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Lost control of belay of the second on Rewritten, 3-31-12
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By Gregger Man
Apr 1, 2012
gg
Not sure if the hanging rope was also the rope in question that caught the fall, but I coiled it up at the base and it is a new 9.9mm Bluewater Pulse. (Not skinny.)

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 1, 2012
El Chorro
Too tired to read everything tonight but I hardly ever belay in autoblock mode. Bolted belay and/or hanging belays and I will, but otherwise I'm sitting on a ledge w/ two good pieces and my ass as the third, and belaying off my belay loop or the loop made by my fig 8. I won't go into anymore detail as plenty of good things have already been written.

Every belay is different...

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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Apr 1, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever....
Now, belaying the second isn't something I do much, because as a new leader I usually AM the second, but when I do I like the Munter. It's a bit tougher to haul the slack but it's simpler and allows much easier lowering. It's not hands free, of course - but then again, if you look in their instruction manuals, neither the ATC GUIDE nor the REVERSO are intended to be "hands free" in autoblock mode, either.

And given that when loaded/tightened the Munter provides as much friction - no matter the orientation of the brake strand - as a correctly utilized tube-style device, it seems like it lowers the fuckup potential as well.

What's this about belaying off the harness-side rope loop to 'keep the system dynamic'? Isn't the climbing rope already dynamic? Why bypass the belay loop?

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 1, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Buff Johnson wrote:
Certainly another plug for using gloves, but I guess that's just for pussy fucks like myself.


Buff, I guess I have to join you in the feline copulation department. I wear gloves for all belays (outdoors).

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By DexterRutecki
From Cincinnati, Ohio
Apr 1, 2012
MegaGaper2000 wrote:
Now, belaying the second isn't something I do much, because as a new leader I usually AM the second, but when I do I like the Munter. It's a bit tougher to haul the slack but it's simpler and allows much easier lowering. It's not hands free, of course - but then again, if you look in their instruction manuals, neither the ATC GUIDE nor the REVERSO are intended to be "hands free" in autoblock mode, either. And given that when loaded/tightened the Munter provides as much friction - no matter the orientation of the brake strand - as a correctly utilized tube-style device, it seems like it lowers the fuckup potential as well. What's this about belaying off the harness-side rope loop to 'keep the system dynamic'? Isn't the climbing rope already dynamic? Why bypass the belay loop?


The munter kinks the shit out of your rope. I would only use it as a last resort if I forgot my belay device or whatever, I wouldnt really choose to use a munter in most cases.

Also comparing a munter to an ATC in guide mode and claiming both arent "meant" to be hands free is like comparing apples to oranges.... completely different. I see where your name gaper comes from now.

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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 1, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater ...
DexterRutecki wrote:
I would but RGold just did a nice job and he knows a lot more than me or you. The autoblock is not the almighty only way to belay someone from above.


Actually he gave a good reason why he does it. Do your own work buddy. It sounds like some of it is personal preference. For me it's not superior in handling. As you pointed out he is also an experienced climber. Most experienced climbers with preferences will have good skill regardless of the technique used. I can belay off my harness nearly as well as off the anchor. I also have a pretty good hand with belaying off the anchor so the negatives that he has experienced are with the climbers he's climbed with, not with me.

DexterRutecki wrote:
Jmezisis try to have some flexibility in your climbing styles/techniques, as you become a better and more competent climber you will appreciate it.


I'll keep that in mind.

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By coppolillo
Apr 1, 2012
Wow, Dexter, the snarkiness is unnecessary.

Mostly good points all around. Forgive me if I missed it, but keep in mind redirecting through the anchor doubles the forces on the anchor itself.

Just another variable to consider when constructing belays...

RC

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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Apr 1, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever....
DexterRutecki wrote:
The munter kinks the shit out of your rope. I would only use it as a last resort if I forgot my belay device or whatever, I wouldnt really choose to use a munter in most cases. Also comparing a munter to an ATC in guide mode and claiming both arent "meant" to be hands free is like comparing apples to oranges.... completely different. I see where your name gaper comes from now.



No need to be a dick.

In my experience the kinking isn't that bad if you keep the knot loose. It's obviously not choice for, say, rappelling - but it's the UIAA guide method for bringing up the second.

And I really wasn't trying to compare the Munter to an ATC - just to point out that the ATC/reverso technically isn't hands-free either. And flaking rope/opening your nalgene/whatever with the brake line in your hand is pretty similar between the two, as well.

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By Mitch Musci
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 1, 2012
rgold wrote:
Don't forget a released autoblock can easily send the second for a big ride (we had a groundfall in the Gunks from that scenario


Can you elaborate on this specific issue? I have lowered climbers several times in autoblock mode and I have never lost control. It seems that while lowering, if the rope starts zipping through the device you can simply release your lowering system and the belay device locks up again. Any insight into potential problems/solutions with lowering in autoblock mode? How about lowering one follower while a second follower is also weighting the device?

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By Buff Johnson
Apr 1, 2012
smiley face
What I've seen happen is you can't open the device and release the lock, so you clip the pulley sling to your harness putting your body weight on it and make it open. The belayer can't maintain control and is now sitting on the device keeping it open. Or, you open the device and keep it open when you grip everything in your 'panic' mode when you find you can't control the lowering.

