/ Route finding Dolomites Sport routes

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spearing05 12 Sep 2019

Ready for a flaming but . . .

Three of us of  set out to climb Via Cinquantenario GAM, all capable of on-sighting 6b (and higher) and having put a lot of effort into training endurance. We planned to block lead with one 6b pitch each, I had the first block and my initial 6b pitch went clean and I enjoyed the lead. At the belay there was no sign at all of any bolts in any direction so squinting at the topo we took a punt on the route direction and sure enough picked up a bolt 8 meters out from the belay (a nice factor 2 fall potential). Virtually every other bolt on the pitch was the same, I had to go looking for them with lots of down climbing and reversing moves. It wasn't that they were hard to spot but that they were physically out of sight around a corner or similar and there was nothing obvious about the line which weaved around so much that by the final approach to the belay I was almost immobilized by rope drag. Maybe we were being naive but while I would expect to have to deal with route finding and using intermediate belays for rope drag on a trad route I didn't expect it on a 'well bolted' sport route. Is this normal for Dolomite sport routes or indeed anywhere else on big mountain multi-pitches? Were we stupid to expect a relatively straightforward climb? I ask because none of the logged climbs describe route finding difficulties below pitch 10 (I dread to think what that must be like)

Anyway, we decided that 1.5 hours for 2 pitches was too slow with 15 more to go and bailed which leads me to my second question what are peoples recommendations for speed with 3 climbers? 

Please be kind

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jimtitt 12 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Sounds pretty normal, you were probably on the wrong route as well

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Iamgregp 12 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

No idea about the Dolomites but have found that in other parts of Italy (Sardinia & Finale) the bolting on multi pitch can sometimes be a bit adventurous to say the least.  I think they have a name for it, expedition/adventure style or something like that?!

Sometimes the guidebook says "nuts useful) or something similar, but sometimes not, as I found out to my terror halfway up a multi in Sardinia.

However sometimes it's fine, and really is "well bolted" as advertised.  Keeps you on your toes I guess?!

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Alex1 12 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Only been to the Dolomites once but remember quite a bit of getting lost and big run outs.  The gear / bolts tended to be well placed for the harder parts but spacey on the easier parts.  If your logbook grades are accurate you may just have tried something a bit too hard - the experience is probably closer to a 15 pitch E2 than a 6b route.  With a three leading on two ropes and then using a guide plate speeds things up considerably - especially when you have bolted belays.   

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Martin Bennett 12 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Pretty typical I'd say. Echoes our experience on Spitagoras in Val Rienza which is a bit less at 12 pitches and 6a but similarly lacks bolts for a sport route and often they were hidden from view. By the way we did it in 2002 not long after the 1st ascent I understand. I believe it's since become deservedly popular so may have developed a bit. I've done a fair bit in The Dolomites, much of it before bolts were introduced so I'd say whether trad or sport expect the unexpected - i.e. carry a few nuts and cams at least.

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afshapes 12 Sep 2019
In reply to Alex1:

His log book is way out of date! I think we were expecting a well bolted sport route, as stated in the guide as opposed to a bolt protected alpine route , as in weaving it's way up the cliff ! 

Post edited at 16:23
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ian caton 13 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

I onsight pretty solid at 6c+.

In the dolomites or elsewhere I go for f6a max on a big route, maybe 1 pitch harder if I know it is super well protected.

On a long route I think you need to be able to do a pitch(50m) in half an hour. That's for the team including swapping belays eating, route finding etc. That means you need to be climbing at a grade you can climb at basically without hesitation. Which means you don't mind bolts 8 metres apart.

Works for us. But I slow down a lot when it is unprotected, committing and I am unsure of the route.

I don't think there is a difference in time targets for 2 or 3 people. You have the the second and third person climbing together using a guide plate in direct belay mode so it autoblocks. Which you do anyway for speed if there is just two of you.

You do extend every bolt to cut rope drag. Quick draws made of thin slings that extend as you clip. Google it. 

If the belays are bolted then first quick draw in the belay can knock some of the fall factor down. But then some dolomite routes have single bolt belays. 

Post edited at 09:33
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Dan Arkle 13 Sep 2019

In reply to:

Amusingly, many of the Dolomites trad routes have an astonishing amount of fixed protection.

