Friday, April 24, 2015

Panther Peak - Krymptonite (FA) - 5.11 650 ft

Some food, some sleep and we were ready for more. Burchy and I woke up at 5:30 am and made a long hike to another cliff. The hike was long because I totally messed up the approach, not because it was supposed to be. But that’s ok, we needed exercise that day. Unfortunately the photos of a crack system snaking towards a sweet looking roof did not reveal all the bird shit that was obvious from the base. No big deal, we scrambled around, explored a few other options for a future return and got back to camp around noon. Some days you score, some days you go back to camp and stuff your face with all the left-over food while starring at beautiful scenery. As long as you don’t get mangled and keep your friend, it is mission accomplished in my book.

Adam following the 4th pitch of Krymptonite
We completed the hike out, relaxed by the river for what seemed like hours and made more food. The life was good, especially after I discovered the rest of my Mango Lassi. Adam and I were not sharing a tent that night, so it was game on! Daniel and Adam S. aka Macronut met us at the trailhead and we came up with a plan for Sunday. Macronut and I were gonna complete the ground up ascent of Krymptonite, while Daniel and Adam Burch were going for a first ascent of a weakness on the neighboring buttress. Krymptonite had two days of work already. Daniel, Macronut and their friend Matt started the line some weeks prior. They completed the first two pitches of awesome crack climbing separated by sections of difficult face. Daniel and I returned and completed the last two pitches of the line and now it was time to climb the line from the bottom!
Adam starting the first pitch of Krymptonite
Tokopah Domes and Mt. Silliman
The Fortress on the left and Castle Rocks on the right
Rappelling to the base
Thank god hand jam on pitch 2
 Our genius plan was to rappel the formation with two 70 M ropes. It would save us some time right? Not really. Adam Burch volunteered to prussic up the ropes because the knot got caught on the edge and it was impossible to pull them. He was really happy to be useful for once. Three person stance got real friendly for the next hour or so, fortunately this bunch does not run out of jokes. With the forecast of 30% chance for afternoon thunderstorms we weren’t excited about such a start but there was not much we could do but climb a little faster when we got to the bottom. Since Adam climbed the first two pitches prior he took the sharp end there and I got the next two. While discussing the route on the approach Adam told me it was harder than Serenity-Sons, which turned out to be a huge understatement. It took me every little ounce of energy to follow the end of the first pitch without falling. Holly shit, I was pumped. “If Serenity-Sons had stuff like that on it, there wouldn’t be as much traffic man! Good lead!” Adam took the second pitch while I recovered my forearms. Second pitch was not any easier. Highlight for Adam was a nice whip when he went for the anchors. Don’t think I have seen anyone recover so fast after such a lengthy fall, the guy clipped the chains a few minutes later. I was impressed, with Adam’s persistence, the quality of the route, pumpy cruxes and beautiful rock. My highlight was taking a whip onto my hand jam when a little foothold I tried using broke off. I was lucky to not hurt my hand or shoulder because my flesh absorbed full force of the slip.
Looking down at clean cracks from above
Adam and Daniel on 5.12 R X bushwhacking
Adam leading the 2nd pitch. Steep!

Adam following the third
When I got to the anchors, again, I was pumped to hell and couldn’t imagine going straight my lead – vertical, cruxy, crimpy and very pumpy. Some kid from my gym would call it a jug-haul warm up, not me, for me it is fairly desperate in a few spots.  I had no other choice though, the clouds looked much closer than thirty minutes earlier. It was obvious that the high peaks in the distance were already getting some major precipitation. So I stumbled into my lead after racking. I began fairly slow and took my time in rest stances. Knowing that I wasn’t fresh and not feeling secure caused me to over-grip. I barely made it through the mantel which serves as an initial mini crux after the first bolt. After that I settled into a rhythm, climbed to the actual crux, took my time shaking out and fired it clean! When I was getting closer to the belay station I was able to hear Daniel and Adam climbing the neighboring line. We hooted and hollered across the way. I was very disappointed my camera crew did not get any shots of me sending the gnar, but such is life.
Fun climbing on the 3rd
Belaying Adam on P3 (photo by Daniel)
I am leading the 4th pitch (photo by Daniel)
 As Adam followed the pitch I got fairly intimidated by the dark clouds which were now closing in. I heard thunder. As I racked to climb the last pitch snow flakes started to fall. The climbing to start the pitch is not too difficult but unless you fiddle some semi solid RPs it is completely run-out. I couldn’t afford to stop so I could mess with gear and climbed about 50 feet before getting in a nut.  After the initial section the pitch is not particularly easy – it climbs up cool edges on an exposed arête. It felt real airy and a little more stressful figuring out the upper crux with snowflakes blowing in my face, but after dancing around there for a while, I got through it!
Back when the clouds were further away
High quality rock!

