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The deadly ATC
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Jan 9, 2017
Greg D wrote:
^^^ well yes. That seems like a valid point except that the jul does not hold a ff2 well on its own. So braking direction is important.


Good point, not expecting any device to stop fall without brake hand as well as passive capacity. I have found the Salewa Ergo to have greater and quicker braking than the MJ. It would seem to me better than an ATC-like device, as well.
Paul Deger
Joined Sep 15, 2015
20 points
Jan 10, 2017
Jim Titt wrote:
The Serenity 8.9 is an older model still available at some shops at least here in Germany. The MegaJul and some of the other devices of this kind like the AlpineUp specifically exclude FF2 falls in their instructions. Another reason not to carry them on multi-pitch routes.


Jim, Thank you for your astute observations and comments. I had no idea there was an older slightly thicker model of the Serenity. That just goes to show that testing ropes on the outer edges of a belay devices rope diameter specification is pretty important. I did notice in in the Grigri 2 manual that they give a optimal rope diameter specification of 9.4 to 10.3.

In terms of the manuals for the Megajul and Alpine Up, for those that want a reference and don't want to dig for it:

edelrid.de/out/documents/downl...

Rock Climbing Photo: Edelrid Megajul manual showing death with factor 2...
Edelrid Megajul manual showing death with factor 2 falls.


"14. If you secure others with your body in a multi rope length route, be sure at least one intermediate securing point lies between the securing device
and the climber."


climbingtechnology.com/wp-cont...

Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing Technologies Alpine Up manual showing dea...
Climbing Technologies Alpine Up manual showing death with factor 2 falls.


"6) CLICK-UP MODE - BELAYING THE LEAD CLIMBER.
Before setting out, the lead climber must be safely anchored and check that the Alpine Up works correctly. Make sure the leader’s knot is correct and the rope is uncoiled. Stand in a convenient position so as not to hinder operations. Warning! Remember to hold the free end of the rope in your hand at all times!
Risk of death!When ascending a multi-pitch route, before setting up on a new pitch, the leader’s rope must pass through a directional anchorage on the belay point. If not, the Alpine Up may not work if the lead climber falls (figs. 5.6 and 5.7)."


I wanted to post information about the Mammut Alpine Smart Belay from it's manual, but Mammut does not keep their user manuals online and I could not find my own. I imagine it's quite similar to the prior two. If anyone has a physical copy of the manual perhaps you could take pictures of the relevant parts and post it here?

I couldn't find any information in Petzl's Grigri 2 manual about factor 2 falls. How is it that we know they will catch them safely?

petzl.com/sfc/servlet.shepherd...

What I still don't understand, is what exactly happens with brake assisted devices like the Megajul, Alpine Smart Belay, and Alpine Up in a factor 2 fall?
Will it completely fail and the climber drops? Will it damage and/or cut the rope and potentially dropping the climber? Or will it slip some rope through until the climber comes to a stop further down than expected? Are the manuals for these devices simply waiving their liability for the safety of the climber in a factor 2 fall, or they just won't hold at all?

I would think this would be pretty important information to know. I wish we could test this on the rig that rgold described using years ago to practice these sort of catches. In the mean time, myself and my climbing partners will be using belay gloves and being even more observant of avoiding factor 2 falls with proper techniques.
anotherclimber
Joined Apr 4, 2016
0 points
Jan 10, 2017
anotherclimber wrote:
I wanted to post information about the Mammut Alpine Smart Belay from it's manual, but Mammut does not keep their user manuals online and I could not find my own.


I found these two

test.mammut.ch/images/Smart+Al...
mammut.ch/documents/Hardware/B...
dino74
Joined Sep 16, 2016
5 points
Jan 10, 2017
With the MJ and others in a FF2 unless the belayer moves their hand above the device it fails to lock at all, hence the warnings.
The GriGri and it´s relatives are required to stop a FF2 hands free to pass the standard for assisted locking devices, the others don´t and can´t so are just manual belay devices.
Jim Titt
From Germany
Joined Nov 10, 2009
0 points
Jan 10, 2017
Yup, the semiautomatic devices are all in the same category as ordinary tube-style devices when it comes to factor-2 falls. All you get for friction is the rope running around the attachment carabiner unless the brake hand is brought above the device---a conscious reaction that is the opposite of the way one brakes leader falls through overhead protection.

If the brake hand is brought above the device, then locking action will be initiated, but the tests of Jim an others suggests that with the high loads encountered, the belayer is stuck with an inferior device.

The Alpine Up is the "least inferior" of the devices, the MJ is the worst. But the Alpine Up might cause sheath damage.

Instructions to always clip the belay anchor may work in an environment where the belay anchors have been bolted, but are simply unrealistic as a general rule when it comes to trad climbing.
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
35 points
Jan 10, 2017
ALEKS- You make several valid points and of course these are interesting things to talk about, but this still always comes around to personal preferences and what level of involvement one likes to have in the belaying process. This can be a situational decision too; i.e. gym vs. outdoors, toproping vs. lead climbing, 'hard' lead vs. 'easy' lead, friend vs. stranger, etc. Further, the choice of belay device/technique can also be influenced by ones views on reliability of mechanical devices and competence of operators. The so-called 'Yosemite Method' of yore emphasized mechanical simplicity, reliability, versatility and light weight. Those are the primary reasons I still prefer ATC type-devices, and have primarily used simple friction devices like Tuber, Trango and ATC at various times over the past few decades. Can you drop someone with these? Yes. Have I seen climbers dropped to the floor or ground using Grigri, etc.? Yes. Mark Pell
Joined Mar 18, 2012
70 points
Jan 10, 2017
Thanks for sharing from manuels. Take-away: always place piece (or bolt) as soon as possible on 2+ pitch - perhaps before even leave the belay station. And wear gloves! Paul Deger
Joined Sep 15, 2015
20 points
Jan 10, 2017
I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls.

The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails.

I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested)

Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?
cyclestupor
From Woodland Park, Colorado
Joined Mar 11, 2015
63 points
Jan 10, 2017
cyclestupor wrote:
I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?


David Coley's guide on multi-pitch climbing calls this a chariot belay, and it works very well. It does take some extra effort and time but is well worth it if the terrain off the belay isn't easy/protectable
eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
131 points
Jan 10, 2017
All good "PD" but I find that you discover sheath issues more often (and I hate this sick feeling you get when you find one) without gloves. Do gloves really help? Does not the mechanism do the work? Preventing rope burn as a rationale for gloves seems like you are not belaying correctly. I have used gloves, but only to stay warm. I would prefer not to use them if I do not have to...am I off here? Roy Suggett
Joined Jul 20, 2009
5,975 points
Jan 10, 2017
cyclestupor wrote:
I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?


I did something like this after an aborted attempt to link two pitches. Equalized some pieces, then lowered back down and built the belay anchor at the station I was hoping to avoid. Made the whole thing a lot less terrifying.
Lee Durbetaki
Joined Apr 23, 2016
0 points
Jan 10, 2017
eli poss wrote:
David Coley's guide on multi-pitch climbing calls this a chariot belay, and it works very well. It does take some extra effort and time but is well worth it if the terrain off the belay isn't easy/protectable


Thanks for the response Eli.

I don't have David Coley's physical book, but I went to multipitchclimbing.com (the companion to the book). The website contradicts what you said. It says...
David Coley wrote:
Two solutions climbers have developed to deal with runout hard climbing above the belay are the chariot belay and simply not stopping at the belay but climbing through the hard section then lowering back to the belay after clipping a bolt above the belay. A chariot belay is created by the belayer hanging himself some distance below the belay on a tether formed using the rope. Clipping the first bolt on the next pitch leads to probably the quickest changeover when leading through of any method, and is discussed later.

