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jt512


Nov 15, 2006, 11:45 AM
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Re: [squamishdirtbag] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Dont let you brake hand off the rope, and I can't see a way of fucking it up.

There are many ways you can leave your brake hand on the rope and still "fuck up." Here is a partial list to get your thinking started.

*Failing to lock the rope off in a fall, causing loss of control of the rope.

*Failing to give enough slack, causing your partner to blow a clip.

*Failing to belay dynamically, causing your partner to slam into the wall.

*Failing to take in slack on a runout, causing your partner to deck.

As you can see, if you expect to become a truly good belayer, you must come to learn that there is much more to belaying than just not taking your hand off the rope.

Jay


nolan_fox


Nov 15, 2006, 3:02 PM
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Excellent points here.

Lots of helpful advice on this topic. Much thanks to everyone who has contributed. Experience goes a long way, but good advice can keep us from learning the hard way.


Partner coldclimb


Nov 15, 2006, 3:14 PM
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Re: [nolan_fox] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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The safest belay technique is the one that is most natural to you. What works best for one person may be unnatural for another.


climbingam


Mar 15, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Re: [nolan_fox] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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I am sure one of the best ways to get banned from this site is to post to a thread found in the deadhorse graveyard. If not it probably should be; i'll accept my fate either way.

After reading a couple hundred posts especially the pinch and slide vs. the bus method I am well versed in the basic debate and am not wanting to open up that flame war.

What I'd appreciate is to have your opinion on a method that doesn't seem to have been debated but is the one I was taught and seen used a lot, especially good veterans I watch. Basically, they just loosen their grip on the brake rope and slide/shuffle their hand towards the device. It is also the way that peztil says to use their grigri
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSVchbjVKLE
though my question pertains to using this method to an atc.

To mitigate the impression I'm trolling or trying to start the debate of alternate belay techniques, please just tell me if this is totally wrong way to do it. If so, yes, I have 1k posts on the other ways to do it and will figure the alternate way of doing it on my own.

To me, the way shown is simpler and the hand is closer to the body ready to catch a fall.

Thanks.


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Re: [climbingam] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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climbingam wrote:
I am sure one of the best ways to get banned from this site is to post to a thread found in the deadhorse graveyard. If not it probably should be; i'll accept my fate either way.

After reading a couple hundred posts especially the pinch and slide vs. the bus method I am well versed in the basic debate and am not wanting to open up that flame war.

What I'd appreciate is to have your opinion on a method that doesn't seem to have been debated but is the one I was taught and seen used a lot, especially good veterans I watch. Basically, they just loosen their grip on the brake rope and slide/shuffle their hand towards the device. It is also the way that peztil says to use their grigri
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSVchbjVKLE
though my question pertains to using this method to an atc.

To mitigate the impression I'm trolling or trying to start the debate of alternate belay techniques, please just tell me if this is totally wrong way to do it. If so, yes, I have 1k posts on the other ways to do it and will figure the alternate way of doing it on my own.

It's completely wrong.

The brake hand should always be firmly on the rope. Both the pinch-and-slide method and the so-called BUS method allow this. In contrast, your "method" doesn't. If your partner were to fall while you were shuffling your brake hand up the rope, you'd have to grab on to and stop a moving rope. Good luck with that, especially if you don't wear gloves while belaying.

What you were taught has never, as far as I am aware, been considered a valid belay technique. It is true that you see a lot of "veterans" use it. Whether or not they could be counted on to catch a fall is debatable. What is not debatable is that they should not have passed this technique on to you, and you should not pass it on to other beginners.

A Grigri, however, is a different animal. Yes, you can safely shuffle your brake hand along the rope, because, even if the rope does start to run through the device, when you tighten the grip of your brake hand, the Grigri's cam should engage and arrest the fall.

Jay


pro_alien


Mar 15, 2009, 1:32 PM
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Re: [climbingam] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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I am also in the "loosen grip to slide" camp.

Some references (in German), both written by Walter Britschgi -> http://gaswerk.kletterzentrum.com/...loads/sturzinfos.pdf. This is mostly about teaching falling technique in a gym environment, but also includes the author's latest insights on belay safety. For his analysis of different belay devices, see http://stud.paedak-krems.ac.at/...mann/Begreiflich.pdf .

What he points out is the importance of our reflexes - use the left hand (sensor arm) at all times to FEEL the rope and thus what the climber is doing, so the brake hand can do its job without a constant death grip. See page 5, image caption, can blind people belay too ?

