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Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay
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Partner rgold


Feb 1, 2012, 8:27 AM
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Re: [billl7] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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I think there is a hidden issue worth discussing. Bill mentions students screw up tying the mule knot and drop the leader. The real problem is the mule knot, especially as used in the American version of the belay escape, in which the belay strand has to be pushed through the device locker and the mule knot is then tied around the loaded rope above the device.

This protocol gives plenty of opportunity to fumble and loose control of the belay. A few practice session under highly controlled circumstances will not make someone competent to do this under all the pressures, psychological and environmental, of a real scenario.

The solution is a much older technique that is much better: four wraps of the rope around the thigh and boom---you are hands-free and ready to install a prussik. It is much harder---I'd say nearly impossible---to fumble this, making it a far better protocol for emergency situations. It is also faster and easier and there is nothing to remember under stress. I've never understood why this isn't the standard method taught.

If the belayer is disturbed by the tendency of the wraps to fall down the leg under the weight of a hanging rope, the free end of the rope can be brought up over the head and dropped on the opposite shoulder


billl7


Feb 1, 2012, 9:01 AM
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Re: [rgold] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
The solution is a much older technique that is much better: four wraps of the rope around the thigh and boom---you are hands-free and ready to install a prussik. It is much harder---I'd say nearly impossible---to fumble this, making it a far better protocol for emergency situations. It is also faster and easier and there is nothing to remember under stress. I've never understood why this isn't the standard method taught.

Some of the veterans I climb with also use the above technique. Up until now I've been dismissing it as introducing a lot of unnecessary slack because eventually the leg will have to be unwrapped to truly escape the belay. ... the amount of slack being an issue if wishing to avoid relying on a prusik/kleimheist/etc. by itself.

Of course, the slack needn't be the entire remaining rope since a backup knot can be anchored in close proximity to the mule knot or leg wrap. At the same time, with the latter, one probably needs even more slack to allow getting the leg out of the leg wrap.

I understand about the fumbling of the mule knot. While I think it is practical to learn to do it in a way that makes fumbling very unlikely, you make a good point about whether being under stress might undo the previous learning as it often does in us humans.

Any thoughts about whether the additional slack of the leg wrap is significant enough to seek to mitigate?

Note: I do think in practice sessions that folks should learn to work wtih the mule knot since the leg wrap is not an option in applications outside of escaping the belay. I'm mainly thinking of self-rescue techniques where a tied-off munter might be needed at a top anchor while descending.

Bill


Partner rgold


Feb 1, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Re: [billl7] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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Bill, I'm not sure what you mean about slack. When unwrapping, you grab the rope above your thigh, the section between the thigh and the device. Unwrapping is done almost entirely by leg action, spinning the rope off the thigh. Absolutely no slack is released into the system.

Actually, this is yet another argument for the leg-wrap method. The mule knot is typically popped open, which releases an uncontrolled foot or so of slack. There is no such release with the leg wrap, so no potential for the leader to drop hard onto the prussik.

Although the leg wrap, as far as I can tell, is superior in every way to mule lock-offs, the British method, in which the locking off is done on the solid side of the belay device biner rather than on the loaded rope above the device, strikes me as being easier to remember, quicker to set up, and having less fumble potential.

Perhaps there is some confusion about purpose? The leg wrap is used simply to get hands-free. Eventually, the leader's rope will have to be anchored to something, and that anchor has to be a munter mule. Fumbling is not an issue for that knot, however, since there are other things holding the leader's rope.

Might I wander off-topic a bit and mention that before one starts an escape process, one ought to decide whether the best thing to do is to lower the leader? The first priority should be to get the leader out of a hanging position. Self-rescue training seems to focus on processes that will, in the field under the kinds of difficult circumstances one could reasonably expect, leave the leader hanging for a very long period of time. This is dangerous and very possibly fatal for a leader in shock or semi-conscious or worse.

I think there is a distinct danger that a person under stress in an emergency situation will hang the leader up there forever doing all the things they were taught to do when by far the best thing would have been to lower the leader back to the ledge, if possible.


billl7


Feb 1, 2012, 10:56 AM
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Re: [rgold] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
Bill, I'm not sure what you mean about slack. When unwrapping, you grab the rope above your thigh, the section between the thigh and the device. Unwrapping is done almost entirely by leg action, spinning the rope off the thigh. Absolutely no slack is released into the system.

Ah, I think I see how this could work. From the beginning: leg wrap, put in something else to take the load to the anchor, re-grab and brake with the section between thigh and device, unwrap the leg, and one-handedly tie the brake rope off short to the anchor with something load releasable (prolly munter mule). Edit: well, the brake hand could probably assist with a finger or two.

rgold wrote:
Actually, this is yet another argument for the leg-wrap method. The mule knot is typically popped open, which releases an uncontrolled foot or so of slack. There is no such release with the leg wrap, so no potential for the leader to drop hard onto the prussik.

