Forums: Climbing Information: Technique & Training:
Belaying from above...
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Technique & Training

Premier Sponsor:

 


ClimbitToday


Aug 11, 2011, 2:33 PM
Post #1 of 18 (4889 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 28, 2008
Posts: 13

Belaying from above...
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

Hi,

I made this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJIKE6aipkE demonstrating an efficient way to belay from above on single pitch trad routes or when topping out multipitch routes. Solid/live trees need to be available.

Climb On,

Jon


healyje


Aug 11, 2011, 3:07 PM
Post #2 of 18 (4866 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 22, 2004
Posts: 4199

Re: [ClimbitToday] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Well, that is a way, but I would have just tied off to the tree and belayed off my harness. Or, using your basic setup, I'd have just redirected through a carabiner on the figure eight and belayed off my harness skipping the adjustment. But then overall I basically despise the whole concept of belaying off anchors so I'm pretty biased against it from the get go let alone doing it in a situation like this one.


Partner rgold


Aug 11, 2011, 4:26 PM
Post #3 of 18 (4827 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 3, 2002
Posts: 1800

Re: [healyje] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I have the same bias as Joe on this. But the issue of using remote trees is still relevant.

Whether you belay off the harness or redirect or go directly through the anchor, there is a better way to do this, better because you can nail the two adjustments, distance from belay to power point and distance from belayer to edge on the first try with no adjusting of knots or fixing wrong lengths with extra cloves---a method that does not work, of course, if the wrong length is too short.

1. Walk around the tree as in the video.

2. Tie an overhand or figure-eight knot in the strand attached to the climber's harness (NOT in both strands as in the video). Tie this in exactly the position you want the power point to be in relative to your waist.

3. Adjust belaying position, taking in or feeding out rope around the tree, until you are exactly where you want to be.

4. Clove hitch the strand from the other side of the tree (the strand that doesn't go to the belayer's waist) to a locking biner on the power point.

You're all set with everything adjusted right.

Some things to consider, whichever method you use:

1. Inspect the tree for sap. Getting that out of your rope is hell. if there is no choice, better to sling the tree and clip the rope to the sling(s) with a locker. Replacing a sling or two is a lot better than sliming your rope.

2. Make sure that the rope running to the climber from the belayer and the anchor rope from the belayer to the tree together form a straight line. Otherwise, the belayer going directly off the anchor will be violently pulled sideways if the second falls.

3. A braced harness belay, typically seated, will be much less susceptible to capsizing the belayer and should be considered as the first option if you can't get the lines absolutely straight. Also, sometimes anchoring to a tree like this creates an anchor line at essentially ground level, in which case the harness belay is also preferable.

4. The anchor rope is going to stretch if there is a fall. Make allowances for this when deciding where to sit or stand.


vencido


Aug 11, 2011, 4:36 PM
Post #4 of 18 (4824 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 29, 2011
Posts: 21

Re: [ClimbitToday] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

What happens if your fat second falls?
With your setup he could knock you off your feet.
Of course to fix this all you have to do is sit down.

There's little that pisses me off more than seconding a pitch and seeing the leader belaying me in a way that if I were to fall with some slack in the rope he would be pulled off his perch.


Partner j_ung


Aug 11, 2011, 5:47 PM
Post #5 of 18 (4803 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 21, 2003
Posts: 18687

Re: [vencido] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

vencido wrote:
What happens if your fat second falls?
With your setup he could knock you off your feet.
Of course to fix this all you have to do is sit down.

There's little that pisses me off more than seconding a pitch and seeing the leader belaying me in a way that if I were to fall with some slack in the rope he would be pulled off his perch.

I don't think that would happen with his set up.


ClimbitToday


Aug 11, 2011, 7:41 PM
Post #6 of 18 (4765 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 28, 2008
Posts: 13

Re: [healyje] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Certainly it is acceptable to belay off the harness. This does put more force on the anchor and it's more difficult to go hands-free. I should note that when I belay off the anchor I use a grigri or a black diamond guide which locks off if the second falls. Belaying off the anchor also makes it easier to set up a hauling system if the second needs assistance.


ClimbitToday


Aug 11, 2011, 7:51 PM
Post #7 of 18 (4761 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 28, 2008
Posts: 13

Re: [rgold] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Excellent points.... I am comfortable with my method, it works well for me. The point about the sap on trees is true. The purpose of the video was to demonstrate belaying from above using minimal gear... hence no need for a sling. Also, it is important to be inline with the forces that would be created if the second falls.... The video was a tip and not meant to be an exhaustive lesson on belaying from above. Thanks for your comments.


healyje


Aug 12, 2011, 1:47 AM
Post #8 of 18 (4707 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 22, 2004
Posts: 4199

Re: [ClimbitToday] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

ClimbitToday wrote:
Certainly it is acceptable to belay off the harness. This does put more force on the anchor and it's more difficult to go hands-free.