Maybe think about backsiding a redirect with a simple biner, or even add a munter and run it as a plaquette system if the climber is a friggin fat bastard.

No setup is full-proof. I use auto-blocks direct all the time, but brake hand on the rope/maintaining rope control is critical.

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By ABMFB
Apr 1, 2012
I'm the climber who fell, and I thought I'd share the story for the educational value of it.

The leader, a very experienced climber, was belaying off the harness because he wasn't satisfied with the strength of the anchor. He had the rope, a

single strand of about 9.8mm, through a Trango Cinch. Before I started the climb he tugged on the climber side of the rope to check that the Cinch was

functioning properly and it was. As I climbed he pulled in slack and repeatedly checked that the Cinch was still locking off and it was. I was about 10ft below the belay ledge when I fell. I felt the rope start to catch me, but then it released. As I fell the rope between me and the third caught on something and the friction slowed me down. I think this was enough to allow the belayer to get the brake strand back under control, but his hands were badly burned. I came to rest at about the same elevation of the traversing hand crack at the start of the 4th pitch, which put the fall at about 60-70ft I think. I was free hanging under a roof around an arete to the climber's left of the route. After gathering myself and checking for serious injuries I ascended the rope to where I could get my feet on the rock and walked around the arete to get closer to the belay ledge. I put myself on rappel with the thought of betting back down to the belay ledge but I wasn't sure if there would be enough rope so I stopped at a small ledge where I'd be more comfortable, placed a cam, and clipped in. I didn't realize it but the belayer's leg was caught under the rope and it wasn't until I stepped on the ledge that he was able to free himself. As this was going on Jake and John were climbing the 4th pitch to assist the belayer and begin a rescue, and the third and fourth climbers from my team rapped down to the red ledge. Once Jake and John got to the top of the pitch, the three of them rigged a lowering system and lowered me down to the red ledge, then rappelled down to join us. From there we all rapped to the ground from the eyebolt, and John gave me a shoulder to lean on for the walk out.

It appears that the Cinch failed which is the primary cause of the accident, although to be fair to Trango they don't say that it can be used hands free. I don't know why it failed but a possible reason could be that it was making contact with a rock or the belayer's leg and couldn't rotate into the locking position. It was also a brand new slick rope which could have made it easier to slip through the device.

I miraculously escaped with only a sprained ankle and a couple of bruises. I'd like to thank all of the well-wishers here and especially thanks to Jake and John for assisting us. I owe you a debt I can't possibly repay.

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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Apr 1, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever....
I think the worry on the autoblock lower is that the tendency among beginners might be to disengage the autoblock (ie, begin to lower) very clumsily. I think disengaging the older ATC's (smaller disengage holes) is especially difficult, in that it takes a fair amount of force applied upward through a sling. The worry, I believe, is that an inexperienced belayer could easily get distracted by fighting with a squirrelly device/sling combo and drop the second 30 or 50 feet before they noticed it and were able to react.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 1, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
ABMFB wrote:
It appears that the Cinch failed which is the primary cause of the accident, although to be fair to Trango they don't say that it can be used hands free. I don't know why it failed but a possible reason could be that it was making contact with a rock or the belayer's leg and couldn't rotate into the locking position. It was also a brand new slick rope which could have made it easier to slip through the device.


From Trango:

"On smaller diameter ropes, or when holding falls that generate extremely high loads (in excess of factor 1) the Cinch acts dynamically..."

Translation: the rope slips.

Caution: I have no experience with this device, I'm just quoting the manufacturer.

Glad you're ok ABMFB.

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By bearbreeder
Apr 1, 2012
from the British Mountaineering Council ... pg 20-24 as examples of top belays off the rope loop/harness ...

partneriaeth-awyr-agored.co.uk...

the issue appears to me that there was no control of the brake end of the rope ... the cinch and other such devices are clasified as assisted, not autolocking ... even with a redirect or a direct belay off the anchor, it could still slip without a brake hand on ... petzl warms emphatically about having the cam blocked with the gri gri and not to go hands free





the problem was human error IMO ... a competent belayer should be able to catch a second no matter the method of belay ... i personally believe an autoblock setup is "safer", but its no substitute for proper belay technique and attention

