/ Standing whilst belaying from the top of a crag
And you might get a wet bum if its wet!!!
Nope, you're right. It is daft. It should only be done of the anchors are above you.
It's a lot better for hauling an overweight second who can't get up the pitch! As long as you are leaning tightly on the anchors, your feet are well apart and the pull is in line with the belay there is no problem, a second will not make a long fall - if it looks as if he could, on a traverse or something then sitting might be better, and he wouldn't be too happy about being hauled on a traverse anyway :-)
most can leg press 2 times body weight.
i suppose if you were giving him 10m of slack it might be an issue.
all the falls i have held of my seconds (which are hundreds!) I have only needed to weight the gear once. the rest I i could have held unsecured. why weight the anchors?
One of the reasons I might stand is to move to better protect a traverse (with belays well back)!
I see a lot of people sat belaying with the rop over their leg as well, which is utterly stupid in my opinion. Should the rope be weighted it's gonna hurt and you're stuck.
I have seen this a lot, at least once at each crag I've visited so far.
In response to "why weight the anchors" I have to ask "why not weight he anchors"? Why bother building them if you don't intend to use them?
It's a good way if you need to watch your second. If they fall you can hold them without your legs giving way. Used to work well with a shoulder belay.
You must have astonishingly weak legs.
why weight the anchors?
Because thats what they're set up for. Might as well go back to body belaying otherwise
they are snug but I have not needed them to stop me being pulled over the edge is all I was saying.
you use your body to cushion the shock load onto the anchors thus reducing it hence indirect rather than direct belaying. probably easier to use your body in this way in a standing position as your leg muscles can be used.
also bloody handy for hauling sacks of spuds up climbs!
It can look a bit sketchy, and I bet you wouldn't want to do it with someone my size slapping about on second, but it's not as bad as sitting on your knees http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=62636
You've missed something.
1. In the case of a traverse it allows the belayer to move along the top of the crag, effectively giving the climber a top-rop throughout, rather than a potentially dangerous swing. If you've got a nervous second then it tends to be appreciated.
2. It's a lot easier to haul a second up if you are standing.
3. Your legs can take an awful lot more than the climbers weight.
4. If you've got really long anchor ropes then sitting on the very edge is dodgy, as there's a potential for rope stretch to put you over the edge. Standing a couple of feet back means you can tilt the top half of your body and still see the climber, but also allow some contingency stretch.
5. You can often see the climber better from standing anyway.
6. If anything goes wrong you've got more freedom to move, you've not anchored in one place. Getting up from a sitting position whilst holding a belayers weight is very difficult.
However, in general, I agree with you. Sitting is better if anchors are at ground level, but as long as you are aware it comes with its own limitations then you can make a judgement on a route-by route basis as to which is the lesser of all the various evils. There's no hard and fast rules. In some places sitting down may not work, simply from the topology of the rock - sitting at the edge may be unstable, standing a couple of feet back stable.
e.g. I generally belay from standing if it's Lady Blue seconding, as she weighs a lot less than me, and I can easily hold her weight. Also as I tend to drag her up routes that are hard for her, hauling may be required.
If it's my mate Nick (17st) then I'm generally very well anchored indeed and sitting down, and may well have him on a more-or-less direct belay, as indirect tends to be uncomfortable. Saying that, on a recent traverse I was standing, as I judged that being able to give him a top-rope and hence no swing on a route that was top end for him and where he wasn't very confident where he might fall off (he did) was more important than discomfort for me. I held him fine, and certainly didn't buckle to me knees, or even close.
Like I re-iterate, depends on the situation. In most things in climbing there's no totally hard and fast rules, but you adapt what you know to the situation at hand.
I have personal experience of being injured whilst doing this. Was belaying a few years ago at top of crag exactly as you describe. My second (who I still couldnt see) took an unexpected fall off a small overhang, my left leg buckled, there was a loud snap as a tendon popped. I will add here that I do not have weak legs, quite the opposite after years of mtbing. I was out of climbing and walking for 6 months, had to go to dozens of physio sessions, and still now have a noticeable weakness in that ankle.
So my advice would be dont do it, and if you feel you really have to, brace yourself and concentrate.
Standing up , not weighting the anchors, using your big butch legs, having to haul people up climbs because they aren't good enough to do the route, taking 2nds who aren't competant enough on traverses etc are all bad ideas.
I generally agree wth you, but there are situations where it isn't the best idea in my view.
I'll give a (recent) example. Route was a traverse, ending up an arete, and whilst the arete was easy (ish) - VS -, either face was hard for the second (one was E4 IIRC, the other E1). If I'd sat down on the edge I'd have blocked the climbers top-out, If I'd sat to either side then the climber, coming off the arete, would have swung badly, and the climber would have had a nasty fall if they came offf the arete, so I set the achors up so I could move to protect the traverse, and so that at any point on the route three anchors (my mate Nick again) were in direct line from me to the climber.
Sitting down would have:
a) blocked the climbers exit from the route
b) not protected the traverse
c) resulted in a big swing if the climber came off
I get the feeling, however, that you're not actually interested in reasoned arguments, have been told that sitting down is the only option by some instructor (incidentally, I'm SPA trained) and have been repeating it as a mantra ever since without actually thinking too much about it.
I stand to belay nearly all the time so I can see what's going on. When the situation really demands it for safety reasons, I sit. If the anchors are at foot level, I'll have set them up to take an upward pull. I should probably sit more, just for the sake of having a rest, but it has honestly never been much of an issue. A heavy second slumping on the rope might "buckle" my legs, forcing me into a sit position, as you describe in your OP, but everything remains safe (the second just slumps a bit further i.e. the length of their slump on rope stretch PLUS the length of my legs), so that can be awkward, but never unsafe.
It might just be that my seconds rarely fall, admittedly !
> I have personal experience of being injured whilst doing this. Was belaying a few years ago at top of crag exactly as you describe. My second (who I still couldnt see) took an unexpected fall off a small overhang, my left leg buckled, there was a loud snap as a tendon popped. I will add here that I do not have weak legs, quite the opposite after years of mtbing. I was out of climbing and walking for 6 months, had to go to dozens of physio sessions, and still now have a noticeable weakness in that ankle.
> So my advice would be dont do it, and if you feel you really have to, brace yourself and concentrate.
I've seen people dragged over the edge (because either one anchor popped or there was more slack in the system than they thought) luckily they were already sitting down or it could have been a lot worse. Sitting down helps protect against further issues that can arise due to human error.
Generally I think it's better practice to sit down if the anchors are at feet level (and there are no other mitigating circumstances) because you are then not relying on the anchors as much. Many seconds could easily be held from a sitting position without relying on the anchors. I suspect you'd fail or atleast get picked up on it for various instructor qualifications doing it (in the general case when it would be easy to sit down)
Generally I belay according to what suits,but would say that standing up sometimes allows me to photograph the second more readily(They know that I am photographing them and I have them held tight with the non-camera hand).
The bad thing for me when belaying stood up is if there is a second who is struggling,I then tend to lean over, and find that the forces on my back are severe, resulting in a painful back later.
When belaying sat down I prefer if there is at least one good foothold,as you may be surprised one time in a lifetime when one of your anchors gives through rock deterioration(see thread above about crags falling down)or for other reasons.
I would agree about one of the points above, that you do have to move somewhat when the second comes over the top in some situations.I have also had the rope move and end up over my leg when the second fell, so that is also a valid point from above.
Incidentally, I am not suggesting standing belaying teetering on the very edge. A foot or so back from the edge minimum, probably more like two, and I repeat again my view that "generally sitting is better, however standing is occasionally necessary".
I'd be interested to know how "sit down ALWAYS" mantra translates to big multi-pitch stuff (of which I've done my fair share) and hanging belays.
> I'd be interested to know how "sit down ALWAYS" mantra translates ... hanging belays.
Let's not enter the realm of the facetious.
Good to see you've entered the spirit of it. Where I really wish I'd done sit-down belays is on Lliwedd. 9 hours entirely on my feet in climbing shoes was a a bit dumb. As was being on entirely the wrong line for a whole mountain route :-)
"I'd be interested to know how "sit down ALWAYS" mantra translates to big multi-pitch stuff (of which I've done my fair share) and hanging belays. "
In gerneal John I agree with your view that many things in climbing are best assessed to the current situation rather than always done one way or the other.
I remember standing for a 20ft route once balying Lady Blue, where I was aware that the route was hard for her, but there was a route next door which she'd easily get up, and given she might divert I was standing so I could move over to accomodate her possible diversion (she hates swings).
Some guy had a right go at me for standing up, pointing out that "I'm a qualified SPA climbing instructor y'know", and then went downstairs and had a go at Lady Blue for her method of tying in.
I pointed out the reasons why I was standing, he repeated the sit down ALWAYS mantra with added aggro, I mentioned that I'd climbed 3,000 routes outside up to E4-ish without incident, and whilst I didn't have the bit of paper (at that point, true) I possibly did have enough experience to make a judgement call.
He stomped off.
As I say, don't get me wrong (not really directed at you, but others), sitting is best most of the time - I'd say 50%+ of my belays I'm sitting, but sometimes it's not the best idea, and even if it is, it (in my view) is good practice to know the advantages and disadvantages of any particular method so you can correctly apply them to the situation at hand, whatever that might be.
I would imagine that you are sitting on more than 50% of your belays where you are belaying a second up and the anchors are at foot level tho'.
> I would imagine that you are sitting on more than 50% of your belays where you are belaying a second up and the anchors are at foot level tho'.
You seem to attract a lot of people wanting to have a go at you. Nobody has ever questioned my actions at the crag, apart from friends whose advice is welcome. Maybe I smell.
Good discussion. Some interesting situations where standing might have its advantages. However, I would have thought that the default option should still be sitting at the edge of the crag with the ropes to the anchors pretensioned. I am sure that holding a second while standing is perfectly feasible as long as you are not caught off guard, but it would certainly become pretty uncomfortable if the second were to dangle for any length of time. I would always sit unless there were particular reasons to stand. Standing might be fine as long as you are aware of its pitfalls and limitations. However, like many non-standard techniques I am sure it is all too commonly done inadvisably by inexperienced climbers in inappropriate situations, perhaps having seen experiened climbers doing it for good reasons.
Very good points Robert.
Pretty much my take on it. I think it was probably more the 'norm' in days gone by (certainly there is a lot of pictures of people body belaying like this).
I think its more the crag than the person: some places seem to attract belay nazis. People can rant all they like but I will continue to do things like belaying standing up from time to time for the reasons John_Hat details nicely. I also still occasionally shoulder belay...did it yesterday on a mod... keeps me in practice for the day that there is no belay (usually as I've used all the gear the size I needed). I think it's down to the fact some climbers don't really understand that climbing fundamentally has risks (ie full risk reduction is completely futile) and we all need to adjust risk to circumstance. One-size-fits-all solutions and fixed views are the opposite of what I want in my climbing, partly as I want more options when somthing unusual happens.
I disagree I think most climbers realise living has risks that cannot be mitigated or reduced to zero, let alone climbing. I think the main issues here are:
- People pick up bad habits (like normally standing when belaying at the top of the crag when anchors are at foot level, or normally standing a good way back from the crag when belaying etc).
- People like to try and apply blanket rules to things (especially when learning as its easier to learn these than learn all the factors that need risk assessed).
To my mind it simply depends where the anchors are and the angle/line of rope through you down to the second. Sometimes sitting is better, sometimes standing is better and it's fairly easy to tell which at the time.
I agree that if the anchors are at foot level at the back of the ledge you're belaying from then standing is a bit silly. Should the second come off, if you aren't pulled straight over (likely) then at the very least it would be very uncomfortable.
seems i've started an interesting debate.
I've never had instruction, i learned the basics from a mate and picked up the rest along the way (so no must sit mantra drilled into me) and i've always thought that standing when anchors aren't above your waist just doesn't look like the way to do things. i can understand what's been said about hauling, and to an extent traverses. but where does the notion that a sitting belayer can't move come from? I accept it's not as mobile, but i regularly move along the edge a little for a traverse, or move my legs out the way of a top out. with 3 anchors you can generally move a bit and still have at lest 2 well tensioned. i guess in a similar way to what people who stand for traveres may do.
