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belaying off ice screw(s)
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fresh


Dec 31, 2010, 11:55 AM
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belaying off ice screw(s)
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I took a friend climbing for his first multipitch ice route recently, and I've had second thoughts about the way I set up the belay.

I belayed at the end of the first pitch at a very solid blob of ice at the bottom of a small pillar. I put in a 22 and a 19 (side-by-side), made a sliding x with a regular length sling, and clipped myself into the X. since my partner forgot his device I had already planned to belay him with a munter.

but the sliding X was a bit too low for me to belay comfortably, so I clipped the locker for the munter hitch to the 22, and belayed off of that screw. I also thought it would save some energy if it was clipped to a fixed point, instead of it waving to and fro as I pulled up the rope. I reasoned that since the screws were connected, if the 22 pulled out, the 19 would be there. probably wishful thinking. there would be about two feet of extension if the 22 ripped under body weight.

considering how solid the ice was, I was comfortable with this setup. the most force he could've put on the anchor is around twice his bodyweight, multiply that by a safety factor of three, and it'd have to hold 1200 pounds. I felt pretty darn confident of that. but I don't know if I should have been.

not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything, but it just happened to be so comfortable and smooth to belay this way that I'm tempted to do it again.

but then, I don't think I've seen this before, so that probably means I'm wrong. the last thing I want to do is show my friends shitty ways of doing things. well, that's second-last. what I really don't want to do is belay anyone unsafely. so yeah, have at it!


AntinJ


Dec 31, 2010, 1:33 PM
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Re: [fresh] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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Fresh,

A few questions:
-What route?
-Good stance? or was is a hanging belay?
-How far apart where the "side-by-side" screws?


Nonetheless, I would have just extended my distance from the anchor and belayed off of the masterpoint/sliding X.

Or slingshot a belay off of my harness through an additional screw placed higher up.

Hope your friend had fun!

Jason


rocknice2


Dec 31, 2010, 1:42 PM
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Re: [fresh] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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While I have done exactly what you did, there are better ways.

if Swing leading
-With 1 rope tie into 1st screw then into 2nd, this will make an upside down 'L'. Belay off the 2nd screw. If 2nd screw blows the belay will swing not fall.
--With PAS clip into 1st screw then into 2nd, this will make an upside down 'L'. Belay off a loop between the two screw.

if Block leading
-do what you did but add a short sling between the two screws.
-better to make the anchor higher, though that's not always possible


skiclimb


Jan 1, 2011, 7:35 AM
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Re: [fresh] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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Safety over comfort. Belaying off a single piece of placed pro is pretty hard to justify if there is an alternative.

While you were not exactly belaying off a single piece what you did was too close to that for my comfort.

I would have had a fairly pointed talk if one of my partners used an anchor like that on me.


(This post was edited by skiclimb on Jan 1, 2011, 7:40 AM)


rangerrob


Jan 1, 2011, 2:30 PM
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Re: [skiclimb] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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This isn't a question about belaying off ice screws so much as it is about being able to set up an efficient and safe anchor system.

Generally speaking, when making an ice belay, try to place your screws offset vertically somwehat, so if the ice fractures horizonatally it won't take both out. Second, make sure they are spaced far enough apart that the fracture from one doesn't affect the other. After that is considered, then the quality of the ice. Good thick bomber ice? Equalize two screws and call it good. Questionable, delaminated, aerated ice? I would probably want something more than two screws. What about choosing a different location for the belay? It would be wiser to shorten the picth if there was a good belay down below maybe with a piece of good rock gear or a tree or something. You can also sink a tool to equalize into the anchor, or wrap a good solid icicle. Lots of things you can do.

All the anchor setup stuff is basic anchor building. practice on shitty climbing days just setting up anchors in all sorts of scenarios and setups. See what works and what doesn't. Try to keep the clean, efficient, simple. Don't overuse gear if you don;t need to. Don't forget, you have rope that you can use to equalize pieces too. Blah blah blah..it;s all been said before.

RR


fresh


Jan 3, 2011, 6:34 AM
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Re: [AntinJ] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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AntinJ wrote:
Fresh,

A few questions:
-What route?
-Good stance? or was is a hanging belay?
-How far apart where the "side-by-side" screws?