In practice, the mule knot is pretty forgiving in this situation. Once the overhand backup is released, the mule knot gives out some of that rope (assuming there's not a lot of slack in what takes the load and there shouldn't need to be since a prusik can be slid up).

rgold wrote:
Although the leg wrap, as far as I can tell, is superior in every way to mule lock-offs, the British method, in which the locking off is done on the solid side of the belay device biner rather than on the loaded rope above the device, strikes me as being easier to remember, quicker to set up, and having less fumble potential.

British method?

rgold wrote:
Perhaps there is some confusion about purpose? The leg wrap is used simply to get hands-free. Eventually, the leader's rope will have to be anchored to something, and that anchor has to be a munter mule. Fumbling is not an issue for that knot, however, since there are other things holding the leader's rope.

Agree that fumbling is not an issue for that one. Typically, for me, it's a prusik to the load strand linked to the anchor by a mariners' knot or a munter mule.

I'll respond to the harness-hang syndrome in a minute.

Bill L


(This post was edited by billl7 on Feb 1, 2012, 11:09 AM)


billl7


Feb 1, 2012, 11:08 AM
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Re: [rgold] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
Might I wander off-topic a bit and mention that before one starts an escape process, one ought to decide whether the best thing to do is to lower the leader? The first priority should be to get the leader out of a hanging position.

Totally agree. Not expressed here is the usual pre-exercise discussion about simply lowering the leader to the deck or ledge when there is enough rope as very likely the best first thing to do.

rgold wrote:
Self-rescue training seems to focus on processes that will, in the field under the kinds of difficult circumstances one could reasonably expect, leave the leader hanging for a very long period of time. This is dangerous and very possibly fatal for a leader in shock or semi-conscious or worse.

I can see that. Sometimes, also, I think we try to fit in as many techniques as possible in one exercise because there isn't another opportunity in the current "schedule". Maybe the answer is to either change the "schedule" or reduce the content.

rgold wrote:
I think there is a distinct danger that a person under stress in an emergency situation will hang the leader up there forever doing all the things they were taught to do when by far the best thing would have been to lower the leader back to the ledge, if possible.

Agreed.

Thanks for putting a lot of value into this thread.
Bill L


Partner j_ung


Feb 1, 2012, 12:46 PM
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Re: [swaghole] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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swaghole wrote:
In reply to:
The only reason you would need to escape the belay is to play a joke on your friend and leave him up on a route. Or to take a piss.

What about rescue scenarios? You need to escape the belay for most rescue scenarios. It's part of the basics.

Even in rescue scenarios, I can't think of one reason to ever escape a toprope belay under load, not when you can just lower the victim to the ground.


Howard70


Feb 1, 2012, 1:15 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
Even in rescue scenarios, I can't think of one reason to ever escape a toprope belay under load, not when you can just lower the victim to the ground.

In the exercises Bill originally described the scenario is escaping the belay when a leader takes a fall with more than half the rope out. Lowering won't reach the belay ledge. At least that was what we emulated we I was Bill's student.

Howard


Partner j_ung


Feb 1, 2012, 1:20 PM
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Re: [Howard70] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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Howard70 wrote:
j_ung wrote:
Even in rescue scenarios, I can't think of one reason to ever escape a toprope belay under load, not when you can just lower the victim to the ground.

In the exercises Bill originally described the scenario is escaping the belay when a leader takes a fall with more than half the rope out. Lowering won't reach the belay ledge. At least that was what we emulated we I was Bill's student.

Howard

Ah, thanks for the clarification.


MFC


Feb 1, 2012, 1:23 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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Re: escaping the belay
In a rescue scenario escaping the belay is not always necessary or even prudent.

Going "hands free" is obviously the first physical step in a rescue, but depending on your next course of action, you may not need to escape the belay to perform a rescue.

Marc Chauvin has an excellent article on his website that details the steps necessary for various scenarios in rescuing the 2nd.

www.chauvinguides.com/selfrescue/selfstart.cfm


Partner rgold


Feb 1, 2012, 1:23 PM
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Re: [billl7] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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bill7 wrote:
British method?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/...les/page.php?id=3295


billl7


Feb 2, 2012, 5:43 AM
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Re: [rgold] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
bill7 wrote:
British method?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/...les/page.php?id=3295
Heresy! Wink


billl7


Feb 2, 2012, 6:26 AM
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Re: [MFC] Escape The Belay Sessions: Backup Belay [In reply to]
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MFC wrote:
Marc Chauvin has an excellent article on his website that details the steps necessary for various scenarios in rescuing the 2nd.

http://www.chauvinguides.com/...rescue/selfstart.cfm

I checked it out and totally agree that a redirected belay greatly simplifies assisting an injured climber. Still, for me, just because I can escape the belay more easily doesn't mean I'll choose to always redirect.

Bill L

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