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Hauling Giant Big Wall Bags up El Capitan

Big Wall Episode #10 - Hauling

Big Wall Bible


The lightest but most useful thing you can take up a big wall is knowledge. Welcome to a free resource that will help you be successful in getting up big rocks. Big walling is a big topic so we broke it into bite-size "pitches" with a video to START each one. The aim is to have lots of videos, photos, and written content in each section, not just of our stuff, but from others as well. There are 14 chapters (blogs) that cover the topic A-Z and we will guide you to all of them in the main "ebook".


Pulling up Pigs

Hauling can be a nightmare, or just a chore depending how you do it and if you stay organized. Keep it simple applies here as well. Jumping straight to a 2:1 or worse a 3:1 (which needs a redirect) may not give you much advantage but add 2x or 3x the amount of work to get the bag up. Hauling is also an indicator that your partner rope is fixed and ready to ascend. It's essential to haul and dock the bags on the side of the anchor the bag is GOING, not coming from. Access to your stuff is easier if you dock the bag as high as you can instead of it hanging 15 feet below you.

Get Some Traxion

Protraxion is the big brother of the micro traxion. It's larger pulley makes hauling way more efficient and if you are taking more than 100lbs in a haul bag, the slightly heavier pulley is worth it's weight. You can also open and close it to install the rope without unclipping it and having it free solo while you do that.

Get High

You can never haul the bag higher than you clip your protraxion so get it as high as possible. If your bag is docked too low, it's a pain in the ass to get anything out of it or get your rope unstuck when it slips behind it or even getting to sit on it to relieve your hips from sitting in your harness.

You do NOT need to equalize two bomber bolts to haul. You can haul off a single bolt if that bolt is integrated into your anchor system. It's still redundant at that point and yes you may go for a ride if it blows but a good bolt is a 10:1 safety ratio above the load you are putting on it. Now if you are hauling 800lbs up with two counter weights and a 3:1, you might rethink how you do this but even those who do this, haul in the load in 2, 3 or even 4 separate loads.

Clipping the bolt hanger directly does orientate the pulley the way you want but you already have a carabiner in the hanger for your anchor and it just won't sit right. We did test this a little in this EPISODE. Another downside to clipping a second biner to the hanger, especially something that will be quite heavy, is it smashes the carabiner under it really restricting access to it, and that is where you will be docking the bag later.

If you clip the HMS Pear Locker that's already in the hanger, it does not orientate your protraxion so the rope is coming out towards you, but to the side. To solve this, yes, you need another carabiner but now you have a lot of ways to stay organized. One trick is to have a quickdraw with Lockers and you can clip the quickdraw on the anchor HMS biner, clip the protraxion to that, and then your "backup" quickdraw is already built in. You lose two carabiners worth of height clipping like this but it makes staying organized so much easier.

Get Connected

After you pull up slack and keep it organized, you can't just grab the rope and pull down with your hands. You can connect your belay loop to a grigri or microtraxion which requires you to pull the tail up each time while you stand back up, or you can use an ascender which requires you to keep the tab open when you stand back up since you may not have the weight of the rope allowing you to slide it up automatically.

Get Pumped

Sometimes, you can just attach your aider to an ascender, put it on the pull strand and just foot pump the bag up. Dig your toes into the rock facing down and your heel up, and then use that leverage to drop your heel. It only pulls the bag up 4-6" but you can repeat this with minimal energy exerted. See Ryan Sheridan foot pump a bag most people would have used a 2:1 on in this EPISODE.

Get It Up - On Your Own

MOST of the time you can just haul a bag, especially up to your weight, with a 1:1 and by yourself. I'm 160lbs and can do 200lbs with any of these methods. Push against the wall with both hands with just your knees against the wall. Though you can do this with your feet, it makes standing back up take longer and you have to do this 100x so just get 12" sucked through the pulley and be happy with that. If that is too hard grab the loaded haul strand and pull up and towards you while you sit as I joke is a "Ryan to 1" when I do it.

Get Dead Weight Friends

Honestly, do anything to avoid a 2:1 on a wall. Have your partner transfer to the haul line loose end, the side you are trying to pull down and bam, your bag is that much lighter. You can foot pump that 200lb+ bag up now in a few minutes. Just make sure that the pulley is backed up if your friend is on the other end.

Get Mechanical (dis)Advantage

Friction and stretch kills the "advantage" you think you'd get and then you have to haul 2x or 3x more to get your bag up. WHEN you go practice hauling, switch to a 2:1 or a 3:1 with a redirect and demystify the romance of an "easier haul". So don't do this, but this is how you do it.


Connecting independent pulley system makes it "easier" to haul a heavy load. You will have to reset 2x as much as a 1:1 and pull the tail through the protraxion while pushing the ascender on the load strand down which are extra energy sucking steps, all for a 1.5 to 1 at the most.


This Z drags the haul rope itself through a pulley connected to a downward facing ascender on the load strand, pulling up on that strand gives you a theoretical 3:1 advantage but it's more like a 2:1 actual advantage in the best case scenario. Pulling up sucks though and so it has to be redirected down and if you just a carabiner then you reduce the actual advantage to about 1.2 which means you are wasting your time because you have to do 3x more hauling and getting almost nothing out of it. See Rope Access Channel's math explanation EPISODE why Z drags with carabiner redirects can kill efficiency.

There is a place for all this and it's a good tool to have in you knowledge tool belt. Just don't follow the fad because it is called a 2 to 1. Too many newbies use the right tool in the wrong application and waste time and energy.

Get Docked

You must dock the bag on the side it will be going or it will be a PITA to get out of the way when the bag wants to swing towards plumb of the next anchor. If you use a daisy, then the weight of the bag has to be lifted before you can release the bag which sometimes doesn't work if the haul is 90 degrees to the side. An adjustable daisy is very limited in how much you can release it but if you have a 6mm or 7mm accessory cord about 5-10 meters long and tie a MMO, then you have all the releasability you need later. A barber pole tie off method is having that accessory cord attached in the middle to the haul bag and using both strands for the MMO. This limits you to only half the length of that rope for releasing the bag. If I carry 5 meters of rope, I want to be able to use the whole thing. To each their own

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