/ Allow another team to lead through?

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Duncan Beard - on 08 Mar 2017
On Sunday my partner & I made the mistake of allowing another team to lead through past us. At the time we both assumed they were faster than us because they were more competent. Both these assumptions proved to be false & ruined much of our enjoyment of the crux pitch.

In hindsight the reason they caught us up in the first place was because we were the first team up the virgin deep snow plod where they would have easily followed our footsteps.

What is the considered opinion on when it is sensible to lead through or allow another team to do so? All I can say is I won't be so generous again in similar circumstances.
2
richlan - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

I would only let them lead through if:

A: They asked nicely

OR

B: I was moving noticeably slower than them
Mehmet Karatay - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

It's always a hard choice. Climbers generally like to be nice to each other...

Bear in mind, however, that you put the effort in to get to the climb first. And in winter, having someone above you can compromise your safety more than in summer. It's their choice if they want to start a climb knowing you might drop debris on them. But would you have chosen the same line if they had already been on it or would you have chosen an empty line?

No right or wrong answers, some teams do just motor ahead and cause you no bother...

Mehmet
drgrange - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

I find letting people through greatly reduces your chances of finishing the route, falling ice and failing light etc.
I still do it though, but they have to be fast and they have to ask!
Euge - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Mehmet Karatay:

Totally agree

I'm a "nice" climber but will always say no in winter especially if I'm first on the route.
I don't want ice and snow being thrown down on me, plus sometimes they also hack away the useful ice!!!

Summer, no problems...

Euge
Alasdair Fulton - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

It's been a while since it's happened, but I think others have said it already - being first on a route is a choice. If you've got out of bed early enough then others should appreciate that and pick another route.

When they do catch up, it really depends on the circumstance. If it's a long wandery route and there's loads of time left in the day, then I'd consider it. If it's less than 4 pitches I'd probably not bother. A straight up ice route, or alpine big face, I'd be doing my best to speed up! Basically, don't let others "veneer" of confidence put you under pressure. Being second they don;t have to find the route, find belays etc. They're often gong to be quicker, but not necessarily quicker when out in front. Also you, by definition, have to wait a good hour or so for the leader and second to clear off ahead.

It once happened to me in Cogne, ice climbing. We were a group of 3 and got there just before a guide (off duty) with his wife and a friend.

We belayed in the obvious spot after P1. It was hard for us, so we weren't super quick. Mr Guide does a long pitch and asks if I mind him passing. I say "yes actually, this is an ice route and we arrived with a clear route, I try not to follow people on ice routes due to falling ice, so please don't overtake". I don't think he was expecting that! He said "oh, ok, I'll belay up and left".

Up and left was clearly pissing wet, so I thought, "oh well, he's going to get wet" Which he did...then decided being wet wasn't a nice option so overtook us anyway. Classic clusterfvck ensued.

https://goo.gl/photos/wYpniR2Cq2PvfEWr6

Luckily the wife & friend were cheery and chatty which made up for it a wee bit...
GarethSL on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Depending on the type of route, maybe. (e.g. multipitch trad, or long alpine rambles)

In winter, on long routes in a narrow gully or ice line, I wouldn't be too inclined to allow another team above me, especially if the effort had been made to get onto a route in good time. The reality being they shouldn't be behind you in the first place, following rule #6 and all that. But as its regularly considered normal or acceptable (for some stupid reason) to follow other teams up routes, there isn't much one can do about that (and we are probably all guilty of it too).

I consider myself a 'nice' climber, but the more ice I hit you with and the more you complain, the less inclined to be nice I become and the more abuse I will give you.
nniff - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Had one of the regular Scottish MIC's step over our ropes at the start of Orion Direct, which I thought was a bit much, especially as we were two and they were three. I gave him a bit of a head start and then caught up. 'Oh, you're quite quick, arent't you' he said. 'Hmmf', said I. It was a glorious ble sky day and there are worse places to idle, even if it does involve standing or half an hour half way up a pitch, so we just pottered along behind. Once we got to the snow in the middle we took off and left them to their own devices. Treated them better than they treated us.

I generally avoid following people up routes but will only overake if I can do so without inconveniencing them significantly and witout endangering them.
ScraggyGoat on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:
Generally following people up routes where debris is likely and gets funnelled is at best unpleasant and at worst a very bad idea. Thus on such a route if a team arrived behind while they may / or may not be quicker out in front I would question their whole situational awareness, and experience level. Technical competence and speed on the ground doesn't always equate to good mountaineering judgement. So would be questioning letting them past, unless there are clear safe areas, and also likely safe separation in the event of one of their party taking leader fall.

On more wandering ground with reasonable gear, and less risk, or once past the a bomb alley I would let them past and a have a bit of banter.

