Mountain Project Logo

Anchoring on a horizontal anchor // Modern uses for the Munter


Original Post
Ryan Dirks · · Washington, DC · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

The ongoing debate about the merits and pitfalls of the munter hitch (https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113825304/most-dangerous-newbie-situation-youve-seen) has me wondering how frequently experienced climbers use it.  Most of the time I use the ATC in guide mode, because it is easy, automatically locks, and makes it easy to transition into a 3-1 if the second is struggling or becomes injured.  However, I have used the Munter to belay the second off my harness when the anchor is on top of a large, mostly flat area, with the bolts several feet from the edge.  To me, the Munter seems the best choice for this scenario because:

1. ATC in guide mode will definitely scrape against the rock should the follower fall, which means there is a chance it will get stuck and not automatically lock.

2. I can move to the edge to comfortably see the climber, and more easily provide slack.

The biggest downside I see to this setup is what will happen should the follower become injured and immobile (ie rockfall).  That would leave the belayer pinned between the anchor and the weighted rope, unable to easily access the anchor to tie it off and/or attempt to raise the second.

How do you belay up the second when the anchor is on flat ground, several feet from the edge?  Are there other ways you regularly use the Munter?

William P · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

What about extending the anchor so that your belay setup is below the edge?

Ryan Dirks · · Washington, DC · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

That is certainly an option, assuming you use the rope for the anchor.  The places I'm thinking about have bolts that are 15 feet or so from the edge.

William P · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Interesting. I've never used the Munter, but have heard that the only times you would think about using it for a belay or rappel are 1) you lose your device (I use an ATC Guide) and 2) if you're pretty sure you're gonna have to lower a follower on top belay. I always double check gear before leaving my house and I am usually following my rope gun, so both situations are unlikely, but I still have practiced the Munter and would feel completely comfortable if my partner used it. Keep in mind I say "my partner," not some new dude I just met in the gym.

One thing I was thinking about was the assisted "3:1" pulley that is easy to set up if you're using an ATC Guide (or other similar style devices) with a Prusik and biner. I have yet to try it, but I imagine you could use it when employing a Munter as well. There might be a little more fricion, you'd have to deal with the flipping of the Munter, and you'd want to secure your brake strand at all times (during setup and operation), but I think it would work. Anyone ever do it?

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 472
Ryan Dirks wrote:

How do you belay up the second when the anchor is on flat ground, several feet from the edge? 

1) I tie in tight to the anchor and belay off my rope tie in loop using an ATC in not-guide-moode. Any load is transferred directly to the anchor.

2) Or, I tie a direct isolation loop and belay off that using an ATC in not-guide-mode. Any load is transferred directly to the anchor.

3) Or, I rediect the belay line off the anchor and belay off my harness using an ATC in not-guide-moode

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
wivanoff wrote:

1) I tie in tight to the anchor and belay off my rope tie in loop using an ATC in not-guide-moode. Any load is transferred directly to the anchor.

tied in with a fig 8 or bowline? fig 8s capsize under relatively low loads when ring loaded, especially with a yosemite finish.

GabeO · · New Haven, CT · Joined May 2006 · Points: 306
Ryan Dirks wrote:

The ongoing debate about the merits and pitfalls of the munter hitch (https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113825304/most-dangerous-newbie-situation-youve-seen) has me wondering how frequently experienced climbers use it.  Most of the time I use the ATC in guide mode, because it is easy, automatically locks, and makes it easy to transition into a 3-1 if the second is struggling or becomes injured.  However, I have used the Munter to belay the second off my harness when the anchor is on top of a large, mostly flat area, with the bolts several feet from the edge.  To me, the Munter seems the best choice for this scenario because:

1. ATC in guide mode will definitely scrape against the rock should the follower fall, which means there is a chance it will get stuck and not automatically lock.

2. I can move to the edge to comfortably see the climber, and more easily provide slack.

The biggest downside I see to this setup is what will happen should the follower become injured and immobile (ie rockfall).  That would leave the belayer pinned between the anchor and the weighted rope, unable to easily access the anchor to tie it off and/or attempt to raise the second.

How do you belay up the second when the anchor is on flat ground, several feet from the edge?  Are there other ways you regularly use the Munter?

