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Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor
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gbkxbb


Apr 11, 2012, 7:44 AM
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Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor
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So I just took a lead climbing class at my local gym with my GF (woo hoo).

Anyways, during the class, the instructor had me climb to the top of a route, and then take a decent sized fall. This pulled my GF (120 pounds vs. my 180) up off the ground a good amount.

This startled her some and she wanted to attach to the anchor. But the instructor said that was a bad idea for lead climbing.

My question is simple... do you recommend attaching to an anchor while belaying a lead climber, why/why not?

Thanks for the input.


lena_chita
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Apr 11, 2012, 8:02 AM
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Re: [gbkxbb] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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You mean lead BELAYING while attached to the anchor. It would be very hard to climb while anchored. Tongue

This topic has been discussed many times, and the answer is, it depends. There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with anchoring the belayer while leading. It happens every day in multipitch climbing.



As applicable to single-pitch sport climbing scenario:

Anchor stops the belayer from moving around as needed, will probably result in harder catch, and is uncomfortably jarring for the belayer in the event of the fall. There are also situations where there is simply no means of anchoring on the ground. So all in all, it's a pain.

However, if anchoring the belayer is the only means to stop the climber from hitting the ground, then it is smart to anchor the belayer, regardless of inconvenience, hard catch and all. You can use the end of the rope for a tether, leave some slack in it, and do your best to position the belayer in a way that minimizes the sideways pull in the event of the fall.


Not anchoring a lightweight belayer will result in the belayer being pulled up, sometimes as high as the first clipped bolt. This is O.K. if the belayer is competent, is expecting&prepared for that pull, and there is nothing for either the climber or the belayer to hit. But belayer who gets slammed into the first clipped draw or rock can get hurt, or can accidentally release the break hand and drop the climber.


bill413


Apr 11, 2012, 8:08 AM
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Re: [gbkxbb] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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gbkxbb wrote:
So I just took a lead climbing class at my local gym with my GF (woo hoo).

Anyways, during the class, the instructor had me climb to the top of a route, and then take a decent sized fall. This pulled my GF (120 pounds vs. my 180) up off the ground a good amount.

This startled her some and she wanted to attach to the anchor. But the instructor said that was a bad idea for lead climbing.

My question is simple... do you recommend attaching to an anchor while belaying a lead climber, why/why not?

Thanks for the input.

It depends (TM).

Many people advocate the automatic soft catch provided by the belayer going up into the air. If the fall is clean and the belayer competent enough to not let go of the rope while they are sailing, then that's great. If there are things to hit on the way down, a shorter catch is generally better. In that case, anchoring a light belayer can be a good idea. If there is danger of rockfall (I hope not in the gym) then anchoring the belayer may be a bad idea since they won't be able to dodge.

The most important thing is that the belayer catch you & prevent injury from occurring to either party. Being anchored or not should be decided with that in mind.


olderic


Apr 11, 2012, 8:53 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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lena_chita wrote:
But belayer who gets slammed into the first clipped draw or rock can get hurt, or can accidentally release the break hand and drop the climber.

Brake.

Agree with the majority of the (not quoted) bit above. In general for gym scenarios you do not want the belayer to be anchored so they can move around appropriately and apply the much coveted (and often over rated) soft catch. When the belayer gets pulled way up the the major concerns are them getting their hand pinched/jammed at the first clip (often times in gyms with heavily padded floors and relatively low first bolts the leaders skip the first clip - but I'm not advocating that until you get more experience, besides the gym staff will have a cow if you do that) and the possibility of the leader and belayer colliding hard. The possibility of the leader going all the way to the deck exists but is slight and most likely they will have slowed way down first.

One point of Lena's I would disagree with is to leave slack in the anchor. I'm sure her thought was to allow for a possible soft catch. The slight advantage of that would be outweighed but the potential whiplash effect. If you are going to anchor be up tight against it.

I think the weight differential you describe is right at the threshold of the point where you would anchor the belayer or not. You didn't ask but when the situation is reversed and your GF is leading and you are belaying you are going to need to be more aware of the soft catch issues.

Most of the same applies to single pitch sport climbing outside - provided the ground is level enough that the belayer isn't going to trip all over themselves. Sometimes belayers - like dogs and children - need to be leashed to stay out of trouble.

When you progress to multipitch it all becomes a non issue.


lena_chita
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Apr 11, 2012, 9:01 AM
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Re: [olderic] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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olderic wrote:
lena_chita wrote:
But belayer who gets slammed into the first clipped draw or rock can get hurt, or can accidentally release the break hand and drop the climber.

Brake.

