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North_by_Northwest

The "Body As Anchor" Belay Poll

The "Body As Anchor" Belay Poll  

120 members have voted

  1. 1. The "Body As Anchor" Belay Poll

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NbyNW-

It looks as if you are trying to make the point that the only time it is safe to belay withoiut an anchor is when you are able to sit well away from the top of the pitch, behind a large object. While I commend your sense of responsibility here, in my view that is not the case. There are plenty of times I may find it safe to sit right at the top of what might be termed "the pitch" (or even before the top of the pitch if I have run out of rope or found rope drag to be too much), and a more pertinent question would be not how far I am from the top of the pitch but whether I can position myself so my center of balance and the belay pull will be oriented behind the hedge or the boulder or whatever. Also, you ignore the most common situation where there are no anchors - snow climbing. Most of the time it is very easy to dig or kick a hole and sit in it in such a way that I could belay Fat Albert just fine.

 

For sport climbing or crag climbing, your rule of thumb is not bad (though I ignore it sometimes). However, I don't mean to be snide, but I gotta say that if you insist on black and white answers (don't do it unless you can get well away from the top of the pitch), you may live well and prosper but you won't be very good at mountain climbing.

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NbyNW sez:

Your partner is of equal body weight to you and there is a pretty good chance he or she may fall while following.

 

I think that answers your question right there. If not, hack of your arm (the one without your brake hand) and shove it in a crack and boom, you got your anchor, ala Verm.

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I know its a little old school, but when I have to belay on a ledge with no pro, or are on a long scramble route with many short pitches, I usually use a hip belay, if it's ok with my partner, I ask them FIRST.

 

Advantages? Cause the wieght is put further away from the edge of the ledge and it's very fast.

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Matt: I am not attempting to set any standards or rules here, I am just trying to find out how most people feel about this sort of belay and where they feel safe being belayed from. (I already know where I am comfortable and where I'm not, but I'm interested in other's safety standards.) The distance from top of pitch thing was included because generally people feel more comfortable in this situation when there is a little distance between themselves and vertical stuff. Obviously I do not follow the distance from top of pitch stuff as a black and white rule, it was just an attempt to describe a situation and find out where people stand.

It is difficult to communicate the sort of info needed to make a choice in this poll; there are a lot of variables. To add snow options would make it even more ridiculous-what if the snow is soft and wet? Or too icy to dig into?

 

Bill-thanks for your input as well.

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I agree that sometimes mattp is too complex in his answers. The poll seemed very straightforward and simple to me. Click answer. Oh well.......... cantfocus.gif

 

Maybe a multple choice is too hard to accept for some to answer with.

Edited by Cpt.Caveman

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Does anyone recall the scene in Seven Years in Tibet in which Heinrich Harrer is on Nanga Parbat and his partner, Peter Aufschnaiter, takes a fall. He's holding the guy hanging in mid air using a hib belay. The hemp rope was cutting into his leg. Now those were the good old days.

Edited by catbirdseat

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Does anyone recall the scene in Seven Years in Tibet in which Heinrich Harrer is on Nanga Parbat and his partner, Peter Aufschnaiter, takes a fall. He's holding the guy hanging in mid air using a hib belay. The hemp rope was cutting into his leg. Now those were the good old days.

Ah, how about those great belays and anchors in Vertical Limit cantfocus.gif

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Ah, how about those great belays and anchors in Vertical Limit cantfocus.gif

Yes, a single ice axe stuck in to the snow as an anchor for crevasse rescue. Yep, that's the way to go. cantfocus.gif

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As I recall they would stand on that single axe in the snow, which of course makes it bomber.

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NbyNW-The aspect of your poll that I was commenting on was the fact that there were four choices that included sitting well away from the top of the pitch, and the last one that said "it's all good." There was NO choice that that presented the option of taking care while you sit close to the top of the pitch. To me, this suggested a rather black-and-white rule: be prudent and sit away from the top of the pitch; otherwise throw all safety out the window. 'Sorry that I misunderstood you.

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Yeah, it was just too difficult to describe situations of "care" and carelessness. I didn't want to get into a thread debate explaining each poll option and going into the kind of minute details that would be necessary to make a decision in many situations. The "well away from" condition was used to break it down into deciding how large of an object to belay from behind, given that other conditions are fairly safe.

No offense taken to questions or criticism.

 

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As I recall they would stand on that single axe in the snow, which of course makes it bomber.

Unless of course the person guarding that single axe falls down hellno3d.gif

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I don't understand the point of sitting down. When you stand, there is less force pulling you toward the edge and more force pulling you down to the ground your standing on, which is good. If there is a good edge to brace your feet, sitting down may be better.

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I don't know about that Bill...

