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Martyb

dynamic belay

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Hi alpinists,

 

I am trying to work out the best way to belay in an alpine situation.

 

I have heard of and read about the 'dynamic belay'. I am wondering has anyone actually done this in a real climbing situation?

 

The 'dynamic belay' is when you let the rope run through your hands when the climber falls before locking it off. I am not after people who have only practiced it - that is knowing that the climber is going to fall.

 

 

Thanks,

 

Marty

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In alpine situations you have two worries. One is pulling out gear. The other is hitting something when you fall.

 

I want MY belayer to lock me off. Let me worry about getting pro that will hold. I'd rather not hit a ledge.

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I have caught a few falls in the alpine that by the book wer "dynamic belays" The reality is that in those cases (each of them with an ATC) the fall transmited more force to me than I could completely lock off. I did not intentionally let roope out to soften the catch. CBS is right about lock off and keep the leader of that ledge. But it also gets back to "never give up" unless you are belaying with a GriGri or other such device you possibly can't hold (intitially) the catch. Keep hold of it and keep it locked.

 

I saw a report somewhere recently that showed an ATC starts to slip at approx 2Kn of force up to a GriGri at near 7Kn. I will try to find where that was. In the mean time just lock off the best you can.

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Cool. Thanks for the replys.

 

I'm trying to work out if a GriGri is 'the worst thing to use' - Quote from a New Zealand forum because of it's lack of dynamic belay.

 

What do you think?

 

I know in practice situations a GriGri is not as good as a dynamic belay but in a hard climb where you don't know when the climber is falling is it justified to use one?

 

 

Marty

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Don't get a grigri

 

* it was designed for indoor climbing/sport climbing only (according to Petzl)

* can't rap with it

* doesn't work on doubles or skinny ropes

* ice = bad

* People seem to continually find new and creative ways to fuck up when using a grigri

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[* People seem to continually find new and creative ways to fuck up when using a grigri

 

Why do you think that is?

Can it be because people are over confident that a grigri won’t slip?

 

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Don't get a grigri

 

* it was designed for indoor climbing/sport climbing only (according to Petzl)

* can't rap with it

* doesn't work on doubles or skinny ropes

* ice = bad

* People seem to continually find new and creative ways to fuck up when using a grigri

 

you can rap a single line w/ a grigri, also they're useful for aid climbing

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idiots that say a gri gri can't be used for "trad" climbing, whatever that is, are just that...idiots...

 

go check out el cap and see what the belay device of choice is...

 

gri gri's are fine...as are atc's, munter hitches, figure 8's, etc. just make sure you know how to use whatever you're using...

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All of the belay devices work for pretty much whatever you are doing, some are merely better for some situations. Knowing how to use whatever you have is typically enough to make it work in whatever situation you encounter. Climbing is situational, and applying the best possible skills to the situation at hand is the answer to all of these questions.

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idiots that say a gri gri can't be used for "trad" climbing, whatever that is, are just that...idiots...

 

go check out el cap and see what the belay device of choice is...

 

gri gri's are fine...as are atc's, munter hitches, figure 8's, etc. just make sure you know how to use whatever you're using...

That's AID climbing, Rudy. In aid climbing, an inattentive belayer is a bigger risk than ripping all your gear out. Just because a GriGri makes sense in that context doesn't mean it's the best choice for free climbing in general.

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Like mentioned above, all belay devices offer some kind of dynamic element at a certain force. In those cases where there is enough force to make a device slip, you had better be rock climbing with solid gear. Your request about a dynamic belay sounds more like a belay while on snow, where forces like 1 KN will rip out pro. In cases like that only a hip belay will give you any chance for a dynamic belay worthy of crappy snow pro. The classic seated hip belay is a wonderful thing.

While your request asked for actual experience, I have only practiced it under fairly hard conditions. We sat on glacier ice with whatever we could get with our heals in. (nothing) Then a victim would jump in a crevasse and we had to hold the fall with a dynamic belay. (there was a very very loose backup) Turned out that letting 20 feet of rope slide through on the brake hand, as we tightened down, held the fall without any anchor. Very dynamic! Definately would work for sketchy snow pro.

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idiots that say a gri gri can't be used for "trad" climbing, whatever that is, are just that...idiots...

 

go check out el cap and see what the belay device of choice is...

 

gri gri's are fine...as are atc's, munter hitches, figure 8's, etc. just make sure you know how to use whatever you're using...

