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So many people in the wall can’t belay

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 Whoopdeedoo 20 Mar 2022

I hate seeing it! So many people not belaying  properly. Taking their hand off the dead rope when taking in seems to be really really common.

 It only takes a spilt second for a hold to spin and then they’re on the floor!

 Is it just me being over cautious? 

16
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Did you point it out to the person at the time? I'm sure they'd appreciate a helpful pointer. Or report it to the wall supervisor etc.

2
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Years ago at my climbing club a friend told me my belaying was terrible. I’ve never forgotten it.

At the time I’d been climbing for over five years, was leading E1/E2, thought I was Billy Bignuts…. I was offended and defensive but ultimately took it on the chin and changed my ways. I was guilty of letting go of the dead rope….. Just got into a bad/complacent habit. 
 

I only mention it to give you confidence to speak up.  No one likes being told they’re doing it wrong, especially if they’re ‘experienced’, which I was. But unsafe is unsafe and having your ego pricked can be good for you, if you’re not an ‘ego prick’ 😂

Post edited at 13:10
 climberchristy 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

No you're not being over-cautious. I see terrible belaying at the wall far too often. Usually it's the belayer standing too far out while leader is still at bolt 1, 2 or 3. They've obviously learnt that you stand out to walk in to give slack for the clip but don't realise that you shouldn't do so until the leader is higher up the wall. They can't seem to understand the physics of it. I quite often say something in a polite way - e.g. "Hi. Sorry, hope you don't think I'm interfering  but I'd rather say something...". Most times I get a very positive response and even a thank you. Even if I don't I can rest easy knowing that I tried to help. Better that than say nothing then a few minutes later witness a ground fall that you could have helped to prevent. 

2
OP Whoopdeedoo 20 Mar 2022
In reply to McKEuan:

I daren’t say anything to the person belaying… not keen on confrontations. Yes, even if it means I’m witnessing something unsafe. 
 

I’m under the impression that they know they’re doing it, so is a random at the wall pointing it out going to change that?… I worry about the ego. Also, I was there with my 8 yr old and not climbing myself, just belaying. 
 

If (when) I see it again, I’ll mention it to the staff. 

5
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

I can't get my head round how you can let go of the dead rope. The whole process if a fluid motion.

Take in with right hand, lock off, secure with left hand, reposition right hand, release with left hand, take in with right hand. 

12
OP Whoopdeedoo 20 Mar 2022
In reply to Dax H:

Their left hand stayed on the live rope and their right hand on the dead rope. As they took in they just slid their hands along each rope. No locking off and very obvious letting go of dead rope

23
In reply to Dax H:

V, to the knee, 1, 2, 3

2
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Wow that's worrying, that's more pulling on a rope than belaying. 

7
Andy Gamisou 21 Mar 2022
In reply to McKEuan:

> Did you point it out to the person at the time? I'm sure they'd appreciate a helpful pointer. Or report it to the wall supervisor etc.

Oh absolutely.  People love being told they're doing stuff wrong.  Is it really the OPs job to police the wall? Based on my own experience, this probably isn't an occasional occurrence, but more likely every "nth" person, where n isn't a particularly large number.  

Last three times I pointed out shit, as in dangerous, practices to people I was ignored twice, and more or less told to "get stuffed" on the third.

As a well known climber once remarked: "it's survival of the fittest, a few of the dumb ones die".

F"ck 'em.  Just make sure they don't land on you.

8
 Rob Parsons 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> As a well known climber once remarked: "it's survival of the fittest, a few of the dumb ones die".

Who is the 'well-known climber' you're quoting?

 PaulW 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Looking around you see terrible belaying everywhere, not just at the wall. Not paying attention, slack rope.

The experience or ability of the climbers seem to make little difference, indeed the best belaying is often by novices.

But, without wishing to trivialise the occasions when it does happen, climbers are not hitting the ground in huge numbers. Accidents are pretty rare.

perhaps it is a bit like driving. After passing a test you can get away with shockingly bad driving sometimes but gather the experience to know what and how to pay full attention.

2
 MischaHY 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

2
In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

That’s the way myself and pretty well everyone I’ve climbed with over the last 40 years have belayed, on waist belays, Munter hitch, the first sticht plates up to ATCs and grigris. Now I come to think about it, I assumed that 1234 method was a standardised wall thing to cover them from claims of negligence. I’ve only once been required to belay by the 1234 method once, in a wall in Adelaide. 

Post edited at 08:09
 hang_about 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

I've seen some shocking belaying, but i have a quiet word with the wall staff. Seems to work better

1
 Mick Ward 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

>  Is it really the OPs job to police the wall?

No need to police the wall. As said above, a quiet word with the staff and they can do that. 

> Based on my own experience, this probably isn't an occasional occurrence, but more likely every "nth" person, where n isn't a particularly large number.  

Totally agree. This is a big problem - and, I suspect, it's a growing problem. Inside and outside 

Mick 

In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

If you want to see incompetence on a grand scale, just visit any crag where there’s a freshers meet taking place. We used to leave if they arrived.

11
 Mick Ward 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> Who is the 'well-known climber' you're quoting?

Sadly someone who died climbing. He made that remark when he was (relatively) young and a bit arrogant. As he grew older, he changed - for the better. I'm sure he would have taken back that remark if he could. We all make mistakes. It would be wrong for him to be remembered for that one.

Mick 

 Mick Ward 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Some years ago, at the Sea Walls at Avon, I bumped into a Bristol Uni freshers meet. The organisation and content of the training was well above your normal climbing instruction setting. I was stunned by how good it was - and told them so. 

Generally speaking though, crap belaying is a huge problem which we probably have to tackle in a variety of ways: more educational videos on here, people bringing it to the attention of staff at walls, having a quiet word with those on the crag, etc. Re the latter, in my experience, most people are receptive (and 40s/50s guys are the most likely to get stroppy). 

Mick 

In reply to Mick Ward:

Hi Mick, what’s your experience mostly with this? The accidents I’ve seen have been exclusively due to lack of attention (or gear popping), but maybe my sample size isn’t large enough. You and I have a mutual old friend with fused vertebrae after getting dropped at Malham.

 C Witter 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

I've seen a lot of poor belaying, too: too much slack; standing too far out; keeping the hand high above the belay device rather than locking the device off; letting go of the dead rope (not sliding your hand up but letting go and jumping it up whilst holding the live rope). All quite worrying. To my mind, the main solution is for all walls to have at least one floor walker who is actively checking people are belaying well. This is far more effective than formulaic checks when registering. Instead, these days, the staff who aren't checking people in seem to be employed in making coffees and pizzas...

2
In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it.

Even more so I guess on a brake-assist device, where the device might grab on its own, and if it doesn't the force needed on the brake end to stop it is miniscule.  And European climbers taught that way are much more likely, in my observation, to be using a brake assist device than British ones typically taught using "V-knee-1-2-3".

2
 wbo2 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:  There are many , many times I see bad belaying, and if it's really hairy I will say something as watching people land on the ground doesn't get any easier, but 'tunneling' and sliding the hand is as valid a technique as the V to the knee method currently fashionable in the UK.

In reply to Philb1950:

That's really unhelpful. If there is an issue with someone's belaying on such meets it's typical to immediately change belayers. I've been helping run such meets for well over a decade and looking out for any bad practice has been core, as a result there has never been an accident on them for as long as I remember.

I'm sure not all clubs are as on the ball as that but either way they have to be told, you're talking about people early in their (sometimes very long) climbing career.

In reply to C Witter:

I find it a little disturbing to see someone walking around staring at peoples crotches

4
In reply to MischaHY:

Spot on, gald you said it.

In reply to Mick Ward:

I know lots of old school well known climbers who’ve made similar remarks. It used to be called dark humour and was a staple of climbers who had often been in extremis and often used it to trivialise or ignore risk.

 Mick Ward 21 Mar 2022
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Hi Paul,

It's a different world now. I live just over a mile from The Cuttings, on Portland. It's one of the most popular crags in the country (maybe the most popular sport crag?) If the crag's busy (say 20+ climbers?) which it is, most weekends and sometimes mid-week, there will almost always be instances of poor belaying. 

Probably the biggest problem is people standing too far out, with too much slack, when the leader is going for the second and third bolts.  In effect, the leader is soloing! That's not what we bolt routes for. 

An ancillary problem is people seemingly regarding belaying as a purely passive activity. ("I'm belaying - everything's OK." and not being aware of the probability/consequences of a fall.) 

I suspect that the underlying mentality is that sport climbing is an 'extreme sport' (shudder!) but one which can be defanged by the right technique. And it doesn't feel 'extreme'; it feels safe. You're at the bottom of a sport crag or you're at the wall. There's a gym mentality. 

With sport climbing, there's not much to get wrong. The two most likely places are before the third bolt and at the anchors. But the consequences of getting things wrong can be dire. 

A different world. And, in anybody's world, belaying can go wrong. It only takes one moment of inattention. We all need to be on our guard. I get even more rigorous with buddy checks near the end of the day when everyone's relaxed, maybe tired, maybe complacent. 

Would be grateful if you could pm me re Malham.

All best wishes, 

Mick

 Mick Ward 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Totally agree!

Mick 

 Trangia 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

> If (when) I see it again, I’ll mention it to the staff. 

Yes, that's the best solution if you don't want to get into a confrontational situation.

In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

Isn't it basically the reverse of what you do when belaying somebody leading (unless I have misunderstood), so ought to be fine. In fact, maybe a better method to teach beginners because it is transferable to leading.

A couple of times at the wall I have held the dead end of the rope to back up dangerous belaying which I couldn't bear to watch. One time they didn't notice, the other time they did and were not too happy, but a staff member saw what was going on and took over. If something is clearly dangerous, I think one has to do something - it is the innocent partner who is going to get hurt.

Post edited at 10:24
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 Howard J 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

The "V to knee, 1-2-3" method seems to be widely taught because it is easy to demonstrate and supervise, easy to remember, and instils in novices the idea that it is the dead rope which does all the work.  However it is not the only recognised method of belaying.  NICAS advises teaching a cognitive understanding of the equipment and processes rather than rote systems.

I see plenty of poor belaying, but it is usually inattention and poor positioning. I would say it is unusual to see someone actually letting go of the dead rope (as opposed to tunnelling).

1
In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

If you want to flummox a V123 fundamentalist, ask them how to do it on half ropes.. 

In reply to timparkin:

> If you want to flummox a V123 fundamentalist, ask them how to do it on half ropes..

That it isn't possible to take a safer option in one situation is not a reason not to take that option in another where it is possible, of course.  It's difficult to say VK123 isn't safer than tunnelling when using a non-brake-assist device, because tunnelling has a very slightly higher risk of loss of control if the climber falls at the exact wrong second.  The debate is purely on whether it's "safe enough".

The answer to me is that I think it probably is "safe enough" in the hands of an experienced belayer or with a brake-assist device (just like, for instance, driving with one hand on the wheel, palming it or crossing over in a power-steering-fitted car is "safe enough", as an experienced driver will bring the other hand up very quickly if they need it), but teaching novices "tunnelling" is probably a bad idea (just as you teach novice drivers "ten to two" or "quarter to three" and feeding the wheel), and I suspect the DAV still pushes it out of pure conservatism.  Germany is a very conservative (small C) country, stuff doesn't change easily.