I would reverse that and say it's way preferable to belay off the harness with or without a redirect and acceptable (if you must) belay off the rig you constructed.

It does not put more load on the anchor and in fact, with a decent stance you could hold falls with very little force on the anchor at all in a fall. Over-reliance on anchors is a 'modern' phenomena which has come to dominate as the art of stancing has been lost (personally I consider belaying a craft and stancing an art). And the human body can absorb considerable force when belaying in a fall.

As far as going hands free, someone competent in the craft of belaying should be able to go hands free from a device or hip belay without undue trouble of any kind.

ClimbitToday wrote:
I should note that when I belay off the anchor I use a grigri or a black diamond guide which locks off if the second falls. Belaying off the anchor also makes it easier to set up a hauling system if the second needs assistance.

I don't want anything but me locking off unless I'm roped soloing which is why I only use autoblocking devices for that particular purpose and never belaying others. Hauling rigs for self-rescue is the same as for going hands free, not a big deal if you're competent.

I do completely understand why guides use belaying off the anchor, but I still consider it a bad idea regardless.


Partner j_ung


Aug 12, 2011, 4:47 AM
Post #9 of 18 (4684 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 21, 2003
Posts: 18687

Re: [healyje] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

healyje wrote:
Over-reliance on anchors is a 'modern' phenomena which has come to dominate as the art of stancing has been lost (personally I consider belaying a craft and stancing an art). And the human body can absorb considerable force when belaying in a fall.

Belaying directly from the anchor is, IMO, one of those modernizations that are beneficial in most circumstances. I agree "stancing" is a skill that gets rarer and rarer, though. Hell, a lot of climbers don't even know you can do that. But belaying off the anchor is more comfortable, easier to manage in my opinion, and places you closer to baseline if... you know... some sort of bizarre toprope shit hits the fan. Speaking as one who has come through back surgery and doesn't like to be yanked around on my stance, I belay from the anchor prolly 95% of the time. If the main objection to such a practice is the over-reliance on plaquettes, well, I think a munter hitch on the anchor is still more often superior to a direct-from-the-harness belay.


sandstone


Aug 12, 2011, 7:33 AM
Post #10 of 18 (4627 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 21, 2004
Posts: 324

Re: [j_ung] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

For the crag shown in that video, I'd be belaying off the harness. Belaying off the anchor can be a good thing, but knowing when to use the technique is a very good thing.

Belaying off the anchor really shines when climbing long routes as a team of three with double ropes. It's standard practice for me on multi-pitch ice climbs with my two best buddies. The seconds climb up simultaneously, and the leader/belayer gets himself ready for the next pitch (gulping water/food, etc.) by the time the seconds get to him. This obviously saves a lot of time, which is a big factor for long routes on short winter days.

For rock cragging on one or two pitch routes, it's better to belay off the harness -- especially if you expect the second to have some difficulty on the route (i.e. if you suspect lowering will be involved).

I also use the "rope around the tree" trick shown in the video, but I rig it like rgold described. It's a more flexible system than the huge knot tied with both strands of rope. There's a reason rgold's name includes "gold", you'll find his words are usually worth their weight in it.


Partner rgold


Aug 12, 2011, 8:13 AM
Post #11 of 18 (4601 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 3, 2002
Posts: 1800

Re: [j_ung] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I'm with Joe on everything he says. And I'd add, as I have said on a number of occasions, that direct belays off the anchor are often inferior belays for the second and in many cases encourage belayer inattentiveness.

I don't agree about the improvement in the "baseline" for self-rescue either, since the belay gadgets lock up and every now and then can be a real bear to release. Moreover, incorporating them into an improvised raising system adds so much friction that the mechanical advantage will typically be nullified.

For whatever it may be worth, and I don't think anything much, the belay redirected through the belay anchor provides the best baseline for self-rescue procedures. But really, as Joe says, anyone who knows what they are doing can institute self-rescue process from any belay configuration, and the extreme rarity of such occurrences make it pointless to adopt a belay method based on suitability for self-rescue.

All that said, I have considerable sympathy for Jung's aching back and can see, in his case, why anchor belays are preferable. Harness belays with ATC devices, unlike the hip belays of bygone times, force the belayer to bend over to manipulate the ropes, this because of the combined extension of the harness, the belay loop, and the biner holding the device, and so back soreness is an occupational hazard. On the other hand, there are a number of guides with aggravated elbow tendonitis from the sometimes substantial effort of hauling the belay ropes through guide belay devices. I guess you get to pick yer poison.

Of course, all this is a digression from the original video, which purported to show an "efficient" method of setting up a belay on a remote tree, but which in fact demonstrates a relatively clumsy method susceptible to simplifications that are faster to implement and which eliminate additional adjustment steps that will be a feature, much of the time, of the demonstrated approach.

