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carolyn

belaying a leader

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alright, so I feel bad asking this question NOW , after I have already belayed many leads. However i would hate to have someone get hurt because I didnt ask.

So....

The first time I was asked to belay a leader I was told to keep enough slack in the rope in order to not pull them off. The person leading, and those who I have belayed since then probly had falling furthest from their mind (as they were climbing something way below their level). Common sense says to brake if they fall.

Well, reading johnny's post on mind control some people talked a little more about belaying. It made me wonder if I was missing some knowledge that would prevent the leader from further injury in the case of a fall.

examples:

quote:

by chuck:did your belayer take in rope while you were falling? That can cause the falling climber to whip into the wall harder

and

quote:

by allison:I will say that we were all new enough that we didnt have the 'dynamic catch' in our belaying repetoires at that point. I know how to do it now, tho...

Also, it was mentioned a few times about falling and hitting your belayer. I was recently taught to belay (on ice and I imagine it could be useful for rock as well) off an anchor (tree, screws, etc) vs your harness. THe reasoning...if a large chunk of ice comes falling (or person wink.gif" border="0 ) you can still hold onto the rope and move far away. I really dont see that being much different than if you are belaying off your harness, tho. In addition, if you had to get help for some reason you would be able to get out of the system and lock your partner off. Not something you can do while belaying off your harness too easily. Just wondering what others think of this and pro's/con's Im missing before I make a decision to belay this way or not.

Thanks!

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: carolyn ]

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You think way too much woman. Just drink a 5th of Whiskey at the base and hope you pay attention enough to realize he or she might be falling.

There is no science to common sense. If some dude says watch me then well WATCH HIM. If they complain about too much slack then DONT GIVE SO MUCH SLACK.

Time to get a Guinness outta da fridge [big Drink] Boring.........

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quote:

Originally posted by Cpt.Caveman:
Time to get a Guinness outta da fridge
[big Drink]
Boring.........

Cold Guinness? Ugh! Guinness is best drunk at ROOM TEMPERATURE!

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quote:

Originally posted by G-spotter:

Cold Guinness? Ugh! Guinness is best drunk at ROOM TEMPERATURE!

My guess is that you currently do not have a stout and are jealous.

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quote:

Originally posted by carolyn:
alright, so I feel bad asking this question NOW , after I have already belayed many leads. However i would hate to have someone get hurt because I didnt ask.

So....

The first time I was asked to belay a leader I was told to keep enough slack in the rope in order to not pull them off. The person leading, and those who I have belayed since then probly had falling furthest from their mind (as they were climbing something way below their level). Common sense says to brake if they fall.

Well, reading johnny's post on mind control some people talked a little more about belaying. It made me wonder if I was missing some knowledge that would prevent the leader from further injury in the case of a fall.

examples:

Also, it was mentioned a few times about falling and hitting your belayer. I was recently taught to belay (on ice and I imagine it could be useful for rock as well) off an anchor (tree, screws, etc) vs your harness. THe reasoning...if a large chunk of ice comes falling (or person
wink.gif" border="0
) you can still hold onto the rope and move far away. I really dont see that being much different than if you are belaying off your harness, tho. In addition, if you had to get help for some reason you would be able to get out of the system and lock your partner off. Not something you can do while belaying off your harness too easily. Just wondering what others think of this and pro's/con's Im missing before I make a decision to belay this way or not.

Thanks!

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: carolyn ]

Carolyn:

1) best to belay off your harness. That's what the loop is for. Belaying off the anchor directly is for Euros with Reversos. The main disadvantage I see is that the belay device off the anchor may not conveniently be at waist height and your ability to successfully lock off may be compromised.

2) generally, like Capt. vaguely said - keep the rope to the belayer just on the loose side of tense. Paying out a bit of hero slack is good for most things as it lets leader move suddenly and not get short-roped. it also looks good in pictures! If leader says "OK watch me" or is in terrain where a fall could hit something then you take in a bit, not tight, but no slaxck in the system. For steep stuff you can jump up a bit when they fall so as not to have them swing into the wall. Try it at the gym on a steep wall and see! cool.gif" border="0

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I would rather have a cold bud (which I do) than a cold guiness [big Drink]

And dru-thanks.I found it awkward to belay off an anchor, but some of the reasoning did make sense (that would be taught by mr.parent)

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OK, my $.02:

I am anti- belaying off an anchor, or being anchored in (when possible, obviously) while belaying. The reason why is that it introduces another static element into the system. The more stretchy the system (like the rope, and your braking hand) the better and easier it is on your climber when they fall. Think of this: if the rope and other elements of the belay system didn't have dynamic 'give' in them, the impact of the rope going tight in a lead fall could easily kill the climber. Internal injuries!

