Half rope alternate clip technique with brake assisted belay device?


Original Post
anotherclimber · Apr 12, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

I'm considering buying half ropes for the ability to do longer rappels, but also for the advantage of alternate clipping of each rope. From the reading I've done here of rgolds posts about the advantages and issues involved with them, I get the impression that for the belayer to both simultaneously take in and give slack as is required for this usage of alternate clipping that it requires either an Climbing Technology Alpine Up, or a non-locking belay device. Is my understanding correct that this belay technique would be impossible on a Mammut Alpine Smart Belay, or Edelrid Megajul? Has anyone used the latter two successfully in this scenario? I do own an Alpine Up and can train my climbing partners to use it if necessary, but they are much more familiar with the Smart Belay and Megajul. Thanks. 


eli poss · Apr 12, 2017 · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

It is certainly doable with an alpine smart or megajul (or microjul might actually work better depending on the rope), but it is going to be more difficult because of their tendency to lock up if you aren't feeding slack perfectly. Also, with doubles, it's going to be more difficult to unlock the device because you are already using both hands. Obviously thicker ropes are going to be more of an issue than thinner ropes.

I don't think either of your partners will have trouble transitioning to belaying with the alpine up as it mostly functions like an ATC until the rope is tensioned. On the other hand, I wouldn't try to force them to use it either. In most cases, the best belay device is the one that the belayer is most comfortable with. 


anotherclimber · Apr 12, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks for your response eli. You're right , the Microjul would probably be more appropriate for half ropes instead of the Megajul. Regarding both the Mega/Microjul and Alpine Smart Belay, I didn't know if there was any special trick to both feeding and taking in slack at the same time which is why I asked this. Without actually trying it, I could see it being potentially possible with the Mega/Microjul by holding the brake strand up parallel to the leaders strand as this prevents the device from locking up. The Alpine Smart Belay though seems to lock up no matter where the brake strand is positioned so is probably a no go. And having a thumb in/under the nose of either device to feed slack prevents the brake hand from taking in at the same time. If anyone else has any half rope experience with these two devices I'd really like to hear how you do it. 

And you're right again, I'm sure I can train them to use the Alpine Up if I have to, as I keep them well trained with using an ATC for keeping the brake hand instinct strong in the gym. I'd imagine though that the difficult part would be learning to work the two ropes in opposite directions as needed. Quite different than a single rope belay. 



Jake wander · Apr 12, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 5

I have used half ropes a decent amount and always with an ATC. For the first couple of pitches there is some adjusting, but its pretty easy to belay two ropes on an atc.


anotherclimber · Apr 12, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks for your response Jake. I realized I posted incorrectly in my initial one and just corrected it. I'm looking to see if anyone half rope belays with alternate clipping technique using the Alpine Smart Belay and Mega/MicroJul. 


Guy Keesee · Apr 12, 2017 · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 105

What Jake said.....   I have always used a ATC. Just make sure it is the correct size, pretty simple to do once you have done it a few times, and remember one does not nessarly alternate each rope. You might wish to clip RED for a bunch of placements then clip BLUE to get that rope running properly. Two ropes really expand how you can protect a climb and some climbs require them. 


Old lady H · Apr 12, 2017 · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 40

FWIW, I just tried out the Alpine Up last night. For an ATC user, I think it would be a piece of cake to learn, and with someone new to that technique, you'd have the assisted braking too. I had only seen it demonstrated by my friend, so when I borrowed it, I was figuring it out (from the instructions) on the spot. No problems at all, and I really, really love this device! 

Disclaimer: I can use a grigri, but jam it up and find them annoying anyway (yes, I'm in the minority), use a cinch at one of the gyms, don't much like (nor trust) it, and I pretty much belay with an ATC only, outside.

Best, H.


Ryan Hamilton · Apr 12, 2017 · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

I've used the Mammut Alpine Smart with half ropes and it's tendency to lock is kind of a pain. Sometimes juggling two ropes when clipping is just a bit too much to add in having to keep tension on the little handle bit. Since then I've just started using my ATC, but always wanted to try the Microjul. 


anotherclimber · Apr 13, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Thank you for all of your responses. I really appreciate it.

