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Next pet peeve - belay technique!!!

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Postby The Chief » Mon May 18, 2009 2:23 pm

Steve Larson wrote:
The Chief wrote:Utilize the DIRECT BELAY Method! It can easily be done with an ATC GUIDE but I personally prefer and use a REVERSO.
Image


Ah, man... clipping just one of the three loops of the cordelette?


Good catch Steve... Negative!

It's just an illustration to show either the Device or a Munter.

Pulled it off a website as I was too lazy to take and post pics of my own.

In a real world scenario, all three would be clipped!

PS: Again, this is a personal preference. When climbing Single Pitch Sport stuff, I will just utilize the In-Direct Method and go straight off my Belay Loop.
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Postby CClaude » Mon May 18, 2009 5:15 pm

MountaingirlBC wrote:i use the direct belay a lot to bring up a second but it doesn't solve the problem of the static belay for a lead. Definitely would save me getting thrashed around but doesn't cushion the load on the pro in the event of a fall. But in conjunction with what I was suggesting earlier... would that be a good compromise? It seems strange to be talking about setting up an anchor that will fail but better I go for a ride than unzip all the pro right?


As Chief says there s plenty of play in the system to begin with, so it starts to become a moot point. Along with the energy absorption methods that the Chief mentioned, a large dissipation of energy in a system is the slippage of rope through the device as you stop the person. In a Grigri or Cinch, the slippage is minimal and more energy is transferred but with a Reverso or a BD Guide, the slippage of rope through the device is more then you think, and along with the stretch of a rope, the amount of stress on the gear probably isn't as much as you think (or he is much heavier then I think.)
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Postby TheOrglingLlama » Mon May 18, 2009 5:21 pm

The Chief wrote:one was one powerful and awesome climber!!!!!


Why thank you Rick, you are too kind :mrgreen: :wink: :twisted:
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Postby brenta » Mon May 18, 2009 5:39 pm

The most extensive study of belay techniques is summarized in this article on the UIAA site.
The full report (in Italian) is here.
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Postby bdynkin » Mon May 18, 2009 8:16 pm

MountaingirlBC wrote:i use the direct belay a lot to bring up a second but it doesn't solve the problem of the static belay for a lead.


Mountaingirl,
I don't think that a belay off a fixed anchor is static as you indicated. With a high enough load (force), a certain length of rope will slip through the belay device even if you lock off prertty hard. But if you are really concerned about limiting an impact on the top piece you can purposefully let a bit more rope to slip when arresting a fall - that is how it was done before dynamic ropes. Not sure if I would do it for real without catching a few hundred "dead weight" falls first.
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Postby ShortTimer » Mon May 18, 2009 9:52 pm

Or you can anchor yourself with a directional but not sit out at the end of that connection. If you sit closer to the piece you will still get moved some before you hit the achor and the belay is a little more dynamic. I don't know the math on whether you actually gain a reduction on the absolute impact to the anchor that way though. A good belayer learns to 'give' a little in situations that require it.
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Postby ksolem » Mon May 18, 2009 9:53 pm

Most climbers do not understand the importance, in many situations, of a true dynamic belay for safely catching a leader fall. I recall seeing a Petzl video clip last year showing the belayer (on the ground belaying a leader on a sport climb) gently jumping up as the rope came tight while catching a fall. This technique reduces the force with which the falling leader will swing back into the wall on a steep climb.

A softer catch than just the dynamics the rope and gear provide can also be a good technique on a traditional climb if the gear is sketchy.

I always belay the leader off of my body (harness) for these reasons. I suffered a back sprain which took me out of action for months while attempting to finish my route “Seizure” in Josh. I was caught by a direct belay (the tuber type device was attached to a tree which has since died) and the impact was extreme even with more than 70 feet of rope in the system.

There are also certain circumstances when the best thing your belayer can do is to feed out rope aggressively. Master belayer Guyzo Keese demonstrated the value of this technique as I went airborne up at the Kern Canyon’s Rincon area about 5 years ago.

I was going for the first clean lead of a new route called “Buzz Buster.” The crux moves are probably .11+, but come after a section of sustained vertical .11 climbing, so the sport grade would be 5.12a/b. The crux finishes when you latch a thin rail with the left hand enabling one to clip a bolt to the right now at chest height. At this point your pro is a bolt one full body length below your feet so the fall would be max 20 ft. Also at this point one has climbed up and right toward an arête and above an overhand about three body lengths under the feet.

The rail has a distinct sweet spot, and if you miss it you will be in trouble, so the best thing is to be patient, use a thin intermediate right which enables you to feel around for the best part of the hold. I was feeling strong and confident, and foolishly did a long reach past the intermediate. I did not hit the best spot on the rail. I was not solid enough to clip, so up came the right to another crappy spot on the rail and I piano’d around for a second or two looking for the spot before taking flight.

I did not have the rope behind my leg when I fell, but as I looked down I watched with horror as the rope formed a perfect loop in the air which my leg dropped into. I expected to be flipped and hit the wall upside down (no helmet.) I screamed.

I fell much further than I expected, and when finally caught I flipped violently end over end and axially at the same time. Then I was dangling there, about 10 feet below the overhang!. Belay master Keese had instantly sized up the situation and realized that I needed to fall clear of the overhang below me, where I could flip without hitting the wall, and he promptly fed out as much rope as he could before catching me.

My point? Belaying and catching a leader safely can involve a lot more than simply locking off the device. And if you want to see the exact opposite of Guyzo’s thankfully loose belay that day, watch the running belayer in the opening sequence of the great video “Hard Grit…” :shock:
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Postby Brewer » Mon May 18, 2009 10:42 pm

Good story, ksolem.

And good thread too. Lots of good applicable info and personal experiences.

Thanks!
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Postby klk » Tue May 19, 2009 1:29 am

ksolem wrote:There are also certain circumstances when the best thing your belayer can do is to feed out rope aggressively. Master belayer Guyzo Keese demonstrated the value of this technique as I went airborne up at the Kern Canyon’s Rincon area about 5 years ago.

I was going for the first clean lead of a new route called “Buzz Buster.” The crux moves are probably .11+ . . . At this point your pro is a bolt one full body length below your feet so the fall would be max 20 ft. Also at this point one has climbed up and right toward an arête and above an overhand about three body lengths under the feet. . . . I did not have the rope behind my leg when I fell, but as I looked down I watched with horror as the rope formed a perfect loop in the air which my leg dropped into. I expected to be flipped and hit the wall upside down (no helmet.) I fell much further than I expected, and when finally caught I flipped violently end over end and axially at the same time. Then I was dangling there, about 10 feet below the overhang!. Belay master Keese had instantly sized up the situation and realized that I needed to fall clear of the overhang below me, where I could flip without hitting the wall, and he promptly fed out as much rope as he could before catching me.


Yeah, great story partly because we have only a few classic stories about belays. Stories are one of the best vehicles we have for conveying technical instruction as well as moral lessons, and this one is especially sweet.

Good thing he wasn't using a gri-gri, hehe.
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Postby The Chief » Tue May 19, 2009 4:49 am

As Kris and others have posted, experience as a "slave", which technique to use in different circumstances and finally how to "play" the cord when a leader is in a whip scenario is critical to the entire game.

It all comes with time!
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Postby CClaude » Tue May 19, 2009 3:40 pm

ksolem wrote:Most climbers do not understand the importance, in many situations, of a true dynamic belay for safely catching a leader fall. I recall seeing a Petzl video clip last year showing the belayer (on the ground belaying a leader on a sport climb) gently jumping up as the rope came tight while catching a fall. This technique reduces the force with which the falling leader will swing back into the wall on a steep climb.

A softer catch than just the dynamics the rope and gear provide can also be a good technique on a traditional climb if the gear is sketchy.

I always belay the leader off of my body (harness) for these reasons. I suffered a back sprain which took me out of action for months while attempting to finish my route “Seizure” in Josh. I was caught by a direct belay (the tuber type device was attached to a tree which has since died) and the impact was extreme even with more than 70 feet of rope in the system.



Kris,... you were lucky to only have a sore back. A similar thing happened to an old friend of mine (even though he was belayed off a person and not a tree). He fell, the last bolt ripped (a freak accident), and the vertabra shattered underneath his harness (even more freakish). He never hit the ground but he's now a parapalegic (it was written up in ANAM and I'll look up the exact page/issue since it was handled fairly by ANAM).

I agree a soft catch is important for a good belay (which is why I often don't anchor in belaying the leader on the first pitch if its safe), except in Mountaingrls situation, she is having problems just belaying a partner who outweighs her by 100lbs. I'd rather have a harder catch, then no catch at all. She has to be able to control the situation to begin with rather then to let the mass difference cause an uncontrolled situation (I've seen it before with a pixish woman who weighed in maybe 100lbs and her boyfriend/husband (I don't know which one) was maybe 225lbs..... it wasn't pretty for either of them.)
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Postby ShortTimer » Tue May 19, 2009 9:22 pm

My wife fell about 60 feet back in 1984 and broke everywhere that the right leg of the harness hit. So it's not that rare to break bones from the harness. Maybe it isn't as common now with softer and thinner ropes.

The other side of the coin is when your leader is way out and takes the big spitter and it becomes a matter of how fast can you get rope in? I have caught Kris where I had time to pull 3 full armfulls of rope in. Unfortunately I only got 2 1/2 of them taken up with the brake hand and I had about 2 feet go back out thru my other hand. It is amazing how much of a burn 2 feet of rope will give you.

We have also had occasions where the belayer either jumps off a pedestal or takes off running downhill to take rope in so that the leader doesn't hit whatever is below him. The difference between a good belayer and a belayer is often broken ankles (or worse).
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Postby rhyang » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:57 pm

Fond memories :)
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Postby mvs » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:38 pm

Thanks for resurrecting this thread, learned some stuff.
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