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U-Haul - Hauling a Pig


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Haul Bags

Living in the vertical world requires gear and lots of it. Bringing that gear with you can be backbreaking labor. It’s no coincidence that a haulbag is affectionately referred to as a pig. They’re big, heavy, and usually ragged. Since the inception of long rock climbs, hauling has become a necessary evil. Although many of the speed climbers of today reject the necessity of hauling, most mere mortals will have to continue to drag around the onerous pig.
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The Basics of Pig Hauling
Hauling is an interesting aspect of long climbs. Regardless of the extra weight climbers haul some odd things with them. Many haul some sort of small totem with them for good luck; from He-Man action figures, rubber ducks, to voodoo dolls. One fabled team hauled a sack of golf balls up to El Cap Tower, a plush ledge about 2,200 feet up on El Capitan. They also brought a driver, a three iron, and a patch of astro turf then spent the afternoon teeing off into the valley. Several windshields were broken and park officials began a horseback search for a sniper. Roads shut down, cars overheated, tourist fights broke out, and the case was eventually left unsolved. Climbers have dragged everything imaginable from hibachi grills, Frisbees, kites, guitars, beer, jugs of wine, boomboxes, x-ray specs, and even a torch for roasting hot dogs. One team left porno pics at belays to torment the following parties. I myself tried to talk my partner into hauling a small ficus tree with us for bivy ambiance. He said “Hell no”.


There are a variety of hauling strategies, each with its set of pros and cons. If you are climbing an 8 pitch grade IV route, you will want to think fast and light. Hauling an 8 pitch grade V or VI, you’ll want to employ a different hauling strategy since bivy gear will be involved. Regardless of the time spent on the climb, don’t bring more than you need. Haulbags can quickly go from easily hauled light bags into gruelish cement trucks that resist even an inch of upward progress. After all, if you wanted to lift a 200lb weight you’d go to the gym and not the crag.


To figure out what you’ll need, pick your route, check the guidebook, and ask any locals for some beta. Spread out a tarp and lay out all that gear. If the route is a long single day route, it will probably be beneficial to bring the minimum to ensure that you’re off the climb by dark. In this case, you’ll want the minimum required for safety. A bare bones daypack usually consists of water, food, lightweight rain gear, headlamp, and a light first aid kit. Water is life, so don’t skimp on it, but it’s also very heavy. You’ll need 2 quarts (liters) per person per day as a minimum and more in hot weather. I like to stuff a camelback full of Gatoraid in a daypack. This has the disadvantage of rupturing and loosing your entire water supply, but on the upside it is easily accessible and I therefore stay hydrated much easier. For food grab some Cliff bars, sports gel, or other compact high energy food.


For any climb requiring a bivy, its time to break out a real haulbag. The gear required for a multiday climb is exponentially more than a single day route. You’ll need sleeping bags and pads, ample food and water, extra clothes, med kit, and rain gear. It is essential that the haulbag is packed correctly. Although they are super durable, one soup can against the side of the bag will wear a hole through any bag in as little as a single pitch. Blowing out your bag halfway up a climb may be much more than just inconvenient!

Packing the Haulbag (Pig)

Light Loads (daypacks)
Heavy items such as water go on the bottom and lighter items on the top. If the pack will be worn by the second, packing is not a big concern. There are several day packs / crag packs on the market that make great lightweight haulbags with removable straps and haul loops. Think sleek and durable.

Medium Loads
There are many small to medium haulbags on the market and are fairly affordable. Packing now becomes very important. The sides need to be squishy and it is most important that the lower sides have good padding. Line the sides with your sleeping pads. The bag sides need to be soft without any hard points. This will keep holes from forming. Water and extra gear goes on the very bottom, stacked vertically. Food and sleeping bags next. Organize food in stuff sacks and use the sleeping bags to pad the sides. Near the top you need all your quick access items like sunblock, snacks, some water, hat, etc. Pad the top with some of the extra clothes.

Heavy Loads
The largest haulbags are giants. It is often easier to have two half full bags as opposed to one giant overstuffed bag. A small sub bag for quick access and personal items coupled with a large haulbag also works well. You don’t want to have to dig out the entire haulbag to get to something at the bottom of one of the behemoths. Pack larger bags the same as smaller bags.

Attaching the Haul Line to the Bag
Cut a 2 liter plastic bottle in half and thread the haul line through it. Tie a figure 8 follow through to the haul straps. Try to keep the loop as small as possible. The plastic bottle cone will protect the knot and help keep it from getting snagged. Some haulbags have two different length haul loops. One is about a biner length shorter. In this case tie the haul line to the longer loop and clip a locking biner from the short strap to the figure 8. When the bag reaches the anchor you can unclip the biner and freely access the bag while leaving it safely attached to the anchor via the long main strap.

When hauling multiple bags there are two attachment options, the haul train or the cluster. The cluster has all bags clipped to a main haul biner. This method can help pull the bag over bumps since they can tilt. The haul train has the bags clipped to the straps under the main bag. This can be great for a sub bag or portaledge, but can be difficult going over bumps. Both methods work alright, but most use the cluster method.

Hauling Strategies
For light hauling of a daypack the alpine clutch (AKA Garda Hitch) is quick, easy, and requires no special gear. All you need is your anchor and two biners.