Adam following the 4th pitch while I am trying to figure out why my hair is buzzing (picture by Daniel)
Happy as a cat but cold as a dog I belayed Adam when all of a sudden I felt a buzz on my sleeve. “What the fuck was that?!” The buzz spread to my helmet. “An insect? Now?? REALLY?” I hit my upper arm and took off the helmet shaking off my hair. In return, my hair started to move around and buzz harder, “holly shit, I am about to get fried!” “ADAM!” I yelled, “Climb as fast as you can man, I am about to get electrocuted! My hair is BUZZING!” I put the helmet back on and took off some of the metal objects from my harness. I tried taking a few photos of Adam climbing through the storm, and even though I got a few, my camera did not capture a fraction of seriousness of the situation. When I tried to turn the camera off, it would turn itself back on, likely due to all the static in the air. In the moment the excitement of climbing an awesome new route transitioned into a desire for safety. Adam made good time climbing the upper section and we quickly climbed the last pitch – mostly a scramble with a 5.7 step to reach the safety. I made it to a spot where we left our packs to Adam’s yell “My shell flew away!!!” The other two were already up and happy about getting off their climb in time as well. Excitement came back. Stories about the day dominated our hike. With a fun group we had, it felt like we hiked for ten minutes before we were back at our cars. We even spotted a cute little bear as we neared our cars, and none of them were broken into! :)

cute little bear we saw on the hike out
Adam climbing through the gnar on pitch 4
Adam S, Adam B, Me and Daniel (L to R)

To conclude the report I must admit, I am a blessed man to have such good friends and partners. And living in CA does not suck either! Even though the Golden Age of picking the low hanging fruit has passed, those who open themselves to the unknown can have several more lifetimes of exploration.  The Golden Age is now. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

First Ascent on Lower Tokopah Dome!

"Great things happen in small places. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville." - Jesse Jackson

VEry Dangerous approach
Setting up the bombproof basecamp after a giant two hour approach
Super secret spire ONLY LOCALS KNOW ABOUT
Overhanging slab! Yeah!

This route has a rich history. After placing my first bolt - retrobolt to protect the start of Welcome to Wallmart (5.10+), the FA party got offended, so I was like 'Bro, nevermind, see that roof with a splitter? I was actually starting a new line up that." My friend was like OK, I will hold your rope next time. After we put up Tokopah Reality, it was time to walk the walk and go big. I placed bolts from sketchy hooks and stances. Five more bolts on a 5.8 slab was damn hard and I was done. I got worked, stopped and said I would come back to finish the job some other time. 

When I returned in a few months, I was with a good friend who was SUPER excited to try doing a new route. Can anyone guess what happened? Dr. V forgot the drill bits. Not the hammer, not the rack, rope, his food, tent - a few freaking drill bits. Battle was lost, but I knew there would be a war ahead. And my friend was not super psyched.

The daunting roof
Than I saw this quote...

"I really want people to understand that nobody is perfect and that things happen in life beyond our control." -Lil' Kim

Cool, obviously forgetting the drill bits wasn't my fault. It was a sign from above. A sign that before I get on that roof, I should be a little stronger. A little lighter, and know how to drill from shittier stances.

Adam on 5.8 slab to start the first pitch
Me starting pitch two, looking like I should be on the cover of GQ 
Adam enjoying 5.superfun jughaul on pitch two. Chicken heads for 50 meters!
A year or so later the time for another battle approached. One of my LULZIEST friends from San Diego, Adam, was excited to do something completely pointless, so we took a day off work and met up in the Wolverton Parking lot at 5:30am on a Friday. Than we were like 'oh bro, we should be in Lodgepole,' so we drank coffee, I had Indian food with Mango Lassi, and we organized the rack. This time I double checked for drill bits. Only thing which was overlooked was the amount of toilet paper we required. But that does not have anything to do with the name of the route....
Anyway, first time I saw Tokopah Domes was on a cold ice climb, which at the time was a mixed climb. Moonage Daydream (wi4 M4) - The Watchtower. By some sort of a coincidence it was the first time Adam and I climbed together. I pointed it out to him that time and said "homez, do you think there are a lot of routes on those domes, they look clean bro!?" He was like "The Chief has done them before you were a sperm in your daddy's sack." Without a doubt it was very special to come back to Tokopah Valley and climb a new route on the Lower Dome with Adam.

Cool friction 5.9 and a fun overhang on the third pitch
Must be some more climbing there somewhere?
Tokopah Falls are beautiful even from far away
 We got to the base, I looked at seemingly closely spaced bolts on pitch 1 and said "that shit wouldn't slide in Toulumne. It will be easy peasy to the roof since a noob placed them a year ago." Than I was kind of surprised that stances I drilled from felt super crappy and I didn't just hike that slab. Going over the roof, my foot blew for a second but I was able to regain my balance and get into the crack above. After getting a good cam in following by a marginal placement I went for the stance and tried to fiddle a hook on some edge. It was sort of steep and a bit pumpy. The hook wouldn't stay which send more sweat into my fingers than I would want. After a good time dancing I remembered the words of a wise man - Tom - "if you could stand and fuck with that hook for 5 minutes, you might as well stance drill!" So I drilled in a bolt and fired the moves into the next stance, a much better one. Somehow I got through the crux and onto thank god jugs without taking a big whipper. Hopefully the next guy doesn't think it is easy up there!
After telling Adam "If I blew that first stance I would go for a good one, maybe past the roof, if the marginal cam held." He looked at me with a smile and replied, "Oh you would go wayyy past the roof!" Maybe if I did not forget those damn drill bits a year ago it would be a different story?

