/ Gyms banning use of tube belay devices?

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hkstu 14 Feb 2020

Just back from a trip to the Philippines and one of the gyms in Manila (ccm) has just announced a policy of only allowing ABD devices.

They say in their explanation that climbing centers around the world are moving in this direction and that studies have shown that ABDs are safer than tube devices.

Any thoughts.

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galpinos 14 Feb 2020
nniff 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

Not without precedent - places in Canada only allowed gri-gris in the 90's.  Didn't seem to establish itself much

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krikoman 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

Malaysia, and I think Hong Kong are the same. Daft idea, the Brits will never go for it <fingers crossed imoji>

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

What I find quite interesting is that it's Asian walls that seem to be doing this, and yet South East Asia generally has a far less strict attitude to health and safety than the UK.

That said:

https://climbcentral.ph/walk-in-entry/

...it appears the UK puts far more weight on knowing how to belay, all they seem to need (even for roped climbing) is a 10 minute briefing.  That actually does fit the general SE Asia attitude to H&S - be seen to do something rather than analyse the actual issues properly.

Post edited at 09:17
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gravy 14 Feb 2020

It comes down to what you think climbing walls are for? dumbed down soft-play or training and learning the ropes.
 

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Offwidth 14 Feb 2020
In reply to krikoman:

I climbed at Camp 4 in Malaysia last year with a tube belay device, as did others there.

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Joffy 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams

> ...it appears the UK puts far more weight on knowing how to belay, all they seem to need (even for roped climbing) is a 10 minute briefing. 

The issue in my mind isnt whether someone can belay me, if they couldn't then I wouldn't be on the sharp end with them.

It's whether in those human moments I'm still protected. All it takes is a moment of hand correction, a moment of distraction and the brake rope could be moving too fast to grab.

I trust my belayers but you have to accept that we are all human and capable of mistakes.

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

That could still happen with most if not all ABDs, though.  They generally require some force on the brake rope to lock up (though the Grigri is probably the most likely one to lock up without that force).

I'm not fundamentally against them, but they are not a panacea.

Post edited at 10:41
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Christheclimber 14 Feb 2020
Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Christheclimber:

Wow, that's an incredibly badly written and biased article. 

This, in particular:

With its 1991 creation, the Grigri was the saving grace for the many belayers worldwide. For those ready to embrace the nuances of the device, gone were the days of straining to hold a dogboning climber or, in some cases, struggling to catch big whips. ATCs and other similar devices were tossed aside because the Grigri made it easier for belayers to catch and hold the weight of their partners.

...is an absolute load of rubbish.  Other than in specific circles (European sport climbing, mostly, but also activity centres using it "off label" for peer belaying) the Grigri is rare and other devices are not "tossed aside".

Mind you, the wall themselves seem quite arrogant, requiring only one specific technique (one you almost never see in Europe) to be used, too.  (Pull, brake, under, slide rather than V-knee-1-2-3).

Post edited at 10:48
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Joffy 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

Exactly my point. I don't climb with people who have no idea, I expect that they won't actually go hands free of the rope.

Can you honestly say that you have never been distracted? Chances are your climber didn't fall at that moment but it would be foolish to expect that never to happen.

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krikoman 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

> I climbed at Camp 4 in Malaysia last year with a tube belay device, as did others there.


I've never climbed in either, but my friend has lived in both areas, so maybe it's different rules in different places.

When he came back for a visit and he pulled out his grigri, he was thoroughly ridiculed by the rest of the club, which is when he explained it's mandatory in the places he now climbs.

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Jenny C 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

I worked at a wall for 16 years and have known more than one ground fall result from 'a moments loss of concentration' when using grigris.

Unfortunately ABD make sloppy belaying 'safe', which in turn encourages bad practice and makes them no safer than tube devices. 

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to krikoman:

I wouldn't ridicule someone for using a Grigri, that's bizarre.  I personally dislike them because I find them cack-handed to use, but if someone else likes them why shouldn't they use them?

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

That wasn't my point at all.  My point was that if you end up not holding the brake rope an ABD might[1] make no difference at all (depending which ABD it is, they are not all equal in that regard).

If you *are* holding the brake rope, you'll catch the fall, even if you're not paying attention properly.  You could be chatting to your mate, but the rope held in the brake position will brake, ABD or not.

Other aspects, such as having too much slack out causing a groundfall when you are holding the brake rope, are device-agnostic - they are neither made better nor worse with an ABD.

There is one other case which is a very heavy climber who with skinny ropes may be hard to brake in a slick tube device, and an ABD would really help by, er, assisting with braking.  However, being one of those heavy climbers I prefer to use the Edelrid Ohm to resolve that one, as that also removes the need for a ground anchor or weight bag.

[1] For instance with a Grigri if the climber falls hard and the brake rope is not held, it probably will lock up, but for a slow "peeling off the wall" type fall it won't - it basically acts the same as a car seatbelt.

Post edited at 11:32
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deepsoup 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

>  be seen to do something rather than analyse the actual issues properly.

If you think that approach to H&S is uniquely SE Asian and not the sort of thing we brits would fall for, I envy you. ;-)

Post edited at 11:37
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Joffy 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Jenny C:

Would love to have this explained to me, or even shown. From my personal experience the gri gri breakes without tension on the brake rope. My lack of experience with the click up means it locks even when I don't want it to!

Short of going out of the way to use these devices wrong (see my point above about not being on the end with someone who doesn't know what they are doing) they protect the moments when human nature fails.

Just read Neil's edit.

The slow peel off the wall is interesting, but again doesn't see an advantage of tube over a grigri. I'm not saying a grigri is fool proof (unlike a revo wildcountry) but my point is I don't climb with fools. It's going slightly off topic but to add to the human nature, what if the distraction was a rock fall, or it hit my belayer? I know what would happen with a tube device, aka, a ground fall. But the grigri *should* catch me.

Post edited at 11:46
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galpinos 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Mind you, the wall themselves seem quite arrogant, requiring only one specific technique (one you almost never see in Europe) to be used, too.  (Pull, brake, under, slide rather than V-knee-1-2-3).

How would you describe the DAV belay technique?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1pjGl4gs0A

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PaulJepson 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

Walls generally take their policy advice from the BMC, or a TA who in chain takes it from the BMC. I can't see the BMC pushing that kind of policy.  

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to galpinos:

> How would you describe the DAV belay technique?

The "one handed" one?  We had that on another thread recently and I'm not a fan, it's awkward and while "tunnelling" the rope you have less control than the two techniques mentioned above.  That said, the DAV, who know their stuff, recommend it, so there is clearly something going for it.

The main view I had on it on another thread is that I wouldn't teach it to a novice, one of the other two is better, mainly because it's hard to see if they have adequate grip while "tunnelling" while it is obvious in one of the other two techniques if they've always got a hand on the dead rope.

Post edited at 12:32
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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Walls generally take their policy advice from the BMC, or a TA who in chain takes it from the BMC. I can't see the BMC pushing that kind of policy.  

Though with the growth of indoor climbing as a thing in its own right rather than training for/something you can do when you can't get to a crag, the ABC (Association of British Climbing Walls) may well end up with more influence and may take different views.

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

The disadvantage of a Grigri specifically is that they are very cack-handed to use both when paying out and when lowering, and the latter has caused a fair number of accidents in and of itself (leading to the development of the Grigri+ with the anti-panic handle).  While people do learn to use them smoothly (just like you can learn to drive a Land Rover Defender smoothly, for instance, but give one to a learner and they'll be jerky as sin) that does make them not great for novices.

That doesn't apply to all ABDs, of course, some more recent ones handle more like a tube device, but by doing that they tend to be less likely to lock up if the dead rope is not being held (and again provided it *is* being held you're going to catch the fall[1] on any device).

[1] I'm thinking indoor lead falls here, not extreme examples like a factor 2 outdoors with a 20 stone climber.

Post edited at 12:35
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Coel Hellier 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Other aspects, such as having too much slack out causing a groundfall when you are holding the brake rope, are device-agnostic - they are neither made better nor worse with an ABD.

I'm not so sure. 

With a tube, If you have too much slack out, and are only semi-holding the rope, then the fall can cause the rope to run rapidly.  The belayer may only be able to recover from this by grabbing hard and getting rope burns, and may not succeed.

In the same scenario with a ClickUp, the device would lock and the fall would be held with no burns  (any semi-holding would likely be enough for it to lock, and grabbing the dead rope would cause a lock before rope burns ensued)

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Why would you be "only semi holding the rope" even if distracted?  You're taught from day one to always hold the dead rope firmly, the only time you do not hold it firmly is when "tunnelling" it prior to paying out.

I don't want someone without that instinct belaying me at all on any device.  I do know someone like that and he's still not (years on) passed a wall belay test.

Why do people have too much slack out?  (I see this a lot, it's lazy and dangerous, and the fix is not to do it).

Edit: I most often see it from older trad climbers who are just working on the principle of "the leader doesn't fall" - the people who are least likely to go near an ABD!

Post edited at 12:39
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Joffy 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

I think the point you are making is that in the wrong hands, all devices can be unsafe, which is definitely true and I have stories for grigris and tubes.

But with a decent belayer who knows what they are doing, I'd rather they have a tool which can catch those low percentage situations because I know they have me on the rest. In that case, why not use an assisted brake?

The reasons against seem to me as purely trivial.

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Al Randall 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

I've seen too many novices hold the V of the "make a V 123 method" for far too long. and it seems to occur when the belayer is focussing on a struggling the leader i.e. the very time when it should not be. I never liked that method and still don't so it's reassuring and satisfying to see that a body like DAV recommend the method I have always used despite being told not to at one wall.

Al

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Coel Hellier 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Why would you be "only semi holding the rope" even if distracted?  You're taught from day one to always hold the dead rope firmly,

Yes, agreed, but people are human, and it is the case that sometimes some belayers are only semi holding the rope. (Regardless of whether they are supposed to do, and regardless of what they are taught.) 

But take the case when the belayer is indeed firmly holding the dead rope, but with way too much slack out.  With a tube they might get rope burns, and might fail to hold the fall.  In that scenario the ClickUp would lock and the fall would be held**. 

The above two scenarios are why a ClickUp is safer than a tube; it holds falls in a wider range of "user error" scenarios.

(**NB, I'm talking about the sort of fall-factor falls encountered in indoors climbing; posters here have raised doubts about the holding power of ABDs in falls with a very high fall factor.)

Post edited at 13:04
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peppermill 14 Feb 2020
In reply to gravy:

I may steal that. It's what my bouldering wall seems to have become over the past few years. Soft play for adults. Which is fine obviously and most likely keeping them in business. Just makes things rather busy on a weekday evening!

Post edited at 13:05
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girlymonkey 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

When teaching belaying, I have started talking about the "brake off" and "brake on" positions. I find this helps to get it into people's head that the "V" position is brake off, so unsafe and to be minimised. You do still get people pausing in it, but I would never stop tailing a novice's dead rope until they consistently lock off straight away. By using "brake on" and "brake off", I do find there is less pausing in the locked off position. 

At the end of the day, any device is dangerous in the wrong hands. I do think the ABDs can breed a little complacency, but I am happy to climb with people using them if they are diligent and using them correctly. At the end of the day, it's about fostering an atmosphere of safety in whichever climbing environment you are in, and not being complacent or overly casual about it.

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wbo2 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:> Mind you, the wall themselves seem quite arrogant, requiring only one specific technique (one you almost never see in Europe) to be used, too.  (Pull, brake, under, slide rather than V-knee-1-2-3).

Bit rich considering the near blblical devotion many here have to V-knee-1-2-3

'When he came back for a visit and he pulled out his grigri, he was thoroughly ridiculed by the rest of the club'

Why?

I do sometimes wonder if some people actually go climbing

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

> I think the point you are making is that in the wrong hands, all devices can be unsafe, which is definitely true and I have stories for grigris and tubes.

Yes, exactly.

> But with a decent belayer who knows what they are doing, I'd rather they have a tool which can catch those low percentage situations because I know they have me on the rest. In that case, why not use an assisted brake?

> The reasons against seem to me as purely trivial.

I don't presently use one but am considering one, if I do it'll be one of the ones that handles more like a tube device, Mammut Smart and Edelrid MegaJul are the main ones I'd consider.  I dislike Grigris because I find them awkward and cack-handed (and for reasons of the lower-off issue wouldn't let a novice near one except in the off-label peer-belaying use), and I'm not sure if I like the ClickUp or not.

I'm not, however, in favour of making them mandatory.

Post edited at 13:31
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Ciro 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

> Would love to have this explained to me, or even shown. From my personal experience the gri gri breakes without tension on the brake rope. My lack of experience with the click up means it locks even when I don't want it to!

The grigri will lock without tension on the dead rope 99.999% of the time - spend time at the Spanish crags and you'll see enough people treating it as hands free to evidence that it largely works. 

There is the odd occasion though, when for whatever reason, it doesn't. I have one friend who's had this happen a couple of times on a lead fall - both times a significant amount of rope pulled through but he instinctively locked it down like a tube device and held the fall. I have another friend who has had it happen - she didn't have the same experience with a tube device and that resulted in a ground fall.

They may well be statistically safer than a tube, which is all the wall's insurer is going to care about, but if you only ever use a locking device you won't develop the same breadth of belay technique, so I think mandatory use would reduce skill levels. I personally feel safest with someone who's reached a high level of competency with a tube (and knows how to use it to reduce peak forces on the gear when trad climbing), but uses an assisted device for sport.

>  It's going slightly off topic but to add to the human nature, what if the distraction was a rock fall, or it hit my belayer? I know what would happen with a tube device, aka, a ground fall. But the grigri *should* catch me.

This is where they will undoubtedly come into their own - also another user trips over the rope and pulls it out of the belayer's hand at a busy wall, etc. - as I say probably statistically safer to mandate their use at the wall, but I still think it would lead to dumbing down of belay technique.

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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to wbo2:

> Bit rich considering the near blblical devotion many here have to V-knee-1-2-3

I don't particularly like the DAV method particularly for novices, but VK123 and PBUS probably are equal in terms of safety as they both have the dead rope held firmly at all times.  The disadvantage with PBUS is that because of the hand positions you can't take in as much in one go, the upside of it is that you can't "follow off the rope" if you see what I mean.  But again, provided they are safe I'm not a fan of mandating one of them.

Post edited at 13:33
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Neil Williams 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

> I've seen too many novices hold the V of the "make a V 123 method" for far too long. and it seems to occur when the belayer is focussing on a struggling the leader i.e. the very time when it should not be. I never liked that method and still don't so it's reassuring and satisfying to see that a body like DAV recommend the method I have always used despite being told not to at one wall.

Best not go near "palm up" then - do you see that in the US still? :D

I like the thing the other poster said about calling it "brake on" and "brake off", and I too wouldn't stop tailing a novice until they were instinctively adopting "brake on" as the default position.

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Al Randall 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Ciro:

The Click-Up is used exactly the same as a tuber for belaying, the important bit, but does need some simple instruction for releasing and lowering. I know some say they lock up when giving slack quickly but I have never found that a serious problem.  Mind you I've been climbing for so long and used so many different devices that I probably adapt and compensate almost instinctively.

Al

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hkstu 14 Feb 2020
In reply to krikoman:

Kings Park ? I'm certified there and used my Reverso I think. Maybe YMCA?

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hkstu 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

Thanks everyone. A lot of very useful insights. 

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Martin Hore 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Ciro:

> The grigri will lock without tension on the dead rope 99.999% of the time 

So it will fail to do so once in 100,000 times

But you yourself have heard first hand of it failing 3 times. Are you aware of 299,997 other occasions when it's worked correctly when used without tension?

Sorry to be pedantic, but I think it fails rather more regularly than that. 

Martin

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brianjcooper 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

This is an interesting thread. I can see the safety reasons for using an ABD at a climbing wall. But as others suggest paying attention when belaying should be more important, whatever device is being used. Eg. Too much slack whichever device used is dangerous. Chatting.

I use indoor walls as training for outdoors and a Black Diamond ATC Guide for both. As a 'Trad' climber using double ropes a gri-gri is not much use for me. For Sport climbers. Fine. 

What might bother me is new climbers taught indoors to only use an ABD suddenly trying to change to using a double rope belay device outdoors with little experience of it.

     

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C Witter 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Joffy:

Re: tubes, I don't understand all the idiots saying, "but what if you're distracted?" If you are belaying correctly with a tube, you will not drop the climber - and that's even if you are chatting to your mate. It's about locking off the device, not about attention. Trad climbing, your friend is around the corner and you cannot see them, but you can still catch them. Stop chatting nonsense.

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krikoman 14 Feb 2020
In reply to wbo2:

> 'When he came back for a visit and he pulled out his grigri, he was thoroughly ridiculed by the rest of the club'

> Why?

Because everyone in the club uses a tube, it's just how we roll. We climb trad mainly so it doens't make much sense to have a number of different devices, most people in our club learn on a tube and stick with it, it works everywhere, top, bottom, multi-pitch and twin, double ropes, so why change?

> I do sometimes wonder if some people actually go climbing

Me too, but I don't see what that has to do with mine or anyone else’s post, it's probably more relevant to your post than most

We're also, not rich, so why waste money on something no one really needs?

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krikoman 14 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

> Kings Park ? I'm certified there and used my Reverso I think. Maybe YMCA?


Not sure, he lived in the UK for ages, but he's of Chinese origin and married a Chinese woman, since leaving here he's lived in China, Philippines, Singapore and a few other places.

He might have just been embarrassed about his show of opulence and made the story up

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girlymonkey 14 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

Agreed, often when I catch a fall I end up somewhere near the first clip. Even if my eyes arent on the climber when this happens, I am still in control. It should be so second nature that any level of distraction etc doesn't stop you holding falls irrelevant of device used. When people learn to belay, they should be catching loads of falls while being tailed, if needs be with slack added (when climber is high enough!) to get them off the ground a few times. Those instincts only develop with practice and practice should be supervised.

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Blanche DuBois 14 Feb 2020
In reply to krikoman:

> > 'When he came back for a visit and he pulled out his grigri, he was thoroughly ridiculed by the rest of the club'

> Because everyone in the club uses a tube, it's just how we roll. We climb trad mainly so it doens't make much sense to have a number of different devices, most people in our club learn on a tube and stick with it, it works everywhere, top, bottom, multi-pitch and twin, double ropes, so why change?

Hardly seems like a reason to "thoroughly ridicule" someone. What club is this?

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Al Randall 14 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

I've been climbing for 55 years at a respectable standard on rock, ice, trad, sport and alpine and I am one of those people who say there are accidents, and I have witnessed several, that are attributable to inattention and distractions so I find it quite offensive and disrespectful that you think I am an idiot.  I'm afraid my friend you are the one talking nonsense and possibly guilty of being complacent about such matters.

Al 

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Rob Parsons 14 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

> Re: tubes, I don't understand all the idiots saying, "but what if you're distracted?"... Stop chatting nonsense.

Keep it civil.

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Coel Hellier 14 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

> Re: tubes, I don't understand all the idiots saying, "but what if you're distracted?" If you are belaying correctly with a tube, you will not drop the climber

But we're talking about rare events.  I don't know what the serious-accident rate is for indoor roped climbing, but maybe (wild guess) it's about 1 in 10,000 climbs. 

Yes, if you're belaying correctly with a tube, you will not drop the climber.  But, humans do do things incorrectly every now and then.  The point of an assisted-locking device isn't that -- with correct use -- a tube is unsafe, it's that it can help deal with the rare situation where a human makes an error. 

For comparison, in a hospital, when administering a drug to a patient, the doctor/nurse always decides on the drug and dose, and then hands it to a second doctor/nurse to do a sanity check on the appropriateness of the drug/dose. Why?  Because humans make mistakes, and even if the error rate is very low, it's worth putting in place a system that copes with such errors. 

Saying that a tube is fine and that there's no need for an assisted-locking device, because the belayer should be using the tube correctly, is like saying that the hospital doesn't need the second-person check because doctors should be trained to get the drug and dose right.

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HansStuttgart 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Coel Hellier:

yep.

It is a general principle in the design of safe systems: never give a human responsibility if a technical solution does the job.

And when human responsibility is required, it is better to have human reflexes work in tandem with the safety system than to have a requirement that a human pays attention and does the correct action.

This is why the grigri is interesting. On the one hand, there is a lot of safety as the device locks more or less whatever the belayer does, on the other hand, when lowering down, the handle works against the human instinct of "panic => pull on the handle", leading to accidents.

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C Witter 14 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

I'm not complacent at all; I think a lot about belay technique and see it as something you can always improve. When it comes to falls outside, or even on lower bolts, or with a heavy partner, small things can make a difference - e.g. trying to keep the slack just right, so you don't short rope, but avoid the risk of them decking. But, it seems to me that people don't want to think about how they belay - they want a device to do it for them. They think a device will absolve them of responsibility. This is the problem, not which device you use.

Post edited at 22:53
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Ciro 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

> So it will fail to do so once in 100,000 times

> But you yourself have heard first hand of it failing 3 times. Are you aware of 299,997 other occasions when it's worked correctly when used without tension?

> Sorry to be pedantic, but I think it fails rather more regularly than that. 

> Martin

Well, I've been climbing for about 15 years and spent 5 of those doing euro sport climbing vanlife, so I wouldn't be surprised if I'd witnessed that sort of order or magnitude of sport climbing falls on a grigri. There must be in the 100s on any single busy day at Oliana.

But regardless, I would like to think it would be fairly obvious that I completely made that figure up.

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Ciro 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

I like the click-up design - the alpine up has been my main device for a good few years now - but whilst the action is the same, I wouldn't say it grooves the same response.

If I taught someone to belay I with the click up, and that's all they had ever used, I wouldn't necessarily want to hand them a tube and jump on a sport project and take a lot of lobs.

Whereas if someone is competent with a tube you're going to be happy with them using any other device, or a hitch should the circumstance arise.

Post edited at 02:32
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Coel Hellier 15 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

> But, it seems to me that people don't want to think about how they belay - they want a device to do it for them. They think a device will absolve them of responsibility.

I don't think that's fair.  People are instead thinking about an extra layer of safety and saying, yes, why not?

I'm primarily a trad climber, and use a tube with double ropes routinely**, and it's just not true that people like me "don't want to think about how they belay".   But when it's single-pitch sport or indoors the ClickUp just seems to have obvious advantages and no disadvantages.    Indeed, it's precisely because I have thought about this that I use the ClickUp.

[**Yes, maybe I should try an AlpineUp for trad.]

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Al Randall 15 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

I'm not questioning your abilities as a belayer but the very fact that you seem to be denying that inattention and distraction happen is in itself a form of complacency. Most people who I know who use an ABD see it purely as a back up. I would agree with you that anyone who thinks it absolves them of responsibility IS an idiot.

Al

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Blanche DuBois 15 Feb 2020
In reply to C Witter:

>  But, it seems to me that people don't want to think about how they belay - they want a device to do it for them. They think a device will absolve them of responsibility. This is the problem, not which device you use.

If you belay like this with a grigri then you’ll quickly get yelled at by the leader - it takes quite a lot of attention to make sure you don't short rope people.  In my experience tube devices are more forgiving in this respect, so it's much easier to belay on "auto-pilot".  Unless of course you're mostly top-roping stuff....

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Al Randall 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

I've seen a video of Neil Gresham demonstrating belaying technique.  One second he's stood to the left, the next he is to the right, then he's here, then he's there.  I don't know if he;s "over egging" it to make an impact but it actually looks quite amusing and, to be honest, slightly ridiculous.  Sorry Neil

Al

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wbo2 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:? Dont you move around when you're delaying.? Do you think it's a bad thing?

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Al Randall 15 Feb 2020
In reply to wbo2:

Yes I move around when it's safe and practical to do so.  Whenever possible I like to keep sight of the leaders hands so I can anticipate what he is likely to do next.

Al

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krikoman 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

> Hardly seems like a reason to "thoroughly ridicule" someone.

It would be the same if he turned up in Lycra climbing pants. Everyone knows the rules

I wouldn't take my posts so seriously if I was you, it's not like we flogged him or anything.

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djwilse 15 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

A few years ago I failed a belay test at a wall in the Stevenage area. They insisted I used a tube/plate rather than a ABD (Click -up in my case). They did not allow ABDs at all. I failed because I did not have two hands on the dead rope when lowering  and this was un-safe. ( I did not agree and feel I am safe enough with one hand but could see some logic in a blanket rule on this). I reflected on this and tried to think to what I normally do using a plate to lower but mostly use a ABD at the wall, where obviously you need one hand to activate the lower system (handle or pushing the device over). I only wanted to boulder anyway and after some discussion with a manager I was allowed a Boulder only pass out!

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Michael Gordon 15 Feb 2020
In reply to djwilse:

That's just daft since one hand is completely fine to lower with. It's not as though you need two hands to catch a fall.

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mikekeswick 16 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

All this is similar to not being able to choose what knot you want to use at the wall. All you get when you ask to explain the thinking behind the policy is 'its wall policy' and a blank look.

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Mick Ward 16 Feb 2020
In reply to mikekeswick:

My understanding is that, some years ago, at a certain wall, a bowline with no stopper knot opened and someone was killed. A terrible outcome. Since then, I believe it's been policy on all walls to make a figure of eight/stopper knot mandatory - I guess, on the basis that it's as idiotproof as it gets. 

Clearly this removes the use of personal judgement which, for me, is a fundamental part of climbing. However, given that many wall users view climbing as simply another sport/part of a gym culture and give little thought to the primacy of judgement, I've considerable sympathy with climbing wall owners.

A related example. Some years ago, at a wall in Bristol, an eagle-eyed lady came across to a customer and pointed out that the fastening on his harness wasn't doubled back though the buckle. His arrogant response: "It doesn't matter, does it?" Very tactfully, she pointed out that it did matter and reluctantly he doubled it back. Me, I'd have read him the riot act and/or thrown him out.  

Nowadays harnesses seem to be made to avoid such a need to double back the fastening. You can see why.

Mick

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Robert Durran 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Nowadays harnesses seem to be made to avoid such a need to double back the fastening. You can see why.

Yes, and just as it now seems a bit daft that we had harnesses requiring doubling back and common sense that design is now much more foolproof, I suspect that in a few years we'll look back on tubular belay devices in the same way.

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Offwidth 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

In the same sense someone really needs to think hard about how to remove people from safe climbing. Nearly all the problems I see indoors are down to the psychology that leads people to unsafe complacency and practice. In many respects the safer the equipment the more complacent the wall users seem to become.

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Robert Durran 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

> In the same sense someone really needs to think hard about how to remove people from safe climbing. Nearly all the problems I see indoors are down to the psychology that leads people to unsafe complacency and practice. In many respects the safer the equipment the more complacent the wall users seem to become.

There does seem to be this school of thought. But where should we have stopped as far as safer equipment is concerned?

I would contend that it might be the sanitised indoor environment which seems to encourage complacency rather than the actual equipment.

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GrahamD 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Mick Ward:

Hi Mick, you'll be pleased to know that many walls ARE happy with bowlines.  Certainly all the ones I use are.

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Mick Ward 16 Feb 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

Thanks, Graham - I'm really pleased to hear that. There are only two walls remotely near me and both insist on figure of eight/stopper knots. I'd heard that it was now mandatory, all over - but glad that this isn't the case. Good judgement is what keeps us alive. However that's a tricky message to get across to people who view climbing as simply another sport.

That video of Ondra popping off a 7a was a salutary reminder of what can go wrong. Luckily his belayer didn't think, "Oh, it could never happen to him." It can happen to anyone.

Mick

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Neil Williams 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

> The Click-Up is used exactly the same as a tuber for belaying, the important bit, but does need some simple instruction for releasing and lowering. I know some say they lock up when giving slack quickly but I have never found that a serious problem.  Mind you I've been climbing for so long and used so many different devices that I probably adapt and compensate almost instinctively.

I think I do need to have a play with one (Big Rock sometimes lend them out as demos) but my first instinct is that they have similar downsides to a Grigri, i.e. unexpected lock-ups when paying out fast, and lowering awkward to control.

FWIW I found the Mammut Smart to handle both of those in a better way (and so I'm still tending towards that, though I also need to try the similar Mega Jul to see how that compares) but at the expense of a slightly less effective brake assist.

Post edited at 20:19
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Neil Williams 16 Feb 2020
In reply to brianjcooper:

> What might bother me is new climbers taught indoors to only use an ABD suddenly trying to change to using a double rope belay device outdoors with little experience of it.

That might be a reason to recommend the Mega Jul as that could be used for trad as it has two slots?  Though that said, most people don't go from single rope indoor/sport to two rope trad in one step, more likely they'll be starting out on easier trad where they can use a single.  There is the thing about dynamic belays and gear loading, but I suspect most people are not using a tube device in a manner where that makes an awful lot of difference.

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Neil Williams 16 Feb 2020
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Nowadays harnesses seem to be made to avoid such a need to double back the fastening. You can see why.

Yet almost all walls still use DMM Centre Alpine harnesses which, er, require doubling back.  And yes, I've seen people without them doubled back and pointed it out, though I've never had anyone "answer back" with anything other than an "oops" type answer, and if they did I'd go and tell the wall staff before someone died.

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Offwidth 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

I'd agree (I was using humour to make a serious point), yet all the current devices are safe if used properly by a belayer paying proper attention. The main reason I'd use something like a gri-gri is its way more comfortable and practical when your leader is working a route.

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UKC Forums 17 Feb 2020
This thread was started in the ROCKTALK forum and has now been moved.
Please could you try and post in the correct forum, it makes life easier for both users and moderators.

Walls & Training
Find out where the best climbing wall is in your area. Who goes there? What are the facilities like? Build your own cellar. Training tips and injuries info. It's all here. (And don't forget to check the Classified Listings which contain the UK's most comprehensive online database of climbing walls.)

More Forum descriptions - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/info/forums.html
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kathrync 17 Feb 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> When teaching belaying, I have started talking about the "brake off" and "brake on" positions. I find this helps to get it into people's head that the "V" position is brake off, so unsafe and to be minimised.

I do this too.  I also find that getting people to experiment with holding a dropped sand bag or similar, or even someone tugging in the "brake off" vs "brake on" positions helps to drive this home.

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kathrync 17 Feb 2020
In reply to djwilse:

> I failed because I did not have two hands on the dead rope when lowering  and this was un-safe. ( I did not agree and feel I am safe enough with one hand but could see some logic in a blanket rule on this). 

I think there is some logic to this. If a snag or thorn or something in the dead rope takes you by surprise, it is easy to loosen your grip.  If you have two hands, one above the other, then you are more likely to retain a good grip with your upper hand in this scenario.  Unlikely indoors, I know, but I've seen ropes pick up all kinds of crap outdoors so it's a good habit to get into.

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Iamgregp 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Mick Ward:

I had a day out climbing with an American instructor, I noticed that she didn't tie stopper she said the climbing gym she taught at back hone didn't teach them to kids, after all they don't actually do anything (which is true) and they figures that a kid could accidentally tie a stopper knot instead of, as opposed to in addition to, their figure of 8.  All very logical but totally the opposite of what is mainly taught here.

Along with some places insisting on ABD's and other banning them shows just how what some people have reasoned is the safest method, other people can reason is actually less safe. 

Goes to show they are all safe, as long as you do them properly!

So... top to bottom or bottom to top through the tie in loops?!?!?!?!  ;)

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kathrync 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> So... top to bottom or bottom to top through the tie in loops?!?!?!?!  ;)

Hahaha! 

I thread my own bottom to top because that's what I was taught to do at 16 and it's hard to break a habit of more than 20 years! 

If I am teaching someone, I will tell them top to bottom, reasoning that if you miss the top you are likely to invert if you fall, but if you miss the bottom it's mostly just going to be really uncomfortable. But, I usually own up to doing it the other way - with the right person it can make for a good discussion about different techniques, and also about the value of buddy checking, which should pick up a missed loop no matter which way you threaded!

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Al Randall 17 Feb 2020
In reply to kathrync:

You could argue that if you do bottom to top a knot that is not finished (this being the most common scenario) is more likely to pull out all together as soon as the climber sets off and thus give some warning. A rope that is threaded top to bottom is more likely to stay in place, unfinished.

Al

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krikoman 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> I had a day out climbing with an American instructor, I noticed that she didn't tie stopper she said the climbing gym she taught at back hone didn't teach them to kids, after all they don't actually do anything (which is true) and they figures that a kid could accidentally tie a stopper knot instead of, as opposed to in addition to, their figure of 8.  All very logical but totally the opposite of what is mainly taught here.

Sunderland climbing wall requires a stopper not wrapped at least twice around the rope and the tail poking up through the hole, not down over!!!

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Iamgregp 17 Feb 2020
In reply to hkstu:

I'm thinking instead of rules about what you can and can't do or use they should just have a massive sign that says "NO F*CK UPS"

If I ever fulfill my pipedream of opening a place I'm putting one up...

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In reply to Iamgregp:

> I'm thinking instead of rules about what you can and can't do or use they should just have a massive sign that says "NO F*CK UPS"

The local UPS drivers would soon be in uproar,

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Iamgregp 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Nempnett Thrubwell:

I'll put up a "NO DHL" one for balance... 

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Neil Williams 17 Feb 2020
In reply to krikoman:

> Sunderland climbing wall requires a stopper not wrapped at least twice around the rope and the tail poking up through the hole, not down over!!!

Wha?  "Not" wrapped?

I assume you meant a conventional half-a-double-Fisherman's stopper rather than a half hitch or the kind of "noose knot" stoppers you see from people who have too much tail and can't be bothered sorting it out?

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Coel Hellier 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Wha?  "Not" wrapped?

I'm guessing he meant a "... a stopper knot wrapped ..." not "... a stopper not wrapped ..."  

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Neil Williams 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I'm guessing he meant a "... a stopper knot wrapped ..." not "... a stopper not wrapped ..."  

Ahh.... :D

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