/ To Sandbag or not To Sandbag, weighting belayer.

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SCrossley on 29 Oct 2012
Hi,
I have decided I am going to push my indoor climbing so I am going to start taking proper air time, my belayer is probably 4 stone lighter than me and is highly experienced and quite prepared to jump into the wall. We will be belaying with XTC`s. I am thinking that there will be a Dynamic advantage through NO sandbag, what is the advantage of sandbagging.
She wears them prism belaying glasses, is this a factor?
Cheers sjc
mkean - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:
I don't like people fixed to a sandbag when they are belaying me as they can't move about and people keep tripping over them (I've had a belayer haul me off the wall when tripping over the bag). Also in the event of you falling and shifting the bag there is a good chance of the rope getting jammed under it which can be a pain. It comes down to how confident your belayer is and what the walls floor walkers are like.

Another factor is how heavy are you? A 4 stone difference won't be an issue if you are 24 stone but would be if you are 9 stone :-)
Fraser on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

I'd get a GriGri if I were you. I'd not SB.
jkarran - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

Staying close in obviously helps reduce the injury risk from flying in but if they're in danger of hitting the first clip then a sandbag (and/or skiping the clip) is pretty much essential.

Using the sandbag properly requires some care, as has been pointed out the root you to the spot, tangle ropes and pose a trip hazard. They can also be a menace if the leash is too long leaving you flying with a heavy pendulum between your feet or flipping you if attached incorrectly. Too short a leash and it's uncomfortable, draining and distracting. Placed between your feet it's annoying and a little uncomfortable, in front of them it's a useless hazard, beside you it's out of the way but you risk spinning and swinging into the wall back-first.

I think I'm about 4-5 stone more than my partner. Even with a sandbag she's up at the first clip (which I skip for this reason) when catching a proper fall even with just my knees/shins at the last bolt.

On balance I'd suggest using the sandbag to begin with, build up the fall size gradually and see how it goes. Oh and I'd not worry too much about softening the fall with slippery devices or flying belayers, so long as they don't haul in slack you'll hardly feel it.

jk
Eagle River - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Fraser:

Sorry to be contradictory but in my experience using a gri gri with heavier climbers makes lowering off trickier as you only have one hand on the rope. This varies with rope thickness but when belaying my partner who is 2stone heavier on a new 10mm rope its much easier with a grippy standard device as you can have both hands on the dead end of the rope.

To answer the original question, having focused on pushing sport and indoor climbing for the last two years I find a dynamic belay an essential component. However, I've never been in a situation where the weight difference was as big as you mention. I think you'll
Need some practice falls of increasing height with and without sandbags to test the situation. The belay glasses don't affect catching falls, I frequently find myself at the first bolt and I use them.
JH74 - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Eagle River: +1 for gri-gri unnecessary. XTC's are just fine and allow for more control on lowering.

As suggested build up on fall length and see how it goes. Personally I think the lighter the belayer the nicer the fall. As long as they're not so light that they try and squeeze through the first clip and are aware of where they're standing it's all good.
SCrossley on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:
Cheers, the GriGri I will not consider as I rightly or wrongly do not trust them.
It sounds like we need a practice falling session to see what works best for us, but J Karrans situation seems closest to mine.
Do wall staff have any issues with not clipping the first bolt?
chers - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc: I guess so, the first bolt is there for a reason! Not sure but imagine if you missed the first clip and had an accident?
Fraser on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Eagle River:

Fair point about lowering, I was really thinking more in terms of the guaranteed catching! I just don't use a conventional (ie non-assisted braking) belay device indoors. And like you, I don't think I've ever belayed someone weighing 4 stone more than I do. I do reckon with the weight differential the OP's talking about, it'll be a dynamic belay whether it's wanted or not!

I'd also not recommend skipping the first clip - for a start, most walls tend to frown on it, for good reason.


In reply to sjc:

I'm curious to know why you don't trust GriGris.
ianstevens - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc: Just be aware that if you do sandbag your belayer, you won't have to comfiest fall in the world - in experience I've found them to be pretty harsh when using a sandbag! If you don't use it, you obviously get some belayer movement, a bit of slack through the system and a softer catch
jon on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

> the GriGri I will not consider as I rightly or wrongly do not trust them

I'd say wrongly.
Ava Adore - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

I am about 4 stone lighter than my climbing partner and the only time I really feel the need for a sandbag is when he's working a route on toprope. On lead it's not an issue.
jon on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Fraser:

> I don't think I've ever belayed someone weighing 4 stone more than I do.

I have. And I was stupid enough to be standing quite some way out from the crag when he'd finished leading and weighted the rope. I was catapulted into the rock and dragged almost up to the first bolt. He just grinned and said 'that'll teach yer!'
SCrossley on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to sjc)
>
> [...]
>
> I'd say wrongly.

Maybe, but it`s what the climber thinks that matters, and in this case i am the climber.
Fraser on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

I'd agree - it's entirely your choice. But I am keen to know why you "don't trust them". Or is it really you or your belayer you don't trust? I don't think I've heard of an incident where the cause was the device, rather than 'pilot error'.

If that's your cause for concern I'd have no problem with that, but it's unfair to say you "don't trust the device", if this is the case.
John Lewis - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore:
> (In reply to sjc)
>
> I am about 4 stone lighter than my climbing partner and the only time I really feel the need for a sandbag is when he's working a route on toprope. On lead it's not an issue.

Because he's a big fat scaredy cat on lead and only climbs stuff he is certain not to fall on ;-)
jkarran - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

> Cheers, the GriGri I will not consider as I rightly or wrongly do not trust them.

GriGri works just fine. I was reluctant for years but buying one was a complete revelation, I'd never go back and I'd certainly suggest at least becoming familiar with it before rejecting it out of hand.

> It sounds like we need a practice falling session to see what works best for us, but J Karrans situation seems closest to mine.
> Do wall staff have any issues with not clipping the first bolt?

Sometimes. Never more than a raised eybrow or an occasional comment. You can always unclip no.1 once you have no.2 clipped, it's useless at that point anyway.

jk
jkarran - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to chers:

> I guess so, the first bolt is there for a reason! Not sure but imagine if you missed the first clip and had an accident?

The first bolt is there because if it wasn't there'd be no bolts :) The issue is its height. If the wall/crag has sensible height first clips it's not an issue, some can be clipped from the first move!

jk
Ava Adore - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to John Lewis:

I'm sure that should read "because he's an awesome super climber who is so awesome that he NEVER falls". Or something. ;-)
John Lewis - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore:
> (In reply to John Lewis)
>
> I'm sure that should read "because he's an awesome super climber who is so awesome that he NEVER falls". Or something. ;-)

It should read that, it would be a lie, but it should read it!
needvert on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:

Could see what happens. As long as you expect and accommodate towards flying towards the first clip.
monkeys on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:
Belay glasses enable belayer to stand right next to wall rather than standing far back to enable looking up. Removes the need for sandbag.
Or belayer can stand in their preferred position, and move closer or next to wall at times when climber most likely to fall
mikekeswick - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc: Get your belayer to satnd pretty close to the wall. Absolutely no good if they are miles away...you WILL get a VERY dynamic catch!!!
Gri-gri's have their place and in that place they are great.
Normal belay devices are better/easier to control the lower with.
Also if the light person is practising falling and being caught by the heavier person then the heavier one definately needs to learn how to belay dynamically or else lighty is going to be in for some harsh catches :)
At the end of the day all you need to do is lots of practising. As long ass the golden rule of don't let go of the dead rope is never broken you should be fine and will be learning about falling dynamics the best possible way.
Good luck and have fun!
thermal_t - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc: Sorry, not trying to turn this into a GriGri debate....BUT

If you view the GriGri as a hands free auto locking device, then you are very right to view them with suspicion.

If you use them as you would a normal belay device (never letting go of the dead end of the rope) and view the auto-locking feature as a bonus safety feature, then you cannot go wrong.

It's all in your expectations of the device (I hate to see GriGris getting a bad rep!)
EVP - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc: some people, especially at the kids clubs get someone else to back up belay? might be better than a sandbag because there are no manouvreing issues.
dg123 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:
Definitely sandbag, my belayer is heavily sandbagged as she's about 20 kilos lighter. We usually keep the sandbags a bit away and extend them with a sling and she gets lifted a bit, but because the sandbags are a bit away from the wall she just ends up in dead space. This has produced very happy results, when she can't see me she just gives me a healthy amount of slack, when she's paying attention, damn gri gris.
SCrossley on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:
Hi
a bit of feedback.
We chose not to Sandbag and it has been very succesful, at first my belayer found being chucked around a bit startling, but now she is used to it.
The falling practice has massivley improved things, made wall climbing more enjoyable and less stressful.
We still need to practice a bit more as we are not going all out for the next hold, but certainly not saying take any more and actually taking falls.
It is very liberating, try it.
It has improved grades.
Supadeano86 - on 19 Nov 2012
In reply to thermal_t:
> (In reply to sjc) Sorry, not trying to turn this into a GriGri debate....BUT
>
> If you view the GriGri as a hands free auto locking device, then you are very right to view them with suspicion.
>
> If you use them as you would a normal belay device (never letting go of the dead end of the rope) and view the auto-locking feature as a bonus safety feature, then you cannot go wrong.
>
> It's all in your expectations of the device (I hate to see GriGris getting a bad rep!)

hear! hear! i recently brought one and dont really like using anything else indoors now for belaying. the grigri2 is great! in my opinion any way.
SCrossley on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Supadeano86:
Absoluteley, your choice. I would not let you belay me, my choice.
unknownclimber6 - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:

if i were you i wouldnt sand bag, my girlfriend belayed me for a ong time and she was about 5-6stone lighter than me at the time, it may well hurt your back because its more of a jerk you get when that weight suddenly kicks in.

my suggestion is get a grigri get her trained up and happy with it!!! then go at it, it just adds that little bit extra security, also maybe clip the first 2 clips then undo the first, just saves her matchin her face with the first clip when she takes some air time.

just make sure she is 100% with a grigri first!
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jkarran - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:

> Absoluteley, your choice. I would not let you belay me, my choice.

You wouldn't let someone belay you with a GriGri? Why on earth not?
jk
mcdougal - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to jkarran:

Speaking personally, I wouldn't let someone belay me with a Gri-Gri either. I was once belated with a Gri-Gri, by a very responsible and experienced belayer, and never really felt secure. You can explain the rationale behind their safety reputation but it doesn't help. Fear doesn't have to be rational IMO.
jkarran - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to mcdougal:

Fear's fine but it needs to be rational if it's to be of any use to you, irrational fear just clouds your judgement.

Why didn't you feel secure?
jk
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to mcdougal)
>
> Fear's fine but it needs to be rational if it's to be of any use to you, irrational fear just clouds your judgement.

I also have an irrational fear of gri-gris; the only time I have been dropped was by someone using one and it is a complete mechanical mystery to me how to use one (I'm not a very practical person). So I suppose it is my perfectly reasonable evolved fear of the unknown kicking in.
mcdougal - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to jkarran:

> Why didn't you feel secure?

Combination of 3 things: 1. The chap that 1st showed me one threaded the rope the wrong way through. 2. The horror stories in which people are dropped and 3. I'm possibly a bit of a coward.
unknownclimber6 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to sjc:

i hate to see Gri -Gri's getting a bad name because people cant be arsed to read to safety instructions!

1)Petzl give you a book on how to use it pretty much when bought.

2)it has pictures in the safety notice so you really dont need to sit and read the whole thing if your lazy!

3)IT HAS PICTURES ON THE DEVICE AS TO WHICH WAY THE ROPE GOES! personal opinion, if you cant work out what the pictures mean you are a hazard to you self and others and shouldnt be climbing.

4) a Gri - Gri is NOT an auto-locking device!!(so dont take your hands off the rope and stick them in your pockets! use it as you would a belay plate) it is an assisted braking device meaning if the mechanical part in the middle doesnt lock like its supposed to the it can still be used like a belay plate.

Gri - Gris are great if used properly and there is no real reason they shouldnt be as petzl give very clear instructions on how to use it and safety with the device. the PDF on its safety and proper usage is the first thing that comes up on google!
Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to unknownclimber6:
> (In reply to sjc)
>
> i hate to see Gri -Gri's getting a bad name because people cant be arsed to read to safety instructions!
>
> 1)Petzl give you a book on how to use it pretty much when bought.
>
> 2)it has pictures in the safety notice so you really dont need to sit and read the whole thing if your lazy!
>
> 3)IT HAS PICTURES ON THE DEVICE AS TO WHICH WAY THE ROPE GOES! personal opinion, if you cant work out what the pictures mean you are a hazard to you self and others and shouldnt be climbing.
>
> 4) a Gri - Gri is NOT an auto-locking device!!(so dont take your hands off the rope and stick them in your pockets! use it as you would a belay plate) it is an assisted braking device meaning if the mechanical part in the middle doesnt lock like its supposed to the it can still be used like a belay plate.
>
> Gri - Gris are great if used properly and there is no real reason they shouldnt be as petzl give very clear instructions on how to use it and safety with the device. the PDF on its safety and proper usage is the first thing that comes up on google!

Agree with all of the above.

*HOWEVER*, it's a specialist piece of equipment not a beginners belay device so I would recommend using a regular belay plate until you're comfortable giving dynamic catches to people muc lighter and heavier than yourself.

A tubular device will always give a little bit softening the catch but a gri-gri won't, so you stand more chance of injuring your climber against the wall if you're not a) giving dynamic catches and b) paying attention.

I have many friends who I'm happy using a gri-gri to belay me but one I won't climb with unless he's using an ATC. He's heavier than me and doesn't follow the above very well, which once resulted in a broken foot putting me out of climbing for weeks.
dasy2k1 - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to sjc:

I work at an outdoor company where we only use gri-gris to belay (we also use a very convoluted semi direct to ground anchor setup that uses no less than 5 DMM steel boas and 1 bar locking crab along with insiting on chest harnesses for everything!)

My experiance of them is that they catch a fall very hard, the only give you get is the stretch in the rope they tend to catch a fall very abruptly, not really a problem on our wooden outdoor toprope towers but i could see it being a problem when leading
r0x0r.wolfo - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to sjc: gri gris are a hands off device, long belays on yosemite multipitch you will people reading a book with a gri gri just paying out slack now and again. I want to see a video of a gri gri failing to engage.
The Ex-Engineer - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to various: Normal service resumed on UKC :-(

We again have numerous climbers complaining rather unnecessarily about GriGris and showing a lack of awareness of options for how you can use them.

When you use a Grigri with a Petzl Freino carabiner they turn into one of the best and easiest of any belay devices to lower with. The issues mentioned by perhaps five previous posters are solved instantly, completely and permanently. If you haven't heard of the Freino before, there are a couple of photos on this decent review I found courtesy of google: http://racheligreenberg.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/gear-review-petzl-freino.html

Hopefully we can get the facts correct. Performance or safety issues with lowering using a Grigri are a red herring. There is an issue, but it boils down to one about COST. You just need to weigh up whether you choose to buy the optimal equipment to use with one.
The Ex-Engineer - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to sjc: However, going back to the original question. You (and other posters) haven't touched upon what, to me, are three key background issues:

Why are you going to be falling off? [Are you climbing onsight, ground-up, red pointing or perhaps training endurance? That leads onto what you are going to do after falling, which in turn influences how best to belay you and which type of belay device to use.]

How high will you be falling off from? [Again, this influences the most suitable method and device.]

What angle of wall will you be falling from? [The steeper it is the less important dynamic belaying becomes.]

You really need all that information to give decent advice. It is possible to think of various scenarios where pretty much any of four alternative belay options can make sense:

At one extreme, you could be falling at 14+ metres up when red-pointing well-set routes at a 20 metre high lead wall. Sandbags are then irrelevant and a nice slick belay device (or a dual mode one in the lower friction mode) is the way forward, with the belayer having little chance of leaving the ground.

You could be working steep routes ground-up and taking regular falls whilst climbing bolt-to-bolt. In which case belaying with a Grigri (or similar) will be highly preferable, probably along with use of a sandbag.

Equally, you could be on thin, tenuous face climbing. On vertical routes, a leader is much more likely to end up with bruises/grazes from swinging sharply back into the wall due to 'tight' belaying. An unsecured belayer is better set-up to correctly belay for this style of climbing, although it may be worth using a GriGri (or similar) to balance the risks, to the belayer, from them ending up off the ground.

Finally, you could be climbing hard moves on a short wall. With a real concern about 'decking out', regardless of other considerations, you may want you belayer weighted down. However, a standard belay device (in higher friction mode) is probably then adequate.
SARS on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Good advice here. I spend most of my time being belayed by someone half my weight. If I'm at the wall it's usually when I'm taking falls on some steep overhanging project. Gri gri plus a sandbag is the way to go. Means I can work moves much more easily - otherwise she ends up getting dragged up the wall. Massively dynamic belays not super essential - I'm usually taking decent size falls into space.
Scott_vzr on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to sjc) gri gris are a hands off device, long belays on yosemite multipitch you will people reading a book with a gri gri just paying out slack now and again. I want to see a video of a gri gri failing to engage.

According to PETZL they are NOT a hands free device.

Scott_vzr on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to dasy2k1:
> (In reply to sjc)
>
> I work at an outdoor company where we only use gri-gris to belay (we also use a very convoluted semi direct to ground anchor setup that uses no less than 5 DMM steel boas and 1 bar locking crab along with insiting on chest harnesses for everything!)
>
> My experiance of them is that they catch a fall very hard, the only give you get is the stretch in the rope they tend to catch a fall very abruptly, not really a problem on our wooden outdoor toprope towers but i could see it being a problem when leading

Petzl advise against ground anchoring, only off a harness.

See the file below in Box 6.3
http://www.petzl.com/files/all/technical-notice/Sport/D14-GRIGRI2.pdf

SARS on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Ciro:

Well they might end up hitting themselves as they smash into the wall. Not much fun.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Scott_vzr: They're covering themselves, do you blame them?

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