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“Guide Mode” usage


Brandon R · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 58
FosterK wrote:

Using a Gri Gri on a fixed station to belay from above with a single rope, especially where a lower for the follower is likely would satisfy condition a: appropriate technique for the situation, so no it is not applicable.

a) it could be accomplished with less weight and expense, b) the grigri has known problems when used in this fashion, c) the act of saying something is appropriate, doesn't actually make it appropriate.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 878
FosterK wrote: a) where the root cause is a misapplication of belay technique, and, b) that problem can be solved equally through the practice of (free!) rope skills that are transferable to other areas of climbing.

Sounds exactly how anti lock brakes came about. 

Imagine there is a belay device salesman named Alfred T. Crag. He tries to sell you his device. And he tells you you can lower your partner in seven easy steps after you read the manual and go through several hours of training. 


Then imagine there’s a salesman named Dwight D Makeiteasy. He tells you you can lower your partner in one step. No training needed. 


Which one would you choose?


Ryan Williams · · London (sort of) · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,265
Kyle Tarry wrote: The risk is catching a leader fall while using skinny ropes, particularly in half rope mode (i.e. all the force on one rope).  Holding a top-roping follower on 2 ropes simultaneously, with the assistance of the braking force provided by autoblocking mode, requires much less brake force, and works fine on pretty much all devices (for example, a Gigi/Ovo has WAY less braking power than any modern ATC/tuber, and they belay a second just fine).

Catching a leader with skinny ropes is never fun, but when belaying a follower it’s not a given that everything will always work as intended. With ropes that thin (7.1), there is a risk that either the auto-blocking mech doesn’t work well and/or that the ropes will become inverted when loaded, creating a pretty big problem if you need to lower before the climber can unweight the rope. 

Joe Prescott · · Berlin Germany · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6
Russ B wrote: There's no problem with plaquette/guide style devices, what so ever. The problem is with inexperienced climbers doing things they're not properly prepared for.

Does it make sense to blame ropes because every week we have someone dying from getting dropped because no one tied a knot and the belayer is new and didn't know what the halfway mark meant as they passed it through their device?

It takes about 20 seconds and 3 pieces of gear, to rig to lower someone properly and safely. Too complex of a task? Deciding to use guide mode without all the tools to make complete use the device? Disregarding best practices and manufacturer instructions? Not knowing your unprepared for what you're doing? Those are personal issues, and have nothing to do with the device.

People are being dropped = problem.

If a rope came out that was equal in every way (sure, $5 more expensive) but offered a safer/smoother lower, you would not use it? Or somehow helped alleviate a safety issue? I'm guessing you were a hold out for antilock breaks (as mentioned below) because you can just pump the breaks yourself...

In an emergence, you might not have time, not have you extra crap that you/we carry, or might need it for another situation. Can you not think of the possibilities where not needing a backup and leveraging assistance might be very helpful one day? Cannibalizing gear in an emergency retreat, arriving at an anchor with nothing, bailing in a lightning storm? Not to easy sometimes no matter how dialed you ting you are.
Joe Prescott · · Berlin Germany · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6
FosterK wrote: Your argument for the Pivot isn't convincing because it's proposing to use a more expensive, marginally heavier device to solve a problem: a) where the root cause is a misapplication of belay technique, and, b) that problem can be solved equally through the practice of (free!) rope skills that are transferable to other areas of climbing.

You are arguing expense and weight, and you were the one up-thread using Gri Gri? Yeah, about $5 more and actually LIGHTER than the BD ATC-Guide by about 8 grams. Add the expense of the extra stuff you might need to set up a lower (extra sling, biner for munter (now you have 3 for the set-up) and autoblock, know, this is stuff you haul around anyway is the argument...).

a) Yeah, the root cause is misapplication, but that is going with happen with ALL guide mode devices, so why not use one that happens to lower easier=safer when it is misapplied? That doesn't make sense. Unless you think the Pivot will lead to more misapplication? Doubt it. Most that understand the benefits of the Pivot might be more inclined to use it appropriately - maybe not.

b) Can be solved for the most part in a controlled environment (with some extra bit of kit), but you can't imagine a reason that it might be needed to have easier lowering without having to rig extra kit? Or just wanted? It is super smooth and amazing what moving the pivot point just a little does.

I think most people are just trying to stick up for what they own already, and have not actually lowered in real situations with multiple devices (or not real situations), or simply taking contrarian stances. When these devices were first coming out, we played with them in the basement rafters of our climbing shop and did all sorts of practicing, belaying and lowering each other and weighted haul bags. They have improved some (still have my Reverso1 and 2) but lowering a fully weighted rope is a PITA no matter how much you practice, and that is in ideal situations. In fact, people are discussing and debating their problems currently, almost 2 decades later... And it's not just new inexperienced climbers.

