UKC

Bringing up two partners multi pitch trad - one rope, fig8 on a bight?

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 dvidg 20 Aug 2022

This might be a dumb question, but I’ve got to ask it, this is all theoretical but…

If I’m doing a multipitch trad route with each pitch a maximum of 25m and I’ve got a 70m rope and two partners at the bottom of the pitch, is it fair game to have one partner on the end of the rope and one half way along?

ie partner one is tied in with a figure-8 on a bight and a locker (or similar), climbs and unclips then reclips each bit of gear while partner two cleans the route like normal. Each pitch is a maximum of 25m and the rope is 70m so they won’t both be on the rope at the same time.

Bueno or no Bueno..?

 GrahamD 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

You have to be pretty confident that no-one, especially the last person, will come off.  You can't easily give them rope assistance and if they fall, so will the middle person and you will have a lot of weight to hang on to.

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 wbo2 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:  Well it's possible but messy.  Partner 2 might be able to remove some or most of the gear (except the belay obvs.) depending on how much traversing so number 3 effectively on a top rope.  

OP dvidg 20 Aug 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

Yeah I wasn't planning on using this in a simul-climbing situation, more that if the pitches are 25m and I have a 70m rope, partner 2 won't even be tight on the rope while partner 1 tops out.

 John Kelly 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Maybe - you tie into middle of rope and lead the (25m max?) pitch then bring seconds up on one end each. You could get them to climb together if you're confident in your system and partners 

1
 brizzledrizzle 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

What about the leader tying into the middle of the rope, then you can have two separate strands for partners?

 john arran 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Completely bueno. Done many times and works well. First partner can clean some of the gear as long as that doesn't increase swing potential for second partner, but there's no real advantage in doing so.

In reply to GrahamD:

If you tie an isolation loop to connect the middle climber to you can mitigate this somewhat.

5
 henwardian 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

bueno

It has the interesting advantage that it would be a neat setup for two experienced climbers to swing leads in a party of 3 without any of the associated rope faff that normally comes with this kind of thing.

Personally I would recommend that the central person was tied in with a double figure of 8 (double over the rope and then tie in with a figure of 8 as you normally would and you end up with a figure of 8 with 4 strands rather than the normal 2 strands of rope), this would dispense with the screwgate and would be a safer, though also a relatively bulky knot which could be a minor annoyance.

Real world limitations:

- You'd have to be really very sure that all the pitches were short.

- Reclipping gear to the rope isn't habitual for most climbers so there is probably a higher likelihood of gear getting left in the rock because the middle person forgets to reclip a piece and the last person does not see it to remove it.

- There might be changes you would need to make to how you deal with situations where the leader gets into trouble, or the second swings off the line or etc. etc. other problems. But I can't really think of any in a simple thought-experiment of the situation. Even if he leader falls the middle person can just clip to the belay and untie if you need more rope to lower the leader back to the belay.

 GrahamD 20 Aug 2022
In reply to pancakeandchips:

> If you tie an isolation loop to connect the middle climber to you can mitigate this somewhat.

You can tie an isolation loop, but then it's hard to rope assist the middle climber and if they fall, they have a bit of slack to fall onto.  As I say, it's not a no-no but it's not a good way to bring seconds up terrain where a fall or need for a rope assist are at all likely.

4
In reply to dvidg:

Alpine butterfly in the middle as its a multi-directional knot. 

Figure of 8 isnt

8
 C Witter 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Yep, with the things others have mentioned factored in, e.g. I would have the middle person tie in with a rethreaded fig8 on a bight or a rethreaded overhand on a bight, finished with a locker. I might also choose to have the leader tie in to the middle so I can use a guide plate and have both followers climbing at the same time. It gives a bit of flexibility in other ways too, e.g. you can vary who goes first. It could also be especially helpful if one follower is a complete beginner whilst the other is comfortable, as they can potentially stay within communication and can both be on belay/less chance of bottom person accidentally being taken off belay.

 Hardonicus 20 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Why wouldn't you just double the rope and bring them up on one strand each?

In reply to EdS:

Not sure why you're being downvoted for stating a fact!

1
In reply to dvidg:

I do this quite a lot, and the leader ties in the middle of the rope using this method:

Make a fig8 on a bite, and move it will up the rope leaving a large loop. Post the loop through tie in points, then over your head, step through it.  This makes a Girth hitch. Then move the fig8 back close as you would normally have it.

You are tied in through tie in points using the middle of the rope, and the fig8 gets round issues with weighting 1 rope in a fall, or things working loose. 

Post edited at 16:07
 jimtitt 20 Aug 2022
In reply to Steve Claw:

The rest of the world (i.e Euros that do this all the time) just use a sling and screwgate on a overhand on a  bight.

 Alfrede 20 Aug 2022
In reply to Steve Claw:

Scratching my head and sorry to say it does seem a dumb question! (You said it first!) If the pitches are 25m you tie in the middle and the other climbers follow on the two strands as suggested by various correspondents. If you don’t like them simul  climbing a few mètres apart, they can climb one at a time. Standard practice for guides. I can see no advantage whatsoever in tying one in the middle of the rope. That seems a bizarre and pointless arrangement. 

In reply to Steve Claw:

Without wishing to hijack the thread too much, using this method (which is quite clever) how would you get the middle climber off the rope if you needed to? 

 john arran 20 Aug 2022
In reply to Hardonicus:

> Why wouldn't you just double the rope and bring them up on one strand each?

1. The leader has twice the weight of rope to carry up.

And either:

2. The belayer needs to be proficient in double-rope belaying, in which case each rope still needs to be clipped to all pieces that are necessary to prevent seconding swings, and these dually-clipped points should be via separate karabiners to avoid rope rubbing in case of a fall.

Or

3. The leader is belayed on only one of the two ropes but each piece that is necessary to prevent seconding swings needs also to be clipped to the second rope by an additional quickdraw or krab, to avoid rope rubbing in case of a fall.

In short, it's more complicated and has little in the way of actual advantage if the two seconds are not to be climbing at the same time. 

In reply to Alfrede:

The advantage is that you get to lead with double ropes.  Also can save time bringing the 2nds up together on easier pitches.

Actually the last time I used it was when I was wil 1 partner, only 1 rope and swinging leads, so both wanted "lead safe" tie ins.

In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

> Without wishing to hijack the thread too much, using this method (which is quite clever) how would you get the middle climber off the rope if you needed to? 

Fair point.

Although its always a possibility if things go wrong, its really rare, and I've never needed to.  If not weighted then untie as before, otherwise I suppose there is always the knife

1
In reply to EdS:

> Alpine butterfly in the middle as its a multi-directional knot. 

> Figure of 8 isnt

How's that relevant here? The third climber is still on the belay while the second climbs so I don't see how there'd be any unconventional loading on the figure eight. It's essentially a completely normal use of the figure eight, it just happens to have no stopper knot but a 30m tail.

Even if the downward strand of rope was weighted, it seems like more of a theoretical inelegance than a major real world concern. Is there actually a realistic failure mode from using a figure eight? I could see it rolling, but if there's someone tied into it then it's bound to stop.

 Fellover 21 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Very bueno.

In typical UKC fashion lots of people have told you that you don't actually want to do this, you really want to do something else instead. Some of the methods suggested might be better depending on what you're doing, but what you've described is totally safe (as safe as climbing the route in a pair would be anyway).

 Mark Haward 21 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Yes, it can be done like that.

   A second alternative which can be quicker, especially if you are confident using a guide plate ,and which others have mentioned is that the leader can tie into the middle of the rope and the two seconds can each attach on the ends. The two seconds can then follow a few metres apart.

This is great if the route is fairly straight but becomes more challenging if the route meanders or traverses a lot.

 gravy 22 Aug 2022
In reply to dvidg:

Bueno.

But also consider using two strands.

Depending on the route and stances and block/swing/exclusive lead strategies they might have different merits.

If this is a case of "one experience lead + two novices" then two strands are better because of increased security for the 3rd on the lower ledge and because you retain more control and the novices have less chance to screw things up (because you can tie them both off independently).

ps creating a bight for the middle tie on: f-8, overhand knot or alpine butterfly are all good for this.  Personally I favour the overhand in this scenario as the least faff.  Since it's the middle of the rope and only unidirectionally loaded  the knot can't roll off. In some some (alpine) circumstances I'd use an overhand to create a large bight and Lark's foot this onto the belay loop of the middle (by having them pass the loop over their head).

Post edited at 14:37
 Hardonicus 22 Aug 2022
In reply to john arran:

> 1. The leader has twice the weight of rope to carry up.

I meant the leader tying in the middle of the rope and having to strands back to the belay which is feasible with a 70 m rope and max 25 m pitches.

> In short, it's more complicated and has little in the way of actual advantage if the two seconds are not to be climbing at the same time. 

I would say there is an advantage in terms of time to complete the pitch. Also a novice can be aided in their ascent by a more proficient second due to the ability for them both to be in closer proximity. This can also help with gear related issues.

Post edited at 15:14
 john arran 22 Aug 2022
In reply to Hardonicus:

> I would say there is an advantage in terms of time to complete the pitch. Also a novice can be aided in their ascent by a more proficient second due to the ability for them both to be in closer proximity. 

You appear to have missed the bit about "if the two seconds are not to be climbing at the same time". For a more savvy leader who's happy managing two seconds at once, I'd be inclined to agree.

For someone who's only experienced in bringing one second up at a time, and isn't concerned about the time it will take to do that twice for each pitch, most of this thread introduces unnecessary complexity.


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