Nonetheless, I would have just extended my distance from the anchor and belayed off of the masterpoint/sliding X.

Or slingshot a belay off of my harness through an additional screw placed higher up.

Hope your friend had fun!

Jason
1. standard left at frankenstein cliff in new hampshire, it's a 3.
2. decent stance, but there was just about one square foot where I could actually stand, the rest was sloping. four feet below my stance, there was a stance for him, which is why I chose the spot I did. I could've extended myself down to that point.
3. the screws were probably a foot apart.

thanks for the suggestion, but a slingshot belay would make me more nervous in this situation since it doubles the force on that piece. I'd really rather avoid that setup on ice screws.

totally agree that safety > comfort. at the time I felt that it was safe, but there's no reason not to rig it better.

I could also place the screws vertically, and belay off the lower screw. that would prevent extension if the bottom screw ripped.

thanks all, keep the ideas coming!


shoo


Jan 3, 2011, 7:19 AM
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fresh wrote:
I could also place the screws vertically, and belay off the lower screw. that would prevent extension if the bottom screw ripped.

I typically try to offset my screws when using them as an anchor, setting them in a diagonal line rather than side-by-side or vertical. I don't like side-by-side since ice often fractures horizontally, and I don't like vertical since it adds some clustering and forces you to put 2 screws on the exact same feature.

Edit: Dammit, rangerrob said that already. Apparently, the ridiculous amount of money I have spent on my education still hasn't taught me how to read.


(This post was edited by shoo on Jan 3, 2011, 7:32 AM)


fresh


Jan 3, 2011, 10:06 AM
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that's ok, somehow I missed rangerrob's post entirely!

so the questions should be, is it safe to belay directly off of a screw that is part of the anchor? if so, what's the best way to set up the anchor in order to do that? are there any other complications I might run into?

most of these have already been addressed, but I'd love to hear more. I liked belaying this way a lot, but if it's actually easier and actually safe, I probably would've heard about it already. so I'm kind of skeptical.


rangerrob


Jan 3, 2011, 7:27 PM
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Everyone misses my posts. I'm Mr. InvisibleUnsure


brokesomeribs


Jan 6, 2011, 12:13 PM
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fresh wrote:
that's ok, somehow I missed rangerrob's post entirely!

so the questions should be, is it safe to belay directly off of a screw that is part of the anchor? if so, what's the best way to set up the anchor in order to do that? are there any other complications I might run into?

I try to avoid belaying off screw anchors, primarily for the reason that melt-out is a notable concern. Having constant tension on the screw isn't ideal, particularly on warmer/sunnier days.

A lot of it is a judgement call. 19cm screw in fat ice? I figure I can afford to lose a cm or two to melt out. If I'm on short screws (but good ice) then I'll probably do a redirect and belay off my harness. I'm not concerned about the screw's strength if loaded (i.e. unconcerned about the increase in force on the high screw), but wouldn't want to subject a short screw to increased risk of melt-out, particularly if the pitch was long (like Frankenstein).

Most of my reading has suggested that adding a tool to the anchor is a last-resort option. Luebben's testing found he could never get a tool to hold more than 4-5 kN before ripping out of the ice (or breaking the head clean off the tool) and if it blows, you've got a very pointy thing flying at your head.


rangerrob


Jan 6, 2011, 4:34 PM
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Re: [brokesomeribs] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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Hey if faced with a 5kn anchor over no anchor at all....guess what I'm going to do?


sandstone


Jan 6, 2011, 6:43 PM
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-Place first screw, tie off with the rope, call off-belay
-Place second screw, equalize the two
-Belay off the powerpoint with ATC Guide, etc.

I think that's as simple, efficient, and effective as it gets for good ice and the grade of climbing you mentioned. I've done this for years.

In good ice with cold temps I've never noticed any melt out of screws caused by belaying this way.

I've had to deal with melt out, but it was due to some combination of warm temps, soft ice, hot sun on black screw hangers, etc. At that point the security of screws, and anchors built from them, is very suspect.


skiclimb


Jan 6, 2011, 11:37 PM
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Re: [sandstone] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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egads ..what are they teaching kids these days..


if talking about placed pro of any type..

