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ako


Jul 7, 2003, 11:42 AM
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Ok I've been climbing for about 3 months and I'm really not liking the whole "climbing with anyone you can find belief" I mean I understand it, and at some point I'm ok with it but I have this horrid fear of climbing with people I don't know, mainly guys. I fear the whole trusting them to belay me. Not that I think they're going to try their darnest to take me out but I just have this fear....can anyone relate?
A.


nagchampa


Jul 7, 2003, 12:04 PM
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This past weekend I went to the NRG with my good friend, and he brought his new girlfriend along. She has belayed several times in the gym aparently, but when I was asked if it was cool if she catches me even on TR to clean our warm up route I had to say no way. I tried not to hurt her feelings, but I just didn't want to be another statistic. :lol:


maculated


Jul 7, 2003, 12:19 PM
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It totally depends on the situation. I have no problem climbing with new people, so long as I am not climbing anything super difficult and/or I am comfortable with their procedures. This would not have been the case a year ago.

When learning, I suggest climbing with someone regular you trust. I like doing this anyway . . . an on going relationship is much better for climbing than a one-shot deal.

That said, climbing with lots of people will teach you a lot about styles and skills.


shorty


Jul 7, 2003, 12:29 PM
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Not a stupid question at all. Actually it's one of the most important things to consider throughout your climbing career.

First, let's consider "the guy" thing. You have just joined a sport in which depraved, red-blooded males outnumber members of the fairer sex by about a bizillion to one. Expect to be hit on by just about every semi-human form that carries the Y chromosome. I've been told that a quick shot to the vitals with a #5 camalot keeps us guys in check.

But the real question is trusting your partner, male or female. After a dozen or so years in this game, trust is still my foremost issue in choosing climbing partners. I've learned to deal with my fear of heights, the complexities of building safe anchors and belay systems, and many other physical & mental challenges of climbing -- but a bad partner is still a bad partner.

I wish I had a simple answer for your question. The years have given me a better feel for the day's situation and I believe I can now evaluate potential problems sooner. I was very fortunate when I started to have (1) good climbing mentors, (2) the ability to hire professional guides, and (3) a local climbing club to teach me the basics & find partners. In addition, I still prefer to climb indoors in a gym before I go outside with a new partner. Not that you can't get injured in a gym, but I'd rather learn of "issues" ten feet off a padded floor than 150' off the deck at a hanging belay. With a storm moving in.

Let your internal radar be your guide. If something really doesn't feel right, just stop. The rock is going to hang out for quite awhile. The trick is to make certain you can come back later when things feel right. Be safe, be smart.


mreardon


Jul 7, 2003, 3:00 PM
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Forget the "dealing with the guys" thing. It's a trust issue. That only comes with time. It has less to do with experience in my mind than with the personality. When climbing with someone, start out easy, have them toprope belay you only. If they always have their hands on the rope, don't keep you too tight/loose, and regularly look up to make sure everything is going great, then graduate to leading. Again, start easy, and even take a couple falls just to get your "head" on. After they catch you a few times, and don't have too much slack/tension in the system, you get the confidence. Then start pushing yourself. A couple personal examples:

1. Short-roped: I had a friend who climbed for 5 years before I met him, and was a horrendous belayer. He constantly short-roped me (too tight), and when toproping had a habit of not letting me weight the rope at the anchors before lowering me, causing me to suddenly drop a few feet every now and then. I told him I had problems with this. He asked me how "we" could correct it. 5 years later he's one of the best belayers I know.

2. New Guy: A friend liked the idea of climbing. We went out, I showed him how to belay. We tried it a couple times in the gym and outside. And I have no idea how or why, but he got it immediately and to this day I have yet to feel his hand on the belay, it's always perfect.

3. Dropped: I gave bad beta regarding the use of a grigri to a woman. Two months later, using my beta, she dropped me from the fourth bolt of a sport route. Her belays are much better now that her teacher pays attention, but my hardest sends are still rarely with her on the other end because of the psyche.

4. Seasoned Pro: There's a popular climber I see all the time, but he sits and talks while belaying, and regularly has too much slack in the system. I don't care that he's been climbing 20+ years, I don't trust his belay and won't climb with him, even on toprope, because he refuses to change his habits.

