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Lost control of belay of the second on Rewritten, 3-31-12
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By Jake Adams
Apr 2, 2012

Hi Y'all
I am one of the ones who helped with the extrication in this situation. What seems to have happened to me is that the cinch being belayed off the harness and rope running over the belayer's leg and down over the ledge did not allow the cinch to self orient. This issue is the reason i personally have never bought one. Belaying from the harness was the correct call as this belay spot(almost top of p4, not the dead tree ledge) has crap gear placements at best. I believe it was a case of multiple things combined into a freak accident that couldn't be replicated with tons of fancy lab gear. Just glad we all walked out.

Cheers, Jake


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 2, 2012
El Chorro

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
There is no reason whatsoever to belay off top off your harness.


Wrong. If you don't understand why it is SOMETIMES better and easier to belay off your harness (either belay loop or the "fig 8 loop") then you simply haven't set up that many belays. Anyone who does a lot of multi-pitch climbing or belaying from the top knows that there are a billion ways to belay and they all have their place.

In regards to lowering while in Autoblock mode, here is my take:

I used to guide up towers in Thailand, and there is no tower in Thailand that doesn't have an overhanging crux, minimum 10- and usually harder. But plenty of 5.9 climbers wanted to have a go and I'm fine with that.

I often belayed in AB when on towers because the belays are semi-hanging and bolted, but mainly because it makes it very easy to haul a climber through an overhanging crux. Easier than if belaying on your harness. But inevitably, I'd have clients that gave up and wanted to go down, so I'd have to lower them. This is what I'd do:

First, take the brake strand of the rope and put a munter in it, clip to your belay loop. Now you can release the AB in whatever way you want (tons of ways, again they all have their place), and lower with the munter. If you release the AB completely, the biner is just acting as a redirect and the munter is your belay.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 2, 2012
El Chorro

PS, it's worth having a look at the links that bearbreeder and rgold provided, and to listen to their advice. Pretty sure they have more experience than most people in this thread combined.

Climbing is taught very differently in the UK and Europe than it is in the US. Part of the reason is the type of terrain and the situations you find yourself in when making a belay. Another reason is that they learn to climb outside in traditional areas.

I've been living and climbing in the UK now for over a year and have to say that most people here have a much better undestanding of the systems we use than people in the US. Take a step out of your comfort zone and read some books and articles written by British instructors. A lot of the methods that may seem foreign to you make a ton of sense.


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By Chris Snobeck
From Broomfield, CO
Apr 2, 2012
King Cobra

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.


Chris Snobeck wrote:
@NC Rock Climber... I'm not saying one way is necessarily better, but it depends on the situation. If a really good anchor isn't possible, I'd probably belay off my harness; however, if you have good anchoring opportunities, using the auto block feature off the the anchor just adds an extra bit of safety for belaying up a second (when used properly).


See my later post, on that same page.

Chris


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By Tradoholic
Apr 2, 2012

The Cinch and GriGri have to be oriented just right for them to auto-lock. In addition the Cinch's lowering lever is awkward and too short to lower smoothly everytime, I've seen two people deck because of this. These devices abilities to auto-lock are often overestimated.

In this case the Cinch is to blame but the leader should not have been using it in this configuration anyway.

Using an ATC guide, Mammut Super Alpine, Reverso, etc would have prevented this.


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By J1.
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 2, 2012
Towliee

First things first.. Will someone help me with this one.. Why in the world would you be leading with double ropes and bringing a cinch or gri-gri ( single rope auto locking belay device) with you? I see no use for these single pitch cragging belay devices on a Eldo multi- pitch climb. Did the leader even have a ATC on him in case he had to rap the route? Just seems weird.. Using an inefficient belay device for a double rope technique.. Seems a little Noob to me!


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Apr 2, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

I've climbed rewritten 3 times in the last couple months... Why would an experienced leader build a belay anywhere on this climb on shit gear? As with most accidents it seems there is a lot more than just one problem in this story.


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By T. Maino
Apr 2, 2012

I'm pretty impressed that the leader stopped a 30 to 70' fall, burnt up his hands and did this all on a crap anchor. Then he sat there with his leg pinned while the second found his way to a ledge.

