/ using a 60m single as a double rope?
Yes, loads of people do (nearly) this all the time. The leader ties on to both ends, and the second ties on to the middle, using whatever method they feel is good enough for them. There is endless debate on here about tying on to the middle of a rope - a larksfoot is good enough for me, so's a screwgate through the rope loops. Others prefer the double-rethreaded mega-knot, alpine butterfly, and various other things that I can't be arsed with.
If you're the type that wants to be as safe as possible (as opposed to a pragmatist), do a search - it's thrilling reading!
ok. and when i bring my second up, would they then have to clip in on the bight? ... what difference does it make whether i tie into the middle or the ends?
Ah thanks. (i replied before seeing your post). I'll get reading!
Just tied my first ever alpine butterfly, it's surprisingly easy! Reckon i'll go with that option. thanks for your help.
It gets a bit confusing when both ropes are the same! And screwgates are not recommended for tying in. They can come undone.
It's fine so long as you tie in safely either to the middle or the ends. Clipping in is pushing your luck and definitely not advisable.
Tied in the middle the twists work their way out of the ends as you climb. Tied in the ends you can easily drop an end if you need more rope length mid pitch.
The second can tie in or clip in if they're happy with that (I would be, many aren't).
I think most of the time when you see someone climbing tied into the middle (or both ends) of a rope, they're using a half rope, not a single. Half ropes are sometimes stretchier than singles, though you can get some ropes which are suitable for both techniques. Using single ropes as half ropes is definitely not best practice, though I'd probably stop short of calling it dangerous.
For anyone not familiar with climbing ropes: there are three types. Single ropes are deigned to be used on their own. Double ropes are also known as half ropes, and are designed to be clipped into (roughly) alternate bits of gear. Twin ropes are designed to be run next to each other through every bit of gear, and are quite uncommon in the UK.
Not that I care, I'm happy with owt.
Not sure I follow... but then I then I tend to climb Scottish mountain routes not grit. You mean because the route is short and the gear is sparse there's only one rope between you and the deck?
Anyway, looking at the impact factors for various ropes, I doubt it makes much difference. I just thought I should mention it in case there were complications I wasn't aware of.
Leader to tie in the 2 ends in conventional fashion, second can either put the middle bight through the belay loop, pull a load through and then over your head and then step through the loop, this makes a larks foot on the belay loop and is fast to do. I prefer to re-thread an overhand knot and clip off the end loop with a screw back to the belay loop. this way you can escape the system easily. Its something we do all the time as we frequently climb on grit with a 40m skinny single and we'll double it up when on wandering routes.
> Not sure I follow... but then I then I tend to climb Scottish mountain routes not grit. You mean because the route is short and the gear is sparse there's only one rope between you and the deck?
Exactly. Sometimes you have a 'baby bouncer' (often two cams in the same break) which is lovely, but most of the time you're just relying on one rope; even if the other one would still keep you off the ground, it often won't take any force in a fall because there's too much out compared to the other.
Just seems a bit illogical (but not dangerous) - I'd never go out and lead using just one half rope, but I'm basically doing that half the time anyway, just with another redundant rope attached to my harness.
> Just seems a bit illogical (but not dangerous) - I'd never go out and lead using just one half rope, but I'm basically doing that half the time anyway, just with another redundant rope attached to my harness.
I've often thought about this. Never really understood how the half rope thing works in this respect - surely if you fall, you're weight is generally only going to be held by the rope that was clipped in last, the other rope simply adding to your weight if anything? I guess it still must be safe as i've not heard any horror stories!
If you're clipping each rope very infrequently, only one rope may take the strain. In my experience, however, both usually come into it.
Think about how far you travel even if you fall only a little bit above your last bit of gear. Generally, you fall a reasonable distance because of rope stretch. This often puts you below the last bit of gear of both ropes. You end up with both ropes going up from you in a V-shape.
In response to the first question, I've heard of guides using two singles as double ropes to prolong the rope's life. I don't know how true this is though as I've never seen it in practise.
Half ropes are rated to take leader falls on their own: no surprise really as most complex routes at times involve the risk of one half rope taking most of the shock of a fall, when using two to keep rope drag down.
My normal climbing set up is one 60m half rope folded in half and I tie in to the ends when leading hard or the middle if it doesn't matter... using a rather bulky double figure 8, or sometimes a larks foot (Chris Tan's death knot). Alpine butterfly is not needed as the pull isn't across the knot and you should never lead on a rope attached to your harness by being clipped through one locking crab. You can climb 30m/100 foot pitches with a folded up 60m half rope (well over 90% of all UK routes) and if you need a bit of extra rope at the top you can climb together or drop one end.
It can be misleading as we call half ropes 'halfs' it can lead you to think they are only half as strong and a single. This isn't the case though and halfs are perfectly capable of holding a leader fall. As they are thinner they don't hold as many falls over a sharp edge on a test rig when compared to a single. This is by design though so it isn't something to worry about once you know the theory. The advantages of using 2 halfs together are great in many circumstances though. 1 half is a lot lighter than a single and the climbing team can carry one each, great for mountain walk-ins, on wandering routes rope drag is massively reduced by careful clipping of gear - left for lefthand gear, right for righthand gear etc, On traversing routes the leader can arrange the ropes to protect the second from above and by joining the ropes together you can abb and retrieve the ropes for a 50m abb. When climbing as a 3 the leader can bring up 2 seconds - on one rope each. The real advantages come in to play away from the short crags and into the mountains. Some good info here for further reading:
The general idea was (and is) that a half rope is designed such that it will hold ONE worst case climbing fall (at least when new or in good condition). However, because you will be climbing with two ropes that will be pretty much impossible to occur as you are very unlikely in the real world to have a massive fall with c.40% rope stretch without your second rope coming into play. It is this combination of two factors which results in a sensible safety margin.
This logic also applies, albeit in a slightly different vein on grit - in this case it is simply that you will deck out before you ever take a fall big enough to cause a risk of failure to any half rope.
When it comes to rope testing, the UIAA decided that rather than have a test where every single half rope on the market had the same test result (i.e. one test 80kg fall) they would amend the test so you could differentiate between ropes. After much testing they found that 5 falls at 55kg was similar to 1 fall at 80kg so they used that as the standard to effectively give 5 times the discrimination between ropes. This means that you know that a rope with 9 test falls will give you a greater safety margin than one with just the minimum of 5.
Some very helpful replies from all. Thanks!
'Never' is such a strong word. Better to get people to think *why* it's such a bad idea (mainly because it introduces an unnecessary link into the chain). It's not even fiendishly dangerous - just unnecessary. In fact I can think of several things which I/ we could or should do that would make more of a difference.
One thing I didn't know until yesterday concerns using two half ropes (or a doubled half) as a single. I occasionally do this when climbing short, straight grit routes, clipping both strands through each runner.
I didn't give it a second thought until a conversation at the weekend revealed the folly of my ways. The two strands of half rope, when taken in parallel, are much less stretchy that a single. This means a much higher impact force on the runner. I forget the exact numbers, but in the example I was given, you don't need a particularly high fall factor before you're approaching the strength of a wire.
> you should never lead on a rope attached to your harness by being clipped through one locking crab.
True enough I suppose, the reason being that as you fly through space the krab can take up any random orientation by the time the load comes on it. I must have been very lucky to have survived all those years climbing (and falling) with the then-standard waistbelt/krab attachment.
Never is exactly right. There is a lot of rubbish spouted about neccesity in climbing safety (helmets, lockers on belay protection, etc etc) but this is one area where you just shouldn't ever do it. The reasons are that several accidents have occurred when the crab was cross-loaded or the rope unscrewed the gate. If attaching to the harness with crabs use two lockers back to back.
The example you give on clipping two half ropes through the same extender is a classic one of these 'over-worried' safety issues that is really in the realm of recommended not to do rather than a never. If it was so much of an issue twin rope systems (where both twin ropes must be clipped through the same crab) would never be allowed. There are other points aside from increased shockload to think about if you sometimes clip both and sometimes don't (eg more chance with any differential forces for one ropes to be forced onto the gate or chance of differential movement under a fall and rope on rope friction being generated). You only need to be worried about microwires or fragile rock in your context.
I wouldnt call falling on to a waist belt lucky under any circumstances. I've done it when using a wide sling (adapted bandolier) when I forgot my harness once. Completely winded me and not someting I'd ever like to repeat.
Double-re-threaded-mega-knot you have such a way with words
ha ha ha ha lmao........... perfectly sums up the glum feeling I get when I realise that i will have to employ the "beast-knot"
> ...perfectly sums up the glum feeling I get when I realise that i will have to employ the "beast-knot".
There are more compact knots for tying onto the middle of the rope. The water knot is probably the easiest, though the Zeppelin loop is a wonderfully elegant, non-jamming solution if you're up to it. As mentioned earlier, you don't have to worry about stopper knots etc. because the free end is a loop which can simply be clipped to the harness with a krab.
Have there actually been cases of krabs overloaded to failure (snapped cross-loaded) when used in exactly this way?
Opened/Unscrewed/Unclipped accidentally I can believe. Forced open and unclipped or failed with a lever applied to the gate/nose (eg Fig8 descender) I can believe. Old 'unrated for minor-axis loads' kit failing in a fall I can believe. I am however surprised if there are actually documented cases where someone has had an accident as a result of purely overloading a modern krab used for attachment to an otherwise normal climbing system (not running belay krab failure which is relatively common).
Still, I'm not disagreeing with you: It's not a good idea and is unnecessary.
I've seen a couple of guys out in the Lakes leading like this, clipped in rather than tied in. I bit my tongue at the time, they clearly knew what they were doing (70+ years experience between them at a guess) and were doing it otherwise very competently indeed. For whatever reason they'd clearly decided it added more to their set-up than it detracted, I suspect fast changeovers as one of them was (comfortably) leading the job lot (belayer was in his 80s and had some pretty cool stories).
In fact, several of the accidents were so serious that over 10 years ago the UIAA issued an official safety notice recommending people stop doing it and either tie-in (as per UK climbing walls), use back to back carabiners or use a DMM belaymaster or other 'triple-locking' carabiner.
I wouldn't be worried in the slightest about there being any chance of breaking something like a DMM Zodiac (12kN minor axis!) in a leader fall but I would be massively worried about the screwgate undoing itself and then the krab levering open.
While we're on the subject of unstable Karabiners, when did it become the norm to use HMS krabs with belay plates? They're the worst possible shape for turning over when belaying a rope going upwards. I now teach climbing wall beginners to have the krab the "wrong" way - little end up - from the start.
I personally went over to an oval krab a couple of years ago, as have some of my mates. It doesn't have the tendency to rotate and works just as well, even with double ropes. I know DMM have their "Belay-Master" with its plastic bar thingy that soon gets lost, but in my experience it's just a faff; a solution to a problem that didn't occur in the first place.
So why the fixation with the HMS? Is there a sound reason or is it just a fashion that's grown up for spurious historical reasons?
I've seen plenty of old experienced climbers using harnesses that were heavily used and decades old: very liable to snap in a lead fall. Finally pursuaded one of my regular climbing partners to change his. Also some use old ropes that were likely to be performing poorly at best; other use old worn slings. Old doesn't always correlate with wise.
Ex-Engineer beat me to it on the accidents front: I don't have the links to hand but they exist here somewehere and on the web so search. It's pretty well known to those interested in climbing safety, so I'm suprised you were not aware.
My best guess is that after ovals screwgates were eclipsed by stronger D then offset D krabs it meant that at some point there was only really a choice between high quality HMSs or Offset Ds. Between these two, the HMS is better, especially for 2 ropes, hence it possibly became the default...
Interested to hear any other suggestions.
I'm currently using a DMM Sentinel Locksafe and find that it is substantially better than the previous large HMS krabs I used for many years. Why I ever thought a DMM Boa was a good belay biner, I don't know...
I completely agree that there is a compelling case that modern oval screwgates make an excellent belay biner. If I have the chance to get hold of (or borrow) one, I intend on having a play and see whether it improves on the Sentinel.
In that vein of experimentation I recently had a play with using a DMM Belaymaster out trad multi-pitch and found it relatively workable - still a minor faff, but not one that I couldn't live with. Given that you can rarely afford the luxury of multiple sets of equipment, I'd be happy to issue them to students going trad climbing as well as just using them for novice groups where I feel they do make belaying marginally easier, both for students and the instructor.
I'm also intrigued by the Black Diamond Gridlock. Again I've like to see if it can cope with trad multi-pitch as well as being good for indoor walls use with novices. My gut feeling is that it would fair even worse than the Belaymaster, but I would be happy to be proved wrong.