Sometimes a crux pitch may have a dozen decent pegs in it, which really helps with route finding! 

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PawelP 13 Sep 2019
In reply to Dan Arkle:

Exactly. But sometimes this can be a real downside. Three weeks ago, we had to give up on one of most popular routes in Sass de Stria. Issue was it has some extra intermediate belays probably not explicitly covered in the guide books. This turned out to be confusing for some so instead of skipping those intermediates and pushing on teams were doing each of those 15meters pitches and was it was taking ages.

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spearing05 13 Sep 2019
In reply to Alex1:

> Only been to the Dolomites once but remember quite a bit of getting lost and big run outs.  The gear / bolts tended to be well placed for the harder parts but spacey on the easier parts.  If your logbook grades are accurate you may just have tried something a bit too hard - the experience is probably closer to a 15 pitch E2 than a 6b route.  With a three leading on two ropes and then using a guide plate speeds things up considerably - especially when you have bolted belays.   

Logbook a bit out of date (by 3 years). Didn’t really have an issue with the run outs, as you say the hard sections had bolts, it was the route finding, being a sport route there was no pitch descriptions presumably based on the idea that you just follow the bolts. My problem is what do you do when you have no clue where the route should go and the bolts are all out of sight? 

We used two ropes on guide with both seconds climbing together except on the start of the second pitch where I was physically not strong enough to pull both ropes through at once due to rope drag. Where possible I clipped alternate gear but had to clip both in places to protect traverse. This led to ropes being twisted. I think the answer to this is being more careful with the clipping, like on trad to ensure ropes don’t cross rather than just grabbing them both and clipping together?

Post edited at 10:38
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spearing05 13 Sep 2019
In reply to ian caton:

Thanks Ian - that’s pretty much the conclusion we came to, that for a big multi pitch we need more in hand grade wise. While we trained over here to climb 400+ meters on 6a - 6b+ routes, having the strength and fitness to run laps like this is very different to being happy doing the same physically while also having the head space to route find 

You are also right about the extendable draws, we carried a few but assumed shorts would be the right option - another lesson learned. 

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henwardian 13 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

I did a lot of long "sport" route climbing in different places in the alps this summer and I've done a lot of climbing in the dolomites in the past (though mostly my multi-pitches there were "trad"). The upshot is that basically you need to know the first ascentionist and/or have specific information about when the route was last re-bolted to really know what you are letting yourself in for. Even then, it's definitely still a bit of an unknown and you should take a thin trad rack on these routes really because even if you start out up obviously closely bolted stuff, the first ascentionist might put really huge runouts in easier sections later on or just have more runouts later on because they started to run short on bolts or motivation!

Some bolters always put the bolts out of reach for shorter people, some leave massive gaps on easy sections but bolt so closely on the hard part you could do it at A1, so paint their bolts with coloured paint so you can see them easier, some always seem to put the bolt round a corner, so give no consideration to rope drag, some try and keep the line so straight that when actually climbing you find yourself desperately reaching way off to the side to try and clip the bolt... There is a lot of variety.

If the belay has two solid bolts on it, use a dummy runner to avoid the factor 2 fall (don't do this if the belay isn't indestructible). If the belay is tat and pitons, belay directly from the belay with an italian hitch if worried about a factor 2 fall. Use half ropes and guide mode belay plate with both seconds climbing at the same time to make progress faster... and just get your systems sorted on the belays so you cut down wasted time.

Post edited at 10:44
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spearing05 13 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

Thanks - some sound advice there. 

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afshapes 13 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

I think our systems are ok but I do think our expectations need some adjustment. 

For example this is the description of the route , 
An excellent sport route at a reasonable grade. Take care with route finding after the 10th pitch, as there is a short traverse left along a ledge which is easily missed. Very well-equipped and on mostly excellent rock. 
 

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ian caton 13 Sep 2019
In reply to afshapes:

That will be an English guide. Take care see other threads on dolly guidebooks. 

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ian caton 13 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Re. Route finding. 

If its a route that you expect to be challenged by. Well what we do anyway is spend a good bit of time scoping the route from the ground. Watching others on it and relating yhe guide to the rock. So you know the big features and where you need to be relative to them. 

e.g. Spent a whole morning looking at the yellow edge, all guides had a different description and people all over the place. 

