iVenturez: Outdoors and Adventures

Terrestrial, Aqua and Aero – Complete adventure!

Archive for the ‘Climbing’ Category

Climbing matters!

Words from the Icons – Chris Bonington

Posted by itrekz on August 6, 2008

For those who doesn’t know who he is: Refer http://www.bonington.com/welcome.htm

The most important discovery of my life, some forty five years ago, was that of climbing. I love it, am obsessed by it,as much now as on the first day when a friend of mine took me to Harrison’s Rocks, a little sandstone outcrop to the south of London.  That day I discovered an activity for which I had natural ability and which seemed to have limitless capacity for personal discovery. I was still at a day school in London, but from that moment on, I took every available opportunity to hitchhike out for holidays in Snowdonia and Scotland, working my way up the climbing grades, discovering the joys of mountaineering on the isle of SKye, the challenge of winter climbing in Scotland, the reaching out to the wider horizons of the Alps and Himalayas.

Over this period I have seen an extraordinary development and expansion of this sport, which is so much more than a sport. It is an obsession, a way of life, a joy, a growing and ever-widening sense of awareness. I started with a apir of clinker nailed boots, a second hand hemp rope and a couple of nylon loops with ex-WD carabiners. The top standard in early fifties was around E 1. Joe Brown and Don Whillans had just started their climbing campaign that was to revolutionise Britishrock climbing, but to me they were just a distant rumour – though I started repeating their routes in 1953, in some instances making second ascents.  It is easy to be nostalgic, but they were great days. There were not many people around and climbing was wonderfully simple – it didn’t pay to fall of when you were leading with only a couple of runners which usually comprised of slings draped over convenient flakes or threaded around stones jammed in cracks.

Yet today I use all the latest devices – Quickdraws, RPs, Rocks, Walnuts, Friend, Chalk- and this has enabled me to keep up a fairly high standard of climbing, E2 %c on a good day at a resonable level of risk. I hate to think of long falls I boldly risked, as we all had to do, in my youth. And yes, I go to the indoor climbing walls and do a bit of sport climbing, which I find fun, but believe passionately that it should be kept of the traditional crags.  Bolt proceeded climbing is a pale imitation of the real thing, for it is the presence of risk that is the fundamental basis of the attraction of climbing. Once a crag has been covered in bolts, not only man or for that matter woman, imposed thier presence on the natural environment, but they have also removed the fundamental challenge of accpeting the natural protection that the rock offers.

So what do I get out of climbing? A lot more than ‘because it is there’. It starts with the physical satisfaction of clambering up a stretch of a rock, essentially the satisfaction of an athlete; but where climbing starts being different and so much stronger an experience, is that element of risk, that you are staking your life on your judgement. There is a sense of discovery, bot of your own limts and places to where no one else has been before.  There is wonder of the beauty of the mountains, the strength of friendships, when your life is literally in your climbing partner’s hands. Certainly, there is competition, even in traditional climbing. The sense of achievement of being the first to solve a boulder problem, of snatching a new route from under the nsoes of your peers, of being the first to top out and unclimbed peak. The secet of staying alvie and going on enjoying the mountains is finding a balance in all these motives for climbing.


Posted in Climbing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Rock climbing styles

Posted by itrekz on July 16, 2008

Traditional climbing:
A traditional rock climber is more often called as ‘Trad’ climber. A Trad climber is any climber, who is secured with ropes and places protection (pro) like nuts, bolts, pitons, hexes, in the faults on the rock face as one ascends. The faults can be crack, notches, projections, nips, crete. If no crack is naturally available one may drill the bolt in with a hammer. Trad climbing is mostly done in teams.

Sport climbing:
Sport climbing is very similar to Trad climbing but for the difference in gear and bolted nature of the route. The rope system remains the same, but added protection ensues from pre-bolted routes, wherein a climber has to just clip-in the quick draw as one ascends. A quick draw is a short sling with one bent gate Karabiner and one straight karabiner at its ends. It is mostly short climbs, not more than two or three pitches and with added safety, more emphasis can be placed on climbing techniques and harder moves.

Bouldering is the most explosive and dynamic type of climbing. Bouldering is usually done on boulders not high more than 15-20 feet. These are known as boulder problems or boulder challenges. The climber is never actually much of the ground and bouldering consist of series of moves where in a limber has to climb or traverse a boulder problem.
Bouldering even though not higher up, offers the most difficult problems and climbs to be overcome, since you might not attempt a difficult and dynamic moves at a height of, say 60 feet of the ground, as against when you are just 10 feet o the ground. In bouldering, no rope or equipments are used, but just crash pads to fall on so as to avoid injury.