Walter Britschgi wrote:
The belayer thus always knows whether the climber is moving or not. ... [snip]
- With the ATC, the brake hand always needs to move down immediately - most frequent mistake.
- The thumb encloses the rope.
- When returning the brake hand to the original position, it should have the form of a closed tube.
- A tube full of nerve cells is always ready to grasp the rope.
- This only works if the sensor arm is always ready, holding the "upper" rope.
- The sensor rope reports the imminent danger to the brake hand more quickly than the rope with its inertia in the belay device.
- Why can we hold the rope so loosely in this exercise ? Ropes are stretchy, but the stretch is slow compared to our reflexes. Thus it does not matter whether the brake hand is sliding along the rope or stationary, it is always ready to grab.

Pinch and slide is dangerous if you lift your brake hand to do it - the ATC does not provide enough stopping power in this position.

Better to just slide the brake hand up rope in a down position. If you are fast enough the inertia of the rope will help.


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 2:42 PM
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Re: [pro_alien] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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pro_alien wrote:
I am also in the "loosen grip to slide" camp.

Some references (in German), both written by Walter Britschgi -> http://gaswerk.kletterzentrum.com/...loads/sturzinfos.pdf. This is mostly about teaching falling technique in a gym environment, but also includes the author's latest insights on belay safety. For his analysis of different belay devices, see http://stud.paedak-krems.ac.at/...mann/Begreiflich.pdf .

What he points out is the importance of our reflexes - use the left hand (sensor arm) at all times to FEEL the rope and thus what the climber is doing, so the brake hand can do its job without a constant death grip. See page 5, image caption, can blind people belay too ?

Walter Britschgi wrote:
The belayer thus always knows whether the climber is moving or not. ... [snip]
- With the ATC, the brake hand always needs to move down immediately - most frequent mistake.
- The thumb encloses the rope.
- When returning the brake hand to the original position, it should have the form of a closed tube.
- A tube full of nerve cells is always ready to grasp the rope.
- This only works if the sensor arm is always ready, holding the "upper" rope.
- The sensor rope reports the imminent danger to the brake hand more quickly than the rope with its inertia in the belay device.
- Why can we hold the rope so loosely in this exercise ? Ropes are stretchy, but the stretch is slow compared to our reflexes. Thus it does not matter whether the brake hand is sliding along the rope or stationary, it is always ready to grab.

Pinch and slide is dangerous if you lift your brake hand to do it - the ATC does not provide enough stopping power in this position.

Better to just slide the brake hand up rope in a down position. If you are fast enough the inertia of the rope will help.

The guy sounds like a crackpot.

Jay


ja1484


Mar 15, 2009, 2:58 PM
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Re: [joshy8200] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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[quote "joshy8200"]"You hook'em. I'll clean'em and fry'em."[/quote]

This.

I love it when people try to find absolutes in climbing.


pro_alien


Mar 15, 2009, 3:29 PM
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Re: [jt512] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
The guy sounds like a crackpot.

Walter Britschgi is in charge of safety for a large gym, so he just might have enough experience and sample size to have a clue. My translation may not be the best, but should convey the gist of what he is writing.


notapplicable


Mar 15, 2009, 4:02 PM
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Re: [climbingam] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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climbingam wrote:
What I'd appreciate is to have your opinion on a method that doesn't seem to have been debated but is the one I was taught and seen used a lot, especially good veterans I watch. Basically, they just loosen their grip on the brake rope and slide/shuffle their hand towards the device.


First and foremost, I think there is little doubt that the BUS method or some similar variation, is the most secure to teach new climbers. That said, it is not all that userfriendly for high volume belaying and mobility.

I use the method you describe and I think it is perfectly safe for an experienced belayer. Even more so than the pinch and slide when it comes to less experiences belayers. Let me try and explain.

The most vulnerable point in both techniques is moving the brake hand "up rope" after taking in slack. There are two primary issues to consider here.

1. The distance the brake hand has to travel to achieve lock off. -- With P&S the brake hand has to travel 2 1/2 - 3 feet to achieve lockoff. With slide/shuffle the brake hand has but to close it's grip by 2mm or so.

2. The amount if initial friction in the system to resist the rope running through the belayers hand and causing a loss of control. This also relates to reaction time in that the greater the force required to initiate rope slippage, the longer the time the belayer has to achieve effective lock off. -- With the P&S the rope is only bent around the biner. With the slide/shuffle the rope is already bent back over the belay device.



This is not an indictment of the P&S method, I think that in skilled hands it is perfectly safe and efficient. I just take issue with the notion that the rope is going to immediately start running through the belayers hands when there is so little distance to travel to achieve effective lock off and given the greater initial friction inherent to the default rope orientation.


notapplicable


Mar 15, 2009, 4:20 PM
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jt512 wrote:
The brake hand should always be firmly on the rope. Both the pinch-and-slide method and the so-called BUS method allow this.

