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Do you ever take someone off belay?
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donwanadi


Feb 17, 2012, 1:38 PM
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Do you ever take someone off belay?
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I've just been going through the process of multi-pitch climbing in my head and I was wondering why you might ever actually take someone off belay.

If the belayer is tied into the end of the rope, why not just keep them on belay while they are pulling in slack and get to the end of the rope (which is tied to you), THEN remove the belay device. It seems like this would avoid the potential for miscommunication.

Thoughts?


marc801


Feb 17, 2012, 1:52 PM
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donwanadi wrote:
I've just been going through the process of multi-pitch climbing in my head and I was wondering why you might ever actually take someone off belay.

If the belayer is tied into the end of the rope, why not just keep them on belay while they are pulling in slack and get to the end of the rope (which is tied to you), THEN remove the belay device. It seems like this would avoid the potential for miscommunication.

Thoughts?
I don't understand your question fully. Where is the leader and where is the belayer? Getting to the end of the rope....where? Are they swapping leads each pitch or leading in blocks? Even if you pull all the rope through the device, they're still going to go off belay at some point, so what is it that you're really asking?

Some points to consider:
* the climbing party may or may not be swapping leads on each pitch
* a person goes off belay once they are anchored at a belay stance - there is never the situation of taking someone off belay when they are not attached to an anchor
* not all pitches are the full rope length, so pulling all the rope through the belay device is usually impractical and unnecessarily time consuming.


camhead


Feb 17, 2012, 1:55 PM
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Re: [donwanadi] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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donwanadi wrote:
If the belayer is tied into the end of the rope, why not just keep them on belay while they are pulling in slack and get to the end of the rope (which is tied to you), THEN remove the belay device. It seems like this would avoid the potential for miscommunication.

It wastes time that, on a multipitch, would often be better served getting ready to follow up the pitch (putting shoes back on, beginning to break down the belay, etc.). And as marc says, it is a pain to feed tons of rope through a belay device quickly as the leader is pulling up slack.

Furthermore, on most beginner climbs, which are lower angle, with occasional ledges (I'm assuming you're a beginner, based on the question and the forum), keeping the leader on belay after he or she has pulled up 50 feet of slack would probably not do a lot of good if the leader was then to fall.


(This post was edited by camhead on Feb 17, 2012, 1:57 PM)


donwanadi


Feb 17, 2012, 2:02 PM
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I was thinking from the perspective of the belayer. Your leader climbs past a roof and out of sight. Communication is difficult..

You think you here "Off Belay!" and respond "Off Belay!" but do not actually take the climber off belay. If you couldn't see the climber there would be no way to be certain the climber had built an anchor and was pulling up slack or continued climbing.


(This post was edited by donwanadi on Feb 17, 2012, 2:09 PM)


donwanadi


Feb 17, 2012, 2:04 PM
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Yes. I'd consider myself a novice.

I see your point and I hadn't considered that much slack. Perhaps the better solution then would be to establish some kind of rope signal? Yarding on the rope few times when you are safe?


LostinMaine


Feb 17, 2012, 2:08 PM
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donwanadi wrote:
Yes. I'd consider myself a novice.

I see your point and I hadn't considered that much slack. Perhaps the better solution then would be to establish some kind of rope signal? Yarding on the rope few times when you are safe?

This is commonly done. It alleviates people yelling to one another. When a climbing team has their signals dialed, it is nearly impossible to misunderstand.


donwanadi


Feb 17, 2012, 2:11 PM
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Is there a 'standard' signal? ie: 5 big pulls, 3 short pulls, 3 long, 3 short, 3 long? Spell your name in Morse?


bearbreeder


Feb 17, 2012, 2:23 PM
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no ...

you make darn sure you and yr partner are on the same page ...

when in doubt, as soon as the rope is taut put em on belay immediately ...

it also helps to have everything ready so that all you need to do is to simply put the rope through the belay device once the rope is up ... so you arent fumbling for minutes trying to put him in belay ...


shimanilami


Feb 17, 2012, 2:44 PM
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donwanadi wrote:
Is there a 'standard' signal? ie: 5 big pulls, 3 short pulls, 3 long, 3 short, 3 long? Spell your name in Morse?

I don't know if it's a universally accepted standard, but everyone I've ever climbed multipitch with has agreed to "3 long, hard pulls in succession means I'm off belay". The belayer provides a mile of slack, which means the belay is off. The leader then pulls up the slack, which means, "Got it. Thanks."

And when the leader is ready to belay the follower, it's "When the rope becomes taut, you're on belay."

The only problem I've ever run into with the rope-signals approach is when there's an assload of rope drag, which can make it difficult to sense the "3 long pulls" signal.


Rudmin


Feb 17, 2012, 2:53 PM
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Even if you can't see or hear someone, the difference between a person climbing fast and a person pulling up rope is pretty obvious to most belayers.


moose_droppings


Feb 17, 2012, 5:12 PM
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This,
Rudmin wrote:
Even if you can't see or hear someone, the difference between a person climbing fast and a person pulling up rope is pretty obvious to most belayers.

