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slack out for a softer catch???

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 climbercool 19 Mar 2022

I moaned at my buddy the other day for belaying with a about 1 metre of slack out, he said other climbers like this because it gives a softer catch, I thought it just means your gonna take a bigger fall?  Is there good reason to belay with more slack out?  Do other climbers like this?

our conversation is based around steepish sport climbing routes.

In reply to climbercool:

Leaving extra slack out isn’t necessarily the ideal way of doing it, but on steep sport routes a longer fall can often be a good thing. A tight rope will often mean whipping hard back into the wall in the event of a fall, and that hurts. 

3
In reply to climbercool:

There's more than one way to give a soft catch. One is to leave an armful of slack out. Another is to pay f***ing attention.

17
In reply to climbercool:

A few inches of slack combined with paying very close attention and stepping forward if necessary.  A metre of slack sounds a lot.

Al

6
In reply to climbercool:

There have been a lot or threads on this, and a very good video was made testing the different belay/slack/catch type arrangements. I’ll try to find it to post here. 
In the meantime I think the general consensus was that extra slack just provides a longer fall not a softer catch, and it’s what you do (as a belayer) as the rope comes right on you that dictates the softness of the catch. I.e letting a little rope through, jumping up/in a bit etc. 

1
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

youtube.com/watch?v=_0GGsBgPic4&
 

I think this was the one. 

OP climbercool 19 Mar 2022
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

thanks,  if anyone can link to those other threads i would love to show my mate.

Andy Gamisou 19 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

Much as I like a "soft catch" as much as the next person (actually, probably more so courtesy of a compressed disk and ankle nerve issues) and dislike being short-roped, I do often wince when I see people below the third bolt (say) being belayed with lots of slack out.  Not that you say your buddy does this, but a lot of belayers seem to have a remarkably poor understanding of basic rope related geometry.

 Si dH 19 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

Like you say the height of the leader off the ground is critical. Once the leader is above the 3rd or 4th bolt the main danger on a steep sport route is pinning them to the wall. The steeper it is the more this becomes true, pretty much - I'm not talking so much about 5 degree overhanging walls. The leader's height above the last bolt is also important - it's most important to leave some slack in the system when they are close to it.

I would be more angry with a belayer who didn't leave some slack on a steep route than one who did. A metre seems fairly reasonable. It makes a big difference to the fall and how hard you hit the wall. Walking in is difficult to judge (time) even if you are being attentive and in my experience having a bit of slack is perfectly good enough. Now, if you go and watch people belaying on very steep routes abroad you will sometimes see people standing 4 or 5 metres out from the rock with huge loops of slack that almost touch the ground before going back up... I would agree that's a bit excessive! But what's most important is that both climber and belayer understand what they are doing and are happy with the approach.

Post edited at 17:03
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In reply to thread:

Let's say the climber has clipped a bolt 9 metres up and has moved one metre above it with a tight belay. He would fall 2 metres with 10 metres of rope in action leading to a fall factor 0.2.

If the belayer has 1 metre of slack, the fall will be 1 metre longer, i.e. 3 metres, and the rope in action 11 metres leading to a fall factor 0,3.

Post edited at 17:08
1
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

That doesn’t account for the tiny fall arc with a tight rope which means you hit the wall hard and without time to get your hands and feet out to absorb the impact. 

If you go try out your two scenarios on a steep route I’m pretty sure that you’ll prefer number 2, even if the fall factor is technically smaller. Whippy little ankle-breaker falls are hideous, even though you don’t actually travel very far. 

2
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I'm painfully aware of that. A small arch ff 0.3 fall still has me limp a bit. I hit a protrusion with my hip back then.

What I would prefer, is one metre of slack behind a dynamic belay device, not one metre in front of a static one. That way you can control a fall. You can't with a static device like a grigri, you can only jump.

4
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

A metre isn’t really a lot. A meter of slack out would mean taking the climber tight would be done with a single armful of rope. That seems fine to me.

I’d be pretty fed up if my belayer only left me a few inches of slack to be honest - I wouldn’t have space to shift my weight from one leg to the other without the rope coming tight. I could use up a few inches of slack by just stretching up on my tip-toes, never mind if I actually wanted to make a move. Falling an extra couple of feet is rarely something to worry about, whereas being constantly short-roped is bloody annoying and just makes a fall more likely. 

 icehockeyhair 20 Mar 2022
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

That whole channel is worth a watch for belay geekery. They've done a lot more recently.

Post edited at 08:32
 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

>  a dynamic belay device

Do you mean letting rope slip through the belay device? Not convinced I'd want somebody to try that on me. And I wouldn't risk trying it in anybody else.

3
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

I find it a lot less worrying than the idea of trying to give a soft catch by stepping forward or jumping where the belayer may trip or stumble and release the rope to save themselves.

Post edited at 10:34
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 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> I find it a lot less worrying than the idea of trying to give a soft catch by stepping forward or jumping where the bilayer may trip or stumble and release the rope to save themselves

I try to just relax and go with the tug on the rope as it comes tight, tends to just pull you upwards and doesn't slam the leader. Falls often happen so unexpected and quickly, and can be when you're taking in or paying out slack, I think I'd struggle react and keep things safe, if I was trying ensure I had the device locked off and let rope slip through.

EDIT: At least one other person seems to agree anyway...

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/dynamic_belaying_for_sport_climbs-1844

Post edited at 10:44
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It's a natural process that is embedded in so many things that we do, it's not a concious decision it just happens.

We don't just stomp on the brakes as hard as possible when driving, we subconciously modulate the force that we apply in order to come to a gentle stop. 
 

6
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> EDIT: At least one other person seems to agree anyway...

He also seems to contradict himself by acknowledging that it can be done

1
 Ciro 20 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

There's three main factors at play in how hard a catch is - the amount of energy to be absorbed, the amount of dynamic element, and the angle of the rope.

If the route is overhanging, unless you're below the last clipped bolt when you fall (which would swing you outwards), you're going to swing in towards the wall when the rope goes tight.

Slack increases the speed at the point when the rope comes tight, which increases the energy to be absorbed, however it reduces the angle between the rope and the direction of gravity.

This reduces the pendulum effect - the energy to be absorbed is transferred up the rope, instead of into horizontal motion of the climber towards the wall.

The trade off between total energy to be absorbed and the pendulum effect is very situation dependent - on long roof sections you don't have to worry about the pendulum at all - but assuming slightly to medium overhanging, bomber anchors, well off the ground, and nothing to hit on the way down a meter or two of slack to reduce the pendulum effect usually makes things safer for the climber's ankles - in the event the belayer fails to give a soft catch, the bolt (and the climber) will experience a much higher peak force than they would without the slack, but the direction of that force will be close to vertical instead of potentially 45 degrees off it.

With bolts and a dynamic rope, the gear is well designed to absorb a long vertical fall below factor one without risking damage to the harness or the climber's spine.

Of course, it's a PITA to keep yarding back up from long falls, so if you're projecting you might want to be caught a bit tighter, on the basis that you trust your belayer to introduce the right amount of dynamism and that you'll react quickly enough to cushion yourself successfully against the wall.

 Ciro 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

"Arresting a fall requires an almost instinctive response, there isn't enough time for the fine motor skill required to allow for controlled rope slippage, the risk is you will drop them altogether (note: this can be done but requires gloves, a figure of eight as a belay device, and preferably a back-up belayer.)"

I used to do it regularly sport climbing with a tube device (not a figure of 8), no gloves, and climbers up to 85kg (I had one climbing partner who was 95kg and I had to wear gloves or risk losing control), and whilst I use a locking device for convenience in sport these days I'll happily do it in the right circumstance to reduce the load on a marginal top piece in trad - so the assertion that it can't be done is plain wrong.

 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> It's a natural process that is embedded in so many things that we do, it's not a concious decision it just happens.

So are you talking about letting the rope slide through your hand? Watching other people at the wall, especially the inexperienced, it seems especially instinctive to grip the rope really hard and adopt a brace position.

Post edited at 14:31
 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Ciro:

> I had one climbing partner who was 95kg and I had to wear gloves or risk losing control

You're not inspiring confidence.

3
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

I have certainly resorted to locking off and bracing if the climber falls low on route.

If they are higher up you can let the rope slide through the device a little, either by letting the rope slide through your hand or letting your hand travel towards the device.

Maybe in these days of ABS on cars and assisted braking on belay devices people don't think about braking gently any more?

5
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > I had one climbing partner who was 95kg and I had to wear gloves or risk losing control

> You're not inspiring confidence.

I'm not sure that gloves should be necessary, the device should be providing most of the friction.

4
 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> either by letting the rope slide through your hand

So in this case you have to grip the rope less tight, to allow the slide?

 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

That is generally how belaying works

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 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> That is generally how belaying works 

Not sure I understand. I grip the rope and don't rely on it sliding, even with an ATC. I use a gri-gri for sport anyway.

So by the sounds of it, you do grip the rope gently, to allow it to slide through the hand?

1
Andy Gamisou 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> I find it a lot less worrying than the idea of trying to give a soft catch by stepping forward or jumping where the belayer may trip or stumble and release the rope to save themselves.

Which is probably a good reason to use an assisted belay device, especially something like a grigri (and belayer who knows how to use it properly) for sport climbing.  Whenever I have a mostly trad climber belaying me on sport climbs, especially if they're using a tube or stichplate or ATC then I feel much more inhibited than I generally do (with regards to pushing myself).  Doubly so if they're a wrinkly or newbie unused to people falling off stuff (I'm pushing on wrinkly-age myself).  Not that I'd consider pushing them to use a grigri - I think familiarity trumps all (if only the Sunrise rock gym in the Bay Area if SF had agreed, but that's another story).

Post edited at 16:54
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 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It's the same process as lowering off once a climber has finished the route.

1
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Which is probably a good reason to use an assisted belay device, especially something like a grigri (and belayer who knows how to use it properly) for sport climbing.  Whenever I have a mostly trad climber belaying me on sport climbs, especially if they're using a tube or stichplate or ATC then I feel much more inhibited than I generally do (with regards to pushing myself).  Doubly so if they're a wrinkly or newbie unused to people falling off stuff (I'm pushing on wrinkly-age myself).  Not that I'd consider pushing them to use a grigri - I think familiarity trumps all (if only the Sunrise rock gym in the Bay Area if SF had agreed, but that's another story).

I'm the other way inclined, if a belayer feels that they need to use an assisted braking device I start wondering what other basic techniques they don't trust themselves to do safely

22
Andy Gamisou 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Not sure I understand. I grip the rope and don't rely on it sliding, even with an ATC. I use a gri-gri for sport anyway.

I'd say that's sound practice.

> So by the sounds of it, you do grip the rope gently, to allow it to slide through the hand?

If I thought my belayer was doing that, then I'd probably find another belayer.

1
Andy Gamisou 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> I'm the other way inclined, if a belayer feels that they need to use an assisted braking device I start wondering what other basic techniques they don't trust themselves to do safely

I use an ATC for trad, but grigri for sport.  They're different games.  People who don't understand that can be a liability in my experience.

2
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> I'd say that's sound practice.

> If I thought my belayer was doing that, then I'd probably find another belayer.

Do you just stamp on brakes every time you want to stop your car?

It really isn't hard, how do you manage to stop a climber whilst lowering them off If you cannot safely stop the rope when it is sliding through your hands?

7
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> I use an ATC for trad, but grigri for sport.  They're different games.  People who don't understand that can be a liability in my experience.

Sport is only a different game if you choose to play it in a different way

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 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> It's the same process as lowering off once a climber has finished the route.

That does sound like a yes, in a roundabout sort of way. The obvious thing that springs to mind is that if you grip it too gently, you could lose control.

In reply to timjones:

> Do you just stamp on brakes every time you want to stop your car?

Braking a car and using a belay device are very different things.

> It really isn't hard, how do you manage to stop a climber whilst lowering them off If you cannot safely stop the rope when it is sliding through your hands?

Thinking the two things are comparable is rather dangerous.

 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Braking a car and using a belay device are very different things.

In both cases you have 2 simple actions one slows momentum the other one doesn't. The degree to which you apply the 2 actions allows you to control the way that you bring things to a halt.

> Thinking the two things are comparable is rather dangerous.