> I've seen plenty of old experienced climbers using harnesses that were heavily used and decades old: very liable to snap in a lead fall.
I'm an old experienced climber and I renew my harnesses regularly but I don't really believe this. As far as I am aware there has never been a case of a harness snapping no matter how old it was. There is even some debate about the recent belay loop incident in the states and things may not be as clear cut as at first suggested.
I believe that Petzl now recommend using an AMD oval krab. I use one and prefer it to the HMS.
Read most of the replies on here, but could have missed something. Bear in mind that single ropes don't stretch as much as half ropes, so if you fall, you'll be exerting more force on both the runners and yourself. It's a bad idea to take what would be borderline-safe falls with two halves on a single rope.
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on whether 'never' is right or not. I personally think it should be 'in general don't do it, it's pointless and this is why' and leave it to the climber to make the judgement.
OK. Unlikely hypothetical situation alert.
I am about to lead an easy climb on a loose, chossy cliff, and given an ultimatum. "You can wear a helmet, but you must clip the rope into your harness with a screwgate. Or you can tie in and forego the helmet" I would choose the screwgate + helmet every time.
I'm sure there are some real world situations that illustrate it better. Quick changeovers being but one of them.
On the twin ropes thing - twins are fine because they are more stretchy than halves, so the worry about transmitting force isn't a problem. I would guess they are designed to behave similar to a single when clipped in parallel.
There are numerous well documented accidents across Europe due to standard screwgate carabiners 'unclipping' whilst being used in this manner whilst top-roping at indoor walls.
I'm aware there are several 'somehow becoming detached' accidents on record but I was specifically wondering about the minor axis overload situation.
Fair enough. I'm surprised you're 'massively worried' about becoming unclipped though.
I suspect that some lack of problems in this mode may be due to such old leaders tending not to fall very often (I've never seen my friend come close to falling on lead ...yet for me its common). There is plenty of test data that shows how old webbing performance degrades: if its worn or heavily sun bleached, just like old tat, its not to be trusted.
Do you have any links to any serious debate on the 'US belay loop' incident or is this idle gossip?
I wasn't implying it did, merely recounting a story that came to mind. In fact I thought I was pretty clear I thought is somewhat unwise but since it wasn't likely to prove life threatening there and then I kept my opinion to myself.
Yes and no. I was specifically curious about simple overload accidents , something I've never heard of. I'm well aware there are thousands of creative ways to do yourself a mischief misusing climbing gear, I'm just really surprised to hear you say this is one way someone actually has.
What's wrong with the Boa?
Like you I used to use a sentiel but found it small, fiddly and very prone to jamming if inverted. I imagine it would be a faff to tie two ropes off using one too.
The BOA is large, strong. Easy to tie off. It does invwert but it's minor axis is wide enough not to jam up when using two ropes.
I'm also interested in the DMM Oval s/g. A couple of friends use and rate them.
The only belay krab I would reccomend avoiding is the Petzl Attache 3D. It is a good size, but the gate spins undone far, far too easily. It is also no where near as strong as similar DMM krabs. If DMM made a biner that size and shape I'd buy one like a shot.
Food for thought...
You're right we'll probably have to agree to disagree: VS leader apparently worrying more about maximum impact forces on pro than using a locking crab to tie in.
> Do you have any links to any serious debate on the 'US belay loop' incident or is this idle gossip?
Gossip but not really idle. The person I spoke to knows the people involved, has talked with them about the incident and is himself in the climbing equipment manufacturing/testing business. I believed him but of course if you heard it from me it becomes "3rd hand" and less dependable and in any case it would not be appropriate to discuss it on here.
The 'cross load' issues are I think mainly because the rope or the harness will then contact the gate and thence can open it (more so than the physical breaking of the carabiner due to the cross loading force). I found the main safety UIAA reference fairly easily but not the articles I've seen before that gave more details on the accidents.
I think you just have discussed it here.
> You're right we'll probably have to agree to disagree: VS leader apparently worrying more about maximum impact forces on pro than using a locking crab to tie in.
Forgive me if I'm reading something between the lines which you did not intend, but is there just the merest hint of cattiness in that remark?
