/ Belaying from above

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climbwhenready - on 03 Feb 2014
I've not climbed outside yet, and obviously I'm not going to go off and mindlessly use advice off the internet, but something got me thinking:

If you're belaying a second from above (off the harness, using an ATC-style device), what is the lock-off position for the brake rope? I would have thought that in a fall, the device would rotate and point down, so your lock-off position would be with the brake rope pointing *up* in anticipation of that. Is that right? If so, it sounds uncomfortable?
Choss on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Pull Brake rope to the Side of your waist in a fall, depending Which Handed you are, left for left, Right for right.

Practice in a controlled Situation before needed for real would be my Advice.

climbwhenready - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Choss:

OK, similar to what I was thinking but back like a hard lead belay. Thanks!
Otis - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

In reality, your harness loop will be set slightly back from the edge of the crag (which you'll be sat on top of). The load on the rope will be slightly 'out' as well as 'down' so you simply lock off the dead end of the rope to your side.

Don't worry too much about the angles, or over thinking it too much. When you give it a go it'll be pretty obvious how it works :-)

Mike.
JimboWizbo - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Have a look at Rock Climbing Essential Skills & Techniques by Libby Peters.
jkarran - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

> I would have thought that in a fall, the device would rotate and point down, so your lock-off position would be with the brake rope pointing *up* in anticipation of that. Is that right? If so, it sounds uncomfortable?

You're right, up beside your hip to lock off and it's not uncomfortable... unless you're sat belaying in a gorse bush or the rope runs down over your shin :)

jk
mattrm - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Sounds about right. The forces involved in someone falling off on a simple single pitch outdoors aren't really much. On a lot of routes, you can almost get away with sitting on the edge in a braced position. Obviously you shouldn't, but you could.

When you are setting up a belay have a good think about where you're going to put the ropes, sit and where the rope will run down to the second. The first time you trap your leg or foot under the rope will make you think harder about it the next belay you set up. Also it's worth thinking about which side you'll lock off with left or right. Sometimes the belay will mean you'll have to use the left side and vice versa.
Choss on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:
Make sure youre tight to your Belay anchors if that makes sense. And if youre belaying off nut or cam placements, dont be Shy about Backing them up.
Post edited at 14:46
Ban1 - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:
you should look into a 'petzle reverso'/black diamond equivalent if you start to enjoy outside climbing.

super comfy belaying straight off the anchor
Post edited at 15:35
bluesharper - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

An alternative technique is to use direct belay and a self-braking device like Petzl Reverso or Black Diamond ATC Guide. The belayer is in much more comfortable position, the self-braking mode adds to safety and comfort, and if your second falls off or something goes wrong you are not immobilized. This helps a lot on multipitch routes, where it makes things like rescuing your second easier. I believe that most British are not accustomed to direct belays and (probably rightly) argue that it increases the load on the anchors. However some people on the continent say that if you cannot use a direct belay, your anchors are rubbish and you should not use or trust them at all. For the types of climbing that I do, it is typically true.

The disadvantage is that giving slack in self-braking mode is difficult or even impossible if you don't know how to do this. If this is a big problem, you can use a direct belay with a Munter hitch instead of the belay device (no self-braking but lowering your second is easy). Unfortunately Munter hitch may cause rope twisting and be inconvenient if you use double ropes.

It is a matter of choosing the right method for the situation and type of climbing. And to some extent a matter of cultural differences.

In any case please learn how to build bomber belays and never let go of the braking rope even if you use a self-braking device like Reverso. It is a good idea to read lots about various techniques including self-rescue. From a good book at first, but as you get experienced you do not need to write off (good) internet sources. Just be very careful and do not use something that you don't understand.

I strongly recommend to ask someone experienced to show you the techniques in practice.

Stay safe and have fun. Climbing outside is fantastic.
Neil Williams - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to mattrm:

Yes and no... I was surprised how great (not unmanageably so, but noticeably) the force was the first time I caught a fall belaying that way round - there is no additional friction from a krab at the top unlike a regular top-rope.

Neil
duchessofmalfi - on 03 Feb 2014
Practice! and get practical advice from someone who knows what they're doing.

Until you feel happy have the second apply some tension before they start climbing to let you see what you've set up before (assuming you're competent to arrange your own belay).

andrewmcleod - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Yes and no... I was surprised how great (not unmanageably so, but noticeably) the force was the first time I caught a fall belaying that way round - there is no additional friction from a krab at the top unlike a regular top-rope.

I have found putting in a redirect can make this more pleasant where feasible.
climbwhenready - on 03 Feb 2014
Thanks to all who replied, it's clearer now. To those saying I should be shown by someone experienced: I know this, and am indeed going to be, but I'm a bit weird in wanting to understand stuff from books/etc. independently of being shown. In my mind, it gives me confidence that I understand the system and that the "teacher" hasn't inadvertantly missed out something very important!
Otis - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

You've got a great attitude to learning!! :-)

Being shown stuff by someone experienced is invaluable, but having some knowledge stored away so you can back up and (above all) understand what you're being shown is invaluable.

Keep up with the learning, keep asking sensible questions and enjoy your climbing :-)

Mike
Ban1 - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Otis:

also ask more than one person to find other ways of doing tasks. then evaluate the safer option or the one you feel more comfortable with.
marsbar - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

As above the Libby Peters book is what you need.
Dark Peak Paul - on 04 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

<I would have thought that in a fall, the device would rotate and point down>

I suggest you sit on the sofa and 'belay' your dog or something. You should set you device so that the 'live' rope enters the belay device from below and the 'dead' rope is on top. This makes it easy to take in and the device does not rotate when loaded. As the braking hand pulls back and up, make sure that your elbow will not be obstucted by whatever you are belayed to. (Sit back on the sofa and you will see what I mean).

Hope it goes well and have fun, Paul
ripper - on 04 Feb 2014
In reply to Dark Peak Paul:

Well done - the first person to point what surely is the important bit: that when belaying from a above, the rope to your partner (live) comes out of the bottom of your device and the one that you use to brake (dead) comes out of the top. Get that sorted and it becomes obvious that the direction of locking off is more up-and-back and than down-and-back.
needvert on 04 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

My preference on the small stuff I do seems to be:

1 direct belay with munter
2 direct belay guide mode
3 Munter off harness
4 ATC off harness

and never...ATC off anchors

influencing factors...number climbing, gear available, anchor height, anchor quality, time pressure, desire for hands free, ropes, likelihood of falling.

ads.ukclimbing.com
jezb1 - on 04 Feb 2014
In reply to needvert:

> My preference on the small stuff I do seems to be:

> 1 direct belay with munter

> 2 direct belay guide mode

> 3 Munter off harness

> 4 ATC off harness

> and never...ATC off anchors

> influencing factors...number climbing, gear available, anchor height, anchor quality, time pressure, desire for hands free, ropes, likelihood of falling.

For me, never an ATC off the harness, always into the rope loop ;)
adamarchie on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:

...or belay off the harness's belay loop AND the rope loop for double paranoia!

If belaying just off your rope loop, make sure you've not tied in with a bowline, even if backed up with a stopper knot, otherwise your second +/- you may be about to take a long trip down. Tie a bowline and pull the inner ends apart and you'll see what I mean!

Obviously, best always to tie in with a rethreaded figure 8 (who doesn't?) but if you really do want to go for a quick-to-tie bowline variant, the left-handed/cowboy bowline resists a pull on the inner ends much better than the standard bowline, is just as quickly tied and can likewise be tied with one hand, should your other hand have mysteriously fallen off. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_bowline for a diagram.)
Sally Bustyerface - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

> Thanks to all who replied, it's clearer now. To those saying I should be shown by someone experienced: I know this, and am indeed going to be, but I'm a bit weird in wanting to understand stuff from books/etc. independently of being shown. In my mind, it gives me confidence that I understand the system and that the "teacher" hasn't inadvertantly missed out something very important!

Wow. I hope your "teacher" (your quotes) reads this posr first.
jezb1 - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to adamarchie:

> ...or belay off the harness's belay loop AND the rope loop for double paranoia!

Never that way either. My reason for belaying off the rope loop is nothing to do with strength.



climbwhenready - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to Sally Bustyerface:

> Wow. I hope your "teacher" (your quotes) reads this posr first.

No-one who I climb with - or would want to climb with - are the sort of people who would begrudge wanting to know as much detail as possible about techniques that your life depends on.
Neil Williams - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:

If you think your harness belay loop is even vaguely likely to fail, bin your harness *now*. It will be the tie-in points, not the belay loop, that wear first.

