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How to have a second jug through a crux?

Original Post
Daniel James · · NYCish, NY. · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 125

Hey all!

In say a multi pitch route where the second can't do the crux on a pitch, and they can't reach any gear to pull up on, how would you typically resolve this situation? If there is a decent probability of this happening, would it make sense for the second to carry two ascenders + slings?  

The way I envision this being dealt with is (while being belayed in guide mode):
-second puts ascenders (or prusiks) onto the rope that attached by slings to their belay loop
-adding in double length slings to step up on
-jugging up until a point of hands free stability (going on direct onto a good/backed up piece or resting on a ledge)
-removing ascenders and allowing the accumulated slack to be pulled by the belayer
-resumption of regular climbing

I was wondering if this was the best way to deal with this issue/what potential issues could arise?

I know it would be important for the second to not jug with too much bounce/for too extended of a period if there are any rope rub points.

Thanks for any guidance!  This is of course something I'd practice with a partner before trying a committing multi pitch route where they might not be able to do the crux moves, but wanted the system checked over or have alternates be suggested (or just be told I/my partner are going to die)


Bobby Hutton · · Gold Country CA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 767

I might do a haul (as outlined here…) as opposed to having them jug up the rope. A weaknesses that I see in the system that you outlined is the large amount of slack that could be accumulated. It would be easy to mitigate this having them tie a knot (figure 8 on a bight works for me) right below the ascenders and clip in with a carabiner or two and coil up the slack before taking off the ascenders. That way they are never off belay or have a significant amount of slack in the system. 

Floyd Eggers · · Kennewick, WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 341

You could 3:1 them up, so you just assist them up the distance of the crux then go back to belay from above. Practice makes practical. 

Ryan Swanson · · Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 50

Have them TR solo up behind you, then there is never any slack.

nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 375

Hauling your partner up is bad, too much work. They don't need two ascenders to jug the rope (overkill). At a minimum they just need a couple slings, and made easier if you have something like a microtraxion, ropeman, or tibloc.

John Clark · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 407

I think Bobby H. sufficiently answered the question. Also helped me understand hauling a little better

Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50

Since you have him in guide mode, toss the brake strand down to him (keeping control of it yourself as well of course) and let him haul himself through the crux using the brake strand of the rope.

Edit: This is basically the 3:1 assisted raise as described in Bobby Hutton's link above.

Daniel James · · NYCish, NY. · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 125

Thanks for all the input!  Hauling sounds like the generically preferred method and I'll make sure to practice those systems, though I think I'll also make sure to practice the jugging (perhaps with just prusiks) just so this can happen even if communication is lost due to wind/route, since that requires no action from the belayer technically (beyond take up slack when there is slack which would happen without any communication).

Matt Zia · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 142

Another option to the jugging described above: assuming your follower has an ATC-guide style device or a GriGri, have them put a prusik or Microtraxion above them, then stand up in a sling so the rope at their waist goes slightly slack. Then they can put the belay device on their harness in ascending mode, keep using the sling as a foot loop, and easily jug up the rest of the pitch.

Not a system to use for only a section as it introduces a lot of slack should the second decide they want to resume free climbing, but works well if they need to jug a whole pitch unexpectedly.  

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

There's a few things to consider when you think this may be an issue.

1) I'll make every effort to make sure there's a piece to pull on, even if I have to put a crazy long sling on it.

2) I'll do my best to belay immediately after the crux. This gives you more options like lowering down the rope, gear, and communication is much easier.

3) if I'm super familiar with the crux and it makes sense, I'll leave a bit of gear and a couple slings either at belay or near the crux for my follower to use to aid through.

4) if your second has a grigri like mine always do, that's another option for them if they can't do the crux. 

I've done all of this over the years, but I've never had to actually haul someone through a crux. A bit of tension, sure, but never a true haul.

tradvlad · · SLC, UT · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 5

Another thing for the leader to consider in your scenario would be to make the belay right after the crux to either coach the follower though the moves or help them with a short haul. Additionally, if the leader anticipates the follower struggling at the crux, he/she could try to place gear in such a way that the follower could use it to aid through the crux.

petzl logic · · Montreal, QC · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

a quick and dirty hack:

fix the rope with a prussik and then they can use a prussik or slings on their end to get to the gear. then they can clip in direct and you can put them back on belay. this assumes you can hear each other, etc. 

nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 375

Oh also as the follower, if you think you might get super stuck on the crux (or its a traverse where getting back on after you fall will require jugging), you can leave your grigri on the rope when you start climbing. Leader still pulls all the slack through, puts you on belay, but directly above your tie-in you have the grigri already rigged, ready to start jugging. Just toss a prussic and foot loop on above the grigri.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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