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Auto Belay Malfunction
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petsfed


Nov 30, 2012, 11:18 AM
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Re: [Tfinney110] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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Tfinney110 wrote:
Over-priced pieces of failure for the already lazy person to be even lazier

I disagree. I mean, for the strictly recreational climber, yes, they're junk. Its better to just make friends and learn how to belay.

However, for the climber motivated to train, the devices save their would-be partner from hours of boring belay time while the climber runs speed laps. This is especially practical if you live in an area that does not allow for consistent after-work or weekend climbing (e.g. the Williamette Valley of Oregon).

All of that said, I don't like the fact that you can't ease onto the things. You let go and you're going down, whether you like it or not. I don't know how to design something different without requiring electronics, and the strictly-mechanical nature of these things is one of the major factors in their adoption: there's just less to go wrong.


marteneb


Nov 30, 2012, 6:21 PM
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Re: [Tfinney110] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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Tfinney110 wrote:
Over-priced pieces of failure for the already lazy person to be even lazier

It has nothing to do with laziness, they make it possible for a climber to climb alone when no one is available to belay for them.


JasonsDrivingForce


Nov 30, 2012, 9:11 PM
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Re: [acorneau] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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acorneau wrote:
JasonsDrivingForce wrote:
Things like elevators and bridges get inspected regularly. I don't believe there is anything required like that for auto belays.

Yes, there is. The owner is required to send them in for inspection and maintenance once a year.

By the government?


petsfed


Nov 30, 2012, 11:02 PM
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Re: [JasonsDrivingForce] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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JasonsDrivingForce wrote:
acorneau wrote:
JasonsDrivingForce wrote:
Things like elevators and bridges get inspected regularly. I don't believe there is anything required like that for auto belays.

Yes, there is. The owner is required to send them in for inspection and maintenance once a year.

By the government?
By their insurance and by the manufacturer. The idea is that if you're not sending it in according to the manufacturer's schedule, then their liability insurance won't cover you in the case of a defect.


healyje


Dec 1, 2012, 6:06 AM
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Re: [petsfed] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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petsfed wrote:
Tfinney110 wrote:
Over-priced pieces of failure for the already lazy person to be even lazier

I disagree. I mean, for the strictly recreational climber...

However, for the climber motivated to train, the devices save...

Yeah, we all want a lot of things out of life and also want them now, on our own terms, and uber convenient.

Unfortunately, however, being a 'serious' climber with a busy schedule doesn't mean belaying is easily or appropriately relegated to the status of an inconvenient commodity service deliverable to you on demand by the device of your choice. It's a fundamentally unsound attempt to 'bend' a fundamental aspect of climbing to further fit all those oh-so-busy suburban lifestyles.

Almost-blocking devices introduced widespread inattention and mindlessness to the craft of belaying over the past twenty years; 'auto-belays' essentially just takes that one step further and simply automates those inattentive, 'almost-perfect' belays.

The entirely predictable result? Duh.

The drive for the perfect iBelay is fundamentally misguided and their use will necessarily always be a matter of gambling. Perhaps the odds are worth it for a 'serious' climber - cool, but they should used with wide open eyes and a clear understanding of those odds and not a rushed, delusional fog of 'what I really want and need right now'.

Funny how risk perceptions are altered over time in relationship to device use. But then that's the enduring beauty of gravity: it doesn't really care what you want or need. Gotta be a PhD in there somewhere.


Tfinney110


Dec 1, 2012, 7:34 AM
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Re: [marteneb] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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It has nothing to do with laziness



My last 2 cents - They are just another mechanical device setup by who knows who that you have to rely on. You didnt set it up. You cant even "inspect" the gear yourself to know all is well. you just climb and hope when you either fall or sit back that it is setup and working properly, not just cause Joe Bob at the gym just used it and made it down fine. Either boulder or use a real person.


maldaly


Dec 1, 2012, 8:28 AM
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Re: [Tfinney110] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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All of the "auto-belays" that I know of originated in the industrial safety world and were designed to catch an occasional fall by a steel worker or rigger. The gym world adopted them and they instantly began to experience high-cycle failure modes.

I climb in the gyms around Boulder and one of the gyms is stacked up with these and the other has none. I'll occasionally clip into an auto-belay but when it comes time to lower I always hold on the the top rope next to me until the AB catches. Still scares the shit out of me every time.