Such objections are easily rejected as propositions for really trivial improvements. But a system that is not easily adjusted on the first try isn't just slightly more time-consuming, it is also one that will, sooner or later, encourage the belayer to settle for a less than optimal set-up, for example when it turns out that the "big honking knot" is not ideally situated.


bearbreeder


Aug 12, 2011, 9:34 AM
Post #12 of 18 (4569 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Feb 1, 2009
Posts: 1960

Re: [rgold] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

when i went to the canadian rockies i belayed almost exclusively off the anchors for 2 simple reasons

rockfall ... the amount of loose rock on even a moderate well travelled route is insane compared to squamish

rope management ... much easier to efficiently manage and flake the rope with a good anchor belay, especially with twins

people belay fine with either technique ... its not for me to tell em to use one over the other ... unless theres a very specific reason ... such as rockfall or shiet anchors ...


hugepedro


Aug 12, 2011, 10:56 AM
Post #13 of 18 (4534 views)
Shortcut

Registered: May 28, 2002
Posts: 2875

Re: [ClimbitToday] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Some high-traffic areas forbid ropes around trees, something to consider.

Personally, if my partner wrapped my nice new lead rope around a tree I'd be a bit perturbed. What, you can't carry a couple runners?


ClimbitToday


Aug 12, 2011, 11:35 AM
Post #14 of 18 (4516 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 28, 2008
Posts: 13

Re: [hugepedro] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (2 ratings)  
Can't Post

Agreed on areas that do not allow you to use trees. This was designed as one method to belay from above. Certainly, there are many ways to do this. None however are the best choice for all situations. Climbers need to have a solid understanding of climbing and be able to decide which method is best to use. Thanks for your comment.


gunkiemike


Aug 13, 2011, 4:11 AM
Post #15 of 18 (4446 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 1, 2002
Posts: 2263

Re: [j_ung] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

j_ung wrote:
vencido wrote:
What happens if your fat second falls?
With your setup he could knock you off your feet.
Of course to fix this all you have to do is sit down.

There's little that pisses me off more than seconding a pitch and seeing the leader belaying me in a way that if I were to fall with some slack in the rope he would be pulled off his perch.

I don't think that would happen with his set up.

The belayer probably wouldn't be pulled off his stance, but using an auto(b)locking device like he does pretty much requires the loaded strand (the line running down to the climber) to be in his hands (as in the video). What absolutely will happen in a fall is that that strand is going to get yanked down to ground level. The device will go with it, and the climber gets the excitement of a couple feet of extra fall. There's a few ways to prevent this while still belaying directly off the anchor, if that's what the guide wants to avoid belaying off their harness, but I'm not going to detail them here.


Partner rgold


Aug 13, 2011, 7:32 AM
Post #16 of 18 (4422 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 3, 2002
Posts: 1800

Re: [gunkiemike] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Good point Mike. Moreover, a loaded, locked-up guide device pinned at ground level and rather close to the edge might pose a difficult unlocking problem. And the possibility for smacking the device hard onto rock, if that's what is up top, is an unsettling thought.

I think my general dislike of off-the-anchor guide belays has, for this case, just turned to complete avoidance.

By the way, the anchoring process I outlined works exactly the same way for a harness belay, which should either be well-braced or sitting at the edge. (This is another advantage of the process; you have a uniform approach to all situations.) The anchor rope should be well-tensioned (simple to do) and the belay device clipped to the rope tie-in loop, not the harness belay loop. This transfers the load directly to the anchor and so does not subject the belayer to any stress if the second has to be held or lowered.


rtwilli4


Aug 13, 2011, 8:24 AM
Post #17 of 18 (4398 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Feb 14, 2008
Posts: 1867

Re: [ClimbitToday] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I belay in whatever way makes the most sense for that specific spot.

In this particular situation, I would have done the following:

- walked around the tree
- sat down on the ledge, facing out over the gorge
- tied a fig 8 on the climber's side of the rope, equalizing it so that I can clip it to my belay loop
- keep the rope around the tree sung enough to pull the fig 8 back away from me, so the biner doesn't get cross loaded
- Belay off my belay loop or the loop that is made w/ the rope by my tie in knot


Contrary to what the OP says in his third or fourth post, this puts much less force on the anchor that his set up. Even I (150 lbs) can hold most of my partners by just sitting on a flat ledge, meaning that virtually no force gets applied to my anchor when my second falls. I do set up the anchor tight enough that I will not get pulled over the edge in the case that my partner is really fat.


Partner j_ung


Aug 13, 2011, 8:38 AM
Post #18 of 18 (4395 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 21, 2003
Posts: 18687

Re: [rtwilli4] Belaying from above... [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Honestly, a sitting hip belay, back to the tree and rope around it, would also work just fine here. I don't think the OP's method is bad at all. There are a hundred acceptable ways to do this. Nothing espoused so far in this thread is likely to kill seconds.


(This post was edited by j_ung on Aug 13, 2011, 8:40 AM)


Forums : Climbing Information : Technique & Training

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook