How to tape the hand for lead-belaying on a thin rope ?


Original Post
Serge Smirnov · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 160

I plan to carry a 7.3mm Beal Gully for long rappels and emergencies (using a single rope for actual climbing).  I wouldn't buy a skinny-rope-compatible belay device or carry gloves just for emergencies, but I am likely to have climbing tape at all times.  What's the best way to tape the belay hand for lead-belaying on a skinny rope ?

I guess 2 parts to this question:

(1) which parts of the hand are most important to tape ?

(2) whether to tape the fingers individually or all together ?

NOT asking:
 - advantages / disadvantages of doubles - well covered in previous threads.  Consider 10mm + 7.3mm a given.
 - which rope to pull - realistically it will alternate from one rappel to the next
 - how to tie knots in case the belayer fails to catch - I know overhand noose in the correct orientation is best
 - ideal devices for belaying on a skinny rope - I am unlikely to buy one just for this scenario
 - whether or not my 7.3 is rated to catch falls on 1 strand - it is
 - whether or not my belay plate is rated for belaying a 7.3 - I know it isn't
 - about adding a 2nd belay carabiner - yes, I would

I.e. just asking how to tape the belayer's hand.  (EDIT: I consider my tape question obsolete in light of Jim Titt's Munter Hitch suggestion)

Erroneous Publicus · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 5

Why would you need to belay on the skinny rope?  Trail it or climb like you're on doubles (clip ever piece w/ both), but just belay off the thicker one.  For rapping, use a biner block, like a tagline.  In fact, why not just bring a tagline instead?  Non static 6 mil makes a great haul line too, which comes in handy for hard routes that go mostly straight up (bring a small haul pack for your shoes, jacket and water, etc.). 

Serge Smirnov · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 160

Sorry, I should have clarified - this is for when the main rope gets stuck while pulling down.

Keenan Waeschle · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 210

If you're leading on the tag to retrieve a stuck rope you really shouldn't be falling. If the terrain is hard enough that you could fall, A0 or take. Whipping on a single 7.3 is probably survivable, but there's a chance with a single line that thin of cutting. In such a scenario just throw that second biner on the device and call it good. The tape on your hand isn't going to be worth the time it takes to put on.

I used a set of those gully ropes for alpine climbing this year, really liked them!

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

I suspect nobody can tell you since nobody has ever bothered, the rest of the world just uses their sleeve/tee shirt whatever and tells their buddy not to fall off (or uses an Italian/Munter hitch).

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,497
Jim Titt wrote:

(or uses an Italian/Munter hitch).

This, if you won't have a suitable device for the skinny.

more generally, what you are trying to do with the tape is manufacture some belay gloves (and then some - see next post). And if you are belaying a leader with those, it may be a real pain each time it  is your turn to climb.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,497

You had asked "How to tape the hand for lead-belaying on a thin rope?"  Specifically ...

Serge Smirnov wrote:

(1) which parts of the hand are most important to tape ?

(2) whether to tape the fingers individually or all together ?

...
I.e. just asking how to tape the belayer's hand

The nice thing about the answer to these questions is they can be self-discovered.  

a) Maybe start with a leather belay-specific glove as a guide, noting where the leather is reinforced.  

b) Create your conforming tape prototype. 

c) Try a nice and easy short rap.  Take notes.

d) Try holding a leader fall with someone very light or regular-sized rope and device.  Take notes.

e) Revise starting back at 'b'.  When 'c' and 'd' seem under control, try longer raps and/or skinnier rope and/or belay heavier climber.  In other words, as your prototype improves, gradually increase the challenges to it; use a backup belay if needed.  Maybe you'll get to where you want to be.  Maybe not.

f) Assuming you get to where you want, document it in great detail so you can build it the same way when needed.  After all, it is equally critical as the belay or rap device ... rather than, say, just another glove for that once-in-a-lifetime catch where the rope runs a bit.

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

wear a glove

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 200

You should always keep a pair of gloves in your purse for just such occasions.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

You could just make everything simple and climb on double ropes. 

Safer, better, smarter.

But whatever.....   go and try to catch a flyer with tape hands and a device for large ropes. 

7.3mm ????  


FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 40
Brandon.Phillips wrote:

wear a glove

Gloves aren't just for a emergencies: rope running through unprotected hands has been identified as a factor in a number of accidents. Plus, putting on gloves is much faster and they offer more protection. 

