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Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay
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abazaba288


Jan 24, 2013, 9:22 AM
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Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay
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Ok, so I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of escaping a belay. I understand how and why the system works. However, I have not been able to figure out one thing. Perhaps someone here has an idea. Scenario- You're belaying your partner who is leading the second pitch of some random climb. The master point of your anchor is located at about chest height and you are leaning away from the cliff weighting the anchor. Now, for whatever reason, you must escape the belay in order to go help your partner. But, you do not want to put any more slack into the system, possibly further injuring your partner. You are not equipped with any extra gear that would allow you to build a new anchor or redirect the pull to below your stance. So how would you go about escaping the belay and putting the weight of the climber on the master point of the anchor (which is above you)? I only ask this because all of the diagrams I have looked at so far ( including those found in highly recommended rescue books) only show this scenario with the anchor already below the belayer. I have personally never built a multi pitch anchor at my feet. I have searched the internet far and wide and it seems that everyone is dogging this scenario, though I feel it is a very likely one. Any ideas? Personal experiences? Thanks


Rudmin


Jan 24, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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That's a vague scenario for the specific requirements you've placed on it. As always, the answer will depend on the details. Why can't you lower your partner? What kind of anchor are you hanging off of? Who is enforcing all of these rules about what you can and cannot do?

I think you are coming at this with the wrong mind set. It's not all about having a play book memorized for every possible situation, it's about knowing a basic plan or two, and having the intelligence to modify it to fit your specific situation.


(This post was edited by Rudmin on Jan 24, 2013, 10:15 AM)


rocknice2


Jan 24, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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I don't see why you can't lower the leader .

Anyway let's say the leader got his leg stuck in the crack and you can't lower him down. Then you take up all the slack, tie him off and escape the belay. Note that at this point the pro is below the master point just like the books show.


MFC


Jan 24, 2013, 10:54 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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Every situation (rescue) is going to be different.
Lowering the leader is always the first option.

However, if the leader is more than 1/2 way out and can not assist in the rescue (hurt or unconscious), and you can't built an upward resistant anchor, one option is to do a counter weight prussic ascent to the leader to perform the rescue.

There are risks associated with such a scenario, but what are you going to do otherwise?

There used to be a good article describing this scenario on Eli Helmuth's website,
www.climbinglife.com


abazaba288


Jan 24, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Re: [Rudmin] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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Understood. Let's make the scenario a bit more specific. Your partner falls. while he/she is falling, an appendage, lets say their leg, becomes lodged in a v slot in the wall. They are about 10 feet below their last piece. At this point you pull as much slack out of the rope as possible in order to alleviate the pressure to the leg. Your partner is either unconscious or simply unable to dislodge their leg from the constriction and they request your assistance. Okay, so now you have less than thirty minutes to remove your partners leg from the wall before it requires amputation. The more slack you allow into the system, the deeper your partners leg slips into the crack. Perhaps to the point where you will no longer be able to free it.

You are belaying off of your harness on a basic three point anchor with the pieces at about head height and the master point at about your waist. This seems like a very typical stance to be in. Also, you have zero extra gear other than your cordelette a few slings and a couple locking biners. This also seems like a typical gear scenario for most climbing parties. As the leader generally takes most of the gear for the lead.

Now, I realize that there is no one true answer here. Several answers run through my head. But which is best? Am I missing something? I'm interested in what other climbers would do in this situation. Remember you must act quickly. Would you take yourself off of the anchor and use the weight of your partner to counterbalance your own as you ascend the line. An idea which certainly have its downfalls as well as it merits. Would you escape the belay? Perhaps set up a haul system at the anchor?

The more I ponder this scenario, the more plausible ideas I am able to think of. Some being more safe. Some being more timely. Some being a mix of both. Still, they are all (seriously) flawed in some way.

So, anyway. What would you do?

*I reckon that is detailed enough. Though its hard to tell because I already have a clear image in my head of what the scenario looks like. Let me know if you would like anymore details to help you picture it as well. Thanks.

*Also. I cant find it now. But I know I read of a scenario very similar to this in one of the AAC accident journals. Unfortunately, this particular accident resulted in the death of the climber due to strangulation. It's a crazy thing to happen and highly unlikely, but clearly plausible. My condolence go out to family and friends of the climber.


billl7


Jan 24, 2013, 11:32 AM
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Re: [MFC] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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MFC wrote:
Every situation (rescue) is going to be different.
Lowering the leader is always the first option.

However, if the leader is more than 1/2 way out and can not assist in the rescue (hurt or unconscious), and you can't built an upward resistant anchor, one option is to do a counter weight prussic ascent to the leader to perform the rescue.

There are risks associated with such a scenario, but what are you going to do otherwise?

There used to be a good article describing this scenario on Eli Helmuth's website,
www.climbinglife.com
+1

Given the constraints, the OP can't unload the rope going to the leader. Tie off the belay device (I typically use mule with overhand backup) and start ascending the rope with all your weight continuously on the rope.

Within a matter of feet, you'll need to deal somehow with your tie-in to the anchor. Just make dam sure that your end of the rope is secured to an anchor good for upward pull.

Also, ascending the rope could tip the scale on the top-most piece and cause it to fail and so on down the chain. If it is part of your assumption that the pieces placed on lead could fail while you ascend, and you can't lower your partner, and he can't help in some way: best to not ascend the rope; instead, get out your whistle and start giving a series of three blasts.

Bill L


billl7


Jan 24, 2013, 11:37 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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abazaba288 wrote:
Okay, so now you have less than thirty minutes to remove your partners leg from the wall before it requires amputation.
First off - time constraints are important but never trump keeping myself safe (unless I chose otherwise but that is a personal decision).


abazaba288


Jan 24, 2013, 11:48 AM
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Re: [billl7] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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"First off - time constraints are important but never trump keeping myself safe (unless I chose otherwise but that is a personal decision" -Bill7).

Agreed-

The best way out of this I can think of is to always have one (bomber) piece of gear placed at your feet for this particular situation. Which is probably a lot to ask of most parties not expecting to deal with such problems. Other wise, it looks pretty bad either way you slice it. Haha. Lovely.


(This post was edited by abazaba288 on Jan 24, 2013, 11:50 AM)


billl7


Jan 24, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Re: [billl7] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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billl7 wrote:
Given the constraints, the OP can't unload the rope going to the leader. Tie off the belay device (I typically use mule with overhand backup) and start ascending the rope with all your weight continuously on the rope.
... and by that I mean I'd get out my prusik cords or use slings or cut up the cordelette to put friction hitches (e.g., prusik, klemheist, etc.) on the rope for ascending. More than one is needed to keep the rope weighted at all times.


billl7


Jan 24, 2013, 12:04 PM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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abazaba288 wrote:
I have searched the internet far and wide and it seems that everyone is dogging this scenario, though I feel it is a very likely one.

Not everyone. Cool


abazaba288


Jan 24, 2013, 12:35 PM
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Re: [billl7] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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Thanks Bill. I have to agree with you and MFC on this one. Ascending the rope seems like the most viable option other than breaking your whistle out. I can see how the belayer would be able to protect themselves fairly well by re clipping the rope into every piece as they pass it. If the top piece were to fail however, it could be indescribably bad for the leader. Anyway, thanks for the ideas. Sounds like a pretty sticking situation however you choose to handle it.


(This post was edited by abazaba288 on Jan 24, 2013, 1:18 PM)


abazaba288


Jan 25, 2013, 7:19 PM
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Also, one thought. Perhaps the belayer could ascend the rope just until they are directly above or at level with the anchor. At this point the belayer could escape the belay from above the anchor while still keeping tension on the lead line. After escaping the belay, the belayer would be free to continue ascending the line, rope solo to the belayer, rappel down to get help, and a number of other things I'm sure. Truly this idea is not without its flaws. But its something to consider.


jmeizis


Jan 25, 2013, 10:32 PM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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If it were me that is what I'd do, ascend. Probably cleaning many of the pieces along the the way so I had something to build an anchor with at the last piece. Once you get to their last piece assuming the injuries require descending I'd set up a counterbalanced rappel to get back to the ground. It's faster and keeps the weight on the rope. You can help them out when you get to them and if they're incapacitated you're already set up to deal with it. Of course every situation is unique so I'm basing my answer off your parameters. Should easily take less than thirty minutes to get headed down.


moose_droppings


Jan 26, 2013, 5:54 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Your partner is either unconscious or simply unable to dislodge their leg from the constriction and they request your assistance.

If they request my help I'll yell at them to get a piece or two in (they got the rack and a crack their foot is in) and secure them self in case the top one gives out on them. After that if they are conscious they can french on a piece while I bounce/pull on my side, might get them free.

If that's not in your scenario, how far above me is s/he? Did s/he fall in line with the rope or are they off to the side? They fell 10 ft but is there just one piece above them or possible 2, one near them? Am I carrying a tag line? I never leave the deck without a set of prusik's, am I allowed to have them in this scenario? Are we in an area where yelling would do any good? I'd probably yell anyway just in case.


(This post was edited by moose_droppings on Jan 26, 2013, 8:37 AM)


abazaba288


Jan 26, 2013, 1:40 PM
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Re: [moose_droppings] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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I like that idea. I would say that scenario fits my perimeters. Granted that the climber is conscious and able to get a piece or two in the wall.

The story line could certainly be more complicated though. In a perfect world, the climber has fallen in line with the rope. But in the real world, they might not. Which could certainly complicate the situation further.


fng


Jan 31, 2013, 12:30 PM
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There are probably many ways but all would change in the field. The only time I can see leaving the anchor is if the leader is unconscious. I would pull all tension out of the rope to the leader and tie it off to the anchor using a prusik to temporarily hold the tension. I would then climb the rope to assist the leader using prusiks for protection while cleaning all but the last two pieces. Once he/she is freed I would down climb on prusik and lower him to me. When I tie in I don't come down unless he/she does with me.


(This post was edited by fng on Jan 31, 2013, 12:31 PM)


jktinst


Feb 2, 2013, 6:44 AM
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Re: [abazaba288] Escaping From a Semi Hanging/Hanging Belay [In reply to]
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abazaba288 wrote:
The best way out of this I can think of is to always have one (bomber) piece of gear placed at your feet for this particular situation. Which is probably a lot to ask of most parties not expecting to deal with such problems. Other wise, it looks pretty bad either way you slice it. Haha. Lovely.

Having a bomber pro set low to counter an upward pull isn't that much to ask and is the standard belay anchor configuration for many people, not as a "just in case the belayer needs to escape the belay" but to guard against the belayer being yanked up by a big fall.

Of course, it also provides the 1st pro of an upward pull multipro anchor in case you need to build one to escape the belay and ascend to your leader. Hopefully, you have enough variety in (or correspondence between) your downward pros and your available upward pro placement options to effect the switch between one anchor and the next with the gear that's available in front of you. Be sure to leave one or two of the downward pros in place, as part of the new upward anchor.

No extra pros should be needed but an extra sling or two and a locker (in addition to your long, short and PMMO prusik loops and locker) will definitely come in handy to effect both the anchor switch and the belay escape. In my book, these should be part of a self-rescue-ready belayer's rack.

(edited for clarity)

(This post was edited by jktinst on Feb 2, 2013, 9:23 AM)


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