I wish my camp will have views of The Watchtower like this...
30 foot boulder we dubbed The Bear. Likely because it looks like a lizard.
"I am tired of slab climbing bro, let's dream of soaking our feet in an ice cold stream!"
Good design for a future tattoo. DA BRIM IN DA HOUSE!!!
 Rest of the route went great. Pitch two was well protected by slinging the chicken heads. I used a slipknot and felt like I could hang an elephant from one if I had to - 5.superfun is the rating. Pitch 3 was even better, with some 5.9ish friction and a cool little overhang that went at 5.10- or so. I belayed Adam from two chicken heads which were so bomber he didn't even comment on my knotted dyneema sling. IF he was on supertopo he would parade my torso on main street after seeing a photo of that anchor.
Dose it qualify to be bomber? At least Donini would take it!
Good day, we didn't use our AK!
Taking the views in!
I will be back here again sometime! Likely to establish a v16 on the summit boulder
Time to eat, time to sleep! But first, let's make a fire and tip each other on how to become a better narcissistic sociopath
And if people wondered, the time to soak our feet did come. Wear your comfortable shoes on this one!
 "I think I got a lot of life skills; I got a lot of wisdom; I've seen a lot of bad things happen to a lot of good people." Young Jeezy

Drink a Mango Lassi before climbing this route. Only good things will happen, trust me. And for those who naked free soloed the route back in 1975, put one in the chamber and prepare for torso parade! Happy climbing! ;) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Climbing long free routes at my limit, or slightly above it, has been very enjoyable to me since I begun to rock climb. What is more fun than moving over technical terrain, challenging your personal physical abilities, experiencing new areas and doing it all in a beautiful setting? If this question got you excited about the routes you are dreaming about, continue reading. In this article I keep away from the spray and focus on things others may find useful. The Spring is here and those long routes are not gonna be wet for much longer! If you apply some of the suggestions to your practice, do so with caution. Don't put your partner and yourself into unnecessary dangerous situations. There is a big difference between bad-ass and dumb ass. If you hurt yourself, you may have to go through the pain of watching your friends instagramming out their sends while you limp on crutches to job interviews. Be smart, stay safe.

I am no expert, I have not free climbed El Cap or been featured in climbing mags but my passion for the mountains took me from picking up hiking and gym climbing in 2010 to completing the Sierra Challenge, unguided summit of Mt. Denali a year later, soloing the Evolution Traverse onsight and car to car, high altitude technical routes in Cordillera Blanca, long First Ascents in the High Sierra and the Nose in a day on El Capitan. This article will have a variety of tips helpful for those doing routes  or any multi-pitch free climb. Personally I break my own rules very often, so if you are a partner of mine and don't see me doing something I suggest, don't be too hard on me. Remember to know your limit and not get hurt while climbing, because if you do, the fun stops. Also, don't blame me if you get hurt, use your own brain, I am not responsible for decisions you make! I am arranging these tips in no particular order. :)

Chacraraju. An inspiring goal for any climber.
1) Train for your goal route. If it is a classic route, it is at or above your limit, it likely has a known crux, or several of them. You have to define what is gonna be the crux for YOU. Work towards making the route more enjoyable by working on your weakness. If you love hand cracks and hate chimneys, USUALLY it means you did not spent as much time climbing chimneys and they are much harder for you than hand cracks. If the crux of the route is a crimpy face traverse, seek out similar climbs in the gym or outdoors. If the crux for you is the endurance, do laps. If you go to a climbing gym with a variety of cracks available for training, train on those that you hate. If you love them all, train on those you find the most challenging.