Neil
jezb1 - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

Did you actually read my post Neil?
Neil Williams - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:
Yes, the reply was mainly to the person you were replying to, effectively backing you up. I just used the reply button on your post. The "you" was more generic (shame English only has the stilted "one" for that purpose).

Neil
Post edited at 08:31
jezb1 - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

Sorry Neil !
Neil Williams - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:

No prob :)
cheek to the rock - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Can i ask,why never of harness loop and rope loop?
Neil Williams - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to cheek to the rock:
What is to be gained by using both, given that if you don't trust your belay loop you need a new harness, if you don't trust your rope you need a new rope, and if you don't trust your knot, well..?

Plus of belay loop: it's designed for that so is a sensible and safe default
Plus of rope loop: easier to escape the system, can be better for positioning

As far as I can see, using both just has the disadvantages of both, and the advantage of backing up something that you trust alone in most other situations.

Neil
Post edited at 10:56
jezb1 - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:


> Plus of rope loop: easier to escape the system, can be better for positioning

And if your second falls off, all the weight bypasses your harness and goes through the rope loop and set up.
bpmclimb - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

what is the lock-off position for the brake rope?


One thing to bear in mind (I don't think it's been mentioned on this thread yet) is that it's important which side you belay on, relative to the anchor ropes. For example, if you're sitting at the top, facing out, and the anchor ropes are running down to your harness past your right hip, a right hand belay is called for. If you belayed with your left hand in this scenario, and the second weighted the rope, the forces would tend to rotate your body in a way that could compromise your ability to keep the rope locked off.

In practice, you'll find that you can usually arrange things so that you can belay with your "normal" hand, but occasionally you'll need to use the other hand.
AlH - on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to rope loop vs harness loop: The UKC Article on this very topic http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1129
adamarchie on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

Neil and Jez,

Agree belaying off both belay loop and rope loop is a bit silly and have never been sufficiently paranoid as to do it!

I'll stand by my point re a standard bowline being eminently unsuitable for "ring-loading", however. (Not that I'm suggesting that anyone in particular does tie in with one before belaying off it.) The bowline's a great knot, but only for what it's designed to do.
Neil Williams - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to adamarchie:
I have done that (belayed off the rope loop tied with a bowline and stopper), will revisit with nobody on the end sat on the sofa to see what you mean before doing it again! Thanks.

Neil
Post edited at 08:16
andrewmcleod - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to adamarchie:
> I'll stand by my point re a standard bowline being eminently unsuitable for "ring-loading", however. (Not that I'm suggesting that anyone in particular does tie in with one before belaying off it.) The bowline's a great knot, but only for what it's designed to do.

Does anyone else use the alternative 'outside/cowboy/dutch' bowline (with the tail end on the outside) instead for this reason (supposed to be better for ring loading allegedly)? Given the failure of offset Fig 8s for joining abseil ropes (same loading), is tying in with a Fig 8 really any better?

Obviously people have been belaying off the rope loop (either standard bowline or fig 8) for years without failures, so it must be 'safe', but in terms of the knots I've never really been convinced it makes sense... (in the case where you are ringloading the rope loop by a pair of krabs, one with clove-hitches to anchors and one with belay device, rather than when the main anchor force is coming through the knot and rope directly)
Post edited at 12:47
David Coley - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> Obviously people have been belaying off the rope loop (either standard bowline or fig 8) for years without failures, so it must be 'safe', but in terms of the knots I've never really been convinced it makes sense... (in the case where you are ringloading the rope loop by a pair of krabs, one with clove-hitches to anchors and one with belay device, rather than when the main anchor force is coming through the knot and rope directly)

Truly ringloading the figure of 8 is difficult to achieve in practice as there is likely to be force also in the direction of the main length of rope. Also the loop tends to rotate so the carabiner with the clove hitches on snugs up against the knot. I'm not even sure belaying off the belay loop makes much difference as this will just pass the force to the tie in points on the harness, which in turn will try and ring load the fig8. The only way to solve this I think is to clip both the carabiner with the clove hitches on AND the belay carabiner to the the belay loop. Many people do this.

The issue that is know about is never to lark's foot (girth hitch) a sling/daisy to the loop of a figure of 8 tie in. Doing this means the loop cannot rotate. This has been shown to cause failure if someone were to step off the belay ledge. (It would also be a mad thing to do because untying the rope while hanging on the daisy would also be fatal.)
bpmclimb - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:
> Plus of rope loop: easier to escape the system, can be better for positioning


Yes, you hear this quoted a lot, but to be honest I've never quite got this. When you escape the system, you tie off the belay plate; then attach the rope from the climber directly to the anchors (using Klemheist, back up knots, etc). After that, you still can't escape until you remove the belay screwgate - which of course you can do whichever loop you've attached it to (or both, for that matter).

If you wish to escape and don't need to retain your harness, you can take it off - still doesn't matter which loop(s) you belay from.
Post edited at 15:30
willjones - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

When you say "off the harness", do you mean "from the harness"? I'm not being deliberately pedantic, it's just that personally I don't feel comfortable if someone's belaying me from above and they're not belaying directly from their belay loop. It may be harder to escape the system, but personally I think that that is a good thing. This helps to focus one's mind on making sure that you have a properly set up belay with SAFE anchors. In my book, you shouldn't ask someone else to trust something you're not willing to commit to yourself.
needvert on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

I'm not sure I follow you, you don't feel comfortable with a direct belay?
Or is this some part of the rope loop vs belay loop debate.
willjones - on 06 Feb 2014
In reply to needvert:

> I'm not sure I follow you, you don't feel comfortable with a direct belay?

I've just googled "direct belay" because I wasn't familiar with this term. But yes, that's what I mean.
Incidentally, I would sit on the belay loop side of the second argument.
David Coley - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

Out of interest, why would you be unhappy with a direct belay? I'm guessing that most people would feel safer with one.
tipsy - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Should probably be pointed out that an ATC or similar 'guide plate' is really only any good if you have high anchors. They're great on multi pitch routes in the likes of North Wales, where stances are often small ledges with high anchors. They're not so ideal on short grit crags where the anchors are often down on the ground.
Ban1 - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to David Coley:

I think im on D coley side

you wouldn't use a soldier to protect a tank so why would you use a climber to protect the anchor
Neil Williams - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:
Right, at the wall last night I tied in with a bowline, clipped a krab to it to simulate the weight of someone being belayed and pulled it away from me. The effect was:-

1. With a bowline without stopper knot, the bowline pulled undone. Clearly not safe - but who's climbing on bowlines without stopper knots? Nobody I would hope...

2. With a bowline with stopper knot, both the bowline and stopper tightened and pulled closer to one another - so acting as some sort of odd double-fisherman's.

I suppose there is a chance that by cyclic loading the bowline could move over the stopper, but I doubt it. So I'm not convinced this is all that unsafe. But it's always good to think about such things.

I guess the Yosemite bowline (?) where you part-rethread it and put the stopper where it would go on the F8 might be better, though. Or indeed a F8 :)

Neil
Post edited at 09:40
David Coley - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to tipsy:

> Should probably be pointed out that an ATC or similar 'guide plate' is really only any good if you have high anchors. They're great on multi pitch routes in the likes of North Wales, where stances are often small ledges with high anchors. They're not so ideal on short grit crags where the anchors are often down on the ground.

Now I'm not suggesting that direct belays are the only way to go, nothing wrong with an indirect, but I find a direct fine if I am in front of it. It can be at ground level, not high above me, but it needs to not be in front of me. It works fine if is right next to my chalk bag.

Re grit etc. One very good reason to use an indirect is when the anchor is off the the side A BIT. If the second falls the rope will slice across the top of the crag. This isn't good for rope or rock, even if it is just 30cm. The added mass of the belayer stops this happening and allows the rope to be placed in just the right place for the second.
adamarchie on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

Hi Neil,

Yes, a reliably tied stopper knot will indeed cinch up to the bowline on ring loading. My problem with it is that there are times when, with your hands freezing, the rope stiff, eyes full of spindrift etc., you leave too short a tail and it's all too tempting to tie an inadequate stopper knot rather than re-do the whole thing. (Indeed, the time wasted in doing so could be dangerous.) The main knot itself should be reliable for the purpose it's being used for, with the stopper only as a backup.

Did you try the cowboy/left-handed bowline?
Neil Williams - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to adamarchie:
"Did you try the cowboy/left-handed bowline?"

I don't quite know what that is, to be honest! Despite being a Scout Leader I'm not great at knots...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_bowline

Hmm...I can see why that might be more secure ring loaded, I think. But so long as the stopper's there...

Your other point is to me more of a reason to use a Fig 8 rather than a bowline for climbing generally (another debate that's been had to death!), rather than a reason specifically not to ring-load a bowline, I think?

Neil
Post edited at 11:43
needvert on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> ...This helps to focus one's mind on making sure that you have a properly set up belay with SAFE anchors. In my book, you shouldn't ask someone else to trust something you're not willing to commit to yourself.

I think the notion that a direct belay may lead to shoddy anchor construction because one's mind is less focused is unlikely.

Each time I setup a direct belay, I'm trusting myself to that anchor just as much as if I had belayed off my harness. This is because in the general case I'll be connected to the anchor. If it blows, I'm hitting the ground shortly after my friend.
Robert Durran - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to needvert:

> I think the notion that a direct belay may lead to shoddy anchor construction because one's mind is less focused is unlikely.

Quite the opposite in fact. The incorporation of your body into the anchor chain can take a substantial proportion of the load, allowing you to get away to an extent with shoddy anchors (either through incompetence or necessity!). A direct anchor HAS to be bombproof.
Dark Peak Paul - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to adamarchie:
Love this thread, more deep analysis of such a simple knot :-)

The stopper will not prevent the bowline capsizing and the bowline is just a bight formed using a sheet bend. When you capsize a sheet bend you get a running overhand (slip knot). However, in the sheet bend the overhand runs back towards the bend and stops because the live rope is loaded. In the case of the ring loaded bowline it heads the other way, as long as the live rope is not loaded. If it is loaded (by being anchored to a point in the opposite direction to the ring load) it can't move as no rope can be pulled down to extend the belay loop.

Moral, belaying from above and tied in above, not an issue. Belaying from below not tied in, there is an outside chance you might suddenly find your 'belay loop' expanding rapidly.
Post edited at 13:53
David Coley - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Right, at the wall last night I tied in with a bowline, clipped a krab to it to simulate the weight of someone being belayed and pulled it away from me. The effect was:-

Neil, one thing that interests me with this is whether the main length of rope exiting the bowline had any force or it? I'm not sure if you tie the bowline then clove hitch the main rope to an anchor then put the belay plate through the loop you can get the knot to invert. But I could well be wrong!

If you happen to find the time........

Thanks!
Neil Williams - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to David Coley:

If I think on I'll try it. But I think the post above yours confirms you're right.

Neil
RomTheBear - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to bluesharper:

> An alternative technique is to use direct belay and a self-braking device like Petzl Reverso or Black Diamond ATC Guide.

I think direct belay with reverso is the way forward only when you can use it properly though, with anchor above you, which doesn't happen so often on trad routes I find.
Mark Kemball - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to jezb1:

> Never that way either. My reason for belaying off the rope loop is nothing to do with strength.

For me, always off both - had a sticht plate fly off the top of a multi-pitch route once because it wasn't clipped to my harness once I'd untied.
Neil Williams - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to Mark Kemball:

That's a good point. Hadn't thought of that as a reason for it.

Neil
David Coley - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to Mark Kemball:

> For me, always off both - had a sticht plate fly off the top of a multi-pitch route once because it wasn't clipped to my harness once I'd untied.

To me this is the central lesson. Never belay off the rope loop if you plan on abseiling later in the day!
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to David Coley:

Perhaps this a reflection of climbing in different areas. I've done a fair bit of limestone sea cliff climbing, which tend to get abit chossy at the top. In many instances a belayer bracing himself / herself is the most substantial part of the belay.
Even so, in my experience even seemingly well placed anchors can surprise you in not being as reliable as you might think. If the belayer is not connected to the system, I think it's too easy to tell yourself that marginal anchors "looked okay" when really they aren't.
ads.ukclimbing.com
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to needvert:
> Each time I setup a direct belay, I'm trusting myself to that anchor just as much as if I had belayed off my harness. This is because in the general case I'll be connected to the anchor. If it blows, I'm hitting the ground shortly after my friend.

Yes, but even in this scenario you don't have the same vested interest in getting your second up the route. If the second is having a problem, the belayer can simply unclip. Whilst it is conceivable that there could be a valid reason for doing this, I suspect that the more often the more important consideration for the leader is to being committed to getting the second up the route. Perphaps I'm too cynical!
Post edited at 19:23
bpmclimb - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> Even so, in my experience even seemingly well placed anchors can surprise you in not being as reliable as you might think. If the belayer is not connected to the system, I think it's too easy to tell yourself that marginal anchors "looked okay" when really they aren't.

FWIW I don't relate to your way of thinking on this, because it's exactly the opposite for me. If I haven't got my self interposed in the system to help with the anchoring, I need 100% failsafe anchors. Therefore, if I think the anchors are less than 100%, an indirect belay is mandatory.
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to bpmclimb:
But can you be sure that everyone that you have climbed with would do the same?
Post edited at 20:13
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to bpmclimb:

I don't see why the opposite would be true. Even if you have yourself helping with the anchors, I find it hard to believe that you're not going to make use of the best available anchors anyway.
I completely agree with your last sentence. The point I would add however is that very few, if any anchors, are 100% safe.
bpmclimb - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> I don't see why the opposite would be true. Even if you have yourself helping with the anchors, I find it hard to believe that you're not going to make use of the best available anchors anyway.

Perhaps I didn't put my point clearly. I wasn't suggesting I wouldn't select the best available anchors - of course I would! What I was saying is that if I were forced to use anchors about which I had doubts, then a direct belay wouldn't be an option.

> I completely agree with your last sentence. The point I would add however is that very few, if any anchors, are 100% safe.

I frequently use anchors which are, to all intents and purposes, 100% safe. One example of such an anchor would be a massive, healthy, well-rooted tree. At these times use of a direct belay is an option.

bpmclimb - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> But can you be sure that everyone that you have climbed with would do the same?

Yes, I think so. You seem to have a set of rather complicated trust issues that I simply don't have - not to the same degree anyway. The people I climb with aren't always highly experienced, but they know the principles of belaying, and I trust them to belay me from the top using good, equalised anchors and standard type of indirect belay. Those of my partners who are familiar with the direct belay, and would consider using it from time to time, are more experienced, often professionally trained in one way or another, and are well aware of when it should and shouldn't be used.
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Perhaps I didn't put my point clearly. I wasn't suggesting I wouldn't select the best available anchors - of course I would! What I was saying is that if I were forced to use anchors about which I had doubts, then a direct belay wouldn't be an option.

No I did understand what you were saying. What I'm saying is that how can you be sure that everyone who belays you from above is going to take this approach? Whereas if they are using an "indirect belay" they have a vested interest to make sure the anchors are as safe as they can make them.

> I frequently use anchors which are, to all intents and purposes, 100% safe. One example of such an anchor would be a massive, healthy, well-rooted tree. At these times use of a direct belay is an option.

I wonder how many anchors that various climbers that you climb with throughout your climbing career, consider are 100% actually turn out to be less than that. I suspect that it is quite a lot. As I'm sure you're aware setting anchors is far from an exact science.

Even using your example of a well rooted tree is questionable. You can't see how well rooted a tree is. By definition of it being at the top of the crag makes it questionable because it's likely to be on thin soil. Climbing at shorn cliff I've seen more than one tree with abseil slings attached at the bottom of the crag.
willjones - on 07 Feb 2014
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Yes, I think so. You seem to have a set of rather complicated trust issues that I simply don't have

That's abit of an unfounded personal comment to be honest!

I'm simply trying to add to discussion about belaying safely, based on my experience.

needvert on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:
I don't mean this in a bad way, but if you told me not to ever have you on a direct belay I'd find someone else to climb with.

That's my judgment call to make if I'm leading, if you don't trust me to create an anchor within the teams risk acceptance level, maybe I belong in a different team (edit: or I shouldn't be leading).

(I don't mind if you question everything I do, especially when starting out, but categorically banning a very well accepted method? Well, that I don't agree with unless you have some talking points beyond what you've mentioned.)

(On a side note, I've definitely felt uneasy while on direct belay, but that was more a matter of inappropriate usage of the belay device - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=550551)
Post edited at 05:28
willjones - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to needvert:

> (I don't mind if you question everything I do, especially when starting out, but categorically banning a very well accepted method? Well, that I don't agree with unless you have some talking points beyond what you've mentioned.)

To be fair I haven't categorically banned it, but just said generally I wasn't comfortable with being belayed using this technique (The one exception would probably be on bolts, where I think it is acceptable). My reason is because I think it encourages safer practice, for reasons I've already given.

You say it's a very well accepted method, but about 10 years of climbing, I cannot clearly remember being belayed like this once, and I don't recall seeing other people being belayed like this at the crag. I wonder how often it really is used?

> (On a side note, I've definitely felt uneasy while on direct belay, but that was more a matter of inappropriate usage of the belay device - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=550551)

Another pitfall of the direct belay which hadn't occurred to me (probably because I never use them!).
David Coley - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

Re: Direct Belay

> You say it's a very well accepted method, but about 10 years of climbing, I cannot clearly remember being belayed like this once, and I don't recall seeing other people being belayed like this at the crag. I wonder how often it really is used?

Will, I'm guessing here, and sorry if I'm wrong, but do climb multi-pitch routes abroad much? In Europe and USA a direct belay would be the norm on such routes. Hence the Revero and DB Guide devices. And of course the use of a guide plate before that. Using an indirect on a steep hanging belay and stacking the ropes at the same time isn't much fun.

If you can get into the idea, it is very, very good. And offers many advantages on longer routes.


willjones - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to David Coley:

Your absolutely right, I don't do multi-pitch routes abroad much. I can see how a direct belay would have more of role for this sort of climbing - but am I right in thinking the belays are often on bolts on these routes?
GridNorth - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

I use a direct belay whenever the anchors are good enough and in a position to accommodate it both at home and abroad. French and Italian climbers have been using direct belays for many years indeed I don't think I've seen them use the British method of attaching the device to the harness to bring up a second.
David Coley - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> Your absolutely right, I don't do multi-pitch routes abroad much. I can see how a direct belay would have more of role for this sort of climbing - but am I right in thinking the belays are often on bolts on these routes?

Might be bolts, or a bunch of pegs, in USA the anchors are more often cams and wires.

Not the kind of thing you would do at Stanage, but worth getting comfortable with the idea on many multi-pitches wherever you are, even if you don't normally use it. Definitely the way to go if:
you are hanging to belay;
climbing in a three;
think the second might need help to get over the crux;
will be on the route all day and hence need to rest/eat/photo while belaying.


David Coley - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to GridNorth:

> I use a direct belay whenever the anchors are good enough and in a position to accommodate it both at home and abroad. French and Italian climbers have been using direct belays for many years indeed I don't think I've seen them use the British method of attaching the device to the harness to bring up a second.

Italians are likely to have a fit if you try to belay them indirectly on a normal mutipitch with solid anchors (personal experience).
bpmclimb - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

> That's abit of an unfounded personal comment to be honest!

> I'm simply trying to add to discussion about belaying safely, based on my experience.


Same here! Please don't be offended. Just seemed that way from your posts, but my observation was not meant to be derogatory. Just interested in how different we all are :)
willjones - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to bpmclimb:

"Same here" just doesn't apply. I didn't make any personal comments.
Saying that someone you don't know has "trust issues", then saying it's not derogatory, "please don't be offended". You don't come across as being very genuine.
Robert Durran - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to David Coley:

> Italians are likely to have a fit if you try to belay them indirectly on a normal mutipitch with solid anchors (personal experience).

I would have a fit if I ever found myself climbing with anyone who saw a direct belay as the default option unless the belays were bolted (common sense).
GridNorth - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

Not sure what you are saying there. Direct belays are fine as long as the anchors are bomb proof. They don't have to be bolts.
Robert Durran - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to GridNorth:

> Not sure what you are saying there. Direct belays are fine as long as the anchors are bomb proof.

Precisely.
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bpmclimb - on 08 Feb 2014
In reply to willjones:

I made a conciliatory post, but you still seem determined to take offence. I give up!
David Coley - on 09 Feb 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I would have a fit if I ever found myself climbing with anyone who saw a direct belay as the default option unless the belays were bolted (common sense).

I guess that depends on what we all mean by the word "default". People who use direct belays probably go through a thought process when looking at the anchors along the lines of:

will this thing hold a high factor fall from the leader on the next pitch?
if yes then direct belay, if not then find better belay but if this really isn't possible use indirect and really pray the leader doesn't fall on the next pitch until she gets good gear in.

The key is always the strength of the belay for the leader on the next pitch, not bringing up the second(s).

In my head I always think "would I allow a school group to abseil off this thing" If yes then it must be ok to bring the second(s) up on.

However, I too really found direct belays difficult to trust for awhile when I first started to use them. it's just so disconcerting if you have spent a decade or more of sitting down at stances and clipping the belay device to the harness. I think it was doing lots of hanging belays that calmed me down. With a hanging belay with the force from the rope taking a direct line from second to anchors then the mass of the belayer isn't helping to reduce the force on the anchors, so it makes sense to use a direct. After a while hanging three people off such belays, I got used to it.

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