/ Lead belaying direct from anchor -assisted device
Does anyone have experience lead belaying direct off the anchor using an assisted braking device such as an Alpine Smart or Megajul? Ive seen a Climbing Technology video demonstrating an Alpine UP being used in this manner. Not sure how other devices would behave. thanks
Doesn't seem ideal to belay a leader with a direct belay as that will mean no dynamic aspect to the system other than the rope itself so a quite hard catch. Is there a reason to do this?
Never heard/seen this before, google turned up this old thread: https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rocktalk/belaying_directly_off_an_equalised_anchor-485245
Seems like a regional thing, I think I'd be very taken aback if my partner wasn't belaying me of their harness when I was leading.
Following this thread with interest...
it would only be done off bolts and not gear anchors. common practice in some regions.
drop testing videos consistently show belayers getting slammed into the wall when catching falls on multi pitches when belaying off the harness. consequences would vary obviously
ive been intending to use direct lead belays for the past few years. have never gotten around to it because im not willing to give up the added security of an assisted device that should hold even if i get slammed into the wall and knock unconscious.
ill see if i can dig up the videos/reports, mostly in german if i can recall. probably somewhere buried in these forums
I’ve seen videos showing people getting slammed in tests, multi pitch scenarios, yet I’ve held a lot of falls and it’s not really happened in real life.
Do it all the time with a reverso from bolted anchors, but have also done it with a megajul. Not sure if i'm a fan. 'Dummy runner' (first draw clipped) is required: https://imgur.com/a/IMVe1
With an reverso/ATC guide you can add a carabiner next to the belay device in the same masterpoint as a redirect, in case you don't have the option of clipping a draw first. That trick is pretty much useless with the megajul.
(clipping the first draw on one of the anchor bolts, would generate far greater force on it, due to the pulley effect. So using the carabiner redirect next to the reverso/atc guide, clipped to the same masterpoint solves the 'pulley' effect.)
If you belay directly of an anchor made with own gear, you will need to make it, so it will also take upward full forces.
Related video about belaying of an anchor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqZQnCGl24A&ab_channel=ENSAChamonix
yep thats one of the videos! and a newer one too
haha. i should have guessed Edelrid would have it in their instructions given that germans are one of the heavy users of this method.
maybe im not picturing it right in my head, but im having a hard time visualizing what a quickdraw next to the device sharing the master point is doing... take part of the load in the event of a fall?
time to start using this method this season i guess.
The most interesting feature of the ENSA tests is that the direct belay off the anchor (with a Munter) resulted in a lower load to the top piece than the now popular jump belay. But if you put an assisted-locking device on the anchor, all bets are off and previous testing suggests you'll get significantly higher anchor loads.
It has already been mentioned that belaying the leader directly off the anchor requires the anchor to be solidly resistant to an upward pull. If it is also supposed to withstand the load of a factor-2 fall, then we are speaking of an arrangement with trad gear that may not be all that common.
The preference for the direct belay seems to be currently coming from countries where good fixed belay anchors are commonplace. For better or worse, the installation of bolted belay stations is spreading---at least in the U.S.---with no particular connection to whether or not the climbing is purportedly trad climbing. I think this is a really unfortunate development, but see little chance of holding back or even slowing this tsunami of "progress."
All that said, it makes sense to adapt one's technique to the reality of what the climb "provides," and if solid bolted anchors are increasingly part of the environment, even on trad climbs, then the trad climber ought to understand how to best make use of what there is. The evidence seems to be accumulating that the direct belay with a Munter hitch is actually the most effective belay in both ordinary and extreme circumstances---when a truly solid anchor is available.
If you use an assisted-locking device that doesn't allow any slack through under load, it is not clear that a direct anchor belay is such a good idea. And if you use a tube or any of the assisted locking devices that are not a grigri or one of its imitations, then you have to have a runner in place above the device, otherwise it will not function at all in a factor-2 fall. I think this is a substantial drawback in terms of the loading applied to the anchor.
A problem for the UK climber (and the few of us in the US who stubbornly cling against local fashion to the advantages of half rope technique) is how to effectively manage a pair of half ropes with Munter hitch belays. I confess to not have really tried so far, but I imagine one needs two Munter carabiners with each rope hitched to its own carabiner, and am not sure how the proximity of the knots and carabiners might affect the handling of the belay tasks.
