Beginner multipitch


Original Post
Ryan Scherer · · Dahlonega, Ga · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Dipping my toes into the world of multipitch, I have a few questions.

With a reverso, what kind(shape) of caribiner is best to use for belay and locking it off.

For starting off, is it safer/easier to tie into the belay with just the rope or with a pas/sling. All I know how to do at this point is clean anchors with my shoulder length slings.

I see tons of people that use prussics and tons that don't. If I'm starting with short multi pitch sport stuff, is it important to back up the rap?

Hoping I don't trigger anyone with the pas/sling part.

Thanks guys and Merry Christmas.

Doug S · · W Pa · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 15

I think most people use a large pear-shaped locker with a tube-type belay device. I've used a purcell prussick (pas) for a back up tether for years now. It saved me from potentially falling from anchor on a sport route one time due to belayer miscommunication. It can happen. I think it's definitely worth! Backing up the rap is situational, but I always do if I'm the first one down. It also helps to hold the rope up while you set up your rap.

Merry Christmas!

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

For the locker shapes, it doesn't really matter. I like to use a small offset D locker (ie BD positron, DMM Spectre, CAMP Photon) to clip the belay device to the anchor and an HMS (pear shaped, ie BD Rocklock, Petzl attache, metolius element etc.) biner for clip in guide mode. Unless you're using really skinny ropes, you'll want to use an HMS with a round cross-section like the metolius element, CAMP Picto, Sterling falcon, etc.

Tie in with the rope using a clove hitch. If you want to clip in with your PAS thong as well that's fine. Most people prefer to backup the rappel. Your options are either a friction hitch (ie prusik, autoblock, klemhiest, etc.) or using an assisted braking rappel devices, such as the megajul, alpine smart, alpine up, metolius BRD, etc. I never liked the whole friction hitch deal so I rap with my alpine up. For long multiple raps, you really will want some way to go hands-free when you inevitably have to untangle a clusterfuck on rappel.

More important than backing up the rappel is always tie stopper knots in both ends of the rap line. The most common way to die climbing is to rap off the ends of the rope but stopper knots will jam in your belay device.

Nicholas Aretz · · Lakewood, Colorado · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

You should tie in with the rope. I use a clove hitch so I can easily adjust my distance from the master point.

There are some advantages to using the rope as the anchor also but there are some disadvantages to.

The best thing to do is learn a bunch of different anchor set ups. The more systems you understand, the better off your going to be. There is not one right way to build anchors.

Micah McCrotty · · Knoxville · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 546

I always carry a prusik, single or multipitch. They are valuable for many different needs, and you might be surprised how often you use one.

Echoing what others have said, learning a lot of different ways to do anchor setups is probably the best longterm project. Tying in with the rope, and a PAS (purcell prusik) makes the most sense to me in most circumstances.

Enjoy!

Ryan Scherer · · Dahlonega, Ga · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks guys! Also, why do some people like for their rap device to be extended up from their harness? Almost at eye level. I can't see why this would be beneficial but I don't know much.

Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 40
Biggie Fresh wrote:Thanks guys! Also, why do some people like for their rap device to be extended up from their harness? Almost at eye level. I can't see why this would be beneficial but I don't know much.
This is if you are using a prusik. If you extend it, you can ties off the prusik to your belay loop. I would recommend getting comfortable with using both rope and PAS to tie off, as I often use either one, depending on what is going on. I use the PAS on bolts, but the rope to a gear anchor. The PAS is nice to have if you need to retie your knot. Merry Christmas and keep climbing
Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 748
Biggie Fresh wrote:Thanks guys! Also, why do some people like for their rap device to be extended up from their harness? Almost at eye level. I can't see why this would be beneficial but I don't know much.
Most people do this so that they can use their belay loop to put a backup friction hitch on without worrying that the friction hitch will go far enough up to get stuck in the belay device.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

It's also much more comfortable to have in front of you rather than at your waist.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55
Biggie Fresh wrote:Thanks guys! Also, why do some people like for their rap device to be extended up from their harness? Almost at eye level. I can't see why this would be beneficial but I don't know much.
I like to extend so that I can set up a friction hitch without risk of it hitting belay device before locking. Also, makes it easier to use saddle bag technique for the rope on ledgy/slabby terrain. For some reason using a PAS or a knotted sling always works out awkwardly for me lengthwise, but a draw with a locker on device end (or two Positron-length draws with opposed biners) is just right.
Patrick H. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 10

Do you need to be tied in to more than one point, or is simply attaching yourself to the masterpoint of the anchor sufficient?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15
Patrick H. wrote:Do you need to be tied in to more than one point, or is simply attaching yourself to the masterpoint of the anchor sufficient?
The latter.
Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55
Patrick H. wrote:Do you need to be tied in to more than one point, or is simply attaching yourself to the masterpoint of the anchor sufficient?
Learn how to set up rgold's anchor. Practice it until you understand its mechanics (and bearbreeder's/ other people's). Then you'll be able to assess your setup's safety for yourself.

If the anchor is good masterpoint should be sufficient, but there may be other reasons to use bolts/gear directly, such as swapping leads while building anchor with rope.
King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 140

There is no "only" right way to do the anchor connection, but many wrong ways.

