Day 2: Problem Solving
Location wise, I was at Tremadog but you could be in the Pass. I personally don’t know of anyone who didn’t end up at Tremadog. They try to do it all on VS terrain. It will be you, another candidate and a different assessor than from day 1.
Today's the day when you want every spare screwgate you can lay your hands on. I think I had about 15 in total (5 on slings, 2 on prussic and 8 free), and at times I still felt I wanted more! They don't seem to mind you having revolvers or rope man but you'll have to have shown your skills with a prussic first. Have at least 2# 6mm prussics (6mm is easier to release when wet than 5mm). The main bit of kit they DON'T like to see is a 16' sling used inappropriately. If you start rigging your belays into perfect power-points with multiple slings then it is highly likely that they will ask you to strip your belay and build it back using the rope. The assessors are not daft! They confiscated a few 16' slings off some of my fellow candidates. Build your belays like you normally would.
Again the assessor will come up and ignore you. They will go through your belay with a tooth comb before they deem it ready. Dependent on the situation the problems start straight away, your fellow candidate will have been told what problems they are to fake as they climb up. It starts easy and then gets harder and harder as the day goes on until you have the 'biggy' at the end of the day
Simple problems will be things like; belayer can't undo the gate on the belay plate what do you do? Or belayer has untied from the rope and nipped off for a wee and now they can't remember how to tie back on. Simple stuff but your mind is doing summer-salts...
Solve these, as soon as you have explained to the assessor what you would have the person do and if the assessor thinks that it is clear and the problem is solved the assessor will ask the belayer to get back into normal mode and start climbing. The next problem will then occur. This may be slightly harder. Things along the lines of climbing past a runner or foot caught in a crack or can't climb the crux move. All problems that you should be able to solve whilst 'in the system'. Delve into your toolbox and pull out the appropriate tool. This is what today is all about.
The assessors tend to use the situation around them to get ideas for problems. For example, if you belay far back and you can't see the other person from your stance then they'll orientate a problem around that. This happened to me at the top of the second pitch on Oberon. My fellow candidate was belayed to the tree at the top of pitch one and I was belayed on the ledge above the chimney/roof on pitch 2 but a little too far back so I couldn't see my belayer. My assessor set the problem that my fellow candidate couldn't undue the screwgate on the sling and was 'fixed' to the tree. I couldn't see my fellow candidate to explain what to do so I had to come out of the system to get closer, then explain what I wanted them to do and then get back into the system to bring them up (they also could not climb through the roof so I had to haul them as well!)
We switched leads all day so you had a problem each time you were leading.
There was a problem on the stacked ab (I was asked to rig a stacked ab) where my fellow candidate was hit by a stone halfway down the ab so I had to solve that too. You don't stop today so carry your food with you.
Then you get a big problem to solve. Mine went something like this. Halfway up Yogi my fellow candidate in seconding me but there is a rockfall and she is knocked unconscious. Go. I decided that I needed to get down to her and check her condition. Escaped the system and abseiled down to her. This is where I did my 'bad' of the day in that when I got down to her I forgot to back up my prussic. A couple of wraps of rope around my leg would have been enough, bad personal safety. Stupid boy!! Righted her up, put a chest harness on her so that she was hanging straight (assessor told me once I got down there that she was breathing) administered first aid. It was obvious that we needed to get off the crag but as we were two pitches up a simple lower would not do. So I jugged back up to the belay swapped it all about and did a counter balance abseil back down to the ledge with a tree. All went fine. Could have been more efficient at times but all in all I was quite pleased - except for not backing up your prussic which was a big NO-NO.
YOU CAN'T ALLOW YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY TO BE COMPROMISED EVEN IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE
My fellow candidate had a traverse problem to solve and then it was down to Eric's for a brew.