If you're not going to buy a specific belay device for ultra skinny ropes, then the rope will run through any alternative belay methods on a leader fall. That may be acceptable if you can hold on to the rope - which I doubt a simple, quick (i.e. emergent) tape job on your palms would allow.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

You should always keep a pair of gloves in your purse for just such occasions.

Really?

Best, OLH

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

OP,  even lowering a climber on a skinny rope with an ATC was a chore for me, the one time it came up. That was just a twin, not super skinny.

Adding friction helped a bunch. An extra carabineer, or a different one, does make a difference.

I wear gloves, by choice. Mine are weight lifting gloves, leather, and work great.

And I don't pack a purse. Not for forty years after the thing got too heavy with the drill and extra battery in it. That guy crap gets heavy.

Best, OLH

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,497
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

You should always keep a pair of gloves in your purse for just such occasions.

Sad

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70

Serge,

I think you might be looking at this the wrong way round. I don't think you should be trying to stop you hand being burt by rope slip, you should be trying to make the belay device provide more friction. 

This is done by using two rather than on belay carabiners. If you don't know how to do this, see multipitchclimbing.com

Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

You should always keep a pair of gloves in your purse for just such occasions.

I think this guy is trying to tell the OP to " grow a pair" but lets be honest a pair is pretty sensitive. In my experience we should be telling people to "Vag up" because we know they can take a pounding.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
Daniel T wrote:

I think this guy is trying to tell the OP to " grow a pair" but lets be honest a pair is pretty sensitive. In my experience we should be telling people to "Vag up" because we know they can take a pounding.

Actually, I already got a pair, just rides higher. :-)

The mild poke is at those of us who choose to use gloves, IMO.

OP, David Coley nailed it. His reference is awesome, by the  way! Far safer to work out the real issue, not try to mitigate possible damage with something cumbersome.

And, my apologies to any of you who do carry a purse. I wasn't exaggerating about the drill..

Best, OLH

Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325
Erroneous Publicus wrote:

Why would you need to belay on the skinny rope?  Trail it or climb like you're on doubles (clip ever piece w/ both), but just belay off the thicker one.  For rapping, use a biner block, like a tagline.  In fact, why not just bring a tagline instead?  Non static 6 mil makes a great haul line too, which comes in handy for hard routes that go mostly straight up (bring a small haul pack for your shoes, jacket and water, etc.). 

To clarify: (provided you meant to say "every" and not "ever") You do not clip both cords of a double (or half, same thing) rope system into the same piece.  That is what you do with twins.  Doubles are clipped individually into pieces of pro.  Sure sometimes I clip them both in on traverses with two followers if there is no other pro on the traverse to prevent the pendulum of either climber but this isn't what you're meant to do with them.  High peak impact forces and all that.

Serge Smirnov · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 160
David Coley wrote:

Serge,

I think you might be looking at this the wrong way round. I don't think you should be trying to stop you hand being burt by rope slip, you should be trying to make the belay device provide more friction. 

This is done by using two rather than on belay carabiners. If you don't know how to do this, see multipitchclimbing.com

I wasn't satisfied with the friction provided by 2 carabiners when I tried rappelling on one 7.3mm strand.  I would use a 2nd carabiner, I just wouldn't rely on it alone.

But I agree with your main point - increasing the amplification of the belay rig is better than reinforcing the hand.  I like Jim Titt's suggestion to lead belay with a Munter - that hadn't occurred to me for some reason, my bad.  Maybe even the Super Munter - this 7.3mm is so slick that it actually feels somewhat practical to not only feed, but even take slack through a super munter for lead belaying !  A normal Munter might provide enough friction, but the Super Munter works great even with the modern belay technique (brake hand below), so I wouldn't have to teach somebody a different belay method if I'm the one doing the leading in this unfortunate situation.

Erroneous Publicus · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 5
Jack C. wrote:

To clarify: (provided you meant to say "every" and not "ever") You do not clip both cords of a double (or half, same thing) rope system into the same piece.  That is what you do with twins.  Doubles are clipped individually into pieces of pro.  Sure sometimes I clip them both in on traverses with two followers if there is no other pro on the traverse to prevent the pendulum of either climber but this isn't what you're meant to do with them.  High peak impact forces and all that.

Pretty much all paired skinny ropes nowadays are rated as both doubles and twins, so clip them however you like.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 960

Why wouldn't you just wrap the brake rope one time around your brake hand?

I have seen a prussik used as a belay backup (it's a PITA but it does work). You'd have to make sure the difference in diameter between your 7.3 and whatever you use for a prussik was sufficient.

I would not rely on tape to aid an insufficient belay.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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