In both instances experience teaches you how to stop in a controlled manner.

It may be that the modern trend for teaching "soft catches" is rather dangerous.

9
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > It's the same process as lowering off once a climber has finished the route.

> That does sound like a yes, in a roundabout sort of way. The obvious thing that springs to mind is that if you grip it too gently, you could lose control.

If you don't know how to control the rope beyond a simple on/off action then abseiling is likely to be particularly risky.

1
In reply to timjones:

> If you don't know how to control the rope beyond a simple on/off action then abseiling is likely to be particularly risky.

I think that the experience of controlled abseiling should be enough to convince anyone that letting the rope slip through your hands in the far more high energy situation of holding a fall is a highly dodgy practice.

Anyway, I thought the myth that this is a sensible method of giving a dynamic belay and been debunked in here several times before.

1
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think that the experience of controlled abseiling should be enough to convince anyone that letting the rope slip through your hands in the far more high energy situation of holding a fall is a highly dodgy practice.

Do you have lily white, soft and gentle hands

I have abseiled many times and never experienced anything that leads me to think that a gentle relaxation of my grip is "a highly dodgy practice".

If I believed that I would still be stuck at the top of my very first abseil!

> Anyway, I thought the myth that this is a sensible method of giving a dynamic belay and been debunked in here several times before.

Some people think that they have debunked it, others think that the debunkers are talking bunkum

Adrian Berry appears to think that it is possible in the article that was cited earlier in the thread.

  •  
18
In reply to timjones

> I have abseiled many times and never experienced anything that leads me to think that a gentle relaxation of my grip is "a highly dodgy practice".

You spectacularly miss the point. 

 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Maybe you have spectacularly failed to make a convincing point?

20
In reply to timjones:

Letting the rope go through the plate is different because the load is already on the rope, whereas with a lead fall there is an impact force in play.

Slipping the rope is outdated and wouldn't be taught as a suitable method of catching a lead fall by any instructor I know. Moving in or with the rope when it goes tight is appropriate and easy method of giving a dynamic or soft catch (especially with an assisted locking device).

More rope out doesn't necessarily mean a soft catch if there is no movement from the belayer.

In reply to timjones:

Trying to stop the rope sliding in a controlled manner when you're not an experienced sports climb belayer (I'm in that group) must be similar to braking with your left foot - it's very binary on/off.

The reason we can brake as gently as we want with our right foot is that we've done it loads of times and gradually learnt the fine tuning required - it's been inculcated as motor engrams because we don't even think about it once we're experienced drivers, we just do it.

So it should be perfectly possible to do the same with controlled rope slippage, it just needs sufficient practice to develop the skill to the necessary level.

 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> If you don't know how to control the rope beyond a simple on/off action then abseiling is likely to be particularly risky.

My point is pretty simple, despite the distractions of abs, lowering and abseiling. That the less tightly you grip the rope, the less room for error, and the more likely you lose control of the rope. Seems a fairly reasonable conclusion.

1
In reply to timjones:

> Do you just stamp on brakes every time you want to stop your car?

If I was less than a second away from hitting an immovable object, yes. 

 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > If you don't know how to control the rope beyond a simple on/off action then abseiling is likely to be particularly risky.

> My point is pretty simple, despite the distractions of abs, lowering and abseiling. That the less tightly you grip the rope, the less room for error, and the more likely you lose control of the rope. Seems a fairly reasonable conclusion.

There will always be moments during the process of belaying where you have a less tight grip on the rope.  If you cannot regain control and arrest a fall from those points then you have got a major problem.

10
In reply to timjones:

> I have abseiled many times and never experienced anything that leads me to think that a gentle relaxation of my grip is "a highly dodgy practice".

Me neither but I tend not to be travelling at free fall speeds and rapidly accelerating when I feather a rope during abseiling. If I suddenly found myself dropping at the same speed as a falling leader I’d probably grip as hard as possible.

Post edited at 19:14
 timjones 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Tyler:

> If I was less than a second away from hitting an immovable object, yes. 

If you are less than a second away from hitting an immovable object then you foot is not likely to reach the pedal before impact

2
 1poundSOCKS 20 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> If you cannot regain control and arrest a fall from those points then you have got a major problem.

Exactly. Maybe best keep a tight grip when possible.

cb294 20 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

You moan at your belayer?

This calls for an immediate helping of PENALTY SLACK!!!!!

CB

PS: more seriously, 1m of slack does not sound too much, on step back or forth essentially.

 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to cb294:

 

> PS: more seriously, 1m of slack does not sound too much, on step back or forth essentially.

Doesn't this depend on where you are, and what you are climbing?

Indoors there's rare any need to have any slack, the spacing between clips being minimal.

trad leading, I'd be very pissed of with so much slack.

High up or close to the ground, makes a massive difference.

People have heard about "soft catches" and everyone thinks they know what that means, most people don't, or how to achieve it, or when it might be necessary.

ps I've not read the whole thread so some of the above may have been answered.

8
 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

> So it should be perfectly possible to do the same with controlled rope slippage, it just needs sufficient practice to develop the skill to the necessary level.

It should be perfectly possible, but it's usually 99% of the time, unnecessary also. There are only certain scenarios where giving a soft belay is helpful, most of the time it's just, letting you fall further.

There no need at all for a soft catch, on a slab.

5
 wbo2 21 Mar 2022
In reply to cb294: A lot more than one step back and forwards... and one thing that has gone thro' my head all the way through this thread is that if you added one metre of extra slack into any 'normal' system  of rope, it's more than a lot of people think.  It would for many be the famously derided loop going half way to the floor and up again.

You can work this out for yourself with a first bolt 3m up and you're one metre out.  Add another of slack and you'd need to take a nearly 2 metre step back to get that slack in.  

In reply to Cobra_Head:

I’m wondering what people are picturing in their mind when they read “1m of slack”. If you walked past someone with 1m of slack out you would barely be able to see it. If a climber wanted to be taken tight, taking in 1m of slack would be a single, comfortable armful for the belayer. 

Either people are overestimating what a meter looks like, or I’m really surprised at how many people want essentially a tight rope at all times. Much less than a meter of play in the system and you must be pre-warning your belayer about just about every move you make!

Obviously there are situations where every inch matters and the belayer needs to be ultra cautious, but those are the exception rather than the rule. 

> Indoors there's rare any need to have any slack, the spacing between clips being minimal.

The climber still needs to be able to move! No belayer can be expected to perfectly predict the timing and distance of every single move. No slack means a tight rope at all times. If you are leading then this must be a huge energy drain. If you are top-roping and being dragged up the wall by your belayer, then that isn’t an experience which is relevant to discussions about dynamic lead belaying.

Although I’m a bit confused about your comment about indoor climbing anyway. Not sure I follow your logic that less gear means give out more slack. 

1
In reply to wbo2:

A loop half way to the floor would be a lot more than 1m of slack. 

In reply to climbercool:

Stepping forward slightly when they fall is a better way to do a soft catch.  Leaving a metre of slack out is just being lazy, and if they're quite low down has a fair chance of resulting in them decking.

3
In reply to Stuart Williams:

If you are standing right up to the wall and your waist is at 1m, then a loop half way to the floor would be 1m of slack. I doubt standing back from the wall would make much difference (I might have  ago at the maths!)

2
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> A loop half way to the floor would be a lot more than 1m of slack.

I suspect what most people visualise as "1m of slack" is actually a fair bit more than that.  I did more visualise the rope going out of the belay device, down a fair way then up to the climber.  You're probably right that that is probably a fair whack more than 1m, probably nearer two.

How consequential it is depends on how far up they are.  If they're 10m off the ground, it barely matters, though if I was climbing I'd not thank you for the laziness as it would mean I had to climb further back up if I fell off.  If they're 3m off the ground, it could easily result in them decking fairly hard (or falling on the belayer, or de-knackering themselves on the rope from the first bolt) when combined with rope stretch.

Post edited at 11:53
In reply to timjones:

> Maybe you have spectacularly failed to make a convincing point?

Judging by your 14 dislikes to my 12 likes so far, I seem to have convinced most people!

1
In reply to Robert Durran:

That doesn’t account for the slack in the rest of the system. A normal, safe belay system is not a tight rope with no play in it. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

Maybe I’m being too literal about 1m of slack, and other people are meaning 1m of additional/excess slack rather than literally 1m of slack in the system 

In reply to Stuart Williams:

FWIW I've just used a tape measure and belay loop to floor is near enough bang on 1m for me, so if I was trailing it nearly on the floor (which is what I'm picturing) it'd be nearly 2m.  But I am quite tall.

I think that in itself poses a risk - I might think I have a metre of slack out and it's actually maybe 1.5-1.8m.  That could in itself result in an unexpected decking, particularly if for example the climber fell when about to clip the second or third bolt.

(I don't tend to belay like that so it won't for me, but you know what I mean )

Post edited at 12:06
 George_Surf 21 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

In reply to climbercool:

A longer fall might result in a harder catch if your belayer is really heavy and the climber light. You’ll fall further and pick up more speed. You’ll get an equally hard catch if your right above the bolt and you fall and your partner just stands there or worse leans back. I’ll agree there would be more rope to absorb the energy (especially more rope between the climber and bolt) but if you want a soft catch it’s got everything to do with the belayer and 99% nothing to do with having any more than just a bit of slack out. I’d say the only time this isn’t true is A, if you’re in for a massive pendulum (extra slack and an extremely soft catch) or B. Your looking at clipping a ledge and you want to clear it. The Spanish can be pretty good at belaying with about 3m of slack piled up on the floor but I wouldn’t recommend it (caveat I’ve not actually seen this in a while now!). I would also say 1m isn’t outrageously bad. You probably want ~50cm out most of the time, maybe a little more when you’re just above a bolt and less as you get higher. The reality is this ‘slack’ can be given or taken away by a slight step forward or back. My opinion / experience at least...

1
 George_Surf 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

1m of slack is the amount of rope you could pull in before the draws start lifting away from the wall and the rope is not hanging limp anymore. Once those draws start lifting there’s no slack your end 

1
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Maybe I’m being too literal about 1m of slack, and other people are meaning 1m of additional/excess slack rather than literally 1m of slack in the system 

But your literal 1m of slack is half way to the floor. 1m of additional slack would be closer to it.

2
 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

I like slack out when I'm climbing - as long as I'm a couple of clips up and not above a ledge then I'd prefer a good bit of slack in the system.  

I know there's vids that have been linked here that say it doesn't make for a softer catch, but that doesn't match to what I've experienced so either they're wrong (which I doubt!), or are missing something?

Perhaps the longer fall generated by having more slack out means that you have more downward momentum as you fall, meaning your belayer is more likely lifted off their feet (if they're light enough) thus making the catch softer?

Or maybe the longer "airtime" means they have more time to react to the fall and do what they need to do give you a soft catch? It certainly gives the climber more time to relax during the fall and set their legs and feet and land nicely against the wall.

I've debated this here before, it's a UKC classic, but I see people taking "practice falls" all the time down our local wall using far too little slack and whacking against the walls and hurting their ankles all the time.  When me and my partner climb we'll take multiple falls every session with a good amount of slack out and I can't remember the last time I had a hard catch, or slammed against the wall.

This is a debate that has been on this board frequently however in the past a lot of contributors to the thread have been people who don't ever, or rarely take falls so this discussion tends to become one of physics, theory and mathematical equations and whilst that all valid and of interest if you're the type of person who never, or rarely takes falls I'd encourage you to try a few practice falls down your local wall with no slack, and then with an armful or so paid out and report back.  The theory and physics are all sound, but they're no replacement for direct experience. 

2
In reply to Robert Durran:

There is slack elsewhere in the system though, not just right by the belay device. If you try to take someone tight with a loop of rope half way to the floor I bet you’ll need to take in more than 1m of rope, even though  the visible loop of slack only accounts for 1m.

In reply to Iamgregp:

There may, as you say, be several reasons for having extra slack in the system, but it is not to give a "softer catch" (lower peak tension in the rope). Extra slack will always give a "harder catch", other things being equal. I think the point is that the extra hardness isn't going to harm you - it is still soft enough.

Post edited at 12:39
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> There is slack elsewhere in the system though, not just right by the belay device. If you try to take someone tight with a loop of rope half way to the floor I bet you’ll need to take in more than 1m of rope, even though  the visible loop of slack only accounts for 1m.

If the route goes more or less straight up (as on the majority of sports climbs) almost all the slack will be between the belay device and the first bolt. I don't think that is going to be much more than 1m if the loop of slack goes half way to the ground (I have drawn a few plausible sketches for different heights of the first bolt and different distances the belayer is standing from the wall). I'll do the maths later when I have time.

1
 George_Surf 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

Exactly. More slack with a lighter belayer will result in a softer fall because there’s more force when your weight comes on to the rope. With a really heavy belayer you’d get the opposite soft catch effect! I guess the take home point is it you’re climber is light you have to pro-actively give a soft catch. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the amount of rope out (although as you say it’s possible it has a positive effect in some but not all circumstances; properly belaying would achieve the same thing better)

 George_Surf 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Plus it’s personal. Some people like a ton of slack. Fair enough. I belay how people want me to (and how I think I should). If you don’t want much slack but still a soft catch just tell your belayer. If they can’t give you a soft catch without miles of slack out then they could probably learn some other belaying skills/techniques. Not a bad thing. Tell them not to take it personally! 

 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yes you are right, perhaps rather than "softer catch" really what I'm talking about is "hitting the wall with less momentum".

Though I would say extra slack doesn't necessarily result in a harder catch (though it can), there are other variables at play which can make it result in a softer catch. 

For example I'd much rather take a longer fall from someone who is either lifted off the floor, or slips the rope through the device to give me a soft catch, than a shorter fall from someone who is heavier, anchored to the ground, or make no effort to make a dynamic catch.

In reply to George_Surf:

> More slack with a lighter belayer will result in a softer fall because there’s more force when your weight comes on to the rope. 

I'm not sure what you mean by this. A belayer will only make a difference to peak forces if they are lifted off their feet and this will happen with the same tension in the rope (equal to their weight) however much slack is out. The dynamics of the system then become more complicated with the rope continuing to stretch and the belayer accelerating upwards. I'm not sure it is obvious that more slack will result in lower peak forces.

In reply to Iamgregp:

> Yes you are right, perhaps rather than "softer catch" really what I'm talking about is "hitting the wall with less momentum".

I think this is a common source of confusion and talking at cross-purposes!

> Though I would say extra slack doesn't necessarily result in a harder catch (though it can), there are other variables at play which can make it result in a softer catch. 

> For example I'd much rather take a longer fall from someone who is either lifted off the floor, or slips the rope through the device to give me a soft catch, than a shorter fall from someone who is heavier, anchored to the ground, or make no effort to make a dynamic catch.

Why (assuming swinging into the rock is not an issue)? 

In reply to Robert Durran:

Agreed....more slack means the climber travels further and accelerates more, creating more energy in the system that needs to be arrested once the rope comes tight. Marginally softened by the extra rope in the system....but only a little.

 AJM 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> > For example I'd much rather take a longer fall from someone who is either lifted off the floor, or slips the rope through the device to give me a soft catch, than a shorter fall from someone who is heavier, anchored to the ground, or make no effort to make a dynamic catch.

> Why (assuming swinging into the rock is not an issue)? 

Peak rate of deceleration is a factor in whether a fall is comfortable even if you don’t hit anything.
 

In both examples the point at which the rope first comes tight is the same, so the peak velocity is the same, it’s then about how quickly you dissipate that energy to end up in the final position of everyone being still.

We don’t lead on static ropes off ground anchors with grigris - the latter example is just a less severe version of this.

 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think this is a common source of confusion and talking at cross-purposes!

Indeed!  I should be more clear...

> Why (assuming swinging into the rock is not an issue)? 

Literally just for the swinging into the rock issue, if it's a really steep route where you're just going to fall into space then it really makes no odds.  In fact less slack may be desirable on a super steep route, as it may prevent having to boink to get back on to the route!

 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Although I’m a bit confused about your comment about indoor climbing anyway. Not sure I follow your logic that less gear means give out more slack. 

My logic was, with clips every 1.5m, you're hardly likely going to need a dynamic belay, what's the point?

3
 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

It's good practice?

I even tie a knot in the end of my rope when I'm climbing indoor, just as it good to make this, and dynamic belaying as part of you day-in day out routine, as you'll need them when you go outside.

In reply to Iamgregp:

Wow there's already a lot to read before you even arrive at my comment!

Which is that belayers must be thinking about the consequences of a fall occurring at any given moment. All this talk about 'dynamic' use of the rope is insignificant compared with the necessary dynamic thought processes that should be part of being a good,  observant, involved belayer. It's not just a question of one method works all the time while waiting for your turn to lead a pitch/route, while yelling encouragement. 

 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Stairclimber:

> Which is that belayers must be thinking about the consequences of a fall occurring at any given moment. All this talk about 'dynamic' use of the rope is insignificant compared with the necessary dynamic thought processes that should be part of being a good,  observant, involved belayer. It's not just a question of one method works all the time while waiting for your turn to lead a pitch/route, while yelling encouragement. 

Indeed. But assuming we all know this and do this at all times, it’s not mutually exclusive with giving your partner a soft catch whenever you can?

In reply to Iamgregp:

> Indeed!  I should be more clear...

> Literally just for the swinging into the rock issue.

Agreed (that confusion again!).

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> My logic was, with clips every 1.5m, you're hardly likely going to need a dynamic belay, what's the point?

To stop the climber slamming into the wall (same as outside). It is actually more of a problem with short falls, so more important indoors.

Post edited at 15:02
In reply to AJM:

> In both examples the point at which the rope first comes tight is the same, so the peak velocity is the same, it’s then about how quickly you dissipate that energy to end up in the final position of everyone being still.

> We don’t lead on static ropes off ground anchors with grigris - the latter example is just a less severe version of this.

I'm not sure that there is ever going to be any discomfort from a fall into space with the dynamic belay coming entirely from the elasticity of the rope - that is what it is designed to do.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

A) it’s more comfortable and less likely to hurt an ankle

B) I’d much rather my belayer perfected the technique at the wall than when I’m 20ft above a marginal RP that needs all the help it can get!

 AJM 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm not sure that there is ever going to be any discomfort from a fall into space with the dynamic belay coming entirely from the elasticity of the rope - that is what it is designed to do.

If my experience aligned with your statement, I would have not bothered posting in the first place

 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> It's good practice?

Better pratice is to belay properly first of all, before even considering "soft catches", it running before you can walk, and somehow, it seems to be very popular. Like, "if you're climbing, you need chalk"

> I even tie a knot in the end of my rope when I'm climbing indoor, just as it good to make this, and dynamic belaying as part of you day-in day out routine, as you'll need them when you go outside.

I tie a know in the end to, but that doesn't detract from any safety, my issue is the one above, and the lack of belaying skills. That fact the thread has gone on this long, when it started off about slack, shows people lack of knowledge, and what they think they're doing they actually not!!

But you don't need them when you go outside, I've been climbing for 20+ years, fallen off loads, and never thought, "oh do you know what, I wish I'd had a soft catch".

I can understand it, if you're doing overhanging stuff, but to be honest, I haven't done a lot of that outside, and nor have many of the people I climb with.

Anything vertical or less, and you're not likely to slam into the wall with your feet, enogh to damage your ankles.

And simple slack doesn't help this.

Post edited at 15:24
3
In reply to Cobra_Head:

I spent a lot of my climbing years being terrified of falling on sport climbs, having taken a few. It was only when I was finally belayed that someone that gave a soft catch when it clicked that you are not supposed to be this horrible experience of slamming and bouncing off the wall. Even on vertical climbs a longer fall with a soft catch gives you much more time to fall outwards.

In reply to Alkis:

> Even on vertical climbs a longer fall with a soft catch gives you much more time to fall outwards.

I agree that you can slam unpleasantly onto a vertical wall and that extras slack helps, but I don't think anyone can fall outwards. If you mean pushing off with your feet, I don't see how more slack would give you more time to do that (and would just make you slam in harder anyway).

Post edited at 15:43
2
 timjones 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Maybe you could explain what it is that you have experienced whilst abseiling that leads you to your conclusion?

1
In reply to timjones:

> Maybe you could explain what it is that you have experienced whilst abseiling that leads you to your conclusion?

That care is needed even in that very controlled and undynamic situation. 

 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I agree that you can slam unpleasantly onto a vertical wall and that extras slack helps, but I don't think anyone can fall outwards. If you mean pushing off with your feet, I don't see how more slack would give you more time to do that (and would just make you slam in harder anyway).

This ^^

1
 JimR 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm not sure that there is ever going to be any discomfort from a fall into space with the dynamic belay coming entirely from the elasticity of the rope - that is what it is designed to do.

depends on length of rope out, if you are falling off from 60 ft up there's lots of rope already in the system to provide a soft catch  from rope elasticity without adding extra slack. Close to the ground its probably more important to ensure the climber doesn't hit the deck rather than worry too much about a soft catch, usually a step or two forward when load comes on is sufficient. I don't like looking down and seeing slack lying on the floor, it makes me nervous. 

 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

I thought I read somewhere that if you have more slack out the downward force of the fall is greater, which means that it counteracts the pendulum force that pull you towards the wall, meaning that although you fall faster, and further with more slack, but the speed at which you move horizontally into the wall is decreased as it's been counteracted by the downward force?

3
In reply to Iamgregp:

I'm not sure whether that explanation makes sense, but it can certainly be explained by considering the angular momentum about the bolt that with more slack out you hit the wall with less speed. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

Depends. I generally find that when I fall due to  my hands blowing, I fall backwards, which means there is a velocity normal to the surface of the wall there.

Post edited at 18:14
 timjones 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Nobody is saying don't take care!

Have you ever tried it?

The stretch in the rope,  friction at the top draw and very possibly other draws on the route plus the action of the belay device on a well matched rope ensure that the force that is transmitted through to the brake hand of the belayer is not as big as people seem to imagine.

If anything I find it less than the force encountered during a controlled abseil.

2
In reply to timjones:

> Nobody is saying don't take care!

> Have you ever tried it?

> The stretch in the rope,  friction at the top draw and very possibly other draws on the route plus the action of the belay device on a well matched rope ensure that the force that is transmitted through to the brake hand of the belayer is not as big as people seem to imagine.

> If anything I find it less than the force encountered during a controlled abseil.

It is not the absolute force but the rapid changes which are the issue I think. 

Having said that, I think that many belay devices are not well matched to increasingly thin ropes,so you do have a point there.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> …shows people lack of knowledge, and what they think they're doing they actually not!!

> But you don't need them when you go outside, I've been climbing for 20+ years, fallen off loads, and never thought, "oh do you know what, I wish I'd had a soft catch".

> I can understand it, if you're doing overhanging stuff, but to be honest, I haven't done a lot of that outside, and nor have many of the people I climb with.

It’s a bit rich to get sniffy about other people’s knowledge if you don’t actually have experience of the situations in which something becomes relevant!

Post edited at 19:35
 timjones 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It is not the absolute force but the rapid changes which are the issue I think. 

> Having said that, I think that many belay devices are not well matched to increasingly thin ropes,so you do have a point there.

My tendency to favour thicker, cheaper and  more durable ropes may well work in my favour

 Cobra_Head 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> It’s a bit rich to get sniffy about other people’s knowledge if you don’t actually have experience of the situations in which something becomes relevant!

If you read my post, it's pretty obvious I know when it's relevant. As a general climbing question, learning to give "soft catches" is quite a long way down, what people should be learning. I've seen more injuries from piss poor belaying i.e. being dropped to the deck, or off the end of the rope, than anyone hurting themselves, because they weren't given a soft catch. If fact I don't know of any. More than that I don't know anyone who does know of any.

Read some of the replies here and you it's blatantly obvious, some people haven't got a clue, how or why you might give a soft catch, given that, it's probably more dangerous for most people to even attempt it.

Post edited at 23:12
2
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> >  a dynamic belay device

> Do you mean letting rope slip through the belay device? Not convinced I'd want somebody to try that on me. And I wouldn't risk trying it in anybody else.

Yes, I mean that, and it’s pretty undramatic. 

 1poundSOCKS 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

> Yes, I mean that, and it’s pretty undramatic. 