At the gym with the auto-belays there are always a bunch of after-school moms with their kids running around. They all use the auto-belays.

Cool, but scary.

BTW, there are a few companies that are making auto-belay safety systems. Apparently there have been enough accidents due to people forgetting to clip in to the tether that these companies have invented systems that will sound the alarm if someone leaves the ground without clipping in.


JimTitt


Dec 1, 2012, 9:05 AM
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Re: [healyje] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
petsfed wrote:
Tfinney110 wrote:
Over-priced pieces of failure for the already lazy person to be even lazier

I disagree. I mean, for the strictly recreational climber...

However, for the climber motivated to train, the devices save...

Yeah, we all want a lot of things out of life and also want them now, on our own terms, and uber convenient.

Unfortunately, however, being a 'serious' climber with a busy schedule doesn't mean belaying is easily or appropriately relegated to the status of an inconvenient commodity service deliverable to you on demand by the device of your choice. It's a fundamentally unsound attempt to 'bend' a fundamental aspect of climbing to further fit all those oh-so-busy suburban lifestyles.

Almost-blocking devices introduced widespread inattention and mindlessness to the craft of belaying over the past twenty years; 'auto-belays' essentially just takes that one step further and simply automates those inattentive, 'almost-perfect' belays.

The entirely predictable result? Duh.

The drive for the perfect iBelay is fundamentally misguided and their use will necessarily always be a matter of gambling. Perhaps the odds are worth it for a 'serious' climber - cool, but they should used with wide open eyes and a clear understanding of those odds and not a rushed, delusional fog of 'what I really want and need right now'.

Funny how risk perceptions are altered over time in relationship to device use. But then that's the enduring beauty of gravity: it doesn't really care what you want or need. Gotta be a PhD in there somewhere.

A curious commentary from someone best known in recent times for his roped soloing relying on an auto belay system.

While climbing together with a partner/belayer is part of the experience of rock climbing and usually an enriching one critiscism of auto belays in a gym context is ridiculous. Gyms are a training venue for some and a climbing experience for others and auto belays remove nothing for at least the first group.

That said (and taking into account Iīve never seen an auto belay, never used one and donīt intend to) there can be no technical problem in designing a completely failsafe auto-belay system, price however may be a problem!

Personally Iīd just ban auto-belays, your time in a gym is best spent a)with an coach b) bouldering c) interacting with other people (begging) to get a human belayer which will improve ones social skills, breed increased tolerance to other climbers peculiarities and better prepare the novice for the real world.


healyje


Dec 1, 2012, 9:47 AM
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Re: [JimTitt] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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JimTitt wrote:
A curious commentary from someone best known in recent times for his roped soloing relying on an auto belay system.

Not at all. I do it with my eyes wide open to the risks I adopt and understand the limitations of the device I choose to use (an 'almost-blocking' device). Also, the way my rig is set up doesn't rely completely on the auto-blocking either and will initiate a lock-off at the end of the available slack out of the pack.

JimTitt wrote:
While climbing together with a partner/belayer is part of the experience of rock climbing and usually an enriching one criticism of auto belays in a gym context is ridiculous. Gyms are a training venue for some and a climbing experience for others and auto belays remove nothing for at least the first group.

I entirely disagree. There is nothing about gyms which somehow magically alters the way in which gravity works. And while autobelays "remove nothing", they add considerable unnecessary risk. And that's part and parcel of the evolution of climbers' perceptions of, and relationship to, autoblocking devices in general after twenty years - the perception these devices are 'safe' when nothing could be further from the truth. And the most dangerous aspect of their use over time has been a lemming-like skewing of risk perception around their efficacy and safety.

JimTitt wrote:
That said (and taking into account Ive never seen an auto belay, never used one and donīt intend to) there can be no technical problem in designing a completely failsafe auto-belay system, price however may be a problem!

You pretty much say it all right here in several different ways. Again, it's a conceptually misguided application of technology borne of an unwarranted comfort with almost-blocking devices and a broad failure to recognize the true risks their use entails. And I'm not necessarily saying don't use them, but rather understand they are not without significant, lotto-like risks.


(This post was edited by healyje on Dec 1, 2012, 9:49 AM)


Partner rgold


Dec 1, 2012, 10:25 AM
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Re: [maldaly] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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I think the Trublue devices use magnetic eddy current braking rather than clutches and brake pads. Clutch bearings and brake pads can wear and can fail, brake pad dust, atmospheric chalk dust, and plain ol' dust dust can cause slippage, and all these things wear relatively quickly under high usage, which as Mal points out was not one of the original design considerations.

There is far less wear in magnetic braking since the things responsible for braking aren't in contact with each other, so at least in principle the Trublue gadgets should be more reliable.

The issue about depending on technology we don't understand and cannot inspect is a pretty ubiquitous feature of modern life, which is why, I suppose, folks just walk into a gym and clip into these things and fall on them without much thought or trepidation. By and large, we are obliged to have faith in the technology we use and are mostly sanguine about questioning it (until something bad happens, and then we sue).

In climbing, things changed radically with the introduction of cams. They seemed to work, but they weren't held in place by physical constrictions you could inspect and evaluate but rather by frictional forces someone had calculated would be sufficient to prevent extraction under fall loads. Once people started to trust the engineering in cams, the idea of faith-based safety measures took root, and autobelays are just the latest manifestation.

I haven't used autobelays yet but like the idea for training purposes. Being able to come in, say, in the middle of a day with no partner and get in a bunch of laps seems like a great idea to me. (On the other hand, having folks hog crowded peak time real-estate doing laps is just an additional source of annoyance for everyone else.) Moreover, given what we've heard about dropped climbers in the last few years, one has to ask whether autobelays, with their current failure rates, are more or less reliable than a human belayer, who may be checking out all the lycra-clad hotties, trying to get visual beta on a nearby route, and grooving to pounding music that clouds, if not precludes, verbal communication between climber and belayer.


maldaly


Dec 1, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Re: [rgold] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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Wel said rgold.


petsfed


Dec 1, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Re: [healyje] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
Yeah, we all want a lot of things out of life and also want them now, on our own terms, and uber convenient.
You ignored the meat of my argument: autobelays should NOT be utilized by recreational climbers.

If you live in a place where there is not much climbing available nearby, or the seasons prevent you from climbing at a high standard year round, then you either resign yourself to sucking when the opportunity arrives to climb, or you spend a lot of time in the gym. I'm not claiming that time spent in the gym is fun, or a pursuit of its own, or anything like that. I just wholeheartedly reject the notion that you have to be either a total dirtbag or independently wealthy to climb beyond the level allowed by your genes.

The autobelays are perfect for the person who has a particularly demanding work schedule, or kids, or any other reason for being unable to recreationally climb in the off-season (recreational here meaning able to climb with a partner, swapping leads and belays), but has the experience to recognize it as a training tool. I don't recommend rope soloing for the recreational climber, even if they're lousy at making friends. Go bouldering if you can't find a partner. But if you're really serious and literally cannot achieve your goals any other way, you have to consider solo systems.

For myself, I consistently downclimb when using an autobelay, in part because I don't trust it, and in part because its good physical training. Like Mal, I find it very unnerving that I don't if its going to catch me until its too late, unlike a real person. I think any user who doesn't have that same response, even stacked on top of a lot of experience of the thing working, is not using the device with open eyes.


bearbreeder


Dec 1, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Re: [petsfed] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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the solution is simple fellow RCers ... go boulder ... thats where all the hawt young fit chicks are anyways ... and you get a perfect excuse to cop a free feel when ya spot em Wink


tomcecil


Dec 2, 2012, 3:59 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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when I worry about a 'single' link I use two (opp/app biners ex.)
the solution is for the gyms to use two auto belays for each person--may cost a bit more but way cheaper than a life or lawsuit


(This post was edited by tomcecil on Dec 2, 2012, 4:18 AM)


patto


Dec 2, 2012, 4:53 AM
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Magnetic eddy current braking should be almost failure proof if designed correctly. Some that I have seen use wire rope which should last a very long time.

Others I have seen use tape. Which I could see wearing at a MUCH faster rate. However I would expect it to have a very stringent maintenance and replacement regime.


healyje


Dec 2, 2012, 5:57 AM
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patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.


Gmburns2000


Dec 2, 2012, 9:40 AM
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healyje wrote:
patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.

exactly.

these things scare the crap out of me.

edit: at least I can check my belayor, rappel anchor, or anchor on a lower-off.