No matter how I run this through my head I can't for the life of me figure out how one would both feed and give slack at the same time with an Alpine Smart Belay or Mega/Microjul. It just doesn't seem possible. I tinkered a little bit at the gym with my single rope on the Megajul without anyone climbing to see if it would be possible to do this with the brake strand up parallel to the leaders. One of the advantages this device has is that when the leader is going for the first clip when you need to feed them slack you don't need to put your thumb in the loop. While your spotting them with the rope in both hands, you can bring the brake strand parallel to the leaders strand and feed without the device locking. This works very well. But as I experimented with simulating feeding and pulling in slack at the same time in this position it would lock up. 

Unless someone reveals to me a way of doing this, it looks like I'm training my climbing partners to use the Alpine Up with the half ropes. 

Guy Keese,

Thank you. I appreciate your response and am aware that I wouldn't necessarily always alternate clipping between ropes. It certainly depends on the situation. 

Helen,

Yeah, It probably won't be a big deal to train them on this. The biggest problem I had when I was learning to top rope and lead belay with it was learning the release method of the lock after a fall or take which is quite different than the Smart Belay and Megajul. I'll just have use something else for top belay and rappelling  as I usually use the Alpine Up for that. 

Ryan,

This is mostly the same conclusion I've also come to. Although I don't believe the Microjul will behave much differently than the Alpine Smart Belay. 


Ryan Hamilton · Apr 13, 2017 · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
anotherclimber wrote:

Thank you for all of your responses. I really appreciate it.

No matter how I run this through my head I can't for the life of me figure out how one would both feed and give slack at the same time with an Alpine Smart Belay or Mega/Microjul. It just doesn't seem possible. I tinkered a little bit at the gym with my single rope on the Megajul without anyone climbing to see if it would be possible to do this with the brake strand up parallel to the leaders. One of the advantages this device has is that when the leader is going for the first clip when you need to feed them slack you don't need to put your thumb in the loop. While your spotting them with the rope in both hands, you can bring the brake strand parallel to the leaders strand and feed without the device locking. This works very well. But as I experimented with simulating feeding and pulling in slack at the same time in this position it would lock up. 

Unless someone reveals to me a way of doing this, it looks like I'm training my climbing partners to use the Alpine Up with the half ropes. 

Guy Keese,

Thank you. I appreciate your response and am aware that I wouldn't necessarily always alternate clipping between ropes. It certainly depends on the situation. 

Helen,

Yeah, It probably won't be a big deal to train them on this. The biggest problem I had when I was learning to top rope and lead belay with it was learning the release method of the lock after a fall or take which is quite different than the Smart Belay and Megajul. I'll just have use something else for top belay and rappelling  as I usually use the Alpine Up for that. 

Ryan,

This is mostly the same conclusion I've also come to. Although I don't believe the Microjul will behave much differently than the Alpine Smart Belay. 

Oh, I have used the Alpine Smart for half ropes, which is why I know it's a pain. It works, and honestly I've only used it a couple of times, so there is probably a learning curve that would improve use, but I just didn't like it. Seems like I had to keep my thumb on the little notch to keep it from locking up while managing the two ropes. It was also one of my first times using half ropes and I've now used them for 4 seasons so I'm much more smooth with them now and it's second nature. I guess what I'm saying is, it may very well be fine, but my limited experience says it's a pain. That's why I'm using the Petzl Reverso now. Wish I could comment on the Alpine Up, but I've never even seen one in person. 


Old lady H · Apr 13, 2017 · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 40

To those considering the Alpine Up, the vids don't sell it very well. In person is the way to go. It looks complicated and cumbersome in photos, but it is not at all, just the opposite.

The usage is all hand motion, push up, pull down, hold device and tip, and very easy for me, even with really small hands. 

Honestly, even though I work hard at being a great belayer, with this device, I'd give a better belay than an ATC, as it lets me feed rope very, very quickly. That's a pain for a short belayer with fast climbers.

