I spend much of my time climbing alone. With a busy work schedule and the crags located a mere five minute drive from my desk, when the right moment strikes I take a break from the computer, throw a few items in the car and hike up to the crags. Once there I Mini Traxion (solo self belay on a fixed line) a handful of pitches and then head back home to the computer. Basically, this means that I can get 300-400 feet of climbing in within an hour’s time.
Once at the top of the crags, I rappel on a single fixed line over the lip, then throw the Haku to the base of the route (with the remaining rope still in it) before continuing the rappel to the ground. Once at the deck, I lift the Haku off the ground using the attached handle, tie it off to the rope so it hangs off the ground like a fishing weight, clip myself to the rope and start logging laps. Since the remainder of the rope in the bag keeps the rope relatively tight, this ensures the self-belay feeds smoothly.
For awhile I attached water bottles to the end of the rope, but I kept smashing them when moving the anchor down the cliff from route to route, and when changing the setup from a fixed line to a top rope (if someone showed up). I severally damaged four aluminum bottles before sticking with the Haku. I don’t think Arc’teryx designed this rope bag/rope bucket with that in mind, but I love using it as a counter weight.
The Haku ($69.00, 430 grams, available in tan or blue) is essentially a rope tarp with a hole in the middle leading to an inner chamber which acts like a funnel – when the corners of the outer tarp are picked up, the rope falls through the funnel and into the inner polyurethane coated 4’ X 4’ groundsheet. It comes with a RollTop™ closure, pack compression strap, two rope-tie-in loops and an internal carrying strap. It’s designed to work with 60-meter ropes.
I don’t climb with 60-meter ropes because I find them too short. My primary rope is a 9.4mm X 70m, meaning it fits in the rope bag but I can’t take advantage of all the design perks – mainly to optimally compress the rope for transport unless I tightly coil it first, which defeats the purpose of a rope bag. I generally just carry the rope bag to the crags in a semi closed fashion, and though it appears more like an open rope bucket than a rolled up burrito, the key functions still work – it carries the rope, the rope stays in the bag when I huck off the top of a cliff, and I can use the rope end as a counter weight while it’s still in the bag. Some straps dangle free when I carry it, but I tie them up and out of the way.
Truth be told, I would love the see the Haku designed for longer ropes.
Sometimes I slide the rope into the Miura 45 pack while it’s still in the Haku. It’s a tight fit, but height-wise I can still fit climbing shoes and a few water bottles on the top of the pack before zipping it shut.
If I’m staying at a hotel I’ll first dump out the rope out of the Haku, fill it with clothes, burrito it up and slide it in the pack. This way after reaching my destination I can throw my clothes on the floor, but still keep them in an organized pile on the rope bag. When I pull the corners of the groundsheet, the clothes funnel to the inner tarp, and then I roll it up and stuff it back in the pack. With the pack empty, I unzip the wrap-around zipper, lay the pack flat and – since it’s lightly padded — I use it as a second sleeping mat. If I forget my main pad, no problem, I’m already set. I have yet to try this pack for bivying in the woods on the sly, but it may fit this purpose.
The Miura 45 liter pack ($229) is a fully padded, full-closure drawbridge-style pack with basket-weave construction made of tough 840D nylon and built with a supportive frame sheet. The back panel is made of HD 80 high-density hydrophobic polyethylene foam, and the body is made of Burly Double Weave stretch woven fabric for comfort and durability. It has “composite construction,” says arcteryx.com which means the laminated material makes it carry comfortably without being unnecessarily bulky. It has an interior gear loop and is hydration bladder compatible. It has two external zip pockets, a single top pocket, and a separate bungee (which I have yet to use). The shoulder straps are contoured and anatomical. It has a wide hip belt and narrow sternum strap.
The Miura has three external handles. This means no matter which way I grab for the pack I can easily pick it up, slide open a zipper, including for side entry, and access the contents. It has two external low-profile daisy chains. The outer material is treated with PU to keep out the weather.
Together the Miura 45 pack and Haku rope bag help me be more efficient at the crags. Once I reach the base of the wall, I slide the pack all the way open; throw on my harness and assorted equipment and shoes. Then I hike up to the top of the wall, toss the rope and Haku off the top, get my laps in, maybe squeak in a nap on the padded Miura 45 and hike out.