That's AID climbing, Rudy. In aid climbing, an inattentive belayer is a bigger risk than ripping all your gear out. Just because a GriGri makes sense in that context doesn't mean it's the best choice for free climbing in general.

dude...you are a tool...in one breath you say "I absolutely want my belayer to lock off"...in another, you say "no gri gri"...

 

same thing...

 

AND I WAS TALKING ABOUT FREE CLIMBING ON ELCAP...

 

so...I wouldn't hesitate to have someone belay me with a gri gri...

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Martyb, what are your larger concerns around belaying in the hills? Are you looking for the "ultimate" belay method?

 

The others have already made so many good points, you want gear to hold; you also want to protect against hitting objects on the way down. The potential outcomes of either of these or in combiantion in a remote situation is well, evident it will really suck and be a lot of work. Only Sith deal in absolutes. Both are true, from a certain point of view. Application. Application is key.

 

I employ a dynamic style of belay when appropriate. Usually that translates to mediums that compromises the integrity of anchor [gear] placements. Snow and ice routes a dynamic belay may be used; and somtimes I'll consider making things run if the rock gear is suspect.

 

Dynamic snow anchors it may be common to chop/stamp a seated platform for a three-point belay augmented to a anchor above. Think old school technique here. I grew up on Chouinard and then Rebuffat so this stuff makes sense. I may use this application if I am in a poor situation with a suspect anchor. If the opportunity to build a bomber anchor in the snow is open then I will make one and usually will belay off a stitch-plate type belay device. This application is usually availlable on most snow routes that I have been on where I haven't been lazy [negligent] to seek an appropriate location to drop an anchor. Consider the potential outcomes of a slip, would it be ok to drop a hasty garbage three-point at the top end of a crevasse while the lead takes on a serac? Where are they going to end up, and what will happen to me and the anchor?

 

Whenever, I employ a boot-axe belay I attempt to reduce the salck in the systen to reduce the impact and impulse forces but do expect a little slippage and will add to that to reduce those forces on to the axe.

 

One ice routes 97% of the time I belay off a stitch-plate type belay device. There are occasions where a hip belay is elected to reduce the forces on the gear.

 

A very convenient device has been developed called the Screamer or Shock Absorber and it reduces the impact forces on your gear and system. Ice climbers commonly utillize these gizmos.

 

On rock, sure I use a dynamic anchor to alleviate the forces on the system if there is risk at overloading a component of the system.

 

Application. How and when to employ a dynamic belay are up to what the situation calls for. However, these suggestions ar enot license to become sloppy and begin cutting corners. Only Sith deal in absolutes. Both are true, from a certain point of view.

 

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My larger concerns about belaying in the hills are:

 

That the theory of only employing a dynamic belay in the mountains, as told to me by books and friends, would be prone to human error when you are tired. That is it might work when you are fully awake and at the start of a climb but 20 hours into an ascent the idea that you would be awake enough to only let some rope slip through your belay device before applying friction seems false.

 

It sounds like it is better to hold the belay device in a locked position.

 

Marty

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Dynamic belays orginated when ropes were made of natural fibres and didn't have the shock absorbtion from elongation of the fibres as modern kernmantle ropes do. The old ropes transfered a lot of energy to the system and the falling climber often resulting in equipment failure and severe injury. To hedge their bets and compensate for the lack of rope stretch the dynamic belay was developed.

 

Another thing to consider is the holding power of the belay used. Earlier belays commonly were hip belay, shoulder belay, re-drirected with the rope only clipped through a biner either connected to a pin or sling, axe, and terrain belays. The holding power from these belays are much lower than modern devices; yet these earlier belays would run or be dynamic by nature.

 

Different devices provide different holding or arresting power, and different diameter ropes add to this as well. Like most here, I have had ropes run while arresting a fall, especially with thin cords that are iced over and wearing gloves.

 

Fatigue and inattention can happen any time. The Grigri was mentioned and would be good for those instances. Luckily, the remedy may be a social response rather than a technological one. Train with your buddy, get in lots of mileage and develop your systems that work for you so that your systems just kick in and you become accustomed to operating on long rotues.

 

Bracing yoruself for taking the load of the falling climber by automatically locking it off isn't always the best situation. Sometimes you'll want to yard in as many armfuls of rope before locking it off. Each situation warrants a specific action, that is why we climb right? There is no one magic bullet for belaying.

