/ NEW ARTICLE: Belaying – From the 'Rope Loop'?
With photo diagrams and input from professional instructors and harness manufacturers.
Read More: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1129
Brilliant, some definitive answers on the topic!
I learned a lot from reading that--thanks!
very nice photos and explanations - can I just add the following comment...
On another thread I mentioned checking the condition of the tape loop for wear and tear ...http://tinyurl.com/5abgvp
Consider the condition of the belay loop (tape) as it is exposed to lots of forces which may weaken it - unlike rope the working element is fully exposed to forces which may harm it (abrasion being the biggest culprit) ... so check it with care. Depending on frequency of use one day every month then it will last longer than daily use....
Remember Todd Skinners worn harness http://tinyurl.com/4clxuv
Great work but just how long will it be before people forget about it and start asking again.
May be making this article it a sticky FAQ might help ?
Good article. Hopefully it'll dispell some myths.
^ strikes me as a little pointless, as neither option is usually unsafe and you've just delivered good advice on rationally choosing between the two options. Why follow up with this?
Anyway, the only other point I'd make is that the knot loop itself needs to be secure if you're going to use it, no unstoppered bowlines for example. Basic, obvious advice but I assume it's intended as a 'basics' article.
Always easy to spot those who learnt on a PYB course, but at least they will always be able to "escape the system" and won't "shock-load" the anchors ;o
It has never occurred to me to belay from the rope loop, I have never seen it done and I can't think of any significant advantage to doing so.
It may be more comfortable if your second has fallen off but it would also make it impossible to physically winch them up using your legs in a squat thrust fashion would it not ?
Thanks for this. Another timely and really clear article, which fortunately is in line with what I was thinking, rather than confirming me to be reprehensibly unsafe!
Don't rely on basic rules such as 'when I'm on the floor I do X' or 'when I'm on a ledge I do Y'. Keep asking questions and experimenting in a safe place until you understand not just what to do, but WHY you should do it.
The most useful piece of advice ever!
One comment on your belay plate-karabiner combination. You have used a lightweight one that is not circular for the rope to run over. This could lead to slippage with skinny ropes if at right angles but be fine if side loaded as in one picture. Perhaps people should use round bar types till they know how slippy their new belay plate is, hope this is not nit picking as the rest seems fine.
From the DMM site:
Sentinel HMS Screwgate
The Sentinel is a multi-functional, super light mini HMS that has recently been updated to include a keylock nose.
The beauty of this little locker is that it works really well as a small HMS and yet, because of it's slightly offset shape, also works as a great rigging/multi-purpose screwgate.
It was originally designed to compliment the lightweight Bugette, our skinny rope belay device; yet it also works equally well with our Bug and V Twin belay devices. It fits snugly on most belay loops, reducing the chances of cross loading.
Thinking about it wouldnt be impossible but certainly more difficult - it is difficult enough to do it as it is - especially if they have lost contact with the rock and are heavier than you.
That's a fair point on the stopper knot. If an article is providing safety related advice it's worth making sure that it's fully comprehensive in both photos and write-up.
For what it's worth I tie a double stopper a little bit further up the rope away from the knot. This way it's very noticeable if it comes loose as there is a good length of rope dangling about. With just a single stopper close to the fig 8 it's hard to notice if it comes undone if your mind is elsewhere.
Good article though.
Is a stopper still a stopper when it's not hard up against the knot being protected?
OK, in that case where it was designed for the job, just that some people will not think of the krab being designed for that purpose and use another similar designed one. You must have seen the threads on peoples plates being too fast for the rope they are using, getting them to match the krab, or double them needs drawing to their attention IMHO.
If you have a chance we'd love an article on belay plates/rope sizes.
The one advantage of the rope loop that no-one has said (I think) is that its flexibility allows a change-over from seconding to leading on a multi-pitch climb without changing round the belay plate. To me, this makes the rope loop much superior. Of course on single pitch, it then makes little difference (pros and cons as well described in the article)
From the article:
“You can't escape the system if you belay from the harness 'belay loop'”
False. You can escape the system from either belay set-up, or even if you have clipped through both the rope loop and the harness belay loop. The difference can be that if you have the weight of a fallen climber hanging directly from your harness loop, this can make escape awkward due to the difficulty of moving around with this weight on you. All in all this isn't really a huge deciding factor in how to arrange your belay.
Escaping the system is a technique that requires some equipment and knowledge and is best practised before a real accident (and best practised close to the floor!).
Make sure your knot is well tied, tight and has a stopper knot. Adding a stopper knot adds another link to the safety chain.
Does not really add value to the article - stopper knot is not necessary on a Fig 8 - true it does add another link , but an unnecessary one.
tis good practice - and is useful just in case you you muck up the actual fig 8 knot....
With some harnsses you can simply tie of the belay plate and pull the harness out of the belay system.Much quicker and easier than counterbalancing the casualty or bypassing the belay plate with prusiks.
You state that it isnt a deciding factor in arranging a belay, i wonder what is ????
Proximity to lapdancing clubs/donkey shows/Lady-boy ABBA tribute shows (only available in Pataya and Blackpool)
One point that doesn’t seem to be being raised is the question of a crossload on the figure of 8. We are told to use an overhand knot rather than a figure of 8 to join ropes together when rapping because the figure of 8 flips more easily, and Petzl recommend that one leaves at least 30cm of tail in both ropes even when using an overhand knot.
So the question is, could a crossloaded belay knot flip? Don’t forget, the belay load might be near factor 2, whereas the forces are much smaller on rap lines, and these have flipped.
A stopper knot would solve this, but I for one have had stoppers untie themselves over the course of a day. (This seems to happen if the rope is loaded and the diameter therefore reduced for a while.)
If someone has access to the right type of machine, please test this and let us all know.
> You state that it isnt a deciding factor in arranging a belay, i wonder what is ????
They weren't my comments, by the way. Just directing you to the relevant bit of the article.
> With some harnsses you can simply tie of the belay plate and pull the harness out of the belay system.Much quicker and easier than counterbalancing the casualty or bypassing the belay plate with prusiks.
> You state that it isnt a deciding factor in arranging a belay, i wonder what is ????
> Proximity to lapdancing clubs/donkey shows/Lady-boy ABBA tribute shows (only available in Pataya and Blackpool)
How often have you had to escape the system?
> Thinking about it wouldnt be impossible but certainly more difficult - it is difficult enough to do it as it is - especially if they have lost contact with the rock and are heavier than you.
Have you actually tried to do this? I think the main result from attempting such a manouver is a slip disc! If you are going to 'winch' someone up a climb (I assume you mean hoist) there are better and more efficient ways of doing this. If what you mean is a tight rope then it makes no odds whether you clip the belay plate into your harness belay loop or your rope loop as both methods allow you to give a tight rope.
David, this is a good point worth exploring.
When belaying a second, it should be possible to minimise this risk by orientating the knot towards the anchor as shown in Jack's 7th (bottom-left) photo. In this manner, upon load, the tie-in loop should become linear, effectively eliminating the chance of cross-loading the fig 8.
However, when belaying a leader (eg from a multipitch stance), it is forseeable that the loop could be cross-loaded, due to three non-parallel force vectors (ie loop to anchor, belayer's weight and loop to live rope). Of course, there are factors which reduce the peak force upon the belayer, such as the length of rope paid out, rope drag and friction at each (non-failed) runner.
It would be interesting to see if Jack or someone from Lyon/DMM etc has a view on this.
> The one advantage of the rope loop that no-one has said (I think) is that its flexibility allows a change-over from seconding to leading on a multi-pitch climb without changing round the belay plate. To me, this makes the rope loop much superior. Of course on single pitch, it then makes little difference (pros and cons as well described in the article)
Sorry Andy (and hi), I didn't understand: can you elaborate?
[PS After 15 long months of not climbing due to bicep tendon injury, I am overjoyed to back on the rock and am off out this evening...]
, however over the years loose rock, overhanging routes and one suicidal sheep could all have made it a need.
I would suggest that just because you havent needed to do it yet it, it is worth learning. (at £12.99 nigel Sheperds book is excellent) I would give it a look, you will learn lots......
> Have you actually tried to do this? I think the main result from attempting such a manouver is a slip disc! If you are going to 'winch' someone up a climb (I assume you mean hoist) there are better and more efficient ways of doing this. If what you mean is a tight rope then it makes no odds whether you clip the belay plate into your harness belay loop or your rope loop as both methods allow you to give a tight rope.
No it is different. You move from sitting to standing with the rope taken in as tight as possible. By far the most effective way of giving help when the second is struggling for strength and/or power on a crux move.
you will learn lots......
Or maybe not, having just looked at your job description.....oops :-p
How come you're not filtering out yourself? ;)
After all i shall not sleep while one person still remains on the internet i believe to be wrong.
> After all i shall not sleep while one person still remains on the internet i believe to be wrong.
Ha ha! You must be one tired chap!
>Or maybe not, having just looked at your job description.....oops :-p
LOl, ever wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, I bet George had a laugh at that,
Your scenario is possible but not common. In fact extremely uncommon.
You can escape the system in various ways (which you very rarely have to do) from either scenario as pointed out in the article.
If you would like to put an article together on escaping the system, we'd love to have it - however your point isn't hugely valid in the context of this rope loop/belay loop article.
As David Wright says. You can do it all on your legs and hips without straining your back - I have a weak/flexible spine so I can comment confidently on that. Bracing the rope over the edge of the cliff allows you to take the rope back in between each hoist. Its strenuous but you can get into a bit of a rhythm.
> [PS After 15 long months of not climbing due to bicep tendon injury, I am overjoyed to back on the rock and am off out this evening...]
Good luck with tonight. Keep off the overhanging jamming for a day or two. When your second comes up, the plate is set for a downward pull. After he passes and leads on, at some point you will trust that runners hold and turn to watch him. With the plate in the rope loop, it naturally is set up for an upward pull. With the plate in the belay loop, it is not. Ok you could argue that it doesn't matter if the runners hold and the fall factor is less, but I think it is more convenient
> LOl, ever wanted to crawl into a hole and hide,
No. He rope accessed himself into a large deep shaft instead. (Recognised Level four approved method of course) ;-)
I'd like to say thanks to Jack as well for putting in considerable hours, researching, photographing and putting this article together.
Nope, sorry, however much I think about this I can't get it to make sense. On my harness 9whicch I thought was a fairly standard design), the belay loop and rope loops are aligned in parallel, and there is no difference in the position of the belay plate no matter which I attach it to.
> Nope, sorry, however much I think about this I can't get it to make sense.
Fraid I'm in the same boat for the same reason, Andy.
P[S Yup taking it steady so as not to re-knacker the tendon...]
I always clip through both. Why put lives at risk by trusting 1 little piece of nylon?
> As David Wright says. You can do it all on your legs and hips without straining your back - I have a weak/flexible spine so I can comment confidently on that. Bracing the rope over the edge of the cliff allows you to take the rope back in between each hoist. Its strenuous but you can get into a bit of a rhythm.
I'm not sure but I think we are at cross purposes here...
If we are talking about giving a second and tight rope to assist em to climb upwards, then yes you can use your legs/hips/back whatever to give a slight, slight mechancial advantage which when combined with taking in the rope as they scrabble upwards is usually enough to help em get through a tricky section.
However, if we are talking about hoisting a dead weight i.e. your second has lost contact with the rope and is hanging in space then as you will be very tight onto your anchors I fail to see how you can bend your knees sufficently to get into squat position to then stand up and take the rope in. Better to use an assisted or unassisted hoist methinks. If it was possible believe me we would be teaching this 'squat thrust' rescue technique to trainee MIAs. But it's not in the situation you described with someone hanging in space.
Cheers fur noo
Good for you, I don't. I don't consider it a significant risk.
With you on this one.
It's seriously hard to do as mentioned. Fine if you are double as a rugby forward but for most people it will not be an option. Even getting into a good position can be difficult. Life would be so much easier if you belayed direct off the anchor when bringing up the second. It is not often that you would be unable to build a sound enough anchor.
On the subject of cross-loading the figure-8 knot in the rope loop:
In a previous life I did some tensile tests for Steve Reid/Lyon Equipment. The context was for connecting 2 ropes for abseiling. We found that a cross loaded figure-8 knot was dangerous because it tended to invert repeatedly, in effect working it's way up the rope until it slipped off the end.
At the time, we both realised that in theory this also could happen in the context of the rope tie-in loop, especially if you bring an anchoring rope back to the loop.
After an initial panic, we got sensible. After all, we don't hear about accidents involving rope tie-in loops coming undone. Looked at objectively, this is probably because:
1. Forces on the belay are generally low because of slippage through the belay device.
2. To pull the knot apart, you have to get the load configuration just right. Even then, often the rope simply doesn't invert. It seems to be worse if the rope is stiff and icy, but a lot of research would be needed to nail this down along with other factors such as rope construction etc.
3. Using a snug stopper knot against the figure-8 knot prevents inversion. Most people are taught this as good practice, this is another good reason for tieing one .
It might be physical and ugly but it is expedient as you usually only have to haul people up a few feet past a crux or a bit higher to get them back in contact with the rock. I wouldnt have thought hauling someone up using brute force would have to be part of a syllabus. Perhaps never having benefited from formal training perhaps I am imagining I have ever carried out this manouevre in the past though I do have big legs as I suspect David Wright has from his running.
