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#61557 - 11/22/11 06:19 PM you're doing it all wrong!
talus Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1259
I had this discussion come up with someone i climbed with awhile ago. Climber was leading and got to a point where they couldn't figure out the move. So they moved left to check it out then ended up putting a piece of marginal gear in. After a few minutes climber said i can't do it you have to lower me.

i was terrified to lower the climber and suggested to try down climbing and test your gear first before weighting it. But i was yelling this not just telling. The climber didn't bother to test the piece and just let go. The gear held and I lowered them down. When the climber got down I reamed them out for doing something i thought could have turned out badly. Thankfully nothing bad happened.

Now the climber thinks I'm an a**hole for reaming them out. I just said hey i was hoping to get through your head that what you were doing was not safe but all they could think about it is how i yelled at them. At what point is yelling at your partner excessive? I would think when someone's life is in your hands there is no excessive yelling? Is it OK to be unpopular at times to yell at your partner at times when things have a potential bad outcome? For me I'm ok w/ being unpopular as long as my partner is safe.
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#61559 - 11/22/11 06:34 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
Chas Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 1754
Loc: Flagstaff
Climbing is a partnership, which sadly an attitude seemingly being lost today. My attitude is I'm as responsible for my climbing partner as I am for myself. If I see something that will cause them harm, I'll point it out. Now not being on the sharp end, its their responsibility to take your advise as they see fit.

Usually I wouldn't yell at them (not my style) but I usually say something once in a tone to be heard, but then I give them time to deal with the situation at hand, since they are there in the moment and not I.



Edited by Chas (11/22/11 08:19 PM)

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#61560 - 11/22/11 06:43 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: Chas]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2679
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
I get your reaction, John, but most people will learn more and be open to suggestion when they are not under emotional distress. I would keep yelling to use only when they are too far away to talk normally. That isn't to say you are wrong in your concern and especially that the partner did not listen to very valid input before weighting a poor piece in a bad spot to do so, but they already showed you that they don't respond well to yelling when they did so. Tough situation.

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#61562 - 11/22/11 07:09 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: chip]
jakedatc Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/18/06
Posts: 241
So they took a short fall onto the piece? or they were at the piece and basically just hung off it? taking a short fall onto a crap piece depending on how far up the route the were could be pretty high FF right? i'd say that would be a good thing to point out.
if they could just sit and hang right there then i don't know what else he could have done if they had no juice to downclimb to a stance or something. they should have a better idea of how good/bad the piece was than you on the ground?

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#61563 - 11/22/11 08:08 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: jakedatc]
SethG Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 714
Loc: NYC
Obviously you want to get the message across without alienating your audience.

But when I look back at the way I've dealt with those kind of safety situations, it's the times I didn't speak up that have haunted me-- I thank goodness nothing bad happened, but resolve to be quicker to say how I feel.

So if you have to err, I think being too vocal about safety is the better side to err on.
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#61564 - 11/22/11 08:16 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: jakedatc]
talus Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1259
The piece was hung on not fallen on. i went up and finished the climb and believe me it was a marginal gear placement. I don't think it would have held my weight. it wasn't so much yelling it more scolding the climber. along the lines of "WTF are you thinking the gear could have popped and you could had a ground fall"

Climber didn't even try to down climb and had plenty of juice to try. The climber didn't want to commit to the move because they didn't like the gear placement.
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#61565 - 11/22/11 08:42 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
KathyS Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 196
Loc: NY, USA
Constructive criticism is usually better received when delivered firmly, but gently. "WTF" tends to make anyone put up their emotional defenses, some more than others. Sometimes keeping calm is hard to do when you are really afraid for someone though.

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#61566 - 11/22/11 08:51 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
jakedatc Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/18/06
Posts: 241
Ah. Then some scolding was in order. Even my hangdogging sport brain kicks into trad mode when gear is involved and if i'm going to hang then i'm going for solid or multiple pieces.

Sounds like they need a "nope, not until you can lead more safely" if they ask to go climb with you. Or just no invitations.

