Your Guide to Epic Big Walls Without Epics
The lightest but most useful thing you can take up a big wall is knowledge. Welcome to a 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 your stuff as well. Imagine all the good stuff on mountain project with none of the bad - we call this revolutionary idea "a middleman". See HowNOT2 contribute your beta below.
There are 12 main sections that cover the topic A-Z and we will guide you to them in this "textbook". Consider each blog we send you to as "chapters" and they will always point to the next place you should go. Treat this page as a topo for the overall course.
John Middendorf donated BigWalls.com to this project. Clicking and sharing it will bring you to this main blog which leads you to every other part of our big wall content. Did you know BigWalls.NET was the first climbing website in the world and John still operates it? Founder of A5 Adventures, John has been crushing walls since 1978 and has heavily influenced hammers, hauling pulleys, ball nuts, drill holders, solo devices, hooking pitons, haul bags, and portaledge designs for over 25 years. Today he sells the D4 portaledge. Visit BigWalls.NET for a rich source of history and beta and enter BigWALLS.com to come back to the Big Wall Bible.
You could die trying the stuff we talk about. Don't sue me because I showed you my rack and tell you how to poop in a bag, please. How's that for a disclaimer?
What I meant was, please seek professional advice on extreme sports techniques and follow the manufacturer's recommendations on your gear. Everything in this content is personal opinion and the break tests are not statistically significant to base your life on the results. Is that better?
Why The Bible Theme?
Well, Bible starts with B and so does Big Wall. Also because this is going to be a lot of sections with a lot of people adding to it and most of it will be right. It's also easier to make jokes as we go.
Playing on the Nipple
The cover image is by the one and only Tom Evans from the El Cap Report while I was leading the nipple pitch on the zodiac with my friend Justin Smestad. I was proud to have climbed that clean with inverted cam hooks and found out Tom captured the moment. When I got down to the bridge he yelled at me for wearing brown and white and I have walked around in yellow pants and bright-colored shirts since. The cover design is by Andrea Nicole.
The Bolting Bible was other people's content as I researched bolts, then we slowly added our content to fill in the gaps, and is now a whole lot of bolting information. The Big Wall Bible is the other way around. It starts with our content, hoping to stir up other people to contribute their content, but at the end is a whole lot of information about big walling.
It's a complex topic that can be approached so many ways, starting from different backgrounds and aiming for different goals. Some people like going up as slow as possible, others climb el cap with just a chalk bag and climbing shoes. Ok, so we won't' be covering how to free solo El Cap, but it's a great example of how extremely different you can approach the same climb. No course made by 2 people can cover everything you need to know, and no printed book can stay up to date, and I hate to tell you this, no information is going to replace just doing these things yourself. However, what if there was a place that could include dozens, and maybe even hundreds, of people's well-organized thoughts, regardless if they have a social media presence or not. Imagine if it was video or photo or written content, as it's easier to share some information in different formats. What if it was super free and able to be googled and translated into any language?
Books cost money to make, print, and ship. Courses on course-type platforms have to charge and are rarely updated. Forums require too much sifting through the weeds to find the flowers. PDFs are a PITA to maintain. Youtube videos + a highly managed blog with a few moderators to keep everyone's thoughts tidy and organized might be the answer. Blogs are the elixir of efficiency, searchability, translations, collaboration, embedded videos, and auto-formatting. Mix that with an established channel that can effectively share the best information that's added here and this could grow to be a very very helpful community-built resource.
The Power of Free
I value books, education, and courses but I'm cheap. I'll avoid buying them and just learn it another way if possible. Either they won't meet my expectations or I won't finish it before I get distracted by the next squir...... Free and easy removes any barrier someone might have to start it, and if it meets their needs, they might just finish it.
I attempt to create the best videos I can with the resources I have available. I try to make them super entertaining enough so people who don't even care about the content still want to watch. It's also important that we don't even require an email to access the information. I hate when something is free to find out they want my email to spam me or charge me for the 2nd half of the course if it was advertised as free. 100% of what we make is 100% free.