2) Learn to accept failure as a vital part of improving. Climb thing that kick your ass. What is the point of styling another lap up the hand crack you have wired? No one will be impressed watching you hang ten times on a 6 ft section of a route, but how else are you gonna learn to get through a similar crux? We all have weakness and working on them will improve things we are good at. When I asked a friend for advice on getting better at crack climbing he told me to boulder. How does that make sense? I was fine climbing most vertical splitters, but as cracks get harder, it is a bouldery sequence that is usually is the crux. "If you don't have the strength (to make a single hard move), there is nothing to endure."
IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE, define your weaknesses. Don't be lazy - WRITE THEM DOWN. Pick a few ways to modify your training so that those weaknesses are worked on. If you can't think of a weakness, ask some of your climbing partners to provide honest feedback. Be willing to take it, no one is perfect. I don't know too many climbers who could send 5.13 sport, slab, offwidths, deal with A5 aid climbing and climb WI7/M11.
Having an inspiring goal is important. You can always bump up the challenge. Have done Snake Dike? Do The Reg. NW Face. Have done it? Free it! Could free it? Link it up with the Nose! Linked them up, free the Direct route. Free it and El Cap in a day. Link them up with Watkins. Solo them naked. There is always a way to step it up.
3) Find a partner. It could be the crux and lead to hurt feelings if you agree to climb with someone who is not ready for what you have planned. Prior to the climb the partners should have a realistic understanding on what each CAN and REALLY WANT to do. Talk about the style in which you want to climb the route. Hopefully this person will have a good sense of humor and understand yours. If you are climbing something at your limit, or something that could be above your limit, the two of you should be comfortable with moving your egos to the side and failing together. My personal new years resolution is to avoid climbing with people I do not get along with, or don't enjoy being around. Goals aside, if you can't stand the person you are climbing with, that send will not mean a thing. Experiences are important part of my practice and I want to share them with people I like.
Psyched partner and a good friend - WINNING
If you find yourself on a long route with a person you hate, blame yourself. Doing a few shorter routes is a good idea to get a sense for what your new partner can and can not do. If you have an opportunity, do a smaller climb or at least talk to her/him about their past experience, expectations and desires.

4) Assess your motivations. Everyone has their motivations for picking a goal. Along the way I met more than a few people who failed on a big objective because their sole motivation was to impress peers. Problem with this approach is that when the going gets tough and your heart is not in it, you realize that you don't really give a shit. To succeed on a rock climb you do not have to train. You do not have to meet some universal standard, there is none. Beauty is that you get to pick your challenges and it universally does not matter if you climb the snake dike or free the Reg. NW Face of Half Dome. Hundreds of other climbers have done the same, no one but you is gonna get you a cookie! You have to have a passion for moving over rock, and if you do, you WILL  find the time to dedicate to it. You will gain the needed skills and you will have many opportunities to explore new places. But first, you have to honestly assess where your heart is and what is it that you WILL dedicate your time for. There is a difference between wanting to do something and being willing to sacrifice time, money, sweat and tears for something. Some people make much larger sacrifices than time and money, follow your passion!

We have no more water and I broke my tooth!?!? WE ARE NOT BAILING from the Ho Chi Minh Trail!

5) Define your desired style for the climb. Agreeing on this could be more difficult, especially once you get into harder free climbing or have a partner with complicated itinerary. Do you want to swing leads, lead or follow all the pitches? Do you want to bring five liters of water? Is that ok with your partner who is supposed to follow the chimney pitch? Do you want to bail if one of you is unable to climb the crux pitch free? Are you ok with pulling on gear and climbing the route to the top as fast as possible if you are running short on time?  Is bivy on top an option? Game of Rock, Paper, Scissors could be useful if both of the climbers want a particular pitch. If you got the first classic pitch of the route, giving your partner the second good pitch would be fair.

Both my partner and I were happy to approach this peak without assistance of pack mules or porters. Talk about the logistics prior to the trip.
6) Make things as simple as possible. Maybe 5,000 ft of elevation gain, digging a snow cave, two hours of night photography and a first winter ascent the next morning is a little too much? Complicated itinerary and giant plans could lead to exhausting epics. At times less is more. I am not saying you should avoid going big and not do your planned link-ups, more than one party has linked up El Cap, Watkins and NW Face of HD by now! I am saying don't exhaust yourself in the beginning of your trip. Leave some energy for the second and the third objective if you are planning a long outing. Have a realistic understanding on how tired you are after you climb the first route or finish the approach.

6) Be creative! At times it is hard to find a climb that excites you to train. You need something outside the box to get you psyched for the next season.There are tons of ways to be creative. Check out the AAC database or older guidebooks for long lost classics. There is life outside *insert the new guidebook name here*! Think of a link up that will excite you. Do a first ascent - there are hundreds of walls in the High Sierra alone that have potential for new routes and adventure. Or hell, find a wall that you believe is inspiring and climb it without a topo/beta/knowledge of where do established routes go.
Daniel before making a First Ascent of a 1,800 ft line on the Sphinx (Kings Canyon). As a day-hike with 5,000 ft of elevation gain on the approach. With a liter of water on the climb. Great day!!! Our line takes the right skyline.
8) Watch the weather and daylight. If possible, align the best possible temperatures with the day you attempt the route. If you are going for Astroman or Nose in a day, don't do it on a hot summer day - you will be thirsty, you will have to bring A LOT of water, you will not enjoy the experience. Find out if some of the pitches stay wet after heavy rains and make decisions based on weather pattern prior and during the day of your climb.You can take it a step further and find out when do particular features go in the shade or get sun. People trying to free the Freerider know exactly when are the upper crux pitches are going into the sun and do everything in their power to climb them during the shade to increase their chance of sending. If your goal is Snake Dike, you do not have to be that meticulous. Whatever your goal is honestly estimate how long will you take on the approach, the climb and the descent, compare it to how much day light you will have and plan accordingly. Do you want to spent more time hiking in the dark on the approach or the descent?
Are you sure the conditions are right?
9) Bring enough fuel to keep you going, but avoid taking too much. The weight adds up. Bring enough food/water to get you up a sustained climb. My forearms were really cramping by the end of Astroman, which made the last pitch extra exciting. Adding electrolytes in my drink has helped me to avoid cramps after that experience. Plan and force yourself to take food/water breaks during the day to keep yourself energized. Bring food that you will be psyched on eating. Climbing long routes is a slow process, you don't have to consume sugary shit food. A bagel with cheese and ham is great choice that will keep you full for longer than a candy bar. Check the nutritional content of your food and drink to see how much sodium and potassium they provide. Adding some amino acids or a protein shake after a hard climb will benefit recovery. When on a multi-day climbing, or a backpacking trip, make sure you are fueled and nourished for the next day. It is easy to set yourself back.
My favorite way to perform well on back to back to back days is to start them all early enough to have time to recover before the next day.

