/ Using an ATC to belay a top rope

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MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
I thought I knew how to use an ATC. But at the crag I was ticked off for raising my brake hand up above the ATC to take in the slack when top roping.
Now I've looked around and Black Diamond don't seem to cover top roping belays in the paper guide that comes with the ATC. Most videos I've seen show you lowering the non-brake hand and at the same time raising your brake hand to pull in the slack, then raising the non-brake hand to hold both the brake and non-brake sides of the rope together above the brake hand, and then sliding the brake hand down the brake side of the rope and finally dropping it below the ATC at your hip into the most secure position. The criticism made to me was that while the brake hand is above the ATC you don't have a secure hold.
But how else can you do it with an ATC? Is there a UKC guide to this?
xplorer on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Surely the same applies to any device that needs the bend in the rope to give friction?
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to xplorer:

this is true but not helpful!
Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Sorry, read yours again and I wouldn't quite do what you say. The hand change should be carried out not while your brake hand is above the ATC (that isn't locked off), but instead lock off THEN do the hand change.

So:-
- Lift brake hand up, pull down on live rope, pull dead rope through device with brake hand.
- Put brake hand down and back to lock off
- Move hand from live rope to dead rope above the brake hand
- Move original brake hand above that hand on the dead rope, near (but not too near) plate
- Move non brake hand back to live rope
- Repeat

Neil

Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

I have seen people do what you say using a Bug with the narrow end of the krab at the Bug end (the narrow end of the krab jamming into the Bug gives you a lot of friction a bit like a Italian hitch). This does seem to work (and catch falls) but it's incredibly clunky and not how the devices are designed to be used so is not recommended I'd say.

Neil
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

That means I think I would run the rope through the non-friction side of the ATC (i.e. the side without grooves.)
If my rope runs through the grooves I just can't haul my rope through ATC the way you suggest. Because of the friction I need to release it from the grooves by raising my hand above the ATC to pull through the slack.
GridNorth - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS: I don't think I ever change hands, I just slide my hand up the dead rope never letting go of it and certainly don't recall ever getting my break hand above the plate in the exaggerated manner that I sometimes see. I had to really think about this because for several years now I have always used a GriGri or Mammut Smart when bottom roping.
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> I had to really think about this because for several years now I have always used a GriGri or Mammut Smart when bottom roping.

Which I think is why they are the normal devices for gyms and single pitch sports climbing

Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

It was this bit:-

then raising the non-brake hand to hold both the brake and non-brake sides of the rope together above the brake hand

...that I was referring to, I think this would mean you're locked off for less time than if you do that hand change when locked off.

Neil
freerangecat - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
>
> That means I think I would run the rope through the non-friction side of the ATC (i.e. the side without grooves.)
> If my rope runs through the grooves I just can't haul my rope through ATC the way you suggest. Because of the friction I need to release it from the grooves by raising my hand above the ATC to pull through the slack.

I thought the way Neil described it you do lift the dead rope up to take the slack in - you have to (I have an atcxp, with the grooves, too) - his description sounds like how I was taught to belay...

Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Eh? Most people use ATCs or similar at UK indoor walls. You see some GriGris but not many, and the odd few of the other devices e.g. Click Up / Smart but not many.

I guess you're not in the UK? (Possibly because you use the term "climbing gym"?

Neil
Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to freerangecat:

Yeah, I did mean that - but do the hand change locked off (below the device) rather than not (above the device).

Neil
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to MikeTS) I don't think I ever change hands,

The sequence I describe doesn't mean you change hands. But as you slide the brake hand down from above the ATC there is a point at which you are not really gripping the brake side rope firmly with either hand.

Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Yeah, I think that is the issue. Not only are you half holding it with the same hand as the live rope, but you're also holding it above the device. You are very unlikely to hold a fall in that position. If you lock off before moving your brake hand towards the plate (whether you do that by sliding or "jumping over") you are locked off for as much time as possible.

Neil
freerangecat - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to freerangecat)
>
> Yeah, I did mean that - but do the hand change locked off (below the device) rather than not (above the device).
>
> Neil

yes. just has a quick look in rock climbing essential skills and techniques and trad climbing+ and both show belaying as you describe too.
Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

This is what I think you are describing (less safe):-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vPwvmA3Nw0

This is what I do (safer) :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-lBuKGdKhc

I think this might be a UK vs US thing like the whole palm up/down debate,

Neil
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

I am with you now. And yes, I was not taught in the UK. I found 2 refs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vPwvmA3Nw0
which suggest moving your brake hand when it is above the ATC.
GridNorth - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams: Yes. Option 2 for me. Option 1 just looks wrong somehow.
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
>
> This is what I think you are describing (less safe):-
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vPwvmA3Nw0
>


snap!!!
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
>
> like the whole palm up/down debate,
>

tell me more!!

ads.ukclimbing.com
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to freerangecat:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> [...]
>
> I(I have an atcxp, with the grooves, too) -

would you run the rope through the non-groove side if it was not a skinny rope and you were top roping?

GridNorth - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS: I'm not convinced that with both ropes parallel and hands above the head as shown on Option 1 that it would be possible to hold a fall at that precise moment, no matter how many hands are on the rope.
wilkie14c - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

> So:-
> - Lift brake hand up, pull down on live rope, pull dead rope through device with brake hand.
> - Put brake hand down and back to lock off
> - Move hand from live rope to dead rope above the brake hand
> - Move original brake hand above that hand on the dead rope, near (but not too near) plate
> - Move non brake hand back to live rope
> - Repeat
>
Been doing this way since stitch plates and caught dozens of falls.
> Neil

MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to MikeTS) I'm not convinced that with both ropes parallel and hands above the head as shown on Option 1 that it would be possible to hold a fall at that precise moment, no matter how many hands are on the rope.

yeah, I can see this and I always compromised by doing this when the climber looked safe.

I'll work on my option 2 in future.

Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

[reposted as I got them backwards]

Harder to find videos but...

This is palm down (UK style) though the belayer's hand is a bit close to the plate and will get sucked in in a fall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca1PyX_UAFU

I'm having a job finding a video for palm up, but it's similar to this but with the palm facing up on the brake hand. Note that the device is mostly NOT locked off and there has to be an action to catch the fall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvEQrKOtUZg

"Palm down" gives you a "lock off by default" whereas "palm up" requires an active decision to lock off. That could mean the difference between catching an unexpected fall and not doing (or getting rope burns doing so).

It doesn't overly surprise me that people in the US tend towards locking devices when no-one over there seems (from what I read) to have picked up that the UK techniques are much safer.

Neil
Neil Williams - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Sounds good :)

Neil
freerangecat - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

I always use the side with the grooves. I'm pretty light and generally belay people heavier than me, so I like the extra friction. have never found it a problem (except when I tried to absail using it that way around - didn't go anywhere!)
MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to freerangecat:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
> I always use the side with the grooves. I'm pretty light and generally belay people heavier than me, so I like the extra friction. have never found it a problem (except when I tried to absail using it that way around - didn't go anywhere!)

I'm heavy. No problem abseiling with grooves.
I'll try the non-groove side in a controlled experiment I think with a friend (if I can find one who'll agree!)

MikeTS - on 07 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Thanks everyone. I leaned good stuff.

Still surprised that Black Diamond don't tell you how to do this in their instructions.
Neil Williams - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

It's just like a Bug, slightly but not massively less friction,

Neil
tom_in_edinburgh - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
>
> This is what I think you are describing (less safe):-
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vPwvmA3Nw0
>

Mental.

sarahlizzy - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
> Sorry, read yours again and I wouldn't quite do what you say. The hand change should be carried out not while your brake hand is above the ATC (that isn't locked off), but instead lock off THEN do the hand change.
>
> So:-
> - Lift brake hand up, pull down on live rope, pull dead rope through device with brake hand.
> - Put brake hand down and back to lock off
> - Move hand from live rope to dead rope above the brake hand
> - Move original brake hand above that hand on the dead rope, near (but not too near) plate
> - Move non brake hand back to live rope
> - Repeat

Or alternatively, after the second step:

- Move hand from live rope to dead tope BELOW the brake hand.
- Slide original brake hand back up towards the belay device (but not too close)
- Move non brake hand back to live rope

Which you use seems to be down to personal preference.
pog100 - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to sarahlizzy:

Yes, I often do this, I think it depends on how much slack you have pulled through with the movement, as to which feels smoothest.
Neil Williams - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to sarahlizzy:

I used to do that, but switched to jumping over because you can take in a bit more rope that way. The counter to that is that sliding prevents the chance of fumbling and "automatically" letting go of the rope (never happened to me, but it's the reason I would tell someone new to slide one hand at a time while lowering rather than doing hand-over-hand).

Neil

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