Now i ubderstand a little more, i may try it in rare circumstances, but i still think that with low anchors 98% of the time sitting must be the way to go
In terms of traverses, I was thinking more than a few feet - say stuff 10ft-15ft or more... whilst its possible to bottom shuffle that distance, the crag-top terrain is generally not in your favour!
If you are sitting on the edge with tight belays straight back as soon as you shuffle any distance sideways your legs are on top: this is impractical for moving.
I really don't get all this being pulled over when standing unless the belayer is not applying the technique safely (slack in the system, balancing right on the lip, belays badly aligned etc). I've never seen a standing belayer pulled over by a falling second. I suspect given all the silly propaganda that this is because most people standing to belay probably know what they are doing. On the other hand I've seen quite a few scary occasions when people were pulled over by a falling second from a sitting belay (again all will be from poor belay use: either having too much slack in the system, or belays misaligned for the pull, or not tied in properly or forgetting if the belays are well back that the rope behind them will stretch). It's hard to concentrate on holding your second when your bum slips over the edge and the edge scrapes up your back. The key issue here is awareness and assessment of the belay, not automatic following of instructions.
Again, like you, I most commonly belay sitting down and I can see its utility in teaching beginners (like using a figure 8 and not talking about other options for tieing in) but the idea of experienced climbers NEVER belaying from standing is plain idiotic.
> If you are sitting on the edge with tight belays straight back as soon as you shuffle any distance sideways your legs are on top: this is impractical for moving.
> I really don't get all this being pulled over when standing unless the belayer is not applying the technique safely (slack in the system, balancing right on the lip, belays badly aligned etc). I've never seen a standing belayer pulled over by a falling second. I suspect given all the silly propaganda that this is because most people standing to belay probably know what they are doing. On the other hand I've seen quite a few scary occasions when people were pulled over by a falling second from a sitting belay (again all will be from poor belay use: either having too much slack in the system, or belays misaligned for the pull, or not tied in properly or forgetting if the belays are well back that the rope behind them will stretch). It's hard to concentrate on holding your second when your bum slips over the edge and the edge scrapes up your back. The key issue here is awareness and assessment of the belay, not automatic following of instructions.
> Again, like you, I most commonly belay sitting down and I can see its utility in teaching beginners (like using a figure 8 and not talking about other options for tieing in) but the idea of experienced climbers NEVER belaying from standing is plain idiotic.
seeing as the main advantage being touted for a standing belay is allowing the belayer to move from side to side perhaps you can explain how youd be able to prevent the belay from being "badly aligned" sounds plain dangerous to me. Id much rather a second took a wee bit of a swing than the standing belayer was slammed to the ground due to a badly aligned sideways pull!
Did you read andy mountains post higher up?
> seeing as the main advantage being touted for a standing belay is allowing the belayer to move from side to side perhaps you can explain how youd be able to prevent the belay from being "badly aligned"
Three point anchor. All three points equalised in a specific position. Set it up so there is some ability to shuffle left or right which will put slack onto one point but keep two points taut. Not ideal, but it works and I have tested it in anger. Scenario-specific of course - all points MUST be bomber, blah de blah
Personally i think youd be better with one attachment (possibly using multiple anchors) point a long way back. Having 3 seperate spaced points with slack on some of the anchors cant ever get you in to a better position angle wise than having one attachment point at your central anchor. Of course you could use some method of adjusting the anchors as you move......
to give the 15 feet of sideways motion mentioned the belayers anchors that are loaded would still at the extremeties be well to the side of the perpendicular to the cliff edge to the belayer (atleast 15 feet to the anchor taking the load), they would need to be a looong way back to make the side ways component of the force on the belayer negligable. How much rope do you have for the belay (and how strong your belayer / light your climber), also many crags dont have anchors that far back or have stuff in the way that would prevent the rope to the anchors moving freely.
> Personally i think youd be better with one attachment (possibly using multiple anchors) point a long way back. Having 3 seperate spaced points with slack on some of the anchors cant ever get you in to a better position angle wise than having one attachment point at your central anchor. Of course you could use some method of adjusting the anchors as you move......
Yes, that is a very good point! Remove the bit in my post where I talk about allowing slack in one of three, and we are approaching what you describe. Thank you; in the appropriate scenario I'll try that (NB it was not me going on about needing to move 15 ft in all directions :-) )
> I'll give a (recent) example. Route was a traverse, ending up an arete, and whilst the arete was easy (ish) - VS -, either face was hard for the second (one was E4 IIRC, the other E1). If I'd sat down on the edge I'd have blocked the climbers top-out, If I'd sat to either side then the climber, coming off the arete, would have swung badly, and the climber would have had a nasty fall if they came offf the arete, so I set the achors up so I could move to protect the traverse, and so that at any point on the route three anchors (my mate Nick again) were in direct line from me to the climber.
> Sitting down would have:
> a) blocked the climbers exit from the route
> b) not protected the traverse
> c) resulted in a big swing if the climber came off
> I get the feeling, however, that you're not actually interested in reasoned arguments, have been told that sitting down is the only option by some instructor (incidentally, I'm SPA trained) and have been repeating it as a mantra ever since without actually thinking too much about it.
Actually i'm very interested in reasoned arguments....(thanks for judging me!). For your information i've been climbign for around 10 years and have led many many hundreds of routes and obviously set up many belays in a wide variety of situations.
An spa qualification is the first tiny rung on a long ladder. I also have my spa and acknowledge that it really isn't worth anything. Anybody could pass the spa with a week or so of training.
Anyway back to your reasons for standing up.
1 - blocking the exit from a route - well it must have been a very small exit....
2 - Not protected a traverse - set the belay up in the middle (and take a competant second)
3 - A big swing - big deal??? (competant second who understands the risks inherant in climbing)
If you are stood up and moving sideways. Then unless you used a single thread your anchors will be getting loaded incorrectly. eg you will lose equalisation. You could of course use a sliding x but these are also not best practise.
What happens if your second does actually pull you over? Probably you/they will be fine. However there are many possibilities that could lead to another outcome.
I'm sorry but your reasoning just doesn't hold up. Standing up whilst belaying is appropriate sometimes but not often.
The last time I did it I had six anchor lines, three were perfect for the traverse, three were perfect for the arete. In the first part of the route I was tight on the first three, second part of the route I was tight on the second three, the bit in the middle was set so as I moved over the first anchor line went slack and the fourth tight, then the second went slack and the fifth tight, so at no point was I not tight on three anchors.
Took a while to set up, but with a 17st climber likely to fall off (he did) it was prudent to do so!
As to the sideways pull, that was unfortunately not totally avoidable due to the topology of the crag and available anchor points, but the anchors were a long way back (~30ft) which minimised it.
your first answer was as follows:
> Standing up , not weighting the anchors, using your big butch legs, having to haul people up climbs because they aren't good enough to do the > route, taking 2nds who aren't competant enough on traverses etc are all > bad ideas.
> SIT DOWN!!
And certainly gave the impression that you were not interested in reasoned arguments, and had a somewhat blinkered view of the world.
If that is not the case, fine.
As to your queries, sadly I actually have to do some work today, so don't really have time to explain in detail, and in any case without a diagram its incredibly difficult to actually explain the topology and why, in my view, the best answer for the situation was a standing belay. You kind of have to be there.
In any case, you said above
In which case we are mostly in agreement in any case.
One very major point that has been missed is what do you do if your second lunges and you have to catch the resulting fall, or when you get tired and stumble. The reflex reaction as you slump downwards will be to drop the rope.
In my limited experience of climbing I have only been instructed by 3 MIC's , 2 UIAGM Guides and 2 MIA's and its funny none of them taught us the correct way to belay at the top of a crag is to stand up. I can supply names and addresses if John Hat wants to call them up and tell them they have all been doing it wrong for so long .
Either I've missed something or you're not making sense - perhaps you need to explain your set up better. Anway if you were not re adjsuting the anchors in some way as you moved accross it doesn't make any difference to the angle of pull how many anchors were tight - you can't make the angle between the rope to the anchor taking the strain from the belayer and the perpendicular from the cliff edge to the belayer any more favourable than just having a central attachment point (possibly of a few closely placed pieces). Lets say at the left edge of the cliff you had the left anchors tight then either this would stop you moving right or the right anchors would never get tight. The same applies to anchors in the middle of the clif either these were tight when you were all the way left of they would never be tight (assuming the same left and right motion about the centre anchors!)
I think I have consistently said that sitting is both the best way to do it, but that standing is *sometimes* justified in *some* situations. If you can't read then I think the chances of a reasoned discourse is low...
Back to work...
> you can't make the angle between the rope to the anchor taking the strain from the belayer and the perpendicular from the cliff edge to the belayer any more favourable than just having a central attachment point (possibly of a few closely placed pieces).
Even then, anchors would become untensioned as you move from side to side. It would, of course, be fine if the anchors were vertically above one another.
> Some guy had a right go at me for standing up, pointing out that "I'm a qualified SPA climbing instructor y'know", and then went downstairs and had a go at Lady Blue for her method of tying in.
Turned out to be only second time trad and they had very little knowledge. After some further exchange of views they left the crag. Meet them later in the year and they have taken advice and undertaking a training course. He admitted he was just totally obvious to the dangers involved, and naive that he could have held his partner if she fell.
Okay, there is one thing I don't quite understand. Surely the last piece of protection dictates how the second is going to swing and not the position of the belayer? Surely a swing can be reduced not by a complicated 6 point anchor at the top 30 feet back (they must love you at the crag) but infact the careful placement of gear on the lead in the first place?
I imagine you will counter by saying sometimes, on harder routes the protection isn't there, but I imagine in such circumstances you have a steady competent second who accepts such risks in the first place. If he or she is not, then you have generally made a very poor choice of route. We also have a mountain biker (strong legs) warn of 6 months and rehabilitation and pain for using this practice. I think my seconds would rather take the swing, than risk my health to that degree.
It's a lot better for hauling an overweight second who can't get up the pitch!
Glad I'm not the only one who has had to do this. Thankfully for my knees the offending second no longer climbs though. Serious discussions were had about setting up some additional mechanical advantage for belaying him as he liked a very tight rope :-(
I have hauled seconds who are even hanging free doing a kind of deadlift where you brace the rope over the edge crouch down and take in as you do so then stand up with the tight rope and repeat. You can do this from being seated initially though.
I sit, but only because I'm lazy.
If he'd been free hanging I'd have tied him off, dropped him some prussiks and gone to the pub.
> . We also have a mountain biker (strong legs) warn of 6 months and rehabilitation and pain for using this practice. I think my seconds would rather take the swing, than risk my health to that degree.
I once did my back in whilst getting out of bed but nobody takes my argument that everyone should just stay in bed all day seriously.
> Okay, there is one thing I don't quite understand. Surely the last piece of protection dictates how the second is going to swing and not the position of the belayer?
In the particular route in question there was no protection in the last 10-15ft. It wasn't hard climbing, just not very protected. Equally I didn't know that when I started - what looked like good breaks from the ground turned out to be rounded and flared sh*te, as often happens! As a result I ended up at the top with most of my rack still around my waist, hence the ability to set up 6 anchor points!
I find the idea that you shouldn't do routes unless you can sit down at the top and/or have a perfect anchor a little strange. Not least that if you are on-sighting then you don't know the situation at the top when you set out.
You can do it off a single solid anchor like a big sling round a tree or a boulder; or with multiple placements aligned vertically or behind. You can easily sweep 40 degrees without any significant sideways force (especially when the friction of a weighted rope on an uneven edge edge is taken into account). As an example with a belay 10m back that gives you about 0.6m movement relative to the edge and cover for positions about 7m apart. I use it for nervous seconds, when something went wrong with protecting a traverse (for instance I may have needed to pull the rope through to get some gear for a belay as an example) or for checking a series of close spaced neighbour routes quickly in a row (lowering the climber between each climb and adjusting a clove hitch for position if required).
> I once did my back in whilst getting out of bed but nobody takes my argument that everyone should just stay in bed all day seriously.
This isn't exactly analogous, is it? Getting injured whilst climbing out of bed is ridiculous therefore getting injured while climbing is ridiculous? It is like me saying: "Most the time when I drink drive I get home fine therefore it is okay to drink drive". Obviously you are forced to point out to me that drink driving is nothing like belaying, but neither is getting out of bed...
What I meant to suggest is that one incident of something is not representative and while your own and others experiences can inform good practice you should keep a sense of proportion.
Learn from others experiences but use your own judgement in individual circumstances.
For what it's worth this discussion has made me think more about whether and when I should belay standing up and I think I'll make good choices in future.
Really, I got so far and then hurt my head on the keyboard when I fell asleep.........
I have not come across a single pitched route where I can not sit down, the whole definition of the top is basically more amenable ground where ropes are not required after bringing the second up. If I can not sit down, then I probably cannot stand comfortably either, thus I am probably not at the top.
I note here that the majority of objections come not from the standing up itself but standing up with the anchor at your feet, it is generally accepted that you want the anchor above you if possible but definitely not below you.
I'm not sure where I said you needed the perfect anchor, but I suppose you mean the obvious benefits enjoyed when the belayer is directly between the climber and the anchor. I.E. the ability to take the weight/and or fall of the other climber comfortably and in control (which is especially important if you are a 7 stone person belaying a 13 stone person), with greater margins of safety than if stood up and taking the brunt of the force on your person. Being in line with the anchors also makes it easier to un-weight yourself and escape the system in a emergency.
Also, the anchors will be stronger/and or quicker because they will be equalised properly to the position of the belayer. Obviously to construct a belay that will remain equalised, redundant and with little to no extension if a piece fails would take a lot more time to set up for a standing wandering belayer. Also, as mentioned above the belayer in order to move has to adjust the anchor, taking both his hand and attention away from the job at hand.
In light of the above, in my opinion, careful reduction of a potential swing by gear placements, route/second choice, position at the top of the climb is by far the better method opposed to standing up and moving around at the top of the climb in order keep the rope above the second. If the former methods are not possible then in the vast majority of circumstances the swing is still favorable to a compromised belay/belayer as described above.
The matter we are talking about is not a one off incident and neither is it hard to find the cause for the injury, it is quite predicable that putting a large amount of force on your body can lead to injury, thus is best avoided. Injuring yourself getting out of bed is much more difficult to predict therefore not the same.
> Really, I got so far and then hurt my head on the keyboard when I fell asleep.........
Serves you right for reading a UKC thread without proper head support. Predictable injury.
I think 20 degrees to the anchors is pushing it and you are exagerating the effect friction will have on the rope, 5-10 degrees is more like a safe limit. In most cases the force of the tension in the rope at the belay device caused by second falling will actually exceed body weight even taking friction in to account at the edge.
Also the times when you can actually get anchors 10 meters back which will allow you to move significantly from side to side without nearer obstructions getting in the way are limited.
Probably brittle knees, I know someone who's professional climbing career was ended by it.
"I think 20 degrees..." Think away... as for the rest I can do the sums and I've held falls so I know its OK and what it feels like. On the obstructed 10m counter-example if the situation doesn't fit the use, you do something else.
I'm not going to convince you or vice-versa so we will both have to live with that. However I've not seen any cogent arguments here yet why I shouldn't continue to occasionally use it (with the extra care it neccesitates).
Its a valid point, if taken in full, eg standing up belaying with anchors at feet is daft.
This is pretty much standard at single pitch crags, so whilst not doubting there could be exceptions it would be the norm. to sit in order to be lower than/ level with anchors.
Traverses - seconds can usually be well protected by protection placed on the lead, & it is possible to move & adjust anchors whilst sitting if the need arises.
Multi pitch different as it is often possible to use anchors at or above head height so standing up would be fine.
How do you safely adjust an anchor while sitting if the second is nervous and likely to fall? How do you protect the second if you've screwed up the gear (or there was no gear). My risk assessment sometimes leads me to abandon the ideal of a sitting belay and stand-up to enable movement instead and choose the best anchors for that scenario (ie as high as you can and in any case at least a few metres back).
I had once finished seconding a pitch and was standing near to the top of the route, quite comfy, chatting to my belayer who was standing.
However, I was actually holding on to a thick tree root. The root really unexpectedly snapped and I flew down the route, looking up to see my belayer being suddenly pulled to the ground. He didn't get to brace himself against the fall, and he was yelling in pain and had gone all white - I thought he might faint! (at the time, I thought ' oh my god! the rope has sheared his bollocks in half!). As quickly as I could, I got back on the rock, really worried that he would just let go of the rope in his agony!!!
Luckily, he had simply been impaled through the leg by a sharp stick, managed to keep hold of the rope and everyone lived to tell the tale.
I don't see anything wrong with standing to belay if the position of anchors and stance dictates it but am puzzled that 'being able to move about' is being put forward as a good argument for it. I tend to think that if there's a long traverse below the top then you're unlikely to be able to move that sort of distance (to remain directly above the second) and still remain well-positioned on your anchors, and if it's only a short traverse below the top then the second won't swing far anyway.
It's often best to belay at the edge for a variety of reasons including being able to see and communicate with the second and to stop the rope running over the edge (which would happen if you were further back). In my experience if you try and move laterally while remaining tight on the anchors (desirable!) you'll either end up moving away from the edge or over it.
Another little point lets imagine setting up a bottom rope anchor, top krab over the edge etc...Now would you attach yourself (standing of course) just behind that top krab and stand there whilst I use the set up.....mind i'll be falling lots :)
I'm sorry but all your previous points about being able to move/blocking an exit etc just don't hold water.
I've also just shown this thread to my mate who is an mia and he agrees with me - if the anchors are at ground level then there is virtually no reason to stand whilst belaying a 2nd. It is not best practise and shouldn't be done.
Off hand I can't think of anyone I climb with who belays sitting down as a matter of course.
As pointed out it was normal for gentleman of a certain vintage :P
Agreed, but the original post said that anchors where at feet level.
In that case if standing you could be creating a upward pull on anchors (again, could be ok if you have set your anchors with this in mind) & you are likely to be forceably pulled downwards in the event of an unexpected fall, risking injury to yourself & second & possibility of losing hold of the rope.
Is it not standards practice to position yourself below or at least level with your anchors? - This really is the question being posed, not whether you choose to stand, kneel or sit
Look at the example I used above. 10m with a +/-20 degreee clear fan isn't so uncommon on the top of a climb and that gives 7m lateral movement with only 60cm movement relative to the crag edge.
A scenario: you've climbed a route on a single rope and something means that the pro won't protect the second for a hard move with a swing hazzard towards a hard exit 10m across to one side (so you cant safely belay anywhere near the exit). Attach sling to a tree/boulder 10m back and half way between the two positions and the moving system makes life safe for the second. Another solution is to set up two belays but safe ropework for this can be tricky. Alternately you could decide its not safe for the second to climb and ab to clear the gear (this is not always an option though... consider a finish of a multipitch).
Is that a member if the Mia Farrow sect? Lucky him!
Could be anywhere with an unprotected move where a swing towards a belay off to one side would be serious, even 20m or 30m down.
Go try it, people have been badly injured in such circumstances. In any case in my scenario the belay also needs to protect a second crux exit. A moving belay is simple and effective and much safer than sitting in the middle and hoping for the best.
SO you say offwidth, I'd like to see you hold someone a fair bit heavier than you in this case, I think your legs will crumple and it will end up more dangerous.
"Oh and those 100 feet runouts and the second is worried about a swing?"
Depends on the climb and the climbers. I've done unprotected sections of a climb with a second technically capable of the moves but not wanting any boldness but thats unusual, most often in places like Tuolumne or Joshua Tree. The more likely UK scenario is where the traverse is closer to the top or the route shorter (Great Slab) but in my case its also been due to a gear f*ck up where it's better to pull the ropes as I do have the option of a moving belay to remove other hazzards I've introduced inadvertantly. To me it really doesn't matter why the situation ocurs it's what to do when it does, as it's a convenient way of protecting two positions laterally seperated by a significant distance (and that significance depends on how nervous the second is). At the end of the day I most commony use it route checking where my second climbs the route I led then drops down to look at the route(s) off to the side next door that we don't feel like leading.
I think my brain is closer to crumpling with this idiotic line of argument as my whole point was that I understand the benefits of sitting down but will also adjust to the situation I find myself in and do stand sometimes. My legs have held out pretty well so far but to be fair all my most common climbing partners are around 3-5 stone lighter than me and I dont get heavier partners very often.
OK then: on the worst case of the example I gave just to make it clear the distance down isn't really so relevant. Belay 10m back, first crux 30m down with a 10m traverse thrown in that still leaves me 10m to spare on my standard 60m rope. I wonder how many big bold granite routes you've done to be such a smart arse.
> Agreed, but the original post said that anchors where at feet level.
> In that case if standing you could be creating a upward pull on anchors (again, could be ok if you have set your anchors with this in mind) & you are likely to be forceably pulled downwards in the event of an unexpected fall, risking injury to yourself & second & possibility of losing hold of the rope.
> Is it not standards practice to position yourself below or at least level with your anchors? - This really is the question being posed, not whether you choose to stand, kneel or sit
Yes I realised that, and yes in those circumstances sitting would be best. I was countering the general tone of the thread that standing up to belay was likely to cause all manor of problems.
Never happened to me. I have held falls and rests of someone heavier than me while standing and higher than my anchors if there is no chance of the anchor coming off. You're legs arent just going buckle unless there is a massive weight difference on the side of the second to the belayer.
If I have a sling over a stake and there is a chance of the sling sliding up the stake I will make an effort to get lower, but sometimes standing can get a better view or I can direct the rope better over sharp edges.
It is good practice to do what is practical and safest at the time in those circumstances with that particular climber and that particular climb.
...but it does depend on the situation. I think the time when my belayer collapsed, he was a very strong guy, and heavier than me, but his belays were lower than him and the ground he was standing on wasn't completely flat, but sloped a bit downwards towards the edge. It was also covered in dry dust and leaves. I fell very suddenly and unexpectedly, and he was immediately pulled to the ground, with no chance to brace himself.
Oh - his legs didn't buckle, either. They just were pulled out from under him, straight down. (the force just pulled his bottom to the floor, basically, with his legs sliding forwards).
No offence intended but if he was belaying correctly it should never have been unexpected and he should already should have been braced for a fall. Whether sitting or standing the belayer should be ready to take a fall and have an idea of where and how he is going to be pulled when it happens.
Too right! He wasn't belaying correctly. I had more or less finished the route and was quite relaxed and chatting, which is why he wasn't braced for a fall, and his body position, the position of the anchors and the shape and texture of the ground were all unforgiving.
However, noone died, and he was only impaled a bit, so it all came out ok in the end. :-)
He only went a couple of feet, but that was enough to generate force which sat me down instantly (strong legs or not), which gave him a bit more slack and caused more force to be generated, and he slipped down a little further before I arrested the fall. No-one was hurt, although he was rather annoyed. I always sat down and kept tight onto the anchors after that and held many a sudden fall without incident.
This one is running on! Just one question, are you all thinking of belaying with a belay device when standing? This is what the last few posts seem to imply... I was thinking in terms of bringing up a second with a waist or shoulder belay, and not leaving any slack - hence my remark about pulling him up. I haven't tried standing up using a device.
I once led a E1 with a better than me second.
He ripped a hold, fell off and I went flying into a rock. Nasty shin cut and bash elbow.
Eather sit down or concentrate.
I nearly allway belay at the top with a reverso on , you can relax and get good pictures as long as you remember to take in and you have a solid belay.
If the belay is dodgy then it needs to be dynamic , which means you need to Absorb the force of any fall.
So different teckneaks for different situations.
