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Dru

Fig-8 Devices Can Kill

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Newbies might also want to notice the improper use of the device in this report, specifically the fact that the carabiner is crossloaded on two separate harness loops in the first figure, greatly increasing the chance of loading the gate. As far as the belaying accident, it is wise to attach the unused (large) ring of the 8-device to one's harness (girth-hitch a sling to it and clip the other end of the sling to the belay loop) to prevent the device from travelling up the rope.

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shocked.gif That thing looks as if it's something Fred Flintstone would use and his harness looks like its made out of thin nylon binding. Have there been any reported failures with the standard AT device or with a gri gri?

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I would disagree with some of the conclusions in the article.

 

1. In particular, the advice of not clipping both waist and leg loops. I believe the problem is that, as illustrated in Fig. 2, they have the carabiener gate reversed from what it should be, i.e. the gate should be towards the climber, not outward (the gate opening however is correct towards the climber) - it just needs to be reversed.

 

2. I would never clip into the webbing loop for a rappel just for the reasons in this article, you add a ton of slack/slop to the whole chain and lose too much control over the alignment between individual components. The key to safe rappelling in all cases is careful alignment of ropes and devices.

 

3. If you feel compelled to belay with a figure 8 then do what the euros do - use just the small hole like a stitch plate (i.e. a loop goes through the small hole and just that loop of rope gets clipped, not any part of the figure 8)

 

My own feeling is most beginners would be better off using an ATC of some sort for rappelling versus a figure 8. It is a simple device with many ways things that can go wrong beyond those described. In particular it is quite easy to get going at speeds that can get out of control. I would very much recommend backing up a figure 8 rappel (or any other) with a long sling prusik loop from a leg loop.

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Moral of the story: you need to be careful when your climbing, understand the gear your using and be vigilant at all times. To me it seems like these accidents have less to do with the specific device than with not being vigilant.

 

The Alpine Bod type harness without a belay loop does take a little more attention to keep the locking biner from cross loading. Seems like i'm always futzing with it.

 

And Snowbyrd, while I don't know of any accidents, I have managed to get my belay carabiner crossloaded while belaying with a number of devices (figure 8, sticht plate, and reverso). Part of the problem is that the pear shaped carabiners tend to slip out of normal position, and ende up cross loaded with the device and harness attachment point at opposite sides of the fat part at the top, instead of at opposite ends. Just have to be aware and fix it when it occurs.

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I totally agree with selkirk on this. Setting up and using a rappel (or a belay) is not a one-time, set it and forget it deal - rather it requires thorough understanding, careful setup, and constant monitoring and vigilance during use.

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Take a look at the DMM Belay Master sometime ( the one mentioned in the article). REI carries it. It is a manual screw gate type with a plastic clip that snaps over the locking screw ensuring that it cannot turn. Furthermore, the clip will not close unless the screw is completely closed. The clip divides the carabiner into two sections preventing it from rotating and thus avoiding a cross-loading situation.

 

p-5592!559.jpg

 

I needed a new pear shaped locking biner and thought about buying the DMM, but finally went with the Petzl Triact. I wanted the keylock feature. Also, I thought the DMM locking clip would prove to be a pain in the neck. Certainly, if I used a figure 8 device, or a bod type harness, the DMM carabiner Belay Master might be the way to go.

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I totally agree with selkirk on this. Setting up and using a rappel (or a belay) is not a one-time, set it and forget it deal - rather it requires thorough understanding, careful setup, and constant monitoring and vigilance during use.

 

I'm glad that you mentioned that. I did my first clean/rappel on a hard 5.8 this weekend without being belayed from the top and having someone up there talking me through it the whole time, and I have to say, I must have checked my locking beener at least 10 times before I started to rappel down. I check it probably at least that many times when I'm belaying somebody. I'm paranoid, I know, but it'd be nice to not think about that constantly. Is this device someting that could help ease my paranoia?

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any device can cross-load a biner but the difference between the Fig-8, and I believe the Omega SBG too, and other devices is the lateral crossload from a rigid loop. this can break your biner in the manner of a bottle opener popping the top off a beer bottle.

