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Hokus

Munter Hitch for Trad Climbing

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My old reverso finally wore out. I've been in a quandry over what to replace it with, BD guide, Reverso3, B-52... but can't make up my mind.

 

In the mean-time (ie, last several months) I've mostly been using a DMM v-twin (same as ATC XP, basically) for belaying leaders, rapping, and lowering single pitch climbs. However, I really like autoblocking for multipitch bringing up the second. Since I haven't had an autoblocker, I've been resorting to a Munter Hitch... and I've been surprised at how much I like it.

 

Basically, the more that I use it, the more that I find that I like it. I've even belayed leaders with it and found it to work just fine. So I've started contemplating purely using a Munter for all multipitch trad climbing. The biggest deal for this is rappelling. I've used a biner break some, but don't find it super functional (and I'm certainly not going to rap on a Munter because loading it, unlike belaying, does leave lots of twists in the rope... which is also why I don't use it for single pitch climbing).

 

Just wondering out there if anyone else likes the Munter for multipitch climbing, and if anyone has given up their belay device for it. Seems like it would be lighter and have better breaking power than a lot of devices that are currently out there.

 

And assuming that most folks use a Autoblocking Belay Device, which do you use, and why?

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Not on point exactly, but I cannot stand my BD ATC Guide. I have used an ATC pretty much my whole climbing life and lost my old one late last season. I replaced it with the guide and have been dissapointed with it since day on.

Rapping with that thing is only one step away from shoving bamboo under my fingernails.

Whew! Thanks for letting me vent!

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Hehe, thanks! Good to know, since I'm sure I'll pick up some sort of autoblocker in the near future. That feedback is very appreciated! Any more like that is appreciated too!

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Hokus,

 

For multi pitch trad the reverso is pretty dang nice. Have you tried bring two seconds up at the same time with it in autolocking mode off the anchor?

 

Years ago I took the AMGA's entry guide level course (the TRCSM level) and it had a major emphasis on the Munter Mule Baseline and operations off of it.

 

One point I took away that any and every climber should apply if they are working with a Munter would be a quick lower to an out of reach masterpoint. If your establishing a slingshot or yo yo top-rope and have your master point well below the edge, pre-establishing your rappell to your TR line , then with a long accessory 8 or 9 mil cord tied in above the edge, you can lower yourself on a munter over the edge to your pre-established rap. This is one of many great ways to "managing the edge" with a Munter.

 

Theres a whole ton of uses for the munter but if you do use it a great deal you will find your rope oddly coiling sometimes. I've found this when I have tried to stay exclusive to the Munt for bringing up the second for multiple pitches on a long climb. If the rope is brand new - don't even think about - break it in first, any new munter coiling is easier to deal with after you've had the normal break in of a rope.

 

Used the guide, and R3, haven't tried the B-52.

 

Technically, when you use the Reverso in the Auto-locking mode it is replicating a very old piece of climbing equipment - the Stitcht plate. I would curious if anyone still uses a 60's 70's or older model Stitcht that has comparable results to the Reverso in Stitcht mode.

 

As far as what people should use in comparisons - I think your rope diameter is a big factor. I typically use an 11mm rope and will only go as small as a 10.5 therefore I've found the Reverso good for that size rope. Does anyone out there have feedback in terms of where BD's equivalent, the B-52 etc... in relation to other rope sizes in a Stitcht manner?

 

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I had pretty much forgotten how much I used to use a munter, but before I got a reverso (found one a few years ago in the enchantments) I used a munter often for belaying seconds so that I could take my hands off the rope. I remember rope twist issues getting annoying sometimes, but it wasn't so bad. Using a device is faster and easier to manage especially if you are using double ropes or belaying 2 people. Also, they don't really weigh that much.

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As far as what people should use in comparisons - I think your rope diameter is a big factor. I typically use an 11mm rope and will only go as small as a 10.5 therefore I've found the Reverso good for that size rope. Does anyone out there have feedback in terms of where BD's equivalent, the B-52 etc... in relation to other rope sizes in a Stitcht manner?

 

I use an BD ATC Guide and with larger diameter it has a lot of friction and is slow. However, with small diameter ropes it really works well.

 

 

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Autoblocking is overrated. As I started before autoblocking was a word, I got use to managing belays without it using a regular Sticht plate/SMC Straight 8/now DMM V-Twin. I use the V-twin almost 99% of the time. I probably own all the others as well, but that's what I prefer as I don't like washing my ropes and this is the only non-aluminum ATC style device. Currently I'm climbing predominately at an area with sharp 60 grit like sandstone matrix holding pure andesite nodules in place. The DMM V-twin has seen no wear yet although I wore grooves into a Alum. Sentinal DMM locker from this grit, and have used a steel biner at times to help reduce this effect, but there is a weight penalty for steel which I don't always want to pay.