I generally find any anchor with less than three good equalized points .. at best..less than desirable..

ice dirt rock snow..whatever

2 at least..cmon isn't this basic?


1 is better than none of course but hot damn i'm nervous even if i know a truck shouldn't blow the piece.. yeah i've repelled on a single good nut ..once.. i knew it was ok..but still gave me the heebie jeebies.. V-threads ain't my favorite either..but done several of those..still in the back of my mind...

Am I comfortable with two good screws EQUALIZED in good ice.. definately..I might think that a third screw would make a better anchor but probably not really worthwhile or necessary.

2 screws not equalized??...wtf why waste time making your anchor that way... I certainly wouldn't belay of a two point unequalized anchor..ok I have belayed a second with worse anchors.. hell even NO anchor.. but sure as hell don't recommend it usually


belaying off a single screw?? better be some gnarly ass epic alpine journal baddass of a climb before i'd think that was worth the risk. Or maybe something very low angle.. Cause if thats the only anchor i could come up with i'd recommend saying fuckit and rapping off .

I've broken all these self imposed rules here and there from time to time... but always with full knowledge that i'm taking a risk and never as a general rule.


(This post was edited by skiclimb on Jan 6, 2011, 11:59 PM)


rangerrob


Jan 7, 2011, 5:26 AM
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I just use a Simon Yates snow seat for my belays.


sherpa79


Jan 7, 2011, 5:57 AM
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Re: [brokesomeribs] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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brokesomeribs wrote:
I try to avoid belaying off screw anchors, primarily for the reason that melt-out is a notable concern. Having constant tension on the screw isn't ideal, particularly on warmer/sunnier days.

I agree with the physics, but djkepending on the stance I find that when belaying there's usually more constant weight coming from me than from the second. But I like to lean into my harness to look around, check progress on the second if I can etc. On ledges, yes, there's the rope weight on the belay biner but usually not more than that unless the second calls for it or I'm leaning out to check things out.


fresh


Jan 7, 2011, 7:50 AM
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Re: [brokesomeribs] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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brokesomeribs wrote:
fresh wrote:
that's ok, somehow I missed rangerrob's post entirely!

so the questions should be, is it safe to belay directly off of a screw that is part of the anchor? if so, what's the best way to set up the anchor in order to do that? are there any other complications I might run into?
I try to avoid belaying off screw anchors, primarily for the reason that melt-out is a notable concern. Having constant tension on the screw isn't ideal, particularly on warmer/sunnier days.

A lot of it is a judgement call. 19cm screw in fat ice? I figure I can afford to lose a cm or two to melt out. If I'm on short screws (but good ice) then I'll probably do a redirect and belay off my harness. I'm not concerned about the screw's strength if loaded (i.e. unconcerned about the increase in force on the high screw), but wouldn't want to subject a short screw to increased risk of melt-out, particularly if the pitch was long (like Frankenstein).
I hadn't thought about melt-out actually, but I probably should've considering this thread (it's not actually clear to me that melt-out was what happened here, but how else does a screw that you're resting on pop out?):
http://www.gravsports-ice.com/...mber=8352&page=1

that said, I'm not too worried about melt-out for belaying the second, because unless he's hanging for a really really long time, or it's warm and sunny, it shouldn't be a concern. (or should it???) maybe in those times the screws should be backed up with a v-thread.

as far as re-directing the belay, I'm actually more nervous about the doubled force. I threw out the 1200 pound (5kN) figure as a minimum strength for belaying the second directly off the anchor, but redirecting would raise that figure to 10kN. so I'm not sure how belaying off a redirected screw is better than belaying off of a short ice screw anchor. is there an inherent disadvantage to belaying directly off the anchor that I'm not seeing?

as far as equalization, here's something by Will Gadd in that thread. not trying to say "here's what the ice climbing god says so it's right," but he has a lot of experience to draw from.
In reply to:
I don't have any new data on equalizing anchors beyond what has been hashed over endlessly on the web and on my blog. From everything I've read, researched and tried in the field true equalization is too much of a hassle to implement in a way that is actually effective. That means anchors as we use them likely will not come even close to equalizing even in a near-ideal situation.
that said, because ice is so fickle and hard to predict, maybe we should use every advantage we can get. but is equalization really a valuable advantage? the strength of the screw has everything to do with the ice it's in, so maybe that means we should be more concerned with putting an ice screw in solid features than with equalizing things perfectly.

