The deadly ATC


dino74 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 55
anotherclimber wrote:I wanted to post information about the Mammut Alpine Smart Belay from it's manual, but Mammut does not keep their user manuals online and I could not find my own.
I found these two

http://test.mammut.ch/images/Smart+Alpine+Instructions.pdf
https://www.mammut.ch/documents/Hardware/Belay%20Devices/user-manual_smart-alpine.pdf
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

With the MJ and others in a FF2 unless the belayer moves their hand above the device it fails to lock at all, hence the warnings.
The GriGri and it´s relatives are required to stop a FF2 hands free to pass the standard for assisted locking devices, the others don´t and can´t so are just manual belay devices.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Yup, the semiautomatic devices are all in the same category as ordinary tube-style devices when it comes to factor-2 falls. All you get for friction is the rope running around the attachment carabiner unless the brake hand is brought above the device---a conscious reaction that is the opposite of the way one brakes leader falls through overhead protection.

If the brake hand is brought above the device, then locking action will be initiated, but the tests of Jim an others suggests that with the high loads encountered, the belayer is stuck with an inferior device.

The Alpine Up is the "least inferior" of the devices, the MJ is the worst. But the Alpine Up might cause sheath damage.

Instructions to always clip the belay anchor may work in an environment where the belay anchors have been bolted, but are simply unrealistic as a general rule when it comes to trad climbing.

Mark Pell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 70

ALEKS- You make several valid points and of course these are interesting things to talk about, but this still always comes around to personal preferences and what level of involvement one likes to have in the belaying process. This can be a situational decision too; i.e. gym vs. outdoors, toproping vs. lead climbing, 'hard' lead vs. 'easy' lead, friend vs. stranger, etc. Further, the choice of belay device/technique can also be influenced by ones views on reliability of mechanical devices and competence of operators. The so-called 'Yosemite Method' of yore emphasized mechanical simplicity, reliability, versatility and light weight. Those are the primary reasons I still prefer ATC type-devices, and have primarily used simple friction devices like Tuber, Trango and ATC at various times over the past few decades. Can you drop someone with these? Yes. Have I seen climbers dropped to the floor or ground using Grigri, etc.? Yes.

Paul Deger · · Colorado · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 35

Thanks for sharing from manuels. Take-away: always place piece (or bolt) as soon as possible on 2+ pitch - perhaps before even leave the belay station. And wear gloves!

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93

I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls.

The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails.

I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested)

Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
cyclestupor wrote:I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?
David Coley's guide on multi-pitch climbing calls this a chariot belay, and it works very well. It does take some extra effort and time but is well worth it if the terrain off the belay isn't easy/protectable
Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,365

All good "PD" but I find that you discover sheath issues more often (and I hate this sick feeling you get when you find one) without gloves. Do gloves really help? Does not the mechanism do the work? Preventing rope burn as a rationale for gloves seems like you are not belaying correctly. I have used gloves, but only to stay warm. I would prefer not to use them if I do not have to...am I off here?

Lee Durbetaki · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5
cyclestupor wrote:I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?
I did something like this after an aborted attempt to link two pitches. Equalized some pieces, then lowered back down and built the belay anchor at the station I was hoping to avoid. Made the whole thing a lot less terrifying.
cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93
eli poss wrote: David Coley's guide on multi-pitch climbing calls this a chariot belay, and it works very well. It does take some extra effort and time but is well worth it if the terrain off the belay isn't easy/protectable
Thanks for the response Eli.

I don't have David Coley's physical book, but I went to multipitchclimbing.com (the companion to the book). The website contradicts what you said. It says...
David Coley wrote: Two solutions climbers have developed to deal with runout hard climbing above the belay are the chariot belay and simply not stopping at the belay but climbing through the hard section then lowering back to the belay after clipping a bolt above the belay. A chariot belay is created by the belayer hanging himself some distance below the belay on a tether formed using the rope. Clipping the first bolt on the next pitch leads to probably the quickest changeover when leading through of any method, and is discussed later.
So it doesn't actually name the method where the leader climbs past his/her anchor, but it does discuss it. Alternately, a "chariot belay" seems to be where belayer lowers himself/herself below the anchor.
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Roy Suggett wrote:All good "PD" but I find that you discover sheath issues more often (and I hate this sick feeling you get when you find one) without gloves. Do gloves really help? Does not the mechanism do the work? Preventing rope burn as a rationale for gloves seems like you are not belaying correctly. I have used gloves, but only to stay warm. I would prefer not to use them if I do not have to...am I off here?
Gloves don´t "help" in the belaying sense, I´ve tested hand force with various gloves and they all give less gripping ability on the rope so less braking force. However they prevent or reduce injury to the belayer and reduce the chance they wil lose control of the rope. The reduced braking power can be countered by adding karabiners to the braking device if you use a conventional plate, an option not available to Smart etc owners.
jktinst · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 55

A lot of manufactuers' recommendations are clearly aimed mainly at Euro climbers who will almost never have to build a gear belay.

cyclestupor wrote:I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?
Similarly, clipping the first progression pro of the next pitch as part of leading the previous pitch before coming back down to the belay is something that is more straightforward on sport multis with hanging or semi-hanging belays than with trad routes. The DAV, Petzl and UIAA recommend this too but all the illustrations I've seen were for sport routes. On more "traditional" trad routes, the belays are more likely to be at ledges and there's nothing safer about lead climbing above a ledge when you've got a lot of rope out.

I like this option for avoiding the possibility of an FF2 and use it when I can but, like everything else, you have to know when it will boost safety and when if might actually decrease it.