So it doesn't actually name the method where the leader climbs past his/her anchor, but it does discuss it. Alternately, a "chariot belay" seems to be where belayer lowers himself/herself below the anchor.
cyclestupor
From Woodland Park, Colorado
Joined Mar 11, 2015
63 points
Jan 10, 2017
Roy Suggett wrote:
All good "PD" but I find that you discover sheath issues more often (and I hate this sick feeling you get when you find one) without gloves. Do gloves really help? Does not the mechanism do the work? Preventing rope burn as a rationale for gloves seems like you are not belaying correctly. I have used gloves, but only to stay warm. I would prefer not to use them if I do not have to...am I off here?


Gloves don´t "help" in the belaying sense, I´ve tested hand force with various gloves and they all give less gripping ability on the rope so less braking force. However they prevent or reduce injury to the belayer and reduce the chance they wil lose control of the rope. The reduced braking power can be countered by adding karabiners to the braking device if you use a conventional plate, an option not available to Smart etc owners.
Jim Titt
From Germany
Joined Nov 10, 2009
0 points
Jan 10, 2017
A lot of manufactuers' recommendations are clearly aimed mainly at Euro climbers who will almost never have to build a gear belay.

cyclestupor wrote:
I can't find the thread now, but I remember there was a similar discussion about FF2 falls a long time ago. Someone in that thread suggested another alternative to avoid FF2 falls. The idea is that after the leader constructs the belay anchor, but before he/she puts the follower on belay. He/She takes a look at the start of the next pitch. If it looks sketchy, then the leader could continue climbing (past the anchor) and put a piece or two in, clip that piece, then down-climb (or lower) back to the anchor, and bring up the follower. Now once the leader sets off on the next pitch, their first piece is already in place. The only way a FF2 fall could occur is if that 1st piece fails. I haven't tried this method yet, but it strikes me as the safest way to mitigate a FF2 fall. if the leader of the 1st pitch falls above the anchor, the FF will be minimal since they have ~90ft (one pitch) of rope out. This also allows the 2nd pitch belayer to belay from the comfort of the belay ledge (if there is one) instead of lowering down below the ledge (as some have suggested) Does anyone do this sort of thing on a regular basis? If so, how much extra time does it take?

Similarly, clipping the first progression pro of the next pitch as part of leading the previous pitch before coming back down to the belay is something that is more straightforward on sport multis with hanging or semi-hanging belays than with trad routes. The DAV, Petzl and UIAA recommend this too but all the illustrations I've seen were for sport routes. On more "traditional" trad routes, the belays are more likely to be at ledges and there's nothing safer about lead climbing above a ledge when you've got a lot of rope out.

I like this option for avoiding the possibility of an FF2 and use it when I can but, like everything else, you have to know when it will boost safety and when if might actually decrease it.

Also, trad or sport, belaying your second through a redirection point a few metres above the main belay means that this point better be 100% reliable.
jktinst
Joined Apr 18, 2012
0 points
Jan 10, 2017
cyclestupor wrote:
Thanks for the response Eli. I don't have David Coley's physical book, but I went to multipitchclimbing.com (the companion to the book). The website contradicts what you said. It says... So it doesn't actually name the method where the leader climbs past his/her anchor, but it does discuss it. Alternately, a "chariot belay" seems to be where belayer lowers himself/herself below the anchor.

Haha, guess I need to work on my reading comprehension. That's actually what I was referring to, though. I've never actually seen his physical book anywhere, I'm wondering if it is harder to find outside the UK. His stuff on that site is really awesome, though. Very good reading material that manages to cover a lot of stuff but still go into really good detail. IMO if you read all that stuff and practice it on the ground or on single pitch stuff you're ready for multi
eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
131 points
Jan 10, 2017
Nick Goldsmith wrote:
T roper. that is pretty much my feelings. I feel safer with partners that I know sport climb and do FA's I know they know how to catch a fall. On the other hand if someone is crazy enough to take 30m FF2 falls on a reguler basis (never heard of such a thing but that was Jims criteria) I would rather avoid them.


Jim Titt wrote:
Exactly how many 2 year sport climbers have experience of 10 or 20m FF2 falls?