5. Partner: My main climbing partner has been with me for 12+ years. Every hard send has been with him on the other end, and this last weekend I did my hardest mental onsight of a classic I've always wanted to do. It has long runouts, scary gear in spots, and a couple of tricky anchor set-ups. Never once did I think about the other end of the rope, and that's what allowed me to send.

In the end, it's up to you who you want holding onto your life. Personally I prefer to have comfort and am not afraid to say so.

Just my $.27 :D


jumpingrock


Jul 7, 2003, 3:31 PM
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There are no stupid questions. Only stupid people who don't ask them. (Plz nobody try to prove me wrong!)


leeloo


Jul 9, 2003, 5:35 AM
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mreardon: Hold up!!!! Ok I've been climbing for about 7 to 8 months now...only indoor though...I'd kill to do really rock, another thread though. But ya, sitting and talking while belaying....this is "not good"??? I figured so much but I ALWAYS see people around doing that. I'm a HUGE safety freak and just thought it wasn't as safe (I also thought I was being paranoid), but is it really "bad tender"?? I asked on of my friends about this and she said "is cool, no harm in it. The person your belaying is do a long climb you're gonna get tired! You gotta sit!!" I don't know though, still sound if-y to me.

LeeLoo


Partner missedyno


Jul 9, 2003, 6:11 AM
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on lead belay i do not chat, talk or sit down. i'd much rather be in control. on a TR i still prefer if my belayer is quieter because it's a bit distracting ...
"are they talking to me, up here, or to someone, down there?"

arguments about proper belay technique are never really resolved because everyone has their preferences. there are a few old school guys in my gym who talk and talk and talk while belaying. doesn't seem to bother either of them


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 9:39 AM
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there is usually nothing wrong with sitting and belaying - just make sure you are out of rock fall danger and you are paying attention. talking is personal preference. i am fully capable of carrying on a conversation and belaying, and i've caught the falls and given the proper amount of rope for clipping to prove it. on the other hand, i shut up if the leader wants me to, the leader starts talking to me, or the leader looks scared because that is the treatment i want when i am leading.

being very cautious is good when you are new because you don't have the proper experience to understand what is safe or not. when you have been around for awhile, you have a better base to make judgements on. sometimes i'll go do a wall with someone i've never climbed before, and sometimes i will do nothing but 1 pitch moderate routes. i can tell an awful lot just by talking to a person and watching how they get ready for the first pitch. someday you will too. find a good mentor if you can.


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 10:01 AM
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In reply to:
there is usually nothing wrong with sitting and belaying.

There is very definitely something wrong with sitting and belaying: you can't move. If you are using a gri-gri, you can't give a dynamic belay while sitting; you can't move the rope out of your partner's way; and you can't step back to shorten the fall. You can often get away with sitting while belaying someone toproping, but if s/he is leading, you should be on your feet if possible.

-Jay


watersprite


Jul 9, 2003, 10:12 AM
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I often belay from a sitting position if I can brace both feet against a tree or rock. Is this wrong? IT's in the John Long book on anchors...


wigglestick


Jul 9, 2003, 10:20 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
there is usually nothing wrong with sitting and belaying.

There is very definitely something wrong with sitting and belaying: you can't move. If you are using a gri-gri, you can't give a dynamic belay while sitting; you can't move the rope out of your partner's way; and you can't step back to shorten the fall. You can often get away with sitting while belaying someone toproping, but if s/he is leading, you should be on your feet if possible.

-Jay

Jay you should know better than to talk in absolutes. It depends on the situation. When you are belaying your partner on a difficult sport route where they may fall at any moment then you should be devoting your undivided attention to them. But how can you do this when you can't see the climber? On a meandering trad route for example. And what about the 3 hour belay sessions on aid routes? I think you will be hard pressed to find somebody who won't want to sit down, eat some beef jerky, drink some water, even take a nap while belaying (that is what the grigri is for :D )


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 11:42 AM
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wow jay, i had no idea you were a gumbie - do you honestly believe what you just said? guess we are going to die for sure on those hanging belays where we can't do the cute little sport climber hop when the leader falls, eh? if you are so worried about a dynamic belay, get rid of the gri-gri and use a device that can give one without gymnastics. those of us who go more than 80 feet off the ground will continue to do what works in the real world.


