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catbirdseat

"Reeling In" a Falling Leader

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PHILONIUS said:

Yeah, I want to see this reeling in shit work too. I doubt if anyone could pull in much rope through any device fast enough to make much difference and still be able to lock off a fall. I especially liked the one about reeling in 10 feet of slack when a leader takes a 20 footer with no pro off the belay. How the heck do you plan on doing that? hellno3d.gif

 

By locking off the rope and backpedaling.

 

I've done this while sport climbing several times and shortened the leader's fall considerably. On trad gear I'd be more reluctant to do this because of the danger of zippering the gear from the bottom, but I don't think it increases the force on the top piece considerably.

 

I've "reeled in" an arms-length of rope when a leader falls, but never more than that. One arms-length, lock it off, and squat or step backwards.

 

 

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We have had this discussion on this board before, and it was clear that opinions on the matter may vary, but I believe that in almost all cases I would generally rather have my belayer reel in whatever slack they can. I say this because I am always fearful of hitting things on the way down unless of course I am falling off an overhang, and in that case I am just plain fearfull of falling.

 

 

In the most recent discussion that I recall, one cc.com poster made a case for how it is better not to reel in the rope, and he even advocated what in effect amounts to letting some rope OUT by having the belayer remain unanchored and then jumping up just as they make the catch in an effort to add some additional slack or cushion that would absorb some of the shock to be placed on the climber and to the top piece of gear, and which would reduce the force of a rapid swing back in toward the rock. I would rather have my belayer reel in as much as they can because I have never heard of an injury stemming from the shock of a short catch (I'm sure it happens), and I think that the danger of hitting footholds or ledges or gear on the way down is greater than the danger that a short catch may increase the severity of the slam back into the rock -- unless perhaps you are falling from overhanging rock (around here, that is most common at the gym or at some sport crags). I am not overly optimistic, either, that a dynamic belay will allow my sketchy TCU with only two cams in the rock to catch me when it would have failed otherwise.

 

I'd say that, on average, most non-overhanging bits of rock offer the possibility that the falling leader will hit something on the way down even if they place every possible piece of pro, and I have never heard of an instance where trying to reel in slack caused the belayer to drop the climber because they were not "locked off."

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Matt...

 

I completely shattered my foot 3 1/2 years ago due to getting "shortroped" on a fall...If i'm not going to hit anything, i don't mind pitching an extra 5 - 10 feet at all...i'd rather have a loose belay...

 

Disregard above for slab climbing....

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RuMR,

I was somewhat convinced by the prior discussion that what you are suggesting (longer falls are safer) may be good for sport-climbing falls (i.e. bolt pro and overhanging rock). However, where the rock is not overhanging, and especially when I am worried that my pro may not be all that good, I'd still rather take the shorter fall. I would guess that if you look at any statistical analysis of climbing accidents outside of the gym, and even if that includes sport climbing areas, there are more injuries caused by the climber hitting things on the way down than the smack down caused by the short catch.

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Hence my comment "Disregard above for slab climbing...." yellaf.gif

 

what i was saying is only true for overhanging rock....

 

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So it seems that what we are actually referring to is not actually "reeling in" rope, but more like running, etc. back to pull rope through the system, thus shortening the fall. That, I could accept, depending on the circumstances. Probably works much better in the sport/crag world than in alpine situations, where you are likely to be anchored and in an exposed position. So, check out the options carefully beforehand and run away to shorten the fall, or jump up to soften the catch as appropriate. Remember, this is climbing, you've always got to be thinking through all the "what ifs." thumbs_up.gif

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mattp said:

Yes, but I don't call most of Index Town Wall or Castle Rock "slab" climbing.

 

You are so out of it MattP! Didn't you learn on your trips to Little Si this year that in the sport climbing lexicon, "slab climbing" simply denotes "not overhanging". wazzup.gif

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Definition of slab climbing:

 

1.) any climbing where your stomach need not be flexed to maintain foot contact w/ rock

 

2.) any climbing where the feet are not above the head yelrotflmao.gifyelrotflmao.gifwave.gif

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Actually, Phil, what I am referring to IS the practice of reeling in the rope. I generally do not want my belayer to be running backwards, because they might trip over something or fall off the belay ledge, either of which might well result in their dropping me. I would agree that thinking about the "what if's" is a good idea, though, and running backwards or jumping up while catching a fall are probably more often than not best applied at a crag with flat ground beneath it. Run a search for the prior discussion.

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How many people have actually done this? If you have, go ahead and put up a post. If you have not, let it go. Let's just see what comes up. wave.gif

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jkrueger said:

Fence_Sitter said:

i am amazed at the ignorance on this thread... hellno3d.gif

That's the purpose of the Newbies Forum.