It doesn't sound to me like his criteria is taking FF2s on a regular basis. He was inferring, IMO, how catching at least one big FF2 is likely better experience for catching FF2s than sport climbers catching lead falls.
Dustin Stotser
From Springfield, MO
Joined May 24, 2014
353 points
Jan 10, 2017
cyclestupor wrote:
I don't have David Coley's physical book, I don't have David Coley's physical book...


The book is called High - Advanced Multipitch Climbing (David Coley and Andy Kirkpatrick) and it is readily available for $11 from Amazon as an ebook - see amazon.com.au/High-Advanced-Mu...

The ebook sucks as a product in that nearly all the illustrations are skipped and the formatting is not great - hence the supplementary website multipitchclimbing.com

That said, it is the most comprehensive and useful resource I've ever read on the subject, an absolutely exceptional advanced course in multipitch techniques, and is well written, accompanied by great anecdotes and the broad experience and contrasting styles of the two authors are all interesting and hugely informative.

The book is crying out for a proper publishing contract to enable them to get it well illustrated and edited, at which point it would be a candidate for the top 5 books every trad climber should have as an essential reference. As it stands, for $11 you get access to some incredible, hard-won intellectual property in a reasonably accessible format.
Alex Rogers
From Sydney, Australia
Joined Sep 9, 2010
15 points
Jan 11, 2017
Dustin. catching one big fall VS catching hundreds of falls, many of them hard falls with verry little rope out? not buying it. Espically since almost none of the climbers I know have caught or experienced a FF2 fall.

Seems like your options are pretty limited. You either practice catching FF2 falls in a controled setting or you strive to Never take or let your partner take a FF2 fall. talking about what you might do if it happens won't make any difference when it does.
When really bad things happen verry suddenly your reactions are instinct not thought based. reading does zero good without practice. I will say that those of us with years of belaying the 2nd directly off our harness without a redirect have the experience of catching a struggleing 2nd with a downward pull. Those from the era of always redirect and then the era of belay directly off the anchors with a guide mode device do not have that experience to fall back on.
Nick Goldsmith
From Pomfret VT
Joined Aug 23, 2009
15 points
Jan 11, 2017
Ken Noyce wrote:
Not going to take the time to look it up, but I believe that both Jim Titt and Bearbreader have posted numberous links to data by the DAV in Germany which shows that there is a much higher accident rate with an ATC vs a GriGri.


All that shows it there is a much higher level of belayer incompetence in general. In that study 70% of the accidents were with ATCs which represented 60% of the belay devices used. That incompetence is relayed a bit 'faster' with ATCs would be expected without any autoblocking. But the idea of using grigris to mask incompetence is a pretty dubious proposition given the number of grigri accidents - i.e. incompetence 'leaks' through the grigri just like ATCs, just at a slightly slower rate due to the masking. What that means is a whole lot of people get away with shitty, incompetent belaying that would never have been allowed bitd but which is just a fact of life people accept today.

Bottom line is the devices are irrelevant; incompetent belaying is the problem.
Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
100 points
Jan 11, 2017
Her last sen. got to the crux and nailed it! Roy Suggett
Joined Jul 20, 2009
5,975 points
Jan 11, 2017
Healyje wrote:
All that shows it there is a much higher level of belayer incompetence in general. In that study 70% of the accidents were with ATCs which represented 60% of the belay devices used. That incompetence is relayed a bit 'faster' with ATCs would be expected without any autoblocking. But the idea of using grigris to mask incompetence is a pretty dubious proposition given the number of grigri accidents - i.e. incompetence 'leaks' through the grigri just like ATCs, just at a slightly slower rate due to the masking. What that means is a whole lot of people get away with shitty, incompetent belaying that would never have been allowed bitd but which is just a fact of life people accept today. Bottom line is the devices are irrelevant; incompetent belaying is the problem.