My bad!


olderic wrote:
One point of Lena's I would disagree with is to leave slack in the anchor. I'm sure her thought was to allow for a possible soft catch. The slight advantage of that would be outweighed but the potential whiplash effect. If you are going to anchor be up tight against it.

I probably should have qualified it. I did not mean slack as in several feet of slack. But since the anchor is likely to be at the belayer's feet, or behind him/her, I was thinking of slack enough to allow for comfortable stance.


herites


Apr 11, 2012, 9:22 AM
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Re: [olderic] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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olderic wrote:

When you progress to multipitch it all becomes a non issue.

Wrong, it will become a bigger issue. You have to build an anchor which will take the upwards force of the belayer flying up, also your first piece should be bomber too (if it's low enough to meet the belayer)


olderic


Apr 11, 2012, 9:58 AM
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Re: [herites] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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herites wrote:
olderic wrote:

When you progress to multipitch it all becomes a non issue.

Wrong, it will become a bigger issue. You have to build an anchor which will take the upwards force of the belayer flying up, also your first piece should be bomber too (if it's low enough to meet the belayer)

The "it" I referred to refers to the OP's question. Too ambiguous for you? And the primary reason you want the bomber first piece is to avoid an upper zippering effect when the leader weights the system. The chances of that happening can be greatly alleviated by properly positioning the belayer (typically close). Lots of nuances.


dagibbs


Apr 11, 2012, 1:11 PM
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Re: [gbkxbb] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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If possible, providing the belayer with extra weight, rather than a hard (non-moving) anchor is a good compromise. At a crag, can they wear a pack, or have a pack with weight in it, clipped to them?

In a gym, does the gym have anchored tethers, or just mobile weights that you can tether to? The 2nd being preferable.


bearbreeder


Apr 11, 2012, 1:26 PM
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Re: [gbkxbb] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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simply rig a cordellete anchor whose length is just shy of the first bolt ... but a clove or fig 8 with a biner at the start and the end ..

on the first few bolts or above ledges, she clips in short ... then the fall is clean, she unclips short while still being clipped in long

it also prevents her from getting slammed into the first bolt and loosing control ...


ablanchard17


Apr 11, 2012, 1:30 PM
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Re: [bill413] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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When she is pulled into the air it absorbs a significant amount of energy. on both her and you. giving you a soft catch instead of slamming to a halt almost instantly when the rope goes taught.

I would focus not on anchoring her. But having her be used to getting some airtime during a fall.

Although I do think that the belayer should not be making it to the first bolt.


(This post was edited by ablanchard17 on Apr 11, 2012, 1:34 PM)


majid_sabet


Apr 11, 2012, 1:33 PM
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Re: [gbkxbb] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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gbkxbb wrote:
So I just took a lead climbing class at my local gym with my GF (woo hoo).

Anyways, during the class, the instructor had me climb to the top of a route, and then take a decent sized fall. This pulled my GF (120 pounds vs. my 180) up off the ground a good amount.

This startled her some and she wanted to attach to the anchor. But the instructor said that was a bad idea for lead climbing.

My question is simple... do you recommend attaching to an anchor while belaying a lead climber, why/why not?

Thanks for the input.


On my upcoming accident book, I have a case about a party of two climbers climbing a multi pitch wall and on the second pitch, leader takes fall but because belayer wasn't protected against the upward pull, she hits the wall and becomes unconsciousness. 5 min later she wakes up and sees the leader 50 meter decked with rope on the ground. luckily the leader survived however, a rescue team had to climb the wall to get her out cause they had no second rope.

The youtube is full of vids about belayer slamming in to wall cause leader was heavier and generally, belayer should make the call on whether secure the belay or not.


6pacfershur


Apr 11, 2012, 2:12 PM
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Re: [olderic] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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olderic wrote:
herites wrote:
olderic wrote:

When you progress to multipitch it all becomes a non issue.

Wrong, it will become a bigger issue. You have to build an anchor which will take the upwards force of the belayer flying up, also your first piece should be bomber too (if it's low enough to meet the belayer)

.... the primary reason you want the bomber first piece is to avoid an upper zippering effect when the leader weights the system....


i agree OE, perhaps the term we need is "multi-directional first piece"?


herites


Apr 11, 2012, 2:30 PM
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Re: [olderic] Lead Climbing while attached to an anchor [In reply to]
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Yes, that is the first reason of a multidirectional piece, but I usually only account for a downward and outward pull (placing a cam) and not for an upward pull (two nuts, but they often suck for an outward pull) and the OP's problem is belayer weight, not zippering gear, which can be often avoided, even without a multidirectional piece. Anyway, this is drifting into a serious "what if the stars align badly" theorycrafting, where the end conclusion could be that don't go climbing because God may hate you that day and drop a rabid mountain lion on your head.


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