/ Multi pitch sport belaying

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Chloe - on 10 Oct 2016
Hello All,

I am going multi pitch sport climbing and I would like to check if we have the best set up for belaying a second. I know there are many ways to do this and lots of different opinions on what is best but I would like the most simple safe way.

This is the way we thought was okay: Make an equalizing anchor with a sling by clipping each side of the sing to each bolt and then tying an overhand/figure 8 knot in the middle where the force will be acting on.

Belaying (the bit we're a little unsure about): attach your belay device to your belay loop and redirect the live rope up to...the anchor made with the sling?

We would like to do it without a reverso if possible but any suggestions and pictures would be great! I've looked on so many websites and videos but I don't know what to trust.
ROSP on 10 Oct 2016 - 88-109-35-118.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to Chloe:


Give this a read. Personally, I have never used a redirect but horses for courses and all that.

john arran - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

Don't get too hung up about specific techniques as it's really not very different from belaying single-pitch. Just make sure you clip yourself in securely to the anchor. which usually will have a chain connecting the bolts so most likely you'll need only one connection to the ring on the chain, but be prepared to tie into each bolt separately if they aren't connected with a good chain. You can tie in using your cow's tail, slings or your end of the rope - whatever's easiest for you.
Then just attach your belay device to the rope and belay as you would a single pitch route.
One area that may be confusing you is the common suggestion for the leader to additionally put a quickdraw on the highest belay bolt and use that as a first lead bolt; this is a very good idea when the climbing straight off the belay is hard but you shouldn't see it as being essential in most circumstances.
ChrisBrooke - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Ross Spours:
> Personally, I have never used a redirect but horses for courses and all that.

I generally use a Reverso, but if not I'd use a redirect. If like me you do most of your climbing on trad UK rock you get used to just bringing up your second straight off your belay loop. There's often friction in the system, rope running over edges, around corners etc and it's not too hard to hold a fall. The first time you climb a steep sport multipitch where there's a more direct line and less friction in the rope, it's a bit of a shock how hard it is to hold the full weight of a second direct to your harness. After that I tend to redirect if I can't guide mode it.

edit. Of course, this will depend on where you can stand/hang in relation to the anchors. Obviously you need to be comfortably below the anchors for this to be at all relevant.
Post edited at 15:22
Stu McInnes - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:
If you're unsure on how to belay a second up, are you sure of the skills needed to bail off a multi-pitch sport climb or abseil down it after a successful ascent?

If you're using a regular belay plate, attach yourself to the anchors using an appropriate method, and belay like normal. Preferably aligning the rope so it comes from the climber up in to the bottom of the plate, and the rope to your brake hand comes out the top of the plate. If you've not done this before there is a lot less friction in the system so holding a heavy/falling second is harder, so make sure you're able to lock the plate off adequately!

Belaying in guide mode definitely makes things easier for you, but do you know how to release a weighted plate in guide mode safely?

Stick to what's safe, simple and what you know!
Post edited at 15:55
ROSP on 10 Oct 2016 - 88-109-35-118.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Interesting! I was thinking from a trad climbers perspective, I'm not really a sport climber very much (and when I am I use guide mode most of the time. Good point!
Rock Gymnast - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:
I have recently returned from a multi pitch sport climbing trip to Morocco and all 3 of us used a petzl reverso with guide mode technique. If the belay is located above u but still relatively close I would never use any other method. I swear by it and it is definitely worth learning. Another useful advantage is that it is auto-locking should u let go of the live end. Therefore if the second falls they won't be falling very far. This I found especially useful when belaying up both seconds simultaneously (which also saves a lot of time when climbing pitches in excess of 30m) as each rope can be taken in independently.

I would also recommend you take plenty of slings with u too to attach to both bolts on the belay as some threads that are already provided there sometimes look pretty weathered and worn. I wouldn't want to trust some of them.

Post edited at 18:13
jimtitt - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

As others have said don´ t get fixated on a system, the bolting varies enormously on multi-pitch routes. All mine have one bolt at the right height for a 60cm sling cows tail and another one up and to the left to tie in with the rope. The multi-pitch routes I climb most have usually only one bolt anyway with maybe a few extra ones of dubious value bunged in wherever.
Just attatch yourself to the bolt(s) and belay away, I´ ve never used a redirect either, makes pulling the rope in hard work and difficult to give your second a tight rope/help. I never use guide mode either but might use an Italian hitch sometimes.
rlrs on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

As said above, using a re-direct can make pulling in the slack very difficult. Using a device in guide mode is much easier.

While bringing up the second you also have to stack the rope(s) efficiently. If you're belaying from a ledge, I find just dumping them on the floor is as good a way as any to ensure they can be smoothly paid out on the lead of the next pitch. If there isn't room to do that, then other techniques need a bit of care.
stp - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

There's quite a few skills that you need to know if you're doing longish routes far more complex than just belaying. One of the main issues is that you can't just lower back down to the ground if trouble arises a lot of the time, the way you can on single pitch routes.