Would anyone teach a beginner this technique on their first time belaying? I would imagine not. Because it requires more skill. And things that require more skill are more impressive because it's harder to do it well. And when it comes to safety, I prefer a technique requiring less skill.

1
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> If you read my post, it's pretty obvious I know when it's relevant.

I don’t think it was that obvious that you know that. You said that it isn’t a skill that is relevant to outdoor climbing. That’s just not true. Furthermore, the OP was about steep sport routes, which you said and your climbing partners don’t climb, so by your own admission your opinion isn’t really based in experience in this particular instance. The OP was asking whether a soft catch can be helpful on steep sport routes, and if so how is it best done. You are talking about slab routes and people being lowered off the end of a rope which is totally tangential.

To be honest, I’m not sure who you are having a dig at, and I’ve not gone back over the whole thread to work it out. I’ve certainly not said that dynamic belaying is more important than safe belaying, and I don’t think anyone else has.

I don’t like the method of deliberately allowing some rope to slip through the plate, which some people have suggested. I think it introduces unnecessary room for error and therefore isn’t particularly safe. Likewise I said in my first post that I didn’t advocate having unnecessary slack out. But I do think there are multiple significant benefits to stepping forward or a little jump to soften a catch, and it is definitely a useful thing to consider for both outdoor climbing and indoor. 

 

Post edited at 09:00
In reply to Stuart Williams:

Another factor to consider is that if you are always the heavier climber in a partnership it's likely you won't have noticed that you've always had a soft catch. If you were to swap to a heavier partner you might realise.

I had a few back injuries last year from non dynamic catches (some where there was a decent amount of rope out). I took similar falls with dynamic catches and they were all fine.

Like others have said a safe belay is the priority, but a simple dynamic catch makes the world of difference later on.

 timjones 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> I don’t like the method of deliberately allowing some rope to slip through the plate, which some people have suggested. I think it introduces unnecessary room for error and therefore isn’t particularly safe.

This appears to be a recurring theme amongst those who don't like the idea.  If I thought that a partner was likely to make the very basic error of failing to arrest a fall if any rope travelled through the device I would be looking for another partner.

If your rope is well matched to your belay device it really is very simple and very undramatic.  If your rope and device are mismatched then a soft catch may be the least of your worries.

1
In reply to icehockeyhair:

> That whole channel is worth a watch for belay geekery. They've done a lot more recently.

It’s like the (invariably men of a certain age) people on hifi channels who have been raging about the best oxygen free copper speaker cables for the last 40 years, or the ones that can hear the ‘special magic’ in the Klon Centaur guitar pedal hard clipping diodes.…..or anything but the V123 belaying method being certain death to everyone at the crag 😂😂

 UKB Shark 22 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

Am I missing something or is everyone over complicating this? As long as you don’t pull the rope in hard and/or brace yourself then a soft-enough catch will result. At least no one has complained so far.. 🤣

In reply to UKB Shark:

> Am I missing something or is everyone over complicating this? As long as you don’t pull the rope in hard and/or brace yourself then a soft-enough catch will result. At least no one has complained so far.. 🤣

I don't think you are missing anything. Ropes are elastic. They work.

 timjones 22 Mar 2022
In reply to UKB Shark:

I think you are quite right for an experienced belayer.

The rope will strtech there will be a bit of give elsewhere in the system, the belayer may yield and/or some rope will pass through the belay device.

It is all perfectly normal until we start calling it a soft catch and trying to teach it.

5
In reply to timjones:

> I think you are quite right for an experienced belayer.

And even more so for an inexperienced one. Just keep it simple.

 Ciro 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> If you read my post, it's pretty obvious I know when it's relevant. As a general climbing question, learning to give "soft catches" is quite a long way down, what people should be learning. I've seen more injuries from piss poor belaying i.e. being dropped to the deck, or off the end of the rope, than anyone hurting themselves, because they weren't given a soft catch. If fact I don't know of any. More than that I don't know anyone who does know of any.

That's self selecting - you've noted above that you don't do steep sport climbing, therefore you are unlikely to come across these types of injuries.

The purpose of a soft catch in sport climbing is generally to avoid minor lower limb injuries on overhanging rock.

I've personally had one broken toe (indoors, plywood is more forgiving than rock bit it can still happen!) and a couple of sprained ankles from hard catches, and I know plenty of others who've suffered similar minor injuries - along with one mate who snapped his shin clean in two.

All were avoidable injuries with a bit of practice in advanced belay techniques and an attentive belayer.

In reply to timjones:

Everyone has the potential to make basic mistakes. I think it’s better to accept that we are fallible and mitigate against that when possible. 

I’m not saying your way can’t be done safely, just that I can achieve the same outcome by stepping forward or jumping and I think that has less room for error. Especially since I am much lighter than most of my climbing partners. If I misjudge your method I’ll be up in the air anyway and I don’t fancy the idea of simultaneously being pulled off my feet while letting rope slip through the plate - it’s just an unnecessary risk for no extra benefit. 

Post edited at 13:36
 Cobra_Head 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Ciro:

> That's self selecting - you've noted above that you don't do steep sport climbing, therefore you are unlikely to come across these types of injuries.

Steep isn't the same as overhanging, I've done plenty of steep climbing, I've not done much overhanging. I'd argue you don't need to know anything about soft belaying on steep climbing, it's really really useful, on overhanging routes or actual overhangs, but while there's plenty of that around, it's not what most people climb.

> The purpose of a soft catch in sport climbing is generally to avoid minor lower limb injuries on overhanging rock.

You've moved from steep to overhanging.

> I've personally had one broken toe (indoors, plywood is more forgiving than rock bit it can still happen!) and a couple of sprained ankles from hard catches, and I know plenty of others who've suffered similar minor injuries - along with one mate who snapped his shin clean in two.

> All were avoidable injuries with a bit of practice in advanced belay techniques and an attentive belayer.

Like you say all avoidable, with good belaying, my issue, if I had one, is it's become fashionable to provide soft catches, no matter what the route, or the skill of the belayer.

So we have people, who think leaving loads of slack is one way of achieving this, when it really isn't, it most probably will make things worse.

The OPs mate sounded like he needed a lesson in belaying rather than trying to give a soft catch.

Just as moving in helps, you shouldn't be out from the wall if trad climbing, so it's horse for courses, but you need to know what you're doing and the reasoning behind it.

I've seen too many people hit the deck from piss poor belaying, to complicate things for beginners for the sake of the few instances where soft, would be of benefit.

And not really self selecting, there are very often overhanging climbs near vertical stuff, and at the wall there4's both in close proximity. I can see what's going on around me.

Jumping is probably the easiest and best way to give a soft catch, and it can be done on both sport and trad, safely.

Post edited at 13:57
6
 mrjonathanr 22 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

Odd to see something which was normal practice in 1992 being debated with such anxiety in 2022.  That said, leaving an extra metre of slack out doesn't have much to do with giving a dynamic belay, it's just excess slack.

 mrjonathanr 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Steep isn't the same as overhanging,

What, to your mind, is the distinction?

1
 jimtitt 22 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

Reckon we'll get to 200 posts? Soft catch is the new 3 Pebble Slab.

 Iamgregp 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Jumping is probably the easiest and best way to give a soft catch, and it can be done on both sport and trad, safely.

Agreed.  And that's easier to do if (drum roll please)......  There's more slack out as it gives the belayer more time to react and make the jump...

Which is basically what I said about a thousand posts up

8
 timjones 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> And even more so for an inexperienced one. Just keep it simple.

Doesn't that leave you wondering why it keeps cropping up around here?

If it is going to be discussed then it seems wise to cover all the options rather than dismissing those that we believe to be risky for the inexperienced.

In reply to timjones:

> Doesn't that leave you wondering why it keeps cropping up around here?

> If it is going to be discussed then it seems wise to cover all the options rather than dismissing those that we believe to be risky for the inexperienced.

Of course. I agee. It always comes up and, for the sake of the inexperienced, should always be challenged.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Jumping is probably the easiest and best way to give a soft catch, and it can be done on both sport and trad, safely.

I can think of many trad belays where jumping would be madness if actually possible.

 Ciro 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Steep isn't the same as overhanging, I've done plenty of steep climbing, I've not done much overhanging. I'd argue you don't need to know anything about soft belaying on steep climbing, it's really really useful, on overhanging routes or actual overhangs, but while there's plenty of that around, it's not what most people climb.

> You've moved from steep to overhanging.

I'm confused, I'd generally use the two terms interchangeably for anything more than a few degrees backwards from vertical. What do you consider the difference?

> Like you say all avoidable, with good belaying, my issue, if I had one, is it's become fashionable to provide soft catches, no matter what the route, or the skill of the belayer.

> So we have people, who think leaving loads of slack is one way of achieving this, when it really isn't, it most probably will make things worse.

It's generally not the best way to soften a catch, but in the absence of any other action it will decrease the pendulum effect and therefore make things better. With an experienced belayer (with an assisted device) I'll often ask them to give me extra slack before going for a move where I know I could take an awkward fall for that reason.

> The OPs mate sounded like he needed a lesson in belaying rather than trying to give a soft catch.

Teaching for to give soft catches is an important lesson in belaying.

> Just as moving in helps, you shouldn't be out from the wall if trad climbing, so it's horse for courses, but you need to know what you're doing and the reasoning behind it.

> I've seen too many people hit the deck from piss poor belaying, to complicate things for beginners for the sake of the few instances where soft, would be of benefit.

> And not really self selecting, there are very often overhanging climbs near vertical stuff, and at the wall there4's both in close proximity. I can see what's going on around me.

> Jumping is probably the easiest and best way to give a soft catch, and it can be done on both sport and trad, safely. 

That's far too simplistic. The easiest and best way to give a soft catch is very situation dependent - weight of the belayer, weight of the climber, height of climber on the route, height of climber above the last runner, amount of friction in the system, directionality of the gear, whether the belayer has a flat area to move around on with or without trip hazards, whether the belayer is on a hanging belay, which belay device is being used and thickness of rope will all play a part.

e.g. If the belayer is 85kg and the climber is 45kg, jumping is not going to be "easy", it's going to be a hard skill to master - on a single pitch sport route the easiest way is probably going to be to move away from the wall run in when the climber falls, and on a trad route the safest way is probably going to be using a dynamic belay device well.

Whereas if the two switch places, the belayer is going to be "jumping" whether they like it or not. Their main goal will be to sit tight and give as much resistance as possible before going flying towards the first bolt. On a sport route that will be safe enough (once the leader is far enough off the deck), but on a trad route where the belayer could zipper up though the gear it's likely the belayer would need to be anchored, so the only way to give a soft catch would be using a suitable dynamic device.

1
 George_Surf 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

in my experience my partner gets yanked harder if I've taken a bigger fall (the size of the fall is not the only factor though). how far I am from the bolt is irrelevant if there's 15ft of slack at their feet! another thing that makes a huge difference is how much friction there is (if any) from quickdraws. if the rope is running perfectly straight up and the draws are hanging freely my belayer will feel it way more.

1
 George_Surf 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

>>>> My logic was, with clips every 1.5m, you're hardly likely going to need a dynamic belay, what's the point?

id say with falls like that its even MORE important the belayer gives you a soft catch otherwise its like falling on to cable and the arc is so tight you smash the wall. being 50cm above the bolt and getting a hard catch is almost akin to falling on a sling! you see (hear?!) it indoors often,

Post edited at 18:28
1
 George_Surf 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Alex Riley:

> Letting the rope go through the plate is different because the load is already on the rope, whereas with a lead fall there is an impact force in play.

> Slipping the rope is outdated and wouldn't be taught as a suitable method of catching a lead fall by any instructor I know. Moving in or with the rope when it goes tight is appropriate and easy method of giving a dynamic or soft catch (especially with an assisted locking device).

> More rope out doesn't necessarily mean a soft catch if there is no movement from the belayer.

trad-wise, on a hanging belay with a light partner I 100% have to push the rope though as it goes tight (have to do this on the ground too to be fair I most situations because I'm normally as close to the crag as I can get and directly under the route; to stop gear lifting). if my partner was heavy it would be a different thing. catching Rachel is not that easy at first, theres barely any feeling to it! id agree sport climbing you just step in a bit, I wouldn't even use a device that isn't assisted breaking, I don't see why you wouldn't... 