Jay

Jay, that is just not true.

It is with the BUS system because you essentially have two brake hands and one is always firmly gripping the rope.

With P&S on the other hand, the brake hand is loosened in order to slide towards the belay device and the only hand with a firm grip on the rope is the guide hand which would have to open it's grip inorder to release the climber side of the rope before being capable of acting as a brake hand. The designated brake hand during the "slide" phase of the P&S has no only a slightly firmer grip on the rope than does the brake hand using the slide/shuffle method.

Notice the key use of the word "Slide" in both the Pinch & Slide and the slide/shuffle methods. I require no only slightly (1mm or so) more slack to move my hand up rope than you do down rope and we both have to close our brake hand the same a similar distance to gain a firm grip on the rope.


edited to change phrasing where you see the strike throughs. After re-reading, I realized that my phrasing was not accurate.


(This post was edited by notapplicable on Mar 15, 2009, 4:34 PM)


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 4:24 PM
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Re: [pro_alien] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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pro_alien wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The guy sounds like a crackpot.

Walter Britschgi is in charge of safety for a large gym, so he just might have enough experience and sample size to have a clue. My translation may not be the best, but should convey the gist of what he is writing.

Oh, a large gym. Why didn't you say so?

Jay


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 4:30 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The brake hand should always be firmly on the rope. Both the pinch-and-slide method and the so-called BUS method allow this.

Jay

Jay, that is just not true.

It is with the BUS system because you essentially have two brake hands and one is always firmly gripping the rope.

In that case it is true.

In reply to:
With P&S on the other hand, the brake hand is loosened in order to slide towards the belay device and the only hand with a firm grip on the rope is the guide hand which would have to open it's grip inorder to release the climber side of the rope before being capable of acting as a brake hand.

You don't know what you're talking about. The purpose of pinching the brake side of the rope momentarily with the guide hand is precisely so that you can slide the brake hand down the rope with a firm grip.

In reply to:
The designated brake hand during the "slide" phase of the P&S has no firmer a grip on the rope than does the brake hand using the slide/shuffle method.

Wrong. If you used the pinch and slide method correctly, you would not be saying that.

Jay


notapplicable


Mar 15, 2009, 4:40 PM
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jt512 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
jt512 wrote:
The brake hand should always be firmly on the rope. Both the pinch-and-slide method and the so-called BUS method allow this.

Jay

Jay, that is just not true.

It is with the BUS system because you essentially have two brake hands and one is always firmly gripping the rope.

In that case it is true.

In reply to:
With P&S on the other hand, the brake hand is loosened in order to slide towards the belay device and the only hand with a firm grip on the rope is the guide hand which would have to open it's grip inorder to release the climber side of the rope before being capable of acting as a brake hand.

You don't know what you're talking about. The purpose of pinching the brake side of the rope momentarily with the guide hand is precisely so that you can slide the brake hand down the rope with a firm grip.

In reply to:
The designated brake hand during the "slide" phase of the P&S has no firmer a grip on the rope than does the brake hand using the slide/shuffle method.

Wrong. If you used the pinch and slide method correctly, you would not be saying that.

Jay

Sorry I was editing my post as you were writing this this. My phrasing was not accurate.

I still contend that the difference in grip is not significant (I have belayed with P&S on more than one occasion when required to by a gym using only GriGri's) and any compromise in the integrity of the belay brought about through the looser grip is more than made up for by the brake hand having a default location below the belay device and the greater initial friction imparted by that default rope orientation.


climbingam


Mar 15, 2009, 6:17 PM
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Re: [notapplicable] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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I like your assessment. I'm concerned enough to experiment (safely) first before I make any decision but my feeling on using the slide/shuffle method is that your hand is always very close while the P&S, if the fall occurs at the highest point, has a long pull which is done with the rotator cup which is totally slow (in my head, I have NOT actually done it).

I think the way jay does it, he's probably doing it so perfect that the brake hand is both tight and he is probably quick on the draw. In the other posts that I read, many agreed that a really good belayer can do almost any belay style and be safe. However, seeing people at the crag, a lot get lazy and on autopilot with the P&S and I think comparing autopilot P&S with autopilot shuffle/slide (S/S) that S/S would win. The response time of closing your hand is just so much quicker (AGAIN in my head). I'll see what I think after using both for a while.


notapplicable


Mar 15, 2009, 6:50 PM
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Re: [climbingam] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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climbingam wrote:
I like your assessment. I'm concerned enough to experiment (safely) first before I make any decision but my feeling on using the slide/shuffle method is that your hand is always very close while the P&S, if the fall occurs at the highest point, has a long pull which is done with the rotator cup which is totally slow (in my head, I have NOT actually done it).