Post edited at 11:46
6
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Although reading with mischievous amusement and biting my tongue on half ropes and v123, but on the original post, I'd say that it won't be long until only prescribed (by insurance assessor knee-jerk reaction) belay devices are permitted which might be only GriGri.

Not saying it's ok to let go of dead rope with GriGri or it can fix every ill of malpractice, but it can mitigate/reduce the impact of some poor belaying, indoors, and insurance will surely seize on that with some relatively arbitrary decisions. Lowest common denominator combined with knee-jerk. It's the future, Enjoy

Post edited at 12:15
1
 tlouth7 21 Mar 2022
In reply to timparkin:

> If you want to flummox a V123 fundamentalist, ask them how to do it on half ropes.. 

Why would it not be possible on half ropes? Have I been doing it wrong all this time?

I was once told off by a member of staff at a wall for my belay technique. He said that I should never lift the dead rope hand above the belay device (i.e. the V bit of the sequence); he seemed to expect me to pull the slack through the device with my hand down low. I was flabbergasted and struggled to communicate that he didn't seem to understand how belay devices work.

In reply to tlouth7:

> Why would it not be possible on half ropes? Have I been doing it wrong all this time?

I think the point is that V123 works for top roping but not leading, and anyone with half ropes is almost certainly not exclusively top roping.

In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Weds eve is student night at my wall and holy shit some of the belaying, lmao. Saw a guy laying down belaying once..

Saw another two students teaching some poor bastard to lead belay while one of them climbed the 30 degree overhang.. Their method was to just to both yell random shit at him, while the guy on the wall pumps out with enough slack out to deck from 5th clip.. In the end, we had to have a word. 

Bonkers stuff. No wonder walls keep having to pay more for insurance each year. 

I am starting to wonder if the US system of having to be able to prove you can lead belay, to lead belay, is a better system than what we have. 

And one mistake I see across all ages and experiences, is shit loads of slack out for the first 2 clips. I'll never understand it. Guaranteed deck if they fall. I would say this describes about 50% of belayers at my gym. I don't understand how people have issues with just looking at how much rope they have out, and converting that to how far their climber will fall.

Also, controversial opinion incoming... ATC's don't belong in the gym. But I was dropped from top clip (ended up 1m above ground) by someone using an ATC, so I might have some bias in that regard. I just don't see the justification for using them sport climbing. 

Post edited at 13:49
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 tlouth7 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Oh I see, and certainly I agree that outdoor/trad/lead belaying calls for some flexibility of approach. Equally I don't believe that it is ever necessary to slide your hand along the brake rope, and I feel that the principles of V123 apply widely: moving your brake hand forward to let the belay device run, using both hands to change your grip position on the brake rope.

8
 ExiledScot 21 Mar 2022
In reply to StoneG:

I'll agree on 1st, 2nd clips if the leader can only reach down and lift up one arms span of rope, there is no requirement for the belayer to yard out 2 or 3 at a time.

ATCs, arguably from an era when furry 11mm ropes were the norm outside, less than ideally for shiny smooth 10mm, 9.8s etc.. indoors.

6
 hang_about 21 Mar 2022
In reply to StoneG:

I've been dropped from a GriGri - never been dropped from an ATC. I think ATCs are safe if you're paying attention, and nothing is safe if you are not.

I had someone at Stanage showing off in front of his girlfriend trying to tell me my ATC was backwards. Completely symmetrical of course - but enough to put me off.

In reply to hang_about:

> I've been dropped from a GriGri - never been dropped from an ATC. I think ATCs are safe if you're paying attention, and nothing is safe if you are not.

Having known someone that just dropped dead one day walking down their drive, I really dislike sport climbing when being belayed by someone on an unassisted device. Tiny risk maybe, but an unnecessary one I'd rather eliminate, which is easily done these days without compromise.

We all make our own risk assessments though

20
In reply to hang_about:

You get a lot of dropping incidents with novices using Grigris, though the Grigri+ helps because if you yank the lever hard (as it is intuitive to do if losing control of a descent) it locks up.  I suspect as many as you get droppings using an ATC as a novice.

For an experienced climber who knows how to use one, I suspect a Grigri does improve safety, though other brake assist devices exist too (!) and may be better as their operation is generally more intuitive.

Paying out on a Grigri is also decidedly cack-handed in my view, though if done often you'll get used to it as with anything.

Post edited at 15:58
 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Last time I was in Portland someone was trying out a brad new GriGri for the first time and kept panicking, and short roping the leader who was probably only around the second bolt. 

Poor lass didn't have a clue how to pay out rope of the thing and the climber was getting in a bit of a panic too...

Someone ran over and sorted her, luckily, but those things are a bollocks to get used to if you've never used one before...

A friend of mine uses a Gri Gri, so I've learnt to belay on one and don't find it too bad now, but I don always refer to it as "the overengineered French nonsense" and frequently and loudly say "nobody would use these if they were invented in 2020" but that's largely just to wind him up!

They're fine once you've got used to them, but a pain at first and other, more intuitive (cough... better) devices have entered the market since the Gri Gri arrived. 

5
In reply to Iamgregp:

> A friend of mine uses a Gri Gri, so I've learnt to belay on one and don't find it too bad now, but I don always refer to it as "the overengineered French nonsense" and frequently and loudly say "nobody would use these if they were invented in 2020" but that's largely just to wind him up!

I think that just about sums it up. They are horrible, outdated contraptions compared with modern intuitive devices.

7
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Poor lass didn't have a clue how to pay out rope of the thing

To be fair Petzl didn't either, and actually changed the instruction at one point!

I would agree that if they were new this year nobody would buy one, and they only keep selling because (a) people already know how to use them, and (b) they're fairly handy for climbing centres to use for peer belaying, though the typical way that is done remains an "off label" use.

Post edited at 17:17
3
In reply to hang_about:

>I think ATCs are safe if you're paying attention, and nothing is safe if you are not.

I just don't agree with this sentiment at all. A grigri has a mechanical failsafe that makes it much safer if your belayer is not paying attention.

Nothing is 100% failsafe, but assisted braking devices at least don't rely entirely on the reliability of the human attention span. 

A mechanical device doesn't think 'Ah it was an easy route, I didn't expect you to fall' as the belayer who very nearly had me deck from 13 meters said..

Tbh, I think the debate is won with a simple thought experiment. 

You're 15 meters up. A rock comes loose and knocks your belayer our cold. You now get to choose what belay device they were using at the time.. ATC, or GriGri? 

In reply to Robert Durran:

>They are horrible, outdated contraptions compared with modern intuitive devices.

I think part of their utility comes from the fact their use is so widespread. Odds of someone at a crag knowing how to use your grigri is pretty high. 

Post edited at 17:23
3
In reply to StoneG:

In the end, what device is used is a matter between the climber and belayer.  If the belayer will not use a device the climber is happy with, the climber should not allow them to belay them.  If the climber is happy, all's good.

Post edited at 17:36
In reply to StoneG:

No chance of using a gri gri with double ropes, the normal trad. set up. 

5
In reply to Philb1950:

> No chance of using a gri gri with double ropes, the normal trad. set up.

Not necessarily sensible to use one for trad anyway, as the very hard catch is more likely to lead to gear failure than the slightly more progressive catch you get on an ATC type device.

Very much a device designed for sport and top-roping.

3
In reply to StoneG:

> I think part of their utility comes from the fact their use is so widespread.

But that is changing with better alternatives available and so fewer people familiar with their oddity. I think they will probably die out unless they evolve to be pretty unrecognisable from their present form.

Post edited at 17:46
1
 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Well said!

2
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think the point is that V123 works for top roping but not leading

To be pedantic (on UKC? Surely not!?), it works for taking in slack but not paying out slack. When you belay leaders you obviously frequently need to take in slack as well as pay out slack, so I don't think it's correct to say that it doesn't work for leading.

But we all know what you mean.

In reply to tehmarks:

Unless the poster is one of those people who belay with the live rope trailing on the floor so as not to have to be bothered taking in, of course.  They exist, sadly.

1
In reply to Neil Williams:

>They exist, sadly.

I'm amazed (though I can see how one might not immediately notice) that anyone is happy to tie in to the end of the rope belayed by one of these people.

In reply to tehmarks:

Indeed, might as well solo, as that's what's happening with someone who belays like that anyway.

 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Not necessarily sensible to use one for trad anyway, as the very hard catch is more likely to lead to gear failure than the slightly more progressive catch you get on an ATC type device.

> Very much a device designed for sport and top-roping.

Though used for trad climbing the world over without issue, just not really in the UK. As soon as there is drag in the system (pretty common on trad climbs) the type of device matters less, as the drag increases, the force at the top piece increases regardless off the belay device.

 Howard J 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> If the belayer will not use a device the climber is happy with, the climber should not allow them to belay them.  If the climber is happy, all's good.

Of course the climber must have confidence in their belayer, but surely it is more important that they are using a device the belayer is happy with?  Forcing them to use a device they are unfamiliar or unconfident with is a recipe for disaster.

I don't know how to use a gri-gri, and if someone tried to insist I use one I would refuse. 

1
In reply to Howard J:

> Of course the climber must have confidence in their belayer, but surely it is more important that they are using a device the belayer is happy with?  Forcing them to use a device they are unfamiliar or unconfident with is a recipe for disaster.

> I don't know how to use a gri-gri, and if someone tried to insist I use one I would refuse. 

I wasn't suggesting the climber could or should force a device on a belayer.  My point was that if the climber isn't happy with what the belayer is willing to use, then they aren't going to make good climbing partners.  A bit like employment, which is a two-way partnership which won't work well (or at all) if both sides aren't happy with it.

 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> That it isn't possible to take a safer option in one situation is not a reason not to take that option in another where it is possible, of course.  It's difficult to say VK123 isn't safer than tunnelling when using a non-brake-assist device, because tunnelling has a very slightly higher risk of loss of control if the climber falls at the exact wrong second.  The debate is purely on whether it's "safe enough".

I would say the opposite is true. With a non-brake assisted device the weak point of the V-1-2-3 method is the V, if a climber falls then the device offers no/little help to the belayer, if they were tunneling, the rope is in a better position.

With (some) brake assisted devices, the device starts to brake even when the rope is in the V position so would be more likely to assisted the belayer in holding a fall.

> The answer to me is that I think it probably is "safe enough" in the hands of an experienced belayer or with a brake-assist device (just like, for instance, driving with one hand on the wheel, palming it or crossing over in a power-steering-fitted car is "safe enough", as an experienced driver will bring the other hand up very quickly if they need it), but teaching novices "tunnelling" is probably a bad idea (just as you teach novice drivers "ten to two" or "quarter to three" and feeding the wheel), and I suspect the DAV still pushes it out of pure conservatism.  Germany is a very conservative (small C) country, stuff doesn't change easily.

I'm pretty sure Mountain Training teach tunneling, though not being an instructor I am not definite.

Re German conservatism, they have gone from Italian hitches (well, they still use them but less so) to assisted braking devices pretty quickly, have adopted new practices quicker than we have in the UK IMHO.

 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Howard J:

Quite right! I love my grigri for sport but prefer my belayer to use what they are comfortable with.

In reply to galpinos:

> Though used for trad climbing the world over without issue, just not really in the UK. 

Isn't that because we climb on double ropes (unlike in particular in the US), so a gri-gri is no use anyway. I imagine we will gradually switch to double rope assisted devices as has happened with single rope ones.

