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Auto-Belays

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Auto-Belays

Postby Patrick B » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:22 pm

So I ran into an issue with this today; I was working as a belayer at a local climbing gym and found out that the gym had recently purchased two auto-belays (webbing from a mechanical device that is attached to the anchor and belays you). I tried not to act disappointed at my employers decision, but I died a little inside :cry: . Has gym climbing disconnected itself so far from actual climbing that it is going to eliminate belaying from gyms entirely? One thing I love about climbing is connecting with the people I climb and work with. I am as social as possible at my work and try to create a positive atmosphere. Eliminating the connection between belayer and climber takes away two prominent aspects of climbing: trust and social interactions. Having another person at the end of my rope gives me a good feeling and I connect with that person and trust them with my life. Running laps on an auto belay makes climbing mindless and mentally exhausting. I tried running laps on a wall after my work, and found it had potential as a training tool, but I felt alone. I will try to avoid them by climbing outdoors, but when the snow starts coming, I might be in the gym a lot more than usual.

So what's your take?
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby moonspots » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:28 am

Patrick B wrote:So I ran into an issue with this today; I was working as a belayer at a local climbing gym and found out that the gym had recently purchased two auto-belays ... So what's your take?


I too work at a climbing gym, and (generally) like the auto belay devices. They free up my time when I have someone onsite that knows how to climb, and wants to do just that, and I can then attend to someone else who wants/needs more personal attention. This allows me to accommodate more people on the wall when I'm alone, and it allows me to climb when I'm alone (small gym, only 7 lines/stations).

Further, even when folks are on auto, there is often plenty of interaction between the staff and clients, explaining how they work, demonstrating that they DO work, and the on-going chatter, encouragement and advice-slinging that goes on when on rope.

Now, the (small) down side is they require regular maintenance, we (I) take them down once weekly and clean and inspect them, then re-install and re-check.

So, I like them. In general.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby nartreb » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:54 am

As a gym customer, I like them. I can drop in at odd hours without having to convince a friend to show up at the same time. (You guys hang around and belay the customers? Never seen that around here, unless it's a private lesson [$$$]!)

What I really like about the auto-belays is that unlike a manned belay, you can't hang on them. It's finish the route, or fail. Not as high-stakes as leading or soloing, but one little step toward giving yourself an honest assessment of your skill and endurance.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby norco17 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:36 pm

Kiss your job good bye. Just like all the checkers did when the self checkout stands were introduced to the grocery store.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby JHH60 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:09 pm

My extended family lives near a gym in Northern VA that has several of these installed. I like them since if I go there for Christmas (as I will be doing in a few weeks) I can take family members who aren't old or experienced enough to belay me to the gym and belay them myself, but can then tie into an autobelay rope and do some laps.

We don't have them in the local gyms in the SF Bay area but my climbing buddies and I mostly lead climb there, and autobelay devices don't support that (yet).
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby mconnell » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:24 am

norco17 wrote:Kiss your job good bye. Just like all the checkers did when the self checkout stands were introduced to the grocery store.


Autobelays have been around a long time. At least 15 years ago that I first saw one. I've never seen one in a gym. Besides, the main job of employees at a gym is not to be belay slaves. Even if a gym used a lot of them, they still need people to make sure that customers are tied in correctly.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby norco17 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:05 pm

mconnell wrote:
norco17 wrote:Kiss your job good bye. Just like all the checkers did when the self checkout stands were introduced to the grocery store.


Autobelays have been around a long time. At least 15 years ago that I first saw one. I've never seen one in a gym. Besides, the main job of employees at a gym is not to be belay slaves. Even if a gym used a lot of them, they still need people to make sure that customers are tied in correctly.


I mostly agree, but it also depends on the gym. For example my school gym has a wall and very few people are belay certified. For most people who climb there it is their first time climbing. If they switched to auto belays it would drasticly cut back on the number of employees needed and their hours. I just find it weird how willing everybody is to replace people with machines.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby JHH60 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:29 pm

IMO it's always better to be belayed by a human - if nothing else they can point out where I missed a hold or appeared to do the sequence wrong, and can encourage me with "nice!" when I make a hard move, or belittle me when I want to come down out after pumping out and failing on a crux. But if an autobelay device is available and nobody is around to belay, what's the harm in using it?
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby Bob Sihler » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:44 pm

I like climbing alone and don't like chatting with strangers, so I would prefer an auto-belay in a gym. However, you don't have to worry about me killing your job since I don't like climbing in gyms. Fortunately, the winters here are usually mild and dry enough that I can still get in some outdoor climbing. :)
"Some men just want to watch the world burn."
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby otto6457 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:29 am

The climbing gym here doesn't have auto belays but I wish they had one or two. As a new climber I don't know anybody or have a partner to go to the gym with so I don't get to use the big wall. The only time I've been on the big wall was when I got my introductory lesson. It would be nice to be able to try it again but without someone to belay me I haven't gotten to use it again.

There's a lots of bouldering walls, so I'm still learning how to climb. But the big wall is a lot of fun.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby cyborg » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:08 am

The Chief wrote:What is a gym?


Go back to guiding the Whitney trail granddad.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby MoapaPk » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:01 pm

"gym" is derived from the Greek γυμνός , which means "naked." A "gym climber" typically climbs naked.
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby Bob Sihler » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:18 pm

cyborg wrote:
The Chief wrote:What is a gym?


Go back to guiding the Whitney trail granddad.


How's the NZ summer shaping up?
"Some men just want to watch the world burn."
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby JHH60 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:35 pm

MoapaPk wrote:"gym" is derived from the Greek γυμνός , which means "naked." A "gym climber" typically climbs naked.


Well, that clears it up. So the first "gym" was the 'Gunks.

http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/FAQ_Vulgarians.htm

I did my first multipitch trad climb in the "gym" (though I wore clothes, and it was a good thing as there was a wasp nest at one of the hanging belays).
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Re: Auto-Belays

Postby TimB » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:02 pm

You gotta do one of those outdoor 'autobelays'. Silent Partner or the like??
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