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henwardian 13 Sep 2019
In reply to ian caton:

> Re. Route finding. 

> e.g. Spent a whole morning looking at the yellow edge, all guides had a different description and people all over the place. 

Buahahaha, don't remind me! I managed to screw that one up pretty impressively, the much abbreviated version would be that a lot of time was wasted trying to find the correct line on the easy pitches and after time and lostness necessitated an abseil I decided that abbing down rubble screwn ledges was just a recipe for rockfall so headed off eastwards into a prolonged adventure that nearly resulted in irretrievably stuck ropes and disaster.

I lived and learnt!

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spearing05 13 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

That was what we were afraid would happen hence the bail - seems the answer is be a stronger quicker climber and be prepared for trad-lite not long sport. 

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ian caton 13 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

That must have been epic. 

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Iamgregp 13 Sep 2019
In reply to ian caton:

Sound advice that.

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jcw 13 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Welcome to the Dolomites!

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beardy mike 13 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

You appear to have made a typo in the title of the thread and called them "sport" routes. Unless you're the type who likes blood sports...

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Andy Say 14 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

A cogitation.....

Are we seeing a shift from climbers following a notional 'line' (often described just in words) to following a line either of bolts or on a photograph?

Is there a corresponding shift in the ability to intuit the direction the route goes in/'should' go in?

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afshapes 14 Sep 2019
In reply to Andy Say:

I found that routes don't generally follow 'lines' in the dolomites,  not like they do in the UK.  If I'd have followed my nose I would have gone straight up a crack where said route went left then back right.  

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beardy mike 14 Sep 2019
In reply to afshapes:

That massively depends on the rout you're on. Yes, line can often be vague when you're faceclimbing. Butin general I think people find it tough because they are used to being told to step left after five feet. My feeling is that guidebooks are just that, a guide. It's quite rare that if you get off route you'll be unable to get back on route or unable to climb the terrain to get there... that said if all you've brought is a set of quickdraws...

Post edited at 09:39
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Andy Say 14 Sep 2019
In reply to afshapes:

Well.....they do.  Aretes, chimneys, grooves, cracks......

What is the case is that often the 'direct line' has been avoided by climbers of the past as they were seeking the 'easy' way up a wall.  Its a matter of working out where it should go at the grade.  And in that case you were clearly told where it went.

I remember doing the Steger Route on the Catinaccio and finding the exposed traverse out right whilst a couple of Italian punks went straight up.  And got benighted.

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afshapes 14 Sep 2019
In reply to Andy Say:

 Yes you're right that was a generalisation,  I think I was thinking more about the sport lines I suppose.  

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afshapes 14 Sep 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

Yep lessons learned,  small rack will be carried next time ! 

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Planeandsimple 14 Sep 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

Particularly if you were using a WrongFAX guidebook!

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Planeandsimple 14 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

> If the belay is tat and pitons, belay directly from the belay with an italian hitch if worried about a factor 2 fall.

This is exactly how you generate at factor two fall. Assuming you're talking about belaying a leader, the only way you can generate a F2 fall, all forces go directly onto the belay with the leader falling the length of the rope below the belay.

You're better clipping the highest pro as a runner and adjusting the belay so you are as low as possible on the anchors. This means you have maximum rope between yourself and the point of loading which, as you are lifted by the fall, causes the energy to be dissipated over a longer time period giving less force.

You can also pay out rope so that the leader has more slack, although they fall further the fall factor is decreased. A smooth catch belay is also desirable and not easy to achieve with an Italian hitch!

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Andy Say 14 Sep 2019
In reply to henwardian:

> The upshot is that basically you need to know the first ascentionist and/or have specific information about when the route was last re-bolted to really know what you are letting yourself in for.

C'mon If you're looking for a sport route then you're looking for a sport route; not a history lesson!

>Even then, it's definitely still a bit of an unknown and you should take a thin trad rack on these routes 

Completely agree.  You're climbing in a mountain environment after all!

> Some bolters always put the bolts out of reach for shorter people, some leave massive gaps on easy sections but bolt so closely on the hard part you could do it at A1, so paint their bolts with coloured paint so you can see them easier, some always seem to put the bolt round a corner, so give no consideration to rope drag, some try and keep the line so straight that when actually climbing you find yourself desperately reaching way off to the side to try and clip the bolt... There is a lot of variety.

