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Harness Belay Loops: When to use, and when to use leg tie-ins


Original Post
Geoff ru · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 35

I liked this article put out by Rock and Ice.

rockandice.com/climbing-gea…

I've argued with a few people as to using it for belaying. However, what else do you use it for? If it is rated for belaying, do you anchor directly from it with a PAS? Do you rappel from it? Curious about the whys and why nots.

Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183

I girth hitch my PAS to it (when I use one) because I don't like having my hard-points pulled together constantly during the day. However, I take my PAS off at the end of every day climbing, and inspect all my gear. I wouldn't recommend hitching a PAS to the belay loop if you leave your PAS (or any other soft goods) on your harness all the time.

Eplumer400 · · Cleveland, OH · Joined May 2016 · Points: 115

If it wasn't for belaying, why would it be called a belay loop? If it served no purpose, why does 90% of new harnesses have them? The guy from Black Diamond summed it up perfectly, "if you ever see a load like that on your harness, the belay loop breaking is gonna be the least of your worries."

I've rappelled off my belay loop, and I've anchored directly from it as well. I don't see where else you could attach a PAS and still be considered safe, unless you are girth hitching the long end of your PAS through your leg loop and waist belt. Flame on.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Nielsonru wrote: Do you rappel from it?
Of course not. It's not called a "rappel loop." :)

Edit: It's hard to believe a climber is asking if you rappel off a belay loop.
Deadfish · · Bay Area, CA · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 10

I've never worried at all about the strength of the belay loop, but my rationale to use it (or not) is purely mechanical. If I'm connecting anything to me with a carabiner, it goes on the belay loop. Running a biner through both hard points creates triaxial loading, and generally a cluster-f*&k since the hard points are bulky. The belay loop provides a clean attachment and loads the carabiner as it was designed. Soft goods (e.g. slings, ropes) get tied directly into the harness hard points, because this eliminates one link in the chain and triaxial loading is not an issue.

Danger-Russ Gordon · · Orem UT · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 590

At a local gym (AZ on the rocks) they have an auto belay and as of the last time I was there, they force you to clip the fixed carabiner through your harness tie in points. It was a bit frustrating, and with as much humility as I could muster, I pulled up a PDF of the user manual and showed the gym owner that the instructions from the company tell you to use the belay loop. He said his insurance forced him to do it that way, but I used to manage a gym and that's what we said when people didn't like our methods. Just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

Metolius instructs the user to girth hitch the PAS through the harness tie-in points. I'm one of those guys who follow instructions.
On the other hand, when I started climbing in the late nineties, it was common practice to rappel off the belay loop. I still do it, as do all of the climbers with whom I climb.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
Danger-Russ Gordon wrote:At a local gym (AZ on the rocks) they have an auto belay and as of the last time I was there, they force you to clip the fixed carabiner through your harness tie in points. It was a bit frustrating, and with as much humility as I could muster, I pulled up a PDF of the user manual and showed the gym owner that the instructions from the company tell you to use the belay loop. He said his insurance forced him to do it that way, but I used to manage a gym and that's what we said when people didn't like our methods. Just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience.
That is f'in weird. Every gym I've ever been to had us clip autobelays to the belay loop.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

I girth hitch my PAS to my waist belt and leg loops because I don't want it in the way on my belay loop. Beyond that, I belay and rap off the belay loop. Of course I rap off it. I am using the same belay device I use for belaying (I don't extend it). If I didn't use the belay device, it would not be aligned properly.

will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 270
Danger-Russ Gordon wrote:At a local gym (AZ on the rocks) they have an auto belay and as of the last time I was there, they force you to clip the fixed carabiner through your harness tie in points. It was a bit frustrating, and with as much humility as I could muster, I pulled up a PDF of the user manual and showed the gym owner that the instructions from the company tell you to use the belay loop. He said his insurance forced him to do it that way, but I used to manage a gym and that's what we said when people didn't like our methods. Just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience.
I'm pretty surprised to hear this. Based on my experience with liability and mal-practice insurance (maybe someone that has experience with insuring gyms can speak up)deviating from the manufacturer's instructions is a good way to make yourself look bad in court. Manufacturers' are not only genuinely concerned about liability themselves, but have done a lot of testing specific to their gear. On the other hand insurance companies aren't in the business of paying out a lot of money so maybe they have their reasons.

Back to the OPs question. Carabiners go on the belay loop, soft goods through the tie in points is the short answer. Something no one has mentioned is that the tie in points are typically reinforced with non-structural webbing to handle the abrasion of nylon on nylon. Belay loops aren't as they were designed for metal carbiners which don't cause much wear on nylon.
BryanE · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 335

For those of you that don't like your PAS cinching up your hard points - there is a way to "girth hitch a girth hitch" (it's really hard to describe with words) and it kind of locks in the PAS so it doesn't cinch up your hard points. Let me know if anybody else knows what I'm talking about or if you would like pictures.