 

but many of these people are peeps that post on the parterns forum! cantfocus.gif

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ncascademtns said:

How many people have actually done this? If you have, go ahead and put up a post. If you have not, let it go. Let's just see what comes up. wave.gif

 

i reeled in some rope for a poster here at index at the country... he would hvae hit a ledge... also important is the dynamic belay... a lil upward motion will do... drastically reduces shock on climber and gear... both are valid... if you are not experienced enough to know by instinct... DONT TRY EITHER! if you fuck up trying to take in rope you can swing your partner into the rock too hard... you can also rip the gear... giving dynamic belay also has dangers but not as severe nor likely ( compromising the belay/ hitting shit on the way down) again... if you dont know which to do (it should be common sense) JUST LOCK THE FUCKER OFF! hellno3d.gif

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Not very long ago I was doing some multi-pitch slab climbing and my partner started to "slide". He was sliding fairly slow so I pulled in a few arm lengths of slack and then locked off as he began to pick up speed. This cut off about ten feet of his fall, after which he was very appreciative.

 

I am only talking about one particular situation here, as coming up with "absolutes" that apply to every situation is difficult. All I am saying is that there are situations in which reeling in slack has helped my partners and I enough to make a difference.

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Reeling

 

Some of us believe that reeling works because we've actually done it...and it works!

 

Examples, climbing a real slab route on the Apron. Dancing in the Light comes to mind. Hard friction with regular 30' fall potential. I fell...a lot... my partner reeled..alot.. my (and his) falls were significantly shorter than they would have been. I'll take a 20'er over a 30'er anyday. (Slab falls start out slow there is plenty of time to reel)

 

Spring '03 in Arches National Park. A 200+ lb friend backcleaning a pitch of A1 pulls a nut and begins whipping. It was a long clean fall. As the rope piled up in front of me I reeled (how much I don't know but I definitely went through the action). Stopped him tight (and got yanked into the wall) after a 40'er. Fun! Fun!

 

Two weekends ago watched a dude blow a clip on The Grinning Weasel and go for a wicked 50+'er. His buddy was reeling like mad he came up <10' shy of the ledges at the belay. Would have been ugly. Did reeling help....?

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Attitude said:

On a vertical face, it takes an object about 0.6 sec to fall 10 ft. That's not a lot of time.

 

yeah but rarely do you just start free falling... you shoe rubber will slowly start to go or something like this...lab physics wont always translate directly into the real world every time... also many times you are making a move upwards when you fall... it takes time for the upward momentum to be counteracted before you can even add your .6 seconds... it is possible... believe me... in the right context reeling can save lives and does...

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I believe this discussion was started in response to the accident reported by Scott. Not knowing anything else, I though it interesting to estimate a fall time since some people implied he should have been able to "reel in the leader"

 

Fence_Sitter said:

Attitude said:

On a vertical face, it takes an object about 0.6 sec to fall 10 ft. That's not a lot of time.

 

yeah but rarely do you just start free falling... you shoe rubber will slowly start to go or something like this...

Rarely? I've been climbing and suddenly found myself falling more than once. Of course, my footwork isn't very good.

Fence_Sitter said:

also many times you are making a move upwards when you fall... it takes time for the upward momentum to be counteracted before you can even add your .6 seconds...

Climbing at 3 ft/sec would add about 5 hundredths of a second to the fall time. I don't think that is significant.

 

Fence_Sitter said:

it is possible... believe me... in the right context reeling can save lives and does...

Agreed. We're just trying to define what is the right context. Ooozing off a runout slab, probably. Popping off a vertical face one foot above your last clip, probably not.

 

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When reeling is appropriate:

 

I've had to reel about 3 times, and sitting down and pulling gave me what I needed. The pulling and lock-off was one motion. The motion was like an arch with a straight arm from the ATC around to behind my rear-end. This accompianied with sitting down can give quite a bit of take in the rope. Watch out for swinging into the wall though. I've only reeled on sport climbs at Vantage with small falls. Practice makes better. Put on your harness, bust out your rope, and play with it. Make sure your neighbors arn't watching. rolleyes.gif

 

I think the trick is to have clear communication with the climber about ledges, etc.. and have it thought out ahead of time what the best thing to do, and be prepared with your plan. Ask you partner what his piece above the ledge is like.

 

If you have an omni anchor at the start, running may help, if there is time. But I don't know about that one.

Never done that.

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Several people commented that running might cause the gear to zipper. Are you using an omnidirectional placement for your first piece? If not, then you should be.

 

BTW, all bolts are omnis. Some, if not most, cam placements can be omnis. Chocks can be omnis if set in opposition.

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dberdinka said:

Two weekends ago watched a dude blow a clip on The Grinning Weasel and go for a wicked 50+'er. His buddy was reeling like mad he came up <10' shy of the ledges at the belay. Would have been ugly. Did reeling help....?

A 50 ft free fall takes about 1.3 seconds. I'm guessing that each reel can take maybe 3 ft. of rope. Therefore, the belayer would have to have reeled 3-4 times to keep the climber from hitting the ledge by 10 ft.

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Attitude said:

dberdinka said:

Two weekends ago watched a dude blow a clip on The Grinning Weasel and go for a wicked 50+'er. His buddy was reeling like mad he came up <10' shy of the ledges at the belay. Would have been ugly. Did reeling help....?

A 50 ft free fall takes about 1.3 seconds. I'm guessing that each reel can take maybe 3 ft. of rope. Therefore, the belayer would have to have reeled 3-4 times to keep the climber from hitting the ledge by 10 ft.

 

Have a hard time believing the belayer was able to reel 3-4 times in 1.3 seconds hellno3d.gif

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