10) Light shoes/headlamp/no extra clothes or gear, if possible. Make a list of things you will be required to take on your trip and see if it is possible to substitute heavier items with lighter ones. Make sure to substitute items you can afford to substitute. Climbing a three pitch route at Lovers Leap, most of the parties would only need a bar and a pair of light trail-runners for the descent, but usually I see a follower with an overnight backpack.... If you are climbing Chiaro Di Luna on St. Exupery, you may need to carry a pair of crampons, mountain boots and a heavier headlamp to assist you with finding the rap stations in the dark. Honestly estimate your speed and bring what is required but not more. The less you carry, the more enjoyable the climb will be for both - the leader and the follower. Do not carry your approach shoes and crampons up the route if you are rapelling it, unless they are required for the route itself. Do not bring a #4 camalot (0.64 lbs)  if your route does not require it.
A little comparison...
 Headlamp:                BD Storm               111 g                  BD Ion                   48 g
Approach Shoes:      Guide Tennies          760 g,                 Vibram 5 fingers     115 g
Helmet:                     Petzl Elios                330 g                  Petzl Sirocco (sz 1) 145 g
Water container:        Nalgene                   179 g                 Empty pop bottle:    30g
Daypack:                  REI Lookout 40L    1110g                 REI Flash 18L         340 g
Jacket:                     Arcteryx Alpha         340g                   Patagonia Houdini   120 g
TOTAL:                      2830 grams (6.23 lbs)                               798 g (1.75 lbs)
So you could eliminate 4.5 pounds PER CLIMBER by substituting a few things! Ditch the #4 and that's over 5lbs of savings! TEAM OF TWO WILL LOSE TEN POUNDS OF GEAR AND CLUTTER! 
If you want to brush it off and climb with extra weight, no problem, but prior to that go to your local gym, do a route at your limit, than put on a pack with 10 pound plate in it. Climb the route again, notice any change? When you are at your limit every pound matters. Ones on your abdomen and those in your pack.
"Did you really bring a toy on a car to car climb of Half Dome?"

11) Be in good shape yourself. Mark Hudon said that before the Yosemite Big Wall climbing season he likes to get into alligator-wrestling shape. You buy the lightest gear and it is nice, but make sure YOU are in top notch shape. The lighter you are the easier it will be to hold on to those little edges, or get into the Harding Slot. I won't get on it again unless I am under 170 lbs. You don't have to be a featherweight, but if you personally are passionate about climbing, know you have some weight to lose and are willing to, go for it! Weight loss has a variety of health benefits which are not going to be discussed in this post. Main point here is that climbing with less clutter and less weight allows you to move quicker. You will receive more joy from the movement and possibly get to the top of the climb before the light fades. Don't believe me? Go climbing in your local gym and find a route at your limit. Climb it. Than put a 10lb plate in your daypack and climb it again. Was it just as fun? I don't think so. But know when to stop, don't over-do it. Having a heavier shell is a good idea in case there is a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm. Having a headlamp that performs well could be vital for finding your way up or down when the light fades. Don't go below your lower BMI limit, it is also unhealthy. If you are having trouble with managing your weight see your primary care doctor and seek a referral to dietitian or read articles online. There is a ton of great info out there. Be smart, stay light!

12) KEEP IT MOVING! If not the most important thing to remember, this is one of the essential qualities of climbers who climb things quickly. Constant steady progress. Illustrated VERY well in the video of Honnold and Florine breaking the speed record on the Nose. You will not see them running up like the Hubers, but for some reason they took the record. Why? They both moved up the wall with a steady pace, without slowing down too much, but without climbing 70 mph. You do not have to simul-climb to keep things moving. Keep things moving means do useful tasks instead of staring at the leader racking up. Get the food out now, get the rope organized, put the leader on belay, find the topo, look for where the route goes and give your feedback to the leader. Do useful tasks in times when it is easy to zone out and do nothing. It saves time and time adds up.