In reply to George_Surf:

You need to eat less pies, or Rach needs to eat more

 Martin Hore 22 Mar 2022
In reply to George_Surf:

> >>>> My logic was, with clips every 1.5m, you're hardly likely going to need a dynamic belay, what's the point?

> id say with falls like that its even MORE important the belayer gives you a soft catch otherwise its like falling on to cable and the arc is so tight you smash the wall. being 50cm above the bolt and getting a hard catch is almost akin to falling on a sling! you see (hear?!) it indoors often,

I'm struggling with this. If you're 10m up the route and 50cm above the last bolt when you fall, and there's no slack in the system, then you will fall 1m before the rope starts to absorb the fall and the fall factor is 0.1. If there's a metre of slack in the system, you will fall 2m before the rope starts to absorb the fall and the fall factor is 2/11 or 0.18, nearly twice as great. If you fall on a taught sling the fall factor is 2.0, or twenty times greater! Hardly "almost akin" surely? Slack in the system inevitably increases the distance fallen and hence the fall factor. How that balances against the pendulum risk on overhanging ground is outside my experience, but it seems to me it must be a question of balancing the risks. To teach giving slack to create soft catches to beginners at the wall whose first outdoor experience might well be on VDiffs on gritstone doesn't seem to make sense to me at all. What am I missing?

Martin

 Darkinbad 22 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

I think a key point that is being missed here is the difference between having a metre of slack just lying in front of the belayer, and paying out a metre of rope (or stepping forward a metre) _as the rope comes tight_. The latter is a soft catch, because it flattens out the peak of the force-time graph. The former has its uses (freedom of movement for the leader, dropping clear of an obstruction) but all else being equal it will only make the fall longer and increase the impact forces.

Post edited at 22:54
In reply to mrjonathanr:

> What, to your mind, is the distinction?

??

Steep implies a steep slope, i.e., a surface at a high angle, but less than 90 degrees. Overhanging means beyond the vertical.

Post edited at 00:09
8
 peppermill 23 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

Late to the thread but I'd be surprised if the OP was using an ATC or similar if they're asking about belaying techniques on steep sport routes (I have a feeling you know this perfectly well though )

Their partner is presumably working the route and sitting on the rope a lot, not to mention the ball ache of stripping a steep route. 

Doing so with a traditional belay device has a habit if being miserable for both climber and belayer, especially if there's a mismatch in weight! 

* don't really climb hard stuff but several climbing partners do. F*ck belaying them on their projects with my Reverso! ;p

 peppermill 23 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> I'm the other way inclined, if a belayer feels that they need to use an assisted braking device I start wondering what other basic techniques they don't trust themselves to do safely

Whit? 

Assisted devices of whatever design have been very common practice in sport climbing for a long time now! 

 Ciro 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

> Steep implies a steep slope, i.e., a surface at a high angle, but less than 90 degrees. Overhanging means beyond the vertical.

That's the general usage of the words, but not how they're used in the context of sport climbing.

2
 timjones 23 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

You are making an awful lot of assumptions about the nature of the climbing that the OP's partner is doing

4
 timjones 23 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

> Whit? 

> Assisted devices of whatever design have been very common practice in sport climbing for a long time now! 

Dinferent people will have different concerns in all areas of life.

Surely that is not too difficult to understand?

7
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

You trust yourself to remain conscious and keep a tight hold of the rope if a brick sized rock falls on your head?

I don’t need to use one, I choose to, as I can’t see why you wouldn’t?

2
 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Agreed.  And that's easier to do if (drum roll please)......  There's more slack out as it gives the belayer more time to react and make the jump...

> Which is basically what I said about a thousand posts up

I don't see that you need more slack out, to be able to jump, you just jump.

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to mrjonathanr:

> What, to your mind, is the distinction?

Isn't vertical steep?

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I can think of many trad belays where jumping would be madness if actually possible.

Which is why, I suggested it should really be thought about and not something that is appropriate at all times.

My problem, if I have one, is that it's become something on the list of what beginners need to know / have.

"Oh! you're new to climbing? Make sure you have a chalk bag, grigri, down-turned shoes three sizes too small, and know how to soft catch." This is often to the expense of actually learning to belay properly.

And as in the OP people don't have a clue, leaving slack, isn't giving a soft catch, it's leaving lots of slack, which in many cases will make matters worse.

 stevevans5 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Martin Hore:

I think it's the slam into the wall not the rope catching you that is the problem for short lead falls, so the larger fall factor with a smaller swing into the wall is more tolerable. The youtube channel hard is easy have a lot of really interesting videos on this sort of stuff, but here's a couple to get started, this one they measure a load of falls with different amounts of slack:

youtube.com/watch?v=qOhojbsLfRg&

And this one they try and make the hardest possible fall (relevant as even with some of the highest practical fall factors the force from being caught by the rope isn't that bad):

youtube.com/watch?v=uoDN6SQog9g&

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to George_Surf:

> >>>> My logic was, with clips every 1.5m, you're hardly likely going to need a dynamic belay, what's the point?

> id say with falls like that its even MORE important the belayer gives you a soft catch otherwise its like falling on to cable and the arc is so tight you smash the wall. being 50cm above the bolt and getting a hard catch is almost akin to falling on a sling! you see (hear?!) it indoors often,

This makes no sense at all, it's not height above the bolt that makes a hard or soft catch, it's how much rope is out in the system!

50cm above the first bolt is a world away form 50cm above the 10th bolts 20m up.

This sort of proves my point, people think I've got to give soft catch, without thinking of the consequences.

With clips 1.5m apart on a vertical wall, there's absolutely no need for a soft catch.

8
 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

> ??

> Steep implies a steep slope, i.e., a surface at a high angle, but less than 90 degrees. Overhanging means beyond the vertical.

ha ha 3 dislikes, for what everyone already knew, surely?

1
In reply to John Stainforth:

When people talk about steep sport climbing, they are not talking about slab climbing. I suspect you and Cobra_Head both know this and are choosing to be pendantic/obtuse. 

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> My problem, if I have one, is that it's become something on the list of what beginners need to know / have.

> "Oh! you're new to climbing? Make sure you have a chalk bag, grigri, down-turned shoes three sizes too small, and know how to soft catch." This is often to the expense of actually learning to belay properly.

Do you have any actual reason to think new climbers are being told this, or are you just talking nonsense so you can have a rant? 

You’ve been clear that you aren’t speaking from experience on this particular point, so perhaps just accept that different skills may apply in different situations. 

 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

I don't need it, it's just a case of preferring more reaction time.

 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

Actually?  Yes.

In sport climbing parlance?  No.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> ha ha 3 dislikes, for what everyone already knew, surely?

Ah okay, I’m calling troll. You know full well that people, including the OP, don’t mean slabs when they are talking about steep sport routes. 

Either that or you really are spectacularly misunderstanding what is being discussed, which would explain some of your opinions. 

 timjones 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> You trust yourself to remain conscious and keep a tight hold of the rope if a brick sized rock falls on your head?

> I don’t need to use one, I choose to, as I can’t see why you wouldn’t?

That seems to b the problem here, a load of set in their ways climbers that cannot understand why other climbers are not exactly like them!

​​​​​​​How many incidents have you heard of where a climber has been injured because their belayer was knocked unconcious?

Broadly speaking I don't use one because the extra give in the system reduces the shock loading on the top piece of gear which may not be as reliable as you may wish whilst trad, winter or ice climbing.

To keep things simple I use the same device across all disciplines.
 

1
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> This makes no sense at all, it's not height above the bolt that makes a hard or soft catch, it's how much rope is out in the system!

Eh? So you are now arguing that just having more rope out is what is mean by a soft catch? This is 

a) wrong, and a dangerous assertion to make

b) totally inconsistent with your previous position, adding further evidence to you having no idea what you are on about.

> 50cm above the first bolt is a world away form 50cm above the 10th bolts 20m up.

> This sort of proves my point, people think I've got to give soft catch, without thinking of the consequences.

Nope. You are just blindly assuming that people aren’t thinking about consequences because they haven’t been spelled out in every post. We also haven’t specified whether the climbers harness is correctly buckled, or the knot they’ve used, or whether they wore a seatbelt on the way to the crag, or any number of other considerations that go without saying.

But yes, allowing someone to take a ground fall would be bad belaying. Well done for spotting that. I think the rest of us were just assuming that this didn’t need spelling out in every single post. But apparently it does.

> With clips 1.5m apart on a vertical wall, there's absolutely no need for a soft catch.

Hmmm… in this same post you just said that the distance from the gear makes no difference, only the amount of rope you have out… do make up your mind!

Post edited at 11:22
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> That seems to b the problem here, a load of set in their ways climbers that cannot understand why other climbers are not exactly like them!

I was just making it clear that your suggestion that people who use ABDs don't trust themselves carry out basic tasks is a little unfair, I do trust myself, it's just that I've made a different decision about what device I want to use than you have.

Like I said I can't understand why someone wouldn't use one for sport, but I don't have an issue with people not using them, you're free to choose whatever you like.  Just don't tell me that the reason I use one is because I don't trust myself to do basic tasks!  

> How many incidents have you heard of where a climber has been injured because their belayer was knocked unconcious?

It happens.  You can google it.  Also the person I climb with the most happens to be the love of my life and the mother of my child so please forgive me for taking steps to negate even the unlikeliest of hazards.   

> Broadly speaking I don't use one because the extra give in the system reduces the shock loading on the top piece of gear which may not be as reliable as you may wish whilst trad, winter or ice climbing.

> To keep things simple I use the same device across all disciplines.

That's all totally fair and understandable.  Nowt wrong with using an ATC, especially in those contexts.  I only climb sport so not an issue for me. 

Each to their own.  Just because I don't understand something, and haven't reached the same decision as others doesn't mean I have a problem with it.

 Andy Hardy 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> This makes no sense at all, it's not height above the bolt that makes a hard or soft catch, it's how much rope is out in the system!

The softness of the catch depends on the deceleration, not the absolute amount of rope out.  More rapid deceleration = harder catch

In reply to climbercool:

I haven't read the last 99 replies, but from the bits I have read it seems to me that there are two subtly different things being discussed. More slack out will reduce the violence with which you hit the wall (as it makes your fall predominantly vertical rather than an arc around the bolt, particularly if it's a short fall), but will do nothing for how softly or suddenly you stop when the rope comes taut. To do that, one needs to bring the climber to a stop less suddenly regardless of the slack out — by stepping in or being less 'planted' or however else one wants to manage it.

They're two different things.

I'm not sure it's helpful discussing the amount of slack it's normal to have out either. Surely it's a dynamic thing? If I see my mate stop on a ledge to rest, fiddle with gear or have a meltdown, I'll have very little slack out. If I see them about to move off, I'll instinctively put out a bit more so I don't short-rope them if they suddenly launch upwards. If they're climbing quickly or dynamically, I'll have more out than if they're climbing predictably and carefully in full view. If they're 20m up an overhanging sport route, I'll have a bit more out than if they're in danger of troubling ledges. In all instances, I'll have the minimum amount of slack out that feels appropriate for the situation. But it's a constant assessment — surely, for everyone, it's a constant assessment? We are actually thinking about what we're doing when we're belaying!?

In reply to climbercool:

Bloomin Eck. What a lot of bickering....

In an indoor lead wall, you will often have an overhang with frequently spaced bolts/draws perhaps sometimes not that much > metre apart. I'm not saying that leaving a metre of slack in front of the belayer is optimal and how to soft catch but in this very specific scenario... doing that will reduce the pendulum angle avoiding/reducing people slamming into the wall. This is probably where the "wisdom" of leaving slack in front of the belayer came from.

As already stated in a lot of the posts above there's an element of experience, judgement and horses for courses in climbing. One size does not fit all climbing. One belay device does not fit all. One belaying method does not fit all.

Unless the people doing it are causing some clear danger to themselves or others don't offer unsolicited advice. And let's hope we all grow in experience to learn more varieties and the judgement on when to best apply them

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> The softness of the catch depends on the deceleration, not the absolute amount of rope out.  More rapid deceleration = harder catch

Of course it's to do with declaration, that's pretty obvious. But the more rope in the system the lighter that force will be, but putting loads of slack, isn't the answer.

Are you telling me a fall in the first 5 meters of two meters, will be the same as a fall of two meters, 40m up the route?