Ryan, it's worth posting in your area for a look-see.

The guy who loaned me his absolutely loves it, and it's seen a ton of use, probably including off label apps, knowing him!

And OP? Maybe just get a partner to buy one. :-)

Best, Helen


anotherclimber · Apr 13, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
Ryan Hamilton wrote:

Oh, I have used the Alpine Smart for half ropes, which is why I know it's a pain. It works, and honestly I've only used it a couple of times, so there is probably a learning curve that would improve use, but I just didn't like it. Seems like I had to keep my thumb on the little notch to keep it from locking up while managing the two ropes. It was also one of my first times using half ropes and I've now used them for 4 seasons so I'm much more smooth with them now and it's second nature. I guess what I'm saying is, it may very well be fine, but my limited experience says it's a pain. That's why I'm using the Petzl Reverso now. Wish I could comment on the Alpine Up, but I've never even seen one in person. 

Yes, that is exactly how you use the Alpine Smart Belay. Thumb always stay under the nose after each movement of your hands with pulling in slack for instant ability to feed slack after. Works fine for single ropes, or twin rope technique where the rope(s) are only ever going in one direction or the other, not opposite directions. And possibly with half ropes where only one rope protects part of the whole route, but I suppose that would depend on how much the differences in feeding slack between the strands are. I'm not really sure as I've never belayed half ropes in this manner or the alternate clipping way to know the exact in person intricacies of it. The Mega/Microjul is exactly the same in that regard except the thumb loop is easier to get used to with more of a learning curve on lowering, rappelling, and top belay. 

Helen,

Glad you like the Alpine Up. It is a very interesting device. I love it for top belaying, lowering on top belay, and rappelling. It's funny that the very thing that makes me not use it for top rope and lead belaying of it not locking if the belayer is somehow incapable of holding onto the brake strand for some reason is exactly the reason why it works for half rope technique where you need to both feed and give slack at the same time without the device going into lock mode. I'm not going to ask my belayers to buy one just yet. They can use mine for lead belaying me and I'll use something else for top belaying and rappelling. Probably either a Microjul if I can figure out how to reduce the friction on top belay. If not, a DMM Pivot. 


Nick Drake · Apr 13, 2017 · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 413

Those who say the jul/smart work for taking on one rope and paying slack on another likely haven't dealt with the traversing nature of a half rope lead R gold was referring to. Your thoughts are correct, there's no way to take in slack on the strand of pro they are going back to because your thumb has to be pushing the device up.

On the micro vs mega jul, the stated rope range of the mega jul is total bullshit. It provides damn near zero brake assistance on an 8mm rope, my partner had the brake strand gripped firmly well away from the device, down and back. What arrested my fall was her hand slamming into the mega jul, thankfully no skin was pulled into the device. If you wanted to use one of those devices I would only use the micro for any half rope. 

I find it easier to belay with two biners on a tube device though, it provides more than enough braking power to catch on a single strand and it's pretty easy to manage. I use an ATC guide, but a reverso seems to provide a little more braking force for skinny cords. I would consider the alpine-up, but I use one 8mm rope and my 9mm triple rated nano for half roping. I'm not sure the 8mm strand would fully lock with the alpine-up, really should have a matched set of half ropes for that.


anotherclimber · Apr 13, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
Nick Drake wrote:

Those who say the jul/smart work for taking on one rope and paying slack on another likely haven't dealt with the traversing nature of a half rope lead R gold was referring to. Your thoughts are correct, there's no way to take in slack on the strand of pro they are going back to because your thumb has to be pushing the device up.

On the micro vs mega jul, the stated rope range of the mega jul is total bullshit. It provides damn near zero brake assistance on an 8mm rope, my partner had the brake strand gripped firmly well away from the device, down and back. What arrested my fall was her hand slamming into the mega jul, thankfully no skin was pulled into the device. If you wanted to use one of those devices I would only use the micro for any half rope. 