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#61567 - 11/22/11 09:03 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: jakedatc]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5981
Loc: 212 land
Yeah, one doesn't like to be told to mind one's own *&*^&%$@# business, yet you would feel bad if something disastrous happened to the errant party after you've held your tongue when you could have said something that might have prevented the event.
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#61568 - 11/22/11 09:12 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: oenophore]
jakedatc Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/18/06
Posts: 241
Well this was his leader while he was belaying. If it had been another party then that changes things a bit.

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#61572 - 11/22/11 11:52 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: jakedatc]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
Sounds like you need to hug it out....just saying...

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#61573 - 11/23/11 12:54 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
Mike Rawdon Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/29/99
Posts: 4276
Loc: Poughkeepsie
As a belayer, I know I get VERY nervous when the leader is sketching at/just above their only piece of gear. Having seen someone rip gear and deck - on more than one occasion - just makes this worse. But there's not much you can do as the belayer, except offer encouragement, and maybe suggest as nicely and constructively as you can manage that they do something other than bomb off.

From your account, it sounds like the leader knew that the piece was marginal. That's good. I suspect there are too many folks taking the sharp end today that treat trad gear like bolts. Call me conservative and old fashioned, but I still believe any single placement can fail, and I want a minimum of two pieces between me and a bad landing.

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#61574 - 11/23/11 02:13 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: Mike Rawdon]
Dana Offline
addict

Registered: 07/13/00
Posts: 619
Mike makes an excellent point. Redundancy (i.e., if this piece of gear fails I'll die so I should back it up) seems to be something that everyone is aware of, but many people forget about it when placing protection.

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#61575 - 11/23/11 04:53 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
RobA Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 46
Loc: Alta, UT
Originally Posted By: talus
I had this discussion come up with someone i climbed with awhile ago. Climber was leading and got to a point where they couldn't figure out the move. So they moved left to check it out then ended up putting a piece of marginal gear in. After a few minutes climber said i can't do it you have to lower me.

i was terrified to lower the climber and suggested to try down climbing and test your gear first before weighting it. But i was yelling this not just telling. The climber didn't bother to test the piece and just let go. The gear held and I lowered them down. When the climber got down I reamed them out for doing something i thought could have turned out badly. Thankfully nothing bad happened.

Now the climber thinks I




Was the marginal piece the first piece? If so I def see the need for a fairly intense discussion.
If it wasn't the first piece, how far away/down was the last good piece?

Yell away dude, as far as I'm concerned, I'd want my belayer to yell at me if I'm doing something unsafe/stupid. And keep yelling the fear-pump makes people do stupid things.

Are ya comin out to the wasatch this winter, btw?

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#61579 - 11/23/11 12:06 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: RobA]
talus Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1259
So there are different acceptable ways to yell what to do, to a climbing party next to you that you never met before compared to your S.O. of 10 years? I can see being much more vocal with your SO.

and yes i agree w/ Mike about doubling on gear.

Rob i may see u out there.
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#61580 - 11/23/11 04:10 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2679
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Geez, Talus how are we gonna get a really contentious thread going if you are so amiable?

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#61582 - 11/23/11 04:48 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
rg@ofmc Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I never yell at a leader while they are in the process of leading. If the situation is difficult, there is plenty of internal turmoil for them to deal with as it is, and adding another emotional element to the mix can only make things worse, in my opinion. Yelling at them afterwards is an option, but has more to do with who each of you is and what your relationship is.

Staying calm and operating as rationally as possible in a fix is one of the central challenges of trad climbing, and everything the second can do to promote that state of calmness is going to help. So, no matter how bad the situation is and no matter how badly the leader is fucking up, I always try to speak in a calm firm tone, to be, in a sense, the kind of internal voice one would hope the leader had available and may yet regain.

If this doesn't help, escalating to yelling will only add further static to a brain that is already overwhelmed. Basically, you now have two people who are freaking out, and that isn't going to help the leader extricate themselves from the mess they're in, and may even end up promoting rash decisions.

I must say that in the situation John describes, with a leader falling or taking on a marginal piece with the prospect of a groundfall, when they clearly had the juice to downclimb, I would probably avoid climbing with that person again.

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#61583 - 11/23/11 05:14 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: rg@ofmc]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2090
Loc: SoCal
It depends (TM). I'm missing a few things from your original post:
-- was this the first piece, or were there others (and were they good) below?
-- were there no other options for gear?
-- did the climber recognize it wasn't a good piece?
-- is the person a new leader, or (semi-)experienced?
-- was the person "in the weeds" or just being lazy and/or stupid?
-- were you yelling due to distance or anger?
-- did the climber somehow expect you to help him/her?

It still depends. Yelling may break through to a person so far in the weeds that nothing else will. Most of the time, like Rich said, uber-clam-calm is most helpful. Yelling may also completely eclipse the informational content of the message, and depends on both the relationship and the person involved.

As far as the future goes, if this was a new leader, it's a learning experience and if s/he understands that, you can move on. If it's an experienced person who really understands that they put themselves AND YOU in a super bad spot, and understands what led to that place, and that there were other better choices to be made, is having an epiphany about themselves and their climbing, you can get past it. If it's an "experienced" person who refuses to admit danger and/or wrongdoing, never again.

There are all kids of subtlety to partnership, truly. One of them is a duty to not expose your partner, unduly, to trauma, like the kind that will keep you up at night or send you to a psychiatrist. I am both guilty of this (Dana, and everyone who had to carry me out) and have a giant chip on my shoulder about it, having been on the receiving end of suicide-by-highway. I get very, very angry at people whose carelessness exposes me to unwilling participation in life's really ugly side, like, say, a body sticking out of a windshield. I get very angry at runners/cyclists who dress in black, black and more black, then dart out in front of you, because I really, really don't want to hit them and then carry that guilt. Sorry for rambling, but I think you get the idea: in your place I'd be angry at the potential exposure to your partner's groundfall.



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#61587 - 11/23/11 05:56 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: Julie]
ChooChoo Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 10
I agree with rg@ofmc that there are more effective ways to communicate with someone than yelling. Yes, yelling is useful to attract someone's attention if they're far away, but yelling usually increases the emotion of a situation and interferes with comprehension and retention.

For example, yelling at someone in a public place usually embarrasses them such that they more focus on the embarrassment and less on what they did wrong. Basically, you're calling them out in public that they're stupid. We all make mistakes, the important aspect is to create an environment that's conducive to learning from that mistake.

As other folks have mentioned, climbing is a partnership. If your partner chose to ignore your advice and continues to do so, you probably need to find another partner.

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#61588 - 11/23/11 06:21 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: ChooChoo]
OldEric Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/20/02
Posts: 48
Impossible to objectively evaluate without hearing the other side of the story.

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#61589 - 11/23/11 06:59 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: OldEric]
talus Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1259
The other side does not matter or does the amount of gear. What matters is: how should the 2nd handle a situation when the leader is putting themselves in a hazardous situation.

I think RG and Choochoo nailed it.
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John Okner Photography

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#61597 - 11/24/11 01:28 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
The Lisa Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Da Bronx
All I know is that next time I am leading and feeling sketched I am calling RG's voice of reason helpline smile
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#61599 - 11/24/11 02:47 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: The Lisa]
rg@ofmc Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
Originally Posted By: The Lisa
All I know is that next time I am leading and feeling sketched I am calling RG's voice of reason helpline smile


I take Visa cards or PayPal. But I recommend the the Voice of Reason Premium Account, which, for a modest monthly fee deducted without warning from your bank account, provides instant access.

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#61602 - 11/24/11 12:34 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: rg@ofmc]
Rickster Offline
old hand

Registered: 10/16/07
Posts: 853
Loc: Orange Cty, NY
Understand that under your user agreement with your yearly VORPA, if you call, and sketch out, fall or otherwise blow it anyway. Your, monthly rates will increase exponentially.

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#61604 - 11/24/11 02:59 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: Rickster]
The Lisa Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Da Bronx
I will wear a Bluetooth headset to ensure handsfree communication, of course. Hanging out one handed and dialing with the other might make the call even more desperate.
Srsly, keep the chewing out until all are safely back on the ground. I usually take my belayer's advice when leading since he has often lead it already and the beta is welcome if I am feeling nervous. However, there are times when thoughts like 'Easy for you to say down there, I am up here on the sharp end' go through my head.
John, I am glad you both made it off the climb safely in the end.
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#61609 - 11/25/11 10:06 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: The Lisa]
Coppertone Offline
old hand

Registered: 08/17/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Newtown, CT
Just curious if this was someone that you have climbed with before or someone that you did not know and were climbing with for the first time. If it was a new partner then it should just be more evidence that you need to pick your partners carefully, especially when leading is involved. I have climbed with new people that I did not know well but have always started on something very easy for a "feeling out" process. Once comfortable we moved onto something a bit more challenging. That said I almost always climb with people that I know well or at the very least someone who is recommended by some that I implicitly trust.

