Rock and Ice has gone off the deep end with girth hitches...


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-gear-tips/correct-way-to-girth-hitch-to-a-climbing-harness

For f$&@'s sake...now we can't girth hitch a sling to our harnesses?  This, to me, is a poor reading of Skinner's accident and not what the take-away should be.  The problem is leaving slings hitched to your harness for years on end and not inspecting them, not using your belay loop as an attachment point IMO.  Girth hitching a sling to your hard points is very uncomfortable and gets super cluttered with your tie-in, so advocating that as your sole connection (what if you want 2?) is just plain silly IMO.

Thoughts?

Jason Kim · · Encinitas, CA · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 270

Didn't read the article but agree.

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

The link is bad.

People don't want to use their brains anymore. Skinners belay loop was crazy, crazy, stupid worn. Way, way, way beyond what anyone would ever let it go. I met Skinner and he was a really nice and really smart guy. He just completely spaced on checking his harness. It's almost like that guy who pulled the block, cut his lead rope, fell the distance of the static haul line and died. It's an accident that has happened exactly ONCE is the history of climbing. People HAVE BEEN hit by meteors but I'm not going to start worrying about it.

There was a guy jugging a totally vertical rope on the Salathe last year with biners clipped to the top of his ascenders. I asked him if he thought the biners on the top of his jugs, a logical safeguard for jugging a diagonal rope,  would help on a completely vertical rope. He replied, "better safe than sorry". By that logic, being aware that someone has been hit by a meteor, he should live in an underground concrete bunker and always wear body armor. He was blindly following the advice of some article and not using his brain.

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

Wow....   doing IT wrong for years.  I only girth hitch to the top part of my harness.....  am I going to die???  

Alexey Dynkin · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

I've always tied a PAS the way it's described in the link. Never felt like it was particularly uncomfortable or created extra clutter. Seems hard to argue with the fact that girth hitching to the belay loop creates much greater stress concentration than having the sling run through two separate points with much greater total surface area/radius of curvature. Not to mention that many harnesses reinforce the bottom hard point with plastic, reducing the friction on that part. 

Seems like a pretty easy decision to me, but hey, to each their own.


Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285

Along with Mark's comments, it should be noted it wasn't just a heavily worn harness, it was a heavily worn ultra lite harness. 

It's also another case where you shouldn't ignore or push ultra lite soft goods beyond their limited design lifetimes.

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205

Am I missing something here? Do we not catch falling climbers on our belay loops repeatedly, as in hundreds and hundreds of times? And I'm supposed to believe my body weight alone on my girth hitched sling is going to break my belay loop?

Kedron Silsbee · · Princeton, NJ · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

I can't open the article, but I agree it doesn't matter.  I agree with all of Alexey's points too - it's not particularly difficult to do it through the tie-in points, and yeah, it's probably slightly less likely to break that way, but I'm still not going to do it.  I'd rather spend the one extra second it takes to get the sling through the tie-in points double-checking one of the many things that actually regularly kills people - failing to attach to the anchor, not clipping in properly when rappelling, rappelling off the end of the rope, etc.  Whether or not we like to admit it, we all have a limited amount of attention and energy for constant awareness.  While it's obviously good to try to increase that capacity, it also makes sense to focus mental resources on the things that have been proven to regularly matter...if I can decrease my chances of rappelling off the end of the rope by 1%, I've done more for my life expectancy than if I completely eliminate my chance of dying because my belay loop breaks.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

So if you missed the original accident report, an accident DID occur where a belay loop failed, killing a very experienced climber (Skinner).  He had left his daisy chains girth hitched to his belay loop for a long time and failed to notice the structural damage.

Alexey Dynkin · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0
Jaren Watson wrote:

Am I missing something here? Do we not catch falling climbers on our belay loops repeatedly, as in hundreds and hundreds of times? And I'm supposed to believe my body weight alone on my girth hitched sling is going to break my belay loop?

Big difference between metal-to-fabric, and fabric-to-fabric. The latter creates much (like, multiple-fold) higher stresses, as well as greater long-term wear. 

Alexey Dynkin · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0
Kedron Silsbee wrote:

I'd rather spend the one extra second it takes to get the sling through the tie-in points double-checking one of the many things that actually regularly kills people - failing to attach to the anchor, not clipping in properly when rappelling, rappelling off the end of the rope, etc.  

I almost always have the PAS attached to my harness before starting to climb, so the extra time is not an issue. Again, some will say this creates extra clutter both at the tie-in point and on your gear loops...meh, doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me, but again, to each their own.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285
Jaren Watson wrote:

Am I missing something here? Do we not catch falling climbers on our belay loops repeatedly, as in hundreds and hundreds of times? And I'm supposed to believe my body weight alone on my girth hitched sling is going to break my belay loop?

The belay loop broke because the girth hitching of his leash to it fixed the belay loop's harness contact to a single point - i.e. all the wear from of the harness/belay-loop friction was focused on a single point on the belay loop until it was weakened to the point of breaking.

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415
Jaren Watson wrote:

Am I missing something here? Do we not catch falling climbers on our belay loops repeatedly, as in hundreds and hundreds of times? And I'm supposed to believe my body weight alone on my girth hitched sling is going to break my belay loop?

It would take a very sever leader fall onto a sling girth hitched through your belay loop to break or cut either. Falling off the anchor with your PAS connected to the belay look ain't gonna do it.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

I don't even play games with girth hitching. I just use a locking carabiner and lock it to the belay loop. Super easy. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,246
Nate Doyle wrote:

http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-gear-tips/whats-the-correct-way-to-girth-hitch-to-a-climbing-harness

Thanks for the correct link.

Some (other?) pieces of nonsense I noticed in that article were that 

* PAS leashes are not designed to hold a fall?
. . . (but I believe that my Sterling Chain Reactor PAS has been tested to hold a factor 2 fall).

* PAS leashes do not stretch?
. . . (but I believe that my Sterling Chain Reactor PAS is made out of nylon, which is fairly stretchy -- compared with other climbing-gear materials).

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,246

I have experimented with girth-hitching my PAS through two points on my harness waist -- just like I normally attach the climbing rope.
Results:
* Because the PAS uses a girth hitch (unlike the rethreaded figure-8 on the climbing rope), it pinches my two harness waist attachment points together. Which I find inconvenient (in particular for threading the climbing rope).

* I've lost some usable length from my PAS (compared with girth-hitching it to my belay loop).
. . . Or another way of looking at it is that I am carrying some extra weight in order to achieve my desired usable length.

So there is a short-term cost with certainty in order to achieve the supposed long-term safety result of very low probability.

Ken

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 416

So long as I don't have to hear a Gumby chime in and try explaining to me that what I am doing is "wrong".... Oh wait that already happens nonstop, yeah puck that article. I mean first off they're talking about PAS and daisy chains. I mean I try to be forward thinking, and I myself just bought a hollow block to replace my accessory cord prussik..... but some of these gimmicks and reinventions of the wheel you just need to hear, analyze for yourself, and then turn a blind eye to. "Lets analyze how we attach unnecessary junk to your harness", no lets not!

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,246
Mark Hudon wrote:

It would take a very sever leader fall onto a sling girth hitched through your belay loop to break or cut either. Falling off the anchor with your PAS connected to the belay look ain't gonna do it.

Falling from with your waist at the same level as the anchor connection would be a factor 1 fall (already higher effective impact than most leader falls).

Climbing above the anchor to fiddle with something and then slipping while attached by your PAS could be a factor 2 fall -- the highest effective impact normally possible in a protected climbing fall.

That's why stretchiness of material for PAS leash matters -- to spread the impact energy of a hard fall over a longer distance and a longer time.
 . . . (and why False claims that PAS leashes do not stretch matter).

Why nylon is a good idea.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,246
Jaren Watson wrote:

Am I missing something here? . . . I'm supposed to believe my body weight alone on my girth hitched sling is going to break my belay loop?

I think the point is that just statically hanging off an anchor is not the only thing people do with a girth-hitched sling or PAS leash.

The main advantage of attaching with a sling or PAS leash (rather than climbing rope with clove hitch) is when preparing to rappel.

Especially with fiddling with a Trad anchor for rappeling ... or when the rappel anchor is below the top of the cliff and I need to down-climb into position ... there are reasons to (temporalily) have placed my body at some distance above just hanging from the anchor.
. (Realistically ... when the situation arises, you're going to do it, even if you remember some climbing-magazine article told you "Never").

If I then slip and fall, the peak impact force on the girth-hitched sling or PAS leash is much higher than just body weight.

And the "fall factor" of that impact might be much higher than for most leader falls on my belay loop.

Something for climbers to take seriously.
And something which I believe the Sterling company has taken very seriously in its design of my Sterling Chain Reactor PAS leash.

If you use a girth-hitched sling instead of a PAS, you can still take this high fall-factor possibility seriously ... by using a sling made of (heavier bulkier) nylon (instead of Dyneema or Spectra).

Ken

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
kenr wrote:

I think the point is that just statically hanging off an anchor is not the only thing people do with a girth-hitched sling or PAS leash.

The main advantage of attaching with a sling or PAS leash (rather than climbing rope with clove hitch) is when preparing to rappel.

Especially with fiddling with a Trad anchor for rappeling ... or when the rappel anchor is below the top of the cliff and I need to down-climb into position ... there are reasons to (temporalily) have placed my body at some distance above just hanging from the anchor.
. (Realistically ... when the situation arises, you're going to do it, even if you remember some climbing-magazine article told you "Never").

If I then slip and fall, the peak impact force on the girth-hitched sling or PAS leash is much higher than just body weight.

And the "fall factor" of that impact might be much higher than for most leader falls on my belay loop.

Something for climbers to take seriously.
And something which I believe the Sterling company has taken very seriously in its design of my Sterling Chain Reactor PAS leash.

If you use a girth-hitched sling instead of a PAS, you can still take this high fall-factor possibility seriously ... by using a sling made of (heavier bulkier) nylon (instead of Dyneema or Spectra).

Ken

For the sake of arguing, if your PAS is girthed to your belay loop then this results in higher forces because of a slightly longer fall.

But seriously, this article was both good and bad. Hopefully it has made people aware of the fact that this practice can concentrate wear on your belay loop to one stop (assuming you don't remove your PAS frequently or ever. I don't because that's too much work). However, instead of telling people NOT to girth their PAS to, they should have just warned people of the very scenario that took Skinner's life.

If you wanna put your PAS on your belay loop then that's fine. Just be aware that doing so could potentially concentrate wear on your belay loop and periodically inspect the full length of your belay loop for wear.  

Make people aware of what's going on, rather than encouraging people to blindly follow rules.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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