/ Overheard at the crag the other day

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Jus - on 01 Jul 2013
A group of 4 or 5 climbers turned up at the sport crag we were at on the weekend.

The guy who seem to be the ‘leader’ of the group started explaining to his friends the ins and outs of climbing on rock/ belaying etc.

What he went on to say left me gobsmacked and went something like this:

“Sitting down belaying is safer than standing up as you are more stable. When belaying someone on a long route it’s also good as you don’t get tired/ fedup/ bored (can’t remember his exact words!)”

The people he was with nodded in understanding. I probably should've said something...
jon on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Why? I usually sit back against a tree or boulder if there's one handy. What's the problem with it?
_sllab_ on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

yeah that was me..all valid reasons and no deaths incidents yet!

and your point is?
Jus - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to jon:

It's not exactly safer though is it?
jon on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

No, but I don't understand why you were gobsmacked or why you felt like you should have said something. It's not exactly dangerous.
scott quinn - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to jon:

Not exactly dangerous no, but if you are instructing people perhaps best practice should be adopted.
Let people pick up their own bad habbits?
SCrossley on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:
Let me gets this straight, are you saying you do not sit down whilst belaying, I would consider that an unjustifiable risk.
SCrossley on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to scott quinn:
> (In reply to jon)
>
>
> Let people pick up their own bad hobbits?

Pervert
scott quinn - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to sjc:

haha nice one!
made my working day abit better
fionn on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Sitting down whilst belaying limits the ability to provide a dynamic belay. On that particular point I would think it "safer" for the climber if the belayer was standing.
Jus - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to jon:

If you are talking about belaying someone leading a single pitch sport route you are not 'more stable' and 'less likely to get tired'.
Mike Stretford - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus: I don't like my belayers being sitting down (when I'm leading). Being able to take in and out by walking in or out is a good back up for rope jams and quick takes, and it's good for the belayer to get in a good position relative to the first bits of gear.
Kirill - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:
Surely that depends on the situation. If you're belaying off the buried axe then you should dig a seat and sit, but somewhere like the bottom of the Tintern quarry, then better standing up so that you have a chance to jump away when your partner pulls out a microwave sized piece of rock.
Jus - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Kirill:

Yes of course, there are times where sitting down is better.

I was specifically talking about belaying someone from the ground at a bottom of a route whilst the climber lead.
Blinder - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus: What about if they trip and pull you off. Happened to a mate broke both ankels.
useful on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Ed Boyter:

Standing: better to avoid the loose detritus accidentally knocked down by the lead on a recently-defrosted route (as well as dynamic belaying).
Adam Lincoln - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

I usually just belay from the comfort of my rock and roll bed. ;-)
Nevis-the-cat - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Standing up is better, you can put your foot on the rope while making a phone call or opening a can of bitter.
Hardonicus - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Nevis-the-cat: I once called the police on a guy who was belaying whilst drinking a can of wifebeater and smoking roll ups.
tlm - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Papillon:
> Being able to take in and out by walking in or out is a good back up for rope jams and quick takes,

Fine for sports climbs, but not so good for trad gear where you risk the gear unzipping if you stand too far from the base of the route.

There isn't one right way to do things, it depends on the circumstances.
Trangia - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply:

I often sit when belaying on multi pitch climbing. I've never felt it's unsafe or wrong. Generally, however, when belaying from the ground I tend to stand because, being old and creaky, I have trouble standing up again when it comes to my turn to follow.
Timmd on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Trangia: I'd never sit down while belaying, a fall could possibly lift you off the ground and slide you across the ground into something, which could be distracting.
derryclimbs - on 01 Jul 2013
Mike Stretford - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to tlm: I did mention getting in a good position relative to the first bits of gear, right after the part of my text you did quote!

I was just giving examples of why I think a standing belayer has more options, which was really my point. Obviously this doesn't apply to multi-pitch were there's more height for the system to work anyway.
Trangia - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to Trangia) I'd never sit down while belaying, a fall could possibly lift you off the ground and slide you across the ground into something, which could be distracting.

That's actually happened to me when standing up. I was lifted clean off my feet and had to stop myeslf from slamming into the rock with my feet. Both the leader and I finished up together dangling about 10 ft up. A good reason for using a base anchor like a nut or cam in a crack postioned to take an upward pull. I always use base anchors when sea cliff climbing positioned to withstand both upward and downward (seaward) pulls.
tlm - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Papillon:
> (In reply to tlm) I did mention getting in a good position relative to the first bits of gear, right after the part of my text you did quote!

Sorry - it wasn't clear to me when I read it. I guess I see so many people using wall belaying techniques when doing their first trad climbing, totally oblivious to the dangers of doing this that I think it is quite important to make it clear.

I often sit down, especially if there is a handy belaying rock at exactly the right point, worn and polished by generations of bottoms sitting on it. Especially when I am belaying a slow leader and might be there for some time. I stand when I might have to jump out of the reach of the tide, or if it is wet and muddy. I stand when climbing indoors or if the rock looks loose, or if I need to move around to keep the rope in the right position. I would stand if I thought that a dynamic belay might be needed, but on the bumbly routes I'm usually involved with, it doesn't happen often.
JJL - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

How's the thread working out?
Timmd on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Timmd)
> [...]
>
> That's actually happened to me when standing up. I was lifted clean off my feet and had to stop myeslf from slamming into the rock with my feet. Both the leader and I finished up together dangling about 10 ft up. A good reason for using a base anchor like a nut or cam in a crack postioned to take an upward pull. I always use base anchors when sea cliff climbing positioned to withstand both upward and downward (seaward) pulls.

I read about somebody getting a rock in the gonads after being lifted off the floor while belaying sitting down, he skimmed along the ground until he met the rock.
Timmd on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Papillon)
> [...]
>

> I often sit down, especially if there is a handy belaying rock at exactly the right point, worn and polished by generations of bottoms sitting on it. Especially when I am belaying a slow leader and might be there for some time. I stand when I might have to jump out of the reach of the tide, or if it is wet and muddy. I stand when climbing indoors or if the rock looks loose, or if I need to move around to keep the rope in the right position. I would stand if I thought that a dynamic belay might be needed, but on the bumbly routes I'm usually involved with, it doesn't happen often.

I suppose it's about judgement like everything else.
Robert Durran - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to tlm:
> Fine for sports climbs, but not so good for trad gear where you risk the gear unzipping if you stand too far from the base of the route.

Just sit with your back against the bottom of the crag - comfy and good for admiring the view. Is there a problem?
Michael Gordon - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Not this again!
Flashy - on 01 Jul 2013
I tried belaying lying down at Swanage. I fell asleep (!) but was woken by the spray from a wave.

I once watched with bemusement at a crag in France where the belayer was sat down some distance from the base with a lot of slack out.

Inevitably the leader rested, which pulled the belayer forwards and then face down onto the one rock that was sticking out of the ground, splitting his nose open. Then he let go of the rope to grab his face, dropping the leader the rest of the way to the ground (not very far after all of this). We sauntered off smugly, being young, British and therefore superior to these foreigners and their funny ways.
chris fox on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Yeh, i was appalled at this guys belaying in Rifle. Then found out i was next on his catch list

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisfox/1520433864/
flaneur - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Kirill:

> ... but somewhere like the bottom of the Tintern quarry, then better standing up so that you have a chance to jump away when your partner pulls out a microwave sized piece of rock.

But a well-practiced Tintern aficionado can bat away falling microwaves with the back of her hand. It's the fridges you have to worry about.

In reply to Jus: If I've led a pitch and am belaying my second up to me, sitting is more stable and more comfortable.
ice.solo - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Nevis-the-cat:
> (In reply to Jus)
>
> Standing up is better, you can put your foot on the rope while making a phone call or opening a can of bitter.

haha. and cover your lighter from the wind.
Jus - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Yes. Of course.

I/ he were not talking about belaying whilst bringing up your second though however.
Paul F - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Nevis-the-cat:
> (In reply to Jus)
>
> Standing up is better, you can put your foot on the rope while making a phone call or opening a can of bitter.

I just use a grigri, then I can use both hands to roll a ciggie.
Jonny2vests - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains)
>
> Yes. Of course.
>
> I/ he were not talking about belaying whilst bringing up your second though however.

Haha, I feel you're pain when people can't even be arsed to understand the topic. Sometimes I sit, sometimes I stand, I would never describe sitting as 'safer' though. Most walls wont let you sit down lead belaying.
Jamie B - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

It does sound like naff advice, but wading in and saying something would have been naffer still.

All over the climbing world people are being taught dodgy stuff. Fortunately the smart and the dedicated will soon work out for themselves that better approaches exist, and may come to scorn those who they once followed without question. That was certainly my experience as a beginner.
Purple - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus: Aye. The guy's either short on experience, or short on the ability to evaluate experience and learn from it. Sitting down belaying may be safer sometimes, but there are numerous reasons why the reverse may be true even if it's just in the context of the crag you were at. Better instructing would be to get his learners to think about the pros and cons in different situations.


graeme jackson - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:
Yes. Of course.
>
> I/ he were not talking about belaying whilst bringing up your second though however.

in your OP ... "When belaying someone on a long route ".... Most long routes you'd have to bring your second up.
jkarran - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

> The people he was with nodded in understanding. I probably should've said something...

What would you have said?
jk
tlm - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> I would never describe sitting as 'safer' though.

Not even if you are belaying from above, with very low down points of attachment?

Not even when you have very poor anchors and sitting will give you extra purchase, such as with a snow anchor?

Not even if the ground is very uneven, and yet there is a very secure place which you could sit in?

Not even when you are sitting in your harness on a hanging belay?
deepsoup - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> It does sound like naff advice, but wading in and saying something would have been naffer still.

This ^^^ exactly.

You'd have to be overhearing something profoundly dodgy before sticking your oar in would be the right thing to do I reckon, this example is nowhere near the "probably should have said something" threshold imo.
andrewmcleod - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

Perhaps this is oversimplified, but:

rope goes up, stand up
rope goes down, sit down

?
jon on 02 Jul 2013
woody5 - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus: In many years of climbing I have overheard some complete and utter drivel ,and frankly what you are describing is very minor in comparison.
Scarab9 - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:

think what's needed is more info from the person who gave the advice who replied once initially near the top of the thread. If they were specifically talking about belaying from the bottom of a single pitch route then I can't see any reason for giving the advice and certainly not in the wording like you've given (there's always those nice routes with a perfect leaning post or seat where you need it but they're it reads like it's a suggestion for all routes which is frankly weird). I'd say though that it's likely enough you didn't catch all of the conversation and may have misconstrued - not definitely but there's a chance.
unclesamsauntibess - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to woody5:
> (In reply to Jus) In many years of climbing I have overheard some complete and utter drivel ,and frankly what you are describing is very minor in comparison.

Just like this..........................
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Jus)
> [...]
>
> Haha, I feel you're pain when people can't even be arsed to understand the topic.

Strange post.

I read the full thread and understand it. The OP says it was "overheard", so we do not the full context, and there are situations in which something "overheard" and therefore thought to be wrong are in fact fine. Perhaps it's not me who's misunderstanding?

r0x0r.wolfo - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains: I think "sport crag" gives it away. We just have to take the O.P for his word for what has been said. I think anyone mentioning sitting down at the top of a route/pitch is misunderstanding the O.P, yes.
Jonny2vests - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> Not even if you are belaying from above, with very low down points of attachment?
>
> Not even when you have very poor anchors and sitting will give you extra purchase, such as with a snow anchor?
>
> Not even if the ground is very uneven, and yet there is a very secure place which you could sit in?
>
> Not even when you are sitting in your harness on a hanging belay?

Surely by now its clear he's not talking about any of those. RTFT
Hugh Cottam - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
I once fell 30 foot whilst right next to a bolt. My belayer's comment was "Sorry, I was looking at something else".
tlm - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:

> Surely by now its clear he's not talking about any of those. RTFT

Bless. It wasn't clear that you weren't. If we all stuck to the original scenario, all threads would be pretty short and boring discussions.

In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains) We just have to take the O.P for his word for what has been said.

Let's take what the leader said at face value - let's interpret the word "sitting" as it is understood by the majority of people in the majority of situations. He says sitting is safer. He isn't saying sitting casually on the grass (such that you can be yanked up uncontrollably by a falling climber) is safer. He isn't saying sitting down in a sloppy position with no option of bracing yourself is safer. But if you dispute the idea that sitting (as it is normally understood by normal people in the majority of circumstances, i.e. stable on something in an unforced and comfortable position) with three points of contact on something secure - arse, left foot, right foot - is more stable than standing with just two points of contact - left foot and right foot - then this conversation is already over.
deepsoup - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
"There's belaying and then there's f**king belaying isn't there?" :o)

I googled JD's famous phrase, and one of the results was this, which really seems rather good:
http://monkeyclimbs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/monkey-judges-your-belay.html

(I LOL'ed at the caption to that first photo. :o)
mockerkin on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to Jus:
> A group of 4 or 5 climbers turned up at the sport crag we were at on the weekend.



> What he went on to say left me gobsmacked and went something like this:
>
> “Sitting down belaying is safer than standing up as you are more stable. When belaying someone on a long route it’s also good as you don’t get tired/ fedup/ bored (can’t remember his exact words!)”
>
> The people he was with nodded in understanding. I probably should've said something...

>> You should have been wearing one of these. Not only would you have contributed to marine safety you would also have been able to put your point on all of the internet.
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=555548


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