/ Heavy climber and trad gear

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RomTheBear - on 16 Jul 2013
Here is my concern and I was wondering if any of you are in the same situation and can share advice/experience.
I trad climb weekly at around VS/HVS, cragging and multipitch.

I am quite a tall fella (6'4) and weighs a bit more than 100 kg. With gear, backpack clothing and you would easily end up with a mass of around 115kg.

I was trying to understand what kind of force a falling mass would generate on a piece of gear in a fall and came across this :
http://www.safeclimbing.org/education/Heavy_Climbers_Beware.pdf

According to their tests, a falling climber weighing 114kg on a typical dynamic rope, with a factor 0.9, would generate 8.2KN on the falling climber, multiply by 2/3 to find the approfimate force on the runner, and you find 13.7 KN !

Most small cams and small nuts fail at 7kn or less, medium ones at 12KN, and big ones at 14KN.

This is right at the limit of almost any piece of gear I have. judging by their tests, the only piece of gear able to hold a guy like me in a fall factor above anything more than 1 would be a sling around a massive flake.

Scary.

Until now every fall I took the gear held, but looking at these tests and the scientific evidence I am wondering whether my confidence is simply misplaced, and whether I am simply too heavy to lead hard multipitch routes where a fall facor above 1 is a likely possibility without putting my partner at risk.
cuppatea on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:

8.2*(2/3) is only 5.47

Worry ye not.
Lukem6 - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: dont forget weight of belayer rope drag rope paid out, different ropes.... awww too much for my head i'm 14st. so i'm just going to cross my fingers and hope it all holds.

Mind you my sister is good at belaying (only 8 stone) this might help
humptydumpty - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to RomTheBear)
>
> 8.2*(2/3) is only 5.47
>
> Worry ye not.

"Without going into all the details, the widely accepted rule of thumb is that the top piece of gear in your system will experience 2/3 MORE force than that felt by the falling climber...."

i.e. 8.2 + 5.5 = 13.7kN
remus - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: Fall factor 1 falls are pretty rare, rare enough at least that if you're looking at a fall that harsh you probably have bigger concerns.

It is also worth noting that the ratings on gear are a lower limit, there's a very good chance they'll hold more than that, though by exactly how much is a bit of a lottery.
Lukem6 - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: another point to make is these test are done with a static belay anchor and then the interesting thing as to how many people actually get close to factor one falls.... if you are still concerned buy a rope with high stretch and place more gear use soft belay devices. I've had a few falls and so far most gear help.... a cam popped once, hit the wifes knuckle but i lived the nut below survived also. but i'm on the low end of that 90kg roughly so i'm ok I hope. like I said get a light belayer or avoid an aggressive belay
gd303uk - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: if it is of any comfort to you , the movement of the belayer the dynamic rope and knots etc all help decrease the force on the gear, I have watched a good size 16 stone leader fall on very marginal gear and the gear hold, I kept the nut a dmm size .5 wallnut nothing wrong with it . Same leader has had a big whipper on number 3 nut again nut held and nothing wrong with it.
Luke90 on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:
> where a fall facor above 1 is a likely possibility

As others have said, a fall factor of 1 is pretty unusual, let alone anything above it. A fall factor above 1 should very rarely be a likely possibility. I'm sure you're already taking precautions to try and avoid high-factor falls, the lesson is probably to be extra-careful about avoiding those falls rather than to stop climbing multi-pitch.
cuppatea on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to humptydumpty:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
>
> "Without going into all the details, the widely accepted rule of thumb is that the top piece of gear in your system will experience 2/3 MORE force than that felt by the falling climber...."
>
> i.e. 8.2 + 5.5 = 13.7kN

I live and learn.

I was just replying to this

would generate 8.2KN ... multiply by 2/3 to find the approfimate force on the runner... 13.7 KN !

cuppatea on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to cuppatea:

'm reading the pdf from the OP now (couldn't on my phone)

Interesting as I'm 86 kg. I shall avoid falling off.
andy.smythe - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: John Dunn aint dead yet so I'd say you'd be ok
KiwiPrincess - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:

I have seen a heavy Climber break a piece only once and it was a very small wire and first piece on the route so not much rope to give. He did land on his ass, which could have meannt Back injuries But was OK luckily. He was very large, probably obese however. I would think 120-30 kg maybe.

Usually even a heavy person makes a lot less force than this
jimtitt - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:
Generally the limiting factor is the belay device and your unlikely to see more than 6kN on the top piece unless you do something very peculiar, most devices are only capable of giving considerably less than 3kN braking force.
jkarran - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:

Interesting test results but they don't reflect reality. They're using a rigid belay point, rigid mass and a very severe fall, none of these are the norm on a real route. In reality belayers get flung around, belay plates slip, bodies crumple absorbing energy. The closest you'll get to those conditions is using something like a GriGri and a well aligned and solid ground/upward-pull anchor which is not something I've ever seen in the real world.

I'd add the 'None of my previous falls snapped anything' points to your data set, they're as valid as the data in the paper you found if not more so.

jk
Rob Naylor - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear:

I'm "only" around 15 stone now, but was leading when 18 stone plus. I've taken a couple of falls, both onto no 3 nuts, at that weight, and there wasn't a problem. One of them was a bit difficult to extract afterwards! The only time I've been injured was taking a ground fall *before* I'd got any gear in! Broke my elbow and learned that even on "easy" routes it's a good idea to get a bit of gear in soon after you've left the ground :-) .
Jon Dittman - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to RomTheBear: How many falls of 0.9 have you had? Personally, none. You have to either fall a long way or only just miss the ground to get up to 0.9. Most falls I have seen are a only couple of metres where there is plenty of ground clearance and lots of rope to stretch. I'm not going to start worrying too much.
RomTheBear - on 17 Jul 2013
On trad routes the key is of course to place as much gear as possible at the very start of the pitch and then less as you go along., Which of course I do as much as I can, but it's not always possible.

I guess a light climber would probably get away with a lot more than a heavy climber would. For big fellas like me I guess it is sensible not to go for bold routes with high fall factor potential and marginal gear unless they are at a grade where super confident. A disatrous fall factor 1.5 would be hard but ok for someone 70kg, for someone like me it would be probably gear destroying and bone breaking.

One interesting thing would be to see how much force is dissipated by heat by slippage in the belay device. And of course the belayer would absorb quite a lot of the force as well by being moved into a different position, but on a multipitch climb, most of the time my belayer is anchored fairly thightly to a multidirectional belay. Maybe that is something to change and allow SOME slack in the system so that the belayer can move quite a bit without the risk for him/her to be pulled out of his stance.

RomTheBear - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Dittman:
> (In reply to RomTheBear) How many falls of 0.9 have you had? Personally, none. You have to either fall a long way or only just miss the ground to get up to 0.9. Most falls I have seen are a only couple of metres where there is plenty of ground clearance and lots of rope to stretch. I'm not going to start worrying too much.

Once at the climbing wall a foothold broke under my weight and I went flying instantly just after the first clip, whilst clipping the second clip (had quite a bit of slack in my hand). My belayer ended up acting as a bouldering mat ;-)

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