 

For autolockers, I only currently own a B-52, 2 Kong Ghosts, an original reverso and a Reversino, and have used my buddies new Reverso: yet rare is the day I autoblock. Last time was years ago in Yos on Glaicer Point Apron runout friction when there was 3 of us on Twins and they let me lead all the pitches. Much easier to manage 2 ropes with 2 followers coming up at the same time as the anchors are all bolted.

 

With that said: the B-52 sucks on anything over 10.5mil sized. If you own an 11mil, I'd pass on it. I complained about the thinness of the small side and Trango beefed it up, although it's still thin. The Ghost is a good product, if you get a good price it will work. Otherwise, price being the same, I'd go with the new Reverso 3 as it appears to be the easiest to unclusterlo*k if someone gets conked out and you need to lower them after it's autoflucked on you. That's why I do not normally use one although I admit they are very handy at times. The Reverso 3 is heavy though if you are shaving weight, might be worth looking at depending on what your needs are.

 

IMO. PS, I use a Munter all the time for rapping and belaying and concur with what you say. I would use it much less if I would stop forgetting my V-twin.

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Not on point exactly, but I cannot stand my BD ATC Guide. I have used an ATC pretty much my whole climbing life and lost my old one late last season. I replaced it with the guide and have been dissapointed with it since day on.

Rapping with that thing is only one step away from shoving bamboo under my fingernails.

Whew! Thanks for letting me vent!

 

I bought the ATC Guide when it first came out (and still use it) specifically because it was tested and approved for use in rapping in either orientation (e.g., high friction side or low friction side to brake hand). Are you rapping with the rope coming off the high friction side? I hated the way the old Reverso rapped in that orientation. Guide is way faster/smoother when filpped.

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munters definately have their time and place (like after you've lost/dropped your ATC). Twice now i've had partners either drop their device or just discover it's missing right before starting a series of raps. I learned to multi-pitch using a munter and while it works just fine, the convenience of an autoblocker can't be beat.

 

speacking of which, I really like my BD guide. but then again i typically use either a 9.8 or half ropes and so like the extra friction. my old reverso developed a knife like edge on the top after a couple years of wear. scary...

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Good2go -

I was rapping off Silent Running last Sunday when I got to a point of near meltdown frustration (low angle/high friction).

I gave serious thought to reversing the unit but I could not remember if that was a good idea or not and did not want to experiment on route.

Your post gives me hope and maybe now I won't hurl the thing off the next climb.

Thanks!

 

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Interesting thread on the hip belay over at Super Topo as well.

 

I don't use the Munter. I do use the other two (hip belay or an auto block device) quite often.

 

And if the wire gates weren't so good I'd still use a biner brake as well with the right size ropes.

 

7.8 twins make life easy with a small rope Reverso. 7.8s are not a rope I'd like to use a Munter on.

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Yup. Another poster mentions hating the BD Guide - If he was using a thicker rope (over 10.6) - go reverso instead...

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I'm surprised to hear people having problems with the guide rappelling. Admittedly my experience is narrow and deep rather than broad when it comes to belay devices. I've used an ATC XP for 7 years. I've never had problem rapping. If anything, with skinny ropes without high tension it can let you down a little too fast. Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the ATC xp and the guide were essentially the same when it comes to rapping.

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I dislike autoblocking or munters for any use in climbing outside of aid climbing and self-rescue functions. Particularly the munter which I find an entirely disagreeable thing to do to any rope other than goldline. Also don't like climbing in threes or the notion of needing a device to help you manage doing it. The whole 'autolocking' seconds off an anchor deal seems to me to be the very height of laziness and relative disinterest in what's actually going on with a second - never do it and don't care for folks doing it when I'm seconding.

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Started this game with a straight 8, then a Sticht plate, then a Lowe Tuber, then an original ATC, and now a Reverso. I love the Reverso for it's "bringing up 2 at a time with autoblock" capability. Haven't bought a Guide yet, but was thinking about getting one, as my Reverso has developed the dreaded knife-edge as NVC mentions above.

 

All along in there I threw in a Muenter when it was quicker, the ground was easy, was simul-ing, or was in a hurry. The Muenter is underrated. It does tend to fuq up new ropes with abnormal twisting, like Checat says, but it's not a hitch I would use exclusively just to leave a rappel/belay device at home. And like he says, it's a great hitch for a lower.

 

@ Pilchuck-

What in particular do you not like about the Guide?

 

@ Checat-

I brought out my old Sticht plate (without the spring) at Smith about 15 years ago and was promptly laughed back to the parking lot to get my ATC. I was crestfallen... :( It's in the bottom of my retired gear crate right now, along with a sordid mess of other old pieces of metal that I dare not expose to the light of day again...

