My favorite Index pitch: Up’er Zipper

“Thanks for the work developing that climb! Tom”, I said as we hiked down the Upper Wall trail. He yelled out “You’re welcome” He was arguing with his friend over the FA of the route and renaming it.

“It” was and old 7 pitch aid route on the Cheeks formation, that now goes mostly free. Many people enjoy the 1st pitch of the (lower)Zipper, a total sandbag 10b. Just above that is a A3 roof that is mind blowingly big, steep, and thin. Above that is some dirt scrambling to reach the ledge called the Beach, an airy perch that is usually reached by traversing “the Perverse Traverse, 5.5” via ferrata style. There lies the war chest that Tom and friends use to scrub some of the steepest rock at Index. A few years ago they scrubbed and bolted the upper part of the Zipper route, and rumors floated that it was one of the best long pitches at Index. I went up there early last year with Jeremy and it was too wet. Last Sunday, I got my first shot at it after the usual spend Saturday-in-bed-rest. Doug was fresh off a one year sabbatical, and raring for the plan once I told him of the obscure and hard to get to adventure.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/uper-zipper/108146751

It totally lived up to the hype. I made the mistake of not warming up on another route, but it was supposed to rain that afternoon. It got up in the face with steep powerful movement right off the ledge.Welcome shake out rests occur about 7-8 times along the way. What a way it is too, when combining the 1st and 2nd pitch into an mega 60 meter lead! Alternatively breaking the lead up into 2 pitches though leaves the party at a hanging belay, then leaves a committing start off the belay as well. It seemed more natural to do it in one long push. After spending 5-10 minute at each rest, I joked that I did the lead in 8 pitches. I got up it with 2 hangs to de-pump in an effort that took way more than an hour to get up. It is such fun that is hard to describe. You will encounter: every size crack, with flakes, knobs, sustained, steep difficulty, and an unbelievably classic pitch that will not easily be forgotten. As Chandler says: “I climb at Index because it is the highest quality climbing I have ever been blessed to experience. As far as the individual routes go I can’t imagine there being anything better in the world”.

‘Nuff said, enjoy some pics:

North Dihedral Direct 2007

Since I am not climbing much, I have been posting photos and stories of old first ascents of mine that have lost the photos on the original posts. This is an fa on Snow Creek Wall that may not have happened if the White Slabs route hadn’t already had a party on  it. Peter left a hint about the N. Dihedral, so I threw in a bit of rock gear and the rest is history, hope you enjoy , and stay flexible in your plans, Wayne

 

Saturday(Feb 7-2007) Gary Yngve and I,Wayne Wallace, climbed the thin line left of White Slabs route on Snow Creek Wall. It went in 5 long pitches and was extremely difficult.The route got gradually harder as we went, which helped because we were both off-the-couch. The initial 2 pitches went up fantastic thin ribbons up ramps and micro gulleys. Though thin,hard,and awkward they entertained us for the first 120 meters immensely. At times the ice was 4 inches wide, half inch thick!They ended up in a wide curtain that felt very thick though an inch and a half deep.I ran this out 100 feet to reach the stance below the overhanging ice crux pillar.
The ice pillar was short but extremely strenuous due to the overhanging angle. After that we entered a Scottish style ice gulley, more fun, though Gary had to relieve himself midway while following.
Pitch 4 went up thin ice in the dihedral until the ice ran out then became very difficult dry tooling in a long sketchy lead. At times I felt I could fall and die on the runout. Pitch 5 was easier though the deep snow and short hard sequences drained any energy we may have had available. Topping out after 8 hard hours we reveled in the glow of our first climb together.
Hats off to Peter for dropping the hint of this climb,and Rat and Caps for exploring to make this an enticing prospect and wonderful testpiece.

I am reluctant to give it grades as it may be fatter or thinner when another party does it.. but when we did it it went a little like this.
P1; m4 wi3 thin connecting ribbons
P2: m5 wi3+(R) Thin! Belay at top is amazing!
P3 : wi5- short overhanging pillar followed by scottish gulley
P4 : m6 wi4(R) disappearing thin ice to hard corner-dry
P5: m3 wi3 energy gobbling friggin around
Overall: IV-WI5-M6-R 300m, Placed 4 pins on 3 pitches,I believe. This is the first route to the right of Outer Space.
It was just my kind of route with so much variety. A little piece of climbing heaven in a spectacular-historic location.
Glad you enjoyed the tr, I enjoyed the other fantastic ones on this site for sure!

Thanks< Wayne and Gary

From Gary: Wow, I am f’n thrashed. I was getting over a cold, and I think the cold just came back for an encore. But the climb was worth it. I had a great time climbing with Wayne. Even though I’ve chatted with him at Pub Clubs, read about his exploits, etc., I never really had an idea how tough he is until he ropegunned me up these five pitches.

new stuff 239

NDD on left, White Slabs on right

White Slabs on the right, Northern Dihedrals Direct on the left. The inset offers a little better view inside the dihedrals.

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We couldn’t see the wall until we were roughly right across it and we had gotten above the clouds. A party was at the base of White Slabs, which may have made it easier for Wayne to get stoked about the left route.

new stuff 241

The first pitches consisted of thin runnels with the occasional mixed move.

For the most part, the belays were pretty sheltered
Wayne forgot to mention that on the 2nd pitch, he had to downclimb 40 feet to retrieve the first piece he placed (a gold camalot) so he could protect the moves to come.

The crux of the 2nd pitch was an off-balance dog-leg runnel of thin ice.

new stuff 244new stuff 243

The ice got thicker, and Wayne belayed below the base of the pillar.
Wayne was happy to sink an 18cm screw to the hilt!

qP3wayne1

The ice steepened considerably, and was thin in spots.
Above the ice was short snow slog and then a sweet narrow icy gully.

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Wayne enjoyed the good ice while it lasted.

new stuff 245

Then the mixed climbing became delicate, then desperate.

new stuff 247
I flailed up the mixed moves, slipping a few times and happily hooking a fixed pin, all while wondering how the hell Wayne managed to lead it with the potential consequences of a nasty fall. The mixed moves were full-body workouts.

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The last pitch certainly wasn’t a gimme. Some fun mixed moves, thigh-deep snow groveling, and a little bushwhacking. Capped off with a classic finish through a tunnel.

new stuff 239

NDD on left, White Slabs on right

We walked off the backside, scrambling down two short rock steps.

Crimson Eye, and a small ratings bubble.

Before I go into a rant about sandbag grades, let me first state that the 2 new lines on the Upper Town Wall are just fantastic, and are/will get much deserved traffic on them. Super technical, thin, and very bouldery, Thompson/Fuller Memorial and Crimson Eye offer some of the best face climbing you can imagine. It is so great to have even more outstanding choices at my favorite place to climb.

Mt Project Page: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/the-crimson-eye-/111804803

Yes, Index is an amazing place to rock climb, but everyone knows how the ratings are stiff in most cases. That’s the tradition here, and I get it, but do we want to keep raising the bar? My last 2 recent reports highlight 2 routes that deserve such ratings scrutiny. I believe the FA team are well suited to do routes much harder than the pair of routes, so maybe that is a factor. Bouldering has allowed the average climber to do incredibly difficult sequences, and develop far greater finger strength. Maybe my job and age are making climbing more challenging to me? I have always felt that routes should be rated for the on-sight first go at them. If you get it wired then maybe you have Index ratings? RIGHT next to these routes is a route called Heaven’s Gate . It is supposed to be 11a/b, and is way more doable than either of the pair to its left. Make your own judgement by doing these amazing climbs (if you can), but be ready for some tough climbing.

Details: p1: I led Lamplighter for my 4th time overall 10c. P2 then Jeremy got shut down and offered me the crux 2nd pitch, which I fell on, then sent, but grabbed the draw after crux to clip it. note: if you can clip the bolt after the crux move, go for the hidden jug to the right of it first, then it is more clippable.-felt 11d.  P3: Jeremy did an amazing job sending the stiff sequence on p3 (rated 10-. I fell 2x tr-ing it! We mistakenly went left? felt 11b/c, I am told there is an easier way to the right. Gear handy at finish. ). P4: I was amazed that I got through the 4th pitch without falling or having a mental breakdown, because it is such a crazy and awesome pitch -felt 11b, 36 meters.The climb took us 6hrs! Thank gosh that there are rest stances peppered along most of the pitches. What a ride!!

click images to enlarge

Sawtooth Traverse, Olympics 2004

I received an email asking about photos from the Sawtooth Traverse that David Parker and I did in 2004. The photos were no longer on the server so I thought I’d post them here with the trip reports that we did at the time. I don’t remember enough to caption the pics well, but I do remember it was a very fun trip.

from David:

Funny thing is, the whole thing is a blur. I don’t remember what cool pitch went with what pinnacle! I’ll be sharing the photos soon, so stand by.

Ok, here’s my brief TR: Sharpen the Saw

Last weekend, Wayne Wallace and I made the first ascent full traverse of the rugged Sawtooth Range in the Olympic Mountains. Well known for it relatively good rock (as far as volcanic goes), the ridge is comprised of 13 named peaks (some more like pinnacles) from Mt. Alpha to Mt. Lincoln. In all we figure we climbed about 20 doing our best to stay as close as possible to the ridge and climbing NE ridges or faces and rappeling SW ridges and faces, as that is the general direction of the Sawtooth Range. The most popular is the the highest and prominent Mt. Cruiser which graces the cover of the Olympic Mountains climbing guidebook and is generally the only and very worthy objective in the area. While we believe every summit had been touched, we are quite certain nobody has ever made the complete traverse in one single push. We approached 10 miles on a very wet Saturday and ended up at the base of Alpha with zero visibility. We bivied and hoped the skies would clear that night as forecast. Indeed they did, so we were up early and off. Alpha actually had 2 peaks, Cruiser was next, an un-named summit, some more ridge and then the Needle. After that came Castle Spires with 3 peaks. We ended the day by doing both the Fin and the Horn and then had to drop back down almost 1,000 feet to get water as there were no snow patches left to melt snow. We found a small pond and slept well in spite of relentless mosquitos and got back on the ridge where we left off early the next day. The second day (of climbing) was lower elevation and there was considerable vegetation (mostly pine trees) to get through in between pinnacles such as Cleaver, Slab Tower, Rectagon, Picture, Trylon and North Lincoln. We were then able to drop our packs and scramble over to the true summit of Lincoln and return where we finally dropped of the ridge around 2:00. The extremely steep chute of dirt was puckering, but mellowed to scree, then talus and boulders before we entered the forest to bushwack around a ridge and back to Flapjack Lakes. A few doses of slide alder and devils club reminded us we weren’t done yet and the 500 ft. descent in the forest to the lake was more of a controlled fall by hanging on to bushes and tree limbs until we almost splashed into the crystal clear water. A swim in the lake cooled and cleaned us for the 7.8 mile hike out to lukewarm beer and chips in the car. Fish and Chips and 6 Hood Canal oysters on the half shell fueled us for the drive home.

from me:

Sharpen the Saw

The Complete Traverse of the Sawtooth Ridge

Olympic National Park, Washington

Always on the lookout for new adventures, I found The Sawtooth Ridge to be a great possibility for an aesthetic traverse. I use the word “aesthetic” because I have found not all alpine ridges lend themselves well to a full crossing from end to end. Some have nasty deep clefts or shaky blocks or, like to Northern Pickets, they can be just too much. So when a natural and fun ridge comes along, its time to lose some shoe rubber! I found The Sawtooths when it came time to look for fun climbs on the side of the water I now call home. David Parker had told me had Cruiser in his sites. That led me to look into The Climbers Guide to the Olympics where I found Cruiser to be the crown of a very serrated ridge system. Having a rough year for climbing, David immediately caught fire on the project. It was fun doing the research on Cascade Climbers.com. We had no idea which was the better approach though into what the folks were calling the “Olympickets”. We did find it had the best rock and the sharpest summits in this wild range though. It was interesting to find the place also had a bad combination of steep –ass rock and sparse protection.
Heavy rain made us nervous as we drove off that Friday. Was the forecast going to magically turn things around for us so quickly? We needed to get part of the ridge behind us on Saturday to have a chance of getting done an to work on Monday. A stop at the last tavern before the park was to water down our apprehensions. The stupid rain was still there when we left the place though. David had the shady yet effective idea of finding some vacant cabin carport for a dry bivy. After working on our explanation to any arrivers,, we slept to the noise of the downpour.
Saturday morning, It was still overcast as we hiked the 10+ miles into Flapjack Lake. We gave up all chance of getting on the climb that day when it was very thick at 6 pm.. Serious concerns crept into our ambitious plans. It appeared we would need Monday if we wanted to finish. It was great to see it finally clear as we want to sleep at the base of our first objective: Alpha
With all the many peaks we went over David was later to say the whole trip was a blur. Alpha is one of those for me too except I do remember it was about getting to that big tree in the gully and barely 5th class to get over its 2 summits. Whatever it offered us was forgotten once we saw Mt. Cruiser .Its Northeast face was a great introduction to what fun lay ahead: Steep and exposed climbing with sporty and little pro. For the first time we saw the long road ahead that leads to Mt. Lincoln. It would not be easy or quick to get through.
After a satellite peak was crossed, we found David ready to get after The Needle. He thought it would be good to leave our packs at the base and scoot around the base after we come down. I had the feeling there was a nasty chimney to contend with on the other side. Sure enough we couldn’t even see down the crack on the other side it was so steep. 5.11 chimneys must be just grim. Above that notch lay one of the greatest leads on the trip. The first of 3 summits on Castle Spires led up vertical face to an almost overhung arête! We were so stoked to find such quality and charm to a peak we did not even expect to be on! The other 2 Summits fall into the blur category. The Fin Though is always a vivid and amazing memory. A crazy angled face problem led to a monster chimney. This made the adventure all the more complete.
Now running out of time and water. We saw the Horn was not going to let us up the straight line along the ridge direction we wanted to take so we compromised our pure ridge traverse here and went around to the standard route on its east face, which was no disappointment for any aspiring 4th class climber, really? 4th class? Our thirst drove us down to a pond at the base of the peaks where we made our second and last bivy under very bright stars.
Monday we went right back up and followed a sharp ridge line over 2 minor peaks that both had tin cans at their tops. After much of tough travel we found the Cleaver to be yet another fun lead and rappelled to the great Slab Tower. It had an obvious slab arête the I begged to give a try. It may have been one of several first ascents we did on these many pinnacles. The Rectagon and Picture Pinnacle were more leads that left us wondereding if any had tried its Northeast side as well. We really made an effort to stay with the ridge and its crest. The ridge was surprisingly accommodating too except for the Horn and now the Trylon too would need extensive rap-bolting to stay with the line direction. I am not sure the place is ready for that, but establishing this would make it an incredible Traverse that I would put near the top of the list for the country we share.
The North Lincoln Peak was a non-issue except for its intense and long descent. After we found its base, we ditched our packs and ran for the summit of our final peak. We enjoyed the view this time looking back to the distant Mt. Cruiser. What a long and fun climb it had been! What I had to do now was race back before my girlfriend called a rescue for us. I had mentioned it could take an extra day but was she listening at the time? The “trail “ down to the lakes may have existed but all we saw was the usual slide alder and devils club to round out the trip. The still cold brews would lessen the pain from that too as we happily reached our car again.

Sawtooth Ridge Traverse Grade V+-5.7 R (old school;)
August 7-9, 2004 Wayne Wallace (40), David Parker (44) .Both from Bainbridge Island.

Peaks include:
Alpha 1
Alpha Beta
Mt Cruiser
The Blob (Ok some of these we took the liberty to give our own names)
The Needle
Castle Peak 1
2
3
The Fin
The Horn
Tin Can 1
2
The Cleaver
Slab Tower
The Rectagon
Picture Pinnacle
Trylon
North Lincoln
Lincoln Peak

Gear : 2 ropes , med rack to 3”, several small pins, tat cord.

Brett Thompson and Scott Fuller Memorial Route, UTW, Index

Lane and I picked the perfect spring day to do one of the best new climbs at Index.

The Brett Thompson and Scott Fuller Memorial Route is a recent addition to the top of the fabled Upper Town Wall of Index. After a couple of steep old school trad pitches, it eventually gets up on one of those steep, and exposed slabs you find at Index that can have incredible face climbing.

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p4  photo by Lane B.

Here the rock can have features like: patina, tortoiseshell, thin seams, stegosaurus spiney craziness, with an occasional crystal pocket. I had to take some time to figure out the sequences, as they were neither obvious nor effortless. It felt like a never ending boulder problem, fitting perfectly with why I like climbing at here. Great challenges can yield great rewards.

 

“Bouldering with a rope” . Blake Harrington knocked it out of the park for me when he described what Index is to himself. The modern climber cannot deny the influence that bouldering has had on the sport of climbing. Bouldering demands intense concentration on ever smaller holds and figuring out some tricky sequence to solve a typically complicated body riddle. Get rid off the fiddle and extra weight of gear and of course you can find the sport at its most difficult. It is bringing up a generation of power house athletes that if they do rope up, will find routes that are very difficult indeed. Being an old schooler, I struggle with this influence at the gym, at the crags, and occasionally when I boulder. I am used to the slightly more natural lines, but do enjoy the prospect of pushing myself. Bouldering, and sport climbing are good ways to do just that.

The first ascension team named the route for a couple of close friends that took their own lives. The route is great and I hear the 2 young men were too. I’m told Scott was the master of slang and super strong boulderer and Brett the laid back trad guy with a sweet spot for Darrington. I am getting to know the fa team and I wish them peace and closure with their friends departure. Thanks for the huge effort it took to put up such a long outstanding climb and bringing your burden and collective memories to the community.

 

Another bout of Labor Pains

Ah early season. Stoke runs high, conditions are weird, and people forget to bring things. Plan “D”is often in play. Due to unfamiliarity and spectacular snow cover, it can be such  an amazing experience though, just good luck figuring what to do. Limited possibilities can crowd routes, but this Memorial Day, the weather kept many parties away. Monday was the only day it wasn’t snowing, so we made for the shorter West facing lines that got sun once it warmed up in the afternoon. We had picked Free Mojo, but the sun wouldn’t hit it before 1 pm. Labor Pains it was, even though Lane and I just had done the route last September. Would it be as fun as I remember?

I was rusty and the rock was damp, so I was not as relaxed as last time. The gear felt worse too in the damp cracks. I combined the last 2 crux pitches this time, and had the worst rope drag possible. Barely able to pull the crux and exhausted with drag of the 2 ropes, I still say that it is a great climb with a chip on its shoulder. I wish the pins could be replaced with bolts, and a good belay could be added to the last 2 pitches. It is dangerous to move off that belay there now with the way the bolts are. Don’t let my whining take it off your list though. Just bring long slings, Revolver carabiners, and some nerves.

click images to enlarge.

 

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Index 4-16: Big weekend, and close call

4-15-16: Little Fire, and partner takes a huge fall on Law and Order, walks away with sprained wrist.

4-16-16: Solitude, and And Say.

Getting my first 2 day weekend in months had me amped to go big at Index. I had Paul lined up for plan of doing a wild route called Little Fire on Duck Wall. A fairly new route, the first ascentsionist  pulled the 5 hangers from the crux pitch bolts last season. There are thin gear placements to be had, but it makes for a bold, testy route that only a few elite climbers could onsite. I can understand why the fa team made the decision to do that, but it will keep me from repeating it unless it is restored. It was a very fun route to climb except for a couple of dirty pitches. The p2 hand crack is stellar, and the crux is just wild. I really hope to get a good shot at freeing it, but took aid for safety when we did the climb today.

After the spanking we received on that, I thought we should bring down the ambitions, and I suggested that we do Law and Order. Paul was hot to try it for his first 5.10 lead of the season. He did great getting through the crux thin crack, but came off while trying to clip a bomber .4 camalot. As the belayer, I instinctively reeled in an arm length of rope, locked off hard, and waited to see if his gear was going to hold. When I heard the first(of 2) C3 pop, I jumped off the dirt ledge and careened towards Private Idaho cliff top below. I fell 6 feet when the bolt finally caught him, his force pulled me halfway back up. He ended up taking a 40-50 foot fall and came down head first inches from a ledge.  We both had some bumps and scrapes. We called it a day, grateful that worse things hadn’t happened. When I retrieved the gear I noticed it was damp and dirtier than when I did it 2 weeks earlier. I had never used the jump-down belay save that I did. I know it puts extra shock on the system, but I knew the bolts would hold. I also knew he was 20+ feet above them. I think it was a good move at the time.

 

Well, I was not expecting to climb Sunday, but Jeremy was trolling, and I couldn’t resist another sunny day out. We started by repeating Solitude. It was as good as I remember, but dirty from the early season too. I got to lead the only pitch I had not yet led: the last pitch=such a money machine- and a bit edgy too. Jeremy had a bone to pick with And Say an “under construction” route that currently has 3 pitches. 2 of which are very good. The crux is so rad yet doable for the grade. Quite a weekend. I just checked in with Paul, he is doing great with a sprained wrist being the worst of it, phew. Live and learn.

Little Fire p2

Little Fire p2

Little Fire crux p4

Little Fire crux p4

Law and Order from about where partner fell.

Law and Order from about where partner fell.

Jeremy on p2, Solitude

Jeremy on p2, Solitude

Solitude p4

Solitude p4

And Say crux p2

And Say crux p2

 

4-4-16 index 6 p to 10d w sean

Running journal entry:   4-4-16 index 6 p to 10d w sean

Those words would ordinarily just blend in with my running climbing journal. But not this time. Due to my job schedule, I had not rock climbed for the past 4+ months. If you view my running journal, I wouldn’t expect any sympathy, however. I had lots of time to think about what my ideal first day at the crags would be. The best trip to Index would always include: Accommodating my partners ideas, doing a pitch or 2 that I have never done before, and repeating some of my favorites. Also not climbing for so long led me to be a little out of shape. So I would have to moderate the burning desire once I returned. The plan we came up with involved six amazing pitches on 3 crags:

Princely- Dr. Sniff– Beak, Beak- link up on LTW. Felt great for my first lead of the season being Dr. Sniff! It was so tough to leave the pull of the LTW. ” We must stay true to The Plan!”

Law and Order on Lookout Point. Great, long pitch that raps to 2 more classics: Baby Tapir, Strange Boar, for some shameless top roping!

The Snake. One of the most fantastic leads on Rattletale Wall. Small gear and dicey moves go on, on, and on .

It was Sean’s first time to Index. He did so well, I had to ask him if Index seems easy for him. He said it was not. Now its back to work 6 days a week again until September. Cant wait for my next mini vacation to Index for another day of magic!

Act of a Strange Boar

Act of a Strange Boar

 

Can companies “do good”? Cotopaxi.

Being a left leaning Bernie supporter, I find it easy to bash the necessary evil of the corporation. I could go on and on about how I feel that mega corporations are laying waste to civilization, blah, blah.. Lately, they have become the agents of change for the better in some cases. We are about to see it in North Carolina?

It seems there are so few models of these institutions that appear to a conscience for improving the communities that they produce in. Local small businesses are often good examples, but I found a small international one: Cotopaxi, that could be a good model for global issues we face. I wish them success. The products seem well made and even artistic. The ethics they portray seem sound, if not utopic.

I bought the signature: “I’m Feeling Lucky” Luzon Pack. Definitely a one of a kind, and will make a great summit pack, or around town bag. Its minimalistic design and bright colors may not play with everyone, but I enjoy them. I also like the retro packs a lot. The company is locally based in Utah, the operation has its products made in the Philippine’s. While educating myself with my research into this new outdoor company, I learned about the concept of operating as a “B Corp” company. https://www.cotopaxi.com/pages/b-corp-certified.

 

Their approach is best defined in that and this article on their backpacks: http://blog.cotopaxi.com/backpacks/ .

When I was contacted by a rep from the company, she challenged me on my thoughts on the concept of “giving”.