For any other hauling there are several choices. Each has pros and cons particular to the person doing the hauling. A hundred pound featherweight climber probably won’t be able to budge a 200 lb bag with a body haul, but a burley fellow might have no problem. If the bags are free hanging, hauling is much easier than dragging the bag up a slab. So it can be beneficial to employ different hauling strategies in different situations. Always haul from a SERNE anchor (Secure Equalized Redundant No Extension) and stay attached to the anchor. Don’t rely on your connection to the haul line as your only personal anchor point.

Hauling systems can be divided into three categories; simple, compound, and complex. They all involve a pulley or pulleys and help to raise loads with less effort. There is the 1:1, 3:1, and even the Spanish Burton. The simple 1:1 system means that the hauling force required to move the bag is equal to or greater than the weight of the bag. This is fine for lightweight bags, but heavier loads require the use of a mechanical advantage found in the 3:1 systems are a two person body haul.

1:1 Leg Haul System
A simple system and quick to setup, but only good for light weight hauling.

1. Pull up the excess haul line slack by hand.
2. Attach a self jamming pulley to the haul line.
3. From the power point on a SERNE anchor attach the loaded self jamming pulley.
4. Clip a loose backup to the haul line. This can be a sling and locker that will catch the haul line should the pulley fail.
5. Attach a jumar to the haul line after the pulley (the non loaded side).
6. Attach an aider (or sling) to the jumar.
7. Use your leg to pump down on the aider to raise the bag. The self jamming pulley will hold the bag after each leg pump.

Simple and fairly effective at moving a medium weight bag. Same as the leg haul but instead of attaching an aider to the jumar clip the jumar to your harness via a daisy chain (or sling) and use your body weight to pull the bag up.

1:1 Double Body Haul
If the Bag(s) are really heavy attach a second person as dead weight to the pull side of the haul line with a long personal tether to the main anchor. Usually a 50’ tether of lead line works well. This tether is the second’s personal anchor line so that they are not relying solely on the haul line for safety. This person will essentially jug the free end of the haul line as the top person body hauls. This system can work well if you don’t have the gear to set up a 3:1 system.

3:1 Mechanical Advantage
This compound pulley system requires a minimum of one self jamming pulley and two jumars. It works best with 1 self jamming pulley, 2 regular pulleys, and 2 jumars. Biners can be substituted for pulleys, but this decreases the advantages gained because the friction on the haul line increases. For every pull on the free end you will only move the loaded rope 1/3 the distance. This may mean 3 times as much pulling, but only 1/3rd the effort. A 210lb bag becomes essentially a 70lb bag (in a frictionless world). This provides a tremendous advantage in moving heavy loads, especially when the haul is not vertical.

1. Load the haul line into a self jamming pulley.
2. Clip this pulley to the power point of the SARENE anchor.
3. Attach a loose backup to the main haul line and power point in case the main haul pulley fails. Use a locker and sling.
4. Clip an inverted ascender on the loaded side of the haul line.
5. Load the free end of the haul line after the self jamming pulley into a regular pulley and clip this to the inverted ascender on the loaded line.
6. Load another pulley on the free end of the haul line and clip this pulley to an anchor point slightly below the self jamming pulley.
7. Clip a jumar to the free end of the haul line.
8. Now leg or body haul from this last jumar. Every pull on it will cause the lower pulley and inverted jumar to raise the haul line and the lower pulley will pull up towards the two high ones.
9. When the low pulley reaches the high ones simply slide the inverted jumar back down the line.
a. You can also weight this jumar with leftover rack or anything heavy and it will pull itself down automatically.

Tips and Tricks
1. Instead of a self jamming pulley (expensive) you can utilize a prusik minding pulley. This type of pulley keeps a prusik knot on the load side of the rope and uses it to hold the rope from slipping back down. The prusik is wrapped around the load side and anchored to the power point.
2. A jumar can also be used in the absence of a self jamming pulley. Invert a jumar on the load side of the haul line right under the main pulley. Anchor the jumar to the power point. Attach a weight (the rack) to the jumar so that it slides down the rope as you pull rope up. Therefore the jumar will hold the rope exactly like a self jamming pulley would hold it.
3. DMM makes a biner (The Revolver) with a pulley built into it. This is super lightweight and functions reasonably well for light hauls.
4. For burley hauls, it is well worth the money to purchase a sturdy self jamming pulley such as the Petzl Pro Traxion, Petzl Mini Traxion, or Rock Exotica Wall Hauler.
5. When the second is cleaning the pitch, have them free the bag if it gets stuck. They should be fairly close to it and this will save tons of time.
6. If the pitch is traversing, have the second lower the bag out as the leader begins hauling. A bag on a giant swing can be a very unpleasant thing. The bag can blow out, cause rockfall, cut the haul line, or any number of misfortunes.
7. Once the haul bag has been hauled to the next anchor, leash it in. Don’t just let it hang out on the haul system.
8. Duct tape holds the universe together. Wrap a water bottle with several wraps of it and don’t bother bringing the whole roll.

Further Reading
Jared Ogden – Big Wall Climbing - Elite Technique
David J. Fasulo – Self-Rescue
John Long & John Middendorf – Big Walls
Mountaineering - The Freedom of the Hills

Author: This article was written by Jordan Ramey.
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