Why is a running belay so uncommon? I just summited my first mountain last week (we were ascending Hood as we heard of the tragedy on the mountain that day) so my experience is worth about a grain of salt compared to those above. But being from Michigan, my training ground is a rope in a tree, a back yard, and a ton of reading that told me a running belay was the way to go. An upright, mid-clipped picket can be set in under a minute in most snow conditions and has the same holding power as labor intensive t-slot. With the 6 pickets we had between the 4 of us, we were able to descend the majority of the pearly gates to the bergshrund with two pickets on the line the entire time with minimal delay. I have two regrets of our trial so far: one) I wished we would have shortened the rope to balance the risk of the climbers close to the anchors and two) that we also ran the same protection going up the chute.
Before we started up the chute I did remind everybody to keep their heads up to the team as much as possible in the hopes that if one person did begin to slip or fall that somebody would be able to call it before it caught the whole team off guard. Two of us also were using a runner strength ax tether that I would probably encourage the other two to use next time - the snow was just soft enough to get the ax shaft buried leaving us well-attached to the mountain at times of rest. We made sure the rope was on the uphill side, so a fall from the rear would turn the person to the mountain and not away from it.
On the way down someone bobbled off of hogs back but he didn't really miss the trail, I made sure that everybody remembered to call "falling." It was 5 minutes later when somebody did just that. After looking up from my own arrest I was proud to see two guys with their faces buried and on top of their axes while the third was making his way back up to the trail. With legs of jello at the end of the day, it was something we all laughed at, but who knows what would have happened without the first warning. Next time, I'll make sure every day starts out the drills to make sure everybody's muscle memory is where it should be.
I know a lot of the accident reports start off with the tangled mess of a rope team or people complain of rope teams clogging a route, but are there good experiences that DIDN'T turn into front page news because they DID use a rope team?
Like I said I'm a total noob here - but I figured I'd add several months of having my nose in a book or article as points of argument. This is also an article covering some of the what/whens of simul-climbing:http://www.mountainz.co.nz/content/arti ... sition.php
In the case of the Rainier accident, I'd say the rope team did what it was supposed to. There are other questions in terms of self rescue or team rescue that could be asked but I'm not in a position to ask those questions. In the end, I'll say that I'm for educated
rope teams. Perhaps the teams that more people are against are those that simply tie themselves together and think they are instantly safer because a rope is involved.