Cordelettes are popular with some for equalizing the anchor but it can simply cause more cluster than its worth, imo. The exception. of course, is a marginal anchor (very rare) that has to be equalized. Typically, on the trade routes that should be your first multi-pitch adventures there will be no marginal anchors if you are on route and have proper rack for the route.

You don't want to rush, but efficiency is a big part of safety on multi-pitch routes. Weather, getting in trouble at dark etc are to be avoided by efficient climbing and quickly setting up anchors. So you really want a system that goes in fast and works for you.

I greatly prefer clove hitching the anchor together and you can easily equalize the belay point with a clove hitch between them. Playing around like this can sometimes leave you at an awkward distance from the anchor and in a not very stable stance (ie at a semi-hanging belay) and then a PAS that can be customized quickly can get you ready to belay sooner. Your gonna need it for the rappels anyways.

Knots in the end of the rope and something on your person to rig prussiks is very useful, esp in an Alpine enviro, BUT knots are more likely to jam inconveniently too, so there is no absolute answer there either. If you are totally unsure where the next anchor is, knots are probably a good idea, but if there are a lot of flakes to catch that knot they can lead to trouble too.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0
Biggie Fresh wrote:what kind(shape) of caribiner is best to use for belay and locking it off.
A big round biner will make it easier to pull slack through and you won't get tendonitis in your elbow as easily...

Biggie Fresh wrote: For starting off, is it safer/easier to tie into the belay with just the rope or with a pas/sling.
Forget a PAS, just use the rope. Clove hitches work great and are adjustable. Plus it give you a dynamic connection to the anchor in the offcase that the leader takes a Factor 2. If you are paranoid, then back it up with a sling.

Biggie Fresh wrote: I see tons of people that use prussics and tons that don't.
Always bring them on multipitch and know how to use them... they can save your ass. Some people will say oh, you can just use a sling and that is fine, but what if your belaying the leader and he has all the slings... so always have a sling or prusick (preferably 2) on your harness.

Biggie Fresh wrote: is it important to back up the rap?
Yes, but not everyone always does... It's a personal risk management decision...
Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0
Biggie Fresh wrote:Thanks guys! Also, why do some people like for their rap device to be extended up from their harness? Almost at eye level. I can't see why this would be beneficial but I don't know much.
Guides like it., because it makes their job easier. It's easier for them to stack people on the anchor that way. Most other people don't bother. It gives you a little more friction, otherwise completely unnecessary unless you have are hanging a haul/bag pack or in a rescue situation (tandem rappel).
Doug S · · W Pa · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 15
Jake Jones wrote: Most people do this so that they can use their belay loop to put a backup friction hitch on without worrying that the friction hitch will go far enough up to get stuck in the belay device.
This is a very important point and Jake's advice is always good. If you're going to back up your rappel with a friction hitch, you have to extend to make sure the hitch can't reach the belay/rap device. Catastrophe.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136
Doug S wrote: This is a very important point and Jake's advice is always good. If you're going to back up your rappel with a friction hitch, you have to extend to make sure the hitch can't reach the belay/rap device. Catastrophe.
Depending on your harness, you can just put the prusik on your leg loop and not have to extend your rappel. Regardless, an assisted braking rappel device is a better option, as it requires less gear and less management and no addition steps or procedures to fuck up on.

Also, to the OP:

Depending on the situation, using a belay device in guide mode may not be the best option. If your anchor is two bomber bolts ala multipitch sport, you may be better off belaying on your harness through a redirect, especially if you may have to lower the climber or give them slack. If you're using a grigri, it may be simpler to just belay directly off your harness. When in doubt, keep it simple.
Sam RC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Get Craig luebbens book mastering basic climbing. You'll learn the answers to those questions, the reasons behind them, and all the stuff you don't know you don't know.

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 138
Biggie Fresh wrote:For starting off, is it safer/easier to tie into the belay with just the rope or with a pas/sling.
The main reason to attach yourself to the anchor with the rope instead of a sling or PAS is so that you have something dynamic in the attachment. There's the possibility of taking up to a factor 2 fall while attached to the anchor onto your tether which would shock load a sling possibly breaking it. Attaching with the rope helps absorb most of the energy of the fall (hence why we climb with dynamic ropes). There is any number of reasons you could take falls up to factor 2. You could take a FF1 just by having your anchor on a tree on a ledge next to you and falling off the ledge. Or you could take a FF2 by climbing up above your anchor to free a stuck rope and falling. Or a leader fall. Etc.

Here's a link to drop test results for slings for FF1 and FF2 for different length slings. Look at how high of forces you can generate.
http://dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/how-to-break-nylon-dyneema-slings/

In addition to this, the other benefits mentioned like adjustability are good too with a clove hitch.

As for backing up the rappel, I think its generally good to have some sort of backup like a prussik or fireman's belay so that error on your part (lapse in judgement, or rockfall etc) isn't catastrophic for a rappel of any length.
King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 140

This vid doesn't suck and I didn't see anything wrong with his technique. Its a good example of how fast clove hitches can be:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQukLqiToJE

If using gear to build the anchor you need to have something that is able to withstand upward loads as well to safely belay the next pitch etc. This vid is just a place to start.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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