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Another guide mode question


Original Post
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487

When belaying 2 followers in guide mode and you want to lower one of them, the standard recommended practice is to tie a knot in the strand of the follower you don't want to lower so that it will jam into the belay device. In other contexts, I have had knots jam in the belay device and my experience is that the knot tightens and become practically impossible untie without unweighted the belay device.

Would this be a concern in the context of lowering in guide mode? I guess it isn't really an issue unless you end up needing to lower that climber without them unweighting the rope, which is probably pretty unlikely. I kind of wonder if it is worth adding another step of using a friction hitch on the climber's strand so the knot doesn't end up jamming the belay device.

Keep in mind this inquiry is mainly academic, I'm well aware of the issues of lowering in guide mode and I wouldn't use guide mode with the intention of lowering 1 follower, much less dealing with 2. Please spare me the lectures about lowering in guide mode and YGD.

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

Why not just clove the brake strand to a biner on the anchor? 

Lin Robinson · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 30

MMO the strand you don’t want to lower

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

Tie it off to the anchor, not just a knot that will jam in the device. Aside from being a pain afterward, it can get in the way of the other rope that you currently want to lower on. Best option is to tie a load releasable hitch to the anchor when you do this (MMO). 

Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
jdejace wrote: Why not just clove the brake strand to a biner on the anchor? 

For a very, very  good reason. If the person on the non-lowering strand fell while you were lowing, it would pull their rope through and jam on the clove on the anchor. Because the clove is above the guide plate, it's going to rip the guide plate wide open and you won't be able to close it. You are way better off just cloving the non-lowering brake strand to your harness below the guide plate.


Cloving the gold strand to the anchor to prepare to lower the blue strand as you suggested (don't do this):

And this is what happens if the gold strand falls while you are lowering blue - see how it jams the guide plate wide open:
Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Lin Robinson wrote: MMO the strand you don’t want to lower

No need for that - just clove them to your belay loop as a cat knot. If they fell while you were lowering the other strand, you would catch them. Once you were done lowering, guide mode would be holding the climber that fell and since you are moveable, you would just unweight the knot and slide the biner out of the clove. No need to do anything complex and as demonstrated above by two other comments, potentially dangerous.

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71
Jack Servedio wrote:

No need for that - just clove them to your belay loop as a cat knot. If they fell while you were lowering the other strand, you would catch them. Once you were done lowering, guide mode would be holding the climber that fell and since you are moveable, you would just unweight the knot and slide the biner out of the clove. No need to do anything complex and as demonstrated above by two other comments, potentially dangerous.

What is a cat knot?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Xam wrote:

What is a cat knot?

A catastrophe knot, I'd assume.

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5
Jack Servedio wrote:

For a very, very  good reason. If the person on the non-lowering strand fell while you were lowing, it would pull their rope through and jam on the clove on the anchor. Because the clove is above the guide plate, it's going to rip the guide plate wide open and you won't be able to close it. You are way better off just cloving the non-lowering brake strand to your harness below the guide plate.


Cloving the gold strand to the anchor to prepare to lower the blue strand as you suggested (don't do this):

And this is what happens if the gold strand falls while you are lowering blue - see how it jams the guide plate wide open:


I don't feel like arguing extensively, but this is rare, far from catastrophic (both climbers are stopped/safe, one on the knot and the other by your hand on the brake strand), and the situation is easily remedied if you have a basic understanding of rope systems. Or even more easily if the person who fell can get back on and unweight the rope. It just seems like such an unlikely scenario. Clove is quick and easy. Sure, put it on your harness, that's fine too, except if they fall with the plate open then you're getting yanked instead of the anchor, and depending on your belay position, how much they weigh etc.. that might not be ideal either.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 91
Jack Servedio wrote:

No need for that - just clove them to your belay loop as a cat knot. If they fell while you were lowering the other strand, you would catch them. Once you were done lowering, guide mode would be holding the climber that fell and since you are moveable, you would just unweight the knot and slide the biner out of the clove. No need to do anything complex and as demonstrated above by two other comments, potentially dangerous.

Just to make sure I understand.  This works because the belay loop is below the Guide plate right?  If, for some silly reason, your belay loop was above the guide plate or at the same height then you would run into the same problem you described above.  Correct?

Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
jdejace wrote:

I don't feel like arguing extensively, but this is rare, far from catastrophic (both climbers are stopped/safe, one on the knot and the other by your hand on the brake strand), and the situation is easily remedied if you have a basic understanding of rope systems. Or even more easily if the person who fell can get back on and unweight the rope. It just seems like such an unlikely scenario. Clove is quick and easy. Sure, put it on your harness, that's fine too, except if they fall with the plate open then you're getting yanked instead of the anchor, and depending on your belay position, how much they weigh etc.. that might not be ideal either.

Nothing is ideal other than to let the person you aren't lowering finish the pitch while the person who has to be lowered just hangs out (unless they are injured and assuming the route doesn't traverse right before the anchor). Having to lower one climber on guide mode is extremely rare to begin with, so this is all academic anyway.

If you understand the drawback and can weigh your options (like you are doing now) that's one thing. If you don't understand this possibility - than getting a surprise opened guide plate is far worse than getting yanked up with a closed guide plate since you getting pulled up is going to close the plate if you are doing things correctly.
Sebastian Reichelt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
Jack Servedio wrote:

For a very, very  good reason. If the person on the non-lowering strand fell while you were lowing, it would pull their rope through and jam on the clove on the anchor. Because the clove is above the guide plate, it's going to rip the guide plate wide open and you won't be able to close it. You are way better off just cloving the non-lowering brake strand to your harness below the guide plate.


Cloving the gold strand to the anchor to prepare to lower the blue strand as you suggested (don't do this):

And this is what happens if the gold strand falls while you are lowering blue - see how it jams the guide plate wide open:


Good point, but if you lower the blue strand on a Munter (as a backup), it shouldn't really matter, correct?

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

so much horsing around for such a simple task... facepalm.... RIP guidemode.....

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 867
slim wrote: so much horsing around for such a simple task... facepalm.... RIP guidemode.....

Hey slim.  I  know you are not a fan of guide mode. But, do you climb with a party of three much? If so, what do you prefer. 


Edit. This is a genuine question 
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487
slim wrote: so much horsing around for such a simple task... facepalm.... RIP guidemode.....

Was wondering how long it would be before somebody posted something like this. Half a page, I guess that's not too bad all things considered. 

I'm of the philosophy of using the right tool for the job, and when my anchor set up and belay stance are ideal to use guide mode and the terrain of the previous pitch is also ideal, guide mode seems the right tool for the job.

I probably end up using it around 50% of my multi-pitch belays and belay off the harness about 40% of the time. I'm not a huge fan of belaying through a redirect because my anchors tend to be misaligned for a redirect which causes the redirect to twist my rope.

Guide mode is also often much better than other options for climbing in a party of three, which I seem to do more than the average climber. Belaying 2 followers without guide mode kinda sucks and belaying 1 follower at a time in ridiculously slow. That being said, if time efficiency is a big priority, then IMO the best option for a group of 3 is to act like a party of 2 and have the 3rd TR solo to follow pitches while the other two climbers start on the next pitch. 
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

i generally don't, but when i do i usually:
a) if it is easy to moderatle and we only need one rope, 2nd and third tie in to same rope about 20 feet from each other at the far end of the rope.
b) if it is fairly easy to moderate and we need two ropes, then an AC, re-directed through separate biners.
    or, fix one rope so one person can follow using a pair of microtrax while belaying the other via a re-direct (i like this a lot better, it keeps everything very independent and the microtrax guy is literally hitchiking, you hardly know he is there).
c) if it is hard and there will likely be falling/hanging, just belay them separately.

guidemode should be renamed tardmode.  it is literally retarded.  all of the silly overly complicated BS that is required to do the simplest tasks is just assinine.  the funny thing about man is that when he starts going down the wrong path he will literally jump through any hoop to keep going down that path, fully convinced that "the path works fine".  why not just turn around and get back on a better path?

my guess is that 20 years from now climbers will look back at guidemode the same way we look back at mullets, thighmaster, face tattoos, etc.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 867
slim wrote: i generally don't, but when i do i usually:
a) if it is easy to moderatle and we only need one rope, 2nd and third tie in to same rope about 20 feet from each other at the far end of the rope.
Me too

b) if it is fairly easy to moderate and we need two ropes, then an AC, re-directed through separate biners.
To clarify, are you saying two ropes, two climbers on one atc?  Sounds difficult to belay the other climber if one climber has fallen and is hanging. 

    or, fix one rope so one person can follow using a pair of microtrax while belaying the other via a re-direct (i like this a lot better, it keeps everything very independent and the microtrax guy is literally hitchiking, you hardly know he is there).
Sounds good but requires the third to be competent at this. When I do threes it’s usually with less experienced folks. 

c) if it is hard and there will likely be falling/hanging, just belay them separately.
Sounds slow. 


guidemode should be renamed tardmode.  it is literally retarded.  all of the silly overly complicated BS that is required to do the simplest tasks is just assinine.  