 

I would rather be sitting, your center of gravity is much lower to the ground, less chance of being pulled forward on your feet. If you are sitting it's their weight versus your weight plus the friction between your body and the ground. And you have three points of contact rather than just two...

(On 'Man VS. Beast' the other night a 180lb female Orangutan beat a 360lb Sumo Wrestler at tug o' war. The Sumo was standing and got pulled forward off his feet, the Orang was lying on her back and pulling with arms only. Not really related but an interesting contest nonetheless.)

I've been in situations when it's OK to stand, but my opinion is that sitting would be better.

Matt what do you think? Anyone else on sitting vs. standing?

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Sitting, especially if you can brace your legs against something. Standing provides more chance of being pulled sideways and off balance.

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Ape muscle is 12 times stronger per lb. than human muscle, i read somewhere. Or maybe a 150 lb. gorilla is 12x as strong as a 150 lb. human - I can't remember exactly. We got the brains and they got the bananas.

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Right, Dru, but those Apes always belay SITTING DOWN, don't they? I'm with NbyNW on this question. Bill: DON'T BELAY STANDING UP UNLESS YOU WANT TO DIE.

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I thought you were talking about sitting with a hip belay. My bad.

 

But, Hmmmmm........I've practiced holding people standing with a hip belay. Doesn't feel too weird. I'm a big guy, that may make a difference. I really think people should practice this stuff. Get a safe environment and a backup anchor and belay for the climber. Then everyone gets some experience with it and they'll know what works for them. Can't hurt.

 

I don't have a death wish, and I am very very cautious, and I'll take your advice to heart because you obviously have a ton of experience. Thanks.

 

Myreal world experiences with "no-pro" belays have been in the mountains, usually on crappy rock, and not vertical. Sitting down was next to impossible because of the terrain. I think learning a good stance is essential.

 

Every situation is very unique.

 

 

In my opinion: sometimes it's better to sit, sometimes it's better to stand. With a vertical cliff and a clean, large ledge with no pro, and a belay device, I'd probably sit.

 

I don't mean to hash this subject to death, so my apologies, and thanks for the good advice. Time to bigdrink.gif.

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Me and my roommate were bored tonight, so we did a test in search of whats better, to sit or stand. tongue.gif

 

Method: We live on the second floor, and one person hung over the edge of the deck and the other belayed from up top, we used a hip belay because we were too lazy to put on our harnesses.

 

Results: Standing up was FAR superior to sitting down. It was much easier not to slide with a solid stance than it was sitting down. However, jerking motions were a little easier to manage sitting down because the center of gravity was lower, but if you were ready for the jerks, aka a solid stance with one foot forward and leaning back a little, it was still managable standing up. It was also hard to get traction sitting down.

 

Reason: A force is divided into two components: its horizontal and its vertical. If "theta" is the angle that the rope makes with the edge, and W is the weight of the climber, the horizontal component is Wcos(theta), and the vertical component is Wsin(theta). When theta is larger, ie when you are standing up, there is more force pulling you straight down to the rock you are standing on, ie, more traction, and the less force pulling you toward impending doom. Lets take the following scenerio grin.gif:

 

Weight of Climber, ie tension in rope: 170 lbs, or 756 Newtons

Height of Belayers waiste while standing 3 feet, or 0.9144 meters

Height of belayers waiste while sitting: 10 inches, or 0.254 meters

Distance of belayer from edge: 5 feet, or 1.524 meters

 

Here we go laugh.gif:

 

SITTING

theta=arctan(0.254/1.524)=9.46 degrees

Force towards cliff

756cos(9.46)=745.72 Newtons, or 167.64 lbs

Force to feet

756sin(9.46)=124.25 Newtons, or 27.93 lbs

 

STANDING

theta=arctan(0.9144 /1.524)=30.96 degrees

Force towards cliff

756cos(30.96)=648.29 Newtons, or 145.74 lbs

Force to feet

756sin(30.96)=388.91 Newtons, or 87.43 lbs

 

So when standing there is 3.13 times more force applied straight down to your feet, which is good because you can't travel through rock and you get 3.13 times better traction. There is also 1.15 times less force pulling you straight towards the edge.

 

 

 

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Yeah, but I'll still tell him to sit the hell down! I can imagine that you can "brace yourself" for a pull using your feet -- especially if you are standing on a flat floor where friction is all you have to brace against. That is why they don't fight a tug-of-war sitting down, I suspect. But the realities of belaying your buddy on a mountain climb are not quite the same as a tug-of-war and in the event of a fall you WILL be jerked around, and you will be lucky if you are able to anticipate the fall and the stance you ended up at is such that you can brace yourself in the exact direction of the pull (or perhaps the exact change in directions as your buddy sweeps off the little buttress directly below into some gully off to your side). I could be wrong but I believe it has been, like, 40 or 50 years since the German alpine club recommended a standing hip or shoulder belay.

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