2 Men and a Mountain (Climbing)

10/14/2000 marked a new development in our climbing education, the first “James and Daddy Only” expedition, to Pilot Mountain. We tried a few new routes, some of which were a little too difficult for James, but he had a lot of fun practicing setting protection in the rock. Dad rigged up a system where he was always on a toprope, but the other end of the rope was also connected to James' harness as a lead rope. The top rope was belayed through a GriGri device for safety, and Dad could thus belay James via the toprope, through the lead rope (ATC on his harness), or both.

James put in about 8 or 9 pieces of protection, including a very sketchy one that worked loose as he climbed past it - a good learning experience for him.

We ended up setting two anchors during the day. The first used some existing bolts with a sling around a large boulder as additional backup. The second was a traditional anchor with 3 components; a sling around a tree and 2 cams in cracks. We tooks some snapshots of this second anchor as we were taking it down to give you an idea of how these things work. The cords or slings from the anchor points come together in a figure-8 knot and then they all are connected to the carabiners that the rope runs through. This builds redundancy into the system; for it to fail, the two cords and sling below the figure-8 would have to break, or both carabiners, or all 3 anchor/sling combinations would have to either break or pop out. But, so long as at least 1 anchor/sling above the figure 8 + 1 loop below it + 1 carabiner remains intact, the anchor doesn't fail.

In order to balance the lengths of the slings and cords (so that the loops that go through the carabiners would be balanced and all parts of the anchor were under load), I had to tie figure-8 knots (and 1 figure-8 on a bight) into them. In retrospect I could have neatened things up a bit by readjusting the cords to put the double-fisherman knots that make them into loops away from the point where they all come together.

Note the extra loose red sling; that was girth-hitched to another tree, and that's what I clipped into before I went near the edge of the rock. James and I never go near a cliff face without being clipped into something extra.

Finally, it's becoming obvious to James and I, but not, apparently, to Natsumi, that we need lots more equipment. I mean, isn't it obvious that what we've got is almost nothing?