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Rock Climbing Photo: Warning: the layback is steeper than it looks in t...
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By Ted Smith
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Jan 4, 2011
I also noticed that the fall factor is extreme in this picture if the lead should happen to slip. Not only would he knock out the belayer--and possibly the photographer--but he would probably strain the system to the point of failure. Double jeopardy! Am I missing something obvious? This climb is definitely above my grade, but I someday hope to be ready for it. Is it not possible to protect this section any better than this?

Nice photos, by the way!
By Jimbo
Jan 4, 2011
There's no way he's ripping that belay in any fall situation. Unless the leader has a large truck in his front pocket.
He's got four cams EQed in a bullet hard granite crack. That belay is safer than being clipped into two new 3/8ths bolts!

He could knock the belayer and photog sensless perhaps but the belay gears not going anywhere.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Jan 5, 2011
Hey Ted- there is a piece of gear between the climber and the belay. Fall factor is about 1. Assuming the piece holds (and it probably will, I measured <4kN in actual falls similar this one), the anchor won't be affected.

Plus, it was probably so cold that the climber could just stick his tongue to the rock.
By Aleix
Jan 9, 2011
Thanks guys.
Indeed, it was cold, the granite is bullet proof, the crack is perfect, the finger-locks are as good as they get, and although the leader never actually stuck his tongue to the rock, he still didn't slip. Placed another piece, kept climbing and hanged up high because I couldn't feel my fingers due to the cold.
By Ted Smith
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Jan 26, 2011
I must have miscalculated a bit. I figured 25 ft. of rope out from the belay with 15 ft. above the last piece of pro. That calculates to a fall factor of 1.6 according to That's about 8.2 kN, which would definitely concern me, because even bomber placements can have little imperfections like a skewed--side-stressed or gate-opened Karabiner. Is my calculation really that far wrong? I know pictures can be deceptive. Thanks, btw, for the discussion, regardless. I find it all very interesting.

Another consideration is dynamic versus static testing of Karabiners. At, research is cited that indicates 25 to 50 percent reductions in Karabiner strength when they are dynamically tested rather than statically, as is currently done to determine kN strength. I think a fall factor of 1.6 is excessive, because failure can happen unexpectedly due to less-than-perfect gear, rock, or combined system issues. Am I being too conservative?
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Jan 28, 2011
Yeah, I think the photo makes it look worse. Having recently done this route, it looks like the climber is about 10 feet above his piece. That probably accounts for the difference.

Whether or not you are too conservative or liberal is really up to you. At the end of the day most people want to come home uninjured. It sounds to me like you're thinking critically about this and that is totally ok.
By fat cow
From: St. Paul, MN
Oct 15, 2011
thats baller for sure. I'd like to know if when the lowest(and assuming 3rd) was brought up and clove hitched in with the rope, if that was done on the rope between the belay device and the third climber, and therefore when there was slack in the system and the climber was holding his own weight on the rock. And how does the transition go once he's ready to follow the next pitch, does he have to go second, hold his own weight and let the higher up guy (2nd climber) untie his clove, then go?
By TheIceManCometh
From: Albany, NY
Mar 16, 2012
The pro looks solid. I think the biggest risk is slamming into the belayer and having the belayer lose control of the belay.
By Jeremy.M
Aug 30, 2015
Fat Cow - This comment is way late, you may never see it. But in case you or anyone else is wondering, here's how it looks to me:
These guys are climbing on two ropes. So the 2nd and third are each tied into the end of a different rope. The leader will belay them both up at once (spaced as far apart as they wish) using the auto-locking ATC guide in 'guide-mode'.

What it sounds like you're talking about is if they were 'end-roping', using only one rope on the climb. In this case the middle-person would be tied in with a butterfly or a bite. They could each anchor in with a clove hitch just like normal and would undo their clove once each one respectively was the leader had the rope pulled up and had them on belay. First the middle person would undo and start climbing and would be on belay for that whole process, and when the end of the rope was reached, the 3rd would do the same, just like normal.

Either way, there would be slack in the system while the 2nd/ 3rd are cloving in, so they would either hold their own weight (but still be on belay right behind the slack) or go in direct with something else in the meantime. Again, this is just like normal as with a 2 person team. Pretty simple unless I'm missing something in the question or situation. Hope that helps.
Photo 3 of 28
Avg Score   5.0 from 2 votes
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Warning: the layback is steeper than it looks in this picture, it's not a slab.
Photo by Andy Bemis.

Submitted By: Aleix on Feb 17, 2009
On this route:
Abracadaver (5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c )
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