I'm no warrier, just an experienced bumbly who's been climbing longer than you have lived. The belay doesn't takes 20m (going there and back) as the rope likely won't reach that far... so you use all the slings you have (on long stuff I always have one 16' plus a few 8' ones... unless these got used); or worst case, tie near the end of the rope to the belay, pull up as much slack as you can and clove hitch further down the rope, untie from the end and walk back to the edge and adjust the clove hitch as required.
My record scary unprotected run-out to a belay was a 45m 5.6 (an obscure variant in Tuolumne) and I also already said above that there may be no effective gear on the rope because on a single pitch Ive pulled the rope through the gear and thrown it back down (to sort out a problem). There are also unprotected routes with exposed crux moves not far above the start where swings into the ground might be an issue if the belay is in the wrong place. However, its seems to me that is just a spin off from you obsessing on the 30m issue... Again as I've said above the more realistic scenario is a traverse closer to the top. 20m or 30m only came into it to make the point that depending on the circumstances a 10m pendulum could still be serious a good way down and I'm not a little worried that you dont see this, yet you are concerned about stand-up belaying!?
Seems a lot of people on this thread who have found belaying standing up can be quite dangerous, no doubt they were all doing it wrong though and you concentrate 100% of the time plus have very strong legs right?
Wonderful, I can see the steam coming out of their ears now! I wonder how these kids think people used to belay in the old days before there was anything other than a rope sling.
It seems to me that a number of people find climbing dangerous yet they still do it? It seems to me that people solo yet cannot concentrate 100% of the time so thats just stupid?? It seems that some Himalayan peaks have a kill rate for summiters similar to Russian Roulette yet some people still climb them??? We assess the risks and we act within our own variants of this great game.
> Yes I realised that, and yes in those circumstances sitting would be best. I was countering the general tone of the thread that standing up to belay was likely to cause all manor of problems.
Aha. So you where taking the piss.
I bet you sit down for that too.
> This one is running on! Just one question, are you all thinking of belaying with a belay device when standing? This is what the last few posts seem to imply... I was thinking in terms of bringing up a second with a waist or shoulder belay, and not leaving any slack - hence my remark about pulling him up. I haven't tried standing up using a device.
There was no slack when I fell off - it was just very unexpected and very sudden. I don't think a body belay would make that much difference, but who knows - these things are never exact, are they?
> Wonderful, I can see the steam coming out of their ears now! I wonder how these kids think people used to belay in the old days before there was anything other than a rope sling.
Some of us were brought up on body belays. :-) I remember being advised to wear 'a long sleeved shirt with a collar', so that you would be ok for the classic abseils :-)
I am not too keen on the argument that you f*ck up a lot and end up pulling the rope up, i would hate to be your second on a multipitch traverse or a windy day. If there is a dangerous traverse you take care to protect it properly with gear and the last thing you do is pull all the rope through and try chuck it back. It appears so far that standing up and messing about with anchors 30 feet back whilst f*cking about with a clove hitch is to compensate for being a careless leader. Try again.
> Wonderful, I can see the steam coming out of their ears now! I wonder how these kids think people used to belay in the old days before there was anything other than a rope sling.
Yes, you look down on those kids whilst you're busy 10m back making a 6 point anchor then making sure the rope is positioned perfectly above your seconds head trying to make it 'safer'. Just because your attempt to make it safer backfires doesn't mean you're being outrageous.
A lot of people sit down whilst belaying. Quite a lot stand.
There is no absolute right or wrong. It depends on circumstances. Its good to be able to do whichever is appropriate.
I suspect that the inveterate sitters may be usually on single pitch routes whilst those habitual standers may be habituated to multi-pitch stances but that is purely hypothesis on my part and something I WILL NOT be drawn into argument about.
We really do get very worked up about relatively trivial things don't we.....
I don't think its trivial when people claim something is unnecesarily dangerous, always, when in some occasional circumstances it can be a safer way to belay and even when its not its hardly massively risky if you pay proper attention (and less risky that some other pretty common forms of climbing). I think my young rOxOr friend is getting so incoherent he must be a troll on a 10 minute argument for the sake of it, so I am giving up on him.
I agree! I tend to be a 'stander' myself (though with old age creping in I do find it gets to me back a bit). But getting aerated about it....?
For what its worth I think that the folks posting on here who believe there is a correct/best practice/regulation/universal method of dealing with things are likely to be the ones at most risk as their ability to improvise and cope with the irregular world can be hampered. But lets not get too emotional about knots and stuff........
> >in some occasional circumstances it can be a safer way to belay and even when its not its hardly massively risky
> I agree! I tend to be a 'stander' myself (though with old age creping in I do find it gets to me back a bit). But getting aerated about it....?
> For what its worth I think that the folks posting on here who believe there is a correct/best practice/regulation/universal method of dealing with things are likely to be the ones at most risk as their ability to improvise and cope with the irregular world can be hampered. But lets not get too emotional about knots and stuff........
I don't think no one thinks there is a universal method for everything, but generally stating that people should generally be flexible doesn't either way prove or disprove anything. If someone say, thinks putting on flippers while belaying is a good idea, I don't think he'll be given a pass straight away under a general maxim of "climbing has a variety of techniques to be used in different situations", however much I agree with it.
The fact that belaying is starting to affect your back is probably a indication that you could be making it easier and safer for yourself. I have not yet read a argument that persquades me that the technique is something that I need/would encourage others to adopt.
Just my opinion though I would never feel i've got the authority to complain at climbers for doing it different, at the end of the day its their life...
The shock load is affected by the elasticity of the rope and never gets even vageuly close to 10 times body weight... holding that level of force would hurt even sitting down. The real shock load is little more than body weight and this is why people have been holding falls like this when standing up for well over a hundred years, and in the early days with shoulder belays. You do need to be much more careful when belaying standing up as a sudden force a good deal less than bodyweight catching you unawares and/or not braced could pull you over or hurt your legs.
No, you are incorrect. When you fall your bodyweight is exactly the same as when you climb. You probably mean to say that the forces required to halt the fall are higher than the forces required to stop the climber falling (the former being dependent on the acceleration ((a+g)*mass) and the latter being body weight (g*mass)).
The question becomes "can a standing climber safely hold a 2nd's fall"? The long answer is "It depends on how big the fall is (and other factors)" but for the most part the short answer is "Yes".
The reason is that most 2nd falls are simple slumps onto the rope which can easily be held because the fall is very short and the acceleration is low. I know this for a fact because I have held falls from standing on several occasions.
I'll qualify it with this - obviously there are many factors to take into account, length of fall, sideways pulls, stance, double loading anchors etc etc which mean, as with any other climbing issue, judgement must be used.
However, with the right anchor, right climb, right climber belaying standing up can the right thing to do - you can get better visibility and communication and can more easily adjust the belay to assist the climber. In some circumstances (eg alpine climbing / winter climbing) you may elect to use your body in this way to cushion dodgy anchors.
Calling someone a f*cking idiot here for this, especially when you are clearly talking out of your arse is quite uncalled for.
> The shock load is affected by the elasticity of the rope and never gets even vageuly close to 10 times body weight... holding that level of force would hurt even sitting down. The real shock load is little more than body weight and this is why people have been holding falls like this when standing up for well over a hundred years, and in the early days with shoulder belays. You do need to be much more careful when belaying standing up as a sudden force a good deal less than bodyweight catching you unawares and/or not braced could pull you over or hurt your legs.
C'mon. No profile. This is almost the only post ever. And you BIT?
It will pass, be seated.
>... and in the early days with shoulder belays.
Not so much of the "early" days if you don't mind!
> The question becomes "can a standing climber safely hold a 2nd's fall"? The long answer is "It depends on how big the fall is (and other factors)"
I would think the biggest factor would be how heavy your second is...
In addition to the general lack of a wider discussion, it surprises me that people willing put forward fairly weak arguments. Doggedly repeating variations of the line 'I've done it for years and never had a problem' adds little. That argument never works and certainly does not work here in the face of first hand testimony from the likes of 'Andy Mountains' that belaying (with a belay plate) standing up with low anchors is unquestionably dangerous. I can just see no justification for ever doing it.
That said, the arguments (and digressions on shoulder/body belays) have unfortunately obscured discussion of the fact that belaying sitting down often has multiple and numerous disadvantages. As such, I certainly view it as a the LAST option and never the default option. I always make an effort to belay standing rather than sitting, but certainly not with low anchors.
Even on a classic single pitch crag like Stanage, I would fully expect to be able to belay on perhaps half of the routes in a standing position with HIGH anchors, either through appropriate selection and rigging or through choice of a stance on a slightly lower ledge.
At what angle does a low anchor become an issue? Its clearly nonsensical to belay standing with runners right next to your feet yet that's not what I and others here were defending (situations where belays may be lower than your waist but much further back and where standing might give an advantage to counter the disadvantage). So at what point do you accept standing as being OK?... belays a few meters back and up a bit?? Bearing in mind that with a belay at 90 degrees to your waist your legs will take a lot of loading in a fall when standing.
I think reporting long experience in climbing is important evidence irrespective of the fact it provides no proof. A minority here are asserting anything from its almost impossible to hold falls from a standing belay, to the fact its very dangerous to hold falls this way.. a clearly ludicrous assertion given the experience of some climbers facing no problems for decades. They report accidents standing, I reported sitting down accidents; people do belay badly at times and the less you pay attention the more likely things will go wrong (some bad accidents I've seen were from people being bottom roped incompetantly indoors).
That tends to be my thinking though my stance tends to be dependent on the position of the anchors rather than the other way round.
Like I said, my own fall (as a second) pulled my belayer to the ground. It isn't exactly the same as giving someone a piggy back, with things coming into play such as your preparedness for the fall, your body position, the slope and texture of the ground etc.
Have you never seen someone fall to the ground when giving a piggy back? Is it impossible?
> Like I said, my own fall (as a second) pulled my belayer to the ground.
Well, to be blunt, unless it was a very exceptional set of circumstances, I'd give your belayer a boot up the arse because he wasn't belaying very well, not paying attention and not having the rope appropriately snug (not tight) so he doesn't get much if any shock loading.
> Have you never seen someone fall to the ground when giving a piggy back? Is it impossible?
I've never seen the piggyback giver collapse to the ground, no, not unless they were pissed, or unless the piggybacker was of the larger variety (in which case see my first post about weight of the second being the biggest factor in holding second falls while standing up).
> In addition to the general lack of a wider discussion, it surprises me that people willing put forward fairly weak arguments. Doggedly repeating variations of the line 'I've done it for years and never had a problem' adds little. That argument never works and certainly does not work here in the face of first hand testimony from the likes of 'Andy Mountains' that belaying (with a belay plate) standing up with low anchors is unquestionably dangerous. I can just see no justification for ever doing it.
Both the injury examples given in this thread have come with the caveat that the belayer wasn't braced against the anchors and wasn't paying as much attention as he could have. In the face of that, saying you can see no justification for standing while belaying is a slightly hysterical over-reaction and rather absurd. It's always going to be a judgement call on the part of the belayer as to whether in a particular circumstance standing is safe or not. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Perhaps you should pay more attention to those who claim to have years of experience and haven't had a problem and under what circumstances they wouldn't think it ok to stand as their lack of incidents suggests they are making this particular judgement call correctly the vast majority of the time.
If you recall, the scenario put forward by the OP was that low anchors are in use (such as is common at the top of an outcrop).
I agree that standing is normally better if you have the facility of belays above waist level, but I haven't seen anything on here to suggest that standing up with low anchors is better than sitting. Obviously I've had the experience of holding falls with both and the sitting one beat the standing version hands down.
The idea that the second man is always tight to the rope seems puzzling. If you can't see him (not uncommon), how do you take in before the rope goes even slightly slack? There has to be a small loop of slack if he moves up quickly, no matter how attentive you are, and if he immediately then falls off (e.g. launches up, grabs for a hold and misses) he may well fall a couple of feet before the rope comes tight. That's OK if there are a few runners to absorb some of the force, in in my case outlined above there were none (nor did the rope run over the edge of the rock) and the force exerted was much more than the weight of the climber.
And although I'm sure we all concentrate as well as we can, most of us suffer moments of distraction and it's as well to build that into the equation from the start rather than imagining that we can all belay perfectly all the time.
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