I find it easier to belay with two biners on a tube device though, it provides more than enough braking power to catch on a single strand and it's pretty easy to manage. I use an ATC guide, but a reverso seems to provide a little more braking force for skinny cords. I would consider the alpine-up, but I use one 8mm rope and my 9mm triple rated nano for half roping. I'm not sure the 8mm strand would fully lock with the alpine-up, really should have a matched set of half ropes for that.

Thank you for verifying what I've been thinking. So it's definitely the Alpine Up that will be used for lead belaying half ropes. Interesting about the Megajul not catching safely on a 8mm rope within it's marketed range. I'm not completely unfamiliar with the issue of these companies marketing their belay device for a wider range of ropes than they should. I learned about it with the Alpine Up using thick ropes. You can use it with a 10.5mm rope which is the top of it's range, but you are not going to like all the friction. And your elbows will complain after a day of using that. At least it's not particularly un-safe with thicker ropes, just a pain to use. It's the thinner ropes that are worrisome. Best to test thinner ropes in a gym at low heights over a thick pad. I would also suspect you are correct about the Alpine Up, or any brake assisted device not locking hard enough on the smaller of two dissimilar size ropes. Half or twin ropes in brake assisted belay devices should be like you said, a matched set.


Old lady H · Apr 13, 2017 · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 40

When I tried out the Up, it was about the fattest rope that would go into it. It was just great on lead, but, if I had it on a top rope, I'm pretty sure I would have wanted both hands to pull in slack. It was a dry treated rope, and brand new, though, not fuzzed up.

I didn't try a live body top rope, because I did not want to be messing with a new device and said body without a backup belay.

My friend has a trick for high friction situations, sorry, let me know if you are interested, I don't remember just what.

He especially liked this on skinny ropes, two ropes as you are talking about, but two strand rappels, especially (he is currently working on the thankless task of anchor/bolt replacement here).

Best, Helen

Anotherclimber, I think your partners will lust after this, once they have a chance to try it. :-)

Edit to add: at my main gym, a staffer can give a top rope backup belay, while you test your device with a climber on lead. You should be able to do this in most gyms, or they'd have no safe way.to do lead tests.


Brian Abram · Apr 13, 2017 · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 213
Nick Drake wrote:

Those who say the jul/smart work for taking on one rope and paying slack on another likely haven't dealt with the traversing nature of a half rope lead R gold was referring to. Your thoughts are correct, there's no way to take in slack on the strand of pro they are going back to because your thumb has to be pushing the device up.

On the micro vs mega jul, the stated rope range of the mega jul is total bullshit. It provides damn near zero brake assistance on an 8mm rope, my partner had the brake strand gripped firmly well away from the device, down and back. What arrested my fall was her hand slamming into the mega jul, thankfully no skin was pulled into the device. If you wanted to use one of those devices I would only use the micro for any half rope. 

I find it easier to belay with two biners on a tube device though, it provides more than enough braking power to catch on a single strand and it's pretty easy to manage. I use an ATC guide, but a reverso seems to provide a little more braking force for skinny cords. I would consider the alpine-up, but I use one 8mm rope and my 9mm triple rated nano for half roping. I'm not sure the 8mm strand would fully lock with the alpine-up, really should have a matched set of half ropes for that.

With an 8.5mm Beal Opera, the MegaJul will allow the rope to slip through with even a 115lb partner just hanging on it. The so-called autoblocking or assisted braking or whatever it claims to do is basically absent at that diameter


eli poss · Apr 13, 2017 · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

If you have an alpine up and a partner with an alpine smart you should just use the up for lead belaying and the smart for top belaying because the smart is by far the smoothest for top belay other than a gigi style plaquette device. Stay away from the mega/micro jul like the plauge. 

I've rapped on two dissimilar diameter ropes with the up and it works fine for a difference of like .3mm but more than .5mm is bad. 


anotherclimber · Apr 14, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
eli poss wrote:

If you have an alpine up and a partner with an alpine smart you should just use the up for lead belaying and the smart for top belaying because the smart is by far the smoothest for top belay other than a gigi style plaquette device. Stay away from the mega/micro jul like the plauge. 

I've rapped on two dissimilar diameter ropes with the up and it works fine for a difference of like .3mm but more than .5mm is bad. 

