/ Frozen rope - proper way to belay?

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valjean - on 27 Jan 2013
Just spent a day ice cragging. i set up some TRs for new people. it was a wee bit wet.

ropes had a nice ice crust on them --- was easy enough to just get belayers to use a combination of working the stiff rope through devices and/or walking back to take in the slack on the top rope.

uneventful day. i climbed up and out (also on TR) and was getting ready to bring up one of the people on an ATC on guide mode, only to find a large section (several metres) of the rope to be completely encased in ice -- no way it was fitting through any device and breaking up the ice portion by portion as i bring up the second did not seem efficient. no drama since there was a walk out and simply sent him up on foot.

However this got me thinking what options would i have if a walk out was not possible?

i had lots of space and was thinking... redirect the rope off the anchor (tree in this case), back to me, hip/waist belay with a carabiner on the belay loop for additional friction. i visualise it working in theory -- not 100% certain if it would have.

id like to hear your experience or options here (with a nice comfy place to belay from and also from a dinky ledge or hanging stance)
valjean - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:

i was also considering using a munter hitch but decided i wanted to avoid twisting the rope since a walk out was available --- not certain how well the munter was going to feed through either though
ablackett - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean: Never happened to me, but I suppose the answer depends on the situation, there won't be a perfect solution, you have hit on some of the options, but basically tell the climber to hang on while you sort it out by either.

Using an italian hitch,
Using a waist belay,
putting the unfrozen part of the rope through a spare belay device,
urinating over the frozen bit to thaw it out,
chewing on the frozen bit to thaw it out - not after the previous option,
packing in and going home,
get your thermos out and pour that over the frozen bit,

Basically, do your best in the situation, there isn't going to be a proper solution I don't think.


On another point, I wouldn't recommend walking backwards as a normal way to take slack. It is easy to get pulled off your feet back into the crag and lower the climber a little too fast, especially if you are inexperienced wearing crampons.
ablackett - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to ablackett:


munter hitch is the same as italian hitch I think, if you are wondering.
Ghastly Rubberfeet on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to ablackett:
> (In reply to ablackett)
>
>
> munter hitch is the same as italian hitch I think, if you are wondering.

It is.
Mountain Llama - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean: use dry treated ropes.........
Orgsm on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to Mountain Llama:
> (In reply to valjean) use dry treated ropes.........

+1 and also alternate the bit of rope you are using for the tr else you are exposing the same bit of rope to the wet / freezing conditions. You don't have to belay from the same end, and you don't even have to belay from the end of rope.

In reply to Mountain Llama: All of my ropes are dry treated but I regularly see frozen ropes. Dry treatment only stops water soaking in to the rope. You can still get ice on the outside of it.

In reply to valjean:

Belay devices tend to 'strip' an ice layer off a rope quite efficiently. I've had some really frozen ropes over the years, but -often with the help of my teeth!- have always been able to get them into my belay device. Abseiling back down on very ice ropes is where you have to be super careful in my experience.

Right, have to go and unpack my ice climbing backpack now, full of screws probably with ice still in them and one rather frozen rope. Fortunately we have a heated bathroom floor so its the perfect place to dump everything to dry!
Dr.S at work - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:
maybe try warming the rope with a lighter?
valjean - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to Dr.S at work:

i was thinking of using a knife to scrape the ice off

yep these were definitely dry treated ropes for those suggesting dry ropes.

teeth, pee, and warm tea is will be considered next time.

belaying from different sections of the rope ill do next time, wasnt possible on this crag since the climb was a full 30+ metres or so

thanks for the ideas
Michael Gordon - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:

Body belay?
nufkin - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:
> (In reply to Dr.S at work)
>
> i was thinking of using a knife to scrape the ice off
>


Like in 'Touching the Void'?
tlm - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to ablackett:

> urinating over the frozen bit to thaw it out,

bad idea. Wee is one of the few things that degrades ropes.
tlm - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to ablackett:

> On another point, I wouldn't recommend walking backwards as a normal way to take slack. It is easy to get pulled off your feet back into the crag and lower the climber a little too fast, especially if you are inexperienced wearing crampons.

And it pulls the gear in a direction which may end up with the gear leaving the crag, depending on what sort of gear it is and how it has been placed.