Everyone's a little bit different in the amount of slack they want, but this is what I like for what it's worth: I want the rope as taut as you can make it without me ever being able to feel the rope. Right...the loose side of tense. If you know your partner you know how fast they climb and whether they are going to move fast or slow. I want the rope fed out smoothly so the only sort of 'pulling' I ever feel is the rope drag. Remember if you ever get a little sloppy on belaying too tight to blame the rope drag smile.gif" border="0 your partner won't be the wiser smile.gif" border="0 ...Except in the case of groundfall potential in which case I'll short-rope (on the side of taut) when I can (the clip or pro is, say, waist level or higher) in order to protect against that.

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I'm a little unclear on this idea that you might want to add what sounds to me like extra slack in the system in the event of a fall (the suggestions that you catch the leader gently, or jump up to accomplish the same thing, or whatnot). I want my belayer to arrest the downward movement as quickly as possible and I have never -- no, let me correct that: never ever -- thought that they stopped me too quick (though often the opposite). I know that in the new sport climbing tradition (on vertical or overhanging rock) the leader actually tries to jump away from the rock when they fall to avoid hitting anything and the security of the anchors is generally not in question. Is the idea to absorb some of that away-from-the-rock momentum so as to lessen the crash back toward the rock?

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:
I'm a little unclear on this idea that you might want to add what sounds to me like extra slack in the system in the event of a fall (the suggestions that you catch the leader gently, or jump up to accomplish the same thing, or whatnot).

I the "jumping" technique and leaving slack technique are not the same thing. While they both increase the distance fallen, only the former also increases the decellerating distance, thus decreases the maximum force (same net work over greater distance, hence lower average force) I think most people are saying "Nay" to the slack idea (at least in terms of slack to improve the fall characteristics) and there seems to be no super-majority on the dynamic belay/jump technique.

My thoughts: belaying a long-ish fall: no jumping. You're already set for a ride. Short "sporty-type" falls: yeah, jumping or maybe just hopping might make it more comfy for your leader and maybe easier on your rope, but it seems like a technique you grow into, not pick up straight away.

Finally, this is all a bunch of mountaineer-type talk. Lets cut this shit and start talking more about beer and wild parties. [big Drink]

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When I'm belaying someone much lighter than me, I might leave a little bit more slack in the line to allow more stretch in the rope so they don't "jerk" to a stop. Also if it's steep and overhanging I will allow more rope between the leader and I so the leader doesn't swing into the wall if he/she falls - especially if it's right after a clip.

I belay off my body as much as I can. I'd rather my harness and body take some of the force before it's transferred to my anchors.

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Go to the gym and do some falls on lead. Have your belayer catch you hard and then jump for a soft catch. Then decide which you prefer and work with your belayer to catch you that way. Personally I like the softer catch. You hardly feel the fall. A hard catch turns your downward momentum into a swing into the wall. Talk to Allison about what that can do to you.

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quote:

Originally posted by carolyn:
I would rather have a cold bud (which I do) than a cold guiness
[big Drink]

Although I am known to drink bud I would rather smoke it grin.gif" border="0

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quote:

Originally posted by carolyn:
The first time I was asked to belay a leader I was told to keep enough slack in the rope in order to not pull them off. The person leading, and those who I have belayed since then probly had falling furthest from their mind (as they were climbing something way below their level). Common sense says to brake if they fall.

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: carolyn ]

To answer your question: If the person you're belaying hangs, dogs, pulls on gear, or engages in any other sort of "bad-form" they get ten feet of penalty slack. If they do it again, they get ten more, and so on. I always try to let the leader know how much penalty slack they've accumulated as they approach the crux to give them a little extra motivation. So as they're desperately hanging off greasy slopers, wheezing, and full-on sewing machine leg, you can yell-up "I wouldn't fall, you've got twenty feet of penalty slack -- you might deck!!"

[ 02-14-2002: Message edited by: specialed ]

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Thanks for the clarification. Max suggests that jumping off the rock is probably a useful technique only in a sport-climbing situation with vertical to overhanging rock and bolt protection and I would generally agree with this (you certainly wouldn't want to put an unnecessary outward pull on a stopper, and if the rock is less than vertical you are going to be hitting the rock anyway and the jump may only increase the force of your initial collision) but what about the soft catch? I can see how it may lessen the shock to the climber, and to the entire system, and this could be helpful particularly if there wasn't much rope between the climber and belayer, but this too sounds to me like a practice that is generally more useful for sport climbing than other situations. In general, I want my belayer to be reeling in if possible, otherwise I just want them to hold on tight. Comments?