So far, the only reason I can see the Pivot not being a better choice is cost ($5-6) and very slight holding power compared to XP. Hard pull depending on rope/biner kit perhaps. And confidence that you won't ever be in a situation where easier lowering is beneficial/necessary.
Joe Prescott · · Berlin Germany · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6
Nick Drake wrote:

Fixed that one for you. Munter or a prussik on the belay loop is all you need, they're damn easy and if people can't quickly execute one of those than they don't have the requisite skills to be climbing multi-pitch rock in the first place. 

If your argument stuck to, "for areas and situations where lowering a follower is very likely I think the pivot is a better tool" you'd get a lot further here. 

If lowering is likely then you shouldn't be using guide mode for these devices. It takes more than just a munter/prusik in a lot of situations for the ATC and Reverso, and extra leverage is often needed to 'unlock.' 

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 267
Joe Prescott wrote:

If lowering is likely then you shouldn't be using guide mode for these devices. It takes more than just a munter/prusik in a lot of situations for the ATC and Reverso, and extra leverage is often needed to 'unlock.' 

You can easily transfer to a direct anchor lower (Munter, ATC, etc.) in less than 2 minutes, and the only thing you need is one friction hitch (prusik loop, sling, cord, etc.).  When the follower is still in contact with the wall (i.e. the vast majority of situations), it takes about 15 seconds and only requires a friction hitch and a spare carabiner to switch into LSD lower mode.  The idea that lowering with a standard plaquette device is complicated, time consuming, or gear intensive is simply false.


I would thing even the most technically savvy and competent ropesmith, sporting all the backups and leveraging aids and knowhow to rig up all types of complex systems, would choose a device that simply lowers easier without sacrificing much of anything, even though they know how to overcome the problems these belay devices pose.  
If this was the case, how do you explain the fact that thousands of intelligent and experienced alpinists, guides, and climbers aren't using Pivots?

This whole debate isn't nearly important enough to warrant 6 pages of "discussion."  The Pivot works great and is cool.  A "normal" ATC works great too.  I don't know why it matters this much which device somebody uses.
Kees van der Heiden · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 40
Kyle Tarry wrote:



If this was the case, how do you explain the fact that thousands of intelligent and experienced alpinists, guides, and climbers aren't using Pivots?

I don't think it is that easy to convert number of sales to rational behaviour. People are pretty dumb when buying things. Familiarity, habbits, group behaviour, marketing, availibilty,  are much stronger reasons to buy something then rational behaviour. When you look at it rationaly, then you detect a problem (dropped climbers) and a solution that is only slightly more expensive without any real negatives. But BD and Petzl have a much larger market share and stronger marketing etc.
Joe Prescott · · Berlin Germany · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6
Kees van der Heiden wrote: I don't think it is that easy to convert number of sales to rational behaviour. People are pretty dumb when buying things. Familiarity, habbits, group behaviour, marketing, availibilty,  are much stronger reasons to buy something then rational behaviour. When you look at it rationaly, then you detect a problem (dropped climbers) and a solution that is only slightly more expensive without any real negatives. But BD and Petzl have a much larger market share and stronger marketing etc.

Exactly. These are most surely the real reason the Pivot is not more popular. I still have climbers ask me what it is and what is does (much more in the US than Europe though). So a lot is marketing and not understanding what the advantages are. It is obviously not straightforward (lowering with guide devices) and there have been many, many dozens of articles in major pubs, threads here and elsewhere, etc reporting dropped/stuck climbers. These are very often not from new/inexperienced climbers only. Some articles are based on education, describing ways to overcome the limitations and dangers of these devices. As soon at an ATC-Guide-EZ-Lower or EZ-Lower Reverso hits the market, almost everyone will suddenly happen to need an new belay device. Actually, a lot of guides are using Pivots these days. 

I tap out. I think I have my answers.

Stay solid
Joe
Steve Marshall · · Concord NH · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45
Eli W wrote:

Huh, their website has a different range: https://smcgear.com/spire-multi-pitch-belay-rappel-device.html


I think this may explain some of the reviews online where people are complaining that fatter ropes are not compatible.

I have used it with a 9.8 and as we all know, different ropes even stating the same diameter on the package will behave differently.

I used it on a fuzzy old non-dry 9.8 at the ice crag and it was more work but it did feed rope and take in slack. The complaint about fat ropes not really being compatible is valid. It may be "safe" up to 10.5 but it is not enjoyable due to high friction. However, it does work quite well for skinny ropes which is where most other devices encounter incompatibilities but with much worse consequences.

but these days even 9.8s are kinda rare. I use it on a 9.6 frequently and it is a little stiffer than other devices but quite functional. Really shines with <9.5 and skinny ice lines though. I think you get punished a bit for sub-optimal belays, if you build it so the device is above you a bit it is much much smoother to feed but if your device is below your hands its worse than an equally-badly-situated ATC.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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