This is talking about the angles used in belays, but you can see how the sharper the angle, the less force is needed to move the weight (read 'pull out the gear'). By moving back from the rock, you are making a sharper angle of the rope through the first piece of gear on the route.

http://www.ropebook.com/information/vector-forces
mike kann - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean: Munter/italian hitch is just about the only thing that works on really frozen ropes as the knot can come loose and cinch up tight, melting the ice. Works pretty effectively...
Mark Kemball - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean: Waist belay, but pass the live rope through a large screwgate clipped to your belay loop to prevent the whole thing unwrapping and to provide extra friction. Descent - semi classic abseil, clipping upper rope to harness - this is fairly straightforward unless you are on overhanging ground.
Graham Stephenson - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to ablackett: "urinating over the frozen bit to thaw it out" DON'T PISS ON ROPES ITS A REALLY BAD IDEA AND CAN DAMAGE THEM!!! Apologies if this was said as a joke but it didn't appear like it was!
teh_mark - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Graham Stephenson:

Can't provide a link, but I'm sure I read somewhere that wee on your ropes has no long-term detrimental effects. Someone carried out research and proved that it doesn't affect the strength of the rope - although it does temporarily make the rope much more elastic.
Graham Stephenson - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to teh_mark: I was told by somebody that i trust that he'd seen some tests done by swiss guides where they cramponed all over one rope and soaked another in urine and when the subsequent drop test were done the urine had done more damage than the metal spikes! http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb/all/qc-with-kp-from-the-archives-1 is the first hit out of google from "climbing ropes urine"...
And even if it didn't do damage do you really want piss all over your ropes?! come on its minging if nothing else!!!!
tlm - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to teh_mark:
> (In reply to Graham Stephenson)
>
> Can't provide a link, but I'm sure I read somewhere that wee on your ropes has no long-term detrimental effects. Someone carried out research and proved that it doesn't affect the strength of the rope - although it does temporarily make the rope much more elastic.

Ummm... I think urine DID damage ropes, and loads of other things that you think might do didn't cause damage...

"Some info seen in the Alpine Club of Canada Gazette regarding UIAA safety commission's testing on ropes. Gasoline, diesel fuel, camp gas, sea water, coca cola, and strong
vinegar do not damage ropes . Urine dropped the number of falls held in the standard test drops by 50%."
tlm - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to teh_mark:

Ah - here you go:

http://www.rescuedynamics.ca/articles/UIAA.htm

"Test to determine damage to climbing ropes by various liquids : gasoline, diesel, camper fuel, sea water, coca cola and strong (80%) vinegar have no influence. Do not pee on your rope! The number of falls held in the standard UIAA test drops off by 30%. Wash the rope once exposed to sea water and coca cola because of possible damage by the crystals formed after drying."
teh_mark - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Graham Stephenson:

Just to clarify, I wasn't actually advocating peeing on your ropes!

But there, that's me proven wrong anyway.
valjean - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark Kemball:
Descent - semi classic abseil, clipping upper rope to harness - this is fairly straightforward unless you are on overhanging ground.

can someone explain that?
ice.solo - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:

Get a rope bag, learn to use it, avoid the problem.
valjean - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
oh ya?? wow
i heard staying home works even better

ice.solo - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean:

Cool. Glad youre so receptive to advice you ask for.
Serves me right for bothering i suppose.
valjean - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
isnt internet communication awesome

sorry mate yours came across poorly when i read it. maybe it was intentional on your part, or maybe i read it wrong - my mistake.

there is no way a rope bag would have helped that day.
markus691 on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to tlm:
Re: Urine on rope
From Pit Schubert, "Sicherheit und Risiko in Eis und Fels", Vol. II, p.115
"We soaked ropes in urine overnight. This reduced the number of factor 2 falls by 30%. However, we reasoned that this is probably not standard proceedure. No climber would store their rope in a chamber pot overnight. So we did a second study. We had people urinate on several pieces of rope. We did this in the morning, because morning urine is more aggressive than urine collected during the day. Result: Reduction in the number of factor 2 falls by merely 13%.
Despite damage by uric acid a rope can't break under normal circumstances."

So, not recommended, but not especially dangerous unless done regularly.
valjean - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to markus691:

yellow frozen ropes would not be fatal, but thawing out with teeth would be unpleasant... best to scrape off with knife
In reply to valjean:
> best to scrape off with knife

I presumed the knife suggestion was a joke. It was, wasn't it?
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Mark Kemball - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to valjean: Semi - classic abseil - use a screwgate to clip ropes to the belay loop on the front of your harness, pass ropes over your shoulder and down your back to hold in the opposite hand (eg left shoulder, right hand), then abseil controlling your descent speed with your hand. Probably a good idea to practice this a few times on easy angled short slabs to get the hang of it. Note, a classic abseil is much the same except the rope goes round your thigh instead of through the krab to your harness - not very comfortable!
valjean - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark Kemball:

thanks. was aware of a number of different ways, but have never had the chance to use it when it counted -- should practice

yes the knife was obviously a joke

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