/ Bad belaying

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
balmybaldwin - on 10 Dec 2013
http://www.vimeo.com/80489871

A few good points here, shame about the accents

Jack B on 10 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

The oh-so-subtle swaps between climber and super-realistic dummy were hilarious.

I hope there aren't too many belayers out there making those kind of mistakes...
johncook - on 10 Dec 2013
In reply to Jack B:

Unfortunately!
Go to any indoor wall on a busy day, or an easily accessible crag on a nice warm sunny day. Palm up, pinch and slide, letting the gri gri do the catching, lowering on a gri gri with the lever while the other hand holds the phone, lighting up while the leader is having a panic, eating sandwiches etc etc all seen this summer. (Funniest was the Uni group on N Burbage, sentinel crack, arrogant lead climber, belayed by a beginner who was very nervous and being yelled at for being slow (but safe-ish), leader gets to the big ledge below the last layback move, yells at belayer to take her off belay, then proceeds to fall off the move. Luckily she landed and was fielded by some guy who happened to be soloing up the right hand side of her. It could have been real messy, and not the belayers fault at all!)
Indoors I inform the staff, outdoors I try to move well away, as often if you comment, the backlash is just not worth the effort (As I discovered when I tried to help at the above incident) and you just end up with a spoiled day.
JJL - on 10 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Not the full package
rustynath on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Im still in awe of the last real bit of footage, does he actually start playing a flute?!
3 Names - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to johncook:

The best belayer is the one having the most fun!

Alex Riley on 11 Dec 2013
I remember on my SPA training being shown an American climbing textbook, whose diagram showed the second method in the video as the correct method.. Madness...

Funny film though :)
Jamie B - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to Alex Riley:

> I remember on my SPA training being shown an American climbing textbook, whose diagram showed the second method in the video as the correct method.. Madness...

Not uncommon amongst North American climbers, and sometimes called the "slip slap slide" belay method. Diagram here: http://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/staff/walkersteph/Belay%20School2007-1_files/image060.gif

It looks deeply counter-intuitive, and breaks several of the "rules" mentioned in the original video BUT if a climber has been using it successfully for years and has held numerous falls with it, should it be seen as lethal and should they be asked to adopt a method that they may be less comfortable with? This is the sort of scenario that wall staff don't always handle very well.

I've experimented with it, out of professional curiosity, and would have to say that it works better than you might expect, although I'm not going to be switching to it anytime soon! My suspicion remains that it was developed at a time when devices like Sticht plates and Tubers were the norm - these are much grippier than a modern plate and more or less require live and dead rope to be paralell for there to be any movement without jamming.
Jamie B - on 11 Dec 2013

Video here illustrating "Slip Slap Slide"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG1ae1l5c6Y

Having a quick geek around US sites there does seem to be a bit of an ongoing discussion about this method versus BUS (look it up!)
Post edited at 10:53
Ramblin dave - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:
I feel slightly clueless asking this, but here goes...

Something that I see a lot and that does my head in is people who belay with one hand above the plate and one below and just alternately shuffle them along, rather than going through the whole "V to the knee" routine and always keeping one hand firm on the braking rope. But I'm never quite sure how bad this actually is and how much I should shout at people when they do it - and I don't want to be one of those people who bangs on about anyone doing anything that's not exactly the way I've learnt to do it.

So how bad a practice actually is it?
Jack B on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
It's not a good idea. It makes it harder to catch someone if they fall during that moment you are shuffling your hand up the rope. If the rope picks up any speed before you react, you'll get rope burns and/or your hand pulled into the device. For some people, the pain of one of these things happening means they'll let go...

Whether or not it's actually dangerous depends on: how far/hard the fall is; how much slack is out; if the belayer is watching the climber, and would see the fall before the rope came tight; the belayer's reaction time; the belayer's instinctive reaction in a fall; the belay device being used and a host of other things.

So how bad is it? Well, I would usually not allow someone to belay me like that. I probably wouldn't approach a stranger about it, unless there were other indicators that they were out of their depth. As one of the more experienced people in a uni club (everything is relative!), I would admonish a less experienced member who I saw doing that.

(all assuming we're still talking about top-rope belaying here, for paying out, I might be a little more relaxed, depending on the terrain.)
Post edited at 18:27
highclimber - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

There should never be an instant where you are not holding the dead end of the rope. anyone doing so, regardless of who they are should be told what they are doing is potentially dangerous*


*assuming they are using a regular atc/stich plate device.
balmybaldwin - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to highclimber:

Surely this applies to any device (unless tied off)? grigris included
highclimber - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to johncook:


> Indoors I inform the staff, outdoors I try to move well away, as often if you comment, the backlash is just not worth the effort (As I discovered when I tried to help at the above incident) and you just end up with a spoiled day.

I think that not saying something for fear of causing upset is a poor excuse.
highclimber - on 11 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

I suppose so but it's almost always dangerous to do it with an ATC.
Michael Gordon - on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Surely depends if you're paying out or taking in?
cragtaff - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Jamie B: Sorry, but I wouldn't let the sip - slap - slide guy belay me, no way! Its sod's law I will fall at the precise moment he is doing the slap bit and I hit the deck. Lousy technique. What purpose does the 'slap' part serve?

The dead end should be locked back as much and as soon as possible at every move of the rope, with all slack taken out of it. This doesn't achieve that.

Ban1 - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to cragtaff:


> The dead end should be locked back as much and as soon as possible at every move of the rope, with all slack taken out of it. This doesn't achieve that.

I second that.
Neil Williams - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Ban1:
The only way in which that technique would appear to be safe is if you were belaying on an Italian hitch, where the lock-off is in front of you. Is that perhaps where it comes from, then people incorrectly adapted it to an ATC?

Notably, a Bug used against the narrow end of a krab will lock off in that way as well, but it is not the proper way and it can't be relied on.

It'd also work on a Grigri (bell ringing has the two ends not far off parallel) though it is not best technique.

Oh, yeah, also a waist belay I guess. That's probably where it's from.

Neil
Post edited at 20:15
Jamie B - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

You may say that it is unsafe, and it is certainly counter-intuitive, but a North American climber may well have used it without mishap for longer than you've been alive!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Neil Williams - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

The big problem with it is that it doesn't fail safe. It would also be easy to fumble during the hand change if the climber fell precisely then.

Just because someone has got away with something for ages... :)

Neil
Dave 88 - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

Ah yes, "expert village". That whole series has some pretty suspect advice, most of it is bad practice at best.
highclimber - on 18 Dec 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> You may say that it is unsafe, and it is certainly counter-intuitive, but a North American climber may well have used it without mishap for longer than you've been alive!

Why is it the Americans think their method is safer* than the more widely used method of using the same device?

* a lack of incidents involving the 'american' belay method does not mean it is any safer than ours and whether it is or isnt easier misses the point of belaying.
Post edited at 23:51
Jamie B - on 19 Dec 2013
In reply to highclimber:

> Why is it the Americans think their method is safer than the more widely used method of using the same device?

I suspect "they" don't. It's just their orthodoxy. They pick it up and run with it because it's what they've been shown. And as people are wont to do with things, they make it work. They don't challenge the othodoxy or engage in intellectual consideration of other methods. Any more than we do when we learn ours.

Lukem6 - on 19 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Any fail videos from people standing too far back from the wall while catching a fall... I've had a belayer impact the wall once. just glad she didn't let go. should've had the camera out
Ciderslider - on 19 Dec 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Bad belayer - what a star !
rgold - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Jamie B:
The slip slap 'n slide method is a holdover from the ancient days of the hip belay, when it made perfect sense (as it still does with a Munter hitch). People kept the same hand motions even though dem new-fangled belay dee-vices really called for a different technique.

However, if the belayer is even remotely vigilant (something that can no longer be assumed, especially in crowded social environments), there is no problem in reacting and stopping a fall, and as far as I know, we backward Yanks are not plummeting to the deck any more frequently than you Brits. However, given that vigilance seems to be a thing of the past, a technique with more locking does seem preferable, and is in any case more logical.

On another point, everyone shuffles the rope through the belay device when paying out slack, don't they? So the idea that the brake hand, while not leaving the rope, can slide down it is pretty ingrained in belaying technique. Doing the same thing while taking in the rope requires there to be enough rope weight on the brake strand to allow the brake hand to slide up smoothly. If that is the case, I can't see what the fuss would be about.

I gotta say you guys are a hoot. You've got climbs where there is no anchor at all for the belayer, tradition forbids bolts for a belay anchor, and you're seriously worried by slap 'n slide belay technique? I got a feelin' something else is gonna getcha!
Post edited at 06:53
3 Names - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to rgold:

which climbs have no belay anchor?
rgold - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 3 Names:

I'm going by comments from other threads here. In one on bolting which I can't seem to locate at the moment, I mentioned that in the US even in the most trad environments people agree that anchorless belay stances can be bolted. I was informed that the same attitude did not hold in the UK, and assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that those response were not merely hypothetical.
idiotproof (Buxton MC) - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 3 Names:

I would guess most UK trad climbers have heard or said "climb when ready but try not to fall, the belay is shit"
Sarah G on 10 Jan 2014
You've got climbs where there is no anchor at all for the belayer, tradition forbids bolts for a belay anchor,

Not at all, every climb has an anchor for the belayer.

it's called The Ground.

Sx
krikoman - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Jamie B:

It obviously is unsafe, I can't see how you might stop some hefty bloke if he happened to fall of during the slap part.

The whole idea of "normal" belaying technique is that it keeps the dead rope under the bug giving a massive amount of friction, it's this not the strength of the belayer that stops you decking out. Hence my 8 stone female climbing partner can stop and hold me falling off.
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to rgold:

An interesting way of putting it - but I don't think that vigilance (which should be present regardless) is a good reason not to use a fail-safe technique.

Slip-slap-slide is correct, as you say, for Italian hitches and waist belays where the lock-off is in front of you rather than down to the right. But I wouldn't climb with someone belaying me using a tubular device or Sticht plate in that manner, and would have misgivings about someone using a Gri-gri in that manner even if it would probably lock up. I have noted that if you use a Bug with a pointy krab it works, but it's still not ideal.

Having said all that (ssssh!) where permitted I use a bowline with stopper rather than Fig 8 (mainly because it's easier to untie), so maybe I'm being a hypocrite...

Neil
zebidee - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Sarah G:

> You've got climbs where there is no anchor at all for the belayer, tradition forbids bolts for a belay anchor,

> Not at all, every climb has an anchor for the belayer.

> it's called The Ground.

Absolutely ... or guess what ... we build a belay anchor to make sure that the belayer is not going to be pulled off whatever they are standing on.
johncook - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to cragtaff:

Having been dropped by an American who used this technique (also called pinch and slide) I now avoid belayers who use it. He had used it for years and 'never had a problem with it before!' I was top roping, (a route well beyond my capabilities) and apparently I should have told him that I was going to fall off before I actually did!
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to johncook:
It's not a bad idea to communicate with your belayer, but any technique that isn't 100% guaranteed to catch an unexpected fall (equipment failure or being too high above the gear making it impossible aside) is not fit for purpose.

Neil
Post edited at 12:23
andrewmcleod - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 3 Names:
Kamin No 5, Sandy Bay in South Devon, according to a friend?
(ridiculous sandstone sea stack, simultaneous abseil descent)
Post edited at 12:54
rgold - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to johncook) It's not a bad idea to communicate with your belayer, but any technique that isn't 100% guaranteed to catch an unexpected fall (equipment failure or being too high above the gear making it impossible aside) is not fit for purpose.
>
> Neil

No technique is 100% guaranteed to catch an unexpected fall or even, in some cases, an expected fall. The belayer, not the fine details of what his or her hands are doing, is still the most important link in the chain.
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to rgold:

The potential for confusion and hand position are *very* important, as is how fail-safe the technique is...

Neil
Jonny2vests - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 3 Names:

> which climbs have no belay anchor?

Ever climbed on Red Walls or the Llyn Peninsula?
ads.ukclimbing.com
GrahamD - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Jonny2vests:

Or indeed Carn Gowla
Jonny2vests - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

Good god yes.
climbwhenready - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to rgold:

That argument is silly. What a belayer's hands are doing is inextricably linked with how well they are doing their job of belaying - not the only factor, true, but an incredibly important one.
Martin Hore - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Jamie B:

> Not uncommon amongst North American climbers, and sometimes called the "slip slap slide" belay method. Diagram here: http://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/staff/walkersteph/Belay%20School2007-1_files/image060.gif

This is quite worrying, especially as more than one poster on this thread seems willing to defend this method.

It isn't clear to me from the diagram in the link, or from other posters' comments, whether the dead rope is immediately locked off when the climber falls, or whether the fall is actually held in the "slip-slap" position. If the former, then surely it would be obvious, to Yanks and Brits alike, that a method that keeps the dead rope ready in the locked off position most of the time must be preferable. If it's the latter then frankly I'm amazed there aren't more accidents. You might as well dispense with the belay plate and just run the rope through the karabiner!

I've seen this method tried on a few occasions, almost invariably by people who have been out of the game for many years and are regressing to the method they were taught back in the 60's or early 70's with a waist belay (with which, as with an Italian hitch, it is a sound method as others have said). I've always politely put them right, and they've usually been very grateful.

> It looks deeply counter-intuitive, and breaks several of the "rules" mentioned in the original video BUT if a climber has been using it successfully for years and has held numerous falls with it, should it be seen as lethal and should they be asked to adopt a method that they may be less comfortable with?

I know Americans are supposed to be hotter on individual freedom than us Europeans, but this seems to be taking things a bit far. On my two or three climbing outings with American friends, in New Hampshire and the Gunks, no-one's tried to belay me this way, and I would certainly have said something if they had. As it happens these Americans probably had a stronger ethic of checking each other and pointing out short-comings in safety techniques than my British climbing partners.

> I've experimented with it, out of professional curiosity, and would have to say that it works better than you might expect, although I'm not going to be switching to it anytime soon! My suspicion remains that it was developed at a time when devices like Sticht plates and Tubers were the norm - these are much grippier than a modern plate and more or less require live and dead rope to be paralell for there to be any movement without jamming.

Surely it was developed for use with the waist belay, and then adapted for use with the Italian Hitch. I can't think it was ever the manufacturer's intended method with the Sticht Plate or Tuber, any more than with more modern devices (though I guess someone might come up with evidence to prove me wrong).

Martin Hore - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to balmybaldwin:
> A few good points here, shame about the accents

Excellent video, but what is it with the UKC clientele and accents?

First we have James Pearson criticised for adopting a slightly slowed down and ever-so-slightly "RP" accent which he probably finds very helpful when communicating with his many friends whose first language is not English.

Now we seem to be criticising French people for speaking English with a French accent!

Would you prefer they spoke in French?
Post edited at 22:23

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.