Indoor/Wall climbing:
During rains, the routes are always laden with moss and it makes it impossible to climb in those extremely slippery conditions. To satiate their hunger for climbing, climbing enthusiasts, devised Indoor climbing or wall climbing. However, today indoor climbing has taken over the Trad climbing and is more favored in Europe and US. All the climbing competitions are done on indoor walls. The environment is always controlled and the route manipulative.

Ice climbing:
Even, though never done, few words on it. Frozen waterfall, vertical ice face are climbed with specialized equipments. Crampon equipped shoes; ice axes etc are bare essentials of the same. In addition to equipments used, the nature of the climb, the routes and climbing techniques differs a lot. Ice faces exhibit mutations and changes its nature between the lead climber and the second.

Posted in Climbing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Climb?

Posted by itrekz on July 16, 2008

Why go Rock climbing?
When you utter the phrase, the first thing that most people will ask you is, “Are you nuts? That is just too dangerous.” They are right. Climbing is an inherently dangerous sport, but when in done according to certain criteria and adhering to the protocols, it is one of the safest sports. Don’t let these comments forbid your aspirations, because once you get started, you will know why it is one of the most addictive sport.
Some plausible explanation and rationale are:

Ultimate Physical challenge:
Every route presents numerous challenges and opportunities to the climber. It serves you the opportunity to extend beyond your own self and attain which seems inconceivable earlier. One learns to accept certain rough appropriately blended with the smooth and the ability to rise when the chips are down, push further. Depending on your own physical ability and risk acceptance, one will learn that no grade of climbing is tough enough.

Adventure and Freedom:
Thrill and adrenaline rush are the terms any layman associate with climbing. A sense of adventure and achievement is always tagged with it. The feeling of self and inner core satisfaction is beyond words to explain.

Beautiful nature and scenic:
Being one with nature is a deprivation for the urban dwellers and a sport such as climbing which urges one to explore new routes and find new sites will invariably lead one to discover new places and be one with nature. No other Olympic sport provides you with this opportunity. Flora and fauna enthusiasts and also herpetologists, entomologists, botanist and outdoor enthusiasts are adequately served with even opportunities to enjoy and explore their respective domains.

Posted in Climbing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Basic Climbing knots

Posted by itrekz on July 16, 2008

Climbing Knots
Without hyperbole employed, there are more than 100 knots (even more) one can use for climbing purposes; however, few most essential knots are mentioned here.

Few basics of knots are:

  • Easy to remember
  • Easy to tie
  • Enough strength to be stable under stress and load
  • Easy to untie

Figure of Eight knot:
If there is any one knot that must be absolutely learned, it is the figure of eight knot.
There are two methods, the figure of eight rethreaded and figure of eight on the bight or loop. The first one is used usually to secure the rope to the harness while second one is used to use for clipping into the karabiner or any equipment.

Clove hitch knot:
There are two methods:
Open clove hitch: When the anchor is open and the knot can be just ‘put in’ from the top, for example a truncated tree trunk.

Closed clove hitch: This knot is used when it is to be ‘tied around’ a closed anchor, like a huge tree, where one cannot just ‘put in’ the knot.

Bowline knot:
This knot is used when the rope is directly tied around the waist of the climber without any harness. Also in some cases this can be used for anchoring. Not used often.

Italian hitch:
In conditions when the belay device is damaged or dropped of a cliff, there is still a way to belay using plain Karabiner using the Italian hitch knot. One can even rappel down and descend using the Italian hitch knot around a karabiner.

Reef knot and Fisher man knot are used to join two ropes together. Reef knot is used for joining two ropes of equal diameter where as Fisherman knot is versatile and can be used in any case, specifically for two ropes of different diameters.

Posted in Climbing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to take a fall while climbing? The art of falling- Learn it!

Posted by itrekz on July 15, 2008

This is from an article on Ukclimbing.com by Arno Ilgner

Most of us deal with fears by looking for tricks or techniques that will take us around our fears instead of facing them directly. In order to learn we must process ourselves through a situation, not just get to the end of it. Let’s see how this plays out in one particular aspect of climbing — falling.

In order to learn how to fall you need to develop the ability to take a fall and still remain relaxed in your body. By taking your body through experiences you learn. Your body creates schemes to embody knowledge. If you take a long fall first and tense up, then you learn to tense up. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to learn in falling. Instead, you need to learn in smaller increments. You know you’ve learned something when you’re comfortable doing it. You know you’re comfortable falling when your body responds in four specific ways. You need to be able to fall and:

* Breathe…continuously throughout
* Eyes…looking down, in the direction of the developing situation
* Relax…your body, use just the amount of energy needed for the task
* Posture …with shoulders rolled back and down, and arms out, knees bent and shoulder width apart

This is universal for learning any skill. You need to experience all four of these states while doing the skill, not when it is over. Steve did not experience these states during the fall, but rather bypassed the learning process due to a few misalignments.