If this was someone that you knew well then I imagine there was probably a better way of getting your point across then by yelling. Often when yelled at people will just block out what you are trying to say regardless of how correct or constructive the information that you are conveying is. As others have stated yelling is not the best way of staying calm in a situation that could easily turn dangerous in a hurry. You can certainly be forceful and assertive without berating someone.

It does certainly sound as if your read the situation correctly and lowering off on one sketchy piece of gear without even trying to back it up is poor judgement on the leaders part. Not even trying to down climb also speaks volumes of this leaders judgment and skills.

I say be happy that you got through it without serious incident and never climb with them again.

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#61653 - 11/28/11 05:45 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: talus]
OldEric Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/20/02
Posts: 48
What has been said so gar concerning the quality of the gear and the dangerousness of the situation has all been from your POV. Maybe it is 100% objectively accurate. Maybe not. The piece held. Maybe your partner agrees with your version 100%. Maybe not. The point is that everyone is responding to your version of the events without any verification. I am always a little suspicious when people take their little spats on line, tell their side of it and then wallow in the responses.

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#61658 - 11/28/11 09:08 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: OldEric]
ianmanger Online   content
enthusiast

Registered: 04/25/03
Posts: 320
well, as John pointed out, the question really was 'how should the belayer respond?' to a potentially dangerous situation, so to follow your point, the issue is one of why the belayer and leader seem to have perceived the situation differently.

I would contend that we've pretty much ALL done things we're not proud about after the fact. And got away with them. Last week I led Insuhlation with the intent of climbing calmly through the crux, placing gear and not running it out above that keyhole as I've done before. Instead I got to the intermediate edge, started to gas, went into "Oh no I'm doing a SethG (sorry bro:-)" and jiggered in a very shitty piece. Yeah I knew the jugs were above but sometimes you just don't got it. Hung on a couple of lobes and then fired in another piece immediately. But I totally dodged that nasty ride. It was really dumb and I regretted it. I was almost exactly on the other end of John's situation, except that I had the presence of mind to fire in a backup and finished the lead.


In Deep Survival, Gonzales contends that often we confuse 'getting way with it' with experience. Not sure how much I buy that argument, but there seem to be a lot of people being rather 'holier than thou' about this.

Dodging something bad is central to climbing. Thats why the ropes are there. I think the calm discussion afterwards once you've both gotten away with it and everyone is safe is the ticket. Everyone is teachable. I appreciate people pointing out possible imperfections in my gear or other improvements. They will save my life one day.

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#61660 - 11/28/11 09:33 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: ianmanger]
jakedatc Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/18/06
Posts: 241
"Everyone is teachable. I appreciate people pointing out possible imperfections in my gear or other improvements. They will save my life one day."

This has made me a bunch better over the last few years of getting into trad more seriously. It's one thing to put in a piece and think it is ok. It is another to have it critiqued afterward and either confirming that it was solid or letting you know what could be better. sometimes things will look good and then you climb above them and they walk or jiggle out and become crap. I always appreciate gear feed back.

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#61661 - 11/28/11 09:46 PM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: jakedatc]
SethG Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 714
Loc: NYC
That's really funny, I'm glad you didn't pull a SethG!!
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It's true, I have a blog. http://climbandpunishment.blogspot.com/

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#61665 - 11/29/11 02:15 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: SethG]
eparker_s Offline
journeyman

Registered: 03/16/11
Posts: 50
A good day is pulling as few sethG's as is possible! It only takes one!

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#61667 - 11/29/11 02:49 AM Re: you're doing it all wrong! [Re: eparker_s]
SethG Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 714
Loc: NYC
Don't pull a SethG, pull my finger!
_________________________
It's true, I have a blog. http://climbandpunishment.blogspot.com/

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