13) If your bag is heavier than you want to wear on your back, haul your pack up the hard pitches with a mini or a microtraxion. Hauling does not mean bringing whatever you want up. Pack the minimum and go as light as possible. Since you are hauling by hand it will turn into a workout if your bag is heavy. I hauled on The Rostrum, Rainbow Wall, Astroman, Beggar's Buttress and many more. It made the climbs much more enjoyable for me and my partner. It works very well on routes where you need two ropes to rappell. To do this efficiently, belay your partner on an auto-blocking device while hauling the bag as he/she is cleaning the gear. Re-rig the set up for the leader while he/she is racking up. If you are efficient it will not add extra time or make things complicated, BUT if your bag is too heavy and your line is too thin, the hauling will be painful. So pick an appropriate diameter for the haul line, hauling device and an appropriate pack. If your line is 6mm, microtraxion will work with it. This size is usually perfect for long free routes like I mentioned above. Mini or a microtraxion with an 8mm line could be a good set up for doing Reg. NW Face of Half Dome over two days, with the follower climbing most pitches free and having a good time. For more of a realistic alpine set up, load a pack and have the follower jug the pitches that they can't follow free with a pack. Being a quick learner or having big wall experience is helpful to get this technique dialed. Following tough pitches with a pack sucks ass. Imagine squeezing through the Harding slot trailing a pack between your legs, than swinging into the next lead... Just shoot me! Or at least give me some aiders! After I followed that thing for the first time I felt like I just ran a marathon. Doing that with a pack? No, thank you. I know back in the day they carried 50lb rucksacks up that thing, but I am spoiled and want to have as much fun as possible while climbing the tough classics.

14) Rope management/anchors. A lot of time could be lost here. When I get to a belay stance I usually throw in a piece of gear and clove myself into it. Depending on the placement and the stance I will either continue making an anchor or call 'off belay' to give my partner a little more time to get ready to follow. With gear anchors I use a double length sling which I equalize with a sliding x. For bolted anchors I can also clove hitch the rope twice and equalize it, but I don't usually do that because rope anchor makes it hard to escape the belay and if my partner doesn't want to lead the next pitch it will be a cluster. Being cloved into my best piece allows me the flexibility of collecting the anchor (aside from the piece I am cloved into) prior to being put on belay. When my partner calls "ON BELAY!" all I have to do is remove a single cam, rack it and start climbing. That takes much less time than waiting till the last minute to put on the backpack, shoes and get to breaking the anchor. Likely the safest anchor on the market is an equalized 6-7mm cord. 7mm will make it easier to untie, and is stronger, but bulkier.
VERY GOOD video to watch to stay away from dyneema in your anchors. Personally I often use dyneema in my anchors.
Sliding x with my rope backing me up to another bolt
*Making an anchor out of rope will only work if you and your partner are swinging leads.
*When you are building an anchor look towards the next pitch. Think of where would be the best stance for the future leader. Do you want him on your left or on your right? Than organize the rope carefully flaking it on the end you are cloved with. It will be much easier to give the leader slack when he/she is cruxing out if your rope is organized.
*Eliminate clutter. You don't really need a noob leash aka PAS. Clove hitch your rope with a locker to the masterpoint. It makes for a much stronger connection and one less item to have on your harness. You can use a girth hitched sling as a PAS when you are rappelling.

15) Do the climb in strategically thought-out blocks. Like the guys on Southern Belle - "You do the crack pitches, I'll do the face pitches!" Hope for a better outcome than guy who got the face pitches :)

Honestly discuss the strengths you and your partner posses. Apply them on your climb. If you are climbing the Astroman in an equal partnership, one can get the Enduro corner and the other could get the Harding Slot. One could get the 5.10R and the other could get the Changing Corners (What a great pitch!). But do it in a wise way! Let the person who led the Enduro Corner lead the following 5.9 pitch, so the follower can relax a little after climbing the corner. He will likely be pumped out of his mind at the belay. Swing the lead and have the leader climb the next three pitches. 5.10c before the Harding Slot, Harding Slot and the pitch after. This way the leader and the follower get to rest and don't go into really hard leads after following the burl. By the time the follower is up through the slot, the leader is likely getting hypothermic. :) On the other hand, the follower, will want more time to rest, re-hydrate and praise the lord for getting through. This is just an example.

16) Link pitches: It helps a lot if the leader is able to link pitches in an efficient way. Pitches that are not longer than your rope length and those that do not traverse much are good candidates. As a leader do your best to prevent rope drag. Extend your pieces of protection even if the line is fairly straight. Rope drag could lead to precious time being burned for fighting the rope instead of climbing. In cases like that, it is better to built an anchor and belay wherever possible. Linking pitches may not be a good idea in case the communication with your partner is lost. Knowing how much rope is left and if the follower has to simul climb a few feet before you reach a spot to built an anchor is important, so check the topo when one is available, learn to read the topo on easier climbs. For advanced skills, use the Reid Yosemite guide on long routes. You will be ready for first ascents in no time. : )
To save more time, run it out on terrain you feel comfortable on. Use your best judgement though. Speed should not put you or your partner in danger. It is possible to run things out but stay safe enough to avoid danger. Practice with caution. 
Linking pitches helped Nick and I to climb the 35 pitch Salathe Wall (El Cap) with only one bivy on the wall

17) Honestly evaluate your abilities and desires. Do you REALLY want to do the climb now? Are you physically rested and mentally prepared? You know yourself better than I know you.  Too often do I see teams that say they are going to do a climb, even though their body language tells me they are going up to bail. So decide for yourself if it is a recon mission or a climb to the top of a route. Your partner will respect you if you tell them you are not ready instead of bailing from half point for a silly reason. There are good reasons to bail and there are lame reasons. So if you want to bail for a lame reason, ask yourself "did I really want to climb this thing in the first place?"

