/ Double rope belay device for big weight difference

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Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
Mrs C is taking up climbing but we have a big weight differential between us so I'm looking for a belay device for her. Personally I use an ATC which is simple, effective and never failed me though I also have a gri-gri for belaying people working routes and for top roping.
However there is a big weight difference between us (almost 50pc - 13.5st plays 9st) so the chances are that sooner or later she may be lifted into the air and perhaps bounced against the rock, ground belays not always being available. So I'd like some kind of auto locking device for her to use. I'm looking at the Click-up for single rope/sport which seems a reasonable compromise between fiddly and effective.
Does anyone know of a similar system that would work with double ropes for mountain trad?
jkarran - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

Why are you looking at another assisted device if you already have a GriGri for single ropes?

You could get something grabby like an ATC-XP or an old springless Stitch for half ropes or one of the smaller half rope specific devices. You can climb on a full rope quite effectively in the mountains.

jk
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

As far as I'm aware, there is an Alpine-Up, which is a Click Up for two ropes.

There's also the Mammut Smart Alpine, which is a bit simpler to use than the Click Up I think.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Wiley Coyote)
>
> Why are you looking at another assisted device if you already have a GriGri for single ropes?
>
I knows thousands of others get on fine with the Gri-Gri but I just don't like it. I find it grabby and so (like many others I've seen) I end up either leaving a larger loop of slack than I would with an ATC or walking in and out to feed rope quickly, which is not possible on multi pitch. As I said in my OP, I find the ATC a simnple and highly effective bit of kit for me but I can see potential probs for the petite Mrs C (aka Pixie).
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Boulders@Cardiff:
Thanks very much. That looks a possible contender. I'll nip into a shop and fondle one.
jkarran - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

The XP version has extra 'bite' over the normal ATC, it's not auto-locking or assisted or whatever these things are called these days but it's reasonably powerful.

The GriGri can be a bit sticky feeding out, there's a definite knack to it but once you have it it's fine. Fair enough if you just dont like it.
jk
AWR on 06 Dec 2012
Another voice for the Mammut Smart Alpine; takes two ropes, is lock assist and you can pay armfuls of rope out quickly and easily.

My wife uses the single rope verion to belay me and is confident despite the fact the weight difference between us is bigger than between you and your Mrs.
beardy mike - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: I have the Alpine up - its a really really decent piece of kit. Locks when you need it to, bit tricky to unlock, yoiu have to give it a firm pull but other than that really really useful. The autolocking abseil is brill - if you squeeze too much it locks, if you let go it locks so you balance it right in the middle to descend so really safe. Had to fiund though at regular shops... joe brown have them though
The Ex-Engineer - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: You seem rather confused.

The whole point about good belaying is to be dynamic about it. This is either achieved by the belayer moving or the rope to moving through the belay device or both. If you can't cope with that happening, then you cannot lead belay properly, it is as simple as that.

Rather than look for new belay devices, I'd suggest it would be far better to spend time improving your partner's confidence in holding sizable lead falls. Alongside that, a pair of belay gloves is possibly the most useful thing you could buy.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Gotcha. I'll forget about the belay device and get a heavier wife instead. I'm sure the Pixie will understand. It's just a matter of priorities after all.
The Ex-Engineer - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: I'm only a couple of kilos heavier than your wife, if that, and regularly belay leaders heavier than you.

If one of them suggested I should use an autolocking belay device just because they were 50%+ heavier than me I'd tell them to piss off as it's a pants idea.

On multi-pitch routes the more likely someone is to take big falls the less likely I am to want to use an auto-locking device. A slick device, good belaying skills and potentially some belay gloves is just a far better option all round.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
OK. A more serious answer. Everything you say is correct, not least your reference crucially to 'good belaying skills' being a better option. That's why I prefer the ATC myself. However, I have to start from where I am, ie an absolute beginner wife who is 50 pc lighter than me. In an ideal world I would always be able to rig a belay against an upward pull and all would be well. She does already have belay gloves.
However, the combination of her weight disadvantage and lack of experience creates a possibility, perhaps even a probability, that during the period she is learning these'good belay skills' if it is not feasible to fix a ideal belay she may get yanked upwards and bashed into the rock and as a result let go of the rope. In those circumstances I believe the added security of an autolocking device is worth having and outweighs the loss of a dynamic belay from an inexperienced and much lighter second. You may disagree but that's my judgement.
Robert Durran - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> A slick device, good belaying skills and potentially some belay gloves is just a far better option all round.

I thought the myth of safely giving a dynamic belay by deliberately letting rope slip through a belay device had long since been killed off.

The Ex-Engineer - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> I thought the myth of safely giving a dynamic belay by deliberately letting rope slip through a belay device had long since been killed off.

It is more the other way round. In a big fall with a standard belay device there is no way you can stop the rope from slipping.

Belay gloves just mean that any slippage that does occur from a very large fall won't then result in either rope burns to the belayer or the belayer letting go.
marsbar - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: My suggestions would be for you to let her practice belaying on stuff you won't fall off to help her technique, and then to move on to climbs where she can use a ground anchor, and when she is more confident then it won't be a problem.
The Ex-Engineer - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: We will have to agree to disagree.

One my pet hates is people treating novice climbers any differently from experienced climbers. If I wouldn't do something, then I think it is a very poor idea to expect someone else to do it just because they are a novice.

Secondly, you sound like a braver man then me. The chances of me falling off anything (or considering climbing anything with a risk of me falling) with even a remotely novice belayer is precisely zero.

About the only time I'm ever happy to fall is either at indoor competitions with seriously well practiced belayers or when climbing with a tiny minority of my climbing partners (who are Aspirant Guides or f8a+ sport climbers). The rest of the time it is much more the case of the leader doesn't fall.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to Wiley Coyote) We will have to agree to disagree.
>

>
you sound like a braver man then me.
>
> That I doubt. I'm not planning to fall off, which, perversely, means that with luck she'll get little or no practice at holding a fall and never become experienced at it. But if by some mischance she has to catch me I'd quite like her to get it right first time!
jimtitt - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
The chicken and egg situation at work, novices stay novices because no-one trusts them enough to fall off on them!

For the OP:- The best double-rope braking-assist device was the TRE Sirius, see if you can find one second hand. They were also sold in the USA as the PMI Tre. A rare beast though!
anaesthetic on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: I'm 9st and belay guys 12-13st. I use an ATC-XP. Can you practise falls indoors?
lmarenzi - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:
> However there is a big weight difference between us (almost 50pc - 13.5st plays 9st) so the chances are that sooner or later she may be lifted into the air and perhaps bounced against the rock, ground belays not always being available. So I'd like some kind of auto locking device for her to use.

I don't really follow. Once you think she might be bounced against the rock you have a no go situation because you are risking injury to the novice belayer.

Your choices are really to either make an anchor that the belay device can go on directly, or lead roped solo.

Just to let you know if I was a novice and ended up being slammed into the rock while holding the rope for someone who was meant to know what they were doing there would be big trouble after.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to lmarenzi:
> (In reply to Wiley Coyote)

>
> Just to let you know if I was a novice and ended up being slammed into the rock while holding the rope for someone who was meant to know what they were doing there would be big trouble after.

You must have led a charmed life. Never had a crucial foothold spin unexpectedly at the wall? Never had a flake come off a crag or an apparently solid foothold collapse? Never been climbing on a high mountain crag on a brilliant sunny summer's day and a big black cloud has come from behind the hill and dropped bucketloads of rain and hailstones on you, turning your gentle day out into an epic fight against hypothermia?

And what's a novice belayer anyway? We could climb together for five years and she could get pretty slick at paying out/taking in but if she never has to hold a fall in all that time is she still a 'novice belayer'?

I think the real world is a slightly messier place than that.

Jeff Ingman - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: Maybe I'm missing something here but when the missus belays me we use the normal ATC guide but clip two HMS biners through the rope loop instead of one. Increases the friction considerably.......GD
lmarenzi - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

There must have been hundreds of falls that I have held, while learning to belay, in situations in which I could not get hurt.

As I started venturing out more, into progressively trickier situations, there were again plenty of falls to hold at each new level.

I cracked a rib holding a big, hard fall onto a Munter hitch once. My partner had dropped his ATC and didn't know how to use the hitch so I gave him mine, on a climb in Swanage. Of course I didn't blame my leader because I felt I had learnt what I was doing and it was an accident, and accidents will happen. I knew what I had signed up for, and I was no longer a novice.

But you seem to want to take a novice out to do "mountain trad" and accept that she is going to bang into rock at some stage? I would have thought that a variable resistance device (as I think they are now called) would make such a bang worse, rather than better, for the belayer.

Like I said before I don't really follow.

And incidentally if I was a novice and got caught in a hailstorm because my more experienced partner had not looked at the weather forecast then, rest assured, there would also be big trouble.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to lmarenzi:

Ok, I take back 'charmed life' and replace it with 'strange'. You say you held 'hundreds of falls' while still a novice. Really? In more than 40 years I've had to hold no more than a couple of dozen and most of those comparatively recently on sport. Perhaps I only climb with timid people.
But then, despite this formidable expertise, you crack a rib being smacked into the rock. As you say, accidents happen, which rather makes my point for me.
You also seem to think mountain trad is somehow unsuitable for a novice. Again really? The hills are full of excellent low grade routes suitable for a beginner and are climbed by them every summer. I started on mountain crags in the Lakes on Dow, Raven and Gimmer and in Wales in the Pass and Ogwen. Or did you think I was planning to take her on Indian Face?
Nor am I actually planning for her to get bashed on the rock. If you read the post again you'll see I've said it 'may' happen. And indeed it might, as your ribs know to their cost.
As for being surprised that it is possible to get caught in an isolated cloudburst in the hills despite a good forecast....
Time to pop back under your bridge, I think
lmarenzi - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

Yeh, really. Literally hundreds of falls. Got a problem with that?

I think its you that needs to read your post again, I seem to recall you saying:

> the chances are that sooner or later she may be lifted into the air and perhaps bounced against the rock,

I would advise against this. But you and your wife are free to do as you see fit.

And so good luck.

It looks like you are going to need it.
Wiley Coyote - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to lmarenzi:

Which part of 'may' and 'perhaps' are you having trouble with?
Robert Durran - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> It is more the other way round. In a big fall with a standard belay device there is no way you can stop the rope from slipping.

So obviously the sensible thing to do is not to use a "slick device".ick device" (I don't know whether you consider this "standard" or not).
David Coley - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: alpine up if you really need double ropes, but if the routes are easy then use a single and a grigri and carry mostly sling draws so you can extend the runners. Long mountain trad is ideal for beginners, but I'm guessing you know this. Have fun.
The Ex-Engineer - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> So obviously the sensible thing to do is not to use a "slick device".ick device" (I don't know whether you consider this "standard" or not).

No, it's a rather silly thing to do.

In a factor 2 fall, any common trad belay device (whether sticht plate, tuber, ATC, ATC XP, Bug, Bugette, Reverso etc.) will slip because that is exactly what they are designed to do.

If they didn't slip then the full force of any factor 2 fall (potentially 10kN) would be passed through onto the belay with an appreciable risk of the anchors failing, potentially resulting in both climber and belayer falling to their deaths.

As such, your suggestion of not using a 'slick device' that slips, would just make things more dangerous for both belayer and climber.

Most climbers are ignorant of the fact they would probably burn their hands if their leader fell and ripped every runner but equally it is pretty much guaranteed they will prefer the risk of minor injury to that of potentially tumbling to their death.

If you have a leader who is never going to fall it is obviously a moot point. But once falling and hence large falls become a distinct possibility as opposed to a freak occurrence, the sensible thing is to use belay gloves.

Most climbers hardly ever fall off and most will never consider wearing belay gloves but that does not change the fact that wearing gloves reduces the risk of belayers being injury when holding large falls.
martinph78 on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: Not gonna jopin in teh arguments above, but I will say that having had my belayer "drop me" when I have fallen before, I can see why you would be nervous and think an auto-lockng device would be good. The same thoughts have crossed my mind when pushing hard on a route where a fall is very likely.

But...

Weight doesn't have that much to do with it. My belayer is heavier than me and I've lifted him off the ground several times when I've allen (or in one instance when the turf gave and he slipped forwards).

The key is to make sure that they don't get injured when a fall happens. Standing close to the rock for example, or face the wall so your prepared to brace off it with your feet, make sure you have a clear line (no rocks to fall over/bump into) etc. We consider all of this when choosing a belay stance.

As I say, not getting into the pro's and con's of different devices, that's personal coice.

The bonus of having your belayer liftedin the air is they tend to hang on to the brake rope, otherwise they'd be dropping themselves as well ;)
Wiley Coyote - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Martin1978:
I agree with all that you say. I'm just trying to load the dice in our favour one little bit more if I can.
Jordon Fleming - on 07 Dec 2012
Why are you letting a novice belayer belay you ? sounds like you have no trust so take her indoors and and give her the atc and teach her to to competly use one and what to expect.

It is no diffrent to what i do most of the time. Im just under 11 stone and regularly belay a heavyier pertner. Indoors im just happy to get lifted of the floor. But outside if i think me getting lifted off the floor is going to put him in danger then i will ground ancor myself or fill my rucksack with some big rocks and clip it to my belay loop.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: When is your next mountain route? Just wondering and you seem to want to buy things to solve a problem fast. If your next mountain route (like most of us because the weather is bad) is not in the week or so then you have plenty of time to show your wife how to belay.

Once she has got the rhythm and the general flow of belaying, start taking some small falls, starting with small falls high up at your local climbing wall gradually progressing to normalish falls. This should only take a 2-4 weeks doing one or two sessions a week. By then she will be fine, by all means use weight bags at first, then see what can be done without them.

An assisted device, whilst nice for sport and things, is not going to help with any weight difference. Perhaps you could lose a bit of weight to help (or perhaps not) or choose routes with ground anchors, if she is being flung into the air. This you will find out after doing the fall training at an indoor wall. Obviously if she is still taking flight then you are simply just going to have to avoid routes with a chance of her being pulled into a roof etc.

If you're not willing to do the things above, then find yourself another climbing partner. If you are going to climb a route with the potential for a light climber to be pulled into an obstacle and become injured then let go of the rope, an assisted device may stop you from decking but will obviously not do anything for your second, if anything it will make it worse.

Generally, I show a novice how to belay on an non-assisted devices and then the assisted if required. It's usually much easier that way round, and they get a better skill set. I hope this helps a bit.
David Coley - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to jimtitt: I'm still using mine. A great bit of kit. Why did they stop making it?
jimtitt - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to David Coley:
Probably poor sales and/or they sold the patent rights to Edelrid who produced the Zap-O-Mat. Edelrid were planning on bringing out a two-rope vesion of it and probably looked at the poor sales and gave up!
rgold - on 08 Dec 2012
I was a big fan of the TRE. But they did have a wear issue, and holding power decreased over time. Perhaps it depended on how much rappelling you did. They also had an acknowledged problem holding relatively low loads, more so after they were worn down.

I've spent some time using both the Mammut Smart Alpine and Climbing Technology Alpine Up with half ropes, and it is no contest: the Alpine Up is simply a better mousetrap when it comes to independent handling of two strands. The secret of the Up is in a design that allows for the best feeding of rope of any device, tubes included, while still providing a solid assisted lock.

As for the beneficial effects of rope slippage with tube-style devices, I'm far from convinced. It is true that peak loads to gear are lessened, but the question is how much this load reduction will really matter. A long fall on bad gear will extract the gear no matter what, and a short fall won't cause the rope to run through the device and so will be belayed statically anyway. There is only a limited range of situations in which slippage would actually make a difference in whether or not gear pulls.

The fact that so many climbers catch so many falls bare-handed without burning their hands suggests that most of the time, systemic friction prevents the load to the belayer from exceeding what can be held statically.

But I think that with half ropes, the situation is a little different. Most tube-style devices are simply inadequate for braking a single thin strand, as you can infer by trying a single-strand rappel and seeing how much control you have. If you read the Reverso specifications carefully, you will see it is not even certified for use with a single 8.5mm strand, which is what you have to catch with in a half-rope scenario.

When it comes to the dreaded factor-2 fall, the tubes have another really serious defect, which is they lose virtually all braking power unless the belayer can react and bring the braking hand up to the chest. Without this action, I'd guess that loss of control is almost guaranteed unless rock friction, say via the rope running over the edge of the belay ledge, intervenes.

For these reasons and more, I think the the "advantages" of rope slippage are counterbalanced by worse disadvantages, and some kind of assisted locking device is probably, on balance, a safer alternative for most climbers most of the time.

Another advantage of the Alpine Up is that it can be very rapidly converted from assisted locking to just friction mode. The installed rope bight just has to be moved from one carabiner position to another, no unthreading and rethreading is required. The Mammut Smart can also be converted to non-locking mode, but it has to be unthreaded, reversed, and rethreaed.

With the Up, if a given pitch is known to have dicey gear, the belayer can just use the friction mode. If used in assisted locking mode and, in mid-pitch, the leader decides the gear demands rope slippage, the device csn be switched from one mode to the other in about three seconds---but the leader is off belay while this is happening.

Finally, I'd mention that the real problem with weight differences may not be the weight difference, it might be the grip strength difference. A light woman can be a fantastically strong climber, but her grip strength only has to be adapted to her own feather weight. When she is belaying her muscle-bound behemoth of a boyfriend, the issue will be absolute grip strength rather than her fabulous strength-to-weight ratio. It is realistic, not sexist, to worry about the consequences of such a mismatch, and to try to alleviate the situation with an assisted locking device.

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