Bucket of love — keeping items handy and uncrushed on big walls
You want a cracker?” Kevin Thaw asked in his curious So-Cal-surfer-meets-Sheffield-hardman accent as he handed me a pristine, deliciously salty Triscuit. I stared at the scrumptious gift in disbelief — every scrap of food I had that was not packaged in a can was a pulverized mess. Kevin had pulled this delicate lip-smacker from his “wall bucket” — a five-gallon plastic pail that had been innocuously scraping around below his haulbag for three days while we battled up the Reticent Wall on El Capitan. Kevin had been using his bucket to protect all sorts of fragile goodies from the trash-compactor haulbags: cookies, dates, crackers, camera, and a Walkman. Each morning before we repacked the bags, Kevin would anticipate what he would need handy for the day, placing the accoutrements in his bucket, thereby sparing himself the odious task of burrowing headfirst into the haulbags. In the multi-day vertical world — where something as simple as taking a leak can turn into an embarrassingly awkward ordeal — luxury and convenience are golden. If your haulbag already weighs 100-plus pounds, what difference do a few extra ounces really make if they put a smile on your greasy face?Get a handle on it. Although even with a serious set of tools it is nearly impossible to remove the metal handle from your industrial grade, five-gallon “wall bucket,” it shouldn’t be solely trusted to hold your valuables. As a back-up, run webbing the length of the handle and then knot it inside custom-cut slots just below the handle-attachment points on each side.Keep a lid on it. Rig a strap on top of the bucket to keep the lid from popping off during hauling. A couple of inches below the bucket’s lip and perpendicular to the handle attachments, cut two narrow slots. Thread and knot a tail of a two-foot section of half-inch webbing through one slot. This will anchor one side of a Fastex-type buckle strap that meets in the middle of the lid and can be cinched tight. Run another chunk of webbing through the other slot and knot it as well, this time leaving a three-foot tail inside the bucket (figure 1). Tie up the tail with overhand-on-a-bight knots to create clip-in loops for your goodies. For a truly professional look, use a rivet tool for all the webbing attachment points. Get a leash on that thing. Set up a short leash on the lid to prevent it from taking the Big Ride if it slips from your wall-battered mitts. First, drill small holes in the bucket and lid, then tie a short perlon leash through the two holes. During hauling, tie the bucket to a piece of static line that is a little longer than your haulbag. Clip the line to the bag’s hauling point so that the bucket rides underneath and out of the way, but can still be easily retrieved for mid-belay snacking and photo opportunities.