/ FAQ - How to Thread a Lower-off
Read more - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=265
Isn't the whole point of equalising 2 bolts to a single ring to enable you to lower off that and not the bolts attaching the chains to the rock as shown in the last cartoon?
That's what I've always been led to believe too...
Surely that leaves you lowering off one bit of gear - the central ring - instead of two.
And why is this picture used on the page demonstrating bowlines ? The climber is obviously far too young to use a bowline :)
Yes but if you're worried about a big stainless steel ring breaking from the load of you lowering off then I'd suggest taking up a safer sport.
Using the ring means the load on the bolts is equalised and that you don't put lots of kinks in the rope. Also if the bolts aren't the eco-bolt type or staples then you can't thread the rope through them anyway so you have to lower off the ring.
Well that is often the case, and often you would probably choose to thread the ring rather than the bolts. However, in many cases the 'thing' tying the two bolts together isn't very substantial so it is also good practice to take it out of the system in the way illustrated. This is safer, but also tends to put more twists in the rope.
This is probably a case of a one illustration covering several situations.
agreed - I think the FAQ needs a bit of work...
Also, what would you thread if the lower off was like the left hand one in this picture:
The ring, obviously.
also do people really need two cow's tails which i have noticed....i've been using one for a few years now and i'm still here?
Quite. Do you think that a beginner to sport climbing having looked at the cartoon in the FAQ would find it so obvious though?
Where are the two cow's tails?
In your 2nd cartoon it says a "fixed sling from your harness" (ie cow's tail) which is what i use but i see people who use two of these....when i asked one of them they said it was so they weren't relying on a single bolt which i can't really imagine since there is usually a chain between the two.
would be good if the article mentioned the possible combinations of anchors out there rather than just staples.....you can't double the rope through the ring/maillon/whatever in all cases.
> Also, what would you thread if the lower off was like the left hand one in this picture:
This is becoming the norm set up at many a NZ crag now.
Alan, I don't think that method shown is a necessarily correct. Most anchors I run into it would be impossible to thread the rope through the anchor bolts as they usually have chain links attached to the bolts. As threading through the chain links (other than end ones) means you can't easily pull the rope that leaves the end attachment that links the two together sharing the load etc etc - be it a maillion,shackle or 'biners. That is what they are there for. What you show seems to be limited to staples and promotes wear on a part that is not replaceable.
We get those Fixe rings here for about $NZ 6 then link it back to another bolt with chain... making a similar but cheaper set up.
If we use two rings which would be the same as the two staples in your drawing joining them with chain is unnecessary
In conjunction with the text in the article, it is correct just not always what you will encounter, but many lower-offs are set up to be threaded in the way illustrated.
... which is why the doubling the rope method is listed as the alternative rather than the norm.
It always makes me chuckle when people say this: they're happy to lead - and thus, presumably, risk falling - along the whole route while relying on single bolts for protection, yet they aren't happy applying body weight when threading a lower-off?
So what is the point of the chains linking them and leading to a focus point?
I think it is potentially confusing for novices too
( Like the drawings by the way)
Well you only really rely on a single bolt for the first one or two bolts, above that you have the bolts below as back up. It certainly feels very different when contemplating a crux move eight bolts up, to being the last person down lowering off an overhanging 30m pitch when a single-bolt lower off feel minimal.
I have made some amendments to the article. Thanks to people on this thread for pointing out some areas that needed clarifying.
Thats what we are here for after all
I would also add that the belayer should always keep an eye on the climber and not take their hand off the rope i.e. effectively take them off belay. This avoids the climber at the top weighting the rope after threading to discover an inattentive belayer who isn't prepared for any load!
For attaching to the lower offs I personally use a 120cm sling attached via screwgate to my belay loop and then two snap gates ties with overhand knots to the sling. It means when i get to the top I can clip the two gates in and have a handy pull up bit of sling between them :-)
This might be outrageously unsafe by British standards but this is how we do it in a French culture:
Before the first climb of the day you attach a 120cm sling to your harness by threading it through the harness like a rope and leaving it doubled. Attach a screw gate that connetcs both ends. Clip the screw gate to a right-hand side rear gear loop. Put the quickdraws over the sling. Remove the sling when leaving home.
When you get to the top anchor, you clip the screw gate to the lower bolt. Hang from the bolt. Tell your belayer that you need three meters of rope. Thread the doubled rope through the ring. Make a figure of eight. Clip this fig 8 to your belay loop with a locking biner. Untie the rope from the harness. Tell your belayer that you are ready. Rope gets tight. Remove the sling. Go down.
... which is pretty much precisely what is described in the article (along with a few variations).
thats why the authors should have or have stated some where useres should seek expert instruction from people with current up to date techniques i.e. people qualifed to instruct in the correct use of equipment --
MIA, MIC or A Guide BMG or IFMAG qualified.. EVEN the BMC acknowledge this
"In normal circumstances a technical expert (MIA, MIC, BMG) should be sufficient . . ."
Can be read in a few places on the BMC website....
That's what I'd do, although not had much experiance sport climbing.
eh? You mean this article should state that? Why?
Never really seen the point of using a sling and screwgate when you've lead the route. I just use a quickdraw as if you thread the lower-off as described in the FAQ you're never not attached to the rope or off belay so in the unlikely event of you unclipping yourself from the lower off (which is far far more likely than the bolt pulling out) you're still protected.
Of course if you've top roped the route you have no backup whilst you're threading the lower-off...
How about a mention of those "pig tail" (or whatever they are called) lower-offs?
At least to me it has happened more than once that I don't have any QDs left when I reach the belay.
The way I use does the same. You are never not attached to the rope. I trust a locking biner more than a QD. After all, when you are putting the rope through the belay, you have three meters of slack and you are probably three meters above the last bolt. That's a 12 meters fall. Plus a rope stretch.
what with all the general confusion - on here about what to do , I believe that it is a statement on most equipment purchases and some instructional books - basically if in doubt seek out expert instruction or guidance...
All guide books have a disclaimer tell people about the dangers of praticing techniques in isolation and if unsure seek help..
even the BMC promote the Participation statement... eveywhere - even you guys have one at the bottom of the site in small print ...
Not for very long though.
Just as there are many levels of Expert there many levels of Beginners and unfortunately one of these levels is always going to be "Ignorant". No malice intended, no-one would wish anyone to have to find out the hard way when the hard way is the ground!
Well there isn't that much confusion, the article is pretty clear now I think.
Still not quite sure what you are suggesting.
Why do you need to thread the lower off again if you're on a top rope?
It has been known for a knackered leader to clip a belay with quickdraws and leave the actual threading to the seconder. Done it myself on occasions.
Seems to happen a lot on the sport climbing trips I've been on! First person up a route puts the clips in and lowers off quickdraws in the belay, a few other people lead it and lower off in the same way and then just as the last one is about to thread the belay someone wanders over and asks if they can do the route on top-rope...
Just being pedantic, but Next you are going to pull up a couple of meters of slack and tie a figure of eight knot in it. might possibly be more explicit in saying tie a figure of eight knot on-the-bight in it. as, if this is aimed at beginners, they need to know the difference between tying a knot on the bight as opposed to re-threading a figure-of-8 knot, which requires a loose end (or convoluted contortions involving you stepping through sections of the rope.
I think that if you go to such a level of detail then you risk confusing. As long as nothing unsafe is described then it is a good idea to leave for the person to figure out since we learn by what we discover for ourselves ten times more efficiently then we learn from what we read out of a book.
In the case you describe I think the ambiguity is about right. If we start describing 'on-the-bight' knots then we also need to describe what 'on-the-bight' means, otherwise the addition would be meaningless.
Fair point, but if you already had a FAQ about fig8 knots, and the distinctions between them, then a pointer to that would be appropriate.
I had to explain all this lowering off a sports climb to a more experienced climber than me, once - I'd never climbed a sports route either at that point, but I had read up on how you lowered off. He hadn't.
Not really. It's safer for the top-roper if the belay's already been threaded because there's no way the rope can come unclipped from the belay.
I think that you are missing my point.
Surely if you have two anchor points linked by a load sharing chain to a focal point that is what you should be threading the rope through, and in most cases is the only one that will work.
I think you should either:
- don't have the chains in the drawing
-you show two separate threading of the rope drawings - one through the two anchors (without chain) and one threaded through the linkage master point.
a lot of people on this thread are getting confused... thats all im saying
also so long as its (the method of lowering) safe its ok ...
In my experience there are plenty of cases where the thing connecting the two anchors isn't substantial enough to thread and you are better off threading both the attachment points directly. Many times they actually have rings on them specifically for doing this.
In this article the illustrations don't actually cover every aspect of the procedure - for example, there is no illustration showing the more conventional method of single-threading the rope, completed and re-attached to the harness. This was of more concern to me when putting together the Sport Climbing + book.
This is all made clear in the text of the article anyway. It seems the only ambiguity is if you don't read the text. I have made a slight amendment to the final illustration caption.
Also, Ray the artist has gone away for a long holiday so I can't get any new diagrams even if I did think it was necessary.
What is the article recommending that you think is unsafe? As far as I can see it is recommending exactly what you suggest.
> What is the article recommending that you think is unsafe? As far as I can see it is recommending exactly what you suggest.
I don't think the issue lies with what the article is trying to say so much as it not been very well written and lacking in several vital pictures. Maybe it would be better if it had a few extra nice clear line drawings rather than large colour cartoons that seem to skip several vital steps.
Is this an exact extract from the book? If so I think I'll save my pennies and buy something a little better written instead.
I haven't done much sport climbing (not much mid-grade stuff up here in Scotland!) but my brief flirtation with it has been at Benny Beg near Crieff. The lower-offs there consist of two bolts with Petzl hangers, linked by a chain. There is not central loop in the chain. You can't thread the bolts because the hangers are sharp-edge and passing the rope behind the chain puts you in the situation where if one bolt pops then the whole anchor fails (somewhat defeating the purpose of having two bolts).
Curious as to what other people do on this kind of arrangement?
So far I've done one of the following:
1. Thread the rope through the two maillons attaching the chain to the bolts and lower off those. Works, but the friction is horrendous.
2. Thread a sling through the maillons, put a screwgate on it, then lower off the screwgate. Recover the sling and krab either from the top (access is easy) or by traversing across from the top of your next route.
3. Live dangerously and just thread the rope behind the chain, lowering off the chain.
Well my question to Tom still remains?
Can you clarify what bit of the article hasn't been well written since having re-read it, it seems to me that there is nothing wrong or ambiguous with the text. I don't think I can improve on it since no-one seems to have pointed out any mistakes or inaccuracies so far.
The pictures are just to support the text although I didn't realise so many people would only look at the pictures and not bother reading the text. If I had then I would have got some more illustrations, and may still do this.
Well the book isn't designed to be a comprehensive guide for beginners. It is actually for all climbers so we have not gone into any great depth on the basics beyond introducing people to the concepts. I suspect that most more experienced climbers will skip the 'Starting Out' chapter that this comes from.
Judge the book on this chapter instead - http://www.rockfax.com/publications/miniguides/item.php?id=130
This just sounds like a badly designed belay and there are plenty of those around. The two stonking bolts connected by a fat chain but with only diddy little maillons to lower off is a curious arrangement which I have never really understood. I think your suggestion of threading both maillons sounds like the safest option but will twist your rope horrendously. I would probably go for threading the single maillon with a quickdraw back-up for all but the last person down.
Works I guess.....
