/ Clip-in for block-lead rope belay changeover

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Jonny 02 Apr 2019

I've been climbing with a less experienced partner recently and therefore block-leading routes so that he can perma-follow. We climb with half ropes and I like to build the belay with the rope. At the moment the follower becomes the belayer by either 1) cloving into each anchor piece with their end of the rope, flipping the rope onto their ends, putting the new leader on belay and then the leader uncloving from the anchor point and untying the master point; OR 2) clipping with a sling into the master point of the anchor that was used to bring them up in guide mode, then swapping ends with the leader (who is similarly anchored) by untying from the rope. The leader is then ready to climb. Depending on the stance and to which side the follower arrives, flipping works well or not so well. If it were less of a faff, untying would be the perfect method.

One solution to this faff is clipping in rather than tying in, simply exchanging carabiners and the belayer putting the new leader on belay. If the second was brought up off the harness this is even easier. Two risks then arise: cross-loading the clip-in carabiner while climbing or falling, and the rope undoing the screwgate while it jiggles around during the climb. A solution to these problems is using two screwgates, but this introduces considerable bulk at the harness, takes longer to remove, and merely mitigates the aforementioned risks.

One answer to these problems, in turn, might be using a (single) directional carabiner to prevent cross loading, that has an alternative locking system not vulnerable to undoing by the rope. I have the fantastic Grivel Clepsydra crab, which seems like it could be the perfect solution.

Does anyone here use a similar method for their block-leading changeovers instead of retying?

Post edited at 15:56
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Cheese Monkey 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

I don’t understand the need for untying and retying in to the other end. Second flakes rope while you grab gear. Then off you go

Post edited at 16:01
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Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

Instead of flaking the rope they could be doing something else; reforming extenders, helping to organise the rack... Most tasks can be shared, and an extra task (flaking the rope) is an extra task.

5
Cheese Monkey 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

I’d say it takes less time and risk to flake the rope than untie and tie in. 

Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

Not if you're just exchanging crabs. That's the point. I climb on 70m doubles, and I can promise it isn't faster, however skilled the flaker!

Post edited at 16:11
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flour 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

It's because the leader is using the rope to build the belay. I guess the solution is to stop doing that.

Use a cordelette ?

Post edited at 16:13
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jon 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

> I've been climbing with a less experienced partner recently and therefore block-leading routes

Just out of interest, what routes have you been doing?

Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to flour:

That's one solution, but using the rope has its advantages, as I'm sure you know. Untying and retying was pretty common before slings and cordelettes became popular. Now that we have directional crabs, I think it could well be the most efficient way again.

2
jimtitt 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Exactly how long are these routes that rushing is nescessary? Chill out and save time by not lacing the route instead.

1
Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to jon:

A bunch of mixed winter routes in the Pyrenees. The Corredor Central on the West face of the Taillon was the most recent.

@ Jim, it's not necessarily rushing. Efficient is just efficient. I'm sure we all find our chosen method the most efficient, all things considered.

Post edited at 16:21
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Cheese Monkey 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

I see. So to summarise your OP you want to know if leading while clipped into a locking carabiner is ok?

Ciro 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

I like to build the anchor with the ropes too, but if I was block leading everything with an inexperienced second I'd probably carry a couple of cordalettes and make it nice and simple for the second - eliminate a few opportunities for error.

Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

Just innocent interest in whether anyone uses this method. (since I know plenty of people untie and retie). If you three are representative, I guess that's a firm 'no, and no plans to'.

Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Ciro:

They're experienced enough with ropework, just a little risk-averse. ;-)

Post edited at 16:26
Cheese Monkey 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

I can see how it could be marginally quicker but I don’t like the idea of leading while clipped in, no matter how fancy the carabiner is. And swapping ends like that just adds another risk, even if it’s small, I don’t think it’s necessary. I prefer to minimise risks (within reason). If it works for you that’s cool though

tlouth7 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

If I were willing to untie/unclip (which I am not) then given you are using half ropes would a single screwgate/fancy carabiner per rope not give adequate peace of mind? My concern at that point would not be the security while climbing but the risk of doing something wrong at the changeover.

An advantage of the fancy crabs is that they look different to the screwgates that you are probably using to build the anchor. This would help with visual checking before leaving the belay.

Jonny 02 Apr 2019
In reply to tlouth7:

> … Given you are using half ropes would a single screwgate/fancy carabiner per rope not give adequate peace of mind?

It absolutely would, given that I'm proposing using just one.

> My concern at that point would not be the security while climbing but the risk of doing something wrong at the changeover.

Fair enough. All that needs to be remembered is for each to clip into the master point with their personal anchor, but sure, the redundancy of the rope is gone while exchanging ends.

rgold 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

1. Use a cordelette. This is a situation in which they make sense.

2. Flake the ropes over the tie-in as the second ascends.

3. When the second clips in, flip the flaked ropes onto their tie-in.  (A little practice with this is a good idea.  Have the second stand right next to the leader so that the tie-ins are parallel and right next to each other.)

4. Lead off.

MischaHY 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Personally I'd use a quad or cordelette with a power point - it's by far the fastest way. 

petegunn 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Once you try the cordelette method you will see the advantages. You could still untie and swap ends if you think that's faster than going through the ropes as you can still have a master clip in point using the cordelette for both yourself and second.

Some advantages to using a cordelette gives you more rope to lead with (as it's not being used in the belay) theres some give in the system as it's more dynamic than using slings and if you need to abseil off leaving gear behind you can use the cordelette rather than chopping you rope.

Most big wall climbers use them as leading in blocks is quite common, there must be a reason they use them. I.e. quick and effective.

There are 4 ways on how to set up belays (sport and trad) using a cordelette here:

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/climbing-anchors.html

Post edited at 10:49
DubyaJamesDubya 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Leading on carabiners seems dubious to me.

jkarran 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Don't clip in, it's needlessly adding risk.

Add an extra krab to each of the belay pieces after you've belayed, clove hitch your partner into these spare krabs when they arrive. Undo and retrieve your belay krabs once you're back on a running belay. I always just left the ropes in a heap, it worked fine for me. Couldn't really be any simpler.

jk

galpinos 03 Apr 2019
In reply to MischaHY:

> Personally I'd use a quad or cordelette with a power point - it's by far the fastest way. 

Is a quad not just a way of using a cordelette? (Genuine question, I have considered but never actually gone ahead with the cordelette idea)

petegunn 03 Apr 2019
In reply to galpinos:

Yes, the quad is just a way of tying the cordelette, normally used on sport routes so that there is some redundancy in the system if one of the anchors fail. See the link i posted its on there somewhere.

Post edited at 11:50
galpinos 03 Apr 2019
In reply to petegunn:

Cheers, I thought so. The whole cordelette thing seems a bit American and I'm reluctant to abandon my British half ropes used to build the belay mentality but should embrace "new" techniques (if applicable) I guess!

Mark Haward 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

On long multi pitch routes, with a less experienced partner / when block leading, I tend to use a power point and either a Pas, knotted sling or rope to tie to it as appropriate. Second either has a Pas / sling or ties rope into a second screw gate on the power point. Once arrived they immediately flake the ropes ( onto ledge or over the sling / rope attached to the power point ) whilst I retrieve any gear from their harness at the same time. I will often ask the second to clip any gear Yosemite style as this can speed things up a little.This has worked speedily for routes of around 20+ pitches.

    I would personally not like the idea of untying and retying ropes each pitch when on a long route or climbing attaching the rope via two directional; screw gates.

    

HeMa 03 Apr 2019
In reply to galpinos:

As has been said, long sling/cordelette is the way to go on rope stretchers or block leding.

Anchor from rope is hande with short pitches and swappin' leads.

That being said, the medium you're climbign also affects things. Good granite with cracks means building a solid 3 piece anchor can be done with a 120cm sling... sh*tty rock,  with no gear close by, might mean building the anchor from the rope is the only option.

Bulls Crack 03 Apr 2019
In reply to rgold:

Block-lead, perma-follow, power-point, flake the rope....

I think I may need to go on a refresher course 

beardy mike 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

For what it's worth, I'd say you are complicating your life in a couple of ways with your rope choice:

1) unless the routes are seriously meandering and hard, I find a single rope much easier to deal with than double ropes. I have a 6mm pull cord to set up abseils with should it become necessary. That said I only use that system when I am pretty certain the way off is up, and the pull cord is there as an emergency back up

2) 70m pitches - really? 60m can get very draggy - I rarely climb a full 60m. Especially on trade routes belyas will mostly be set at less than 60m, so you are pulling extra weight for no reason. It also means you have more rope to flake making it a more onerous task.

3) using double ropes means it takes twice as long to retie if that's your chosen method

4) tying in with the ropes is clearly not efficient in this case

The system I use:

Petzl Connect Lanyard, i.e. a rope lanyard which is dynamic. Use that to clip a master point. Use a 60m single max, have used a 50 quite comfortably too. This way retying is quick. I have the second on a magic plate so that as they climb I can untie my end. As soon as they get to the belay, they clip their lanyard to the strong point and I take them off. They then untie and retie whilst I'm stripping gear off their harness. As soon as they are done retieing, we swap jobs, they finish reracking gear on my harness and I tie into their ex-end. I then scream "schnell" like a banshee and race off with the mission impossible music in my head, and trying my best to emulate the Huber brothers. Also the second uses an assisted lock belay plate, that way they can be doing other things at the belay like eating or drinking, whilst I'm belay building.

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Jonny 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Thanks all for the good input.

Although my suggestion seems to have been universally unpopular, it's actually just a chimera of several suggestions here. Beardy mike's un/retying while clipped to a master point (I also use a short length of chopped half rope for this purpose - dynamic like the lanyard); rgold and jkarran's non-flaking (flipping and heap, respectively); and HeMa's pointing out that rock quality and specifics of routes determine the usefulness of building the belay with the rope. I quite often climb on crap rock, and picking new lines up faces, so belays are often improvised and require lots of hunting for distant placements. I climb with a cordelette often enough, and it's great for known belays on quality rock, but there is a reason I switched to building the belay with the rope. I frequently climb with a single rope too, and have climbed with shorted halves. There is also a reason I'm block leading, and even with an experienced partner I can still imagine doing so, since it has other advantages. So thus we arrive at this proposal. No need to presume I don't know about the alternatives - this is just about having one more technique in the armoury, for when it suits.

I understand the doubts (intuitions?) about leading on a carabiner, although I'd be interested in hearing the reasons, once cross-loading and accidental undoing have been set aside (as I believe they have with 'fancy' carabiners). Sure it's an extra link in the chain, but not one with particular reason to presume the weakest, the way I see it.

Post edited at 15:42
dagibbs 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Use two carabiners for the clip-in.  Still pretty fast to switch over, and unlikely both will get badly loaded at same time -- and even if so, will still be plenty strong.

Michael Gordon 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

If doing hard routes, leading on a crab seems risky. If doing easy but long routes where time is a concern, seems like a good idea.

beardy mike 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Works for Hans Florin on the Nose speed records, and I'm not sure you could call the Nose easy. Long yes. He uses two locking biners. Never really been sure about this concept that you can't attach to the rope with biners because it's one more thing to fail... surely if something is going to fail, you should be binning your equipment? Especially with non crossloading biners I'd say the technology is perfectly strong enough - the biners (especially if you use two) will far exceed the strength of the harness...

AlanLittle 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Just to throw another only-slightly-no-risk-no-fun idea into the mix: (re-)tie in with single bowlines? Much quicker to tie than rethreaded eights; hopefully reasonably unlikely to both fall apart at the same time

Post edited at 09:17
beardy mike 04 Apr 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

I use a ring bend to tie in which are even quicker to retie than bowlines and don't need a stopper knot...

Jonny 04 Apr 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

I already use a modified Yosemite bowline to tie in (tucking the tail through two of the loops). 'Lee's locked Yosemite bowline', they call it. Not prone to loosening with repeated jiggling, as the standard (and even Yosemite) bowlines are. And still faster than the rethreaded Fo8, and easier to untie. Easy to inspect too. Some non-conventional methods are just winners all around! I haven't played with ring bends, mind you.

Michael Gordon 04 Apr 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

> Works for Hans Florin on the Nose speed records, and I'm not sure you could call the Nose easy. Long yes. He uses two locking biners. Never really been sure about this concept that you can't attach to the rope with biners because it's one more thing to fail... surely if something is going to fail, you should be binning your equipment? Especially with non crossloading biners I'd say the technology is perfectly strong enough - the biners (especially if you use two) will far exceed the strength of the harness...

I probably agree with this. That said, since most of us aren't going for speed records (where different tactics may well be employed) but simply aiming to get a route done onsight within the day, then running the rope through is a very short bit of time in the context of trying difficult pitches onsight.   

Jonny 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I probably agree with this. That said, since most of us aren't going for speed records (where different tactics may well be employed) but simply aiming to get a route done onsight within the day, then running the rope through is a very short bit of time in the context of trying difficult pitches onsight.   

But if we're using the same tactics (block leading) albeit for different reasons, then the speed climber's solution might still be suitable for us 'slow climbers'. The Nose isn't so easy that taking a fall (on a clipped-in 'biner) is out of the question, and these folks aren't generally reckless with their lives, so our considerations may end up being fairly similar.

None of these optimisations are major gains, but if the disadvantages aren't significant either, every little helps. I suppose the gist of your post is that the risks of clipping in on difficult onsights outweigh the convenience of slightly quicker changeovers. But then I'd be interested to hear where exactly you perceive the risks to lie in the act of clipping in.

Post edited at 15:06
beardy mike 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

The beauty of the ring bend is it's much easier to inspect in a hurry and when you are tired as it has simple topology.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au8KiUS4RCc

Also grab a cop of Hans Florins books - it discusses all of this at great length and you can chose whether any of it holds value for you personally... it goes into details like racking, just plain efficiency at belays etc... it's all about time not moving being time lost.

In reply to Michael Gordon: Time is time. If you spend 3 minutes at each belay of a 25 pitch route, that's an hour and a quarter, which is the difference between spending the night on a ledge or not...

Post edited at 15:21
Jonny 04 Apr 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

> Also grab a cop of Hans Florins books - it discusses all of this at great length and you can chose whether any of it holds value for you personally... it goes into details like racking, just plain efficiency at belays etc... it's all about time not moving being time lost.

Judging by his logs (https://www.facebook.com/HansFlorineclimbs/posts/314187278673931), I can imagine 'great length' is an apt description!

In terms of time being time, I completely agree. For me, constant improvement of all its aspects (speed, movement, technique...) is a consistent theme of climbing. It's just not such a big deal to incorporate new modifications to the extent that it would detract from the fun and flow of climbing itself. It's a minor cognitive overhead. The more often you change things around, the easier it becomes to change something else. As long as you're keeping complexity in check (itself subject to improvement) then its just an extension of that central driver in life: that of constant progress! There's a lot of groupthink in the climbing world, partially for good reason (like 'standards' in industry), but I think there's more room for experimentation than commonly admitted.

Post edited at 15:46
beardy mike 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Indeed. I suppose where I'm coming from with retieing is that I tried both ways and found that with a single rope, the difference wasn't sufficiently great to warrant using krabs. I preferred the cleaner harness tiein, than the compromise of a couple of crabs bashing me in the nuts all the time. I suppose a crab system does have the advantage that you eliminate the possibility of tieing your knot incorrectly... 

Jonny 04 Apr 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

I take the point, and I'm not sure I'm fully sold on the whole idea myself - this thread was just a bit of cognitive diarrhoea and a gauge of common sentiment. I think it's fair to say it served its purpose in this respect!

> ...than the compromise of a couple of crabs bashing me in the nuts all the time.

A key consideration!

Post edited at 15:51
tlouth7 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

My position is that a single rope tie-in (or in your scenario half ropes on a single crab) is pretty much the only single-point-of-failure present while climbing. I therefore do anything I can to avoid messing around with it once off the ground.

I would have no concerns about the security of using one or more crabs to attach the rope to my harness, but worry that I would be more likely to remove it/them by accident than a knot (for example as the 2nd when dismantling the anchor). This could be somewhat mitigated by using a very distinctive crab, or having one crab per rope.

David Coley 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Hi. 

I have timed several of the options  

1. If you want a masterpoint, use a cordelette. Then belay on it  and take 3 reversos between you. The second never ties in, but hangs from the reverso. With a backup knot. 

2. If you want to belay off the harnes, then tie in with the rope. The second then carries 3 magic carabiners and ties in just like the leader , but under her ropes . This takes 15 seconds on average . 

3. Don't mix methods , for example, trying in with the rope to the anchor then making a master point from slings. 

4. Use a cleaning sling, or clean into bunches. This means the leader and second are doing different things, not the same thing like sorting the rack. 

muppetfilter 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

If your second is inexperienced wouldnt it be prudent to spend time getting their overall rope skills up ? 

Do they have the skills to get you both down in the event of you having an accident? The weakest link in this whole scenario is possibly a skill gap.

meggies 05 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Just trying to picture your set up - are you clove hitching to the anchors then leaving slack rope between them to create a power point (overhand/fig8 I'm guessing) to clip in to with a PAS?

Here's Jack with what I mean:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/building_fast_belays_when_multipitch_sport_climbing-8857

At the bottom of the article he discusses using a sling instead if you're leading everything (block leading).

Post edited at 18:14
Jonny 05 Apr 2019
In reply to meggies:

That's exactly it, yes: clove each rope to one of the two pieces (if there are more I equalise neighbouring ones with a sling or clove the rope in serial, depending on how they are positioned), then form a Fo8 master point (with a more acute angle than that shown in the linked article - these are rarely bolts after all) and belay directly off it.

I do agree that a sling/cordelette makes sense for block leading. I'd just like to preserve the advantages of using the rope to build the belay when pieces are far apart.

Post edited at 19:02
Jonny 05 Apr 2019
In reply to David Coley:

Thanks David. 

I'm struggling to picture how the third reverso is set up in option 1. Clipped into the masterpoint in guide mode with the second's ends threaded though it such that their weight engages the autoblock? What is its function here? Ease of adjustability of the tether length? I don't doubt I'm missing something here.

Post edited at 19:01
David Coley 06 Apr 2019
In reply to Jonny:

Yep you've got it. 

You bring them up close to the belay, tie an overhand as a blocking knot as a back up and let go. They then sort themselves out as you take the cleaning sling off their shoulders . If they put the last hanging reverso on the cleaning sling when they left the last belay, you won't leave it on the wrong person

For more info see my book on amazon 

Post edited at 10:12
Jonny 06 Apr 2019
In reply to David Coley:

Ah, of course. I managed to overlook the fact it's the very same reverso used to bring the second up. I read your book a while back, but had forgotten about that part. Cheers again.


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