Women's Trad Climbing Clinic - Rock Climbing
Women’s Trad Climbing Clinic
American Alpine Club Craggin' Classic 2013
Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH
Found out about this awesome event while I was still hiking in Hawaii. I had taken the AMC Rock Climbing Course with the intent of learning how to set anchors. But along with it came lessons on Trad Seconding and some ops to second. This clinic looked like the perfect op to finally get to learn about setting anchors, so after checking my calendar, I quickly booked my spot for the Women’s Trad Climbing Clinic.
Check-in was at the Glen Ellis Family Campground in Glen, NH. After meeting with Alexa of Mooney Mountain Guides, we drove to The North End of Cathedral Ledge. It was a short hike uphill from the street parking. There were 8 students, 1 instructor and 2 assistants and Alexa quickly got to demonstrating building bomber anchors.
In this clinic we learned components of building a safe anchor system using the acronym ERNEST. In the AMC Rock Climbing Course the acronym SERENE was used. After doing some research on this, ERNEST and SERENE are to the two most commonly used/easily remembered acronyms for building anchors. They’re very similar with some climbing schools teaching it one way, and some the other way.
Solid: This means that each individual piece that makes the anchor (i.e., nuts, cams, ice screws, pins) are solid enough on their own.
Redundant: There should be more than one piece for the anchor. Common anchor examples are two bolts, three pieces of rock gear, etc. One exception is a single rock or tree that can be considered as sufficiently reliable on its own.
Equalized: Each piece in the anchor should share the load of the anchor force equally. If there is slack to any single piece, that means that that piece is not loaded, and the anchor is not equalized.
No Extension: This means that if one piece should blow out of the anchor, there will not be a shock-loading of the anchor as a result. If there is slack to one piece and the others blow out, there will be a severe load directed onto that piece, “a shock loading”.
Timely or Efficient: These terms relate to the common adage "speed is safety." While speed is not the only important element, it is quite important to make your anchors in a timely manner. If it takes 30 minutes to make an anchor, that can add up to a lot of time during a long multi-pitch route. The faster you can make an excellent anchor the better. Take the time you need to make a good anchor but remember that a fast but weak anchor is no good!
And we also learned important components when placing Cams;
1. Rock Quality (are you placing your gear in solid rock)
2. Direction of Pull (angling your gear in the direction of pull)
3. Surface area (that each of the surfaces of your gear is making good contact with the rock)
4. For placing Nuts, all the above but also look for constrictions
After the demonstration, we paired up (I paired up with Karrie) and spent the next 3.5 hours building our anchors. Alexa, Sam and Sara came around to check our anchors. We stopped to break for lunch and someone mentioned getting some climbing in. It was getting chilly and some of the women in our clinic wanted to warm up. So Alexa set up a top rope on Child’s Play (5.6). But Suzy and I wanted a chance to do some mock trad leading. So a top rope was set up on the right section of The North End. It was my very first time setting Trad protection and clipping in, and I was STOKED! Sorry, I didn’t get any photos of our mock trad leading!
I’m so glad I signed up for this clinic. It was packed full of information and I didn’t expect to learn such a great deal. I met other women of different levels of climbing, and got to work with really good climbing instructors as well! The only thing I didn't like about it was that it wasn't long enough. :) I wished it was over a course of two-days! The first day building multi-pitch anchors with some mock trad leading. Then the second day to go over the anchors then actually doing more trad leading on single/easy pitches! Thanks go to Alexa Siegal of Mooney Mountain Guides, Sam Bendroth of (IMCS) International Mountain Climbing School and Sara of CAMP. And thanks to the American Alpine Club for setting up Craggin’ Classic 2013!
Enjoy some photos taken the day of the clinic!
The North End of Cathedral Ledge
Alexa of Mooney Mountain Guides (4)
Our turn to build anchors
Karrie and Alexa
For a bit of challenge, Sam had Karrie and I build 3 sets of anchors on two different cracks.
After building the first set of anchors, we set aside those pieces of gear and then built the
second set of anchors using the gear we had left on our harness.Then we set aside those pieces of gear and built our third set of anchors using the gear we had left on our harness.
My turn! (2)
Pam and Alexa
Helping one another with knots
Alexa Trad leading to set up top rope on Child's Play (3)
Karrie looking on, with another clinic in the background