As far as I know, ENSA are promoting two separate things in their video:
It recommends using this belay on all types of anchors, and particularly recommends it for dodgy anchors which are more susceptible to catastrophic failure in a factor 2 situation.
If the anchor only holds a downward pull, the belayer should weight it so their body acts as a counterbalance in exactly the same way as with a classic harness belay.
Having tried this method on several occasions, I would say it works very well with single/twin rope set-ups, but less well with double ropes. However, someone leading off a crap belay anchor on a Welsh sea-cliff would still be recommended to use it until they get some decent gear in, at which point it's possible to switch to a belay-plate on the harness.
Belaying directly to the anchor with an assisted belay device should NOT be done on an anchor of questionable strength.
Note: the anchor set-ups shown at 0.45 in the video have been brought into question in the French media. Critics say that D-shaped karabiners should be used on the anchor points rather than HMS krabs so they are loaded optimally in the event of a fall. Obviously an HMS krab must be used for the Italian hitch.
> maybe im not picturing it right in my head, but I'm having a hard time visualizing what a quickdraw next to the device sharing the master point is doing... take part of the load in the event of a fall?
Do not mount a quick draw directly on the same masterpoint, but higher (like show on the picture in the Megajul manual). If you can't you can add a carabiner on the masterpoint as a redirect for the brake rope.
Any tube style device need the rope to have 'Z' shape in the rope to have enough friction (otherwise it's just a rope going through a carabiner). When your mount an ATC or MegaJul directly to the anchor and the climbers falls before clipping in the first bolt/pro, then the belay device effectively turn upside down; which means the friction can only be provided by the rope bending in a 'U' shape, which means significantly reduced holding power. That is bad, especially in an FF2 fall (falling off before before clipping the second bolt).
So when you directly mount a belay device to an anchor, you will need a redirect; either with a carabiner on the brake side of the device (effectively forcing a Z in the rope) or pre-clip a draw on the climber side of the rope (prevents the device from turning upside down). (which must be mounted higher than the masterpoint)
Does anyone know what gets taught for ML/Multipitch Award currently?
totally understand the Z
i was confused by the quickdraw in the master point. on bolted anchors there would never be a need for one
would like to see tests on assisted devices set up this way. As I mentioned CT Alpine Click Up video shows it being used this way. And the megajul instructions shows it being set up this way. I imagine some testing has been done, but good chance its going to be in Italian or German. If anyone finds stats, please share
nothing on ML - not in remit
MIA - direct belaying for brinigng up clients when guiding is common subject to anchors and directions etc but never for teaching lead belaying, we have few if any bolted anchors for MP.
Not sure what's in the new awards RCI onwards but unlikely.
this was a few years back
> Not an assisted device, but still an interesting video and conclusion.
> It seems to me that this video largely only applies to bombproof multi directional anchors (ie probably bolts) and would have pretty limited validity for climbing in the UK.
It is particularly appropriate for questionable anchors, as it provides an easily executed dynamic catch in a fall factor 2 situation, thereby reducing shock-load when it matters most.
> It is particularly appropriate for questionable anchors.
I was really thinking of the idea that you might even contemplate belaying a leader directly off the anchors.
> I was really thinking of the idea that you might even contemplate belaying a leader directly off the anchors.
Well holding a FF2 fall directly onto your harness is very difficult even without trying to make it dynamic. The belayer will most likely clamp down on the rope and then crumple at impact, meaning the anchor gets heavily loaded. Much easier to provide progressive braking if the shock goes straight to the anchor via an Italian hitch.
Yeah I checked my copy of "Rock Climbing" which is used as the guide for those such things and found no detailed info, all images showed belaying leaders from the harness at a multi-pitch belay, and the writing implies this is "the way".
> If anyone finds stats, please share
Stats on using a Grigri direct to the anchor can be found (in French), by clicking the link in the ENSA youtube video intro.
> Well holding a FF2 fall.........
But 99% of falls are not going to be FF2, so the anchor needs to be bombproof for an upwards pull as well - so, as I said, probably a bolted anchor, so not really relevant in the UK.
> But 99% of falls are not going to be FF2
Factor 2 falls produce the highest loads and have the most potential to be catastrophic!
> so the anchor needs to be bombproof for an upwards pull as well
I've said in two posts that the belayer should be weighting the anchor to act as a counterbalance, in exactly the same way as classic belaying.
Anchors that can hold upwards pulls are preferable in multi-pitch climbing whatever way you choose to belay, but not essential because of the counterbalance. Also, if there's an upwards pull it means a piece of gear has held and so the anchor is no longer the only thing stopping you from falling to the ground.
This may not be the best technique for using on UK multi-pitch trad, but not for the reasons you're citing!
> I've said in two posts that the belayer should be weighting the anchor to act as a counterbalance, in exactly the same way as classic belaying.
No, it is clearly not exactly the same.
> Also, if there's an upwards pull it means a piece of gear has held and so the anchor is no longer the only thing stopping you from falling to the ground.
Good point. Even still, I think there would be a lot of brown material on the belay stance if the leader had a huge fall, pulling me up with a large amount of force ripping out the trad belay, and we were both hanging on a single cam/nut. Extremely unlikely, but if you were climbing with someone a fair bit heavier than you who was leading, and you only had downward directional pieces in...
It's often on my mind - what would happen if the leader suddenly fell whilst running it out a bit on a multipitch. Luckily as trad leaders rarely take big whippers it's never often discovered.
Just a personal take, but what worries me slightly is the test of time. Most devices have not been tested for doing this, nor is there a big database of experience form 1000's of falls and all the strange things that can happen.
> I think there would be a lot of brown material on the belay stance if the leader had a huge fall, pulling me up with a large amount of force ripping out the trad belay, and we were both hanging on a single cam/nut.
My understanding is that this is more likely to happen when belaying to the harness than to the anchor. If the leader fall is held directly on the anchor via an Italian hitch, a lot more energy is absorbed and so the belayer doesn't get yanked upwards to the same degree.
> It's often on my mind - what would happen if the leader suddenly fell whilst running it out a bit on a multipitch.
This is exactly the type of situation where direct belaying is most beneficial. Belaying to the harness requires anticipation to make a safe, dynamic catch.
> This is exactly the type of situation where direct belaying is most beneficial. Belaying to the harness requires anticipation to make a safe, dynamic catch.
I find that impossible to believe given the same belay device.
Loads of failed trad belay out there then?
I might just stick with the tried and tested for now, difficult to conceive how direct belay to bolt generates less force than attaching to belay loop.
The French don't state by how much force is reduced, might just be revenge for brexit
> I might just stick with the tried and tested for now
Given that most UK climbers still belay their second on their harness, I very much doubt that many will start belaying leaders directly on the anchor! In any case, the video is not saying this should be done systematically, at 5.30 there is a flowchart which describes the decision-making process ie. it is most appropriate (1) when there is a risk of a factor 2 fall, especially onto a questionable anchor and (2) when there is a risk of high energy falls, especially when the belayer is significantly lighter than the leader.
However, the data also suggests that while the force on the anchor can be reduced by a factor of more than 3, the force on the runner holding the fall can be increased by a factor of 1.4.
> might just be revenge for brexit
More likely to be revenge for Waterloo, from what I can tell Europe isn't that bothered about Brexit!
> I find that impossible to believe given the same belay device.
Robert, do you actually read other people's posts!! I've only ever suggested belaying directly to the anchor with an Italian hitch. Don't go into flatearth mode!
Interesting ENSA video belaying with the munter hitch. However I always thought when braking/holding a fall on a munter, to be effective the brake end of the rope must be orientated towards the live rope, as in the opposite of a normal belay plate. If you've ever tried abbing with a normal muner from your your harness you'll quickly realize how ineffective it is in this orientation. I'm assuming that the extra friction from the runner is allowing the belayer to hold the fall, and the very fact that it is in the wrong orientation allows for slippage which give the lower forces and softer catch!
Belaying with the Italian hitch has been for some time taught as hand-down to match the action of a normal plate. This has the advantage (apart from using the same movement as with an ATC et al) that in the event of a FF2 you are automatically in the higher force braking position and with a lower factor fall the runner will make up the difference from using the weaker position.
'However, the data also suggests that while the force on the anchor can be reduced by a factor of more than 3, the force on the runner holding the fall can be increased by a factor of 1.4.'
wow, factor of 3, that's massive, you got a link, cheers
'Europe isn't that bothered', probably realized we're only 18 miles away
The data is in the link in the youtube video presentation text. It's in French but the diagrams should be easy enough to understand for non-French speakers. Here's a couple of phrases:
Demi-cab sur relais = Italian hitch on belay
Demi-cab sur assureur = Italian hitch on belayer
Probably the most useful diagrams are the bar charts on page 7.
It should be noted that ENSA simply tested a technique which has been used by Austrian/German/Tyrolean climbers for many years. It is well-suited for a lot of belay situations in the Dolomites; less so for UK summer trad perhaps, but ideal for many UK winter climbing scenarios.
> I've only ever suggested belaying directly to the anchor with an Italian hitch.
Yes, and I can't believe that it is less dynamic to belay off the harness with an Italian hitch than directly off the anchor. Quite apart from the fact that clearly a direct belay is more likely to lead to anchor failure.
Anyway, an Italian hitch (and therefore belaying direct off the anchor) is never going to catch on in the UK because almost everyone climbs on double ropes which is going to be horribly awkward with Italian hitches.
I randomly came across a climbing video this afternoon, featuring none other than ...Robert Durran.
Must say I'm struggling to match the opinionated, stubborn, intransigent, borderline rude UKC persona, with the quasi-spiritual figure flitting through the mountains and canyons of the Wadi Rum with the local Bedouin. You gotta love humanity!!
ps belaying directly to the anchor would be ideally suited to the Wadi Rum, as there is defo potential for total anchor failure. You should at least give it a go next time you're out there. As with abalakovs, leashless ice-axes etc...., you have to try before it makes any sense!
Of course, what is important is not to go hands up when using a plate, as a travelling German once did with me. So I can see why this is now best taught hands down too. I went most of the length of the pitch, and he got rope burns.
My fault really, he asked me if he could belay me with the plate because he had never used one before.
> Must say I'm struggling to match the opinionated, stubborn, intransigent, borderline rude UKC persona, with the quasi-spiritual figure flitting through the mountains and canyons of the Wadi Rum with the local Bedouin. You gotta love humanity!!
Oh lordy, dislikes! There was me thinking I was saying that Robert Durran seems a lot more agreeable in real-life. Apologies for any misunderstanding :/
It's a funny old world!
'However, the data also suggests that while the force on the anchor can be reduced by a factor of more than 3, the force on the runner holding the fall can be increased by a factor of 1.4.'
sorry just re read that, force at belay anchor (generally chosen because you get at least 2 good pieces) decreases but force at runner increases. That sounds really bad for trad climbers. I'm pretty sure failed runners account for high proportion of climbing injuries.
Am I missing something
> There was me thinking I was saying that Robert Durran seems a lot more agreeable in real-life.
Maybe I'm just an accomplished actor.
so anyone find anything on assisted devices off anchors. the ENSA report has grigri offf the anchor and obviously loads are higher than off the harness (but eliminates potential for belayer to get bashed) or a munter off the anchors. I know from experience that smarts/megajuls allow for a bit of rope slippage before engaging compared. would be curious to see numbers. Surely there is some numbers given that Edelrid has it on their instructions.
I found this
its a cached site. images/figures not available unfortunately. explains a lot of what has already bee discussed in the thread so far
> Belaying directly to the anchor would be ideally suited to the Wadi Rum........
I am really struggling to see why it would be a good idea to stick a dodgy cam in a sandy crack as an anchor and then have it directly yanked upwards by a leader fall rather the yank being upwards on me sitting on the little ledge below it.
> ..........as there is defo potential for total anchor failure.
Well yes, precisely!
I've read the linked article and watched the linked video and I seriously wonder whether their extremely counterintuitive conclusions really only apply to decidedly non-standard and rarely realistic situations.
> 'the force on the runner holding the fall can be increased by a factor of 1.4.'
> That sounds really bad for trad climbers.
> Am I missing something
Just to set the record straight, I've discussed at length with researchers the claim that belaying directly to the anchor can dramatically reduce the force of a F2 fall; the data above, however, is something I picked up myself from the bar-charts in the ENSA document, so it could do with being verified by someone clever.
I think it's important to realise that the ENSA video is not suggesting this technique should be used systematically (see 5.30). ENSA's main role is training mountain professionals. These are people who have a heightened duty of care, are supposed to be experts in their field and sometimes have to justify their decisions in court. So, while it may be acceptable for amateur climbers to adopt a default belaying method, mountain guides need to be able to select the best system for prevailing circumstances.
As far as I can see, the pros and cons of belaying directly to the anchor with an Italian hitch are as follows:
Note also that it is possible to switch from an anchor belay to a harness belay at any point during the lead (usually when the risk of a F2 fall has been eliminated by placing protection). This process can be facilitated by pre-installing the belay device on the ropes.
So is belaying directly off the anchor only being recommended with an Italian hitch and only when a Factor 2 fall is a possibility? I can obviously see the disadvantage of the belayer being directly affected by the forces of a factor 2 fall when belaying off the harness, but, if the belay is dodgy (which is when belaying directly off the anchor seems to be being recommended) I simply cannot see how belay failure is going to be less likely belaying directly off the anchor than off the harness with the belayer braced on a good stance below the anchor.
> So is belaying directly off the anchor only being recommended with an Italian hitch
Yes, unless the anchor is bombproof in all directions.
> and only when a Factor 2 fall is a possibility?
Not only. Also in situations where the belayer might have trouble holding a fall (inexperienced) or be injured by getting pulled into some feature (eg when they are much lighter than the leader or in a cave/corner)
> I simply cannot see how belay failure is going to be less likely belaying directly off the anchor than off the harness
Tests have shown that Italian hitches do not allow a certain load to be exceeded. From memory (!) the max load is about 300daN
> with the belayer braced on a good stance below the anchor.
Legs vs significant F2 fall = legs don't stand a chance. And as they crumple you will not be doing a great job of progressively stopping the fall!
> Legs vs significant F2 fall = legs don't stand a chance. And as they crumple you will not be doing a great job of progressively stopping the fall!
Well, ideally I'd be siting, not standing. But anyway, the crumpling legs, all other things being equal, will clearly make the braking more dynamic, so I presume the argument is entirely about possible lack of control in belaying. With that single dodgy cam in a sandy crack, I'd still rather take my chance with crumpling legs and with with a good, sitting stance I think it would be no contest.
> With that single dodgy cam in a sandy crack, I'd still rather take my chance with crumpling legs and with with a good, sitting stance I think it would be no contest.
My gut feeling is definitely with you on this one. The idea of belaying directly to the cam sounds crazy. Is grooved rib the only person who thinks this would be a good idea or are there others? Do any guides/instructors use this technique?
I'm not ready to weigh in on the anchor load question, but meanwhile would like to comment on the "crumpling legs don't stand a chance" assertion. I've held a factor-2 fall in exactly this situation, the load driving me down to my knees but otherwise with no significant damage to the anchor (a single piton---this was a long time ago) or either body involved. I might add that I was using a hip belay at the time, belay gadgets not having been invented yet, and if I may say so did a superb job of "progressively stopping the fall."
We neglected to install load cells on all components of the system before this incident, so cannot report what kinds of loads were experienced by what. I can say that we went on with our climbing day as if nothing much had happened, but with a high regard for the value of crumpling legs.
> Tests have shown that Italian hitches do not allow a certain load to be exceeded. From memory (!) the max load is about 300daN
The maximum force is purely dependent on the strength of the belayers hand just like any normal belay device, the Italian hitch is just a bit better than the rest particularly with thinner ropes.
It has the advantage that it works in both directions but if you are using a conventional device (for example with double ropes) a karabiner before the plate will achieve the desired result and can be removed when the leader has placed some protection.
Seems everyone agrees that belaying on a belay anchor is a really stupid idea. Grooved Rib has understandably been banned from posting, but shouldn't his posts be deleted from this thread as well. Someone could get hurt or worse if they tried this.
If you knew who he was and knew his background you might change your mind.
> Seems everyone agrees that belaying on a belay anchor is a really stupid idea. Grooved Rib has understandably been banned from posting, but shouldn't his posts be deleted from this thread as well. Someone could get hurt or worse if they tried this.
Grooved Rib was banned for another thread, not this one.
Belaying the leader directly off the anchor was common practice before you (or I) was born and still is.
> Seems everyone agrees that belaying on a belay anchor is a really stupid idea. Someone could get hurt or worse if they tried this.
No, "everyone" does not agree, and there are lots of ways to get hurt or worse belaying, at least some of which might be prevented by a direct anchor belay. Belaying off the anchor makes a lot of sense in certain situations, and a lot less sense in others. Unconditional embrace and unconditional rejection are equally dysfunctional. I think what US, UK, and Western European climbers could learn is that there are times when a belay off the anchor might be the best way to deal with a situation, and not having the technique as a conscious option does not improve safety.
I'd like a better understanding and some more confirming tests about the load-reduction claims observed by ENSA. I know the CAI has done a lot of testing and also has comparative information about this.
> Grooved Rib.................................... shouldn't his posts be deleted from this thread as well.
Not at all. He has made valuable contributions to an interesting discussion.
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