For example I was climbing in the Verdon one time bringing up my second on the third to last pitch. When he tried the crux moves he managed to dislocate his shoulder and then he fainted. He was left dangling on the end of the rope, unconscious about 100 feet below me. We were about 1200 feet above the ground. Knowing what to do in situations like that require far more than just knowing how to belay. Knowing how to ascend a rope is a pretty useful skill either with prussik loops or something else. It might be worth getting a book or maybe there's some good instruction online somewhere.

I'd suggest try to get an idea of self rescue techniques, particularly on bigger walls, and have at least a little practice of what to do in the event of something going wrong. This is especially true if it's in the mountains somewhere and/or somewhere remote, and the bigger the wall the higher the risks and the more competent you'll want to be.
jack_44 - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to stp:

Out of interest stp, could you say how you got out of that situation in the Verdon Gorge?
john arran - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to jack_44:

He used his knife, and then his "self rescue" skills.

cb294 - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to jack_44:

There is a film about it, but they decided to move the action to the Andes as they look more dramatic...

becauseitsthere - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

Practice using guide mode as much as possible before you go including being able to lower your 2nd. It's not difficult but takes practice to get really slick.
When your 2nd is climbing it just free's you up a bit to tidy the ropes, grab a bite or drink or take a pic.
When your partner takes over on the next pitch you have to change back to direct mode.

GrahamD - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

Wow, reading these replies you'ld never get started ! Really, the choices are pretty simple as you say and its unlikely your first foray into multipitch climbing will be as imposing as Verdon.

I've never used a guide plate - it may be advantageous but it certainly isn't mandatory if you don't want to add more complications for now.

On non overhanging ground I'll tend to just belay up from my waiste loop as taking in and rope handling is a lot easier.

I might re-direct if the ground is very steep or there is an advantage for the next person leading through to have their first bolt clipped.
Chris Craggs - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

The belay bolts are often connected via chains with a central ring, clove hitch into that and your belay is sorted. Run the rope through a q-d on one of the belay bolts back to the 2nd - job done. If the 2nd is going to lead through, running their rope through the 1st bolt of the next pitch can be advantageous,

teh_mark on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

David Coley and Andy Kirkpatrick's site (and the eBook which it's meant to go with) is fantastic for describing all of the many options available to you:

I personally usually either use a Reverso, or a redirect through (ideally) the first bolt of the next pitch, as Mr. Craggs just mentioned. If the bolts aren't already linked, then I also usually connect them in series rather than equalising. A big HMS on each bolt, attach yourself to one, the belay device to the other, and link the bolts with the rope or a sling.

You'll soon work out what works best for you personally once you've climbed a few routes and experimented a bit.
purplemonkeyelephant - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

Using an ATC in guide mode is super comfortable, but it doesn't give you the flexibility to let your second lead through, or make it easy to lower them/give slack. Depends if you're after speed or not.

If you don't known how to belay on a multipitch it may be worth going with someone with a bit more experience or taking a course just to pick up some of the more subtle techniques. Not 100% necessary, but it feels important to say. If you don't want to perhaps practice your skills on something with low commitment.
stp - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to jack_44:

I was pretty lucky. I set up a pulley system to haul my friend up. This would have been a slow process as he was a long way down. However I didn't get that far when some Germans had spotted what had happened and lowered down a very long rope from the top of the crag. My friend regained consciousness and they just hauled him up the crag from the top. Interesting to watch him go past, it was like he was abseiling upwards.
springfall2008 - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

Your anchor sounds fine, just be careful that the anchor is kept taught at all times if you are using slings as they should not be shock loaded.

Belaying from your belay loop works fine provided you have a decent stance. Personally I wouldn't bother with the reverso direct belay unless you have a good reason to require it.
Rock Gymnast - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Hi Chris,

This has absolutely nothing to do with the OP and indeed this thread but I saw your name and it reminded me. I recently lead "The Link" at Stanage last Sunday (9th Oct) which I believe is one of your discoveries from roughly 40 years ago (sorry for the reminder). Exactly how it's taken me this long to try it I do not understand but can I just say it is one of the most pleasant pitches I have ever lead on grit and really enjoyed it. I can only think of flying buttress direct as exhilarating at the same grade at Stanage. I am grateful u "spotted" the line all those years ago as it could still remain undiscovered today. I would recommend it to anyone as their first E1 lead as again I think the moves are very pleasant and can see why it is a rockfax Top 50!

Good route!!!
Rock to Fakey - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to Chloe:

This is well worth going over too, your knot for tying 2 ropes together for abseiling.


Overhand knot backed up by another overhand knot seems best for non icey same diameter ropes.
Overhand knot near the loose end of each separate separate to stop you going off the ends too.

Do NOT use flat fig 8 (both live rope ends come out of same side of knot, just like with the recommended flat over overhand, but flat fig 8 can roll of the ends.
Tie the knot neatly, tightly, no loose loops, pre tension it/ preload it, whilst still clipped to a safety sling, Leave plenty loose tail for allowance of slippage or rolling / inverting
Also see




springfall2008 - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to richrox:

I must admit I prefer the old double fishermans, I know it takes a minute longer to tie/untie but I'm paranoid!

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