a big wall. You absolutely, positively, never want to drop it. Here's a quick harness modification to be sure It always stays where it should.
Big wall climbing can offer enough suffering when you're actually moving upwards. Once you reach the bivy, you’ve earned a little comfort. Here are some tips from wall expert Mark Hudon to stay warm, dry and cozy.
Cam hooks, while they may appear about as secure as a tortilla chip, are essential tools for modern clean aid climbing. Here’s a trick for deploying them that offers convenience and extra reach.
So you’ve hauled Le Pig to the anchor, now what? Be sure and connect it to the anchor with a system that can be easily released under complete tension - the docking cord.
Your big wall lead rack is pretty darn heavy, and it's going to be stupidly heavy if you take every single thing you need on a long, hard pitch. Instead, just take a light tagline, and pull up gear as you need it.
The most common mistake when cleaning an aid pitch is to jam your top ascender into the carabiner. Here's a rule of thumb to avoid it.
On your tiptoes straining for that stopper placement or rivet? Try this crafty trick to get a few extra inches.
Having a specialized “beak” style piton, even on an moderate big wall that’s otherwise hammerless clean climbing, can be a great secret weapon.
Lowering out can be a bit nerve racking for the second, especially if you haven’t done it very often. Here’s a technique might speed up and simplify the process - use a designated lower out cord rather than the climbing rope.
On a big wall, not everything is going to fit into your haul bag. No worries! Use gear tethers to hang your extra stuff outside of your bag and keep it accessible.
Buying a portaledge is $$$! You want to be sure and make the right choice. What are the pros and cons to a single versus a double ledge?
Big wall climbers have to choose between three variables when choosing a haul rope. Here is one great option.
Setting up your portaledge and getting it dialed to the perfect height can be an acrobatic and frustrating challenge. Here are some wall-tested tips to make it a lot easier.