/ VIDEO: Double ropes – what, when, why, where and how!

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UKC Articles - on 05 May 2010
[Lou Neil leading The Sun, E3 5c, Rhoscolyn., 4 kb]Here professional mountain guide Libby Peter shows us how to use double ropes.

This brand new UKC mini-series combines words, photos, diagrams and video to make clear some of the trickier technical aspects of climbing to grasp.

With the most up top date info possible it uses the stunning images of Mike Robertson, video clips from Get Out On Rock and diagrams from Rock Climbing – Essential Skills and Techniques.


James Oswald - on 05 May 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
Good article and video.
Thanks to Libby, Neil and UKC.
lithos on 05 May 2010
In reply to James Oswald:

nice video,

one point on double rope technique they could have mentioned is to make sure you take the rope from underneath when clipping so as not to twist them together. Its easy to get this wrong
and although they are clipped into separate lines they are still crossed over giving horrendous drag.

that would be well illustrated in a video as it's hard to describe until you see or do it !
El3ctroFuzz - on 05 May 2010
In reply to lithos: Also, they are called half ropes.
DanH9883 - on 05 May 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
I bought a new half rope at the weekend and the 'assistant' at a certain sheffield store was trying to tell me it was a double rope which meant I had to clip both ropes every time. This was clearly wrong info but lucky for me i knew what i was looking at but he didn't believe me when i showed him the label on the end that said its a half rope.

No wonder people get confused.

It was a mammut genesis BTW.
lithos on 05 May 2010
In reply to El3ctroFuzz:

take a look at the title of the article ....

aka and doubles if you've been around a little longer. They are not TWINS which is the other type of rope which is used differently.

Funnily enough half and doubles are, to some people, synonymous.
Pierre Maxted - on 05 May 2010
In reply to lithos:
> (In reply to El3ctroFuzz)
> take a look at the title of the article ....
> aka and doubles if you've been around a little longer. They are not TWINS which is the other type of rope which is used differently.
> Funnily enough half and doubles are, to some people, synonymous.

Look, it's all very simple...
Two single ropes can be used as double ropes, as can a single single rope if you use it in two halves . A single half rope can also be used as a double rope if you use it in half, but of course it is more usual to use two half ropes as doubles ropes, but a twin rope should never be used as a double rope - always use two twin ropes (or two halves of a twin) like a single rope - ok?
stewieatb on 05 May 2010
In reply to Pierre Maxted:

Haha, we finally have the climbing equivalent to:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!
CurlyStevo - on 12 May 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
personally I don't like splitting the belay ropes between the fingers like that for a few reasons:

- I feel that a fall could lead to some nasty friction burns between the fingers and then could possibly result in the belayer dropping the leader due to pain.

- I also feel that with many belay plates /rope combinations it’s likely the grip of two fingers may not be enough to hold the leader.

- Finally as can be seen in the video there is not always a firm grip on both brake lines whilst taking in (it equates to taking in without doing a hand swap over on a single line), which in some cases could result in a ground fall.

Personally I find for paying out on one of the ropes it is not necessary to split the ropes at all as the guide hand just pulls on the appropriate rope and the brake hand lifts them both and then slides back down.

For taking in on one of the ropes the guide hand can just pull the slack from the brake side of the belay plate forming a loop (whilst keeping the leader on brake by holding both ropes below this point in the brake hand) and then a hand swap over can be done in a similar way to taking in when belaying using a single line (instead of half ropes) but holding both ropes to get rid of the loop on the rope which was just taken in on. (the guide hand grabs both ropes just below the belay plate and the brake hand then lets go of the brake and lets the loop of rope drop before holding both ropes again, at which point the guide hand can let go of the brake lines and go back to guiding the ropes above the belay plate.)

Ofcourse it's not possible to safely take in on one rope and pay out on the other and as giving rope is normally more important than taking in when the leader is moving quickly, in this case I would very often not take in at all and just pay out on the rope with less rope out in the system until both ropes are equal. If the leader stops then the above methods can be used to get both ropes in to a more balanced state.
sutty on 12 May 2010
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Well in that case you had better email the PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN GUIDE, who has written one of the main books on learning to climb and tell her she is doing it all wrong.

On the other hand, you could just copy her smooth technique and marvel at how hard you have been making things for yourself.;-P
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2010
In reply to sutty:
I was just opening up a conversation on my personal opinion regarding the technique shown. Perhaps if you are as talented as Libby having a less fluid but tighter belaying style is only a hinderance. But for the less tallented and less expereinced of us that the article is aimed at, having a belaying style that has less potential for mistakes seems relevent and worth discussion, especially if you apply the techniques to mountain crags where the leader may be out of sight and maximising the amount of time having the brakes lines firmly held on brake can only increase safety.

I don't see what is wrong with analysing techniques and looking to develop them to be more safe. I have a very well know book written by 3 well respected climbers called the handbook of climbing showing several belay techniques using a belay plate for a single rope, all of which would be considered to be superseeded today and would likely be picked up as dangerous by most the belay 'police' at modern climbing walls. It doesn't make the book wrong, it's a great book with lots of information as relevent today as when it was written.
sutty on 13 May 2010
In reply to CurlyStevo:

No you did not give a personal opinion but said if you used that method you might get rope burn and drop them.

You may have meant to say it may be wrong at times but when posting, specially when you have some experience as you do you have to make sure someone with less experience does not think what you say is the one and only way to do things.

As you say now, the handbook of climbing, along with Bill Marches book have methods that are sometimes superceded, but are still as viable now as when they were introduced.

Look at the discussions on the holding power of various belay devices with different thicknesses of ropes. My old Stitch plate handles them all, but some of the others are smoother when you need to run rope out quickly etc. Horses for courses and all that.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2010
In reply to sutty: If you reread my original post you will see the word personally used multiple times. In any case I stand by what I said in that post. Fundementally in any system of using a belay plate maximising the amount of time the rope is held firmly on brake is desireable but perhaps not the only thing to consider. Forums are for discussing issues and that is what I am doing. Interestingly belaying on half ropes is not something which is discussed in detail in most climbing books. Libbys book does explain the technique she uses but doesn't cover in detail all the edge cases. Even in her book she just describes what is shown in the video as one technique not THE ONLY viable one to use. I explained what I do and why, having also used the split finger technique shown in the video in the past and finding for me the negatives out weigh the positives. As with many things in life this doesn't have to be a black or White issue. The other issue I have with the split finger technique is when swapping from taking in on one rope to another, as this often inolves juggling the rope between the fingers, or only having one of the ropes being held and then only with the forth finger and pinky.

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