Maybe 16-year-old girls doing makeup videos on youtube bring in 6 figures, but ad revenue on niche climbing videos won't pay the bills. Money is overrated and creating the best content to answer unanswered questions is the WHY we do this. You can do SO MUCH with very little and it seems to cost SO MUCH to take it to the next level, which honestly isn't that much of a difference. How often have you walked out of a movie theatre after watching 100million dollars smashed into 90 minutes only to bitch about how bad it was? On the flip side, a boot-strapped film can be so inspiring and change your life.
STOKE is our currency and it's the hack to creating what we have created so far. I have found if I am stoked about something and put an unreasonable amount of energy into it, other people join. That makes it better so it generates more stoke and more help and makes it even better. Which generates more stoke... and you get the point. I didn't build a lab, break thousands of tests, and make 500 episodes by myself and I can't even imagine what it would cost if I had to pay for all the help I got to have what we have so far.
So HowNOT2 went from being a hobby after painting houses all day to becoming a super big enough channel to make me think it was ok to quit a 6 figure income to do this full time. We break down on the donate page what money comes in and what goes out. If I ask for donations I think it's only fair to be fully transparent. What's great about HowNOT2 growing is that if only 1% of the people who consume it donate $1 per episode it is fully sustainable. If that's not you, that is OK! That's the point. If you don't want to donate $1 per episode, or just can't afford it, then enjoy it anyways, share it, and get stoked.
How NOT 2 Get Sponsored
If you can't tell by the salty bible themes; when I was in the church some things didn't sit with me well. One thing was how people lived on tithes or donations. I understand if you do something full time you should be paid for it. However, I don't want to live on donations, that feels weird. So how do I pay the bills?
I don't want to promote skillshare or some VPN for 30 seconds ruining the vibe in the middle of a video. I don't mind promoting something if it makes sense for my audience. I try to keep it relevant and make it funny, or at the very least, painless to watch. As a guy who breaks gear, it feels like a conflict of interest to be sponsored by a gear company for I risk saying something nicer about it rather than I would otherwise.
Partnering up with a store seems to be the most natural fit as I don't care what you buy, just buy it at ExtremeGear and it will support us 10%. We are migrating our break test content within the store and creating helpful BUYING GUIDES. It's more than just an affiliate. This is a gear-intensive sport and if you plan on blowing some cash on a triple rack of BDs, Aliens, and Totems and you aren't able to sneakily use someone else's prodeal (don't worry, I get it), then for the love of the big stone, please buy in a way that supports us.
Rocky Talkie is one of my first real sponsors that I've chosen to promote for a fee. I have talked to the owners several times, they are climbers themselves, and they support underfunded SAR units. They work amazingly and I actually used them on all of my big projects since 2020. They line up with our values and I'm grateful that they supported this project. I honestly probably would have brought them up anyways because communication makes such a difference when you can't hear or even see your partner while you sit at a belay way too long. You get 10% off if you click RockyTalkie.com/HowNOT2 and 10% supports us. Thank you Rocky for investing in Breaking Gear Fear.
The 10 Big Wall Commandments
These are written for stone, NOT on stone
Thou shalt not big wall if rain is imminent
Thou shalt top step as high as you can
Thou shalt not carry too much or too little water
Thou shalt practice everything possible before doing your first wall
Thou shalt not eat too many mountain houses
Thou shalt not take heavy PVC pipe poop tubes
Thou shalt not hammer on clean routes
Thou shalt pee in thy bottles and poop in thy bags
Thou shalt take trash you see and not leave any
Thou shalt send your big wall tips for us to add
Planning for El Capitan
Logistics can set you up for success.
12 Essentials You Need To Climb Big Walls
What to take to live in a vertical world.
Packing Haul Bags for Big Walling
How to pack a giant one chamber bag.
How to Sleep on a Cliff and Poop in a Bag
Just living on a cliff face is a skill.
My Big Wall Rack - Cams, Nuts, and Hooks
Look at people's racks and enjoy gear porn!
Aid Climbing - Hooking and Nutting
Placing gear is more an art than a science.
15 Knots You Need to Big Wall
Tying together a foundation to send.
Aid Climbing Big Walls - How To Lead
The process of climbing the ladder you installed
Big Wall Anchors
Setting up a great anchor is the foundation to being efficient and organized.
Hauling Giant Big Wall Bags Up El Capitan
Getting to the top is cool, but dragging 200lbs of dead weight to the top is the real miracle.
Ascending Up Big Walls
Sometimes following can be just as tricky as leading.