In reply to galpinos:

> I would say the opposite is true. With a non-brake assisted device the weak point of the V-1-2-3 method is the V, if a climber falls then the device offers no/little help to the belayer, if they were tunneling, the rope is in a better position.

Personally I would say I'd be far less likely to fumble taking my right hand back down from the V than I would to "catch" a potentially already moving rope.  Though I've caught in both situations (never done tunnelling, but I have had a leader fall while sliding my hand down to pay out - though I generally do that still having some grip on the rope, whereas sliding up you pretty much have to release completely).

I suppose tunnelling avoids the almost-continuous shout to novices of "right hand down", but then they'd not be belaying alone until they "got" that.

On the other hand, there's the US practice of lead belaying with the V being the default position, which makes the mind boggle, as it's the worst of both worlds.

Post edited at 19:21
1
In reply to galpinos:

> I would say the opposite is true. With a non-brake assisted device the weak point of the V-1-2-3 method is the V, if a climber falls then the device offers no/little help to the belayer, if they were tunneling, the rope is in a better position.

Errr...forgive me if my understanding is correct (because this V-knee mnemonic is alien to me even if I suspect it's describing exactly how I belay), but the 'V' is surely when you're taking in slack? Surely, even when 'tunnelling', you have to have the rope in the same position to take in slack? You surely aren't - can't be - pulling slack through a device in an effectively locked-off position, no matter what it is you do to rearrange your hands after the fact?

 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yep, my point was more just because we don't do it here, doesn't mean it's wrong!

In reply to tehmarks:

> Errr...forgive me if my understanding is correct (because this V-knee mnemonic is alien to me even if I suspect it's describing exactly how I belay), but the 'V' is surely when you're taking in slack? Surely, even when 'tunnelling', you have to have the rope in the same position to take in slack? You surely aren't - can't be - pulling slack through a device in an effectively locked-off position, no matter what it is you do to rearrange your hands after the fact?

The "V-knee" thing is:

V: brake hand up, pull down with non-brake hand and pull slack through with brake hand

Knee: brake hand back down

1: non-brake hand onto brake rope

2: reposition brake hand

3: back the way you were

While there are "shortcuts" such as doing the hand change while bringing the brake end back down, this is roughly how pretty much every British climber belays.

You make a very good point which I didn't consider because I'm sat at the laptop, not standing with a rope in my hands.

The "tunnelling" indeed substitutes for the "1, 2, 3" bit and is arguably less safe than it, though there is a failure mode for "1, 2, 3" which involves the two hands "following each other" off the rope, just as if you lower off hand over hand.

Post edited at 19:25
3
 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

I am no instructor so am nervous about wading in on this but....

The closer the two ropes are together (narrow "V"), the less braking affect the belay device will have, regardless of the type. The quite often quite rigid form of teaching belaying has ends up with a narrow V. When tunneling, the V is often quite a bit wider mean both the rope is in a better position for the device to add braking force and the hand on the dead rope doesn't have as far to travel to get to the optimum braking position.

Some of the new assisted devices are remarkably good at braking even when the braking rope is in a poor position and their is little force on the rope, some are no better than an ATC/Pivot.

In reply to galpinos:

> The closer the two ropes are together (narrow "V"), the less braking affect the belay device will have, regardless of the type. The quite often quite rigid form of teaching belaying has ends up with a narrow V. When tunneling, the V is often quite a bit wider mean both the rope is in a better position for the device to add braking force and the hand on the dead rope doesn't have as far to travel to get to the optimum braking position.

If people are teaching a V as more of an II, then they need to pack it in.  That is unnecessary and as you say less safe.  But I've not seen people instructing that way, and if they do they need to stop.

I fail to see any reason why the V part would be different depending on how you change the brake hand position back up the rope.  The two parts are totally separate.

I suppose what you do sometimes see is novices trying to take in loads of rope in one go with "knee" almost being on the floor, which is possibly a bit more likely with VK123 than tunnelling, but again that's a bad habit to make sure is taken out as early as possible by pushing the idea of "take in little and often".

However as a whole I can't see any way in which "not holding the rope for a short time" can be as safe as "holding the rope at all times".

> Some of the new assisted devices are remarkably good at braking even when the braking rope is in a poor position and their is little force on the rope, some are no better than an ATC/Pivot.

And it's fairly likely with some (e.g. Grigri) if you let go completely it will still brake.  Doesn't mean you should.

Post edited at 19:40
1
 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

The new performance test which will be part of EN 15151-3 for geometry assisted devices has shown than that some brake with zero force on the dead rope. Quite impressive bearing in mind how much easier than the grigri they are to belay with. Not all of them though! There is also then the added concern over complacency in belaying doe to the efficacy of the device. It’s a minefield….

Doing a belay test with different devices does show up which work best for you. For instance, I found out that my instinctive hand movement when catching a fall caused me to override the geometry assist of a Mammut Smart/BD Pivot and would have dropped the lead climber. Despite a Samrt/Pivot being “safer” on paper, I’ve be better with an ATC/Pivot!

 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> If people are teaching a V as more of an II, then they need to pack it in.  That is unnecessary and as you say less safe.  But I've not seen people instructing that way, and if they do they need to stop.

I see a lot of belayers with a very narrow V.

As an aside, a II is the brake position for an Italian hitch which has made life difficult for the DAV trying to get older climbers who set in their ways to belay safely with a device and the braking instinct they have is to do the opposite!

In reply to galpinos:

> Doing a belay test with different devices does show up which work best for you. For instance, I found out that my instinctive hand movement when catching a fall caused me to override the geometry assist of a Mammut Smart/BD Pivot and would have dropped the lead climber. Despite a Samrt/Pivot being “safer” on paper, I’ve be better with an ATC/Pivot!

You need a Click-Up. Identical hand movement as an ATC, but you would have to try very hard to drop someone.

 JimR 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Interesting to compare belay techniques now to when I started climbing. That was with a waist belay , I purchased a stich plate  when I heard about a guy taking a big fall off Shibboleth and the waist belayer's kidneys getting injured. Another of my pals went for almost the full 300 ft ride on the Etive slabs and was held by his waist belayer just before his unhelmeted head would have crunched into the slab below the big overlap, Belayer was turned upside down and suffered severe rope burns to hands. Also read the Carnivore article in Hard Rock where Big Ellie is dozing when Jimmy Marshall falls off ... changed days !!

 fred99 21 Mar 2022
In reply to StoneG:

> >I think ATCs are safe if you're paying attention, and nothing is safe if you are not.

> I just don't agree with this sentiment at all. A grigri has a mechanical failsafe that makes it much safer if your belayer is not paying attention.

Belayers should ALWAYS be paying attention - if they're not, then they're not safe to climb with.

> Nothing is 100% failsafe, but assisted braking devices at least don't rely entirely on the reliability of the human attention span. 

If the attention span of your climbing partner can't last for the complete pitch (and then some) then your climbing partner should be either educated or ditched.

> A mechanical device doesn't think 'Ah it was an easy route, I didn't expect you to fall' as the belayer who very nearly had me deck from 13 meters said..

Most accidents happen on easy routes - probably because people aren't concentrating hard enough.

> Tbh, I think the debate is won with a simple thought experiment. 

> You're 15 meters up. A rock comes loose and knocks your belayer our cold. You now get to choose what belay device they were using at the time.. ATC, or GriGri? 

I'd prefer it that they were wearing a helmet to prevent such an injury in the first place - but too many (mainly sport) climbers seem to think that wearing a helmet reduces their masculinity.

7
 galpinos 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

I will see if I can borrow one, cheers!

 TheGeneralist 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think that just about sums it up. They are horrible, outdated contraptions compared with modern intuitive devices.

Agreed. Horrible things. An occasional partner of mine, whose been using one since inception, been climbing for 30 years and absolutely loves them dropped me to the ground from next to the fourth bolt on a route  in mallorca.

He didn't have any idea what went wrong.  I just have a recollection of " falling, " still falling" ,"still fa..." "ground"

Vile vile things that should  be consigned to the history books

Post edited at 21:00
6
 Rob Parsons 21 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

Me>> Who is the 'well-known climber' you're quoting?

> Sadly someone who died climbing. He made that remark when he was (relatively) young and a bit arrogant. As he grew older, he changed - for the better. I'm sure he would have taken back that remark if he could. We all make mistakes. It would be wrong for him to be remembered for that one.

Fair enough. A remarkably stupid comment whoever it was. But I am content to let omerta reign.

As for stuff like 'V - knee - 1, 2, 3' (which is quoted above, and which I have thankfully never heard before) - has modern 'climbing' really come to this? Do the people who are taught such stuff off-by-heart actually understand what's going on? Or are they merely following rules?

2
 Iamgregp 21 Mar 2022
In reply to galpinos:

Like Robert, I’m also a big fan of the click-up. Great little bit of kit… Much simpler and more intuitive to use if you’re used to an ATC. 

I also really like that you can always take in even if it’s in the clicked up position, so makes it a really good device to use when teaching beginners how to top rope belay.

 Umfana 22 Mar 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

This. 100 times this.

Having spoken to a few German climbers they find the VK123 utterly bonkers because you take each hand off the rope (though obviously not both at the same time). The DAV method means the braking hand NEVER leaves the breaking rope. It is impossible therefore to grab the wrong rope in a panic.

Tomorrow I get to go to a wall in Prague for the first time. I don't know whether I will be "assessed" or not. I do know that I know the fundamental basis of belaying such that I can adapt to whatever method they might want to see.* Same with tying in. The dogmatic fig8 plus topper brigade really wind me up when suggesting it is the only way. Same with holding someone else's rope.

*Turning up with a beal birdie and a twin gate instead of a traditional locker might confuse someone though. 

 Paul Evans 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Useful debate. We've had a lot of discussion about V123 and the alternative methods of moving hands around on the dead rope. Personally I've always used tunneling. 

The real danger for me lies when you're belaying a leader, you have the ropes in the V ("brakes off") position with a non-assisted device, and you're not watching your leader. If they fall off, things get very nasty very quickly. 

Paul

In reply to Rob Parsons:

It is no different from something like driving.  You learn initially basically by rote, but then develop your knowledge and understanding as you progress.

 wbo2 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

Before this descends to the normal 'my device is best' competition can we just look at the parallel 'soft catch' thread and remember no matter the device, you can still be a rubbish belayer.

In reply to Neil Williams:

> It is no different from something like driving.  You learn initially basically by rote, but then develop your knowledge and understanding as you progress.

I know how I teach kids to belay, but I don't think I could tell you how I do it myself. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

About time somebody said it. Its like rigid stem friends and then flexible ones being introduced, there are better ones these days.

 Howard J 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

It's important to remember in discussions like this, whether the topic is belaying, knots or something else, that in most cases there are several accepted and recognised methods, and that something different from what we have been taught is not necessarily "wrong", even less dangerous.

All these methods have their pros and cons.  If there were a single 100% safe way of belaying that could be applied to all situations I'm sure we would have adopted it by now.  It's not always possible to know the reasons why someone has been dropped, but my guess is that in most cases it's not the method or the device that is at fault, but human error.

In reply to JimR:

> Interesting to compare belay techniques now to when I started climbing. That was with a waist belay , I purchased a stich plate  when I heard about a guy taking a big fall off Shibboleth and the waist belayer's kidneys getting injured.

I started with waist belays with hawser-laid ropes, which seemed to work fine - I still do it occasionally on easy ground where people are moving quickly.  I held a few big leader falls, including a 70 footer at Gogarth, and started using a figure-of-eight, then a sticht with a spring, which I kept for ages.  Then a tuber, and a grigri for sport (using the special side-of-the-thumb trigger technique insisted on by Ed February). Now I think it's some sort of Black Diamond ATC thing I found under Dow Crag. 

I've no idea which of the baffling array of techniques described above I use, but I've never dropped anyone yet, and it does worry me how many people I see belaying a long way back from wall with a big loop of rope nearly dragging on the floor.  I don't do very much sport climbing and I have to say actively providing a soft catch isn't usually high on my list of priorities*.  Usually there's two ropes, runners all over the place and often the ground within easy striking distance - the priority is stopping someone breaking their ankles on the rope stretch.  

* That's not to say I'm not aware of how to kill a swing or drop someone clear of the edge of an overhang etc.

In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

I can't believe how little stick you've got in this thread for setting yourself up as the authority on belaying and then revealing that you were actually just ignorant about a perfectly valid method. Does anyone actually lead belay without ever sliding their hand up the rope?

1
In reply to climberchristy:

> I see terrible belaying at the wall far too often. Usually it's the belayer standing too far out while leader is still at bolt 1, 2 or 3. 

Unexpected bonus of the standing too far back belayer - take them outside and they belay you on gear. Belayer gets it in their head that too much slack is a bad thing and gives you a drum tight belay. Standing too far back plus tight belay: early bits of gear start pinging out with the upward pull.

 Darkinbad 22 Mar 2022
In reply to steveriley:

Probably better if it happens like that than if you were to fall off...

In reply to Paul Evans:

Me too and pretty well everyone I know uses tunnelling. On the hardware question, I still run into loads of people on the continent belaying with figure of 8 devices which I used to question, but seems to be ok.

In reply to Robert Durran:

I’ve been using grigris since they came out, but maybe more habit than happiness😂

I’ve never liked the technique of holding them open to pay out fast, so have relied on skinny, non-furry ropes to aid that, plus walking in and out once the leader is an appropriate number of clips up. I also don’t like the lowering mechanism. I did have a similar device from Edelrid which would also auto lock if you pulled too much on the lowering handle.

I’m going to take your recommendation and buy a click up and road test it. Cheers, Paul

1
 Iamgregp 22 Mar 2022
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

I do a bit of both. I was taught, and generally favour v123, but I have noticed that if I’m just taking in small amount I’ll do quick tunnel.  
 

Perhaps that’s not something I’ve intentionally started doing, but both methods are fine and I’m using a click up anyway so it’s all good.
 

 deepsoup 22 Mar 2022
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> On the hardware question, I still run into loads of people on the continent belaying with figure of 8 devices which I used to question, but seems to be ok.

I would take quite a lot of convincing that it is ok, any more than it was when it was common in British climbing walls back in the '90s.

 Mick Ward 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> But I am content to let omerta reign.

Made me smile. (And I sense a wry grin from up above.)

> As for stuff like 'V - knee - 1, 2, 3' (which is quoted above, and which I have thankfully never heard before) - has modern 'climbing' really come to this?

Sadly, yes. 

> Do the people who are taught such stuff off-by-heart actually understand what's going on?

Would very much doubt it. But do they understand their subjects at school or Uni? Or are they just brought up to tick boxes for qualifications which we all know are increasingly meaningless but still pay lip service to?

Climbing education is probably a subset of general education - with similar faults?

> Or are they merely following rules?

I'm convinced they are. 

Some of my early schooling was via the (un)Christian Brothers, in Ireland (shudder!) To their credit however, they insisted on teaching stuff from first principles (or as close as you can get). Their argument was that fundamental (or as close as you can get) understanding of a subject was essential. While you could forget rote learning, if you were armed with first principles, hopefully you could work your way back again to what you needed. 

I suspect first principles (or as close as you can get) will serve us well in climbing. Passively following (half-digested?) rules... maybe not so much.

Mick   

In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> I’m going to take your recommendation and buy a click up and road test it. Cheers, Paul

Disclamer: Not everyone gets on with the click up, though a lot of my partners are converts (having taken just a few belays to get used to it). I've heard it said that the later version is not as good as the original.

In reply to Mick Ward:

> Some of my early schooling was via the (un)Christian Brothers, in Ireland (shudder!) To their credit however, they insisted on teaching stuff from first principles (or as close as you can get). Their argument was that fundamental (or as close as you can get) understanding of a subject was essential. While you could forget rote learning, if you were armed with first principles, hopefully you could work your way back again to what you needed. 

These Christian Brothers sound brilliant. 

 Iamgregp 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Indeed, it does take a bit of getting used to not accidently clicking it up when giving out slack, but if Paul favour skinny fur-free ropes this may be too bad an issue.

Once you're used to it though, you can take and give just as if you're using an ATC.

The way me and my partner got used to it was to make a rule that every time you accidently clicked it up you had to buy the person climbing a beer.  After a couple of sessions of buying my partner 3 or four pints afterwards I soon got the knack!

We're kept the rule though, it's been years and we still do it, though instances are rare...

 Mick Ward 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Oh they were, Robert, they were! 

Mick 

P.S. There's an old blessing (curse?) that goes, 'May you die in Ireland.' To which I'd reply, "Thanks - but I've made other arrangements."

In reply to Mick Ward:

It was the Jesuits and the Little Sisters of the Assumption for me, but I suspect not a long way removed in principle

Paul

 UKB Shark 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

> Their left hand stayed on the live rope and their right hand on the dead rope. As they took in they just slid their hands along each rope. No locking off and very obvious letting go of dead rope

This is (yet another) an example of the taught way being considered as the only way.

I once had to stand down at a climbing comp top roping kids a third my weight because the way I held the rope didn’t match the way the way their parents had been taught to belay. Didn’t matter that it worked catching adults taking long falls on trad routes on super skinny ropes. 

1
 David Alcock 22 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

I've still blanked whatever the nuns did to me at kindergarten, but I was taken out very quickly. 

1
 peppermill 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Paying out on a Grigri is also decidedly cack-handed in my view, though if done often you'll get used to it as with anything.

It takes practice but once you've got the technique it's buttery smooth, same with lowering someone.

I appreciate there's better designed devices on the market but for single pitch sport, especially if the climber is working a route I wouldn't use anything else.

 wbo2 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Rob Parsons: > As for stuff like 'V - knee - 1, 2, 3' (which is quoted above, and which I have thankfully never heard before) - has modern 'climbing' really come to this?:

You've never heard this before - honestly - this I struggle to believe - it's been in enough threads on here over years, and gets mentioned in every belaying thread. And please, enough of the'modern climbing ' stuff - how were you taught to belay? It's not my favourite method, but it works and is easy to remember.  The fancier, more sophisticated stuff comes with experience.  There is plenty of hopeless belaying outside as well as in...  This faux superiority of 'ye olde days' gets a bit tiring

9
 MischaHY 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Hey Neil, I think all your comments come from a good place but by the time we got to the trad bit of the thread you'd already said three things which I think come from retoric rather than reality. 

  1. tunneling doesn't work for novices. This simply isn't true and often works better as there is no complete letting go of the rope at any stage during taking in or giving out slack. 
  2. People get dropped regularly on grigris/assisted devices. Once again, this doesn't hold up in reality. People get dropped on a myriad of devices and this is always based in user error, not in the specific device. 
  3. Grigri is unsuitable for trad due to giving a hard catch. This isn't based in fact. The hardness of a catch is influenced by the movement of the belayer, not the device. The amount of slip offered by a tube device is absolutely minute compared to the literally metres of potential movement that a belayer can offer in a soft vs hard catch. A good belayer will give you a feather catch on gear or bolts regardless of device - a bad one will slam you regardless. Generally people who sport climb more are far better at catching falls because they're used to doing it. Trad climbers who never fall/catch falls ironically tend to offer the hardest catch. I've used a grigri for trad plenty of times in situations where half ropes were unnecessary and have always been able to give a nice soft catch with it. 

Ultimately the answer to the various issues present in this thread is for everyone to inform themselves of the various belaying methods and devices available and become proficient in all of them. I'm confident (without wanting to sound brash) that you could hand me any device on the market and I'd be able to offer a safe and comfortable belay with it. IMO this is the way that we should go instead of picking sides and lauding the function of one device.  

1
In reply to MischaHY:

> tunneling doesn't work for novices. This simply isn't true and often works better as there is no complete letting go of the rope at any stage during taking in or giving out slack. 

I completely disagree.  Taking control of a potentially moving rope is far harder than avoiding "following off" the rope, at least using a non-brake-assist device where the rope can pick up speed quickly.  Were it a Grigri it's fairly likely the device would grab anyway as the tunnelling hand would be directing the rope such that it would be likely to do so unless the fall was a very slow "peel off".  (For those unfamiliar with Grigris, they tend to act very much like a car seatbelt - fall quickly and they grab, peel off slowly and they don't unless the dead rope is properly held).

> People get dropped regularly on grigris/assisted devices. Once again, this doesn't hold up in reality. People get dropped on a myriad of devices and this is always based in user error, not in the specific device. 

I again completely disagree.  An example elsewhere is poorly designed road junctions.  A device with counterintuitive failure modes (for example even Petzl recognised that the instinct if someone is falling is to grab the lever, hence the Grigri+ requiring a mid-pull to lower) is going to be less safe than one without.  Another example is the Boeing 737Max - there was nothing wrong with MCAS per-se, it did what it was meant to do, but it counterintuitive nature resulted in pilot errors.

> I'm confident (without wanting to sound brash) that you could hand me any device on the market and I'd be able to offer a safe and comfortable belay with it.

It might be that you're super-experienced and so that that's true (I think that would be universally true of any MIA, for example), but I would warn strongly against the safety implications of overconfidence.  The brake-assist devices on the market vary hugely, and so unless you've genuinely used all of them then it's likely you will be clunky if safe with an unfamiliar one, I certainly am.  What would help here is walls offering a good range of them to borrow to try out, and encouraging people to do that.

Post edited at 10:34
18
 PaulTanton 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

I pretty much agree. People are very confident with locking belay devices. But I’ve seen some nasty accidents with gri-gri’s. 
Equally worrying, or maybe more so, is seeing crap belaying outside.  I don’t like to be the crag police but on a few occasions I’ve had to tell people their belay anchor is crap.  Most of the time folk are ok. Had to say something to a person who used a sling on a ripple in the rock. There was an excellent hex of cam placement right next to it. 

2
 MischaHY 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Neil, I mean this in a very respectful way when I say this (genuinely, I'm not being rude at all) but from what you've just written it's very clear that you don't regularly use a grigri and don't fully appreciate the function of the device. 

> (For those unfamiliar with Grigris, they tend to act very much like a car seatbelt - fall quickly and they grab, peel off slowly and they don't unless the dead rope is properly held).

This is completely inaccurate. I invite anybody to go and test this by 'peeling off' as slowly as they please. Have your belayer hold the rope 1m down a loop of slack so they play no immediate role. The cam will always engage. The physics of a grigri are friction/angle based and totally unrelated to a car seatbelt which activates based on a specific rotation speed in a cam - the Wild Country Revo uses a similar principle and could potentially respond how you describe intially in a very slow fall, although ultimately it will lock when the wheel rotation reaches 4m/s. 

I really encourage you to go and try this for yourself. I'm always keen to present the positives and negatives of a safety device but what you've written above just isn't based in fact. 

> (for example even Petzl recognised that the instinct if someone is falling is to grab the lever, hence the Grigri+ requiring a mid-pull to lower) is going to be less safe than one without. 

This is a valid point but a mispresentation of the failure mode. Petzl found that beginners could, when panicked, pull harder on the lever if they felt out of control when lowering a climber. This has no relation to falls or engagement of the device when falling. It also holds no relevance to a climber with a little experience who will simply let up on the lever to reengage the cam. 

> It might be that you're super-experienced and so that that's true (I think that would be universally true of any MIA, for example), but I would warn strongly against the safety implications of overconfidence.  The brake-assist devices on the market vary hugely, and so unless you've genuinely used all of them then it's likely you will be clunky if safe with an unfamiliar one, I certainly am.  What would help here is walls offering a good range of them to borrow to try out, and encouraging people to do that.

I agree with this last point and I've been lucky enough to work in an environment where I could test all the current devices on the market. I agree having a variety of devices available on courses would be ideal for demoing different methods and I know good instructors who do this. 

1
 Iamgregp 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Bit of a thread divert, but there was something wrong with MCAS.  It only took angle of attack data from one sensor.  That's something very wrong indeed.

 deepsoup 23 Mar 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

> The cam will always engage.

Almost always.  The danger is often exaggerated but it is possible in rare cases for them not to with a slick rope and nothing braking it as it feeds into the device.

Once they do begin to bite there's a positive feedback loop there - braking force on the rope engages the cam, bites the rope, increases the braking force, engages the cam harder - so the least bit of braking means the brake comes on hard & fast to lock the device.  But there does need to be that 'least bit of braking' to start it off - most times (maybe 99% plus of the time) the weight of the dead rope hanging down from the device would be enough even without a hand on it, but it isn't be wise to rely on that.

Post edited at 12:17
 deepsoup 23 Mar 2022
In reply to PaulTanton:

> I don’t like to be the crag police but on a few occasions I’ve had to tell people their belay anchor is crap.

I think the key there is not to think of it as 'policing'.  Nobody has the right to be the 'crag police', (well, unless they're dry tooling on Millstone or something, in which case fill your boots) but obviously you can offer advice.  And if you want it to do any good, it's best to start the process of teaching somebody something by getting their consent.

That doesn't have to be formal, just that it's better to start the conversation with "I've noticed your belay isn't as good as it could be, would you like some advice?" than it is to start it with "Oi.  This belay is crap!"  A lot of folk will instinctively tell you to piss off in the latter case, even if they're aware that they could use a bit of help - frustrating on both sides.

In reply to MischaHY:

> Neil, I mean this in a very respectful way when I say this (genuinely, I'm not being rude at all) but from what you've just written it's very clear that you don't regularly use a grigri and don't fully appreciate the function of the device. 

I'm afraid you're wrong, I own one and know how to use one.  I don't generally choose to use it because I find it cack-handed and awkward, however.  I bought it for two reasons - partly so I'm familiar with them, and partly as a self-belay device if I want to quickly shoot up our Scout wall to tighten up a loose hold during a session and don't have a second instructor present to belay me.

> This is completely inaccurate. I invite anybody to go and test this by 'peeling off' as slowly as they please. Have your belayer hold the rope 1m down a loop of slack so they play no immediate role. The cam will always engage.

The cam will engage 99 times out of 100.  The other 1 time it won't.  The scenario I mention isn't hypothetical, it did actually happen, with the climber decking as a result.  It's more likely with a skinny rope than a thick one, so it's an unlikely scenario when top-roping on a wall's fuzzy old ropes, say.

Petzl has always stated that the device is intended to be used a per a tube device, but with additional security, and that the dead rope should not be left unheld, despite what you'll see at many French or Italian sport crags.  That doesn't mean tunnelling is out, but it does mean you cannot rely on it locking even though it will *almost* every time.

It is, and is sold as, a brake assist device, not an auto-locking device.

> The physics of a grigri are friction/angle based and totally unrelated to a car seatbelt which activates based on a specific rotation speed in a cam - the Wild Country Revo uses a similar principle and could potentially respond how you describe intially in a very slow fall, although ultimately it will lock when the wheel rotation reaches 4m/s. 

I'm aware it works differently but in practice it acts similarly.

> I really encourage you to go and try this for yourself. I'm always keen to present the positives and negatives of a safety device but what you've written above just isn't based in fact. 

It is based in fact.  It's based on an actual incident that occurred and I believe caused serious injury.  Fairly sure it was reported in this Forum.

> This is a valid point but a mispresentation of the failure mode. Petzl found that beginners could, when panicked, pull harder on the lever if they felt out of control when lowering a climber. T

That's what I said

Post edited at 12:28
6
In reply to deepsoup:

Even if intending to criticise you might get further if you didn't, e.g. "This is a better way of using a Grigri" rather than "you don't want to do it like that, you want to do it like this".

2
In reply to Neil Williams:

>  Another example is the Boeing 737Max - there was nothing wrong with MCAS per-se, it did what it was meant to do, but it counterintuitive nature resulted in pilot errors.

A slight tangent, but that is simply incorrect. There are multiple things fundamentally wrong about MCAS. Using trim to effect an attitude change, using software to fix a fundamental aerodynamic flaw, relying on single sensor input for a safety-critical system, not documenting the system purely for business reasons...the list is endless. It did what it was meant to do only in the sense that the brakes in my car would be doing what they were meant to do (slow the car down) even if they were activated randomly at any speed and in any situation without any driver input.

Sorry for the diversion, but I feel that needs jumping on because it's a total misunderstanding of Boeing's virtually criminal negligence. It's definitely not a good example of what you're trying to argue.

Post edited at 12:32
 deepsoup 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

>  That doesn't mean tunnelling is out..

Not only does it not mean 'tunnelling' is out, it doesn't mean it is even the slightest bit problematic imo because the lightest touch on the dead rope is enough to initiate the Grigri locking up so anything even remotely approximating a grip on the dead rope will do.

(And if you want to let go of the dead rope when the device is already locked, eg while your partner is having a rest and shaking out, it only takes a second to tie a loose overhand knot in the dead rope or pull a bight through the carabiner and loop it over the device, so even though it's almost certainly redundant why wouldn't you?)

In reply to the later post:

> Even if intending to criticise you might get further if you didn't..

I'm being pedantic here possibly and quibbling over semantics a bit, but if the intention is to 'criticise' it'd almost certainly be better just to keep schtum.  For all the good it'll do you may as well say nothing at the time and then come on here to slag them off later!

I don't think you should say anything unless the intention is to try to help somebody out.

In reply to deepsoup:

> Almost always.  The danger is often exaggerated but it is possible in rare cases for them not to with a slick rope and nothing braking it as it feeds into the device.

The only time I have been dropped was with a Gri-gri. It was sort of slow motion onto the mats indoors with no injury. My friend belaying was sure it was not user error and blamed his new rope, which he then said he didn't trust and gave to me!

However, I would ALWAYS prefer to be belayed with an assisted device including a gri-gri when indoors or sport climbing, since they are clearly so much safer (I think anyone who argues otherwise is plain wrong). Although I dislike gri-gris I am totally happy being belayed with them by experienced users. In fact, particularly indoors, I will avoid routes where I know I am going to have to give my all (onsight or redpoint) if my partner is using a conventional device because it introduces enough doubt in my mind to hold me back and make the chances of failure higher.

5
 Howard J 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

>> tunneling doesn't work for novices. This simply isn't true and often works better as there is no complete letting go of the rope at any stage during taking in or giving out slack. 

> I completely disagree. 

Tunnelling is how generations of novices were taught, going back to the days of the body belay. It's the recommended method in Germany, and the DAV video shows an ATC being used.  The V-to-knee mantra seems to be a relatively recent introduction, which is why many older climbers are unfamiliar with it, and probably coincides with indoor walls becoming the default way to learn to climb. It's good that most novices now get professional instruction from the beginning, and good that their instructors instil in them the importance of doing it right.  That doesn't mean that other methods are unsuitable or unsafe. 

I don't have a problem with teaching V-to-knee, except there's a possible danger a novice will focus on the mantra rather than the process.  However it's a technique for top-roping, and has to be unlearned when they start to belay a leader, when paying out the rope becomes more important.

> Taking control of a potentially moving rope is far harder than avoiding "following off" the rope, at least using a non-brake-assist device where the rope can pick up speed quickly. 

Unless you have the reaction time of a cabbage, the rope shouldn't be moving through the device. Your hand remains on the rope at all times, and the instinctive reaction, triggered by the sight of the leader falling or feeling tension on the live rope, is to tighten the grip on the dead rope before it starts to move.  You won't have to grab a moving rope.

In reply to Howard J:

> I don't have a problem with teaching V-to-knee, except there's a possible danger a novice will focus on the mantra rather than the process.  However it's a technique for top-roping, and has to be unlearned when they start to belay a leader, when paying out the rope becomes more important.

No, it doesn't.  You simply add on how to pay out, which was taught to me as "it's not feasible to do this with a hand change, so you have to slide down to pay out, but while doing so keep your hand gripping the rope to some extent".  When taking in, VK123 (or any other slight modification of it you often get, e.g. doing "K" and "123" sort of in parallel) can still be used as before.

> Unless you have the reaction time of a cabbage, the rope shouldn't be moving through the device. Your hand remains on the rope at all times, and the instinctive reaction, triggered by the sight of the leader falling or feeling tension on the live rope, is to tighten the grip on the dead rope before it starts to move.  You won't have to grab a moving rope.

Remember, I was talking about novices.  An experienced climber has a proper "feel" for things and is not going to be less safe using that method.

6
In reply to Howard J:

> However it's a technique for top-roping, and has to be unlearned when they start to belay a leader, when paying out the rope becomes more important.

No it isn't, and no it doesn't. It's a technique for taking in slack, and it works equally well whether the person tied to the other end of the rope is top-roping or leading. Nothing needs unlearning, rather another technique needs learning to augment it. Please tell me if I'm wrong, because I'll need to fix a decade of incorrect belaying if so.

> Unless you have the reaction time of a cabbage, the rope shouldn't be moving through the device.

If you can't see your mate, the first you'll know about a fall is potentially when the rope starts moving through the device. And that is entirely plausible in all sorts of non-plastic climbing scenarios.

I've avoided taking a side in this discussion because I don't think anyone on either side is going to be convinced otherwise, but I have a firm preference for a hand having firm control of the dead rope at all times (I refuse to get involved in this V and knee business). If a hand always has firm control of the dead rope, it can't fail to gain control of the dead rope. If you're loosening your grip on it, it introduces a scenario in which you don't regain grip before the rope is moving through your hand. Maybe it's a very niche and unlikely failure mode, but it is an unnecessary failure mode that is being introduced. It doesn't take much imagination to foresee a scenario where a belayer is tired, distracted or overly casual and surprised by a fall when this could happen. Arguing that it's safer than if someone falls off while the device is 'unlocked' with hand-swapping is irrelevant, because you need to do that with the 'tunnelling' approach anyway. There is no gain from that method that I can see, and an obvious (if unlikely) drawback.

Or to put it another way, the device should remain unambiguously locked off at all times when you're not deliberately paying out or taking in slack. It does this when paying out and sliding your hand back down because your hand is sliding down the rope under tension against the device, actively keeping it locked off and under control while your hand is moving. That doesn't applying when taking in slack - you can't apply any force to the rope to keep the device locked off while sliding your hand up, and thus the device is not unambiguously locked off; it's relying on your reactions to re-grip the rope to make it locked off if your mate falls off at a bad time. If you swap your hands, the device is unambiguously locked off at all times. To me, one is very clearly safer; ​​​​that's not the same as saying that one is unsafe. Whether or not you think tunnelling is safe is a matter of personal opinion and statistics — but why settle for less safe even it is still safe?

> Your hand remains on the rope at all times...

Your hands remain on the rope at all times with swapping hands too. If someone can't be trusted to not confuse themselves doing it, I don't want them belaying me regardless of the technique they use.

(This reply isn't aimed solely at you, more a reply to the thread. I'm not criticising you personally!)

2
 Steve Mayers 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Howard J:

> The V-to-knee mantra seems to be a relatively recent introduction, which is why many older climbers are unfamiliar with it, and probably coincides with indoor walls becoming the default way to learn to climb. It's good that most novices now get professional instruction from the beginning, and good that their instructors instil in them the importance of doing it right.  That doesn't mean that other methods are unsuitable or unsafe. 

I started instructing 40 years ago and we we were already using this method back then so depends on your definition of 'relatively recent'

In reply to Howard J:

this pretty much sums it up. 

is it just me wondering why "tunnelling" the rope is not exclusive to taking in rope. the majority of people tunnel the rope when paying out rope for a leader. I.e feed rope into the device on the brake side whilst pulling slightly on the live side, then sliding hands down the rope on both live and brake side and repeat.

There are subtle differences in how the rope operates this way around vs taking in but the principle of it is still tunnelling? you are deliberately sliding the rope through your hands without a firm grasp. seems to me to be basically the same hazard and we basically all do it. 

In reply to paul_the_northerner:

When you slide your hand down the rope, you can apply force to it against the belay device to keep it locked off. You don't have to loosen your grip. When you slide your hand up, you have to fully loosen your grip to be able to move your hand.

 Howard J 23 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> No, it doesn't.  You simply add on how to pay out, which was taught to me as "it's not feasible to do this with a hand change, so you have to slide down to pay out, but while doing so keep your hand gripping the rope to some extent".  

So tunnelling, then.

> Remember, I was talking about novices.  

But novices have been successfully taught to belay using other methods for decades.

I'm not criticising V-to-knee, and I'm certainly not suggesting it shouldn't be taught. What I'm criticising is the notion that it's the only safe method, and I'm challenging the notion that sliding your hand along the rope means relinquishing all control over it.

 Howard J 23 Mar 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

I don't strongly disagree with any of that. It's a matter of degree and balance  Belaying is not just a matter of being ready to hold a fall, but is also about managing the amount of rope which is out.  Keeping the device locked off risks being taken by surprise when the leader requires slack, which may not be safe in itself. Belaying a leader often means frequently switching from paying out to taking in, and if you have both hands below the device when taking in it's more difficult to switch to paying out when the leader moves again.  But certainly there are situations where it's appropriate to lock off with both hands.  I imagine most climbers switch between them without really thinking about it.

My comment about the hand remaining on the rope was not to contrast it with swapping hands but to refute the idea that sliding equates to letting go.

In reply to Howard J:

> So tunnelling, then.

It's not the same as tunnelling.  When sliding my hand down I retain a significant proportion of the grip on the rope, I don't open my grip to the extent that would be necessary to take in by way of "tunnelling", I just loosen it only as much as is necessary to move the hand down the rope, which because a rope is "floppy" is considerably less than you'd need to move up it.  Maybe others do, though.

Tunnelling requires the grip to be released almost completely.  If it isn't, you'll just move the rope up with your hand and not slide it.

> But novices have been successfully taught to belay using other methods for decades.

> I'm not criticising V-to-knee, and I'm certainly not suggesting it shouldn't be taught. What I'm criticising is the notion that it's the only safe method, and I'm challenging the notion that sliding your hand along the rope means relinquishing all control over it.

I said neither of those things.  Safety is not absolute, but I am very much convinced that VK123, while it has disadvantages too, is a safer way to teach a novice than tunnelling, as it is less nuanced and promotes "always have a tight grip on the dead rope".  That's all I'm saying.

You (and every other experienced climber) can belay how you like provided it results in a successful catch every time.  Novices generally don't learn to belay the leader until they are not novices at top-rope belaying, so the lead issue is fairly moot.

Post edited at 15:07
4
In reply to Neil Williams:

> It's not the same as tunnelling.  When sliding my hand down I retain a significant proportion of the grip on the rope, I don't open my grip to the extent that would be necessary to take in by way of "tunnelling", I just loosen it only as much as is necessary to move the hand down the rope, which because a rope is "floppy" is considerably less than you'd need to move up it.  Maybe others do, though.

> Tunnelling requires the grip to be released almost completely.  If it isn't, you'll just move the rope up with your hand and not slide it.

There is one problem with this differentiating between tunneling and 'enough grip to slide down the rope'. Neither is strong enough to lock off a fall. 

i.e. We have a range of lock of force from 0 force (Nmin) to full force (Nmax) where Nmax is enough to hold a big fall. Most people sliding a hand down a rope may be gripping it to some extent, let's call it Nslide but it's nowhere near Nmax and hence isn't locked off.

I would argue that Nslide is actually closer to Nmin than Nmax and hence neither Nmin nor Nslide are suitable to hold a fall. Both forces will need to react and to increase grip substantially to hold a fall.

If you're gripping enough to lock off, you won't be sliding the rope at all. 

I'd also argue that when you use your non-dominant hand in VK123, the force capability is substantially less than with your dominant hand. 

In situations like the following video, the scrambling to find the rope for your 123 can lead to grabbing the wrong rope, especially as the live rope drops down as the climber falls or slack is released. At least with 'tunneling', you always have your hand on the right rope. PBUS is probably more reliable when trying to pull in massive amounts of slack like this (although I've realised that two smaller pulls are safer and quicker)

youtube.com/watch?v=2Vmrag2B4rI&

 alfmeister 24 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Interesting thread.

I’m interested in the distinction between a quick and slow fall with a gri gri. How is this “slow peel” achieved and is it a known failure mode of the gri gri ?

thanks

In reply to alfmeister:

> Interesting thread.

> I’m interested in the distinction between a quick and slow fall with a gri gri. How is this “slow peel” achieved

If you sit yourself onto the rope slowly when lowering off or if giving up on a move, that's one way.  I think the incident I'm referring to was the latter but I don't know enough detail to track it down.

> and is it a known failure mode of the gri gri ?

It isn't a failure mode per-se, as if you're holding the brake rope, as is intended, the device will correctly lock when it goes tight.  But yes, it's known that it can happen, which is why you are intended to use a Grigri the same as a tube device when taking in and not just let go of it to drink your coffee/smoke your cigarette while your mate does the crux move (as can be seen at many European sport crags).

Grigris are not autobelays/autoblocks and they are not intended to be such.  They are brake-assist devices.

Post edited at 09:36
4
In reply to timparkin:

I had to Google what PBUS was, but it does seem it might well be the best of both worlds, in removing the risk of "following off the rope" when doing a hand change but not having the brake rope only held very loosely.

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/belay.html if anyone else was wondering.

In essence it's tunnelling but with the left hand additionally holding the brake rope, or if you prefer VK123 but without removing the brake hand completely to reposition.

Post edited at 09:38
 Holdtickler 24 Mar 2022
In reply to timparkin:

When I started out as a youth I was first taught the PBUS method before being taught the VK123 way as an "improved method" a few years later although neither were called that at the time (different mantras etc). I've only ever instructed with the VK123 method, again not always with the same mantra though (I personally like "Up, Down, 1 potato, 2 potato")

I think that VK123 is slightly more efficient because you essentially take in an extra hands worth of rope each time which is probably why it is more common. I do think however that the PBUS method could be the safer method to teach noobs for the very reason that is clear in the vid (funnily enough the exact vid that sprung to mind before I saw you'd posted the same one), the issue being that in taking your hand off the brake rope that there is a chance that in a panic you may fumble and and not succeed in grabbing it again. Then again if they've then got to learn a 2nd method anyway...

I have a couple of slight issues with the VK123 mantra. The first is the knee bit. I find its is often safer and easier to take in a bit less, more often than to go for the max amount. If beginners take it very literally then organising their hand swaps down by their knee is awkward and an awkward hunched over body position far from having an eye on their partner. Plus you take in slack as you need to rather than when you have a "knee'sworth".  I tend to find that when I'm stood one foot in front of the other that my natural braking position is more diagonally back rather than straight down and that this changes a lot outdoors depending on the belaying position. A variation on the mantra is "Eye to Knee, 123" Which has the similar issue of accentuating the false need to take in a certain amount whilst encouraging hovering in the open V position for longer than necessary. Whichever mantra used I've always found it important to stress that the first part should be done much faster than the rest to minimise the time the device is unlocked as the mantras can naturally lead all the steps being of equal length.

The one thing I've noticed missing from a lot of early belaying lessons is that it is a good idea not to let hand(s) on the brake rope get too close to the belay device. Quite early on in my climbing life, I found out the hard way that if you do this and you partner falls, then the "webbed" bit between your thumb and index can get dragged into the device and pinched by the rope. This is both very painful and likely to lead to compromised belaying. Since then I've always practiced and taught to keep a hands width gap between hands and device to prevent this. Same with lowering. Think I see more poor lowering than anything else.

In reply to Philb1950:

There are still assisted braking devices for duel ropes. I have an alpine up, although it's not got much use yet. 

Andy Gamisou 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

You seem awfully confidant of your views given your apparent lack of experience and ability (based on your own words and logbook).

I must admit that when confronted with someone with a clearly higher level of ability and experience than I have, then I tend to listen to what they say and try and learn (whilst acknowledging that they might not be right about everything - who is).  Having followed your posts on this thread, I can't help thinking you might benefit similarly.

 wbo2 25 Mar 2022
In reply to timparkin:  I'm going to add a proviso to that :

> There is one problem with this differentiating between tunneling and 'enough grip to slide down the rope'. Neither is strong enough to lock off a fall IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

And if you start adding in that equation an assisted device, and I've changed from a pivot to a gigajul, that list of circumstances is rather reduced.

Oddly at the same time as assisted devices are becoming a lot more common , I've never seen so many people buying and using gloves for belaying, sometihng I've never seen as necessary  

Post edited at 08:06
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> You seem awfully confidant of your views given your apparent lack of experience and ability (based on your own words and logbook).

I think I have enough experience (including instructing) to pick up flaws in a method of top-rope belaying (which hardly requires me to be leading E10).  I do mostly climb indoors (and why would one log that?) but that has no relevance because top (bottom)-rope belaying is the same in both settings.

FWIW I also haven't edited my profile since I first created it, and even my age is two years out of date on it (UKC could do with taking DoB instead and calculating it! ).

> I must admit that when confronted with someone with a clearly higher level of ability and experience than I have, then I tend to listen to what they say and try and learn (whilst acknowledging that they might not be right about everything - who is).  Having followed your posts on this thread, I can't help thinking you might benefit similarly.

I don't however have to agree with them.  And in this instance (tunnelling as a method of belaying for instructing novices) I don't.  And unfortunately climbing (unlike say flying) doesn't have enough of a culture of sharing details of accidents and near-misses to really know who is correct.

Post edited at 09:16
2
 Howard J 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Whoopdeedoo:

V-to-knee has apparently been around much longer than I'd realised. I only became aware of it in the last few years, mainly from mentions of it in discussions here. However I don't think I'm alone in that.

I don't instruct and I'm not qualified to express an opinion on what is the best way to teach novices.  V-to-knee appears to be the one most widely taught and I'm not going to challenge that.  It does have some apparent flaws, but those are mostly due to novices taking the mantra literally without a proper understanding of what's involved, which is a flaw in the teaching rather than the method itself.  However I also observe that the DAV-approved method (one hand above, one below and tunnelling) is the one most widely used by experienced climbers, and that generations of novices have safely learned to belay that way.

As someone has pointed out, you are either gripping the rope or you aren't. It can make no appreciable difference if you are tightening your grip from a tunnelling one or a sliding one.  It seems to me the biggest factor is going to be the belayer's overall reaction time. 

It also seems to me (from observation and anecdote) that the most frequent cause of belaying failures is human error rather than the method used.  Novices make mistakes from lack of understanding, and experienced climbers become complacent.

1
In reply to Howard J:

> However I also observe that the DAV-approved method (one hand above, one below and tunnelling) is the one most widely used by experienced climbers, and that generations of novices have safely learned to belay that way.

Interesting, as I don't observe that at all, I observe that most use a modified version of VK123 where you do the hand swap while still bringing the brake rope back down from the V (which itself is not very pronounced).  I do see tunnelling, but far less often.  Is this perhaps indoors vs. crags, or older climbers vs. younger ones?

> As someone has pointed out, you are either gripping the rope or you aren't. It can make no appreciable difference if you are tightening your grip from a tunnelling one or a sliding one.  It seems to me the biggest factor is going to be the belayer's overall reaction time. 

Of course if using VK123 or PBUS you are gripping the rope.  There's no practical way to do paying out without sliding the hand so you're stuck with that.

> It also seems to me (from observation and anecdote) that the most frequent cause of belaying failures is human error rather than the method used.  Novices make mistakes from lack of understanding, and experienced climbers become complacent.

This is absolutely true, though methods and devices without counterintuitive failure modes tend to reduce the impact of human errors.  Passive safety (things that are inherently safe) is better than active safety (things that aren't inherently safe but active human intervention avoids them causing accidents).

FWIW it is pretty usual to learn anything like this "by rote" before progressing to greater understanding.  That's mostly how driving is taught, too.

Post edited at 10:37
 Howard J 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Interesting, as I don't observe that at all, I observe that most use a modified version of VK123 where you do the hand swap while still bringing the brake rope back down from the V (which itself is not very pronounced).  I do see tunnelling, but far less often. 

What I should have added is that most climbers swap between the two without really thinking about it.  Obviously having both hands on the dead rope is belt-and-braces, and it makes sense to do it when appropriate. However it's not always appropriate. for example if you are alternating between paying out and taking in.

> Is this perhaps indoors vs. crags, or older climbers vs. younger ones?

Very possible. I note that you climb mainly indoors, whereas I climb mostly outside.  I'm also older than you by some way. I started out with the waist belay, then a Sticht plate followed by various tube devices, and I currently use a Reverso for trad and a Click-up for sport. Maybe that's coloured my view. I know it's dangerous to rely solely on one's own experience, but I don't think I've experienced, or witnessed, a situation where it was difficult to apply sufficient braking force with the tunnelling method.  However there have probably also been occasions when I've used both hands.  I'm not arguing against VK123 or a variation of it, just saying that the other method is also effective.

In reply to Howard J:

> What I should have added is that most climbers swap between the two without really thinking about it.  Obviously having both hands on the dead rope is belt-and-braces, and it makes sense to do it when appropriate. However it's not always appropriate. for example if you are alternating between paying out and taking in.

Oddly, I do seem to alternate "variant" VK123 (for taking in) with sliding to pay out without any problems, that's just how I was taught.

> Very possible. I note that you climb mainly indoors, whereas I climb mostly outside.  I'm also older than you by some way. I started out with the waist belay, then a Sticht plate followed by various tube devices, and I currently use a Reverso for trad and a Click-up for sport. Maybe that's coloured my view. I know it's dangerous to rely solely on one's own experience, but I don't think I've experienced, or witnessed, a situation where it was difficult to apply sufficient braking force with the tunnelling method.  However there have probably also been occasions when I've used both hands.  I'm not arguing against VK123 or a variation of it, just saying that the other method is also effective.

And I'm not saying tunnelling isn't effective in the hands of an experienced climber if they find it works for them, I just think it's not a great way of teaching a novice, primarily because it's a lot more nuanced than "always have a hand firmly holding the brake rope" as VK123 and PBUS do.  Just like you teach a new driver "ten to two"/"quarter to three" and to feed the wheel, but almost no experienced drivers actually do that.

Post edited at 13:52
3
 Offwidth 25 Mar 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

I'm pretty sure I remember it was even worse than that, as, because the pilots didn't know, the normal trained response made a stall more likely.

People can read about it in the link below... I really hope this doesn't go the way of the wisdom of Canute (who was demonstrating even a king can't stop the tide). This was a seriously faulty control system, where subsequent crashes were blamed on pilot error; and made worse by a company management that knew and yet covered up the issues.

Strictly speaking I wouldn't call it an aerodynamic flaw... more that the adaptions to the 737 design gave it such less stable aerodynamics that maybe a complete redesign should have happened instead.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX_groundings

Back on subject, I don't climb roped indoors as much as I used to as the bad belaying turns my stomach. Please buddy check, pay close attention when belaying and keep slack to a minimum until after the 4th bolt.

Post edited at 16:55
5
 Darkinbad 25 Mar 2022
In reply to Howard J:

> What I should have added is that most climbers swap between the two without really thinking about it. 

^^This. If I'm taking in slow and steady I will tunnel. If the climber is racing up I will yard in full arm lengths and use alternate hands on the dead rope to get my right hand back near the device as quickly as possible. In an emergency, with the live rope spooling onto the ground in front of me, I might just take in hand over hand on the dead rope in a V position. This last is appropriate for the surprisingly common scenario of a pumped leader fumbling an above-head clip and you can be sure I would be keeping an eagle eye on the climber to ensure I can lock off in good time if a plummet ensues. There was a video posted recently on, I think, this thread that shows exactly that scenario, where the belayer can be seen bending over to fumble with the live rope on the ground when he should have been focused on (a) the climber and (b) getting rope through the device ASAP.

In reply to Robert Durran:

What devices do you think are better? I've used ATCs, mega/gigajuls, click ups, and grigris a lot of found that grigris are the easiest to use personally once I got over the initial learning curve. I find giving slack fast quicker than on an ATC since I only need to move one hand. Also abseiling is extremely smooth compared to any other device I've used.

Many other devices (specifically any tube style brake assisted device like a megajul) also don't lock as well or as reliably. A grigri will lock with basically any amount of resistence on the dead rope, whatever position it is being held it. A megajul (and alpine up when I tried it) will slip under low loads and also won't lock if you hold the rope above it.

1
In reply to Neil Williams:

> And I'm not saying tunnelling isn't effective in the hands of an experienced climber if they find it works for them, I just think it's not a great way of teaching a novice, primarily because it's a lot more nuanced than "always have a hand firmly holding the brake rope" as VK123 and PBUS do. 

The official advice from NICAS makes no distinction in terms of effectiveness among V123, PBUS or tunnelling and explicitly avoids recommending one technique over the others when teaching beginners to belay. It does however mention that certain countries (like Germany) have concerns that V123 gives too much prominence to the V of the sequence - this is the only one of the three main techniques to which a caveat is attached. ABC similarly issue no guidance about a preferred belaying method. For what it's worth when I'm doing the occasional bit of instruction at the wall I use V123, just because it's the most common practice in UK walls.

In reply to JMAB:

> What devices do you think are better? I've used ATCs, mega/gigajuls, click ups, and grigris a lot of found that grigris are the easiest to use personally once I got over the initial learning curve. 

If a gri-gri works for you then obviously stick with it. Just don't expect to lend it to a partner unfamiliar with it who has forgotten their own device and expect not to be badly short-roped (or worse)! The reason I am a massive fan of my click-up is because the action is basically the same as an ATC type device (but massively safer), so, if that is what you are used to it is a natural choice. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

The other benefit of devices that basically work like a tube device is that people are more likely to switch to them, meaning improved safety overall.

As you say, if someone finds a particular device or technique works well for them and their partner they should stick to it.

 TheGeneralist 26 Mar 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

> People get dropped regularly on grigris/assisted devices. Once again, this doesn't hold up in reality. People get dropped on a myriad of devices and this is always based in user error, not in the specific device. 

> Grigri is unsuitable for trad due to giving a hard catch. This isn't based in fact. The hardness of a catch is influenced by the movement of the belayer, not the device. The amount of slip offered by a tube device is absolutely minute compared to the literally metres of potential movement that a belayer can offer in a soft vs hard catch. A good belayer will give you a feather catch on gear or bolts regardless of device - a bad one will slam you regardless. Generally people who sport climb more are far better at catching falls because they're used to doing it. Trad climbers who never fall/catch falls ironically tend to offer the hardest catch. I've used a grigri for trad plenty of times in situations where half ropes were unnecessary and have always been able to give a nice soft catch with it. 

> Ultimately the answer to the various issues present in this thread is for everyone to inform themselves of the various belaying methods and devices available and become proficient in all of them. I'm confident (without wanting to sound brash) that you could hand me any device on the market and I'd be able to offer a safe and comfortable belay with it. IMO this is the way that we should go instead of picking sides and lauding the function of one device.  

Sorry. Grigris are just not safe to use for belaying. There are two different schools on Grigris:

Those who know they are unsafe, unintuitive and result in dropped climbers.

Those who haven't yet had an accident with a grigri and are thus ardent, evangelical supporters of them

My mate was an absolute disciple of the latter group. He knew, like so many other vastly experienced sportclimbers, that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with them. And stupid people occasionally do stupid things. It's not the grigris fault. He'd been using one for nigh on twenty years and knew just what he was doing.

Until he dropped me onto the deck, from next to the 4th bolt and looked up with  complete confusion.

How the heck did that happen?

Grigri's major flaw could be overlooked when there were no competitors products on the market that had the advantages.

Not any more

Post edited at 16:47
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 Fellover 26 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Hope you were ok after hitting the deck. However, there's anecdotal evidence of people being dropped with all kinds of devices - I'm not aware of any set of evidence that suggests that using a grigri leads to more droppings than the alternatives.

Post edited at 17:27
In reply to TheGeneralist:

I am a third school on them.  I have one, use it occasionally when appropriate, and recognise its flaws.

1
In reply to TheGeneralist:

>Grigris are just not safe to use for belaying

This is total nonsense. 

>Until he dropped me onto the deck, from next to the 4th bolt and looked up with  complete confusion.

He was almost certainly using it wrong then. You're meant to use it like an ATC 90% of the time, and then push thumb down on the gearing when you need to quickly give a lot of slack. Then back to feeding in, giving out slow slack, like you would an ATC. 