Learning involves acquiring two types of knowledge, intellectual and experiential. As an example of intellectual knowledge, imagine a climber facing a 15-foot fall on a slightly overhanging wall. His mind tells him that he shouldn’t be afraid because the fall is clean. But, no matter how much he intellectualizes about why he shouldn’t be afraid, he still has difficulty committing to challenging climbing when the risk of a fall is great. He doesn’t fully trust the intellectual knowledge and can’t actively engage the fall. Experiential knowledge, on the other hand, is complete knowledge that your whole body possesses. Experiential knowledge derives directly from situations you’ve gone through; that you have actually engaged many times. You aren’t afraid of taking a 15-foot fall on a slightly overhanging wall because you’ve taken many such falls.

The learning process consists of constantly converting intellectual knowledge into experiential knowledge by engaging your body. By engaging stressful situations you process your body through them and expand your mind’s perception of what it can deal with.

Limitations of the Mind
There are two things that will impact the quality of your learning. First, if you are too mental in your approach, you’ll focus on the end result instead of the process. This is because your mind doesn’t like stress. It is focused on the end goal because that is where the mind will be comfortable again. Second, if you bite off too big of a learning chunk you will react in the way Steve did and not learn. Actually, your body will learn how to tense up and then you have to unlearn that. So, an important element of learning needs to be biting off just the right amount of discomfort and unknown, but not too much.

When you practice falling, make sure your goal isn’t to overcome fear of falling but rather to develop more ability to be comfortable when falling. These may sound the same but they aren’t. Overcoming fear of falling is an end result. You practice falling so you don’t have to do it anymore. Developing more ability to be comfortable falling involves a process that you can continually apply each time you go climbing. You make it part of your routine.

Realize that fears will occur in areas where you lose familiarity. Identify all the foundational aspects of climbing—falling being one of them— and incorporate some practice each day you go climbing.

Access to Complete Learning
Since your mind will limit you to intellectual learning, you need to find a different process for accessing a more complete kind of learning. Gaining that access point involves two things: First, let go of your mind’s desire for comfort. Second, find little ways to engage the stress. This two-fold process will help you stay present for the task and see value in the stress. Your mind will want to bypass the stress by making you do things such as letting go quickly when you decide to take a fall. You need to look curiously for where the stress comes up and send your attention there. Many climbers say that the actual falling isn’t the scary part, “it’s that letting go part that is scary.” If this is where stress arises in you, then find ways to be present during that transition rather than getting it over with. It’s important to remind yourself that the goal isn’t to overcome fear of falling; the goal is to develop more ability to be present in the stressful falling situation.

Feeling comfortable means you are doing those four things I’ve outlined above: breathing, eyes on the task, relaxing, and proper posture. In order to develop this comfort, however, you need to take learning in small increments. In falling, begin by simply hanging on a toprope (first increment), then taking short toprope falls (second increment), and finally taking lead falls (third increment). Engage one increment at a time and don’t progress to the next one until you’re comfortable. Let’s say you’re at the second increment—toprope falls. Ask: “Can I take this toprope fall and breathe continuously, look down into my fall zone, relax completely, and maintain proper body posture keeping arms out?” When I ask my students about their observations after taking a practice fall, they usually say it was comfortable. “How do you know?” I ask. Then I hold up four fingers to remind them that they need to continually be attentive to those four aspects to know they have learned that increment.

Your comfort zone is made up of stressful situations from the past that you have “organized” by engaging those situations until they weren’t stressful anymore. To expand your comfort zone, first intellectualize the next challenge for learning. Then engage it with your body, in small, manageable increments, until you can complete your practice exercise with the four indications of comfort. When you’ve done that you’ve embodied the knowledge that was previously simply an intellectual understanding.

Practice Tip: Falling

We tend to practice falling, or anything stressful, to get it over with. This will not only delay our learning of the skill but will also cause us to learn it incorrectly. Our body will learn to tense up. Learning how to fall means we learn to remain relaxed while falling. Here is a learning-based approach to practicing falling.

1. Small increments:
Begin on toprope
First, simply hang on the rope and swing around.
Second, take toprope falls
Third, take lead falls

2. Gauge for learning: Comfort
First, stay at the same increment until you are comfortable
Second, you know you are comfortable when…
B: You’re breathing throughout the fall
E: You’re looking down during the fall
R: You’re relaxed throughout the fall
P: You’re arms are out; not grabbing the rope

3. Belaying: Giving a cushioned catch
First, do not progress to lead falls until your belayer learns how to give you a cushioned catch during toprope falls.
Second, a cushioned catch is: the belayer gives in to the pull when you fall. Your belayer should end up about five feet off the ground when your fall is ended. If he isn’t, then he will need to push off as the rope becomes taut. This will be a learning process for your belayer.

Posted in Climbing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »