Using rope-loop to belay on multi-pitch


Original Post
Ken Graf · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

I have heard several forum MP members advocate this technique for multi-pitch and I like it:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1129

The article concludes with "if in doubt, why not use both?", meaning clip the belay biner through the belay loop AND the rope loop? Questions:

1. Seems like a good approach that covers all the bases; any drawbacks to clipping both?

2. Can you also then belay the leader clipped into both loops?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

You could use both, but why?

Unless the belay loop and the rope loop were exactly the same size, only one would take the force.  This is one of those "don't overthink this" options. 

If you were belaying the follower directly off your harness (no-redirect) from above, then you can configure it so that only the rope loop and anchor see the weight/fall of the climber. I don't think there's any real advantage to belaying off the rope loop.

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0

If you can't trust your belay loop, what can you trust?

AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

My misgiving about this would be the potential for confusion and resulting error. I know that my belay loop is just that. I'm never going to accidentally untie my belay loop of forget to tie my belay loop  or tie it wrong. It's bar tacked. Very little possible failure. Using the "rope loop" just leaves one more thing that can go wrong. Not likely to happen,  but possible.

Also, the harness I use for multi-pitch actually has two different belay loops, so if I need two that can be pulled in opposite directions for some reason I can always use both separately. 

Alex R · · Golden · Joined May 2015 · Points: 0

"This 'rope loop' is extremely strong"

The article makes this statement without justifying the claim. The rope loop is effectively a loop tied with a flat figure eight. A knot that is known for being extremely susceptible to rolling. To make things worse in two pictures from the article they show the rope loop tied with a figure eight that is not backed up and has a short tail. You should understand the limitations of the knots you are using. This is not a configuration where the figure eight is 'extremely strong'.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
Alex R wrote:

"This 'rope loop' is extremely strong"

The article makes this statement without justifying the claim. The rope loop is effectively a loop tied with a flat figure eight. A knot that is known for being extremely susceptible to rolling. To make things worse in two pictures from the article they show the rope loop tied with a figure eight that is not backed up and has a short tail. You should understand the limitations of the knots you are using. This is not a configuration where the figure eight is 'extremely strong'.

This. 

I don't have a problem with clipping the rope loop so long as my belay loop is clipped, as that will prevent the knot from rolling. I would not, however, consider clipping the rope loop by itself. 

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 748
Ken Graf wrote:


1. Seems like a good approach that covers all bases


What bases aren't covered with the belay loop?

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 540
Alex R wrote:

"This 'rope loop' is extremely strong"

The article makes this statement without justifying the claim. The rope loop is effectively a loop tied with a flat figure eight. A knot that is known for being extremely susceptible to rolling. To make things worse in two pictures from the article they show the rope loop tied with a figure eight that is not backed up and has a short tail. You should understand the limitations of the knots you are using. This is not a configuration where the figure eight is 'extremely strong'.

+2

The figure 8 can unroll when loaded in this configuration. Unrolling is made more likely if the knot has been further opened with the addition of a Yosemite finish.

curt86iroc · · Golden, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 3

this is a classic example of a solution without a problem.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

https://blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/qc-lab-strength-of-worn-belay-loops.html

The loop is probably one of the strongest things of fabric you own, why bother using something else?

This belay loop (not the best picture but was cut 75% across all the way through) held up to 13 kN before it broke during the test

For those who are lazy and don't want to click through this picture below held little over 21 kN before it broke during the test.

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

The real reason to use the rope loop is so that the force is transmitted directly to the anchor with you out of the system. This can potentially be more comfortable in some cases. Yes a fig 8 can roll when ring loaded, but if you're using it to belay a follower you aren't going to generate nearly enough force for it to roll. I wouldn't use it to belay the leader, though, because a factor 2 fall could potentially cause high enough forces for it to roll.

As far as people tieing in wrong, well then your tie in is going to fail anyways so you won't be tied into the anchor and fall to your death anyways. And your partner will fall to their death as well because there's nobody belaying them. Your concern for tieing in wrong is valid, but really doesn't say anything about one's choice to belay off their rope loop because the result is the same as one's choice to belay off their belay loop.

So, in the context of using it to belay your follower, there's nothing wrong with using the belay loop. There is also nothing wrong with using the rope loop. This thread is a classic example of people shitting on an idea just because it is different from what they do, despite the idea being perfectly fine. 

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

Big nasty fatal accident went down at the needles one time. 

Climber was in the habit of using the rope loop.... even for his anchor extension. As is common, a big T-storm blew in and a retreat from the top of P1 of Thin Ice was called for. 

Climber dug down under his rain jacket and untied his knott so the rope could be freed up to use in the rap.  

This released the climber from any and all tie in points and he fell to his death. 

The lesson learned, for me at least, because I too would use rope loop, never never do anything with the loop formed by the rope. 

R.I.P fallen climber I am sorry I don't remember your name, I do however remember that unfortunate day. 

be  safe




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

Big nasty fatal accident went down at the needles one time. 

Climber was in the habit of using the rope loop.... even for his anchor extension. As is common, a big T-storm blew in and a retreat from the top of P1 of Thin Ice was called for. 

Climber dug down under his rain jacket and untied his knott so the rope could be freed up to use in the rap.  

This released the climber from any and all tie in points and he fell to his death. 

The lesson learned, for me at least, because I too would use rope loop, never never do anything with the loop formed by the rope. 

R.I.P fallen climber I am sorry I don't remember your name, I do however remember that unfortunate day. 

be  safe

Sounds like the climber untied when he shouldn't have untied, and paid the price for it. There's a reason why people don't use the rope to tether in while rapping.

Your conclusion that one should never using the rope loop for anything doesn't seem like a logical conclusion to draw from the cited accident. A logical conclusion one might draw from that accident this:

Make sure you are secured in some way to the anchor, and test this connection by hanging on it, before you untie from the rope.

Had the climber been weighting his connection point, he wouldn't have been able to untie from the rope and it would be blaringly obvious what would happen if he did.

r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Has anyone /ever/ had an accident from their tie in FoE  rolling?

Using the rope loop seems pretty popular in some groups, and figure of eights are pretty popular. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
eli poss wrote:

The real reason to use the rope loop is so that the force is transmitted directly to the anchor with you out of the system. This can potentially be more comfortable in some cases. Yes a fig 8 can roll when ring loaded, but if you're using it to belay a follower you aren't going to generate nearly enough force for it to roll. I wouldn't use it to belay the leader, though, because a factor 2 fall could potentially cause high enough forces for it to roll.

As far as people tieing in wrong, well then your tie in is going to fail anyways so you won't be tied into the anchor and fall to your death anyways. And your partner will fall to their death as well because there's nobody belaying them. Your concern for tieing in wrong is valid, but really doesn't say anything about one's choice to belay off their rope loop because the result is the same as one's choice to belay off their belay loop.

So, in the context of using it to belay your follower, there's nothing wrong with using the belay loop. There is also nothing wrong with using the rope loop. This thread is a classic example of people shitting on an idea just because it is different from what they do, despite the idea being perfectly fine. 

Care to clarify how the force is transmitted to the anchor by using a rope loop instead of a belay loop? 

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

Care to clarify how the force is transmitted to the anchor by using a rope loop instead of a belay loop? 

When you use your belay loop, your harness acts as a link in the chain between your tie in loop and your belay device. When you belay off the rope loop, your harness isn't somewhere between your tie in and your belay device. If you do it correctly with the tie-in loop, it is possible to belay your second on it and never feel any of the force when your second falls or hangs, especially if you are at a ledge and not weighting your tie-in loop. 

This is one of those things that is hard to explain with words but fairly simple once you actually do it. Perhaps rgold will chime in on here as he is always better at understanding and explaining things in climbing, and he uses this method much more frequently than I.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
eli poss wrote:

When you use your belay loop, your harness acts as a link in the chain between your tie in loop and your belay device. When you belay off the rope loop, your harness isn't somewhere between your tie in and your belay device. If you do it correctly with the tie-in loop, it is possible to belay your second on it and never feel any of the force when your second falls or hangs, especially if you are at a ledge and not weighting your tie-in loop. 

This is one of those things that is hard to explain with words but fairly simple once you actually do it. Perhaps rgold will chime in on here as he is always better at understanding and explaining things in climbing, and he uses this method much more frequently than I.

I suppose this could be achieved with a snug enough connection to the anchor and with the forces aligned perfectly, but it strikes me as hanging the belay device off the anchor as a much easier and quicker way to accomplish this. 

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

I suppose this could be achieved with a snug enough connection to the anchor and with the forces aligned perfectly, but it strikes me as hanging the belay device off the anchor as a much easier and quicker way to accomplish this. 

I assume you mean using the belay device in guide mode. I personally would agree, but the whole point of using the rope loop is to belay your 2nd directly, as opposed to a guide plate or a redirect through the anchor. I much prefer to belay in guide mode when I can but sometimes the anchor position is not idea for using guide mode so I have to choose between a direct belay or redirect depending on the situation.

Direct belays are not usually my first choice but I do opt for one every now and then. When I do, I use the rope loop as it can be more comfortable, and also because that's how I was taught. If we're being honest with ourselves, I also get a little kick out of doing it "old school", but that is probably less important. Once again, hopefully rgold will chime in here as he prefers to use a direct belay off the tie-in loop and has been doing it for longer than I've been alive. 

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

Never use the tie-in loop as a belay loop without also using the actual belay loop (unless you use the bowline which is not susceptible to ring-loading failure). As another member said, that loop is essentially a flat figure eight and ring loading that loop can cause the entire knot to come untied with relatively little force. However, there is a valid point in using both the belay loop and tie-in loop to belay with, but only under a specific circumstance. That specific circumstance is if the belayer ties into the belay station with the rope and not with a PAS or sling. The idea is if you clip into the belay with your rope, then you belay off your belay loop, if the leader takes a solid whip the belayer can be pulled up to the point that his rope tether is stopping him from being pulled higher. This in essence means the belay loop is pulled up one direction while the tie-in rope is pulling down, in essence pulling the harness apart in a manner in which it's not designed to be loaded. By clipping into both the belay loop and the rope loop, you would tranfer the force through your rope teather to the belay station, thus eliminating the horizontal pulling apart of your harness that would otherwise occur. I am not aware of any actual harnesses failures resulting from not using the rope loop and I doubt it would occur even with the most violent of falls, but clipping into both loops is still a good practice as long as you tether into the belay with the rope.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
eli poss wrote:

I assume you mean using the belay device in guide mode. I personally would agree, but the whole point of using the rope loop is to belay your 2nd directly, as opposed to a guide plate or a redirect through the anchor. I much prefer to belay in guide mode when I can but sometimes the anchor position is not idea for using guide mode so I have to choose between a direct belay or redirect depending on the situation.

Direct belays are not usually my first choice but I do opt for one every now and then. When I do, I use the rope loop as it can be more comfortable, and also because that's how I was taught. If we're being honest with ourselves, I also get a little kick out of doing it "old school", but that is probably less important. Once again, hopefully rgold will chime in here as he prefers to use a direct belay off the tie-in loop and has been doing it for longer than I've been alive. 

While I don't have rich's time on the rock, I've been around for a while, been taught by a good number of guys who have been around as long as rich, and I have never once heard of anyone using the rope loop as a belay point. 

I honestly can't imagine how it would reliably transmit the load directly to the anchor if it's connected to you. Maybe in a perfect scenario if I had time to really think about it, but that scenario would have to have you in line with the anchor in a way that would make no sense to direct belay off your harness. 

I wonder if it's one of those things that may have started with bowlines and the lack of belay loops and kind of trickled down to a small chunk of modern climbers. It seems plausible given the number of old dudes who either use a locker to back up their belay loop or use their tie in points to belay that something like this would persist despite modern harness designs and the prevalence of the figure 8 knot, which again, is really susceptible to rolling... 

Jeremy B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

Here are two examples of a setup using the rope loop.  In the first, the force of the climber's fall is in-line with the connection to the anchor.  If the belayer is sitting off to the side, he would be yanked into line.  If the belayer is perfectly in-line to start with, the setup is functionally equivalent to a direct belay off the anchor.

Note that until and unless the belayer is yanked into line with the climber and the anchor, the knot will be ring-loaded.  If your intent is to position yourself otherwise to take some of the impact of a fall, then the knot will be ring-loaded to the extent you succeed in that.

In the second example the belayer has clipped into the anchor with a PAS, sling, or quickdraw.  In this case the eight is ring-loaded.  If the belay loop is clipped by both the PAS and the belay device, it will act as a limit on how far the rope loop can be pulled apart.  If either one of those is not also clipped to the belay loop, the eight will be ring-loaded and the belayer will be left attached to only the anchor or the belay device, but not both, if the knot fails.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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