/ Guide Belay Device Rockfax Dolomites

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
bedspring on 11 Jan 2017

In the Rockfax Dolomites guide it states "A belay device that can operate in 'guide mode' is advisable to assist in moving quickly".

I have a DMM pivot, but never used it in guide mode. Setting it up in guide mode seems a faff compared to just using on harness. Why would it be quicker.

Cheers
Post edited at 22:03
Kevster - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

It's certainally a lot more comfortable when multipitching, and you can take in quicker, and then once your partner reaches the belay, you can sort you selves out quickly too. Oh it's also easier to rescue/assist someone too.
The main draw back is letting people down easily is not easy.
Kevster - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

You should try it out maybe?
1
beardy mike - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin: Its not a case of quicker, but that you can eat and sort out kit for the next pitch whilst belaying your second. This cuts down time during the changeover for the next pitch. Once you are used to strongpoint anchors, they are no slower to set up and give you a bit more freedom. Plus have you ever belayed for 20 pitches from the harness? I tend to find twisting around to belay goves me a really sore back after a while!

bedspring on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Kevster:

Yes, I will. Am I correct in thinking that the belays are often bolted in the dolomites is a good thing vis a vis guide mode?
bedspring on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

Yes if possible I do consider my back when positioning, when belaying, as I have suffered a sore back.
Greasy Prusiks on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:


It does take some getting used to. I think part of the speed increase is being able to carry out other tasks whilst belaying.

My advice would be don't test it out in anger on a route you are trying to move fast on. Attempting a new/unfamiliar technique in a rush is a recipe for disaster.
dereke12000 - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

Practice indoors at your local wall on a rainy day
beardy mike - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

Well if you set up a guide plate from your anchor you tend to be facing the anchor, i.e. not twisting. In addition you are much more mobile and able to change position whilst belaying your partner up long pitches. I think the salient point is not so much about speed as flexibility with doing secondary tasks and keeping comfortable. In the UK speed tends to be a bit of a dirty word when it comes to climbing - we seem to almost go out of our way to slow ourselves down - using double ropes, carrying enormous racks, setting up belays in a way which means it's only practical to swing leads.

I read Hans Florines book about speed climbing years ago. Much of it is far too extreme for practical use, but some of it is spot on. Leading in blocks for example is something I do on nearly every climb when I'm with an equal peer. It means that you have less gear to sort at the end of each pitch. You are more revved up and better rested and during your seconding stint you get a proper rest so that when you take over the lead you can fire through the pitches. Of course this means strong point belays are essential, but that's no hardship. Also the rope getting tangled can be an issue so one of the tricks I've used in the past when I was leading the whole route, (specifically on Tofana di Rozes Dimai Eotvos which has 800mH gain and much more actual climbing as it has massive traverses) was using a cows tail to clip the belay rather than the rope. Then belay on a magic plate and whilst your second climbs the pitch you untie your end. Then when they arrive, they clip in on a cowstail and untie aswell. You both retie, you'll be faster than your partner as you're already half way there and whilst they're finishing off you start grabbing the gear off their harness and reracking. By the time they're done, you're pretty much ready for the off. It's a very different way of organising yourself and might sound like a faff to the uninitiated, but in practice it's really quick. Belays are where you lose time - if you save 5 minutes on a belay, over a 20 pitch route you can save hours...
JoshOvki on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to dereke12000:

> Practice indoors at your local wall on a rainy day

How are you supposed to do this? Most walls don't have a belay stations.
bedspring on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

Thank you for taking the time for this reply.

For this type of climbing I use a petzl dynaconnexion (posh cows tail), so it sould seem I am barking up the right tree.

Untying off the rope. I have never thought of that, but immediatly understand why.

Magic Plate, by that do you mean, Guide Belay?

"Strong point belay" I am not familiar with that term.

Just to be clear, I am an experinced climber, but not learnt up. I do have a circle of friends who are ultra experinced who I will get to verify and explain all details, before using in anger.
GrahamD - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

I would say that the fastest way to climb is the way you and your partner are comfortable with. When I have climbed in the Dolomites I certainly never noticed any difference in speed using our 'standard' UK multipitch technique and anyone else on the routes - but that was because we knew our system inside out and it worked for the semi trad, partially pegged routes we were doing.
zimpara - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to JoshOvki:

You can belay from a lower off... And then both Rap off. No?
lithos on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

magic plate = old skool guide mode belay device. pivot is fine

strong point belay - a bloody good belay. 2 bolts or a some good nuts.threads etc,
not a holly bush or wobbly block
lithos on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to JoshOvki:

> How are you supposed to do this? Most walls don't have a belay stations.

most walls have a ground level practice bolts for clipping and rethreading. suggest using them
bedspring on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to lithos:

Cheers.
HeMa on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

> Why would it be quicker.

As you can rehydrate and eat, plus rack the stuff at the same time you're belaying the second.

So when they get there, you can grab the rack from the second and their belay device and off you go.
beardy mike - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

When I say strong point belay I mean a belay created using some form of slings or cordlette, drawn together at a single point and then tied to form a clip in point. What it means is that the rope is not involved in the belay in any shape or form which means that if you are not leading through, it is extremely easy to swap at the belay with your partner. When you arrive at the belay, you place however many pieces, I often use a guide sling (one of those damn long ones) and clip it through all the pieces. Equalise and tie it off with an overhand knot, then clip in with your cows tail. Unclip your guide/magic plate which already has two biners clipped to it. I generally will rack it with a d shaped locker through the guideplate loop and then clip my HMS into this. So I grab the d-shaped biner and clip the whole lot to your strong point. Then I pull in the rope, till it's tight stuff it through the belay plate and clip the HMS where it normally sits. Then I call down to the second and he can get off his belay and start climbing.

At this point I can relax. Usually I have a water bottle (one of the plastic indestructible ones like a nalgene) clipped to my harness using a piece of cord gaffer taped to the bottle - means I don't have to take my sack off. Sounds dodgy but I've used that set up on one bottle for about a decade and only very infrequently needed to replace the tape. So I can drink, reach in my pocket for some food, pick my nose, take photos, pull clagnuts out of my arse etc all whilst yarding in on the rope.

The other thing I find really helps is not bothering with doubles unless I foresee having to do multiple long abseils. If I'm doing something I'm comfortable with, I'll use a thin single 60 or even 70m rope. That way I can usually do two pitches in one cutting down the number of times I need to stop for a belay. I use slingdraws on basically every piece to cut down drag and that way I can often reduce the number of stance s built by a third or more - obviously if there are traverses you still have to take care! The thing that really helps with this is that you simply reduce the number of clusterf*cks you get into. When you're tired and had a long day, single ropes are great as even in your most simpleton state they are easy. But it does make retreat more difficult so only use it when you are 90% certain that you will be going up to get off rather than down. Or where there are regular bolted belays as there are in the Dolomites spaced at 30m apart...

As someone else says though, use what you are used to, i.e. go to your local big crag (mines avon and Wye) and practice these things so that you are slick.
bedspring on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

Clagnuts LOL

Slightly off topic. We will be using halfs, its what we do. I have 60m and 50m, but my partner has only a 50m and was thinking of getting a 60m. But from your posting I think 50m is long enough for abseil, though limiting on running pitches together.
beardy mike - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:
Yes absolutely. Trick with the set up you have so you don't have to pull up as much rope on the long one is to (if you are swinging leads) exclusively use the 60m one for making the belay. That way you use up a load of your slack and you can still often do a 50m pitch...

By the way, this is the book I was on about: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Speed-Climbing-How-Climb-Hans-Florine/0762730951

Lots of stuff which is really interesting and was as useful for large alpine rock routes as Mark Twights Extreme Alpinism is for alpinism is!
Post edited at 15:07
JoshOvki on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to zimpara:

I cannot see many walls being keen with punters doing this.
JoshOvki on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to lithos:

Seems reasonable, didn't think of that one.
rgold - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin:

I've experimented with all the different systems (including whether or not you use a "strong point anchor" for every belay), and have concluded that there isn't a significant time difference between them if you have dialed whatever system you are using. Little savings of one method are offset by extra time required by some other aspect and in the end it seems to me to be a wash, assuming you're good at the various options. Of course, I may have simply proved that I'm slow no matter what methods I use. I've never set any speed records (nor tried to), but have over the years managed decent times on many long rock routes.

If there is one overarching principle, it is the idea that no one in the party should be idle, and the more essential tasks that can be carried out simultaneously the better. Using guide belay mode is one way to realize this goal, as has already been described, but not every anchor is equally conducive to the guide plates, as one needs a relatively high anchor to manipulate them. One should also beware of using the plates on pitches with a horizontal section leading to the belay, as the plates will not lock under a horizontal load. I think one of the major advantages of the guide plate belay is that the belayer can stack or otherwise manage the rope better so that it runs smoothly for the next lead, as there is nothing that slows progress more than having to untangle ropes.

Another essential item for efficiency is using an installed tether or cow's tail as described by Twight. This allows the leader to go off belay as soon as a single (decent) piece is clipped, giving the second time to get organized and ready to go while the leader is finishing the anchor. The second's tether allows the second to remain attached to a single (decent) piece while breaking down the anchor and doing whatever else is necessary to begin climbing. Ideally, when the leader is ready to belay, the second is ready to climb, having only to remove the remaining single piece.

Another efficiency for block leading is for the second to clean all gear onto a single sling, which can be handed to the leader at the stance. While the leader is re-racking, the second is free to attend to the rope and get ready to belay. Cleaning gear onto the harness means that each piece has to be passed over separately, tying two people up with a single task.
WildCamper on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to JoshOvki:

You can always make yourself a practise one with a few bolts and a piece of board at home.

or even simpler, trap some nuts in the top of a door ( ooh err lol ) and tie up off them
bedspring on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to rgold:

Thanks for that, some good stuff. Are you saying then that it best not to use a guide plate during a traverse. I was reading Andy Ks website, and he sets up a scenario where the second falls off on a traverse, on a guide plate, then explains how to free it.
As to the cows tail, I use one of these http://www.beal-planet.com/en/longes/38-longe-dynaconnexion.html
beardy mike - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Lenin: In short I would say a magic plate is not the right tool whenever:

Anchors are questionable at all.
There is a stronger than normal chance of your second falling.
When your second might need to retreat from a position to either rest on a ledge, or to work out a sequence of moves - a traverse would be an example of that.

ads.ukclimbing.com
rgold - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

> In short I would say a magic plate is not the right tool whenever:

> Anchors are questionable at all.

Agreed! But you have to have a good strategy for keeping the load off them...

> There is a stronger than normal chance of your second falling.

I think it depends a lot on the nature of the climb and the intentions of the climbers. There is little question that having to lower a climber hanging from a guide plate is a bit of a pain. So I'd say that it isn't falling that is an issue but lowering. If the second is going to fall, hang there, and continue on, then no problem. But if the second will have to be lowered, either because the second wants manage the moves free or because a fall puts the second in a position they can't recover from without being lowered, then the guide plate is a poor option.

> When your second might need to retreat from a position to either rest on a ledge, or to work out a sequence of moves - a traverse would be an example of that.

Amen to that! Personally, I find many of the issues involved with the plates in guide mode come from the way belayers use them. I really dislike being continually pulled and not being able to step down when I want to without weighting the rope. These are just stylistic annoyances until the rope either runs diagonally, horizontally, or over an overhang, in which case the constant rope tension of this type of belaying can very well pull the second off and leave them hanging, either on a blank section below the traversing route or out in space under the overhang. At that point, any of the possible time savings obtained from the use of the guide plate are more than squandered, as the second either has to be lowered (hopefully without being dropped) or else has to prusik up the rope until they can get re-established.

Many of these issues can be avoided by attentive belaying, with the belayer testing the second's progress by periodically lifting the second's rope without instantly and automatically pulling the slack through the plate and so trapping all available slack. The problem with this is that the plates are used to facilitate what can only be called inattentive belaying, in which the belayer is multitasking and not fully attending to the climber. So the tendency is, when the belayer does check on the climber, to rapidly pull up whatever slack has accumulated until the rope goes tight.

I think the plates are most useful on long routes where the time-saving forms of belay inattention are actually going to be fruitful, and the second is trying to move as quickly as is reasonable and doesn't at all mind a little help from the rope. As the climbs get shorter and the need for speed evaporates, I see less and less value and more and more drawbacks to guide plate belaying, although I do it sometimes anyway because it does tend to result less back strain in some situations.

In addition to guide plates not locking if the loaded rope runs horizontally from the plate, the belayer has to be careful about putting the plate in a rock configuration that could interfere with the plate, either by preventing the rotation that enables the locking effect or blocking the rotation required to unlock the plate. The main problem is when the plate is in a corner (this could be very shallow) and one wall of the corner can interfere with the operation.

These concerns are not hypothetical; I know a guide whose plate jammed in a one-inch corner when the client fell off an overhang and ended up dangling. The client had to be lowered, but the plate wouldn't budge. The guide has to set up a 3:1 hoist to unweight the plate and change over to (in this case) a redirected hip belay. Needless to say, this sucked up a lot of time, but it happened on a three-pitch cragging route so that wasn't an issue.

If there is going to be a horizontal load on the belay or if the anchor is in a corner or slot or other configuration that could restrict plate movement, then either a more conventional belay or a Munter hitch on the anchor seems to me like the way to go.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.