His brain may have farted, but his heart is gold and he has brass balls.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Apr 2, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

johnL wrote:
Some observations. 1. It doesn't take a genius to set up a top belay but it takes someone very special to think it should look the same every time. 2. It was another mysteriously out of control Cinch accident. These devices work great until they don't. Unlike a gri, if something causes them not to rotate into locking position, there isn't enough friction to stop a fall with your brake hand, even with gloves. You are completely reliant on the Cinch rotating and catching. 3. Why would you climb Rewritten 3 times in a short amount of time. I hear there are other routes in Eldo. 4. I like munters, redirects, and rigged up devices in guide mode. Maybe I'll start using them all in line.


3)Nice.... my wife is afraid of heights and likes to repeat climbs because being on familiar territory helps her get over the exposure. thanks for the concern though. By the way I wasnt bad mouthing anyone, just stating that when an accident happens it's usually not just one mistake, it's a snowball effect.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Apr 2, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Ed Wright wrote:
I have a feeling we're going to learn that this accident was a result of inexperience using twin ropes. Why, oh, why, use twin ropes in Eldo? A single rope and a gri-gri would have prevented this.


I've seen a lot of weird things going on with people climbing in groups of more than two at eldo....


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By CJC
Apr 2, 2012

T. Maino wrote:
I'm pretty impressed that the leader stopped a 30 to 70' fall, burnt up his hands and did this all on a crap anchor. Then he sat there with his leg pinned while the second found his way to a ledge. His brain may have farted, but his heart is gold and he has brass balls.


haha good post


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By Buff Johnson
Apr 2, 2012
smiley face

johnL wrote:
4. I like munters, redirects, and rigged up devices in guide mode. Maybe I'll start using them all in line.


Don't forget your baking soda, in case you run into some battery acid.

10 essentials, just saying.


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By Tom T
Apr 2, 2012

J1. wrote:
I see no use for these single pitch cragging belay devices on a Eldo multi- pitch climb.



I agree it's strange this device would be in play in a double rope set-up. That being said, lots of people incorporate auto-lock devices into their multi-pitch world. In fact, a cinch likely saved the life of a climber in the doub-griffith accident a couple years ago(belayer was crushed by rockfall).


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By Jake Adams
Apr 2, 2012

No one who was there ever said there were double/half or twin ropes involved. There was a single going from the leader to the 2nd an a trail line tied in properly going from 2nd to 3rd. the trail line caught over a horn causing enough friction for the belayer and device to stop the fall. My best guess(seeing it and all) was a 55ish foot fall, but thats just my eyeball micrometer.


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By Jeff G.
From Fort Collins
Apr 2, 2012
Nearing the end of Thank God Ledge.

johnL wrote:
Some observations. 3. Why would you climb Rewritten 3 times in a short amount of time. I hear there are other routes in Eldo.


What business is it of yours how often someone does a particular route?


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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2012

I look at the pros and cons list of setting a top belay off your harness and still think that I would never setup a belay like that. It just makes me shudder to think anyone would rather do this.

The pros are more related to viewing and being comfortable. The cons are mostly related to safety. If your belay anchor is shady, setup another belay or don't belay there.


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By pfwein
Apr 2, 2012

Mike McHugh wrote:
I hope you'll think about a writeup when things settle a bit. And the rest of you hatin' punters: I sincerely hope you never have the accident that knocks the wind out of your sails.


Having an accident that knocks the wind out of your sails, but doesn't result in serious injury/death, can be a blessing a disguise. At least it was for me and I think lots of others.
It's no guarantee that you won't have another one and if happens repeatedly you should probably take up another sport. But there's nothing like being involved in a very messed up situation to crystallize the importance of doing things safely, which is not always the same as doing things perfectly.
(And I agree that the world would be a safer place if belayers wore gloves. I generally do, but I've had zero success in convincing partners of that. I think if I get get people to try Rgold's belay test (rap a single strand and see how if feels), that may work, but I don't think I can get people to do that either!)


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2012
Bocan

Mike McHugh wrote:
Here, let me bold that: a single strand of about 9.8mm Will you folks spend 30 seconds reading ABMFB's post and stop saying that this is a double rope problem?


