/ Replacing belay loop with accessory cord?

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Matt Amos - on 19 May 2013
I recently damaged the belay loop on my harness, probably by getting the edge of it caught in a karabiner which was later loaded. Its very frayed on one edge, and however sure I am that its safe to climb on (only very slightly damaged) I'm not going to risk it!
I have replaced it with a double loop of 6mm accessory cord tied with a double fisherman's bend. Before I use it, would anyone mind commenting on the idea.Here's my thinking;

1 Strength. The belay loop is rated at 25kN, each strand of cord is 7.5kN. 4 strands is 30kN or does the mechanics not work so simply. And does having only one knot lower the strength? And I'm leaving the original sewn loop on anyway.

2 knot. Pretty sure the double fisherman's bend is the best choice. But what length tails? I want it to work! but I don't want the tails catching in the belay device?

3. Only clipping one loop by accident could be a problem, but I'd be the only one using it and it would be something I'd remember!

Thanks

3
Voltemands - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: Probably not what you want to hear, but that sounds like a lot of faff for such a vital piece of equipment. I'd just buy a new harness and not have all the stress on routes of thinking "is my harness going to hold up".
Mapleleaf - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: The reason we check each other prior to climbing is that humans by nature make simple mistakes. The question is; would the lead climber be happy leading on the improvised loop or would you allow a rookie to lead on it? I could accept this situation while on a route in an emergency, but not with the intention of deliberately climbing on the improvised loop.
Matt Amos - on 19 May 2013
Its what I expected to hear really. Could I pay wild country to sew a new one or do they not do that?
Voltemands - on 19 May 2013
ERH - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

I have a friend who has damaged his belay loop. He just ties in on the other end of the rope and belays off that instead. Makes sense, and it's what you do when you build an anchor anyway!
Muel - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

I'd get rid of the cord, and replace it with 2 separate loops made from 9mm rope with triple fishermans, then clip the biner to both strands. 2 separate loops so if one fails (unlikely) there's another ready to take the load. Tails should be around 1.5".

No need to replace it IMO, just carefully inspect after each use, and check that the cord doesn't eat through the harness. (The flat strapping of the belay loop spreads the load and wear out on the harness, cord might damage it more in one place).
valjean - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

i seem to recall after the Skinner incident the manufacturers ran loads of test on belay loops... and heavily damaged old loops still held up

1)your slightly damaged loop + cord is likely strong enough. calculating each strand's strength x4 probably works only in theory and but in reality is probably not true -- the 4 loops will not equalize properly in one way or another


2)what ever you use will add bulk to that part of the harness. it will be a pain to use double ropes i can imagine

3)never clip just one? much like we've all learned to tie on through the 2 hard points of the harness

as someone said earlier, would i use this in an emergency? no doubt
would i make it the norm??? not unless i was starving and needed every pence. And even then id go on a diet for a few weeks and save up for a new harness.
uncontrollable - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

I would say your maths don't consider that the knot will reduce the strenght of the cord.

In general, with all safety equipment, if your worried about its strenght its a good idea to replace it.

Using the rope loop created when tying in is strengh wise your best bet, just make sure your proberly tied in.
On some harnesses you can manage to create a second belay loop by sliding an open loop extender in place.

Generally its worth pointing out that ultimatly your climbing partner is the one at risk (unless your abseiling)
Pete Davis - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: None of the posters for this thread have any authority or credibility to be able to offer you this sort of technical advice. Their opinions are just that; they are not supported by technical expertise in this area. You are asking for definitive advice regarding a piece of PPE, and in taking any of the above advice (however well intentioned it might be...) you are potentially risking your neck and that of your climbing partner.

Why on earth have you not simply contacted the manufacturer to seek a definitive answer? Failing that - you might for instance feel that they could not offer an objective answer because of the obvious commercial interest - contact the technical officer at the BMC for their opinion.
Andrew Wilson - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:
It's worth noting that it would probably be your mate that would suffer the consequences of its failure. You should be tied in through both loops on your harness, the same way that the belay loop passes through. It would be your mate on belay attached to the loop only when it failed.
I'd leave it ;-)
martinph78 on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: Why use 6mm cord??? I can't understand the thinking behind that at all.

Why not replace the damaged loop with a mallion?
Andrew Wilson - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Andrew Wilson:
For clarity I should state that in my opinion your harness is shagged in a most fundamental way and to not replace it would be wildly irresponsible.
remus - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Pete Davis:
> Why on earth have you not simply contacted the manufacturer to seek a definitive answer? Failing that - you might for instance feel that they could not offer an objective answer because of the obvious commercial interest - contact the technical officer at the BMC for their opinion.

Anyone with a qualification would just say 'chuck it'. Firstly they don't have the item to hand so there's no way for them to make a sound judgement, and even then doing so would be risking the mother of all lawsuits. It's simply too risky for them to offer the sort of practical advice that's been given elsewhere in this thread.

For what it's worth, I'd say chop the loop off and replace it with a loop of 8mm dynamic tied with a double fishermans. Make sure the knot is mega tight so it won't work loose.
pec on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: Its worth noting that the reduction in strength of your belay loop is proportional to the number of fibres damaged, i.e. if 5% of the fibres are cut it will be 5% weaker. You can check this out if you like, it will be on the DMM or Black Diamond website or somesuch place, can't remember exactly where but I've seen it a few times.
Perhaps you needn't worry about your loop at all? I don't know because I haven't seen it!
Steve Clegg - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
I use a D shaped maillon as standard, even on my brand new harness. Ask yourself, "what would Ted do"?
Steve
Jasonic - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: Personally I would chuck it- cannot see how it is worth the risk.

Presumably the only reason not to is cost but since you can get a new one for under 30..

http://www.decathlon.co.uk/easy-harness-id_8172909.html
jkarran - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

You cut the old one off then replaced it with cord?

To be honest, unless it was a good 1/4 way through I'd have just left it as was. Assuming it's now a couple of loops of cord I'd be happy enough if it was mine but I imagine plenty of folk will shout me down. It's not ideal either way.

Clipping one loop is very likely to be good enough but as you've clearly identified it's not desirable!

The double fishermans with a reasonable tail is the least of your worries.

jk
martinph78 on 19 May 2013
In reply to Steve Clegg:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
> "what would Ted do"?
> Steve

That's lost on me, sorry? But yeah, I always figured I'd replace mine with a D Maillon when the time comes.
Neil Williams - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

If the damage is bad, I'd chuck it, and if you can't afford to replace it now in the meantime tie in and belay off the rope loop instead.

Neil
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climber david - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

surely you could just not use anything. the BD alpine bod doesnt even have a bely loop and its a popular enough harness so could you not just do the same?
The Ex-Engineer - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta: For years I have used Black Diamond Bod harnesses that do not have a belay loop without any problems. Just because your belay loop is damaged there is no reason to get rid of the harness. If necessary just tie into the rope to belay from and when required larksfoot a short sling around the tie-in points to abseil from.

I would not have gone for your solution. The options that I would have considered (in no particular order) were:
- duct tape the frayed edge and carry on. [I might avoid aid climbing or using a Grigri, or similar, out of excessive caution but I would not have any great concerns about normal belaying as standard ATC type belay devices are guaranteed to slip at forces well below 3kN.]
- add an ADDITIONAL loop in 5.5mm DYNEEMA cord, tied with triple fishermans knot.
- remove the belay loop and use the harness without it.
- remove and replace with a loop of 8mm accessory cord or 8-9mm semi-static or dynamic rope tied with a double fisherman's.
- remove and replace with a large 'D' shaped maillon.

With my "instructor's hat" on, if pushed, I'd have to recommend the last 3 options on the basis of the difficulty in judging the strength of the frayed loop with absolute certainty rather than because they are necessarily the best in your case if the damage is fairly minor.

Finally, you ask what length of tails. The definitive advice as far as I am aware is 4x the diameter of the cord/rope.
ERH - on 19 May 2013
In reply to matta:

just doing single-pitch? body belay! :p
The Ex-Engineer - on 19 May 2013
PS in the interest of complete honesty I have added 'belay loop' of 5.5mm dyneema cord to my BD Alpine Bod harness which came without one. However, since the harness is used solely in Winter or in the Alps, I haven't actually used the loop for anything other than clipping a prusik to in several years.
Mostro - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:

I'd go for the D shaped maillon. Used by cavers for many years without a problem. Using accessory cord will be too bulky. And having two loops of 6 mm cord just doesn't feel like its enough - the system will not equalise the loads properly due to friction.

Incidentally, I would imagine that belay loops are rated to nearer 3000 kg than 2000 kg. You only carry one, so the weight penalty for the extra safety is irrelevant.
LJC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta: No. Buy a new harness. If you want to second with it, fine. I wouldn'tet you belay me with it.
ice.solo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:

You will notice a small a tag sewn inside the harness somewhere that states modifying or using damaged gear voids the manufacturers recommendations. This means, should thete be an accident it will be taken into account, especially when insurance comes into it. Trust me, they will look.

Note too, tho minimal, you have increased the chance of an accident by introducing more variables. Maybe not many, but without testing, unknown.
Whilst maybe acceptable, youve stepped away from optimal for the sake of 100 pounds.

Morgan Woods - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:
> I recently damaged the belay loop on my harness, probably by getting the edge of it caught in a karabiner which was later loaded. Its very frayed on one edge, and however sure I am that its safe to climb on (only very slightly damaged) I'm not going to risk it!


How does that even happen? A bit of fraying on one edge is nothing to fret about, keep in mind there are thousands of other nylon strands doing the job. Much more of a worry would be general UV exposure over (say) 20 years of regular use. I'm not sure why you didn't just send a pic to WC and ask what they thought before cutting it off. Time to buy a new one i think.
Matt Amos - on 20 May 2013
Thanks so far. I have already emailed wc to see what they say, I was just looking at alternatives before they reply.
It was silly of me to put 6mm cord, of course you'd use the thickest stuff available!
valjean - on 20 May 2013
Jamie B - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:

I've had this happen before, and knew it would be a few days before I got a new harness. My solution was to augment (rather than replace) with a parallel loop of cord. It works, and gives redundancy to the (probably) still effective abseil loop, but it doesn't inspire confidence amongst your partners, and may erode your confidence too when you're about to ab on it!
needvert on 20 May 2013
Buy a new harness.

Another option would be to get a new belay loop if the manufacturer happens to be friendly.


Having two loops, one you don't trust and one you made, kinda sucks.
Milesy - on 20 May 2013
My winter harness doesn't have a belay loop. I belay off the rope loop and ab off an HMS.
BnB - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> My winter harness doesn't have a belay loop. I belay off the rope loop and ab off an HMS.

Ditto on my winter setup. In fact I barely use the belay loop on my rock/wall harness either as the rope loop through harness provides a more dynamic belay. I would treat the damaged part as shot and remove it, choosing then whether to replace the entire harness or treat as a winter one.
Siderunner - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:

Using more than one loop for redundancy greatly increases the chance of crossloading the belay carabiner. Beginners often clip belay loop and the rope loop with the HMS, or even the two harness attachment points, and neither are good practice for this reason.

The d mallion option is strong but the metal on metal connection would worry me IF you are then clipping an HMS to it ...

Buy a new harness or just use the rope loop to belay in the meantime. Anything else is madness and totally irresponsible to your climbing partner. Certainly I wouldn't climb with you if I saw some jerry-rigged belay loop, and I would advise everyone I know to avoid you too.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Siderunner:

> The d mallion option is strong but the metal on metal connection would worry me IF you are then clipping an HMS to it ...
>

Yet this is what cavers and rope access techs do all the time...

OP - either go with Ex-Engineer's options or buy a new harness.
needvert on 20 May 2013
In reply to BnB:
> ...In fact I barely use the belay loop on my rock/wall harness either as the rope loop through harness provides a more dynamic belay.

Why does it provide a more dynamic belay?
Mountain Llama on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta: I agree with other posters regarding belaying off rope and ab VIA crab or lark footed sling.

To be honest I can't remember the last time I used the belay loop on my harness and using the rope is better form in my book due to reducing impact forces etc.

So for me I'd tape it up and carry on but NOT use it.

HTH Davey
BnB - on 20 May 2013
In reply to needvert:
> (In reply to BnB)
> [...]
>
> Why does it provide a more dynamic belay?

In the event of an impact on the belay (ie lead climber falling) the rethreaded 8 or other knot at the harness will flex and tighten, soaking up some of the impact. Meanwhile the rope forming the loop will also stretch, absorbing more energy. The nylon belay loop does neither of these although there are situations (top-roping for example), in which its use is not ill-advised.
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to ERH:

> I have a friend who has damaged his belay loop. He just ties in on the other end of the rope and belays off that instead. Makes sense, and it's what you do when you build an anchor anyway!


It isn't quite the same. When you are tying to an anchor (or belaying from the rope loop when the rope is clipped to an anchor), you are loading the fig 8 along its main axis. When belaying from the rope loop alone, you are loading the knot across its main axis and it is prone to roll.

This is why nobody uses an overhand fig 8 to join abseil ropes. If the ropes aren't clipped to an anchor, then it is not best practice to belay from the rope loop; use the harness loop instead. If you don't have a harness loop, then belay from just in front of the rope loop.
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needvert on 20 May 2013
In reply to BnB:
> (In reply to needvert)
> [...]
>
> In the event of an impact on the belay (ie lead climber falling) the rethreaded 8 or other knot at the harness will flex and tighten, soaking up some of the impact. Meanwhile the rope forming the loop will also stretch, absorbing more energy. The nylon belay loop does neither of these although there are situations (top-roping for example), in which its use is not ill-advised.

Is there any information suggesting that this yields a large enough difference to be worthy of any consideration?
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:

Should add the caveat that what I just wrote assumes that your tie in knot is a fig 8....
martinph78 on 20 May 2013
In reply to Siderunner:
> Buy a new harness or just use the rope loop to belay in the meantime. Anything else is madness and totally irresponsible to your climbing partner.

No it isn't. Using a D-shaped maillon (as I suggested way up the thread) would be the correct thing to replace it with and more than acceptable. You made some good points othrwise :)

Regarding metal on metal, if the radius of the maillon is nice and large (which it will be) there won't be a problem. As said above, cavers do it all of the time, as do sport climbers clipping bolts, rescue teams attaching lines to rigging plates, rope access workers using full body harnesses etc.

If ANYONE is binning a harness because of fears about the belay loop please send it to me. I shall happily pay postage and give it a continued lease of life!



BnB - on 20 May 2013
In reply to needvert:
> (In reply to BnB)
> [...]
>
> Is there any information suggesting that this yields a large enough difference to be worthy of any consideration?

Rock Climbing: Essential Skills & Techniques: Libby Peter. The official BMC guide.
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
I don't think there has ever been an accident though due to figure of eight rolling when belaying off the tie in loop and if you tie a stopper knot its a non issue!
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to RCC)
> I don't think there has ever been an accident though due to figure of eight rolling when belaying off the tie in loop and if you tie a stopper knot its a non issue!

Not that I know of either, but the loading is identical. It obviously isn't that dangerous or there would be hundreds of accidents, but then I doubt that a well made overhand fig 8 with long tails and stopper is that dangerous for abseiling either. It is just unnecessary, when there are safer alternatives.

rockpool on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta: hey matt , i just completed my spa course , which was an eye opener , especially concerning wear and tear on gear , from what ive learned i would get the loop replaced by a professinal or the manufacturer, failing that get a new harness , fifty quid to save your life is a pretty good deal.
happy climbing
Neil Williams - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:

"When belaying from the rope loop alone, you are loading the knot across its main axis and it is prone to roll."

Not if, as you should have, it has a stopper knot on it, surely?

When tying two ab ropes together you don't have a stopper knot.

Neil
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to RCC)

> Not if, as you should have, it has a stopper knot on it, surely?


Probably. I doubt that a fig 8 could roll over a stopper (say 1/2 a double fishermans), but if it did, then the resulting loop would not be much use to you. In any case, fig 8 loops are not designed for cross loading. in my opinion, it is better to just use a knot that is designed for the load you want to put on it rather than just accept that the backups will work or it will probably be OK (which is true).

Likewise, when abseiling, you could easily put a stopper above a fig8 (like an overhand or a double fisherman's). Nobody does it because there is no point!
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
The figure of eight loop has been used for decades to belay directly off with no known issues. With a stopper its bombproof, I think your being a touch paranoid.
Chi Cheng - on 20 May 2013
In reply to matta:
Not read all the reply but I just bought a meter of 26mm tubular tape (15Kn braking strength) tied a tape knot.

I clip into both my old loop and the new one.

If you don't want the added bulk of 26mm tape use the new stuff edelrid brought out. http://www.bananafingers.co.uk/edelrid-tech-web-12mm-tape-metre-p-1335.html

As strong (15kn), 12mm wide and can be tape knoted with out slipping.

Kind regards,
Chi
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Chi Cheng:
http://www.bealplanet.com/notices/sangles/index-us.html

15kn tape is approx 20kn as a loop, personally though I'd probably go for 16mm beal stuff much less bulky for hardly any reduction in strength (2kn) and nylon performs better with repeated flexing than dyneema.
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> With a stopper its bombproof, I think your being a touch paranoid.

Perhaps, but I'm not really claiming that it is excessively dangerous; just unnecessary. Similarly, a well made flat figure of eight is extremely unlikely to fail when used for abseiling. I wouldn't avoid using one because I thought that there was a realistic chance of dying if I did, I would avoid it because there is a better method. Not arguing anything more than that.

Neil Williams - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:

So for a situation where for whatever reason it isn't sensible to belay from the belay loop what do you do - clove hitch a crab on slightly further down the rope from the tie-in loop?

Neil
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

> So for a situation where for whatever reason it isn't sensible to belay from the belay loop what do you do - clove hitch a crab on slightly further down the rope from the tie-in loop?

I guess you could. Personally, I either belay off the belay loop or the anchors. What sort of situation were you thinking of?

CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
Its fine to belay from a figure of eight loop as long as the rope from it is connecting you tightly to a bombproof anchor, as this keeps the knot from rolling. Without this I personally would prefer to make sure there is well tightened stopper knot above it in case it rolls, with this I would consider this bombproof as there has never been a case I know of of a figure of eight tie in knot failing when being belayed off (with or without stopper), so IMO must be a very safe knot for this purpose.
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
"I guess you could. Personally, I either belay off the belay loop or the anchors"

do you really mean the anchors as in a direct belay?
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> do you really mean the anchors as in a direct belay?

Yes, and if I am belaying from my harness (leader or 2nd), the ropes will pretty much always be clipped to one or all of the anchors.
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
well I would read the article I linked above then!
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RCC - on 20 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> well I would read the article I linked above then!

I have read it.

adam11 - on 20 May 2013
1. My caving harness uses a D maillon and it's fine - but do you want to haul another piece of steel up a route with you?

2. When I was designing and building Paragliding harnesses for Thunder and Colt Balloons, damage to the edge of tape was considered very serious, and we also discovered that damage in the middle of tape could be substantial before it's realitic strength was compromised.

3. Although your loop is 'probably' ok, hard to judge without seeing it, (and probably be very safe if it was backed up, do you really want that factor in your mind when you're about to make a move that could result in a lob? This would be an issue for me - but then, I'm an old fart.

I'd say bin it, in the same manner I tell my motorcycling chums, 'If you've got a 50 head, wear a 50 helmet'.
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
Personally I pretty much follow what the article advises. However I have no issue with people belaying from either the rope loop or tie in loops but would prefer the tie in loops finished with a stopper if being used (especially if they are not directly connected to an anchor). I rarely use direct belaying in the UK (but do occasionally normally as it can be easier on my back).
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to adam11:
did you read this?
http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb/all/qc-lab-strength-of-worn-belay-loops

even with 75% cut through from both sides the loop would have very nearly passed the 15kn safety test and with 25% cut through from one side it did!
Neil Williams - on 20 May 2013
In reply to RCC:

Depending on how you're sitting (assuming you to be at the top of the crag), it can be awkward to use the belay loop. I suppose you could argue that means "find a better position", though.

Neil
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
but if you are sitting on the top of the crag you nearly always have anchors behind you and in this situation I think using the tie in loop is actually the best option - unless ofcourse you are attached directly and solely in to a sling using your belay loop, in which case use this.

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