/ NEW ARTICLE: VIDEO: How to Tie Off a Belay Plate

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UKC Articles - on 10 Dec 2010
Self Rescue for Climbers - How to Tie Off a Belay Plate, 4 kbIn part 1 of this short video series, Steve Long takes a look at tying off a belay plate so that you can get both hands free - an essential first step in crag self rescue.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3295
nightmonkeyuk - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
This might be a daft question, but what's wrong with tying an overhand knot before the belay device? Wouldnt that work instead?
stvredmond - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to nightmonkeyuk: its difficult to untie under pressure. nothing wrong with an overhand knot but not ideal when you want to potentially escape the system. horses for courses and all that. hope this helps
mhawk - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to nightmonkeyuk: I tend to use an overhand slip knot, seems to work well, very easy to untie too
mark_wellin - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to nightmonkeyuk:

dont think you can tie one of those when there is weight on the rope can you? or do you mean the other side of the plate (the dead rope side?)
Sgt. Vest - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: what silly music.
mhawk - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to mark_wellin: yes, just tie the slip knot on the dead end of plate, i normally leave a good loop.
Steve Long - on 10 Dec 2010
In reply to rampantchopper: It is possible to tie a slip knot in the rope on the "dead" side of the rope, but it is quite difficult to do this when the rope is fully loaded by a suspended climber. With care though its a nice simple system. I use it quite often when swapping leads if the leader needs to be briefly tied off while sorting out kit for the next pitch.

The method shown in the video adds friction to the system and can be tied without introducing any slack into the system. It's a good "belt and braces" system but is by no means the only method to lock off a plate.

wilkesley - on 11 Dec 2010
In reply to Steve Long:
Nice video. I think that you should insert some comment about watching your fingers when unlocking the final loop. A bit of carelessness can lead to trapped or amputated finger ends.
PM on 12 Dec 2010
In reply to wilkesley:
> A bit of carelessness can lead to trapped or amputated finger ends.

I think it would take a great deal of carelessness to manage that. The force making the loop-which-your-fingers-are-momentarily-in smaller is just you tugging on the dead end. Because the plate is locked off at all times, if you're doing it even vaguely right then there will not be some magic death loop which is suddenly being constricted by the weight of your dangling climber. Maybe you were imagining some other scenario I've not considered?
richard_hopkins - on 12 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
Can this be used for locking a belay plate using a DMM Belay Master? I find that the plastic clip seems to take up most of the free space on the carabiner.
Instead I've tried putting a clove hitch onto a separate carabiner with the dead rope, but this is tricky to release under tension.
PM on 12 Dec 2010
In reply to richard_hopkins: You can pop the clip off a belay master if you need to lock off using the back bar, no?
wilkesley - on 12 Dec 2010
In reply to PM:
You are correct you would need to be very careless. However, if for some reason the plate wasn't properly locked off, it would be possible for the weight of the climber to be applied to the loop. Just mentioning that you should keep your fingers away from the inside of the loop would be fine. It might seem OTT, but it's one simple action to avoid a possible accident.

It's a bit like relying on the brake on a chain saw to work properly when you are trying to extract something from the chain when the engine is running:)

Ian.
strunz - on 13 Dec 2010
What they show in the video is not what the producer of this belay device rcommends. The ATC or any other "normal" tube is not recommended for belaying the second from above. Therefore you schould use a "real" belay plate like, the Magic plate, the ATC Guide or the Petzl Reverso in their GUIDE MODUS or, as a lot of multipitch climbers in the the alpes do, use the Munter Hitch.
Monk - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to strunz:
> What they show in the video is not what the producer of this belay device rcommends. The ATC or any other "normal" tube is not recommended for belaying the second from above. Therefore you schould use a "real" belay plate like, the Magic plate, the ATC Guide or the Petzl Reverso in their GUIDE MODUS or, as a lot of multipitch climbers in the the alpes do, use the Munter Hitch.

That is complete BS. How the hell do you climb routes otherwise?
Monk - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to richard_hopkins:

> (In reply to UKC Articles)
> Can this be used for locking a belay plate using a DMM Belay Master? I find that the plastic clip seems to take up most of the free space on the carabiner.
> Instead I've tried putting a clove hitch onto a separate carabiner with the dead rope, but this is tricky to release under tension.

You can adapt the method slightly, and instead of tying the half hitches around the back bar you take the dead rope through the krab and tie the knot on the live rope instead.
ChrisBrooke - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to Monk: Actually, it's true in the literal sense. Someone pointed out to me while I lived in Holland. Somewhat shocked I went and checked Petzl's website and the paper instructions they put on PPE and found that they're not intended to be used as 99.99% of British climbers use them. To the extent that I wouldn't want to hold a second in the normal 'British' way if on a very steep route (try it and see how long you can hold a person's full weight below you just on a plate), I agree. However, given the sorts of traditional routes we have in this country, non-bolted belays etc, I'm usually more than happy belaying in the traditional British way.

i.e. When sitting on the edge of a gritstone crag with my anchors somewhere behind me, a whole heap of friction of the rope over the edge of the crag and down the route etc it's great. On a vertical, bolted multipitch limestone route abroad I'd rather have my Reverso attached to the anchors in guide mode, or at least the rope running from me up to a crab in the anchors, then down to the second (if you see what I mean) so that I'm not having to hold their full weight if they come off and want to rest for 10 minutes.

Monk - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

The ATC instructions... http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/uploads/black-diamond/files/MM5853_F_Belay_devicesWEB.pdf

I can't see any special instructions for belaying a second on it? How did we all survive before guide plates were widely stocked?

I'm not disagreeing that it is very uncomforatble to hold a free-hanging climber on a traditional belay plate, and it is definitely wise to avoid it by using an extra anchor (something you learn after the first time you do it!). I just don't think it is wrong to use these devices to bring up a second.
chris_s - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to strunz:

Surely the quality of the anchors is the key consideration in whether to use a magic plate or similar in a direct belay?
ChrisBrooke - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to Monk:
> (In reply to ChrisBrooke)
>
> . I just don't think it is wrong to use these devices to bring up a second.

Nor do I. Like I say, it's what I do all the time, and it's what you see everyone at every British crag doing! I just remember being surprised when I realised that in the Petlz literature it said it's only for belaying a lead climber or to be used in guide mode. It made me question my technique and safe practice, which I think is always a good thing to reflect on - am I being as safe as I can be? As ever in climbing you're balancing lots of different factors with safety, speed, convenience, available anchors, body position etc. It's part of the fun/challenge/art of traditional climbing that I enjoy.
strunz - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to chris_s:

Yes, it is!
strunz - on 13 Dec 2010
Monk - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to strunz:

So one author's opinion against manufacturer's recomendations and millions of man hours of experience? It's a valid opinion, but I don't believe that this is a black and white issue by a very long way.
strunz - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to Monk:

Thank you for changing from "complete BS" to "Valid opinion" in 1,5 hours.

It is always refereshing to have a look how things are done over the fence by the neighbourgh and to learn why they might do things different.

All I did, was pointing out, what the producers recommend and donīt recommend (and by the way the Swiss, Austrian, French and German Alpinclubs teach their Guides).


Monk - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to strunz:

I'm not saying that I have changed. Your original post was BS. You stated that the device was being used wrongly. I posted the instructions for the device in question, and it was being used according to the instructions. Therefore, your first post was wrong. When you fleshed it out a little more, it was clear that there was some validity to the opinion which I do agree with in part. Indeed, I tend to use an direct belay in alpine style terrain or where you have excellent anchors in a good position, but on UK crags, the direct belay is often not a good choice due to the position of anchors and size of ledges etc.
Steve Long - on 24 Dec 2010
In reply to strunz: It's true that the "traditional" British use of the belay plate tends to differ from a lot of other countries. As Chair of the UIAA Training Standards Working Group I work with the people nominated as training expers by the climbing federations of many of the world's leading climbing nations, so I can confirm that the use of direct belays is indeed more common elsewhere but the method of belaying shown here is by no means confined to the UK.

I think this is partly because of our use of double ropes, and partly because "guide mode" use of belay devices works fine for guiding on relatively easy ground but is impractical for looking after a second properly on tricky ground, where reversing a move or two is necessary as the climber tries to work out a sequence.

So from Petzl's point of view it is expedient to recommend "guiding mode" as there is no doubt that it is easier to manage the rope using a direct belay if all you are doing is taking in the slack as the climber progresses. So locking of the plate becomes redundant, as the device is used in a self-locking mode. However, for trad climbing the belay method that I've shown is more practical, for the reasons described above. Over the years I've held literally hundreds of falls, and although it is uncomfortable to hold a second who is hanging in space it is possible - however in this situation the ability to lock of the plate as shown in the video becomes vital.
strunz - on 29 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thank you Steve for your video and your answer.

You gave a good explanation for the British way of using the belay plate.

All I pointed out was, that it is not the way the producers recommend. (Even if "Monk" seems to think so).

I understand the reasons of this way of belaying, especialy in your climbing enverionment and that this method is optimal for the second who wants to reverse a move or needs to be lowered (therefore is the guide modus with its "autolocking" uncomfortable). But essential for this method is, that you have enough holdingpower in your brakehand.

What about belaying two followers with halfropes? One needs slack the other is moving up. The ropemanagment seems to me quite challenging.
And what about belaying a real heavy second and catching his fall and holding him for a while? Canīt it become quite uncomfortable for the belayer holding the brake rope with a lot of drag? Okay, thats why you show how to tie of the rope, but is this realy a solution for the moment the rope gets loaded with the fall?
What I learned is, that the brakingforce of the tube is quite small when both ropes run parallel out of the tube. When belaying a leader from the ground Iīm quite sure you teach, even when topropeing and no leadfall is to expect, that the brake hand has to be under the belayplate because of the necessary brakeforce. Why has this not to be observed when belaying your second from above? If 99,99 % of the British climbers do so (as metioned above from somebody) with out having any troble with it, why donīt the manufacutures react and recommend this method as proper usage?

Once again, thank you for your video and answer.
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edinburgerboulderer53 on 29 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Thanks for posting putting stuff like this up guys. Really helpful and simple. :)

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