But what fun is it if I can't skim the post, make a snap judgement based on incorrect information and weigh in with my correct opinion?

:o) haha!!!!! Just having some non-directional fun.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 2, 2012
El Chorro

Jeff Chrisler wrote:
I look at the pros and cons list of setting a top belay off your harness and still think that I would never setup a belay like that. It just makes me shudder to think anyone would rather do this. The pros are more related to viewing and being comfortable. The cons are mostly related to safety. If your belay anchor is shady, setup another belay or don't belay there.


You people are simply sitting in your armchairs and saying that there are too many reasons not to belay off your harness. And they are related to safety? Really? Please tell me one reason why belaying off your harness is unsafe?

If any of you had climbed nearly as much as you had posted on this site then you would know that "don't build a belay there" isn't always an option. Even when it is, sometimes it isn't the BEST option. Beyond that, there are umpteen reasons why SOMETIMES belaying off your harness is the way to go.

Anyone can sit on the internet and claim that they know why the accident happened or they've "weighed the pros and cons" and blah blah blah blah blah. If you go into the mountains thinking that there is a "best way" to do anything (while at the same time dismissing the other ways) then you are setting yourself up for disaster.

There are a lot of people in this discussion that need to sit back, take a breath, and be honest with themselves about how much experience they really have and how they carry out their business in the mountians. And for God's sake, have some humility and listen to the sound advice that has been given by some extremely wise people (not me) in this thread.

You "shudder to think" that I would belay off my harness. I "shudder to think" that you are belaying anyone at all.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Apr 2, 2012
tanuki

^^^ +1

I could not have said it better myself.


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By nick frazee
From bozeman, MT
Apr 2, 2012

coppolillo wrote:
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



+1, It DOUBLES the force, in my opinion this in not "just another variable" but a MAJOR variable.


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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2012

Yea sure, just because I see no reason to setup a top belay off my harness means I a. have no experience in the mountains, b. you clearly have more experience, c. I love to be an armchair climber on the internet, and d. I can't belay anyone at all.

No need to be a douche.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Apr 2, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Just an aside about that belay site on Rewritten, you can get much better gear to the left in the gully a little higher up. You need not make due with the sad little cracks where the old refrigerator death block once stood. This photo appears to show a party right at the death block spot.



You can climb up about 15 feet to the left in the gulley where the big tree is and find deeper cracks.


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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Apr 2, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
This is an example of what happens when people go and do multipitch without educating themselves about all the nuances.


All the nuances between what? Nuances means subtle differences. Which subtle differences are you referring to? Belay techniques? Anchoring? Rope management?

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
In my experience 90 % of climbers I've met at the gym or even at the crags did not know that belaying a second from the top is "any different " one climber (experienced ) belayed from the top off his harness while he wedged his body between two blocks and used it as an anchor ( hair city p2).


90%? Where the hell are you climbing? Technically, belaying a second up from the top doesn't have to be "any different" than belaying a leader from the ground except that you're anchored in and belaying through a redirect. You can still belay off your harness; you're looking down instead of up.

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
Lessons learned.


What lessons were learned? And who learned them? You or the dumbass that used his body as a chock whilst belaying? ( I find this hard to believe because if you're squeezed into a constriction, odds are you don't have the mobility to belay.)

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
I always make it a point to ask my climbing partners if they know what the difference is belaying off ground vs off top even if we are not going to so multipitch...I do that because of my past experience.


What past experience Mitch? It does little good to reference something, then not explain it, then expect it to magically correlate to a point you're trying to make.

Mitch Zimmerman wrote:
If you don't belay off tipt make sure you run over the technique before heading up it does help.


I always belay off tipt. That's how the pros do it.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 2, 2012
El Chorro

Hahaha - yea I dunno, maybe. I just had an excellent weekend of climbing and have spent 10 out of the last 39 days climbing at four different and excellent locations. I don't really have any reason to be angry.

I think it's just that I have a real job now and come into contact with a lot of people, both clients and coworkers. It's made me realize how stupid the world has become. So I guess I'm not angry, just a bit disappointed with us all.


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