Monday, June 25, 2018

Taking the Leap - from Rock Hopping to Rock Climbing

I watch rock climbing videos with a mix of admiration and horror. My fear of heights means that you're never going to find me dangling off a ledge. Heck, just watching the right climbing videos on YouTube leaves me with sweaty palms. So I was a bit surprised when I found myself captivated by the Ropework For Scramblers series put out by the BMC.

The goal of the series is to introduce rope-based climbing techniques to those who have mastered equipment free rock scrambling. Using little more than a harness, rope, slings, caribeners and a few nuts, it's possible to make a precarious scramble into one that's far safer.

At a certain level, I enjoyed watching the videos just to understand what all the glittery equipment I see at REI is used for. But more than that, I appreciated the clear demonstration of skills and the explanation of the various trade-offs of each approach. It blows my mind that in a minute or two an experienced climber can secure themselves to a mountain and be prepared to help catch a fellow climber should they fall. Would I want to trust my life to a couple chunks of metal wedged in a rock? Yeah, no thanks. But to see how it works and the thought-process behind setting this up, is quite cool.

Given the emphasis on ropework, I was surprised that the various techniques demonstrated required only two knots: a clove hitch and a munter hitch. When I hear 'clove hitch,' my mind immediately goes to boating. But apparently, they're also used in a rock climbing context. Or in my case, hot-sauce dangling:

Will you look at that, a clove hitch secures an object to a caribiner and yet is relatively easy to untie. Cool!

I'd not heard of a Munter Hitch, but from a little research I see that it's used extensively in climbing and rescue work. If you need to raise or lower a person or object, a Munter Hitch is a solid knot to consider.

If you've ever been curious about how one transitions from rock hopping to rock climbing, this video series should get your journey started. Enjoy!

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