I think the way jay does it, he's probably doing it so perfect that the brake hand is both tight and he is probably quick on the draw. In the other posts that I read, many agreed that a really good belayer can do almost any belay style and be safe. However, seeing people at the crag, a lot get lazy and on autopilot with the P&S and I think comparing autopilot P&S with autopilot shuffle/slide (S/S) that S/S would win. The response time of closing your hand is just so much quicker (AGAIN in my head). I'll see what I think after using both for a while.

Sounds good. I've been belaying that way for several years and have caught a few falls that I didn't see coming with no indication of trouble.

Really small diameter ropes may not work as well because of a tendency to flex or bend due to their light weight but that's only in theory. I've never had a problem down to 9.6mm


bill413


Mar 15, 2009, 7:49 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
(I have belayed with P&S on more than one occasion when required to by a gym using only GriGri's)
I'm sorry, but experience with the GriGri does not directly translate into experience with other belay techniques. This is because the GriGri will grip the rope with a very small amount of tension on the brake strand. In fact, many people have gotten lucky by having the GriGri grip with no tension on the brake strand...but that is certainly not an endorsement of letting the brake strand run free.

You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope. I don't care if you switch hands or not....the brake rope must be controlled. The pinch & slide is more appropriate for some devices, the BUS or PLUS is more appropriate for others. Choose your methodology based on your comfort level, your ability to safely belay, and on what makes the device/belay safe.


(This post was edited by bill413 on Mar 15, 2009, 7:51 PM)


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 7:51 PM
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climbingam wrote:
I like your assessment. I'm concerned enough to experiment (safely) first before I make any decision but my feeling on using the slide/shuffle method is that your hand is always very close while the P&S, if the fall occurs at the highest point, has a long pull which is done with the rotator cup which is totally slow (in my head, I have NOT actually done it).

How can you like his "assessment." He claims that he is "sliding" his brake hand up the rope. That is false. He is letting go of the rope with his brake hand and repositioning it. Since when has letting go with the brake hand been considered safe?

Jay


notapplicable


Mar 15, 2009, 9:04 PM
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bill413 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
(I have belayed with P&S on more than one occasion when required to by a gym using only GriGri's)
I'm sorry, but experience with the GriGri does not directly translate into experience with other belay techniques. This is because the GriGri will grip the rope with a very small amount of tension on the brake strand. In fact, many people have gotten lucky by having the GriGri grip with no tension on the brake strand...but that is certainly not an endorsement of letting the brake strand run free.

I was in no way trying to imply that I am proficient with the P&S method and 99.47793% of my belaying is done palms down with tube style devices.

I included that to simply convey that I understand and have experienced that the P&S method does in fact allow the brake hand to have a firmer grip than the method I typically use. I just don't think that the tighter grip makes a significant difference given the other factors at play including default brake hand and rope orientation.

bill413 wrote:
You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope. I don't care if you switch hands or not....the brake rope must be controlled. The pinch & slide is more appropriate for some devices, the BUS or PLUS is more appropriate for others. Choose your methodology based on your comfort level, your ability to safely belay, and on what makes the device/belay safe.

I completely agree.


(This post was edited by notapplicable on Mar 15, 2009, 9:05 PM)


jt512


Mar 15, 2009, 9:37 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
...the P&S method does in fact allow the brake hand to have a firmer grip than the method I typically use.

Correct.

In reply to:
I just don't think that the tighter grip makes a significant difference given the other factors at play including default brake hand and rope orientation.

You are most likely mistaken. Braking force—ie, friction—is directly related to the tension in the rope, which, in turn, is related to the strength of the grip of the brake hand. Your claim, above, boils down to this: that friction is greater with essentially no grip on the rope, due to an extra bend in the rope around the lip of the belay device; compared with a tight grip on the rope, without that extra bend. That is almost certainly incorrect. (Almost) no grip on the rope translates to (almost) no friction, even with the rope making an extra bend around the belay device: no grip = no tension = no friction.