By the way, belay loops are technically redundant since they are two independent, fully rated loops that are sewn together - one inside of the other.

Marcelo F · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Attaching to soft materials? Use the tie-in points. Attaching to metal? Use the belay loop. Seems simple enough. Are there any exceptions?

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 472
Marcelo F wrote:Attaching to soft materials? Use the tie-in points. Attaching to metal? Use the belay loop. Seems simple enough. Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Instead of a hard and fast rule, make an informed decision based on the circumstances.

When TR soloing, I attach my ascender to the belay loop with 3 wraps of 7mm cord finished with an overhand bend. I prefer that over potentially cross loading a carabiner.
Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 290

In general, complete nonsense. Belay loops are a lot like guides and guiding - perish the thought of how we managed to climb at all without them...

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

As a user of half ropes, my harness tie-in points are a bit congested, and I girth hitch my tether to the belay loop. In addition to keeping out of the way of the two rope tie-ins, I keep from contracting the harness and get a little extra reach for the tether, which I like because I think the commercial tethers are mostly a tad short.

Marcelo F · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
wivanoff wrote: Yes. Instead of a hard and fast rule, make an informed decision based on the circumstances. When TR soloing, I attach my ascender to the belay loop with 3 wraps of 7mm cord finished with an overhand bend. I prefer that over potentially cross loading a carabiner.
I understand it's best to make decisions based on circumstances- that's why I asked if there were exceptions. Thanks for providing a possible one!

I'm having a tough time understanding what you describe, though (haven't done any TR solo, so not exactly a surprise!). Couldn't you just attach the 7mm cord you use to the tie-in points instead of the belay loop? Wouldn't it be better to use the tie-in points anyway, since they are reinforced to withstand the damage from friction caused by soft materials rubbing against each other?

Cheers!
Marcelo F · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
rgold wrote:As a user of half ropes, my harness tie-in points are a bit congested, and I girth hitch my tether to the belay loop. In addition to keeping out of the way of the two rope tie-ins, I keep from contracting the harness and get a little extra reach for the tether, which I like because I think the commercial tethers are mostly a tad short.
Now this exception makes perfect sense. I've struggled with "congested" tie-in points as well.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
rgold wrote:As a user of half ropes, my harness tie-in points are a bit congested, and I girth hitch my tether to the belay loop. In addition to keeping out of the way of the two rope tie-ins, I keep from contracting the harness and get a little extra reach for the tether, which I like because I think the commercial tethers are mostly a tad short.
Do you keep your tethers on your harness permanently or do you take them off when you don't expect to need them? I wouldn't want to keep the tether on the same place abrading the belay loop in one spot for a very long time. As long as you frequently check for wear and tear it's probably fine, though. Does it ever get in the way when belaying?
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
Marcelo F wrote: I understand it's best to make decisions based on circumstances- that's why I asked if there were exceptions. Thanks for providing a possible one! I'm having a tough time understanding what you describe, though (haven't done any TR solo, so not exactly a surprise!). Couldn't you just attach the 7mm cord you use to the tie-in points instead of the belay loop? Wouldn't it be better to use the tie-in points anyway, since they are reinforced to withstand the damage from friction caused by soft materials rubbing against each other? Cheers!
I used to tie my mini-trax in when I first started soloing. I used the tie-in points, though, because I wanted to minimize the distance between my waist and the mini-trax. Eventually I got tired of the repeated tying and untying so I switched over to an anti-crossloading belay biner.
wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 472
Marcelo F wrote: I understand it's best to make decisions based on circumstances- that's why I asked if there were exceptions. Thanks for providing a possible one! I'm having a tough time understanding what you describe, though (haven't done any TR solo, so not exactly a surprise!). Couldn't you just attach the 7mm cord you use to the tie-in points instead of the belay loop? Wouldn't it be better to use the tie-in points anyway, since they are reinforced to withstand the damage from friction caused by soft materials rubbing against each other? Cheers!
The device I use "orients" better when tied to the belay loop and it slides up the rope smoother. If I tie it to the harness tie in points the cord I use is twisted 90 degrees and torques the ascender. I tie the ascender close to the belay loop and the 3 wraps of cord make the tie in stiff.

Basically, the loop of my belay loop and the attachment point of my ascender are aligned vertically in the same plane. Think of three links in a chain. The bottom link is my belay loop. The middle link is my cord tie in. The top link is my ascender.
peterfogg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
BryanE wrote:For those of you that don't like your PAS cinching up your hard points - there is a way to "girth hitch a girth hitch" (it's really hard to describe with words) and it kind of locks in the PAS so it doesn't cinch up your hard points. Let me know if anybody else knows what I'm talking about or if you would like pictures. By the way, belay loops are technically redundant since they are two independent, fully rated loops that are sewn together - one inside of the other.
Care to share pictures?
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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