/ How To Bail Off a Sport Route?
So I'm wondering, how people generally do it?
Maillon, lower off it. What's wrong with that?
Or, for those suitably equipped, sit on a bolt, get clipstick passed up / lower a loop of rope, clipstick to the top.
Personally, if I didn't trust a crag's bolting enough to lower off, I wouldn't be sport climbing there.
Thinking about it pragmatically, I'm fairly sure that the risk death/harm from lowering off a bolt you've just had a good look at is 0. More likely to catch a terminal illness from touching it, that kind of thing.
As for leaving things behind, maillons are very cheap, that's their point.
You're so much more likely to get hurt in pretty much everything else you do that day that trying to reduce the risk of lowering off a thoroughly inspected bolt is just throwing any understanding of probability out of the window.
It baffles me why some climbers want to reduce risks that are already tiny down to literally zero rather than essentially zero. Fine, it makes no odds to me, but I'm quite scared of the dangerous stuff I do, but quite relaxed about abbing off a single sling, lowering off a bolt, etc, where the chance of it going wrong are vanishingly small. Just my perspective: I think "what are the chances" and take it from there. Same reason I don't buy lottery tickets.
When you say you crow's foot a strop of the rope, do you mean a Lark's foot? It also sounds like you're using the same bolt on both occassions
How would that help with respect to not leaving stuff behind that gets in the way? If you're super-paranoid, you'll have to use thick cord, and then it'll get in the way.
I'm not just being an arsehole, honest, but you're trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. If you can thread the bolt, do that, if you can't, lower off it with the cheapest tat on your harness that you trust.
Immediately before lowering, tie a french prussik from you to the rope the other side of the bolt and slide down as you go. When you get to the draw, unclip it, take the draw out and carry on down, sliding the prussik as you go. If the bolt you are lowering off fails, you will come onto the next draw below you albeit via the prussik.I think this would be desparate last measures and don't fancy it, but I can see the logic. Anyone else heard/godforbid used it??
I think he/she is simply describing a standard lower-off but mid route, assuming staples
Another option often overlooked is just to climb down again stripping the draws as you go. May require a bit of controlled falling past any particularly hard bits but it's just the same as taking small leader falls and can be pretty quick and efficient on the right terrain.
There is one, totally safe option that no-one's mentioned yet.
You send your mate up to finish and strip the route for you.
That's what I do, anyway.
As others have stated already, you're over-analysing this. But if you're dead set on not doing a single bolt lower-off, dismantle the quickdraw and leave one crab on the upper-most bolt. Lower from this to the next one and do the same, then strip the remaining draws down to the ground. Two crabs 'abandoned' but you've lowered off two separate bolts and are safe on the ground. Personally I'd lower off a single 'bail mallion' or old crab, (assuming I'd given the bolt/staple a quick examination before hand). But if you're in doubt or you have concerns, play it safe and don't worry about leaving something in the bolt for others to retrieve or remove. They do and they will.
You are only using one anchor but I've done this a number of times, just make sure there no nasty sharp burrs on the hanger.
I think you're worrying about the wrong things here, but as far as I am aware the only way to retreat off a sport route protected by more than one bolt (most of the time) is to fully thread the bolt (i.e set up an abseil). If the bolt fails while you're doing this you're stuffed. Put a prusik above your belay plate (ie on the live rope) and get your mate to belay you loosely on both loose ends. If the bolt fails, you fall until you get caught by your mate on the next bolt and the prusik and your hand lock up your belay plate. This shonky bolt will no doubt also fail.
This is of course a complete waste of time and you're be better off lowering off an old krab or maillon and having a cup of tea.
I have done it once though, when the lower off point turned out to be a bit of fencing wire twisted around a single stud.
This is what you mean.
You can always use one of these: http://www.kong.it/I_frog.htm
It needs to be modified with a thin cord to allow remote release of the trigger from below. You lower off it and release it from the bolt once on the ground. You need to carry a small maillon in order to temporarily attach yourself to the bolt in order to remove the QD from the hanger as most hangers won't accomodate a krab as well as a Frog.
I've used one in anger. Works perfectly; risk-free; nothing left behind either.
> It needs to be modified with a thin cord to allow remote release of the trigger from below. You lower off it and release it from the bolt once on the ground.
Risk free? Sorry, can't see how that is risk free. If anything I think you are adding an element of risk, in fact a large risk.
> ... Works perfectly; risk-free; nothing left behind either.
> Risk free? Sorry, can't see how that is risk free. If anything I think you are adding an element of risk, in fact a large risk.
I take it that you are making this observation on the basis of experience of using a Frog? Please explain the exact nature of this "large risk" that you refer to.
You're having a laugh aren't you?
As to lowering off a single bolt, as others have said if youre happy to fall on a bolt then lowering should not be an issue.
I also agree if you're not prepared to lower off a single bolt then you shouldn't be clipping it on lead in the first place.
Why two krabs back to back, you are only lowering off, not using it for a belay.
To the OP buy a cheap krab and stick it on the back of your harness so it is always there when you need it, no fuss, no hassle, no danger. The next guy up the route gets a free gash krab and everyone is happy,
That is a very good question. The answer being that they don't really need 2. If they are in the same lump of rock and that fails having 2 won't help. Is someone used the wrong glue 2 won't either. I have no evidence for this, but I think the reason we have 2 is that before bolts we used pegs and then two offered some back up.
Because the bolt at the top would get lowered off thousands and thousands of of times (if it's a popular route of course), so the risk that someone might die starts to creep towards the appreciable. Once you back it up with another, both have to fail simultaneously, so that risk reduced down to basically 0.
The country's maths teachers have done a bloody awful job on probability and stats, it seems!
You've never looked at the staples on popular easy route lower offs at places like Portland I assume - the metal wears through gradually.
They had some nice pictures of very worn in situ biners on 8a.nu a while ago too which helps demonstrate the wear.....
There are likely people better qualified than myself to comment, but I would have though the bolt itself was the likeliest thing to fail. Cyclic loading can cause defects and microscopic cracks to accumulate until a threshold is reached and the material cracks. It's especially likely in mildly corrosive environments (mineral rich waters etc):
These maybe? http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb//qc-lab-dangers-of-rope-worn-carabiners
Here's a photo of mine that you've probably already seen: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=115364
That looks similar, yeah...
All I've given is a simple answer to your question. The same issue occurs with fixed biners as shown above and on maillons as well. It's less with the circular rings because they rotate and spread the wear better.
It's not because of wear, but because of the way probability works.
If you have a dice the chances of throwing a six are 1/6. If you get two throws the chances of throwing a six on one of the two throws is 1/6 + 1/6 = 2/6. Your chances increase.
Even if the chance of a bolt failing is very very small, over the thousands of times it is used the probability of failure on one of those occasions becomes appreciable. And so two bolts are used because the chances of them both failing during the same lowering 'occasion' is much smaller still.
Wear simply adds another issue. Check out the lower offs at your local wall next time your there and you'll see it for yourself.
Because it wouldn't be practical. And you can check it easily and regularly for any problems. And you can replace it easily if there are any. etc.
And your belay plate doesn't rely on the integrity of any limestone or other potentially unreliable rock to work.
But you could if you wanted.
If you are really worried about lowering on a single bolt, leave a quickdraw in the last bolt you reached and lower to the 2nd last. Pull the rope down to here with the standard safeguards to remain clipped. Thread this tie back on and then climb back up to the last bolt and thread this. The rope may not pull through very well as you climb back up but you could leave enough quickdraws or long slings on the top one to help the re-asent and keep this manageable. Then either lower off from the top bolt (rounded bolt styles only) or carefully abseil from the 2nd last bolt level. You could use a doubled long sing threaded through the last bolt to help get back down to this point without weighting the rope too much. However I think the risk with all the faffing about would be more than that from just going down carefully from the last bolt on its own unless it was an ancient shocker or badly worn.
> It's not because of wear, but because of the way probability works.
> If you have a dice the chances of throwing a six are 1/6. If you get two throws the chances of throwing a six on one of the two throws is 1/6 + 1/6 = 2/6.
so if i throw six throws my chances are 6/6 or 1 eh ?
Okay, no. But it's Sunday evening so cut me some slack!
I think it's about 2/3?
(1-The chances of not getting a 6 over 6 throws=1-(5/6)^6
mallions are cheap... i leave two.. for the two highest bolts i reached.
call me paranoid, but the value of my ability to walk is worth a bit more than 2 quid
> Even if the chance of a bolt failing is very very small, over the thousands of times it is used the probability of failure on one of those occasions becomes appreciable. And so two bolts are used because the chances of them both failing during the same lowering 'occasion' is much smaller still.
Do you really believe that is why belays have two bolts?
It's one of the reasons, isn't it?
I must be missing something, because that's what I think the main reason is! If one fails, you've got the safety back-up of the second one. (It's not like they're equalised and therefore reducing the load.)
What do you think the reason for having two is Chris?
Because one of the bolts will eventually spontaneously fail through over use?
Option 1: Cheat your way up, rest, pull on draws, aid, go off route whatever it takes to get to the chains or something you can lower off.
Option 2: If you're not too high and it's steady enough below you can downclimb stripping clips as you go. Jumping/falling past cruxy bits is an option on well bolted routes.
Option 3: Stick clip to something you can lower off, your chains, another route's chains or a staple.
Option 4: Ab off a bolt or thread. Generally I'd leave an old krab behind to avoid damaging my rope. Of course if you're doing that then you can just lower off the krab.
Option 5: Deliberately fall out of reach of the rock. Oops, it's your mate's lead now :)
For such failures I'm not sure this is the correct maths.
It is tempting to think that if the probability of failure of a bolt is say 1 in 1000 then the probability of failure of two bolts is 1000 x 1000. This is very unlikely to be true for any combined system. Bolt failure is, I would suggest, not normally a random independent process. The bolts failed for a reason, for example the wrong glue being used or the block being loose. Having two bolts in the same loose block does not decrease the chance of failure. And for the glue it is likely that the same person used the same glue on the same day for both bolts - with luck the second bolt may stay in but the decrease in probability of failure the second bolt gives is no where near given by the product of the probabilities, it could well be given by their sum.
The same logic holds for any multi-point belay. Three wires in the same crack system might not be much better than one if the most likely reason one of the wires might pull is that the block that forms the crack moves.
i agree :-)
> For such failures I'm not sure this is the correct maths.
> It is tempting to think that if the probability of failure of a bolt is say 1 in 1000 then the probability of failure of two bolts is 1000 x 1000. This is very unlikely to be true for any combined system. Bolt failure is, I would suggest, not normally a random independent process. The bolts failed for a reason, for example the wrong glue being used or the block being loose. Having two bolts in the same loose block does not decrease the chance of failure. And for the glue it is likely that the same person used the same glue on the same day for both bolts - with luck the second bolt may stay in but the decrease in probability of failure the second bolt gives is no where near given by the product of the probabilities, it could well be given by their sum.
> The same logic holds for any multi-point belay. Three wires in the same crack system might not be much better than one if the most likely reason one of the wires might pull is that the block that forms the crack moves.
Whatever. You asked a question (to Jon Stewart) and I answered it. Eventually. I'm not going to think about it any more than that - I'm certainly not prepared to make sense of the above. Two bolts at a belay is clearly sensible and justifiable, and that'll do for me.
You are protected by clips below you until you have stripped a lot of the route, by which time I figure the worst of the loading on the lower off is over (its worst when you first lean back, imparting an outward force on the bolt).
If I think I might need to bail I carry an old snap gate - its fast, and is easy for the next person on the route to remove.
Lower-offs in a lot of areas only have one bolt, two-bolt ones are rare indeed in Germany and Austria for example.
Having 2 bolts was common in the earlier days in France as the bolts themselves were relatively weak then climbers got used to having two on climbing walls (for structural reasons) and expect to see them outdoors as well.
Two bolts are recommended by the UIAA for multi-pitch belays, not for single pitch.
1. Undo all knots, krabs, etc.
2. Close eyes
3. Mutter quick prayer.
Another rope ? you obviously haven't been on many trips with a ryan air baggage limit :-)
Hmmm, not sure if my French / German / Spanish is up to explaining why I needed to borrow their rope rather than dog on to the top or just lower off the bolt I was on - thats what they all seem to do.
Go on, explain what convoluted system you use to get this `loop of rope´ without hanging only on one bolt.
It´s incidentally easier to achieve the same result by using a Prussik or more sensibly a Grigri on the other strand of the rope you are on. If you can be bothered that is, which I´m certainly not!
> Another option often overlooked is just to climb down again stripping the draws as you go. May require a bit of controlled falling past any particularly hard bits but it's just the same as taking small leader falls and can be pretty quick and efficient on the right terrain.
I must be pretty stupid because that is such an obvious and great idea yet it's never occurred to me, even though I enjoy both down-climbing and practising falling off. This is going to be my prefered option from now on.
A simple way - not to lower off the bolt - is to rap off.
Thread the rope through the hanger, tie an overhand knot on the inside of the hanger. Simple adjustment will set the hangers edge in between the two strands and against the body of the knot.
Try it before you jump up and down and say never thread a hanger.
Tested it out with some IFMGA Guide and other Instructors and no damage still alive
I'm reasonably staggered by the amount of people who had never thought of down climbing.
Well the main reason for having to bail off a sport route is that it's too hard for you. Quite likely therefore that downclimbing wouldn't be an option and many won't fancy intentionally jumping off repeatedly even though it is probably safe to do so.
God, when I think of some of the tat I've bailed off on over the years!!!!!!
> Well the main reason for having to bail off a sport route is that it's too hard for you. Quite likely therefore that downclimbing wouldn't be an option and many won't fancy intentionally jumping off repeatedly even though it is probably safe to do so.
Yeah, but the bit that's too hard is above you.
Yeah. I do that often too, usually I have something I don't mind leaving behind, if not though I down climb.
Another method of retreat I've used is to double a long sling, hang off it until I can reach the next bolt, clip that, then pull the sling through. Reverse French free.
> Yeah, but the bit that's too hard is above you.
> Which route?
No route in particular. I was just pointing out that if you're bailing, then the bit you can't do is likely above you, therefore you down climb the bit you know and can do. Generally speaking.
In the Alps this year I lowered off a bit of tat around a small frozen into place nubbin of rock with the knot hammered into a nearby chossy crack to stop it from moving/make me feel better.
I'd happily lower off a bolt after that.
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