 

You could also just go old school and just not fall.

Edited by blueserac

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idiots that say a gri gri can't be used for "trad" climbing, whatever that is, are just that...idiots...

 

go check out el cap and see what the belay device of choice is...

 

gri gri's are fine...as are atc's, munter hitches, figure 8's, etc. just make sure you know how to use whatever you're using...

That's AID climbing, Rudy. In aid climbing, an inattentive belayer is a bigger risk than ripping all your gear out. Just because a GriGri makes sense in that context doesn't mean it's the best choice for free climbing in general.

dude...you are a tool...in one breath you say "I absolutely want my belayer to lock off"...in another, you say "no gri gri"...

 

same thing...

 

AND I WAS TALKING ABOUT FREE CLIMBING ON ELCAP...

 

so...I wouldn't hesitate to have someone belay me with a gri gri...

My statements are in no way inconsistent. A locked off ATC cannot put more than 2 or 3 kN of force on the rope, no matter how hard you try. A GriGri will put 7 kN of force on the rope.

 

Do I look like a mind reader? Most people would assume you were referring to aid climbing, in the context of El Cap.

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aid climbing is ghey...i don't ever use it in reference to making a point...

 

hmmm...well, a munter hitch sits pretty high on the lock off kN category...would you use it?????

 

face it...the belayer's hips move just 1 INCH, there are now dynamics in the equation...might as well use the gri gri...

 

plus, its hella more convenient...especially if the dude is going BIGGGG!

Edited by RuMR

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idiots that say a gri gri can't be used for "trad" climbing, whatever that is, are just that...idiots...

 

go check out el cap and see what the belay device of choice is...

 

gri gri's are fine...as are atc's, munter hitches, figure 8's, etc. just make sure you know how to use whatever you're using...

 

 

:tup: I agree RuMR, and also agree about CBS tool part too. CBS saying that a ATC locked off will put 2-3kN force on the rope and Gri-gri will put 7kN is rediculus. Basically you are saying there is no affect on how much the belayer moves and the diameter of rope. A skinny rope will slide a lot more than a thick rope, decreasing force put on the rope, no matter what device you choose to use. Like RuMR said learn to properly use the device you have.

Edited by ken4ord

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I wouldn't say that CBS is being rediculous. Trials heve shown pretty much exactly as he mentions. A locked off ATC withstands 2-3 Kn before starting to slip. A GriGri a little over 7Kn. Other deveices are in the middle. The choice of device definatly affects how "dynamic" the belay is.

 

Heck I have a Kong device that works strictly by friction that generates approximatly 5Kn of resistance with a 10mm rope. You could belay with that if you want but it take 5kn of force to pullin or pay out rope. It still catches just fine.

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CBS is being a moron, cuz when was the last time a lab situation actually accurately reflected real world happenings??

 

All those "trials" use a hard anchored device, ie, the device will NOT move...how many of you belay this way?? Not many, is my guess...

 

even if the belayer is leashed down to the ground, he or she is still gonna "give" when the hit comes. Multipitching, i personally don't belay the leader off the anchor but off of my harness and i will essentially be lifted up into the belay...again, very dynamic...

 

if your gear is so shitty that you can't handle a gri gri, you'd better put a screamer on it and don't fall, bitches!

Edited by RuMR

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Heck I have a Kong device that works strictly by friction that generates approximatly 5Kn of resistance with a 10mm rope. You could belay with that if you want but it take 5kn of force to pullin or pay out rope. It still catches just fine.

 

 

Very interesting, so the Kong device works strickly by friction, and other devices don't? Well I don't know about you but when I am belaying with a Gri-gri using my 9.5, I actually have to lock off or else the rope will slip considerably. If I use my 10.5 hmmm, walla, it doesn't slip so much not so big of concern. I am sure the friction is exactly the same between to different ropes, the device must have mind of it's own. Sheath texture, diameter and conditions don't have any effect on friction, hence why we can say that once a little over 7kN is applied the rope will slip. :crosseye:

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The device I am talking of is a strictly friction unit not intended for belay but actually for Via ferrata. It as called a Aluminum shock absorber. A piece of rope is woven through a series of holes. It functions similar to a screamer but can be "reset" after it is used. I only bring it up as an example. It is a dumb piece of metal that just resists force while still slipping.

 

I use a couple as adjustable, resetable screamers mostly when setting stuff up solo.

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