Of course, what can one expect when the traditional apprenticeship involving years of working through the grades and experiencing all different scenarios including run-out multi-pitch routes is replaced by a two-hour course and a "belay certificate"? I´ve run belay courses and issued DAV certificates in the past and sure as shit the belayers aren´t competent either intellectually, experientally or technically to belay on anything outside their restricted remit i.e top-roping or leading on single pitch sport routes.
The concept that someone with 2 years sport belaying experience is in any way whatsoever ready to belay someone on a reasonably run-out R or X rated route is ludicrous. They have no idea of the violence, force and energy involved to start with let alone which way to move their hand.
The whole discusion shows the flaws in the entire chain, manufacturers make devices which work fine in the limited environment of single-pitch sport routes or top roping, sell them as "enhancing safety" and the owners have no conception that for other applications they are completely inadequate because the manufacturers aren´t telling them. That the UIAA/EN testing doesn´t even measure the effectiveness of the devices is scandalous. The device gets a "safety label" even if it doesn´t work.
Jim Titt
From Germany
Joined Nov 10, 2009
0 points
Jan 11, 2017
Wow. That post wins the all-time award for truth density. rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
35 points
Jan 11, 2017
I'm so appreciative for the wealth of knowledge here. Thank you all of you that post good information here.

dino74, You are amazing! Thank you for finding those links. Mammut does not make that easy to find those manuals. What's so difficult for them to link the manuals right on the product page like most every other manufacturer does?

Unfortunately neither of those manuals of the Smart Belay says anything about factor two falls. The only good piece of information I gleaned from them is that they don't recommend lead belaying directly on the anchor rather than from your belay loop. If we disregard their argument for the lack of a dynamic catch in this scenario, the main problem is the device needs to have freedom of movement to lock properly in a fall. And if the setup for belaying directly on the anchor is improper and something prevents the nose from moving downwards in a fall it might not lock up and catch the leader. Good to know. I would assume this is an issue for any brake assisted device that has to move to lock up.


Jim Titt, So for the manual brake assisted belay devices it's more of a technique and education issue than a complete inability to catch a factor two fall by pulling upwards on the brake strand? I would think this would be important information for the manufacturer to make available to the user in the manual. There is a big difference between, "This device cannot catch a factor two fall." and "This device cannot catch a factor two fall unless you hold upwards on the brake strand."

Which leads me to my next question, why hasn't any of these climbing gear companies made a dual slot belay device that passes the standard for assisted locking devices?

I'm with you with the lack of information and testing from the companies making these devices. It's quite scary when you think about it.

If gloves don't help with gripping strength, and if your using a brake assisted belay device that is not a Grigri... Does it not make sense for catching high factor falls? Your testing seems to imply that past a certain kN load everything but the Grigri would slip some rope through and potentially injure the belayer or make them let go of the rope which would could have them lose control of it. This would likely be catastrophic with the belay device inverted and both rope ends coming out of the top I'm guessing it would not lock.

rgold, Thank you for the further clarification. How do you know the Alpine Up might damage the sheath?

Paul Deger No problem! In my own thinking, assuming you have enough rope, it seems to make more sense to use the method that user cyclestupor mentioned on page 9. It seems safer as long as the first piece has no chance of pulling. I'd go with a full strength 10kN or higher piece. Although I'm sure there will be circumstances where it cannot be done and you have to lower the belayer ten feet below the anchor to belay so the anchor becomes the first piece, or place rock pro as soon as you can as a last resort. This not only applies to pitch two and higher of multi-pitch climbs, but also single pitch climbs where the belaying area is on a elevated narrow ledge that the leader can fall past. Otherwise, belay gloves yes. And hold the brake strand upward if you have to catch a factor two fall and be prepared for a violent catch.
anotherclimber
Joined Apr 4, 2016
0 points
Jan 11, 2017
AC, the possibility of the Alpine Up damaging the sheath comes from tests by Jim. I think those were slow-pull tests, but once sheath damage happens in one situation, we have to at anticipate the possibility in other situations. rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
35 points
Jan 11, 2017
rgold wrote:
AC, the possibility of the Alpine Up damaging the sheath comes from tests by Jim. I think those were slow-pull tests, but once sheath damage happens in one situation, we have to at anticipate the possibility in other situations.


Thank you for this information. Are you implying that this same sheath damage could possibly happen with other manual brake assisted devices?
anotherclimber
Joined Apr 4, 2016
0 points


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