It’s not the device.  It’s the tards that come to MoPro and make a simple task really complicated. One guy got made at me in one rediculous guide mode forum when I mocked how complicated he was making it after 7 pages of minutia.   

I’ve been using guide mode for more than 20 years.  Yes, before the bd guide mode even came out, with no issues. It’s really not hard to use for someone of reasonable intelligence. 
David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70
eli poss wrote:

Keep in mind this inquiry is mainly academic, I'm well aware of the issues of lowering in guide mode and I wouldn't use guide mode with the intention of lowering 1 follower, much less dealing with 2. Please spare me the lectures about lowering in guide mode and YGD.

Less academic than you might think: third fails to remove a piece so second needs to descend to remove it; third gets hit by a rock dislodged by second; second or third falls off and drags the other off.

1. as always, if you are doing something new or not common, think back up knots.
2. if one of them can unweight the rope and semi-scramble it will be much better. Just get them to clip a piece, or just stand still.
3. Otherwise: A. if the person not to be lowered weighs not much more than you, place an MMO on a locker on their brake side attached to your belay loop and then lower the other person. You will be holding the weight of the static climber on your belay loop. B. If the static climber is a lot heavier than you, plece back up knot, then a PMMO or similar on their LIVE strand, now lower the other climber.

Easy, but as always, practice helps.
Paul Zander · · Bern, CH · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 734
Jack Servedio wrote:

For a very, very  good reason. If the person on the non-lowering strand fell while you were lowing, it would pull their rope through and jam on the clove on the anchor. Because the clove is above the guide plate, it's going to rip the guide plate wide open and you won't be able to close it. You are way better off just cloving the non-lowering brake strand to your harness below the guide plate.


Cloving the gold strand to the anchor to prepare to lower the blue strand as you suggested (don't do this):

And this is what happens if the gold strand falls while you are lowering blue - see how it jams the guide plate wide open:


Why not tie the other side of the gold rope to the anchor? Then if the climber on that rope falls it won't affect the ATC at all.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Jack Servedio wrote:

For a very, very  good reason. If the person on the non-lowering strand fell while you were lowing, it would pull their rope through and jam on the clove on the anchor. Because the clove is above the guide plate, it's going to rip the guide plate wide open and you won't be able to close it. You are way better off just cloving the non-lowering brake strand to your harness below the guide plate.


Cloving the gold strand to the anchor to prepare to lower the blue strand as you suggested (don't do this):

And this is what happens if the gold strand falls while you are lowering blue - see how it jams the guide plate wide open:


In order to lower the climber on the blue strand, you already have to open/unlock guide mode. Both strands should be secured to the anchor in another way before you do this. Or to your belay loop I guess, though that seems to me to add unnecessary complication. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487
David Coley wrote:

Less academic than you might think: third fails to remove a piece so second needs to descend to remove it; third gets hit by a rock dislodged by second; second or third falls off and drags the other off.

1. as always, if you are doing something new or not common, think back up knots.
2. if one of them can unweight the rope and semi-scramble it will be much better. Just get them to clip a piece, or just stand still.
3. Otherwise: A. if the person not to be lowered weighs not much more than you, place an MMO on a locker on their brake side attached to your belay loop and then lower the other person. You will be holding the weight of the static climber on your belay loop. B. If the static climber is a lot heavier than you, plece back up knot, then a PMMO or similar on their LIVE strand, now lower the other climber.

Easy, but as always, practice helps.

For step 3, what about just placing an autoblock on the live strand and then cloving the brake strand to your belay loop with some slack? In my experience, the autoblock is basically a releasable hitch it seems like it would be a reasonable substitute for PMMO. Since the autoblock is taking the weight, the clove shouldn't even be loaded ever so I feel like it would be fine to use it instead of a MMO. Just trying to keep it as simple as possible.

Thanks y'all for indulging my questions and thinking. I think it's best to try to think these things through first at home or on the ground rather than trying to figure it out on the spot when you're actually climbing. That way, if you make errors then you just feel kind of dumb instead of feeling even more dumb because you potentially hurt somebody.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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