My mind went to different activities I do when I have the time. I volunteer in kids/mentor groups, political campaigns, my Condo Association, and also my blog. I do these things to give back to the community that I belong to and rely on. It gives back by connecting me, and offering me social interaction that has become an ever scarce commodity. Please be a force for good and give without expecting in return.

I will be trying out more of the gear they offer. The product line is quite large and creative. They even have a coat made from llama fleece!

Now if I could just get away from my 6 day/week project at work to try it out.

 

Survive your hobby: The Edelrid Jul/Flycatcher System

Bourgeau Left, p1

Doug on Bourgeau Left

Short Version: The Edelrid Micro-Jul system brings brake assisted belaying and rappelling to double ropes!! However to get proficient with the device, a good deal of patience is required. It has very specific details to its use. READ and follow ALL safety manuals! When combined with the Flycatcher Twin 6.9 mil ropes, you have a super light system, and confidence that will come from familiarity with this advanced product.

 

Wait, what is “Brake Assist”?

 

Long Version: My older climbing friends and I find we are continually getting drug into the future (In some cases kicking and screaming). I am usually the first though to get on board with trends like the Gri-Gri, and the many other advances that come along. It was only 6 short years ago that I finally got my first “Brake Assist”(BA) Reverso for bring followers up in an auto-lock type belay. A few years later I got a Gri-Gri, and have never looked back. The upside from a safety standpoint is obvious. Lets face it; the advantages against all of the distractions of a busy crag, the stress of a tough lead, etc. are more than enough! Why wouldn’t you take a long accidental drop out of the equation? Despite concerns about belay habits with such devices, most(many?) climbing gyms now only allow BA use.

 

The last rope-lead system not to have Brake Assist was the use of double or twin ropes. 2 rope systems are often used on long ice climbs and rock routes that have long rappels off, About 6 months ago, I stumbled on a super lightweight 2 rope system that offered BA. I was in Pro Mountain Sports complaining to Jim that I wear out my Reverso every year. He suggested going to a steel model and showed me the Mega Jul from Edelrid. There was a learning curve for me though, at first I didn’t read the brochure. I had no idea about the BA properties, so it came a pleasant shock when I got the hang of it. Soon my curiosity led me through an ever-revealing look at the company producing the device.

 

When it came time to replace my ice ropes Jim, from Pro Mt. Sports, suggested I look at the Flycatcher/Micro Jul system. After a season using them I am glad I invested in them. When I say invested, I don’t mean just money. They are expensive yes, but they will require an investment in learning time too. After getting used to them, I am happy with how they handle, the ease of how they drop throwing them on rappel, and how secure the belay and rappel feels (several options for rappel). Downsides also include how awkward it is load up for top/following mode. I have found that if you load one rope at a time, it is much easier. (see photo). Be sure to load both ropes, and lock those ‘biners!

P1170221

 

Another small disadvantage for now is that I had to buy additional belay devices to cover my partners when using my Flycatcher system. Despite a few hitches, this is a major advance in technology that other companies will imitate soon. The next generation of this device should be even more awesome.

 

Competitors will struggle however in trying to get an eco-friendly award called: Bluesign Certified. I had no idea how dirty the rope business is ecologically until my research led me there. Some big players are headed to Edelrid due to them setting a great standard in this and other fields. Have your own look into this good example of a modern and progressive corporation. I cant wait to try out more from their vast product line.

Great instructional video

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Task at hand Reverso/ATC type Jul type device Advantage:
Lead Belay Smoother BA Jul
Lowering Smooth Smooth + BA Jul
Top/Follow belay Smooth and easier to set up+BA BA, smooth, tough to set up/counterintuitive Rev/ATC
Rappelling Smoother Smoothish+BA, 3rd option? 2 biners draw
Longevity Aluminum wears quickly Steel yet lightweight Jul
Learning curve Easy Takes awhile to become proficient. Rev/ATC
Overall Jul

 

 

 

Other reviews:

Weigh My Rack

Cold Thistle

“Half” vs.”Twin” Ropes

Lane getting drug in to the future,

Lane getting drug in to the future,