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By davecro
From Golden, CO
Apr 1, 2012
Summit of Estrillitas
ABMFB wrote:
I'm the climber who fell, and I thought I'd share the story for the educational value of it. The leader, a very experienced climber, was belaying off the harness because he wasn't satisfied with the strength of the anchor. He had the rope, a single strand of about 9.8mm, through a Trango Cinch. Before I started the climb he tugged on the climber side of the rope to check that the Cinch was functioning properly and it was. As I climbed he pulled in slack and repeatedly checked that the Cinch was still locking off and it was. I was about 10ft below the belay ledge when I fell. I felt the rope start to catch me, but then it released. As I fell the rope between me and the third caught on something and the friction slowed me down. I think this was enough to allow the belayer to get the brake strand back under control, but his hands were badly burned. I came to rest at about the same elevation of the traversing hand crack at the start of the 4th pitch, which put the fall at about 60-70ft I think. I was free hanging under a roof around an arete to the climber's left of the route. After gathering myself and checking for serious injuries I ascended the rope to where I could get my feet on the rock and walked around the arete to get closer to the belay ledge. I put myself on rappel with the thought of betting back down to the belay ledge but I wasn't sure if there would be enough rope so I stopped at a small ledge where I'd be more comfortable, placed a cam, and clipped in. I didn't realize it but the belayer's leg was caught under the rope and it wasn't until I stepped on the ledge that he was able to free himself. As this was going on Jake and John were climbing the 4th pitch to assist the belayer and begin a rescue, and the third and fourth climbers from my team rapped down to the red ledge. Once Jake and John got to the top of the pitch, the three of them rigged a lowering system and lowered me down to the red ledge, then rappelled down to join us. From there we all rapped to the ground from the eyebolt, and John gave me a shoulder to lean on for the walk out. It appears that the Cinch failed which is the primary cause of the accident, although to be fair to Trango they don't say that it can be used hands free. I don't know why it failed but a possible reason could be that it was making contact with a rock or the belayer's leg and couldn't rotate into the locking position. It was also a brand new slick rope which could have made it easier to slip through the device. I miraculously escaped with only a sprained ankle and a couple of bruises. I'd like to thank all of the well-wishers here and especially thanks to Jake and John for assisting us. I owe you a debt I can't possibly repay.


Thank you for sharing. My partner and I saw you ascending the rope and were a bit confused. Glad to hear that everyone is okay!

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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Apr 2, 2012
tanuki
I am glad to hear that no one was seriously injured. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

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By $t0& 960
From Colorado
Apr 2, 2012
s
Wow im glad go hear everyone is OK. So if the leader did not trust the station he built why would not he build another station elsewhere.....climb down or up or to the side he is very experienced you say. Is it habitual or was he in a hurry? What's his take on that?

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By Greg D
From Here
Apr 2, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W.
Chris Snobeck wrote:
Certainly a lesson to be learned, particularly about the pitfalls of belaying off your harness from above in certain situations. Busy day on Redgarden; scary stuff... Chris


and what is the lesson? People have been belaying of their harnesses for decades without incident. If you are going to belay of your harness you need to do it right. If you are going to belay of the anchor... you need to do it right.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 2, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Mitch Musci wrote:
Can you elaborate on this specific issue? I have lowered climbers several times in autoblock mode and I have never lost control. It seems that while lowering, if the rope starts zipping through the device you can simply release your lowering system and the belay device locks up again. Any insight into potential problems/solutions with lowering in autoblock mode? How about lowering one follower while a second follower is also weighting the device?


Mitch, "several times" is not yet a very good experience sample. And this accident probably illustrates that a device can be used many times with no problems and still harbor nasty surprises.

Problems with guide plates tend to occur when the device is heavily weighted (i.e. someone hanging free with little friction in the system). It then becomes hard to break the lock, and when the device does release it can be very sudden and very complete. In such circumstances, unfortunate incidents in the field show that, in contrast to your experiences so far, the device will not always lock up again once the rope is running really fast.

The manufacturers recommend backing up the lowering process by adding a Munter hitch belay at the harness in case the device releases catastrophically. Avoid the recommendation at the peril of your seconds.

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By Greg D
From Here
Apr 2, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W.
Robert Buswold wrote:
Wow, don't get all butt-hurt about this, but it sounds like it would be much harder to lose control of a belay if it would have been in guide-mode.


This can happen too!

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By $t0& 960
From Colorado
Apr 2, 2012
s
Greg D wrote:
and what is the lesson? People have been belaying of their harnesses for decades without incident. If you are going to belay of your harness you need to do it right. If you are going to belay of the anchor... you need to do it right.

There is no reason whatsoever to belay off top off your harness. With that in mind the leader did not trust his station in this particular case. Wtf? What was he thinking ...
Hoping the second will not fall??? Hmmmmmm

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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Apr 2, 2012
Colonel Mustard
Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
There is no reason whatsoever to belay off top off your harness. With that in mind the leader did not trust his station in this particular case. Wtf? What was he thinking ... Hoping the second will not fall??? Hmmmmmm


If you read and try to understand what Rgold is saying, there is plenty of reason to belay off your harness. It has pros and cons, but so does every other method. I think I'd take his word (or belay) over yours any day of the week ;).

Have you ever heard of a "stance belay"? You should look it up to answer one of your questions. Trad climb enough and you'll find yourself belaying somebody up with...gasp...no anchor at all!

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By Greg D
From Here
Apr 2, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W.
Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
There is no reason whatsoever to belay off top off your harness.


huh? belay "off top off your harness". Is that French?

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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Apr 2, 2012
Colonel Mustard
Greg D wrote:
huh? belay "off top off your harness". Is that French?


Hah! It's Ellenor speak. Speaking is actually her second language.

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By Greg D
From Here
Apr 2, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W.
Old Custer wrote:
Trad climb enough and you'll find yourself belaying somebody up with...gasp...no anchor at all!


Yep!

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