Then at the end of reeling in slack when I feel my partner's weight I'll keep the rope tight and let them break down the belay, when I feel slack after that I know they're climbing and start belaying them up.


Partner j_ung


Feb 17, 2012, 6:11 PM
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Re: [donwanadi] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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donwanadi wrote:
I was thinking from the perspective of the belayer. Your leader climbs past a roof and out of sight. Communication is difficult..

You think you here "Off Belay!" and respond "Off Belay!" but do not actually take the climber off belay. If you couldn't see the climber there would be no way to be certain the climber had built an anchor and was pulling up slack or continued climbing.

In the situation you're describing, this is exactly what you should do. If you can't be sure about what you heard, keep them on belay. Climb when the slack gets to your knot. Continue to try to communicate while climbing. Eventually, you'll hear each other.


cclarke


Feb 17, 2012, 7:00 PM
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As soon as the leader says off belay, take them off belay and get yourself ready to follow.

I only use one rope signal if verbal communication is impossible or unclear. I always explain this to a new partner before we climb. The leader takes in all the rope and makes repeated three pulls on the rope which means the follower is on belay and can climb. In that case, it doesn't matter that the belayer has to feed out rope to the end while belaying before getting the signal. The repeated three pulls is unambiguous for the follower so they know they can climb safely and that's the critical part.

If the rope is at the end and still pulling up but without the three pulls, the belayer has to climb but not fall. The second situation can happen but it is pretty rare. Obviously, the leader has to think about what they are asking the follower to do when leaving the belay and the leader should down climb to an anchor if the belayer has to make hard moves off the belay. Or better yet, the leader should think about that before they get to the end of the rope.

If you can hear the leader say off belay, I would always take them off belay and get ready to move. The less screwing around in transitions, the better. Wear shoes that you don't have to remove while belaying. Have your gear organized so all you have to do is break down the anchor and go. It's easier and safer to save time in the transitions than try to lead extra fast or skimp on placing gear.


Partner j_ung


Feb 17, 2012, 7:09 PM
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Re: [cclarke] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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I used to resort to rope signals, but then realized they're completely unnecessary and often complicate the matter. If you can't hear each other, the leader should put the climber on belay immediately after anchoring and pull the slack up through his or her device. The second should start climbing when the rope runs out. Sans reliable communication, this is really the best way to eliminate the guesswork.


(This post was edited by j_ung on Feb 17, 2012, 7:10 PM)


gmggg


Feb 18, 2012, 4:51 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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bearbreeder wrote:
when in doubt, as soon as the rope is taut put em on belay immediately ...

It's worth mentioning this advice is for the leader and not the belayer and that, as with everything, it's not always true.


gmggg


Feb 18, 2012, 4:53 AM
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j_ung wrote:
I used to resort to rope signals, but then realized they're completely unnecessary and often complicate the matter. If you can't hear each other, the leader should put the climber on belay immediately after anchoring and pull the slack up through his or her device. The second should start climbing when the rope runs out. Sans reliable communication, this is really the best way to eliminate the guesswork.

This.


bearbreeder


Feb 18, 2012, 9:26 AM
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Re: [j_ung] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
I used to resort to rope signals, but then realized they're completely unnecessary and often complicate the matter. If you can't hear each other, the leader should put the climber on belay immediately after anchoring and pull the slack up through his or her device. The second should start climbing when the rope runs out. Sans reliable communication, this is really the best way to eliminate the guesswork.


i politely disagree

out here there are numerous pitches where the belayer and climber are out if site .... and possibly out of hearing

if you spent the time pulling the extra slack of a thick rope through the belay device every time ... thats quite a bit of time wasted when yr doing 12+ pitches over the course of a day IMO

belayers should know not to follow when the rope is slack ... they should definitely feel the pull for a full minute or so before following if they cant hear/see the person

the most important thing however is to arrange all this or whatever method you will use before leaving the ground

cclarkes advice about the possibility of simul however is absolutely sound ...

once i missed a belay anchor or runnout slab ... and had to down climb ... because i was at the limit of my rope, i was pretty worried that my belayer would follow while i was runnout from my last bolt since i had made a few moves before i stupidly realized that i was at the end of the rope ... fortunately the belayer waited long enough to realize that a few tugs from me making the move wasnt the constant tugging i tol her about ...

but if yr on a new route and screw up and cant downclimb like i did ... an unexpected simul is a very real possibility and the follower should be aware that they absolutely must not fall in that case ...


(This post was edited by bearbreeder on Feb 18, 2012, 9:30 AM)


guangzhou


Feb 18, 2012, 6:40 PM
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j_ung wrote:
I used to resort to rope signals, but then realized they're completely unnecessary and often complicate the matter. If you can't hear each other, the leader should put the climber on belay immediately after anchoring and pull the slack up through his or her device. The second should start climbing when the rope runs out. Sans reliable communication, this is really the best way to eliminate the guesswork.