Huh?  I don't regularly use a munter, but I don't see a problem.  Mule off the munter, and you're hands free.  Then do any number of things to escape the belay.  

Probably easiest would be put a prussic on the rope going to the climber below the munter, connect it to your PAS, your rope, or whatever it is you're using to connect yourself to the anchor, then release the mule and lower the climber onto the prussic.  Back up the prussic with a knot connected to the anchor, and you're free.  

Yes, I sometimes belay directly from my harness down to the climber.  Other times I belay from my harness, redirected through the anchor, down to the climber.  It just depends.

GO

Wiggle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
Ryan Dirks wrote:

That would leave the belayer pinned between the anchor and the weighted rope, unable to easily access the anchor to tie it off and/or attempt to raise the second.

Extend the anchor with the rope, and use the munter directly off the extended anchor.

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

tied in with a fig 8 or bowline? fig 8s capsize under relatively low loads when ring loaded, especially with a yosemite finish.

If the load is transferred to the anchor, this isn't an issue (and I hear is pretty common in places like the UK).  The critical part is that the load comes onto the anchor and not the belayer.  If the belayer takes the load and not the anchor you will have ring-loading.  (This is sufficient for me to argue against making a habit of it, but there are times it may be preferable.)

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
Jeremy B. wrote:

If the load is transferred to the anchor, this isn't an issue (and I hear is pretty common in places like the UK).  The critical part is that the load comes onto the anchor and not the belayer.  If the belayer takes the load and not the anchor you will have ring-loading.  (This is sufficient for me to argue against making a habit of it, but there are times it may be preferable.)

ah, that's the part i was missing. thanks for explaining, that makes more sense

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,280
Ryan Dirks wrote:

The ongoing debate about the merits and pitfalls of the munter hitch (https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113825304/most-dangerous-newbie-situation-youve-seen) has me wondering how frequently experienced climbers use it.  Most of the time I use the ATC in guide mode, because it is easy, automatically locks, and makes it easy to transition into a 3-1 if the second is struggling or becomes injured.  However, I have used the Munter to belay the second off my harness when the anchor is on top of a large, mostly flat area, with the bolts several feet from the edge.  To me, the Munter seems the best choice for this scenario because:

1. ATC in guide mode will definitely scrape against the rock should the follower fall, which means there is a chance it will get stuck and not automatically lock.

2. I can move to the edge to comfortably see the climber, and more easily provide slack.

The biggest downside I see to this setup is what will happen should the follower become injured and immobile (ie rockfall).  That would leave the belayer pinned between the anchor and the weighted rope, unable to easily access the anchor to tie it off and/or attempt to raise the second.

How do you belay up the second when the anchor is on flat ground, several feet from the edge?  Are there other ways you regularly use the Munter?

Hmmm...nope guide should work fine in this situation. How often are you needing to give slack? Shouldnt have to much and if you do just use the release function on the guide or whichever device you use.

Mike Slavens · · Houston, TX · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 35

I can honestly say I've never seen a Munter rock climbing (going on 19 years climbing outside).  The only times I've ever seen it is occasionally guides using it on scrambles, and mountaineering.  Munters don't add a fraction of the friction that a tube style device does and so catching any sort of vertical fall can be difficult and put you in a bad position even with a good catch.

In your scenario I would still use an ATC or similar, but maybe not in guide mode depending on the exact situation.  Yes a Munter could let you stand at the edge even if the anchors are far back.  But you are adding risks giving up a regular belay device for convenience which you could gain by just extending the anchors (with slings or even the rope itself if its really far).  The risk-reward trade-off is just not there.

Recently a growing segment of the climbing community have put on blinders and think the only way to bring up a second is in guide mode straight off the anchor.  For decades guide mode didn't exist and people brought up the second belaying off their harness (remember stitch plates).  People forget that in some situations its better to just belay off your harness or put the device straight on an anchor and belay in regular mode.  Yes some times guide mode isn't the best, but I have a REALLY hard time coming up with a situation in rock climbing that a Munter would be better than a modern tube style device (ATC or similar).  

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 472
Chris Blatchley wrote:

tied in with a fig 8 or bowline? fig 8s capsize under relatively low loads when ring loaded, especially with a yosemite finish.

You need to visualize what's happening (or set it up and try it) to see that there is no ring loading in this case. Remember I wrote that the load is transferred directly to the anchor.

