This 'Big Wall Teams of Three' article is part of the book - Big Wall and Aid Climbing.
Climbing as a three can be more social (with someone to chat to at the belays), faster (with someone always leading) and easier (with an extra person to help with the hauling and share the harder leads). There are many different rope systems for a three person team. A few of these are described below.
Big Wall Teams of Three (Two Rope Technique)
- The haul rope is fixed so the 2nd climber can jumar up quickly.
- Leader pulls up the remaining lead rope before fixing it for the 3rd climber. This will provide enough rope to start leading the next pitch.
- 2nd climber lowers out from the belay and jumars to the upper belay on the haul rope.
- Leader short-fixes or is belayed by the 2nd climber using the remaining section of lead rope (the same climber can lead again or swap).
- 2nd climber reaches the upper belay and sets up the haul.
- 3rd climber releases the haulbag.
- The leader climbs while the 2nd climber hauls and the 3rd climber cleans (hauling could wait until the 3rd climber has finished cleaning to make belaying safer).
- Keeping a tag line between the leader and cleaner means gear can be passed up to the leader sooner.
Big Wall Teams of Three (Three Rope Technique)
- Leader pulls up two ropes using the tag line.
- One of these ropes is fixed for the 2nd climber to jumar up. The other rope is set up for hauling.
Having 2 dynamic ropes and 1 static means you can haul with the static rope and still have a spare lead rope (static ropes are more durable than dynamic ropes when used for hauling).
- Leader hauls and/or gets ready for the next lead
- 2nd climber ascends to help with the haul and/or belay the leader
- 3rd climber releases the haulbag and cleans the pitch