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Ah okay, I’m calling troll. You know full well that people, including the OP, don’t mean slabs when they are talking about steep sport routes. 

You don't seem to understand what vertical means, let leave it at that.

> Either that or you really are spectacularly misunderstanding what is being discussed, which would explain some of your opinions.

If by steep, you mean more overhanging than overhanging, then you should re-rad my posts, because I made the distinction about six years ago.

5
 Andy Hardy 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

Apologies if I misinterpreted your post. I thought you were saying more slack = softer catch

 Cobra_Head 23 Mar 2022
In reply to CantClimbTom:

I agree with most of what you posted but......

> One belay device does not fit all.

I'm pretty sure it does, provided you don't mind holding the rope, while some repeatedly red-points something. There's no real reason, not to use a simple bug.

3
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> You don't seem to understand what vertical means, let leave it at that.

> If by steep, you mean more overhanging than overhanging, then you should re-rad my posts, because I made the distinction about six years ago.

I mean the well established, commonly accepted definition of the term in a climbing context, not some nonsense tautologism. 

In reply to The thread:

There still seems to be a certain amount of confusion and talking at cross-purposes going on. Here is a summary as I see it:

A "soft catch" means a lower peak tension in the rope. This force will be lower the higher the runner is and higher the further above the runner the climber is (basic fall factor stuff). It will be higher with extra slack but can be reduced by a well timed step forward or jump.

However a "soft catch" is irrelevant in sport climbing because the peak tension is not going to be significantly uncomfortable for the climber anyway. It is only relevant in trad climbing to reduce the force on a less than perfect runner (but in trad climbing there are other factors which might make standing back in order to take a step forward unwise and a jump less realistic).

The other issue is the speed with which a climber swings into the wall or rock. This will be lower the further a climber falls. So lower the further above the runner the climber is and lower the higher up the runner is (the extra stretch makes the fall longer). And it will be lower with extra slack. Stepping in or jumping will also lengthen the fall and so also lower the speed. This is only relevant on vertical or up to moderately overhanging ground. So for most people this will generally only be relevant when sport climbing and when it is relevant to trad, there are more likely to be issues with measures to mitigate it anyway (very situation specific). Because it is a worse problem with short falls not very far up a route it is probably most relevant in indoor climbing with closely spaced bolts.

2
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I suppose you are making some sort of pun on obtuse angles, because I am not being obtuse in the general sense. I am using the words steep and overhanging in their perfectly ordinary, English sense. Are you saying that when I see a piece of overhanging rock, and am about to describe it as such, I should keep my mouth shut until I have made sure it hasn't had bolts stuck in it; and then, if it has, use the word steep in an ambiguous fashion that does not offend the sport climbing fraternity? I have done almost as much sport climbing as trad climbing and have never adjusted my terminology in this way.

It seems that climbing wall and sport climbing practice is now being regarded as "best" practice and almost holy. We see this is this discussion of hard and soft catches (which has mainly arisen because a locked off Grigri in sport climbing gives a rather hard catch) and in the ways of using belaying devices, some of which goes against the excellent advice of the gear manufacturers themselves.

5
In reply to John Stainforth:

Nope. I think you are being obtuse in the general sense. And I’m not drawing any distinction between sport or trad. I am saying that in the context of this discussion it is quite obvious that “steep” climbing is referring to something past vertical. 

You and Cobra_Head are the only people who are using “steep” to mean a slab, as far as I can tell. You are technically correct that any climb is “steep” in comparison to, say, the path outside my house, but this isn’t how it is generally understood when someone talks about steep routes. Context matters in communication.

2
In reply to Stuart Williams:

No, by steep I do not mean a slab, but any rather high-angle rock surface up to, but not more than vertical. If I was talking about a rather steep slab I would say steep slab. A steep rock climb implies to me something in the range 75 to 90 degrees say. Gently overhanging would be about 90 to 110 degrees. Beyond that, strongly overhanging. Greater than about 150 degrees, a roof. 

11
 Fellover 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth and Cobra_Head:

I'm sure I'm going to regret joining this thread, but here goes anyway...

Steep is context specific.

If I was on an alpine route, a steep section would probably be <90 degrees, because most of the terrain is low angle. Steep is a useful word to describe the bits that are steeper than the majority of the terrain.

If I'm on my roadbike, steep means a different thing to what it means on a mountain bike (and indeed a vastly different thing to what it means when climbing). I think this is similar to the relationship between trad and sport in the UK. Most trad in the UK is <90 degrees, so stuff like Left Wall is considered steep even though it's <90 degrees. Sport in the UK is on average steeper than than the trad in the UK, so it makes sense that steep would mean a different thing in a sport context than a trad context. I'm sure that even within sport in the UK steep has different meanings in different places - e.g. I doubt the word steep as used at Malham means the same no degrees as steep does on the slate.

The OP is talking about "steepish sport climbing routes". To me (and I think all the people I climb with), in the UK, that would generally mean something >90 degrees, i.e. more than vertical, i.e. overhanging. If it doesn't mean that to you then fair enough, but I do genuinely think you're in a minority.

Post edited at 16:50
2
 peppermill 23 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

No but having concerns about someone's competence as a belayer because they use an assisted device kinda is. 

 1poundSOCKS 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

> A steep rock climb implies to me something in the range 75 to 90 degrees

Kind of funny how different definitions lead to so much confusion.

Can you have a steep roof? Or a steep overhang for that matter? Can one overhanging route be steeper than another?

 timjones 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> I was just making it clear that your suggestion that people who use ABDs don't trust themselves carry out basic tasks is a little unfair, I do trust myself, it's just that I've made a different decision about what device I want to use than you have.

My point was that it casts an element of doubt into my mind, doubts are not always rational and to be blunt I'm not sure that anybodies doubts and the decisions that they make for their own safety have to be fair.

4
 timjones 23 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

> No but having concerns about someone's competence as a belayer because they use an assisted device kinda is. 

It is no more illogical than having concerns about their competence because they are not using an assisted device.

Whatever device you are using you are either competent or not.

3
In reply to timjones:

> It is no more illogical than having concerns about their competence because they are not using an assisted device.

Nobody has suggested that they would have such concerns. 

In reply to John Stainforth:

Fair enough. Up to you what you call things. All I can tell you is that those aren’t typical usages in this context which isn’t conducive to clear communication. 

1
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I am actually rather obsessed by clear communication. I find a vast difference in climbing strenuosity between 80, 90, 100, 110 degrees etc. Labeling them all 'steep' communicates almost no useful information.

6
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > A steep rock climb implies to me something in the range 75 to 90 degrees

> Kind of funny how different definitions lead to so much confusion.

> Can you have a steep roof? Or a steep overhang for that matter? Can one overhanging route be steeper than another?

All these uses of 'steep' could be confusing, because in ordinary English ultimately steep is vertical, and (to give one example) a roof in the climbing sense is roughly horizontal.

6
 jezb1 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

> All these uses of 'steep' could be confusing, because in ordinary English ultimately steep is vertical, and (to give one example) a roof in the climbing sense is roughly horizontal.

Honestly, in a climbing sense, it really isn’t confusing!

Seems like there’s far too much over thinking on this thread…

In reply to Cobra_Head:

Sadly not very recently as I don't get out as much as I'd like, but in the past I've belayed a second with a waist belay (snow bucket seat, wearing a rucksack and sunken axe tight to the tether) and wouldn't have wanted to use a bug or similar. So one size doesn't fit all, not even the bug

Post edited at 20:26
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

John, I have a lot of respect for you but I think you’re very much in a tiny minority here.

As you are very aware, rock climbing parlance isn’t the same as ordinary English.

To me, and everyone I know who sport climbs (which is the subject of the OP) steep means beyond 90 degrees. 

Nobody I’ve ever met would describe a sport climbing route of 90 degrees as “steep”. If you told me about a great steep route somewhere, and I turned up and found something in the 70-90 degree range, I’d assume I had the wrong route! 

What strikes me as odd is that you’re happy to use “roof” to describe a very overhanging part of rock, whereas in ordinary English, that means the top of the outside of a building. So obviously you’re happy use accepted climbing parlance in some cases, but you seem weirdly hung up about steep?

In summary…

< 90 - slab

90 - face

More than - 90 Steep… and then of course other adjectives can be added to that but whether it’s a roof, very steep, steep, a little bit steep etc they all fall under the group of steep routes. It just means over 90.

Post edited at 20:25
2
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I am actually rather obsessed by clear communication. I find a vast difference in climbing strenuosity between 80, 90, 100, 110 degrees etc. Labeling them all 'steep' communicates almost no useful information.

It’s fortunate that only one of those would typically be referred to as steep in the context of climbing then, isn’t it?

1
In reply to Iamgregp:

Maybe that's a difference between trad and sport. I personally didn't realise people would use "steep" as you described in climbing, so as a non sporter, I've learned something from your post. Thanks 

 1poundSOCKS 23 Mar 2022
In reply to John Stainforth:

> All these uses of 'steep' could be confusing

Which one confused you?

 JimR 23 Mar 2022

Amazing thread: I've learnt new definitions of "slab" "face" and "steep"  ... how could I have survived climbing, and interpreted guidebooks for the last 50 years without knowing these definitions.  "Go up the slab, climb the face and steep wall" means climb the 89 degree wall, then the 90 degree face and then the overhanging wall.    Jings that would have changed a few of the routes. Interesting to think of Right wall as a Slab  and  Infinite Gravity as merely a steep route. Well well well .. today's youth must have evolved into babboonlike creatures .  suppose it was bound to happen.

1
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to CantClimbTom:

To be fair, I and all of the people I climb with only climb sport so I think I’ve learned something too, and discovered a bit of a difference in parlance between the two.

In reply to CantClimbTom:

> Maybe that's a difference between trad and sport. I personally didn't realise people would use "steep" as you described in climbing, so as a non sporter, I've learned something from your post. Thanks 

As someone who climbs both trad and sport, I am well aware that "steep" generally has different meanings when referring to both. it is perfectly understandable that someone who only does one or the other would not be aware of this.

1
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to nobody in particular:

Thinking about it, it would make more sense if we referred to super steep, almost horizontal climbs as a ”ceiling” instead of a “roof”.

In reply to Iamgregp:

In ordinary English, roof can used to describe the top surface of a building whether viewed from the outside or inside (i.e., a ceiling). 

7
In reply to Stuart Williams:

Following your argument, which I am prepared to accept, I think you meant to say that you would refer to only one of these as 'steep' in the context of sport climbing. As I said before, because I have climbed both trad and sport, I have always used one set of rock climbing terminology regardless of the nature of the protection on the climb. I suppose this is because I climbed trad for many years before climbing any sport. (Although I started climbing in 1966, it was not until as late as 1990 that I climbed my first sport routes - in Chamonix of all places!) I also wrote one rock-climbing guide and had to use terminology that could be understood by typical climbers of the day and almost certainly committed the sin (in modern sport climbers' eyes) of referring to several near-vertical walls as steep walls and not slabs. In those days, there was even an ancient art called 'slab climbing', which was done on rock surfaces considerably less than 90 degrees...  apologies, I'm getting nostalgic now. 

6
 peppermill 24 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> It is no more illogical than having concerns about their competence because they are not using an assisted device.

> Whatever device you are using you are either competent or not.

This is just getting bizarre now. 

Having just spent the day working and de equipping steep sport routes, despite being competent with an atc type device, using one today would have been a combination of miserable, unnecessarily difficult, and probably asking for trouble with my sweaty mits! 

 peppermill 24 Mar 2022
In reply to the thread derailment above:

Is..is it that hard to work out what someone means when talking about a route in context......?

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

My initial comment was in reply to a post that included the line "Whenever I have a mostly trad climber belaying me on sport climbs, especially if they're using a tube or stichplate or ATC then I feel much more inhibited than I generally do"

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

> This is just getting bizarre now. 

> Having just spent the day working and de equipping steep sport routes, despite being competent with an atc type device, using one today would have been a combination of miserable, unnecessarily difficult, and probably asking for trouble with my sweaty mits! 

Why do you think it is bizarre?

You chose to use a particular device in a particular situation, other people may make a different choice.

1
 peppermill 24 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> Why do you think it is bizarre?