(This post was edited by Gmburns2000 on Dec 2, 2012, 9:41 AM)


ncrockclimber


Dec 2, 2012, 10:38 AM
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Re: [Gmburns2000] Auto Belay Malfunction [In reply to]
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I am curious if anyone knows how many auto belay malfunction incidents have taken place. I have heard of a few that involve user error (not clipping in correctly or at all) or poor maintenance. I only recall hearing of 1 where the device was properly maintained and failed. I could be wrong on this, and would welcome more accurate information if it is available.

FWIW, in the last 12 months I have probably done over 1000 laps on the auto belay at my gym. I still feel slightly uncomfortable when I lean back and wait for it to catch me at the top of a route.


healyje


Dec 2, 2012, 3:31 PM
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One of those deals where the past is no prediction of the future.


guangzhou


Dec 2, 2012, 6:35 PM
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
healyje wrote:
patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.

exactly.

these things scare the crap out of me.

edit: at least I can check my belayor, rappel anchor, or anchor on a lower-off.

First belayers are not 100 percent either. Even if you check them, they can "malfunction too."

How do you inspect rappel anchors or lower off anchors to make sure they are 100%? Especially bolts. A skill I would love to know. Lots of bolts look fine but aren't.

Lower off, how do you inspect various lower offs to make sure they 100%.

Automatic belays, I like the true-blu units. Only used them a few time, but I can see a definite use for them in climbers wanting to do serious workouts in the gym. of course, I also like treadwall for that purpose.


Partner rgold


Dec 2, 2012, 8:19 PM
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The following article http://www.athleticbusiness.com/...d=3683&zoneid=42 gives an overview of what's happened so far in the auto belay biz.


superchuffer


Dec 2, 2012, 8:53 PM
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healyje wrote:
patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.
so are hip belays safer?


healyje


Dec 3, 2012, 1:22 AM
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superchuffer wrote:
healyje wrote:
patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.
so are hip belays safer?

Much.




Auto-BelayMan.


Dec 3, 2012, 9:50 AM
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Marteneb- I am very sorry to hear about this accident. This is a very unfortunate situation. Hopefully it has not totally turned you off to Auto-Belays.
I would like to shed a little light on the subject for everyone who is following this post, if I may. I am a long time climber and work for a company that makes Auto-Belays.
To my understanding Auto-Belays were originated to help take climbing into the amusement industry. They really originated on the mobile climbing walls that you see at fairs and carnivals. The idea was that they would be able to climb many people with limited operators. Thus, higher revenue. It was also important to make sure the device worked perfectly every time. Those kinds or units were what they call air over hydraulic. About this same time some gyms and even some mobile wall manufacturers started using RedPoint/MSA fall arrest systems. These systems were never intended to be used multiple times and were hit and miss at best. They were eventually recalled because they allegedly dropped people from time to time.
The company I work for has been building the air over hydraulic systems for over 15 years. To our knowledge no one has ever experienced failure on a single system that was installed and maintained properly. Like any piece of equipment, it has to be maintained and inspected. We suggest a daily inspection and log for every Auto-Belay. I would have absolutely no reservations about clipping myself (or even my kids) into one of our Auto-Belays 70 feet off the ground (assuming the proper daily inspection was done). I understand the mechanics of it and know that in the millions of cycles these have seen over the years it has not failed once, when properly maintained. Therefore, I would suggest that the reputation of Auto-Belays should be, at least partially, contingent on the make/model of the unit, as well as the gyms ownership level to maintain the unit.
Furthermore, many gyms have experienced major revenue gains when using Auto-Belays. In reality they have changed the way gyms can make profit. Everyone who uses a gym benefits from the increased profits, even if they don't use the Auto-Belays. At the very least, the gym is able to keep their doors open for another season. Being a gym owner is wicked hard. Think of trying to compete in a market where your main commodities competition was rock and and you were catering to one of the most budget friendly (cheapest) demographics known to man. Truth be told, many gyms need auto-belays for the same reasons they need birthday parties, field trips, and women's night on Wednesdays. Climbers aren't pulling the slack..... so to speak....


superchuffer


Dec 3, 2012, 10:24 AM
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healyje wrote:
superchuffer wrote:
healyje wrote:
patto wrote:
...almost...if...should...expect...

Why I won't use them.
so are hip belays safer?

Much.

[image]http://www.supertopo.com/photos/14/6/262170_29375_XL.jpg[/image]

your ass has magnetic eddy current! awesome!

you are so right, the friction on the jeans and the banter from compadres is so much safer than a dedicated mechanical device.

i dont trust seatbelts. i just ask my wife to hold our kids on her lap.

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