> It might be physical and ugly but it is expedient as you usually only have to haul people up a few feet past a crux or a bit higher to get them back in contact with the rock. I wouldnt have thought hauling someone up using brute force would have to be part of a syllabus. Perhaps never having benefited from formal training perhaps I am imagining I have ever carried out this manouevre in the past though I do have big legs as I suspect David Wright has from his running.
I don't think I am disagreeing with you. If you read my post I say it is possible to do as you say above - they are 'stuck' at the crus and need a helping hand. If you are strong/large vs small person/big legs then yes you can give em a very tight rope. What I am questionning is hauling/hoisting a person that is not in contact with the rock and is not helping. In which case no matter how strong your legs are it ain't happening :)
If you think about the knot rolling in a belay situation it cannot happen, IF you use the rope for belaying. Then the tail that would be loose in an abseiling situation is not free to roll on, it is a three way force really.
>Tie a decent stopper and it becomes a non-issue?
Think so, just had a double check on the pictures and if belaying off the rope while on the ground it may be possible to roll the knot without the stopper if the rope is not in tension.
And to Erik:
The belay loop is fixed in a vertical loop, and is stiff material. The rope loop is tied vertical, but because it is rope you can bend it into any position you like, hence why it does for both an upward and a downward force. The belay loop does both but you have to change the rope round
As you have me doubting myself I have questioned my wife and she concurs in the past she was hoisted without her helping - this is getting a bit boring - can we leave it there
No problem - I've better things to do with my time also :)
> Don't rely on basic rules such as 'when I'm on the floor I do X' or 'when I'm on a ledge I do Y'. Keep asking questions and experimenting in a safe place until you understand not just what to do, but WHY you should do it.
> The most useful piece of advice ever!
I agree. The rest of it is nothing new (to me) but I appreciate it will be for others and it's good to have it all in one place, and hopefully will cut down on the frequency of threads on the subject!
In reply to Jack:
The "Staying Alive" series on Planet Fear is good:
And regarding dynamicism and knot tightening, and your comment "Some 'give' is introduced by the knot in the rope loop tightening up, but not a huge amount" this paper http://www.amga.com/resources/various/Sequential_Failure_Paper.pdf says that "the figure-8 follow through knot absorbs an equivalent of nearly 1.5m (5 feet) of rope for the first impact force"
> 1. Forces on the belay are generally low because of slippage through the > belay device.
I would think the forces in a fall factor 2 fall would be greater than those on a rap line.
But a tied rope belay loop forms a loop (surprise surprise). So if you have a force on each side of the loop (disregarding a three way force, which I think it less likely), it's going to pull on the knot but also the other half of the loop - the non-knotted half. So (after rope stretch and tightening of the knot), in order for the knot to invert the friction forces of the belay karabiner against the rope loop would have to be overcome for it to slide round the loop, for enough slack to be given for the knot to invert. Not sure if that makes sense, it's just speculation anyway.
I'm not saying it's the right thing, or even a good idea, but it definitely is possible sometimes. Mainly depends on three things, how light the dangler is, how strong the belayer is, and how keen the belayer is to get the dangler back onto the rock. I have first hand experience of this having hauled a few lightweight partners when they'd fallen off slight overhangs. I doubt I've ever hauled anyone like this more than a metre or so though.
Knowing how to do the job properly for when it's needed is always a good idea. It's just that occasionally a bit of brute strength can save an awful lot of faffing about.
The stopper knot (if used) should be as close to the main knot as possible- thus eliminating the possibility of creating an extra loop- which may accidently be mistaken for for the rope loop. Most places now advise to leave 6 inches of rope and not bother with a stopper knot for this reason.
I still use a stopper knot- and just make sure it's close and tight!
"Usually (with good solid anchors) putting more force on the anchors is a good move - it takes the strain off you and is easier to hold a fall. This should be about 99% of the time! If the anchors are bad, then ideally you should look for some better ones! If that really isn't possible (usually on some winter routes) then reducing impact on them is important - hence a braced position and clipping to the harness loop. It is also possible (but not as easy) to brace some of the impact when belaying from the rope loop - again it hinges on the position of the belayer."
It is nowhere near 99% 0f the time, there are a lot of occaisions, particularly in the greater ranges and winter climbing when, as stated by your Scottish instructor, a sensible evaluation will suggest you belay via the belay loop rather than directly onto the anchors, a bit of bodily discomfort, or your life?
Perhaps worth a mention...
Regarding belaying from a rope loop tied with a bowline.
When cross loaded in this way a bowline can easily and rapidly come untied, depending on the direction of the knot and the direction of pull.
If that is the case definitely worth more than a mention and should be inserted in the article.
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