As to belaying from the anchor. For years I always tried to belay from my waist, for the reason that Allison suggested. I have gotten used to managing the rope this way, and I believe the extra shock absorption of placing my body in the belay system reduces stress on the anchors. However, now that more and more climbs are being set with bolt anchors at a convenient location, directly above the belay stance, I have begun to change that practice. In this situation, it is probably safer to belay directly off the anchor, so the belayer is not going to be distracted from their belay duties by being themselves yanked in the direction of the force.

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:
Max suggests that jumping off the rock...

I meant for the BELAYER to make a small hop, not the climber. But I don't mind if sport climbers atart jumping of tall rocks! grin.gif" border="0

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hmmmmmmmm. If you are not clipped in while belaying me, I will drag your skinny butt UP the rock at a high rate of speed. If you are not wearing a helmet, your head will get smashed on something and you will die and I will fall to the ground or at least to the end of the rope. This happened to a husband wife team at Smith rock about ten years ago. Both died.

If you are wearing a helmet, you will break your neck on some overhang and die and I will etc. etc. This happened to a two man party in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison about 5-9 years ago.

The belayer should be clipped in so as not to get jerked into anything uncomfortable. If a dynamic rope (any standard perlon climbing rope) does not provide enough cushion for you (it has always been enough for me), then clip your belayer in with a little slack and make sure you know where he/she is going to end up when they are snapped to the end of their tether.

As far as the slack thing goes, you will get it with experience and a patient leader/teacher. Not too much not too little. Feed it out when the leader needs it. Reel it in when the leader backs off. You have to watch the leader constantly to learn his/her movements and patterns at placements. After awhile you will be able to second guess them.

Wow. You sound responsible. Will you belay me?

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quote:

Originally posted by carolyn:

Also, it was mentioned a few times about falling and hitting your belayer. I was recently taught to belay (on ice and I imagine it could be useful for rock as well) off an anchor (tree, screws, etc) vs your harness. THe reasoning...if a large chunk of ice comes falling (or person
wink.gif" border="0
) you can still hold onto the rope and move far away. I really dont see that being much different than if you are belaying off your harness, tho. In addition, if you had to get help for some reason you would be able to get out of the system and lock your partner off. Not something you can do while belaying off your harness too easily. Just wondering what others think of this and pro's/con's Im missing before I make a decision to belay this way or not.

Thanks!

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: carolyn ]

carolyn,Belaying a leader straight of the anchor is a very bad idea.

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quote:

Originally posted by Lambone:

carolyn,Belaying a leader straight of the anchor is a very bad idea.

OK, I'll bite, Why?

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Lambone, What about a single ice screw? [laf]

My 1 and a half cents... (sense)On overhanging terrain you don't want to pull in slack as the leader falls because it will result in a harder hit against the rock/wall in the horizontal direction. The rope is shorter, angular momentum has to be conserved and the leader gets a broken ankle.

How much good a 'hop' by the belayer will do will also depend on how much rope is out, hence the whole concept of the fall factor.

Being attached to the anchor at the belay is not a constant decision (as anyone who has climbed at Pinnacles Nat'l Monument knows). As with all things in climbing, make your own decision based on what's up.

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As for reeling in slack:

If the climber is tumbling down some slab or bouncing down some face by all means pull in as much slack as you can.

The time when you don't want to pull in slack iswhen the climber falls out and away from the rock.When they eventually hit the rope they'll pendulum into the wall. It will happen at greater speed if radius of the pendulum (length of rope between the climber and bolt) is shorter.

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First off, almost no rule will ever dictate the safest thing to do in any given climbing situation. Judgment and a balancing of the factors makes climber's safe.

Questions of how much slack a leader wants, whether he wants you to jump for a soft catch, etc., are all questions about that individual's general preferences, and since preferences vary, such questions are best asked of each and every leader you belay, not the people on this site who you aren't climbing with.

Whenever I start climbing with someone, I ask them. They are usually more than happy to not leave this to chance. Even if I disagree with their personal preference, I will generally do what they say because 1) its their ass that's on the line; and 2) there is generally a lot of room for personal preference within a reasonable margin for safety.

At times, I think that their preferences will result in decking or serious injury. If so (and if that that event would cause me emotional anguish or legal liability), I'll tell them why I won't do it and they don't have to take the belay if they don't want to (or they can explain the error of my analysis).

Regarding the specific topics brought up:

quote:

Think of this: if the rope and other elements of the belay system didn't have dynamic 'give' in them, the impact of the rope going tight in a lead fall could easily kill the climber. Internal injuries!