As it happens, I'm not more worried about impact forces than the screwgate thing. I didn't even compare the two, and I'm not particularly worried about either compared with, say, whether my belayer is paying attention. (I introduced the double ropes-in-parallel scenario partly as an example of something a lot of people may not have thought about, and partly to bring the thread back on topic.
Interesting idea tying into the ends, rather than the middle though. I hadn't thought about the benefit of being able to untie and drop a strand at the top. I usually lead on ends anyway, but mainly because my rope doesn't have a middle marker.
Middle or ends - pros and cons. Ends: less bulk at waist for leader, and you can drop one end to liberate extra rope. Middle: twists fall out, and you can pull up either half of the rope through the runners should you need to.
Re screwgate attachment: for leader, no. For second, generally accepted as ok, but not ideal.
Re using two halves of single rope as a pair: generally all the significant force of a fall will be taken by one strand anyway. The second strand will come into play, but usually after the initial high impact forces are taken by the rope in the highest runner. The exception, of course is when the two strands of single rope have been clipped into runners at the same height, in which case the stretch will be less.
> So why the fixation with the HMS? Is there a sound reason or is it just a fashion that's grown up for spurious historical reasons?
I believe the HMS crab was originally designed to be used with the Italian hitch - a useful belay method with a long history. Perhaps the HMS shape then became associated with belaying in general, without too much thought as to its suitability in various specific applications. Just a theory :)
I meant 'massively worried' as much in the sense that I would be paranoid and compulsively check that the gate was done up to the distraction of being able to focus on climbing properly.
You are right about the gates of Petzl krabs. I don't like them and you are not the first person on here to slate the Attache for coming undone easily. In fact, screwgates working lose on abseils is the main reason why I'm now using a Locksafe version - it is just one less thing to be concerned with.
Call it frustration. You not unreasonably questioned my 'never'; however, this is on a real problem where many accidents have occurred and people have been badly hurt and where the UIAA have produced safety leaflets (hence I'd say its still best to say 'never' on an open forum or when instructing). Then as a VS leader you discussed some pretty rare and odd concerns (like the extra shockload risk on microwires, RPs or microcams - where the ratings are below 12kN - due to clipping two half ropes) and then come up with an even more odd and fairly unrealistic comparison scenario on loose rock.
Almost every time I climb at a popular crag I see some enthusiastic 'amateur' coming over as an expert with inexperienced partners and focusing on safety trivia and in the end giving mixed messages, too much to worry about and overloading their mates with gear (often fairly obviously inappropriate but 'for the best just in case'): all in all amounting to bad advice that could lead to real increased risk and in the interest of being extra safe! I'm sure this is not you but others who are like this lap up such arguments, so on public forums its better to play it straight.
> I believe the HMS crab was originally designed to be used with the Italian hitch - a useful belay method with a long history. Perhaps the HMS shape then became associated with belaying in general, without too much thought as to its suitability in various specific applications. Just a theory :)
I was thinking along the same lines. Ovals seemed to go out of fashion, possibly because they were associated with the big Stubai steel that we'ed just stopped using for tying in. I know I started using pear-shaped krabs because ordinary "D's" weren't good with double ropes, then sort of drifted into using HMS's. It's what I meant by "spurious historical reasons".
It's just that all the textbooks seem to assume use of an HMS for belaying.
Over the years I've seen some truly appalling things become fashionable, sometimes with fatal results. The improvised tragsitz and mariner knot spring to mind.
My HMS screwgates tend to stay in the gear cupboard these days, although for trad I do carry one mini-HMS (DMM Sentinel, I think) which at belays gives me the option of a second clove hitch in the same crab without one getting stuck in the nose.
Sorry, just realised I never replied to this.
We'll go with frustration!
(As it happens, I wasn't thinking of RPs, but the smaller regular wires. Add in my ample frame and an over-attentive belayer... Anyway.)
Elsewhere on the site
The Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art... Read more
2012 saw the release of the beautiful first volume of definitive Yorkshire Gritstone climbing, produced by the YMC with Robin... Read more
The Women's Mountain Equipment Cho Oyu Jacket is the perfect choice for female mountaineers an explorers who... Read more
Over the years I've been asked many times about work as a Rope Access technician, often by Instructors and Guides working for... Read more
Backpackers want an extremely liveable and lightweight tent at good price. MSR answers the call with the Elixir 2 tent and... Read more