> You chose to use a particular device in a particular situation, other people may make a different choice.

Because we seem to have gone from questioning the competence of someone using an assisted device to it just being a difference of opinion. The second one is fine obviously. 

Though I maintain that belaying someone taking lots of falls/resting on the rope on a sport route with a standard belay device is effing awful and a terrible idea in general, if perfectly safe with a competent belayer ;p 

Speaking of which, where's my grigri..

 peppermill 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> I use an ATC for trad, but grigri for sport.  They're different games.  People who don't understand that can be a liability in my experience.

Put rather more bluntly than I but well said sir. 

Same basic principles, totally different games. 

In reply to timjones:

> My initial comment was in reply to a post that included the line "Whenever I have a mostly trad climber belaying me on sport climbs, especially if they're using a tube or stichplate or ATC then I feel much more inhibited than I generally do"

I feel the same, but not because I don't trust their competence, but because I prefer to have the extra safety net of an assisted device. Why wouldn't I? Shit happens. It is no different to feeling safer in a car with ABS however competent the driver.

In reply to Iamgregp:

I'm sure that sometime in the past, there's been a "where's the overhanging bit" comment about Roof Route (VS 4c) 😁

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

> Because we seem to have gone from questioning the competence of someone using an assisted device to it just being a difference of opinion. The second one is fine obviously. 

Did anybody question anyone else's competence?

Andy said that his climbing was inhibited if if he was belayed by a trad  climber using an ATC.

I replied that it was the other way round for me.

Logic says neither is a safety  issue if your belayer is competent but you don't climb as freely or well because of that little doubt in your mind.

In reply to John Stainforth:

I said what I meant to say. Meaning is context dependent. You don’t use a single, a-contextual definition of “steep”, as you claim to. You’ve already given us the following usages:

Steep walls - near 90 degrees

Steep slabs - close to, but not exceeding 75 degrees

Steep routes - 75-90 degrees

So, it is clear that you understand that a word like “steep” is context dependent. I am confident that you therefore understand that people might mean something different when they talk about e.g. a steep path, a steep slab, a steep wall, or steep climbing. I am saying that today, in a general climbing context, “steep climbing” is typically going to be understood to mean past vertical. “Steep” will also be interpreted differently in the context of a specific area, crag, route or pitch but I’ve never known that cause such problems for anyone. 

At the end of the day, you and Cobra_Head appear to be the only people on this thread struggling to understand and to be understood. I suppose it’s up to you whether you consider that to be an issue.

2
 George_Surf 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

i agree the amount of rope in a system has an enormous effect on how it absorbs energy by there’s two bits; the total amount of rope out and then the amount of rope between you and the bolt (a dry chalky rope going 180 degrees through a draw definitely experiences friction and this can hinder the ability of the rest of the rope out to transfer the stretch). I’m surprised we don’t agree on this. You must have seen people getting hard catches indoors even when they’re high up? I agree, once a climber is over 15m or so it shouldn’t really matter where they are in relation to the bolt, there will be 1m or stretch at least. Maybe I should have made my point clearer; when bolts are 1-1.5m apart you’re probably really close to the floor with very little (<12m) rope out 

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

You are quite free to introduce that extra safety margin into your climbing.

Is it a problem if other people don't make the same choice?

Why on earth have people got so worked up because of a simple observation on the fact that not everyone's mind works in the same way?

1
 George_Surf 24 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

In reply to climbercool:

As interesting as this has been it’s getting dragged out now! Soft catches are critical in sport and trad. The main component of a soft catch is a dynamic belay and this basically has no correspondence to rope out / slack in the system. You’re trying to increase the amount of time it takes The climber to go from max falling speed to stopped. This is the ‘soft’ element; deceleration is slower. It means moving forward and/or jumping up. I’m surprised it’s not taught to more beginners, it’s important on trad (most people don’t fall many times in a year but you don’t want the gear to rip / unzip) but it’s possibly even more important on sport where people are falling countless times in a day. 

3
 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> You and Cobra_Head are the only people who are using “steep” to mean a slab, as far as I can tell.

I'm not confining myself to steep meaning a slab, as I said earlier.

If we were going to be climbing slabs, then I might well call something a "steep slab" as in, that's was quite steep for a slab".

Vertical, by it's nature, is steep, then there's overhangs, which could be classed as steep-overhangs, but I'd probably use the term "slight" or "massive" depending on the angle.

If you're walking up a steep hill, what do you do then, in your world? Or is there no such thing?

6
 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to JimR:

> Amazing thread: I've learnt new definitions of "slab" "face" and "steep"  ... how could I have survived climbing, and interpreted guidebooks for the last 50 years without knowing these definitions.  "Go up the slab, climb the face and steep wall" means climb the 89 degree wall, then the 90 degree face and then the overhanging wall.    Jings that would have changed a few of the routes. Interesting to think of Right wall as a Slab  and  Infinite Gravity as merely a steep route. Well well well .. today's youth must have evolved into babboonlike creatures .  suppose it was bound to happen.

Exactly this.    Nice one Jim.

It's a bit steep that those arguing against such a description can't see the difference.

6
In reply to timjones:

> You are quite free to introduce that extra safety margin into your climbing.

So you admit that it is safer then.

> Is it a problem if other people don't make the same choice?

It is certainly a problem for me if I am being belayed by someone who is going to deliberately let the rope slip when using an ATC type device.

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So you admit that it is safer then.

You're the one that believes that it is safer, you are welcome to use it if you like.

WTH is it so important to you to push others into thinking the same way as you do?

> It is certainly a problem for me if I am being belayed by someone who is going to deliberately let the rope slip when using an ATC type device.

Once again that is your choice, but I bet that you wouldn;t even notice the differene between rope slippibg through the device and  a belayer jumping or stepping forward.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Vertical, by it's nature, is steep, then there's overhangs, which could be classed as steep-overhangs, but I'd probably use the term "slight" or "massive" depending on the angle.

Earlier, you and John explicitly told us that vertical is not what you mean by steep, and that you define “steep” as less than vertical… which is fine, but when you change the way you use language in every post it is hard to understand you.

> If you're walking up a steep hill, what do you do then, in your world? Or is there no such thing?

That would be using the word in a different context. Context is important in communication. When the OP talked about mostly climbing steep routes, do you honestly believe that they meant “anything more strenuous than a gentle walk up a slight hill”?

 None of your uses of the word are incorrect. However, failing to consider contextual information has led to you struggling to understand what was being discussed and talking about something different to anyone else. It’s up to you to decide whether you see that as a problem. 

1
 1poundSOCKS 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> It’s up to you to decide whether you see that as a problem. 

It does lead to some strange situations.

A climb at 90 degrees is steeper than a climb at 85 degrees because the angle has increased.

A climb at 95 degrees isn't steeper than a climb at 90 degrees, even though the angle has increased. Unless a climb can be steeper then a steep climb without being steep itself.

Seems a very confusing use of steep in a climbing context.

2
In reply to climbercool:

What a peculiar thread this has turned into 😂

In reply to timjones:

> You're the one that believes that it is safer, you are welcome to use it if you like.

I do.

> WTH is it so important to you to push others into thinking the same way as you do?

For their own and, more importantly, their partners good. That is how discussions of this type work - you argue your case and hope to persuade others.

> Once again that is your choice, but I bet that you wouldn;t even notice the differene between rope slippibg through the device and  a belayer jumping or stepping forward.

Probably not. I assume you are now just deliberately missing the point.

 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Earlier, you and John explicitly told us that vertical is not what you mean by steep, and that you define “steep” as less than vertical… which is fine, but when you change the way you use language in every post it is hard to understand you.

Ha ha ha Exactly the opposite, if you can point out where I did this then you can have an apology.

You were the one who changed from steep to overhanging 13:56 Tue

> That would be using the word in a different context. Context is important in communication. When the OP talked about mostly climbing steep routes, do you honestly believe that they meant “anything more strenuous than a gentle walk up a slight hill”?

>  None of your uses of the word are incorrect. However, failing to consider contextual information has led to you struggling to understand what was being discussed and talking about something different to anyone else. It’s up to you to decide whether you see that as a problem. 

I'd still argue that most people who climb mixed sport and trad, would class steep as approaching vertical. Overhanging could be, slightly overhanging, overhanging, or a roof.

Since you used the term overhanging at 13:56, when does steep become overhanging?

I pressuming somewhere between past vertical and a roof?

My daughter used to say thing were "sick", if that helps. But it really doesn't here, because of guide descriptions as pointed out earlier.

4
 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

> What a peculiar thread this has turned into 😂

You've not been here long?

2
 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Seems a very confusing use of steep in a climbing context.

There's some steep climbs,  steeped in history, and then there's ......

3
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I actually said that (for me) ultimately steep is vertical, beyond the vertical is overhanging.

3
 Carless 24 Mar 2022
In reply to JimR:

Many years ago when improving my French, I always got confused by "dalle" as I'd always assumed it meant slab

Encountering a blank slightly overhanging dalle was always a bit of a surprise...

 jimtitt 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

> What a peculiar thread this has turned into 😂

Hey it cracked the 200 meaningless posts, not bad

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Ha ha ha Exactly the opposite, if you can point out where I did this then you can have an apology.

“Cobra_Head in reply to John Stainforth:

 >> Steep implies a steep slope, i.e., a surface at a high angle, but less than 90 degrees. Overhanging means beyond the vertical.

 > ha ha 3 dislikes, for what everyone already knew, surely?”

> You were the one who changed from steep to overhanging 13:56 Tue

You’re confusing yourself. Tuesday 13:56 is a post from yourself in reply to Ciro.

> I'd still argue that most people who climb mixed sport and trad, would class steep as approaching vertical. Overhanging could be, slightly overhanging, overhanging, or a roof.

You’ve literally just said you’ll apologise if I can evidence you saying that “steep” means less than vertical, and within the same post you define “steep” as less than vertical. 

 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> For their own and, more importantly, their partners good. That is how discussions of this type work - you argue your case and hope to persuade others.

Maybe that is where we differ, you want to persuade others to do things your way, I merely set out to explain why I do things the way that I do.

As long as I belay safely it is none of your business whether I use an ATC or an assisted braking device.

> Probably not. I assume you are now just deliberately missing the point.

For crying out loud, I can see the point that you are trying to make and think that you are wrong.

You can choose who you climb with and ask them to belay you however you like, but you do not have any right to try and bully people that you do not climb with into doing it your way.

4
In reply to timjones:

> As long as I belay safely it is none of your business whether I use an ATC or an assisted braking device.

Yes, of course, but my point is that I don't think that deliberately letting the rope slip in order to give a "soft catch" is a terribly safe belaying technique.

> For crying out loud, I can see the point that you are trying to make and think that you are wrong.

Well your last post and this post seemed to imply that you were missing my point.

> You can choose who you climb with and ask them to belay you however you like, but you do not have any right to try and bully people that you do not climb with into doing it your way.

I'm not bullying anyone; I'm just trying to engage in a civil discussion.

In reply to John Stainforth:

> I actually said that (for me) ultimately steep is vertical, beyond the vertical is overhanging.

If we must be pedantic, you said that “steep” is a slope less than 90 degrees. I don’t think I’m unusual for considering 90 degrees to be equivalent to vertical.

I think I see what you meant, but it certainly wasn’t initially clear that you meant vertical when you said “a high angle, but less than 90 degrees”.

I can’t see it being productive to take this particular line of discussion any further!

Edit: to slightly correct the quoted comment. 

Post edited at 17:15
2
 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> “Cobra_Head in reply to John Stainforth:

>  >> Steep implies a steep slope, i.e., a surface at a high angle, but less than 90 degrees. Overhanging means beyond the vertical.

>  > ha ha 3 dislikes, for what everyone already knew, surely?”

I was replying to John there though and agreeing with most of what he'd said (see below) 

> You’re confusing yourself. Tuesday 13:56 is a post from yourself in reply to Ciro.

> You’ve literally just said you’ll apologise if I can evidence you saying that “steep” means less than vertical, and within the same post you define “steep” as less than vertical. 

Ok Apologies for not being precise enough

I'd still argue that most people who climb mixed sport and trad, would class steep as approaching, and including, vertical. Overhanging could be, slightly overhanging, overhanging, or a roof.