I don't know, I'm just a guy!


AntinJ


Jan 9, 2011, 8:46 PM
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Reggie:

Achieving "True-Equalization" and having a bomber belay are two different things. Keep in mind that 3 bomber screws, placed perfectly in solid ice, all clipped with a cordelette and tied off with a figure-8 master point does not live up to the standards of a truly "equalized" belay anchor.

My apologies if I misinterpret this, but I think WG is pointing out that its not worth nit-picking to achieve true-equalization, but he never says any thing about not establishing a good belay anchor, especially when they are available.

As mentioned before, I would have just extended myself out and belayed directly off the masterpoint in the situation you have described.

Jason


fresh


Jan 10, 2011, 6:22 AM
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Re: [AntinJ] belaying off ice screw(s) [In reply to]
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AntinJ wrote:
My apologies if I misinterpret this, but I think WG is pointing out that its not worth nit-picking to achieve true-equalization, but he never says any thing about not establishing a good belay anchor, especially when they are available.
definitely. I was just responding to this statement by skiclimb:
In reply to:
I generally find any anchor with less than three good equalized points .. at best..less than desirable..
most of the time, I'd feel pretty comfortable with three bomber pieces even if they weren't equalized.


skiclimb


Jan 10, 2011, 8:27 AM
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fresh wrote:
AntinJ wrote:
My apologies if I misinterpret this, but I think WG is pointing out that its not worth nit-picking to achieve true-equalization, but he never says any thing about not establishing a good belay anchor, especially when they are available.
definitely. I was just responding to this statement by skiclimb:
In reply to:
I generally find any anchor with less than three good equalized points .. at best..less than desirable..
most of the time, I'd feel pretty comfortable with three bomber pieces even if they weren't equalized.

No real argument here. perfect equalization isn't the point. Just that I have an ideal anchor in mind that is preferable when reasonably implementable.

It certainly IS NOT 2 points with no attempt at all to share the load between them.


(This post was edited by skiclimb on Jan 10, 2011, 8:32 AM)


fresh


Jan 10, 2011, 10:58 AM
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so I found this written by will gadd (again, doesn't mean it's right, but he's so damn prolific it's hard to talk about ice climbing without referencing something he's written):

In reply to:
The leader's belay sequence at the top of first pitch goes like this:
1. One super-solid screw in, clove hitch it to the upper hole (BD screws have two holes on the hanger), "OFF!."
2. Second super solid screw in higher than the first, clove hitch it the upper hole, tighten up a bit.
3. Pull up rope, belay second off an ATC guide on on the lower 'biner hole on the lower screw (yes, this actually matters!), stack neatly on one foot, or loosely if you've been smart and are using a cave or other feature for protection.

http://gravsports.blogspot.com/...-on-multi-pitch.html

they also drill a v-thread to back up the belay and to create a rappel route. then when the leader has four screws in on the next pitch, they take out the two belay screws. kind of a scary idea! but probably safe, and definitely fast.


scotty1974


Jan 10, 2011, 11:30 AM
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fresh wrote:
AntinJ wrote:
Fresh,
I could also place the screws vertically, and belay off the lower screw. that would prevent extension if the bottom screw ripped.
I ALWAYS have 2 vertical screws. If you want to add a screw or an axe to the side fine, but the two base anchor screws are vertical.

Check out Eli's...

http://climbinglife.com/...d-the-rope-5-29.html


(This post was edited by scotty1974 on Jan 10, 2011, 11:31 AM)


jnrose5


Jan 27, 2011, 10:29 AM
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>>>http://climbinglife.com/...d-the-rope-5-29.html


I used this technique yesterday and it works super well. It's quick, easy, super safe, uses minimal gear, and creates a really clear and concise set-up. However, yesterday we were block leading (as one tends to do when ice climbing to prevent getting too cold). The rope-anchor technique falls pretty flat for this particular situation. Just an FYI...


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