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 11:56 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
there is usually nothing wrong with sitting and belaying.

There is very definitely something wrong with sitting and belaying: you can't move. If you are using a gri-gri, you can't give a dynamic belay while sitting; you can't move the rope out of your partner's way; and you can't step back to shorten the fall. You can often get away with sitting while belaying someone toproping, but if s/he is leading, you should be on your feet if possible.

-Jay

Jay you should know better than to talk in absolutes. It depends on the situation.

I thought I covered the "it depends" caveat by using the alternate "if possible" wording.

In reply to:
...But how can you do this when you can't see the climber?
...On a meandering trad route for example. And what about the 3 hour belay sessions on aid routes? I think you will be hard pressed to find somebody who won't want to sit down...

In the context of thread, which was opened by a nervous 3-month climber asking about pick-up partners, I don't think that these are the issues. I'm guessing that she's mainly gym and sport climbing. As a beginner she should learn good habits first. Later, she can learn where it is safe to cut corners.

-Jay


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 12:00 PM
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guess we are going to die for sure on those hanging belays where we can't do the cute little sport climber hop when the leader falls, eh? if you are so worried about a dynamic belay, get rid of the gri-gri and use a device that can give one without gymnastics. those of us who go more than 80 feet off the ground will continue to do what works in the real world.

I said stand "when possible." And hanging belays are certainly a situation where it isn't. That doesn't justify sitting on the ground to belay. There is no question that in general it is safer to stand, whether you are using a gri-gri or not, and there is no excuse, save ignorance or laziness, to sit on the ground while belaying a leader.

-Jay


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 1:18 PM
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// adds jt512 to the list of people too anal to ever climb with


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 1:30 PM
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In reply to:
// adds jt512 to the list of people too anal to ever climb with

If you think expecting a skillful belay is "anal," then you were never on my list of potential partners in the first place.

-Jay


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 2:10 PM
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i have caught falls sitting down, and been caught by belayers sitting down. much the same situation has happened when catching and falling on hanging belays - occasionally while using, oh the horror, a belay seat! oh gee, using such sloppy and unsafe methods, how did we ever survive? or perhaps 80 foot sport climbs are far more dangerous than the long trad and aid climbs i tend to prefer, and some sort of super belayer(preferably with eyelids removed to avoid loss of eye contact for even a moment) is a necessity. perhaps i missed this training class - is it offered at most gyms?


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 3:18 PM
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i have caught falls sitting down, and been caught by belayers sitting down.

So what? I can show you 100 places where if you're sitting down when your leader falls, he'll deck, whereas if you had been standing you could have saved him. I have twice been saved from decking when the clipping hold for the second bolt on a sport climb broke. In both cases my belayer (Spike) was able to sink to his knees to keep me off the deck. Conversely, I once severely sprained an ankle when I decked with my belayer sitting down and anchored in. Had she been standing and unanchored, as she should have been (we didn't know better back then), she could have kept me off the deck and out of the hospital. I have at least twice saved partners from decking, and was only able to do so because I was belaying on my feet. In the more serious case, I ran backwards down a slope, and caught my partner less than a foot of the deck. Try that while seated.

That's five cases I have been involved in where standing while belaying avoided an injury, and one where sitting caused one.

-Jay


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 3:31 PM
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/sigh/ use a little judgement then. if i am somewhere like the black hills needles, then i lace up the running shoes before getting on belay and get ready to take off downhill when the poor bastard whips 50 feet above the last bolt. on the other hand, if the leader is heading up a long handcrack that i know they are going to take forever on and takes good gear, i'm sure as hell going to settle in and get comfortable.


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 3:47 PM
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/sigh/ use a little judgement then. if i am somewhere like the black hills needles, then i lace up the running shoes before getting on belay and get ready to take off downhill when the poor bastard whips 50 feet above the last bolt. on the other hand, if the leader is heading up a long handcrack that i know they are going to take forever on and takes good gear, i'm sure as hell going to settle in and get comfortable.