 

But to answer your question, it worked pretty well as an autoblocking device. The main problem in using it in that fashion was that if the "keeper loop" was too long, then the plate would drop down too far along the loop of rope through the anchor and it wouldn't actually block automatically any more if it came under a sudden load. But you could fix that by pulling one of the strands toward you after you reefed in a section of rope, but then you had to wrap the rope around your leg (or something) to keep it there if you wanted both hands back while the second was mucking around below you. It was just a technique that I used, and mebbe someone has (had) a better one, but after a bit of experience, I got pretty good at just flicking the rope behind my leg and catching it with my calf and giving my foot a quick twist to wrap the reefed in section of rope round my ankle. It may sound complicated, but it wasn't. Of course, my Reverso fixed all that...

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The whole 'autolocking' seconds off an anchor deal seems to me to be the very height of laziness and relative disinterest in what's actually going on with a second - never do it and don't care for folks doing it when I'm seconding.

 

I don't really get that? Autoblocking works really well. you can belay super fast and organize the rope with ease, all things with make the belay better and safer. I use the Guide and love it. Everyone is right about it being slow with thicker ropes. Also i belay off my harness sometimes if the position of the anchor is not well suited to autoblocking.

If i am climbing with a total newby i have belay off the anchor with a grigri. very convenient if you have to lower them, also best for short/non alpine climbs.

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The whole 'autolocking' seconds off an anchor deal seems to me to be the very height of laziness and relative disinterest in what's actually going on with a second - never do it and don't care for folks doing it when I'm seconding.

I don't really get that? Autoblocking works really well. you can belay super fast and organize the rope with ease, all things with make the belay better and safer.

There's nothing about it that makes a belay 'safer' - devices don't make belays safer, at best they make them more 'convenient' for belayers (as you also rightfully say) and therein lies my view of them being the height of laziness and disinterest in a second. Basically just a grigri mentality on an anchor and all about the belayer.

 

...Everyone is right about it being slow with thicker ropes.

I don't really think it has much to do with the attributes of this or that particular device so much as the pointlessness of belaying with the wrong size device for the rope you're using.

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I actually really like my ATC Guide. As it has been already mentioned, the device can be flipped to provide less friction. I prefer to belay the second from the anchor whenever possible, and I do think the convenience is valuable.

 

But to respond to the OP, I do use a munter to belay the second on low 5th / 4th class terrain where a belay is necessary, but not a rappel. I have found on routes of greater than 3-pitches that the rope becomes so kinked from the munter application that by the 4th pitch the rope must be untied from one end and the twists worked out before continuing. That occurs even faster during rappel, especially if the rope cannot hang freely.

 

So there you have it. I use the ATC Guide unless special circumstances allows me to save weight and space and use a munter instead.

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Auto-lockers are the name of the game in the alpine IMO. When you have 20 pitches of difficult or nerve-wracking leads to think about, I think sometimes I am a bit disinterested in the second.

 

More interested in just keeping them off the ground, drinking, eating, staying warm, staying awake, planning your descent, etc. With my partners, the second's job is usually to get to the belay ASAP.

 

I agree there is some re-prioritization over giving the second the absolute best belay.

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I don't do alpine and I don't doubt that may be the case. At least it's an honest assessment of what's really going on and offering a rationale for why you might want to accept that reprioritization. In rock climbing I don't buy it at all and find it a really lame behavior.

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I'm going to disagree there about the safety of the auto-lock Joseph.

 

While I'm following I want my leader to be hydrating, eating, organizing the rack, putting on a puffy, none of these tasks are easy to do or very safe if you are using a "normal" belay. I'd be pissed if I pulled into a belay and my leader hadn't sorted the rack because he was too busy belaying me. You can get tricky, but there isn't a safe way to put on a pull-over while belaying without an auto-locker.

 

Very unlikely but what happens if the leader is hit by rockfall while belaying the second up? Bee sting? (Climbed with a girl last year that is so allergic to bees she'll go into shock in just a few minutes, hell yeah I want her using auto locker!)

 

Side note about this. Belaying has nothing to do with climbing, it is a necessary evil (like ropes, cams and bolts) to make climbing safer. Lazy?! Hell yeah, belaying isn't supposed to be work, the work happens with moving your body up the wall.

 

 

 

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Lame in every respect you just mentioned would be my response.

 

I don't want my belayer getting dressed, organizing their song playlist, wiping their ass, picking their nose, or anything else, I want them belaying with a modicum of attention.

 

Reprioritizing that for speed climbing is another matter.

 

And please, if I hear the 'hit by a rock' argument I'll get ill.

 

Again, from my perspective the perception that belaying is simply a necessary evil that can or should be dispensed with by delegating to a device is very self-absorbed and grigri.

 

 

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Joseph- Sounds like you haven't done much alpine climbing, where the multitasking is an ever-present reality. My thought is it is better to have the added safety of an autoblocker and pay attention most of the time than have a normal belay device and not be able to multi-task.

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grumpy_old_man_tshirt-p235419049869537413q6vb_400.jpg

 

...for myself, any of you dudes want to haul my old tired fat ass up any long routes and we can shave some time via autoblocker or whatever, I want to thank you in advance for putting up with me!

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