If you get caught off guard for a fraction of a second, and the belayer falls while you are essentially letting go of the rope to reposition your brake hand, your first indication of a fall will be the rope running through your brake hand. There is absolutely no way this is safe, or superior to being caught off guard using the pinch and slide method during the slide "phase" while maintain a firm grip on the rope. In the pinch-and-slide case, tension will build up in the rope; the rope will start to stretch; the rope won't slide through your brake hand, but rather, your brake hand will be pulled toward the device; and, unless you are completely brain-dead, you will react by locking off the device. In contrast, with your method, you will have to catch, and stop, a moving rope. And, until you can produce empirical evidence that you can do that, without wearing a glove, I'm not going to accept you can, and neither should anyone else. You are using a completely non-standard method of belaying: the onus is on you to demonstrate that it is safe.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Mar 15, 2009, 9:43 PM)


d0nk3yk0n9


Mar 16, 2009, 4:08 AM
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jt512 wrote:
(Almost) no grip on the rope translates to (almost) no friction, even with the rope making an extra bend around the belay device: no grip = no tension = no friction.

I'd have to disagree with this, at least as written. I've experienced multiple times while lowering someone that it is easier (for me) to control the lower if I loosely hold the rope back by my hip than if I tightly grip it parallel to the other strand of rope and loosen my grip slightly to lower. However, I don't know for sure that my experience translates directly to catching a fall, as I've only noticed this while lowering.


jt512


Mar 16, 2009, 1:25 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
bill413 wrote:
You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope.
I completely agree.

Then you should start doing it. You have fooled yourself into thinking that you are holding on to the brake side of the rope when you shuffle your brake hand up. You're not. You cannot consistently move your brake hand the rope without anchoring the free end of the rope with your other hand. You are letting go.

Jay


curt


Mar 16, 2009, 6:06 PM
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jt512 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
bill413 wrote:
You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope.
I completely agree.

Then you should start doing it. You have fooled yourself into thinking that you are holding on to the brake side of the rope when you shuffle your brake hand up. You're not. You cannot consistently move your brake hand the rope without anchoring the free end of the rope with your other hand. You are letting go.

Jay

Don't you ever watch the climber when you are belaying? I sure do. This "fraction of a second while you're sliding your hand" stuff is complete bullshit. I can (and routinely do) retighten my grip on the rope long before the rope ever comes tight. Sliding your hand up the rope when belaying simply isn't a problem if you're paying attention.

Curt


jt512


Mar 16, 2009, 6:15 PM
Post #49 of 387 (4187 views)
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Registered: Apr 11, 2001
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Re: [curt] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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curt wrote:
jt512 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
bill413 wrote:
You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope.
I completely agree.

Then you should start doing it. You have fooled yourself into thinking that you are holding on to the brake side of the rope when you shuffle your brake hand up. You're not. You cannot consistently move your brake hand the rope without anchoring the free end of the rope with your other hand. You are letting go.

Jay

Don't you ever watch the climber when you are belaying? I sure do. This "fraction of a second while you're sliding your hand" stuff is complete bullshit. I can (and routinely do) retighten my grip on the rope long before the rope ever comes tight. Sliding your hand up the rope when belaying simply isn't a problem if you're paying attention.

There isn't a belayer alive who watches his partner 100% of the time. Any belayer who belays in the style described by notapplicable will be letting go with his brake hand (and that's exactly what he's doing) while not watching his partner on a regular basis. If this supposed belay method becomes popular among n00bs, we're going to see accident rates soar.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Mar 16, 2009, 6:29 PM)


curt


Mar 16, 2009, 6:30 PM
Post #50 of 387 (4242 views)
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Registered: Aug 26, 2002
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Re: [jt512] Safest belay technique [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
curt wrote:
jt512 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
bill413 wrote:
You must keep a brake hand on the brake rope.
I completely agree.

Then you should start doing it. You have fooled yourself into thinking that you are holding on to the brake side of the rope when you shuffle your brake hand up. You're not. You cannot consistently move your brake hand the rope without anchoring the free end of the rope with your other hand. You are letting go.

Jay

Don't you ever watch the climber when you are belaying? I sure do. This "fraction of a second while you're sliding your hand" stuff is complete bullshit. I can (and routinely do) retighten my grip on the rope long before the rope ever comes tight. Sliding your hand up the rope when belaying simply isn't a problem if you're paying attention.

There isn't a belayer alive who watches his partner 100% of the time. Any belayer who belays in the style described by notapplicable will be letting go with his brake hand (and that's exactly what it is) while not watching his partner on a regular basis. If this supposed belay method becomes popular among n00bs, we're going to see accident rates soar.

Jay

Well, neither you nor I have any data to support our respective positions--thus, we are in the realm of pure speculation. I simply don't think that this is the big deal you are making of it--and I doubt that this technique alone (sliding your belay hand up the rope) is leading to very many accidents, if any.

Curt

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