So let me get this straight: Every time you are sure that there is no danger of rockfall; that the rope won't be in the climber's way if he falls; that the climber doesn't need a spot off the deck; that the climber won't deck or hit an obstacle if he falls; that you won't need to give a dynamic belay while using a gri-gri; and that nothing else could possibly happen that you haven't thought of, it is ok to belay while sitting. I guess I'd have to agree. The trouble is, such situations rarely, if ever, occur. For instance, you can only assume that the leader's gear is good. What if the top piece in that long hand crack pulls out and you suddenly find that you have to shorten the belay? What if there is rock fall you have to dodge? If you are sitting, you are not prepared to deal with these unforeseen events.

-Jay


jumpingrock


Jul 9, 2003, 4:38 PM
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They do indoors on a Top rope but thats not really part of the discussion.


atg200


Jul 9, 2003, 4:57 PM
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// Every time you are sure that there is no danger of rockfall

I am nearly always willing to chance this. I have no choice in those upper hanging belays, so i tend to climb with people who are not dropping much on me. rockfall is generally pretty easy to minimize unless you are a gumbie. i've never knocked off anything significant in many years of alpine routes, trad, aid, desert towers, etc.

// that the rope won't be in the climber's way if he falls;

uh, yeah. can't say i've ever had the rope in the way of a falling climber, ever. maybe you should work on your belay technique?

// that the climber doesn't need a spot off the deck;

this one is real easy to tell right when the climber leaves the ground. you can always sit down later.

// that the climber won't deck or hit an obstacle if he falls

this one is also generally pretty easy to tell right off the ground.

// that you won't need to give a dynamic belay while using a gri-gri;

don't use a gri-gri. dynamic belays are fairly overrated anyway. i've taken huge falls onto sketch gear while aid climbing, and a sleeping belayer with a grigri isn't very dynamic.

// and that nothing else could possibly happen that you haven't thought of, it is ok to belay while sitting.

yup.

// What if the top piece in that long hand crack pulls out and you suddenly find that you have to shorten the belay?

when have you pulled a piece in a handcrack? if the gear is sketchy, i am more likely to stand up.

// What if there is rock fall you have to dodge?

again, you have to have a certain amount of trust in your leader. sitting down is much like being in a hanging belay. maybe 1 in 5 of the pitches i climb is right off the ground, so i am comfortable treating them the way i treat the upper pitches.

// If you are sitting, you are not prepared to deal with these unforeseen events.

true. if i am asleep on an airplane, i am also not prepared to run to the exit row at a moment's notice. i'll wake up when the engine's are trailing smoke, and i'll stand up in those circumstances that actually call for them.


jt512


Jul 9, 2003, 5:09 PM
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// Every time you are sure that there is no danger of rockfall

I am nearly always willing to chance this.

You're willing to chance it as the belayer. Lovely. Like it's just your life on the line.

In reply to:
I have no choice in those upper hanging belays, so i tend to climb with people who are not dropping much on me. rockfall is generally pretty easy to minimize unless you are a gumbie. i've never knocked off anything significant in many years of alpine routes, trad, aid, desert towers, etc.

Bull. Rocks don't fall only because someone kicks one off.

In reply to:
dynamic belays are fairly overrated anyway.

If you believe this I would classify you as unfit to belay.

In reply to:
i've taken huge falls onto sketch gear while aid climbing, and a sleeping belayer with a grigri isn't very dynamic.

There's that logic again: it has never happened to me; therefore, it never will.

In reply to:
when have you pulled a piece in a handcrack? if the gear is sketchy, i am more likely to stand up.

The only piece I have ever pulled was in a hand crack. Sandstone. Textbook placement. Tracked right out.

In reply to:
// What if there is rock fall you have to dodge?

again, you have to have a certain amount of trust in your leader.

Again, this is an ignorant statement. Rock doesn't require the intervention of humans to fall.

-Jay


timstich


Jul 9, 2003, 8:01 PM
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I'm with Jay. In the context of single pitch sport climbing with decking potential before the third bolt, I always prefer to stand when I belay. I rarely ever sit even if it's available and I'm belaying someone up their 112th ascent of a 5.2 warmup on a perfect day with no hangovers. I also like to move back from the wall to ease the angle on my neck when my leader gets higher. I usually outweigh everyone by 20-50 lbs, so it seldom is an issue of being pulled into the wall.

-Fat Bastard

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