Obviously in leaner winters the propensity and temptation for people to be clustered on a few routes is greater. It doesn't mean the risk becomes acceptable, the opposite it normally gets greater. So far this winter we haven't had (as far as I'm aware) a major multi-team pile up accident, but it has happened in the past due to a combination of poor practice, poor judgement, and as ever the roll-of the dice...
Post edited at 15:37
Tricadam on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to ScraggyGoat:
Has anyone noticed whether climbers of certain nationalities are more or less likely to attempt to climb on top of other teams? We met some otherwise nice folk from the continent on Point Five last February. We started up P1 ahead of them but their leader was clearly determined to keep pace, in spite of my explanation that in Scotland it is customary to climb behind the team in front rather than on top of them. He then belayed right in the middle of the narrow start of P2 (we had belayed on the left) before having the temerity to tell my partner to be careful of his (shit) belay as she attempted to clamber over it! (Photographic evidence here: https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=271632) It was at this point, I think, that my earlier admonishment sunk home, as a simul-lead of P2 fortunately did not ensue! Order having been restored to the universe, we then all proceeded to have a lovely day.
Post edited at 22:06
1
Tricadam on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to richlan:

> I would only let them lead through if: A: They asked nicely OR B: I was moving noticeably slower than them

Surely it should be only if A AND B ;-)
Tobes on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Avoid the Northern Corries on a weekend for a start.
Head to less popular/accessible venues if possible then queuing etc shouldn't be such an issue.

Duncan Beard - on 08 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Thanks for your comments folks, backs up how I feel. Incidentally I feared for the second as she was directly in the leaders fall line with only a nut 2m above her & not a proper belay. She couldn't move to the side as I was there but I clipped her into my belay just in case. I had to wait until she cleared the cornice (a long time) as she kept dislodging large lumps of snow on my head. So probably never again.
planetmarshall on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

On a Winter climb? No. If they wanted to get on the climb first they should have got up earlier.

I'll typically let a soloist through if they ask nicely.
planetmarshall on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

> Has anyone noticed whether climbers of certain nationalities are more or less likely to attempt to climb on top of other teams?

Not really. I have found that being an arse is one of those qualities that transcends nationality.
Trangia on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> I'll typically let a soloist through if they ask nicely.

I would never let a soloist through to climb above us, since my mate who was leading, let one pass. About 10m above my mate the soloist came off and slid down into him knocking him off and tangling in the rope. All the protection and the second's ice screws ripped, and the all 3 were falling. Miraculously the rope snagged on a small rongion stopping my mate and his second. The soloist fell another 100m to his death.
Post edited at 08:42
Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Trangia:

> I would never let a soloist through to climb above us.

I would generally be more concerned about a roped party. Soloists tend to know what they are doing and are very unlikely to fall (otherwise they wouldn't be soloing) and when they do it is not in tangle of scything ropes.

Trangia on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

Agreed. I don't like any party passing through for these very reasons.
johncook - on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Not had the problem in winter but in summer the number of people who try to queue jump is amazing. Last summer I was taking a newcomer to multipitch up Idwal slabs, so she could practice without the worry of hard climbing. Two guys were waiting and talking about all the E4's etc they had lead. As they appeared to be pretty competent, we allowed them to go first. Big big mistake. My novice multipitcher caught them up. They wouldn't let her share the stance and said she would have to wait. Not being a shrinking violet, she looked at me, and when I nodded, she climbed over them, went to the limit of our 60 ropes and then belayed. They made the mistake of complaining at her as they arrived at her stance, with me 10ft behind them they were so slow. They were 'very politely' told what to do with themselves. If they were as good as they say they were they would have been well infront and the problem wouldn't have arisen. We finished, descended and did another route and passed them on the path down, as they finished their first route!
Moral of the story. Don't believe the bollocks of people who may be able to manage a short single pitch hard route but are a liability on anything else.
Tricadam on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Not really. I have found that being an arse is one of those qualities that transcends nationality.

It does indeed! The reason I ask is that the chaps we met on Point Five certainly *weren't* arses. And yet they climbed as they did, suggesting that this may be usual practice back home.
Alasdair Fulton - on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

I think you're right about different nationalities and different "ways". I've noticed the same. This is in no-way a "us good, them bad" comment - who's to say us reserved, polite Brits are the superiors. Maybe others looks at us with our long lines of ropes stretching from base to summit thinking we're mad? I do think it just doesn't bother other people us much as it does us. A bit like pooing at a sport crag - we try to find a secluded spot,the Spanish just drop their kecks. We think it's rank, they don't even seem to notice it!

Still, if you've politely asked and they still do it, that's pretty inconsiderate!




Adam Godwin on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Duncan Beard:

Just a cautionary tale of letting people past in winter...

Climbing on the Buachaille's North Buttress this weekend my second got over taken at the belay by the team behind. We were moving pretty slick and just keeping in rhythm with the team in front of us, so it wasn't really necessary.

Anyhow, their leader managed to mess the rope work up and get all our ropes tangled together - completely negating any time saving on their part. The only way to fix the issue was for my second to climb up right below him and expose himself to the risk of being fallen on. Once he had sorted the tangle for them, he was then exposed to more unnecessary risk as their ropes still cut his way and made it difficult for him to reach my belay to the point he almost fell off.

On top of all this, we then had to wait around for twenty minutes as they had picked a belay higher than myself and decided to just lead off in front of us.

So my two pence to everyone would to be wary of letting teams past in Winter as you never know how incompetent they could be...
Tricadam on 09 Mar 2017
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Still, if you've politely asked and they still do it, that's pretty inconsiderate!

Are we talking about climbing through or shitting on your belay? To be fair, either way, I agree.

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