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Belaying from above with masterpoint at feet


Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510
Chad Miller wrote: Tough titties. 

That's misogynistic and offensive to women.

Chad Miller · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 150

Bad ballsack

Conway Yao · · Washington, District of Col… · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 47

Interesting that this seems to be far from a settled debate.

  • We've got Munters, ATC in Guide modes, and GriGris.
  • We've got direct belays, indirect belays, and redirected belays.
  • We've got masterpoints a few feet from the edge, at the edge, and over the edge (necessitating a hanging belay)
I agree that rope drag over the edge is not a real problem when belaying up a climber. The main problem is when lowering. That creates a ton of rope wear when going over the 90-degree lip. Your options there are to:
  1. Pad the edge
  2. Get the masterpoint as close to the edge as possible, either by extending the masterpoint or lowering off the harness.
Also, I considered elevating the masterpoint with a backpack or bag stuffed under it so it's not lying flat on the ground and forms a straight-er line with the direction of load. It works, but also seems a bit janky?
Conway Yao · · Washington, District of Col… · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 47
Rob D. wrote:

This is the method I was trying to describe above.  It seems to be the solution the original poster should consider and is what I use quite frequently at the top of routes in the gunks where a tree anchor is set back from the edge. 

This is interesting, I've never heard of it but it makes sense. So the belayer cloves into the MP, sits at the edge, and then ties an alpine butterfly or a figure-8-on-a-bight a few feet above his tie-in knot? Then clips a biner w/a GriGri or ATC-G or a Munter to that loop and belays 'direct' off of that? EDIT: lol you don't need to tie a bight to clip into a biner, you can just clove the biner directly to the rope. Duh.

That works, although under load the device would still get pulled down onto the ground. You're effectively using the belayer's anchoring line to further extend the masterpoint closer to the cliff edge, analogous to the third technique here: https://www.climbing.com/skills/learn-this-belay-extensions/

Rob D. · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 30
Conway Yao wrote:

This is interesting, I've never heard of it but it makes sense. So the belayer cloves into the MP, sits at the edge, and then ties an alpine butterfly or a figure-8-on-a-bight a few feet above his tie-in knot? Then clips a biner w/a GriGri or ATC-G or a Munter to that loop and belays 'direct' off of that? That works, although under load the device would still get pulled down onto the ground. You're effectively using the belayer's anchoring line to further extend the masterpoint closer to the cliff edge, analogous to the third technique here: https://www.climbing.com/skills/learn-this-belay-extensions/

I use a clove for the belay device because if the angle/height/distance from edge isn't quite right, I can easily adjust it.  It does have the problem of being pulled down but as someone else mentioned, if that is really a concern you can toss a pack just behind the clove (or even your leg or something else) and it keeps the device raised.  That said, if you are paying attention it really isn't a problem that I have ever noticed beyond going "eh, I'll raise that up I guess".  


I'm not sure this method is taught in any books but it seems really obvious to me.   There are a few things like this that I do regularly but have never really seen illustrated and I"m wondering if it's one of those situations where learning that ONLY one way is the right way leads to inability to properly judge safety or options.

I think that simple, effective, clean will always be the choice I make in most situations like the one the poster is describing.  In fact with trees set back from the edge I will just walk around the tree, walk back to the edge, then clove myself into the rope.  It's so simple, easy to move up and down the rope, and just works.  Many of the very complicated methods we learn and teach to new climbers are important, but time would be better spent getting new trad leaders to be flexible and able to problem solve instead of memorizing every tiny detail of knot strengths or KN's that a sliding nut will hold.  
Jon Browher · · Wolfeboro, NH · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 50
Conway Yao wrote:
I agree that rope drag over the edge is not a real problem when belaying up a climber. The main problem is when lowering. That creates a ton of rope wear when going over the 90-degree lip. Your options there are to:
  1. Pad the edge
  2. Get the masterpoint as close to the edge as possible, either by extending the masterpoint or lowering off the harness.

A belayed rappel would be best if rope damage from lowering is the concern. 

Conway Yao · · Washington, District of Col… · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 47
Jon Browher wrote:

A belayed rappel would be best if rope damage from lowering is the concern. 

That's what we ended up doing, but it's inefficient time-wise since the moment the climber got down, he'd want to start climbing back up again.

m Mobes · · MDI, ME · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 905

single rope rap while tied in and ready to go. No extra or wasted time.

Nick Woodman · · Saco, ME · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 1
Conway Yao wrote:

That's what we ended up doing, but it's inefficient time-wise since the moment the climber got down, he'd want to start climbing back up again.

Why? You already have them on belay. Just have them go off rap and start climbing. Pretty much instantaneous. 

jessie briggs · · Bah Habah · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 407

Belayed rappel. End of discussion. I see so many climbers do stupid stuff at otter all the time. It’s so simple. I work at the local shop, we sell rope guards for 16 dollars. Buy one. If you don’t know how to do a belayed rappel set up, hire a guide for a half a day and learn something. We do that too. Belays off the harness sucks if the climber is on the larger side, have them weight the rope and tell me how your back feels the next day. 

m Mobes · · MDI, ME · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 905
jessie briggs wrote: Belayed rappel. End of discussion. I see so many climbers do stupid stuff at otter all the time. It’s so simple. I work at the local shop, we sell rope guards for 16 dollars. Buy one. If you don’t know how to do a belayed rappel set up, hire a guide for a half a day and learn something. We do that too. Belays off the harness sucks if the climber is on the larger side, have them weight the rope and tell me how your back feels the next day. 

Nothing like a 200lber hanging their way up a TR attached to the belay loop from the top. Its memorable for sure. My vote is for the grigri death machine.

Isaac Mauro · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Sure its already been said, but in these situations, I always just dangle my legs over the edge (nice n' comfy) and belay off my harness. Adjust your attachment to the anchor (tether or clove hitch) so that in the event of a fall, you are not pulled out of your stance at the edge of the cliff. Definitely not as nice as a direct belay, but it allows you to easily keep eyes on your follower, and is perfectly comfortable if you think about where the rope is running in the event of a fall so your leg doesn't get pinned. I actually belay off my harness in this fashion quite often in eldo with all the fat ledges you end up building belays at. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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