If you really want me to be specific, steep = high angle which will include vertical, vertical (still steep but 90 degree), possible even a face, overhang.....

Vertical is a sub-set of steep if you like.

Post edited at 17:24
1
 peppermill 24 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> Did anybody question anyone else's competence?

> Andy said that his climbing was inhibited if if he was belayed by a trad  climber using an ATC.

> I replied that it was the other way round for me.

> Logic says neither is a safety  issue if your belayer is competent but you don't climb as freely or well because of that little doubt in your mind.

Thats kinda how the first post of yours I replied to came across, it explains the tetchy replies you've been getting. 

 Cobra_Head 24 Mar 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

> Hey it cracked the 200 meaningless posts, not bad

Always glad to have played my part.

For a moment there it was like old UKC. Oh! how I miss the olden days when threads would go on for days.

Post edited at 17:28
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> I was replying to John there though. 

Yes. In agreement. By agreeing with someone you imply that you think the same thing.

Are you saying that you didn’t mean to agree with him?

> Ok Apologies for not being precise enough

> I'd still argue that most people who climb mixed sport and trad, would class steep as approaching, and including, vertical. Overhanging could be, slightly overhanging, overhanging, or a roof.

Argue what you want, everyone else managed to understand what the thread was about.

> If you really want me to be specific, steep = high angle which will include vertical, vertical (still steep but 90 degree), possible even a face, overhang.....

Technically true, but since that covers everything from moderately tricky slabs to horizontal roofs I think it would be fairly unhelpful to use it like that as a description of a climbing style. 

2
 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

If you trace the replies back you will find that it was the preference for using an assisted device that you expressed at 7:23 this morning that I replied to.

You added slippage through the belay device back into that discussion at some point during the morning.

How the he'll does continually accusing someone of missing the point when they don't bow to your opinion qualify as civil discussion?

2
 George_Surf 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

In reply to climbercool:

This has gone comedy! Go to Spain, 5 degrees overhanging is considered a slab!!!

id say a slab is less than vertical, a wall is vertical (maybe a few degrees either way), slightly overhanging is up to 10 degrees and something steep would be 10-25 degrees. 25-40 degrees is really steep and Steeper than that and it’s Nearly a roof ? 
 

it’s all relative. If you climb slabs then a wall is going to feel ‘steep’ but the reality is it’s not in the grand scheme of climbing (especially sport climbing) 

4
 timjones 24 Mar 2022
In reply to peppermill:

My reply merely expressed how I felt about a belayet using an assisted device in the same way that Andy spoke about belayers using an ATC.

How is one OK and the other not?

Are you sure that you're not just taking offence where none was intended?

In reply to timjones:

> If you trace the replies back you will find that it was the preference for using an assisted device that you expressed at 7:23 this morning that I replied to.

I have traced back and in the chain of posts and I clearly restated at 10.23 that the issue I have is with people deliberately letting the rope slip. 

> You added slippage through the belay device back into that discussion at some point during the morning.

No, I restated it for clarity. I made it clear very early on the discussion that I saw it as the problem when you brought it up as a means of giving a soft catch (which was the original topic of discusson of the entire thread).*

I am happy to be belayed on sport climbs with an ATC type device (though I prefer an assisted one), but not if it is going to be used in a way I consider unsafe.

*Edit: And you even took up the slippage issue at 11.24 in a way which very apparently missed the safety point.

Post edited at 19:45
In reply to timjones:

> My reply merely expressed how I felt about a belayer using an assisted device in the same way that Andy spoke about belayers using an ATC.

> How is one OK and the other not?

Because one is rational with an argument to back it up and the other is not🙂

 Cobra_Head 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

 

> Technically true, but since that covers everything from moderately tricky slabs to horizontal roofs I think it would be fairly unhelpful to use it like that as a description of a climbing style. 

Eh?

I think most people here understand exactly, what each of those would mean and what climbing style to expect.

Once again, you should read a few guide books, as the example above, demonstrates exactly the problem you are fighting against.

You yourself made a distinction between steep and overhanging, so I really can't see what you're bleating on about.

PS, agreeing with someone's post doesn't mean they've included ALL the information.

1
 jimtitt 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

But we are still in the dark, the OP wrote "steepish"

 timjones 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> *Edit: And you even took up the slippage issue at 11.24 in a way which very apparently missed the safety point.

I understand the issue that you are expressing concern about, but many years of experience belaying all sorts of climbs with ATC style devices suggest that it is nowhere near as big an issue as you believe it to be.

 timjones 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Because one is rational with an argument to back it up and the other is not🙂

There is nothing rational about mistrusting a belayer based solely on their choice of device regardless of which type of device is causingconcern

 

 Cobra_Head 25 Mar 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

> But we are still in the dark, the OP wrote "steepish"

I'd say anything from TPS (E0?) to vertical, for that description. Actually steepish, would be less than vertical in my book.

 Cobra_Head 25 Mar 2022
In reply to timjones:

> There is nothing rational about mistrusting a belayer based solely on their choice of device regardless of which type of device is causingconcern

There might be, if they're choosing a grigri for half ropes.

In reply to timjones:

> I understand the issue that you are expressing concern about, but many years of experience belaying all sorts of climbs with ATC style devices suggest that it is nowhere near as big an issue as you believe it to be.

I accept that, in the right hands, it can be done safely with a rope appropriate to a belay device so as to give adequate friction. However, I think there is a genuine safety issue with ropes becoming ever skinnier for both trad and sport and belay plates not keeping up with this trend. I have sometimes ben shocked by just how hard I have sometimes had top grip the ropes when abseiling with some combinations and thought how dodgy the same combination could be belaying, let alone deliberately allowing slippage. So yes, you may be experienced enough and aware enough of potential issues to do it safely, but I am very, very wary of it being seen as a standard technique in inexperienced hands. So, without direct experience of the particular rope/plate combination being used along with a very trusted partner, I would not like it used when I am climbing.

In reply to timjones:

> There is nothing rational about mistrusting a belayer based solely on their choice of device regardless of which type of device is causingconcern

Earlier you claimed that the rope slippage technique had an advantage over jumping or stepping forward because it was less likely to result in stumbling and letting go. With an assisted device, this simply is barely an issue - the device will have locked anyway. So using an assisted device is quite obviously safer - there are no advantages to using an ATC type device for sport climbing.

It is not a matter of not trusting the belayer; however competent or experienced, mistakes can happen or the unexpected can happen - I recently pulled a flake off a sport route and it narrowly missed my belayer's head. I managed to not fall off, but if I had and my belayer had been knocked out, my life could have been saved by his use of an assisted device.

 timjones 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> There might be, if they're choosing a grigri for half ropes.

You are not wrong

But I hope that I might be awake enough to spot this during a buddy check.

 timjones 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Earlier you claimed that the rope slippage technique had an advantage over jumping or stepping forward because it was less likely to result in stumbling and letting go. With an assisted device, this simply is barely an issue - the device will have locked anyway. So using an assisted device is quite obviously safer - there are no advantages to using an ATC type device for sport climbing.

> It is not a matter of not trusting the belayer; however competent or experienced, mistakes can happen or the unexpected can happen - I recently pulled a flake off a sport route and it narrowly missed my belayer's head. I managed to not fall off, but if I had and my belayer had been knocked out, my life could have been saved by his use of an assisted device.

Where is your sense of solidarity and comradeship, if you are going to kill your belayer the least you can do is die alongside them

 Iamgregp 25 Mar 2022
In reply to thread:

Having read all of this and the different views and opinions one thing did strike me is that there's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's sport climbing and there's sport climbing.

Last year in Kalymnos, my partner and I went to a crag which was a whole bunch of easy grey slabs at one end, and of load of steep overhanging red rock at the other end.  There were a bunch of older climbers on the slabs, having a nice old time on them, all belaying with tube devices, and not leaving any slack out (don't think any of them took a fall).

Then down the other end on the steep stuff there was us, and a few others, all using ABDs taking falls, getting caught etc.

We were all sport climbing, but we all had very different approaches to what that day entailed, and what the demands or requirements were going to be on us, and the equipment we used.

I said upthread I can't understand why people wouldn't use and ABD, but thinking about this occasion made me realise actually I can.  They didn't need one, they weren't taking falls, or expecting to, and even if they'd pulled down a rock and knocked the belayer out, such was the angle of the slab they could probably have simply stood and waited for them to regain conciousness, and they've probably been using tube devices since before I was born so where the need for change?

So yeah, there's sport climbing and there's sport climbing, so it's hardly surprising that there are so many different approaches to what to use, and how to use it.

That said, Click-ups are awesome and you should all get one

  

1
In reply to Iamgregp:

I agree.  There is sport climbing and then there is climbing on bolts.  I do the latter. I don't redpoint and don't really anticipate taking falls, not to say I don't have the odd one or two .  I lead on sight and see hanging off a bolt as failure.  I'm not judging that's simply my preference.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Eh?

> I think most people here understand exactly, what each of those would mean and what climbing style to expect.

If you define “steep climbing” as being anything from a slab to a roof, then “steep climbing” loses pretty much all useful meaning.  This is very well illustrated by your conclusion that the OPs steep sport routes might look similar to TPS. The mind boggles.

> You yourself made a distinction between steep and overhanging, so I really can't see what you're bleating on about.

As I pointed out earlier, the post you are referring to was written by yourself. Not only that, you weren’t even replying to me. I get the sense you think you are being devilishly clever, which is a little tragic when you can’t cope with basic things like who said what even after you’ve been corrected.

> PS, agreeing with someone's post doesn't mean they've included ALL the information.

It was a very short and explicit post and so far you’ve claimed:

1) It was stating common knowledge 

2) You disagree with some of it

3) You agree with all of it but there was additional information not included. 

You are just weaselling.

1
 Cobra_Head 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> It was a very short and explicit post and so far you’ve claimed:

> 1) It was stating common knowledge 

It was!

> 2) You disagree with some of it

I don't

> 3) You agree with all of it but there was additional information not included. 

I do, there was.

> You are just weaselling.

I Must a put a lid on it.

PS I think you've confused yourself, about who said what.

Maybe it's yourself mixing up steep and overhanging If you can't get right what you're arguing about then it's understandable.

Post edited at 20:26
5
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> PS I think you've confused yourself, about who said what.

Go on, I’m truly fascinated. How have you read “Cobra_Head in reply to Ciro” at Tuesday 1356 and concluded that it is a post from me?

In reply to climbercool:

I was discussing this thread on the walk out from a great day's climbing today (does anyone on here still do that?). And the conclusion we came to, about the argument of 'steep' vs 'overhanging' is - who cares! Call it what you want

In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

> who cares! Call it what you want

All well and good until someone uses Three Pebble Slab as an illustration of steep sport climbing!

In reply to Cobra_Head:

I'm just a punter so feel free to disregard my input, but surely we have: slab, vertical, steep? I've always understood steep to be the tiring side of vertical. Sure, you can have a steep slab, but it's a steep slab - it's steep in the context of slabs, not steep in absolute terms.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

> All well and good until someone uses Three Pebble Slab as an illustration of steep sport climbing!

WHAT!?!? 

In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

Yup. Cobra_Head, when asked what he thought the OP meant by steep sport routes, used Three Pebble Slab (presumably bolted) as an example.

The argument was never about whether “steep” vs “overhanging” is the correct term for something past 90 degrees. The argument was ultimately about whether something like TPS with bolts is a reasonable definition of steep sport climbing.

Edit: To be more precise, the argument was about whether someone should be using such an absurd definition when handing out belaying advice. If they weren’t giving out poor advice I’d have probably gone with your position of “who cares?”

Post edited at 22:14
1
 JimR 25 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

I’d have thought descriptions of rock features on a climb would be the same whether there’s bolts in it or not. After all most people climb both sport and trad.

 Darkinbad 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

This thread is definitely circling the drain.

Perhaps there should be a UKC version of Godwin's Law which states that any sufficiently long thread will include a comparison with TPS

 David Alcock 25 Mar 2022
In reply to climbercool:

If defined as height gained to distance travelled, then nothing is steeper than vertical.

 Fellover 26 Mar 2022
In reply to thread:

I think the only conclusion to draw from this thread is that terms we use as climbers, such as steep and soft catch seem like they are simple and well defined, but actually different people interpret them surprisingly differently.


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