18) Rest and recover. Before a big climb resting is a good idea. At least a day of rest is my rule. My friends tell me to rest longer but I usually ignore them, but they are right - rest. Two days off after an intense training session is wise, especially if you are doing something big. Before I sent the Rostrum I had two days of rest from climbing. When I "got up" the West Face of El Cap, I had only a day of rest after a hard bouldering session. My forearms felt weak before I even touched the rock. Being fresh will give you more energy and excitement to stay on the wall. You will find fewer silly reasons to bail if you have enough energy.

19) Make a plan. It will eliminate some of the fear. Is the route run out? Is it safe? Can you deal with the present run-outs? Is the route finding complicated? Where can you bail from? How long will it take and what time should you start? Discuss these things with your partner and make sure to have a turn around time or a well though out plan for bailing. I usually challenge the difficulty or the runouts, not both, especially not on long backcountry routes. If I can't do a section due to the danger, I either pendulum to get around it, aid it or give up the lead to my partner. If neither of us are up for it, we bail. Bailing is much better than calling SAR, which should not be an option you want to rely on.

Taking the time to enjoy the moment is vital for the experience. 
20) Learn to communicate. What if it is windy and you can't hear your partner? Discuss the signals you can do with the rope to allow communication. If you are climbing with a new partner communicate clearly. He/she is out there to climb, not read your mind. So be decisive, or don't get butthurt when your partner makes the decisions for you. Use answers like yes and no more often than maybe. Do you want to lead? Are you comfortable with bushwhacking through poison oak? Communicate your feelings and desires.Basic, but important - use your partner's name, better yet a funny nickname, when yelling out the commands.

21) Safety - protect the belay. Place the first piece of gear aka Jesus Nut to prevent whippers onto the anchor. I usually clip the higher piece of gear in the anchor with a draw to prevent that if the first placement is not available for more than 10 ft of non trivial climbing off the belay stance.
No soft catch. Pay attention to slack. Most long routes are not as steep as one pitch sport climbs. Catching a little ledge with your foot can end your climbing season, so check your belayer, remind him to pay attention.
Protect the traverse for the follower. Back cleaning a bunch of gear could be great to keep you on top rope at all times, but think of your follower as well. He will have to take sideways whippers if you don't do a good job. On big walls either back clean all the gear between the lower outs, or place enough so that the follower can re-aid the traverse.
Know how to prusik with what you have available.
Know how to escape the belay.
Single rope raps are safer than double rope raps, when available. Much easier to get the rope stuck with double rope raps, especially when it is windy. Avoid long rap routes during windy days.
Wear a helmet. Oh the popular climbs are clean and don't require one? What if someone drops their nalgene from a few pitch above you? Popular routes could be as dangerous as chossy alpine outings. Chossy popular routes are the most dangerous! If you are climbing on Temple Crag or anywhere in Colorado, wear a helmet!
Know your knots - I was psyched to remember the Munter hitch when I dropped my ATC before doing a series of long rappells. Munter hitch could also be used to belay a leader.

22) Use less passive pro like nuts and tricams on straight forward pitches. I can see some people frowning, but it is much easier to get a cam out vs a nut. It takes less time for the follower. So if saving a particular piece is not a concern, don't be too creative and plug in a cam instead. Save the nuts for hard pitches on which you have to save the cams for the desperate quick clip at the crux.

Climb with a sense of urgency. You are not out here to rest!

23) Be quick during the change over. I see this too often - people taking forever hanging out at the belay. It is great to take it slow, but if you are on a long route with a complicated descent, it is much more vital to get to the top sooner than later. You can relax and enjoy the views from the top, they are likely better from there anyway. So have a system for organizing the gear while following and handing it over to the leader if you are leading in blocks. If you are the one taking over the lead, place it in an order that you want it to be in on the next lead. If we are climbing in blocks I place the gear on a shoulder length sling while following. Ideally I organize the cams from small to large on one, and slings/draws on the other side. I collect nuts and place them on one carabiner.  If I am belaying from the top and we are swinging leads I do the same and hand off the gear to the leader when he/she is ready. While they are racking I can take out some food and water and offer it to them as well. I look at the topo and point out any beta I have to offer. I try to memorize the topo to know where my next pitch is going so I could take the gear and be out leading as soon as possible if terrain is easy. I may rest a few extra minutes before a hard lead to check out any beta I can gather before getting on the pitch. Seeing key holds and pre-planning first gear placements is easier from the belay. Tunnel vision may make this a much harder task if you jump the gun and start climbing. Oh yea - avoid tunnel vision! The holds ARE there! :)

24) Take the right gear on your lead. Yes, you should skip bringing the refrigerator on the climb, but don't be silly, bring those slings and little cams on a traversing finger crack pitch. Not bringing enough draws may lead to rope drag, walking pieces and big cluster fucks. Assess the pitch and bring the right gear. For long pitches I usually take all the draws and all the cams. If I know for a fact this is an OW that will only take a #5 camalot for the whole duration, I take the #5 cam and gear I need for the anchor. Everything else could be hauled or brought up by the follower. If you climbing something long in an area that is known for pin scars, bring a few small offsets to supplement the rack just in case. Do that on first ascents of long routes as well. A few extra small pieces will not weight you down, and will save 10 minutes of Elvis leg when the going gets tough.

25) Climb quickly when following. You are on a top rope. If time is a concern, be brave and follow the pitch as fast as you can safely manage. If you have some comments about the awesome moves you are doing, save them for the belay station - it is likely leader can't hear you anyway. Do your best to send, but if you are on a long route with a possibility to be benighted move with urgency. While leading, place less gear on terrain you feel very secure on. If you solo low 5th class on the regular, there is no reason to sew it up on a long route.

26) Enjoy the moment. Being quick doesn't mean ignoring the beautiful place you have a chance to experience. There is always time to look around and admire the natural wonders. Make sure to take it all in and bring some sort of a device to capture the moment!

Climbing routes on peaks in the backcountry could be quite nice during the right weather. Especially when you are on top with plenty of daylight to spare. Bryan Bell on top of Prusik Peak (Enchantment lakes loop area)

27) Be confident. You have a solid partner, the skills, agree on the style, have the right gear, it is the right time of the year to do the climb and you have a plan. Don't let the naysayer in you convince you the climb is over your head. Confidence is one of the most important qualities for a climber. If you are afraid of doing a multi-pitch route you been training for a year, remember there are guys from third world countries, with shit gear going out and climbing 6000 foot first ascents on high altitude peaks. Humans are capable of much more than we think. There are appropriate times to be scared, but don't let your insecurities drag you down before you face the enemy. Your insecurities will be obvious to your partner and he/she will be more timid as well. You guys are going for a send, not an execution, CHEER UP and get excited!
Snail eye. Could be appropriate when faced with 5.12 R
28) Teach a friend. Without going in much deeper, this is a lot of (hopefully) useful information. The only way to remember all this is through practice. A cool way to apply skills is to teach others. You kill two birds with the same stone - help a friend and strengthen own knowledge.
Fear no one
29) Bring a small knife and a lighter. Maybe an emergency blanket as well. Hmmmm I guess you are ignoring the fast and light section? But you will be thankful, especially if you are climbing the Higher Cathedral Rock via the NE Buttress with a hot lady from your gym. Being the cucharón is much more enjoyable then down-climbing sketchy 4th class because you lost the trail in the dark. Stay safe!

30) Treat yourself. If you have a big goal you are working towards, find a treat for yourself in case of a success. How about a spa and hour long massage?! You worked hard, take care of yourself.

31) SACK UP!!! Maybe the most important. In order to complete the climb you have to get on it! Disregard all the internet beta that makes the routes you SHOULD be climbing sound like it is beyond the reach of all the mortals. You have done your homework, you trained, you have a partner, plan and time. Now it is time to get super excited and have fun - CLIMB! What you should not forget is the basics - breath, keep those arms straight, hydrate, stay nourished and keep yourself and your partner safe. If something is too sketchy for you and your partner, do the right thing and bail. But don't bail prior to finding the stopper moves for yourself. :)

32) Positive experience is success. What is life but a long journey? Along the way we have all sorts of experiences. Make sure to look at your climbing goals as an opportunity to explore the world, push personal limits, connect with new people and gain heartwarming memories for the future. At times conditions will not present a chance to safely complete a climb, you will not have the right partner, will not be in the required shape, will not have the right gear, get injured, or have another obstacle keeping you away from a good experience. But if you do not end up 'sending' remember that the opportunity to work towards the goal and making significant personal changes IS success. Giving your best attempt and reaching your limit IS success. As long as you stay safe, keep your friends and remember to enjoy the hills you have succeeded! Cherish what you can achieve.

Keywords: Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral, East Buttress Middle Cathedral, Silk Road, Calaveras Dome, Inti Watana, Epinephrine, Ho Chi Minh Trail, DNB, La Esfinge, Liberty Cap, Washington Column, The Rostrum, Astroman, Red Rock, Squamish, Bishop, Sierra, Alpine, The Diamond, Bugaboos, Patagonia, Cordillera Blanca, Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome (RNWFHD), Steck-Salathe, Rainbow Wall, The Nose In a Day (NIAD), Beckey Chouinard, Zion, Indian Creek