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Belaying While Mid-Pitch While Simu-climbing   

Tagged in: Alpine Climbing, Belaying, Safety, Trad Climbing
by Scott Bennett
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Protect isolated hard sections on easier terrain  

If you are simul-climbing part of a route because it is technically easy (e.g., 5.4 or 5.5), you still might come across an isolated crux section that is two or three body-lengths and more difficult (e.g., 5.8 or 5.9). That portion might warrant a belay for the leader and the follower. Communication between the two climbers is key, and the leader should alert the follower when there’s a tricky section.

The leader is tied in normally. The follower should be tied into the end of the rope with a figure eight, with slack coiled around the shoulder; then clove-hitch that slack to a biner on the belay loop. The rope coming off that biner should run through a Grigri clipped to the follower’s belay loop and up to the leader. The amount of coils on the follower’s shoulder is determined by how long the rope is and what distance separates the leader and the follower. The Grigri allows the follower to adjust the amount of rope out between the climbers, and it can be used to self-belay through short, tricky sections (called a "mini-pitch").


When the follower comes to the crux, the leader should find a good stance and place a piece or two—this is the “mini-anchor”—clipped above his waist. Then he simply clips the rope through those pieces. If the leader is not at a great stance, he can clip in directly to the anchor with a sling.

The follower begins climbing the short crux section, pulling in slack through the Grigri as he goes. If he were to fall, the rope would come tight on the leader, clipped through his mini-anchor, and on the follower's Grigri, arresting the fall.

Once the follower is through the crux and back on easier terrain, the leader continues climbing above his mini-anchor. The follower will have a loop of slack (the slack that he pulled through the Grigri while climbing the crux), and he can either remain stationary and feed that slack back to the leader (as the leader climbs), or add that slack to the coils around his shoulder.

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Comments on Belaying While Mid-Pitch While Simu-climbing Add Comment
By Ryan Martinek
From: Grand Junction, CO
Nov 6, 2014
How is the follower going to belay the leader if he has clove hitched his slack off. Can someone explain that part more clearly?
By Robert Hall
From: North Conway, NH
Mar 23, 2015
Makes it sound like a Grigi is necessary. I suspect it works the same with any ascender. But what's wrong with the second just being tied into the rope and the leader giving a top belay?

By Chris Walden
From: Soldotna, Alaska
Jul 20, 2015
Ryan - The leader is tied off as normal, figure eight follow through with rope coming back to the follower. The follower then coils the rope over his shoulder for the simul-climb portion of this scenario. If the rope isn't secured and the leader takes a fall the rope would cinch up and strangle the poor follower, hence the clove hitch. With the clove hitch in place attach the grigri (after the clove) to the rope going to the leader.

So it would be like this working from the leader. Leader -> tie-in figure eight -> rope between climbers -> gri-gri -> small loop of rope -> clove hitch -> coils around neck -> figure eight tie-in -> follower.

Robert - There are a few different ways this can be setup. The follower can use kiwi coils, properly tied off and secured through the belay loop and the leader could just use an ATC and belay the follower and vice versa the follower could throw in a quick anchor at a crux section and belay the leader. Clearly this is an advanced technique and you need to have your systems dialed in before.
By rgold
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
May 19, 2016
The follower then coils the rope over his shoulder for the simul-climb portion of this scenario. If the rope isn't secured and the leader takes a fall the rope would cinch up and strangle the poor follower, hence the clove hitch.

Not true. The rope is running through the grigri which (one hopes) takes the load if the leader falls. The clove hitch is just a backup, and yes, it has to be undone if the second is going to belay the leader.

I think a better method is to tie off the grigri the British belay-escape way, (i.e. around the solid side of the grigri carabiner) but without the extra half-hitch backup. Instead, just clip the tie-off loop to the belay loop to guard against it undoing.

This backs up the grigri, eliminating the need for the clove hitch, and can be undone by just pulling on the brake strand if the second needs to belay the leader.

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