Climbing Hauling Ratchet
Big-wall climbing is just a different kind of suffering, and never do you suffer more than when hauling, especially during the first few days when your loads are heaviest. While “space hauling” (two climbers on the haul line at once) works, you must wait for your partner to reach the belay — inconvenient at best and impossible if you’re soloing. But what to do?
Three-to-one “Z” hauling is cumbersome overkill. Fortunately, there’s a Better Way to show your monster pigs who’s boss — the Hauling Ratchet, which yields an efficient 2:1 mechanical advantage. Soloists can rappel their haul line from a knot — rather than a toothed cam — and then later lift their weighted haul line into their hauling device. The system consists of two parts - the Lifting Assembly, and the Holding Ratchet.
Start with a 15-foot hunk of 6 or 7mm static line — the Zed Cord. In one end tie a very small overhand loop, then feed the cord through your two pulleys and tie a big frickin’ knot in the far end. You’ll only need the full length of cord if you need to pass a knot on a multi-pitch haul; when you haul, you’re using just the first few feet. Tie the shortest possible loop of 7mm cord through your upper pulley — you need this to create a necessary “degree of freedom” — and attach it and the end of the Zed Cord to your Lifting Assembly Locker. On the lower pulley, mount your inverted ascender on a dedicated locker — the locker stays, though you can use your ascender elsewhere.
When constructing the Holding Ratchet, it’s critical that your hauling device be lowered to the correct pre-measured position. You can use a dependable wired stopper but a four-inch wired Frost Draw (or use two for redundancy) works best. You want the teeth of the inverted ascender directly beneath the teeth of the hauling device when the Zed Cord is pulled tight at the top of the stroke, and the two pulleys are touching. Lifting the haul bag is achieved by squatting. Adjust the clove hitch on your harness accordingly for proper extension on each squat.
To operate, there are two motions — lowering the inverted ascender as you stand, and raising the inverted ascender when you haul. From the squatting position, place your “strong hand” on the inverted ascender, and push down on it to lift yourself up with 2:1 advantage. Clever, eh? Make yourself a “pull-down handle” from a sling, and yank on it with your “weak hand” as you stand.
To haul, switch your weak hand to the free end of the haul line coming out of the hauling device. Squat down hard to lift, and apply only as much pull to the haul line as you need to move it through the hauling device — any excess pull decreases your lifting force. If you need extra clearance for the pulleys to close tightly, pull the hauling device outwards and away from the pulleys in a well-timed “snapping” action as you pull the haul line through it. Really fat porkers might require you to turn upside-down (scary!) and push downward with your feet, or make your partner hop on the free end of the haul line for assisted 2:1 space hauling.
Learning to operate your Hauling Ratchet is neither easy nor intuitive — the orientation of the components must be correct, the measurements precise, the tolerances tight, and the components static. Even an inch or two off, especially in the clove hitch on your harness, will greatly diminish efficiency. So before you take this to the wall, practice it first by hauling rocks at your local crag. I’m not kidding!
Get this thing sussed and it’ll sing like a canary. Then you can bring all the beer you want on the wall, along with your solar-powered shower, coffee pot, microwave oven, and color TV.