Also, trad or sport, belaying your second through a redirection point a few metres above the main belay means that this point better be 100% reliable.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
cyclestupor wrote: Thanks for the response Eli. I don't have David Coley's physical book, but I went to multipitchclimbing.com (the companion to the book). The website contradicts what you said. It says... So it doesn't actually name the method where the leader climbs past his/her anchor, but it does discuss it. Alternately, a "chariot belay" seems to be where belayer lowers himself/herself below the anchor.
Haha, guess I need to work on my reading comprehension. That's actually what I was referring to, though. I've never actually seen his physical book anywhere, I'm wondering if it is harder to find outside the UK. His stuff on that site is really awesome, though. Very good reading material that manages to cover a lot of stuff but still go into really good detail. IMO if you read all that stuff and practice it on the ground or on single pitch stuff you're ready for multi
Dustin Stotser · · Springfield, MO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 363
Nick Goldsmith wrote:T roper. that is pretty much my feelings. I feel safer with partners that I know sport climb and do FA's I know they know how to catch a fall. On the other hand if someone is crazy enough to take 30m FF2 falls on a reguler basis (never heard of such a thing but that was Jims criteria) I would rather avoid them.
Jim Titt wrote: Exactly how many 2 year sport climbers have experience of 10 or 20m FF2 falls?
It doesn't sound to me like his criteria is taking FF2s on a regular basis. He was inferring, IMO, how catching at least one big FF2 is likely better experience for catching FF2s than sport climbers catching lead falls.
Alex Rogers · · Sydney, Australia · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40
cyclestupor wrote: I don't have David Coley's physical book, I don't have David Coley's physical book...
The book is called High - Advanced Multipitch Climbing (David Coley and Andy Kirkpatrick) and it is readily available for $11 from Amazon as an ebook - see amazon.com.au/High-Advanced...

The ebook sucks as a product in that nearly all the illustrations are skipped and the formatting is not great - hence the supplementary website multipitchclimbing.com

That said, it is the most comprehensive and useful resource I've ever read on the subject, an absolutely exceptional advanced course in multipitch techniques, and is well written, accompanied by great anecdotes and the broad experience and contrasting styles of the two authors are all interesting and hugely informative.

The book is crying out for a proper publishing contract to enable them to get it well illustrated and edited, at which point it would be a candidate for the top 5 books every trad climber should have as an essential reference. As it stands, for $11 you get access to some incredible, hard-won intellectual property in a reasonably accessible format.
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Dustin. catching one big fall VS catching hundreds of falls, many of them hard falls with verry little rope out? not buying it. Espically since almost none of the climbers I know have caught or experienced a FF2 fall.

Seems like your options are pretty limited. You either practice catching FF2 falls in a controled setting or you strive to Never take or let your partner take a FF2 fall. talking about what you might do if it happens won't make any difference when it does.
When really bad things happen verry suddenly your reactions are instinct not thought based. reading does zero good without practice. I will say that those of us with years of belaying the 2nd directly off our harness without a redirect have the experience of catching a struggleing 2nd with a downward pull. Those from the era of always redirect and then the era of belay directly off the anchors with a guide mode device do not have that experience to fall back on.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285
Ken Noyce wrote: Not going to take the time to look it up, but I believe that both Jim Titt and Bearbreader have posted numberous links to data by the DAV in Germany which shows that there is a much higher accident rate with an ATC vs a GriGri.
All that shows it there is a much higher level of belayer incompetence in general. In that study 70% of the accidents were with ATCs which represented 60% of the belay devices used. That incompetence is relayed a bit 'faster' with ATCs would be expected without any autoblocking. But the idea of using grigris to mask incompetence is a pretty dubious proposition given the number of grigri accidents - i.e. incompetence 'leaks' through the grigri just like ATCs, just at a slightly slower rate due to the masking. What that means is a whole lot of people get away with shitty, incompetent belaying that would never have been allowed bitd but which is just a fact of life people accept today.

Bottom line is the devices are irrelevant; incompetent belaying is the problem.
Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,365

Her last sen. got to the crux and nailed it!

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Healyje wrote: All that shows it there is a much higher level of belayer incompetence in general. In that study 70% of the accidents were with ATCs which represented 60% of the belay devices used. That incompetence is relayed a bit 'faster' with ATCs would be expected without any autoblocking. But the idea of using grigris to mask incompetence is a pretty dubious proposition given the number of grigri accidents - i.e. incompetence 'leaks' through the grigri just like ATCs, just at a slightly slower rate due to the masking. What that means is a whole lot of people get away with shitty, incompetent belaying that would never have been allowed bitd but which is just a fact of life people accept today. Bottom line is the devices are irrelevant; incompetent belaying is the problem.
Of course, what can one expect when the traditional apprenticeship involving years of working through the grades and experiencing all different scenarios including run-out multi-pitch routes is replaced by a two-hour course and a "belay certificate"? I´ve run belay courses and issued DAV certificates in the past and sure as shit the belayers aren´t competent either intellectually, experientally or technically to belay on anything outside their restricted remit i.e top-roping or leading on single pitch sport routes.
The concept that someone with 2 years sport belaying experience is in any way whatsoever ready to belay someone on a reasonably run-out R or X rated route is ludicrous. They have no idea of the violence, force and energy involved to start with let alone which way to move their hand.
The whole discusion shows the flaws in the entire chain, manufacturers make devices which work fine in the limited environment of single-pitch sport routes or top roping, sell them as "enhancing safety" and the owners have no conception that for other applications they are completely inadequate because the manufacturers aren´t telling them. That the UIAA/EN testing doesn´t even measure the effectiveness of the devices is scandalous. The device gets a "safety label" even if it doesn´t work.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Wow. That post wins the all-time award for truth density.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply