/ Scrambling: Harness, Bowline or....?
I'm considering doing the Aonach Eagach Ridge in the next couple of weeks with a relative newbie and it struck me that it might be prudent to protect some of the difficult pitches with a short (30m) rope. I have a climbing harness but my companion doesn't. Options:
a. We tie in around the waist with a simple Bowline (or a more complicated seat loop construction) and use natural anchors and classic belay technique.
b. He buys a harness and we use ATC, natural anchors or slings/crabs and set up simple belays using gear.
Is there a third option i.e. simple belt harness which can be put on quickly or worn comfortably throughout the day?
c. Your partner wears the harness and you use a bowline and don't fall off.
Bloody uncomfy when weighted but it worked for me.
A harness is always a good thing to buy though so it would probably be a good investment.
> c. Your partner wears the harness and you use a bowline and don't fall off.
Cheers; another option I hadn't considered actually. I'm pretty happy to solo most of it so, yes I could just set up some simple belays to get him over the tricky descents and then quickly untie and collapse it all when he is on safe ground.
> A harness is always a good thing to buy though so it would probably be a good investment.
Yeah, he has climbed before but does so very rarely. We have a plan for some more adventurous scrambling, so a harness might be money well spent.
A harness like the BD alpine Bod or the DMM Super Couloir would fit the bill nicely- fairly cheap but designed for light and fast stuff. I've used a Super Couloir (or it's predecessor) for a few years now and it's great for winter, scrambling and even trad as long as you don't fall to often or hang in it too long. It's great to walk in as well.
swami belt (dude).
In the past, I've used a direct friction belay over a convenient bit of rock to bring up a nervous partner a few times. I'm not sure I'd want to take massive falls onto that sort of arrangement, but it's okay for catching someone climbing below you on a tight rope if they have a bit of a wobble (disclaimer: I've been told this by people whose experience I trust, but not had to try it out for myself...), and it's trivial and hence quick to set up provided there's a handy rock around.
> In the past, I've used a direct friction belay over a convenient bit of rock to bring up a nervous partner a few times.
That will be my plan B if I can't think of a better Plan A. Cheers.
Looking across from SCNL on Wednesday, there's next to nothing lying on the main ridge at the moment from what we could see.
> Looking across from SCNL on Wednesday, there's next to nothing lying on the main ridge at the moment from what we could see.
Good to hear. We are flying up and travelling light i.e. no axes/crampons.
The only "pitch" I can remember is a short easy chimney like thing we went up... Very secure and nowhere to fall even if you did, prob a bit scary to come down if you went the other way...
Otherwise there was nothing worth taking a rope for, a couple of my mates did and they never took it out the bag.
We went for the light approach and had a great day!
Although if the weather's bad, things may have been different!
All building my confidence, cheers.
If I was in your position, I'd give my mate the harness and belay them using a Munter hitch off a slung spike.
I'd say the level of difficulty when you get up there will be weather dependent; your profile says you onsight VS so in dry conditions you'll walk it, but if your mate is nervous and it's wet or the temperature drops and there's a bit of ice, a rope could be a very good idea.
There'd be nothing wrong in using the Bowline. There are no run outs more than a few feet anyway.
I guide clients on the AE several times a year, and have never belayed off my harness on it. As others have said, direct Italian hitch belays off slings around spikes/blocks should be fine, or go direct off the terrain (ML-style) if you are comfortable with this.
If you only have one harness it should definitely go to the least experienced - he's the one most likely to weight it in an abseil or lower.
Confidence is everything on the AE - I've seen folk worn down over a period of time by the unrelenting nature of it. Fortunately the initial descent of Am Bodach gives you a good clue about how folk are going to react. If getting down this has proven an epic I would go straight back up and curtail!
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