I may very well do just as you've recommended as I have both sizes of Smart Belay too. But I figure the DMM Pivot is rather inexpensive to get and would probably make it easier to lower on top belay than the Smart Belay. That's one thing I've loved a lot about the Alpine Up is the ease of lowering on top belay. 

Edit: Oh... Genesis 8.5mm ropes ordered.   


Healyje · Apr 14, 2017 · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 100

Belaying doubles/half ropes is an advanced belaying craft which requires practice. And I would strongly recommend against using any device to 'assist' in the braking aspects of belaying with doubles/half ropes - either you're competent belaying them with an ATC or you shouldn't be using them at all.


eli poss · Apr 14, 2017 · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136
anotherclimber wrote:

I may very well do just as you've recommended as I have both sizes of Smart Belay too. But I figure the DMM Pivot is rather inexpensive to get and would probably make it easier to lower on top belay than the Smart Belay. That's one thing I've loved a lot about the Alpine Up is the ease of lowering on top belay. 

Edit: Oh... Genesis 8.5mm ropes ordered.   

 If you find yourself lowering in guide mode frequently then the pivot would probably be a good option. I think I've needed to do that once in my time climbing. It was a complete PITA so I decided to just not belay in guide mode if I expect I may need to lower my 2nd. I've never actually lowered a follower on the alpine up. I assume you just use the lever just as you would on rappel?


anotherclimber · Apr 14, 2017 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
eli poss wrote:

 If you find yourself lowering in guide mode frequently then the pivot would probably be a good option. I think I've needed to do that once in my time climbing. It was a complete PITA so I decided to just not belay in guide mode if I expect I may need to lower my 2nd. I've never actually lowered a follower on the alpine up. I assume you just use the lever just as you would on rappel?

I agree. And yes you'd use the plastic release lever, but only if the rope was re-directed through the master point with the Alpine Up on your belay loop as if lead or top rope belaying and having to lower in those situations. In guide mode it's a different procedure, but just as easy. See the following video at 2:26 through 2:55. Sound not required, there's no narration. 

Also look in the user manual:

http://www.climbingtechnology.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/instruction-manual-alpine-up.pdf

Text section 17.4, and picture section 11.7. 

It works really well and is super easy to lower gradually, safely, and with little effort compared to other belay devices. So much so that I see no reason to re-direct at the master point to lower from top belay. The only problem I've found is finding a carabiner that fits to make the carabiner lever to release and lower in guide mode. It seems to be rather specific. Meaning I didn't find that any old carabiner would work. When I bought the Alpine Up I had to bring it to my local gear store and try different carabiners until I found one that fit as nothing I owned would fit in it. I use a Black Diamond Light D carabiner and it is dedicated to this task. You'll notice the video and manual says a quickdraw carabiner works, but again I think that would depend on the carabiner. And when I'm leading trad I don't carry quickdraws with me unless it is a mixed route that I need to clip a few bolts. Otherwise I'm using light weight alpine draws with Camp Nano's on them. 

Out of curiousity I just went in my gear drawer and tried a bunch of carabiners. Yes the carabiner from my Mad Rock Concorde Express quickdraws work, but reference my prior statement about quickdraws on trad routes. The Camp Nano 23 works, but is a really flimsy carabiner for this sideways usage such that I wouldn't trust it. Black Diamond Positron (screw and non-locking) and Neutrino carabiner works but doesn't spin freely in the hole. In hindsight as I've thought about this, this maybe the intended usage. The hole for this is roughly shaped like the cross section of a carabiner. Roughly circular but larger on one side than another, such that perhaps they intend the carabiner not to twist and hang downwards in the hole. The Light D carabiner can completely twist and hang freely within it. It works, but I have to set it in place before I operate the carabiner lever. Now that I know this I may try the Positron instead.

List of carabiners I own that don't fit:

  • Camp Nano 22
  • Black Diamond Oval
  • Mad Rock Ultra Tech Screw
  • Metolius Bravo Locker
  • Black Diamond Hotwire
  • Pretty much any HMS/belay carabiner

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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