Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nice Trick! How to extend an anchor so you can see your second.


This is ONE way to do it with a Munter Hitch.  Caution: this is not a beginner technique.  Climbing is dangerous.


The top of the first pitch of Old Man’s Route, Seneca Rocks.

Situation: You have just led a climb and are on a big belay ledge.  There are some nice cracks to build an anchor at the back of the ledge, but if you belay from that location there will be no line of sight with your second.

1. Go to the anchor location and build your bomber, redundant, multi-directional belay anchor. 

2. Clip a large locking carabiner to the master point and clip the rope into that with a Munter hitch.

3. The rope should now lead from your harness, to a munter hitch at the belay anchor, and then down to the other climber.  If you grab the rope leading down to the other climber, you can effectively lower yourself using the Munter hitch as a brake to a spot where you can see and hear your second.

4. Grab both strands of the rope and tie an overhand on a bight with BOTH strands of rope.  This new loop will be your lower anchor point.

5. Use an ATC Guide or similar device to belay the second directly from the LOWER anchor point.

6. When the second reaches you, DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF BELAY.  Tie an overhand knot in the brake strand to go hands free.

7. Now is the fun part.  Grab either of the ropes above the overhand on a bight that lead to the master point, you can belay yourself and your second up to the master point with it simultaneously using the old munter hitch!!!  Yeah!!!

8. Now both of you anchor into the master point and you’re free to remove the belay device, remove the overhand on a bight, remove the munter hitch, and organize the rope.

Wow that was confusing!  Sorry I don’t have more pictures. If you have any questions about this setup or want to practice it with me send me a message.  This is not a beginner technique.  Most beginners would be better off just dealing without the line of sight.  However, if you can understand when this technique is helpful, and you can reproduce it quickly and accurately, you should use it.

It took me a long time of climbing and some AMGA training to realize the importance of seeing and hearing your second.  This is particularly true with an inexperienced second or if you’re climbing with someone who is at their difficulty limit. 

Local ice, it’s real nice!

There is really not much better than waking up at a nice leisurely hour, getting some good climbs in, and being back home in time for dinner.  In the past week I got out to some local areas around Pittsburgh twice.  Considering there was no local ice last year at all, this was pretty amazing.  When the weather is solidly cold there are probably 100+ ice climbs within an hours drive of Pittsburgh.  They range from 15-50 feet, roadside to backwoods, private and public lands.  Keep an eye out all year for wet cliffs and come back to check on them when the weather turns cold.  You can easily save yourself a 9 hour drive.

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Petzl Laser Speed Ice Screws!

They just had the winter Outdoor Retailer Show out in Salt Lake City, and one of the coolest new items are the Petzl ice screws. 

The choice has always been the BD Express or Grivel 360.  The BD gives you easy racking, the Grivel gives you the ability to place in small pockets.  The new Petzl screws look like they are the best of both worlds.  They have a low profile hanger which is much smaller than the BD hanger.  This means they shouldn’t catch on ice features as much.  They have a fold out knob which lies flat during storage, and gives you lots of leverage.  The finish quality should be top notch as Petzl’s stuff always is.

They have “light” version which should be nice for mountaineering or alpine climbing.

It looks like they should be available by Fall ‘13 – if they don’t get recalled…