Well, if it works........
God no! As you point out, this removes the entire backup of having two bolts.
I would personally abb/lower off the maillion on the lower of the two bolts. You've got the chain backing it up to the other bolt, in case it fails, and the friction will be tons less than using both maillions. Thats just my opinion though.
I tend to thread through both horizontal bolts (although this can be awkward with being clipped in one or both of them as well) or just a single bolt when in a vertical position.
If everyone is leading then I guess threading through the chain loop is fine for all and sundry as you are stripping the QD's you have placed so there is security incase the chain fails and only serious once you've stripped your QD's to the point that a ground fall is feasible (and then you are close to the ground anyway).
This type of lower-off is very common and would be threaded in the method illustrated in the 4th illustration (only without the connecting chain obviously).
As I said above, the book really isn't aimed at covering all the bases for a climber who is starting with a blank slate. It is aimed at people who want to improve their climbing. We included the 'Starting Out' chapter to establish some of the ideas that are expanded on later in the book - for example there is a lot of detail on how to get off a route where you can't climb up any more and are faced with lowering off a single bolt.
> for example there is a lot of detail on how to get off a route where you can't climb up any more and are faced with lowering off a single bolt.
Aye, might have been handy to know after lowering off a 40 metre route on a 60 metre rope!
Cheers, I like AGM's suggestion of lowering off one maillon. It hadn't occurred to me that you're still backed-up this way.
Glyn Jones: If you're stripping your quickdraws as you go, you'll be in a position where you'll hit the ground if the anchor fails when you're still 2/3 of the way up the route...
> Glyn Jones: If you're stripping your quickdraws as you go, you'll be in a position where you'll hit the ground if the anchor fails when you're still 2/3 of the way up the route...
And that's half the fun!
both methods do work, however if i was wrting a book on spaort climbing i would describe both methods, but advocate the second.
i may be slightly biased, as i once nearly killed myself because of the first method.
I can't see any logical reason why the 8-on-a-bight method has a greater margin for error. It is just a bit more awkward than the other method and there are lower-offs where it doesn't work.
I think you mean first.
This is exactly what we have done in both the article and the book - described both methods but tended to favour the single re-thread method (the first in this case).
I always use the sling and fig 8 on the bight method as you are NEVER untied from the rope at any time. also- for a good portion of the manoeuvre, you're double belaye'd- via the rope to your partner, and to the anchors via the sling. Lsing fails- partner's got you, partner drops dead- you're on the sling.
yea, and then what do you do?
Also, if everyone used the bolts in the rock to lower off, then wouldn't this result in wear of said bolts and eventually mean that they would need replacing at the expense of further damage to the rock. I know that this is percieved as a problem at Arapiles (Victoria, Australia) and there are notices there asking people not to do it.
> Well my question to Tom still remains?
> Can you clarify what bit of the article hasn't been well written since having re-read it, it seems to me that there is nothing wrong or ambiguous with the text.
There is nothing particularly wrong or ambiguous with it. Knowing the procedure I can see what it is saying quite clearly. However it does appear that having spent the first 3 paragraphs talking about using QDs or a cows tail to secure yourself the vital stage at which you untie, thread the belay and retie is rather rushed through in just one paragraph. I would tend to condense the first few paragraphs a bit and expand on the threading and retying a bit.
If you trace the retied rope back through the rings, it doubles up with the rope from the ground both go through the two rings then feed into the fig 8 that is clipped onto belay loop. Once this is then untied and pulled through our merry climber is left back in the position that he was in in image 1,hanging from his cows tail. The rope from the ground seems to be drawn up into the wrong place, needing to go into the fig 8 and then the R ring not the L one!
Yes, its just you.
The image is fine.
He has threaded a loop through the anchor bolts from left to right, and then tied the figure of eight on a bight at the end which he has clipped into his harness using a screw-gate krab. He can now undo the knot in his harness which will allow him to lower off safely.
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