This has worked well for me. My delayer on multi-pitch knows that when the rope goes tights, if they can't here or see me, they are already on belay on end.

To me, the extra effort of pulling the slack through the belay device is worth the increased safety.

Verbal and visual signals are common for me. Actually, I'm in the habit of giving the visual with the verbal even when my partner can see me. This reenforces the visual if for some reason they can't hear me.

If you climb in places where you frequently can't see each otehr or hear other, consider radios. (On a trip in Northern China, my partner and I used Whistles.) o
Would hate to see whistle become popular at places like the Gunks on Saturdays or Sunday, but would love to see more visual signals and hear less shouted on my next visit.

No matter what, the best advice so far, make sure you and your partner are on the same sheet of music. Make sure you practice before you need it so it's natural when you actually have to use it. Avoid the whistles at the Gunks please.


USnavy


Feb 19, 2012, 1:05 AM
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Re: [donwanadi] Do you ever take someone off belay? [In reply to]
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donwanadi wrote:
If the belayer is tied into the end of the rope, why not just keep them on belay while they are pulling in slack and get to the end of the rope (which is tied to you), THEN remove the belay device.
Good question. I do exactly that when I cannot see or hear my partner. Before I leave the ground I tell my partner that if we cannot see or hear each other, than keep the other on belay until the rope is expended.

But if I can see my partner and I can see he has tied into the next belay, I will take him off so I dont have to feed an extra 30m of rope through my belay device. That would be pointless and it wastes time.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Feb 19, 2012, 1:06 AM)


Partner j_ung


Feb 19, 2012, 6:36 AM
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bearbreeder wrote:
j_ung wrote:
I used to resort to rope signals, but then realized they're completely unnecessary and often complicate the matter. If you can't hear each other, the leader should put the climber on belay immediately after anchoring and pull the slack up through his or her device. The second should start climbing when the rope runs out. Sans reliable communication, this is really the best way to eliminate the guesswork.


i politely disagree

out here there are numerous pitches where the belayer and climber are out if site .... and possibly out of hearing

if you spent the time pulling the extra slack of a thick rope through the belay device every time ... thats quite a bit of time wasted when yr doing 12+ pitches over the course of a day IMO

belayers should know not to follow when the rope is slack ... they should definitely feel the pull for a full minute or so before following if they cant hear/see the person

the most important thing however is to arrange all this or whatever method you will use before leaving the ground

cclarkes advice about the possibility of simul however is absolutely sound ...

once i missed a belay anchor or runnout slab ... and had to down climb ... because i was at the limit of my rope, i was pretty worried that my belayer would follow while i was runnout from my last bolt since i had made a few moves before i stupidly realized that i was at the end of the rope ... fortunately the belayer waited long enough to realize that a few tugs from me making the move wasnt the constant tugging i tol her about ...

but if yr on a new route and screw up and cant downclimb like i did ... an unexpected simul is a very real possibility and the follower should be aware that they absolutely must not fall in that case ...

NOTHING is fool proof. Climbing is dangerous, even when you do everything right. But I certainly agree with what I bolded.


Partner j_ung


Feb 19, 2012, 6:38 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
No matter what, the best advice so far, make sure you and your partner are on the same sheet of music.

Quoting that, too, to make sure the point gets made for any beginners reading. Smile


bill413


Feb 19, 2012, 12:00 PM
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If you suspect that you are going to be in this situation, make sure that you, as the belayer, can disassemble the anchor if (when) the leader has pulled the rope up but can't hear and feel you to give slack.


johnwesely


Feb 19, 2012, 1:48 PM
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I guess I am in the minority here, but I find rope signals to be much more clear than verbal signals even when verbal communication is relatively easy. The key is to have a really simple system and to not expect to communicate anything more than the most basic commands.


guangzhou


Feb 19, 2012, 5:29 PM
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johnwesely wrote:
I guess I am in the minority here, but I find rope signals to be much more clear than verbal signals even when verbal communication is relatively easy. The key is to have a really simple system and to not expect to communicate anything more than the most basic commands.

Works for you and the places you climb, but may not work everywhere.

Personally, I use verbal and visual on all climbs. Even at the belay of sport route when cleaning an anchor I use a visual and verbal.

I also add three tugs just as my partner starts climbing, but it's back up with a verbal and visual. The tug is just a result of reflex from some former climbing areas I frequented.


JAB


Feb 20, 2012, 12:15 AM
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I have never bothered with rope signals. My experience is that if you are out of sight and hearing, it means there are corners and/or ledges that creates enough rope drag to make rope signaling hard or even impossible. I also have often found myself needing to downclimb tens of feet (for example if you miss the belay stand or want to link pitches but need to stop because the rope is running out or drag becomes unbearable), and the last thing I want in that situation is to be taken off belay.

On long routes I have often used walkie-talkies. If we don't have these with us, I have found that the simple "keep leader on belay until all rope is used and you start feeling tugs" works quite well, too.

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