 

but figure-8s suck anyways. thumbs_down.gif

 

josepH what part of Europe do the Euros use the small end to belay with? most of them I have seen use the fig-8 in "descender" mode to belay. while chainsmokinmg. SKETCHSKI!

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The Belay-Master would certainly prevent the biner from cross loading in the standard belay and rappel settups. But it isn't really necessary, you just need to be aware of what's happening and ever now and again look down to make sure your biner isn't cross loaded. It's probably not something you need to be paranoid about but like everything else it's certainly worth double checking and/or having your partner check, and giving your belay settup a quick look every now and again to be sure everything is kosher.

 

And your right Dru, it is a different failure mode specific to stiff stem belay devices. But again, if your careful, and vigilant it shouldn't be a problem. How long have these devices been around?

 

And i've actually used a figure-8's small end as a sticht plate moon.gif

 

However..... I would agree, there are better devices out there.

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Dru - every euro I've encountered belays that way save one and he was belaying me so I made him change it. Belaying with a figure 8 in the rappel configuration is a lousy idea.

 

But, you're right, they all chain smoke...

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i uised to use a fig-8 small end as a sticht plate, then i actually bought a real belay device.

 

"how long have these devices been around?" selkirk asks - "long enough to kill people"

 

i mean we use rubber tires nowadays instead of wooden wheels, combustion engines instead of horses,and so on. climbing with a fig-8 nowadays is like climbing with EB's and a swami belt. get with the program.

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My sticht plate and figure eight are collecting dust along side my old 486 processor. Figure eights are great for making spaghetti out of ropes.

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Which is why I use a Reverso.....

Figure 8's aren't the best device, but it's not inherently unsafe either. Just like every other piece of gear you have to know it's limitations and be willing to think a little.

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Take a look at the DMM Belay Master sometime ( the one mentioned in the article). p-5592!559.jpg

Also, I thought the DMM locking clip would prove to be a pain in the neck.

I use the DMM Belay Master carabiner while solo-aiding with a Gri-gri. It certainly is a pain in the ass, because you have to screw it locked anytime you want to close the plastic piece. Also the plastic piece can be pried off. I've lost one already.

 

But is *does* keep the biner from being cross loaded. A little additional peace of mind.

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the rigid loop effect can still break a belay master if the fig-8, rather than the biner, crossloads

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Your reaching Dru, the only failure the article even pointed to was for locking carabiners where the locking sleeve fractured. There's still the potential, though much slimmer as now your working agains the strongest part of the biner and not just a thin piece of metal that will shear at relatively low loads.

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It's all irrelevant cause Figure 8s suck in the first place and no one sane would ever use one.

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I keep a light figure 8 for back-up and use it in the sticht plate configuration for tight belays (heavy partner) and top roping, and in the Bachli configuration for dynamic belays, easy feeds to the leader and rappelling. I think it is useful and has its place. thumbs_up.gif

 

Goat

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i use a figure 8 and 4 inch aluminum bong piton combo as a windchime

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The Alpine Bod type harness without a belay loop does take a little more attention to keep the locking biner from cross loading. Seems like i'm always futzing with it.

 

That's what I got for alpine. I was taught to set the carabiner the way it's in that article's picture (gate opens up towards me, not down as someone else suggested here). I haven't rappelled with it yet, but would like to make sure I do the Right Thing.

 

How do you rig it yourself?

 

drC

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I would again very much recommend not rigging it as shown but go through both waist and leg loops putting the biener on from the top down and keep that gate down when it is pulled out from the body. And also again, manage the the alignment of the rope, biener, and device at all times.

 

I personally never use the belay loop on my harness for much besides temporary clipping at anchors, I don't rap or belay off of it due the lack of control it engenders when included in the system.

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We've been through this a million times before, and I really don't want to start it again, especially in the newbies thread, but...

 

The belay loop is there for a reason, and I think that newbies should potentially ignore those who are suggesting that it not be used. RTFM, and get yourself a good mentor, that's all.

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