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

Everett · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10
Mike Slavens wrote:

I can honestly say I've never seen a Munter rock climbing (going on 19 years climbing outside).  The only times I've ever seen it is occasionally guides using it on scrambles, and mountaineering.  Munters don't add a fraction of the friction that a tube style device does and so catching any sort of vertical fall can be difficult and put you in a bad position even with a good catch.

Jim Titt might swoop in for me misquoting him, but he's pointed out frequently that munters are popular in Europe and has tested and published that they're strong as fuck. http://www.bolt-products.com/Glue-inBoltDesign.htm (search for munter.)

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 472
William Platisa wrote:

What about extending the anchor so that your belay setup is below the edge?

I dunno man. I saw a post once where a guy was saying he set up a hanging belay in that circumstance just so he could belay in guide mode. Seems silly to me when there are so many other options.

I tend to evaluate my anchor/belay stance and act accordingly, instead of strictly adhering to one method.

David Deville · · Flagstaff, Arizona · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70

I usually give myself a long tether and belay near the edge off of my harness. Just be aware that you need to pull up on the brake strand to hold a fall if using a tube style device (not in guide mode). It's pretty easy, but it's not so great if your second is going to hang a lot. If your second is going to have a really hard time following, you probably should have known that before you started the route. The best options for this scenario (IMO) is to either plan to have your partner ascend the rope (in which case you just fix the rope and hang out while they jug) or do a different route. Extending the belay over the edge is another (albeit uncomfortable) option. 

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

1) I tie in tight to the anchor and belay off my rope tie in loop using an ATC in not-guide-moode. Any load is transferred directly to the anchor.

2) Or, I tie a direct isolation loop and belay off that using an ATC in not-guide-mode. Any load is transferred directly to the anchor.

3) Or, I rediect the belay line off the anchor and belay off my harness using an ATC in not-guide-moode

This. Or if you want, substitute munter for ATC if that's more comfortable for you. If you're worried about escaping the system, the direct isolation loop makes that very easy. Just untie and you're free and the belay is still intact.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55

My main objection to the Munter is the rope twisting.

I mentioned in the other thread that I tested claims that the Munter doesn't twist the rope when the strands are kept parallel, and found it still twisted the rope. If you look at how the rope twists into and out of the hitch, it should be clear that it's going to twist the knot even if the strands are parallel.

I haven't experimented with the Monster Munter, but Mike Barton seems to think it solves the twisting issue:

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 252

tradiban's point in the other thread is, it seems to me, unrelated to the Munter. He just thinks that you ought to use a brake-assisted device for belaying, period.His objections to the Munter apply equally to any basic (non-guide mode) tube device like the ATC.

I disagree with this. I think the Munter is fine, just as an ATC is fine.

Anyone who says it provides inadequate friction (Which, again, is not the tradiban position, but was stated upthread) is in my opinion mistaken. And it is much easier to give a controlled lower with the Munter than with a Guide mode assisted braking device like the Reverso.

It does kink the rope, but in my experience this is only noticeable when the Munter is under a load. If you use it for a top belay to bring your partner up and you aren't forced by some unfortunate circumstance to lower your partner for the length of the entire pitch, you shouldn't see significant kinkage.

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

Munters don't add a fraction of the friction that a tube style device does and so catching any sort of vertical fall can be difficult and put you in a bad position even with a good catch.

Eh, they are as strong or stronger than the tubes, particularly so with thinner ropes.  Some test data on page 4: http://www.bergundsteigen.at/file.php/archiv/2007/2/60-67%20%28die%20bremskraftverst%E4rker%29.pdf

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Jeremy B. wrote:

Eh, they are as strong or stronger than the tubes, particularly so with thinner ropes.  Some test data on page 4: http://www.bergundsteigen.at/file.php/archiv/2007/2/60-67%20%28die%20bremskraftverst%E4rker%29.pdf

This is so, it´s kinda between an ATC XP in the high and low friction modes with a normal rope and certainly better with thinner ropes. I actually tested it again a few weeks back regarding abseiling and the hand up or hand down methods. The fact Mike Slavens has never seen one doesn´t mean jack shit, I´ve been climbing 50 years and never seen a cordalette (or a unicorn)..

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Anchoring on a horizontal anchor // Modern uses…"
in the General Climbing

Log In to Reply