This is bull shit: Every modern belay system has enough give built into the system (the dynamic rope) to prevent internal injuries (as long as you don't deck). Such injuries occur if you are leading on a static rope. Only idiots do that. That said, sometimes a softer catch is nice, and I pretty much never belay leaders off the anchor for the reasons listed by others: 1) because I can help the system avoid rockfall, etc; 2) because the dynamic effects of the rope may not be enough to decrease the forces on sketchy pro (See below)

Regarding jumping for a soft catch. This is more of an issue where the belayer outweighs the climber. Personally, I outweigh most of my partners, so I almost never feel like I need a jump - they'll fly on their own. The few times that I might want it is if I feel like I want to lessen the forces on a piece that I hope might catch me.

Regarding extra slack:There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which I buy, and one of which I don't.

The legit reason to give slack: As stated above, when you push away from the wall and there is a small amount of rope out (right after a bolt, for instance) the shorter radius will make it more likely that you will swing in to the wall in a manner that makes injury possible. Having more rope out will lessen that effect. Of course, so will jumping. Considering the fact that jumping has other good effects. An attentive belayer may as well jump instead of just leaving slack out.

The reason to give slack that I don't buy:

quote:

When I'm belaying someone much lighter than me, I might leave a little bit more slack in the line to allow more stretch in the rope so they don't "jerk" to a stop.

i.e. it softens the fall. Figger Eight, I think you are making a harder fall for those light climbers, not a softer one.

Here's why:

When you are falling less than the distance of rope out (fall factor <1) it actually increases the severity of the fall. Example: If you have are 25 feet above your belayer and fall 5 feet, then you have a 5/25 (.20) fall factor. If your belayer gives you 5 extra feet of slack then you have 30 feet of rope out and a 10-foot fall - fall factor of 10/30 (.333).

The only time when it actually decreases the fall factor is on multipitch if you are dealing with a fall factor of greater than one: Example: You are 20 feet up a climb and going to fall 30 feet (your pro is at five feet). The resulting fall is 30/20 (1.5). If your belayer gives you an extra 5 feet, then your fall factor is 35/25 (1.4). In that case, I still would not probably extra slack. I'd mainly be concerned with dodging my leader.

matt

[ 02-14-2002: Message edited by: Matt Anderson ]

[ 02-14-2002: Message edited by: Matt Anderson ]

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The way I learned it, proper technique for belaying the leader hinged upon mastering one-handed rolling. But I since the grigri I fear it is a lost art.

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:
That's my point: I think there are situations where it would be a mistake not to have the belayer set the device directly on the anchors. For example, if we cannot set up the belay so that the belayer is ancored IN THE DIRECTION of a potential fall force (that is, with the belayer sitting between the anchor and the expected fall force), and particularly if that belayer is small and inexperienced, I would rather set it up so they belay me directly from the belay anchor. I will back everything up, and I will think about using rippers to reduce fall forces on a questionnable piece (I usually have a couple on my rack), but on balance I think the greater shock loading may be offset by the greater security for the belayer in this example.

[ 02-14-2002: Message edited by: mattp ]

Really confused.gif" border="0 How does clipping the belay device straight to the anchor make up for a belayers lack of experience? If you "cannot set up the belay so that the belayer is ancored IN THE DIRECTION of a potential fall force," how could you clip the belay device to the anchor and hold a fall? If the anchor can't hold your belayer, how is it going to hold you?

I understand that there are different anchor set-ups for different circumstances, but I can not imagine a single situation where you would want to clip the belay device directly to the anchor (while belaying the leader).

[ 02-14-2002: Message edited by: Lambone ]

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Maybe we are doing different climbs, but I would say that it is not all that uncommon for me to encounter belay ledges where the anchors may not be ideally situated right behind the waist of the belayer. They may be bomber anchors, but if they are in a crack next to a ledge, or if belay bolts are placed for east of retrieving a rappel line from below, they may be off to the side. In such an event, the belayer may be tethered to a leash in such a way that a large pull from a leader fall may pull them out of position.

Maybe you only climb with totally bomber partners who weigh more than you do, but I very often climb with people who I fear may do a less than stellar job of belaying me and one of the things that I sometimes worry about is whether they will be able to keep hold of me in the event that they are pulled out of position. Again, particularly if it is a lighter climber, and particularly if they are inexperienced, I fear that a sudden jerk upon them may catch them unaware and they may not do what I had in mind. Someone who is not being pulled off the belay ledge, I believe, will be better able to pay attention to my needs than someone who is dangling in space and being pinned sideways by their anchor tether.

I am not saying this is a common situation, but I am saying it is one that I encounter. And I intended it only as an example of ONE situation where I would advocate belaying directly off the anchor. My point is that each belay ledge and each belayer must be carefully evaluated and one should be prepared to deviate from "rules" when they don't seem to address an important concern.

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