Bastards, eh?

> If the belay has two solid bolts on it, use a dummy runner to avoid the factor 2 fall (don't do this if the belay isn't indestructible). If the belay is tat and pitons, belay directly from the belay with an italian hitch if worried about a factor 2 fall. 

What's a 'dummy runner'?  Clipping the anchor as a runner?  You still get a factor 2 fall.  And belaying directly off tat and old pegs is simply dumb.  If it's 'destructible' then back it up.  Though how many 'tat and peg' belays do you encounter on 'sport routes'?

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Andy Say 14 Sep 2019
In reply to Planeandsimple:

> You're better clipping the highest pro as a runner and adjusting the belay so you are as low as possible on the anchors. This means you have maximum rope between yourself and the point of loading which, as you are lifted by the fall, causes the energy to be dissipated over a longer time period giving less force.

Que?

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GridNorth 14 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

I don't know if it's been said but I think it's wrong to consider a multi pitch sports route, especially in a mountain or alpine environment, to really be a true "sports route" in the first place. Someone who has only climbed indoors or at Portland for example would soon find themselves totally out of their depth.

Al

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Planeandsimple 15 Sep 2019
In reply to Andy Say:

It's the basic physics which underpins why fall factor is important. Having more rope out allows the elasticity of the rope to dissipate the energy of the fall over a grater time period therefore decreasing force on the anchor. Additionally as the belayer is a counter weight in the system lifting the belayer a longer distance also allows the energy to be dissipated over a longer time frame, hence why dynamic belaying with a slight jump gives a smoother catch and less overall force on the top anchor.

It may be marginal but sitting on the belay ledge below the bolts rather than standing with the bolts at hip level allows this counter balance to exist and also increases the amount of rope in the system, decreasing fall factor.

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peppermill 15 Sep 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

Ha as an aside to the thread your post reminded me of a recent trip to Tuolumne Meadows. We were approached out of the blue in a car park by a European-sounding pair of climbers asking if we could direct them to the 'Sport climbing around here'. Our response was 'Erm, well there's plenty of stuff with bolts but I'm not sure you could call it......'

Post edited at 12:12
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Andy Say 15 Sep 2019
In reply to Planeandsimple:

> It's the basic physics which underpins why fall factor is important. Having more rope out allows the elasticity of the rope to dissipate the energy of the fall over a grater time period therefore decreasing force on the anchor. Additionally as the belayer is a counter weight in the system lifting the belayer a longer distance also allows the energy to be dissipated over a longer time frame, hence why dynamic belaying with a slight jump gives a smoother catch and less overall force on the top anchor.

> It may be marginal but sitting on the belay ledge below the bolts rather than standing with the bolts at hip level allows this counter balance to exist and also increases the amount of rope in the system, decreasing fall factor.

Aye.  I understand about fall factors. And I would totally agree that your suggestion is marginal.   But I was unclear how you 'clip the highest pro as a runner'. 

And I sort of agree that a dynamic belay will give a smoother deceleration and less overall force on the 'top anchor'.  In a factor 2 situation, however, you're actually talking abut the only anchor!

Whatever happens, however, one has to pray that the rope doesn't absorb the energy of a fall over a grater...…  

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beardy mike 15 Sep 2019
In reply to peppermill:

"It's sports, Jim, but not as we know it!"

Post edited at 15:40
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jon_gill1 15 Sep 2019
In reply to spearing05:

Hi there, I can honestly say I don’t remember finding route finding difficult in the first pitches so I wonder if you were in the right place? 

However I think you dodged a bullet as some of the upper pitches had say one or two bolts for 50+ meters! We had to climb very quickly to get 590m done and walk in and out + the drive there and back from our base in a neighbouring valley.

the traverse pitch was easy but huge run outs for nearly 60m until in the groove area. Definitely not a standard sport route but a full on adventure with bolts where you needed them and some superb climbing in amongst the choss!

in terms of climbing in a three it works well to climb on guide mode if you’re fairly confident your seconds won’t fall off you can have them move together with a few meters between.

Post edited at 20:55
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