Unfortunately lots of people use the GriGri in the 'give out slack fast' mode, all the time. Relying on the weight of their climber to cam the device regardless of the pressure on the cam from their thumb. And, 999 times out of 1000, it will do exactly that and catch the climber regardless of incorrect usage. But with a thin rope, and the stars aligning, what happened to you can happen. 

And that's why people need to learn how to use the GriGri correctly. 

In reply to StoneG:

> He was almost certainly using it wrong then. You're meant to use it like an ATC 90% of the time, and then push thumb down on the gearing when you need to quickly give a lot of slack. Then back to feeding in, giving out slow slack, like you would an ATC. 

Obviously they are fine when used correctly. I think the problem is that they are now an oddity amongst belay devices, so, with more people used to other simpler devices, they are more people likely to use them incorrectly if they borrow or switch to them.

2
 wbo2 26 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Just nonsense.  Your problem is your belayer.  Why would a tube device be better if there's too much slack out? Really

These belaying threads drive me crazy.  The statements always end up this device is good, this device is bad hblah blah blah when the real common factor in bad belaying is the lump of meat on the belaying end of the rope.  I tested a whole heap of devices recently when I decided to move my main device to being an assisted device, and they all had their good points, bad points, and all are safe and can provide a good belay , with no short roping, no excess slack and no dropping if the belayer pays attention.

Post edited at 19:40
1
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Do you know, for sure, exactly how he was belaying you when he dropped you? If not isn't the most obvious answer that he was belaying incorrectly? I would guess supressing the cam with one hand while pulling slack with the other, no hand on the dead rope, a common and very unsafe method of belay. Of all grigri accidents I've read about where the cause was known, only 1 was not due to very improper belaying technique and that 1 was a freak accident.

Grigris are by far the most popular device among sport climbers and even hard trad climbers outside the UK and there is no epidemic of people being dropped by them. I don't know what flaw they have that other devices of the same type fix, unless you mean anti panic levers (which won't be a factor in your accident since it doesn't sound like you were being lowered).

I wouldn't call ATCs inherantly unsafe even though I've now seen 3 people I completely trusted (and about a dozen more I didn;t trust) have 0 control of the dead rope at times while belaying.

>Obviously they are fine when used correctly. I think the problem is that they are now an oddity amongst belay devices, so, with more people used to other simpler devices, they are more people likely to use them incorrectly if they borrow or switch to them.

I've taught several people familiar with ATCs how to belay with grigris and watched them. I don't think I've ever seen any of them do anything unsafe, just be very awkward at giving out slack.

Post edited at 20:33
 TheGeneralist 26 Mar 2022
In reply to wbo2:

> .  Why would a tube device be better if there's too much slack out? Really

Goodness. You think I hit the groud because he had too much slack out?  Crumbs.

I think he would have noticed if he had a spare 5 metre loop lying on the ground!

He was a muppet, but not that much of a muppet.

The human/ machine interface failed. It failed, partly because he is a muppet and partly because the human/ machine interface is so ridiculously overcomplicated on a GriGri.

Anyway. As in my previous post, I realise how evangelical the people are who haven't yet had their GriGri accident, so I'll leave you to it.

20
 Fellover 26 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> The human/ machine interface failed. It failed, partly because he is a muppet and partly because the human/ machine interface is so ridiculously overcomplicated on a GriGri.

I'm just not convinced that the human/machine interface fails more with a grigri than other belay devices. It would be good if there was some data out there on it.

> Anyway. As in my previous post, I realise how evangelical the people are who haven't yet had their GriGri accident, so I'll leave you to it.

Fair enough.

In reply to TheGeneralist:

Did you work out what actually happened?  Was he sitting with his thumb on the device rather than just doing that when he wanted to pay out, as someone else suggested?  This is fairly obvious user error, and not a counterintuitive failure mode in the way e.g. the lowering issue is.

The main time I'd expect accidents with a Grigri is on lowering, which is a bit awkward when you aren't used to it.  Other than that it's more a case of getting "short roped" when leading if the belayer isn't quick enough at paying out with one.

When taking in with a Grigri on top rope it's pretty intuitive, you use it the exact same way you do a tube device (be that VK123, PBUS or tunnelling, as you prefer).

Post edited at 23:09
 wbo2 27 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:  I'll give you a tip here - you hit the ground by approx the 4th bolt.  If there were statistics , I'd bet the 3rd and 4th bolts are where the majority of deckings occur.  Good setters should make this section relatively straightforward to reduce this by just getting past this zone.  This ain't nothing to do with using a grigri, it's to do with bad belaying, slack in the system and not much space to fall. 

1
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> Goodness. You think I hit the groud because he had too much slack out?  Crumbs.

> I think he would have noticed if he had a spare 5 metre loop lying on the ground!

It doesn't take anything like 5m of rope lying on the ground to have the climber hit the deck after failing to clip the 4th bolt.  There's also a big difference between hitting the deck on rope stretch  and hitting the deck in free fall.

In the absolute best case of the climber going to clip the 4th bolt at waist level, the belayer providing exactly enough rope to make the clip and the belayer standing near the wall the climber is going to have their waist at the level of the 2nd bolt before the rope starts to stretch.

Post edited at 10:19
 flaneur 27 Mar 2022

In reply to the thread:

It's possible to make mistakes with all devices on the market. Focusing too much on the device is dangerous because it downplays the user. The weakest link is always the belayer, whatever the device. Some people I would trust more with a waist belay than others with a Grigri or Click-up. However, it is still worth asking the question, 'am I more or less likely to have an accident with device X than with Y?' as long as we remember that no device is foolproof and we're holding someone else's life in our hands.  

The DAV data (from 2014) reports accident rate compared with usage rate (a high accident rate with one device is meaningless if it's the device everyone uses) for single pitch sportclimbing. There are issues with this but it's still much more useful than anecdote. Grigri users were least likely to have an accident and had about half the accident rate compared to ATC-type devices users when numbers using each were taken into account. Click-up, Munter hitch on HMS karabiner, and Smart users were slightly less likely to have an accident than ATC users but not as safe as Grigri users.  

https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf      

TL/DR: It's always the user not the device. Grigri users are less likely to have accidents than users of other devices.

 Fellover 27 Mar 2022
In reply to flaneur:

Thanks for the data. Interesting.      

> TL/DR: It's always the user not the device. Grigri users are less likely to have accidents than users of other devices.

I don't think I agree with this, I think the relevant thing is the user-device combination or, as the Generalist called it upthread, the human/machine interface.

In reply to flaneur:

> Gri-gri users are less likely to have accidents than users of other devices.

I wonder whether a contributing factor might be that there are an awful lot of very experienced Gri-gri users around simply because they have been around for so long and users have understandably remained loyal.

 TheGeneralist 27 Mar 2022

Just to add  I wasn't going fior a clip, I was pretty much right next to the 4th bolt. It might have been below waist level,  but defo not below my knees.

Totally agree that a fall whilst clipping the 4th bolt on some routes, if climbed badly, could result in a deckout through no fault of the belayer/ device.

Had I decked whilst clipping I wouldn't even have posted on this thread as there would be myriad other factors at play.

4
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Did your belayer have any rope burn by any chance, and if so do you know which hand it was on?

In reply to TheGeneralist:

I've been dropped with an ATC more than once, it doesn't follow logically that they are unsafe when used correctly. Gri-Gris aren't foolproof, no device is. But they also aren't as complicated as you are making out. If someone's attitude to belaying is such that they can't be bothered teach themselves the correct use and limitations of a device then they aren't going to be safe with any setup.

You literally have someone's life in your hands when belaying. I know it's not cool, but read the bloody instructions and practice at home before you belay someone with a new and unfamiliar advice. It is terrifying when people clearly haven't bothered to do this and reckon they can just work it out on the fly. Some people get away with this for years, relying on luck to prevent ignorance and bad habits from killing someone.

Blaming the device without clear evidence just sends a message to the belayer that everything will be fine if they just buy a shiny new toy and don't bother to learn how to use that either. Nobody learns anything if you just brush the most likely problem, user error, under the carpet.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

I don't think anyone is saying that there is any other reason than user error for dropping someone (except getting hit by a falling rock and so on). But clearly some devices are going to have more scope for errors or be less forgiving of errors than others; that is all that is being claimed. And there is an argument that gri-gris have more scope for error than other assisted devices and that (obviously) ATC type devices are less forgiving of errors.

In reply to Robert Durran:

Fair enough if I've misunderstood. I thought TheGeneralist's argument was a Gri-Gri is fundamentally unsafe. They said as much themselves, but perhaps I've missed a post where they've clarified and softened that stance slightly. 

 wbo2 27 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist: The slack in the system came from somewhere - and as a sometimes user of a gri-gri I very much doubt it's come about thro' running thro' the device as they lock very fast compared to anything else. Belayer error

 UKB Shark 27 Mar 2022

My only issues with a gri-gri is in setting it up as it is possible to clip the screw gate in to only one of the eyes without noticing (I did this once) or put the rope in the wrong way round so it doesn’t brake. A buddy check and a quick tug on the rope should eliminate either occurring. 

 TheGeneralist 27 Mar 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Fair enough if I've misunderstood. I thought TheGeneralist's argument was a Gri-Gri is fundamentally unsafe.

Goodness me no. That would be ridiculous.

Only when they are used for belaying.

 

> Did your belayer have any rope burn by any chance, and if so do you know which hand it was on?

Good point. Alas no. It was a while back.

Post edited at 19:38
8
 Pedro50 28 Mar 2022
In reply to UKB Shark:

> My only issues with a gri-gri is in setting it up as it is possible to clip the screw gate in to only one of the eyes without noticing...

I saw someone at the Cornice with only one eye clipped, I could see daylight through the eye from about 5m away. I approached from behind and put the dead rope on my gri-gri before pointing it out. The belayer was mildly grateful, whether he ever informed the leader I have no idea. 

In reply to TheGeneralist:

> Good point. Alas no. It was a while back.

I think you need a new belayer.  It sounds like they might have been doing the classic "cigarette in one hand, coffee in the other, letting the Grigri do the belaying" thing as seen at far too many French and Italian sport crags, or similar.

If a belayer doesn't get the "don't let go of the brake rope other than for the hand change/tunnelling" thing when using a Grigri, I'd not want them belaying me with an ATC either.

If they'd made any attempt at all to catch you they'd have had rope burns...

Post edited at 14:01
 Inhambane 28 Mar 2022
In reply to UKB Shark:

a friend did this to me once, they lowered me down from the climb and I asked why do you look white as a sheet ?  then they showed me the device 

 Carless 28 Mar 2022
In reply to UKB Shark:

> My only issues with a gri-gri is in setting it up as it is possible to clip the screw gate in to only one of the eyes without noticing (I did this once) 

Previously I'd have said this surely doesn't happen... until I did it myself a few weeks ago

Noticed when I did the verifying tug

 tcashmore 28 Mar 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Have you climbed with the belayer who dropped you again ?   

That's where I would focus on making fundamental changes.....

 TheGeneralist 28 Mar 2022
In reply to tcashmore:

Funnily enough we headed for cala Barques immediately after and did only DWS after

 JimR 28 Mar 2022
In reply to tcashmore:

> Have you climbed with the belayer who dropped you again ?   

> That's where I would focus on making fundamental changes.....

Absolutely. I was an early adopter of the GriGri because it was fairly foolproof and allowed my wife and young daughters to belay me. The only issues I had were fast feeding for  desperation clips where the issue was not belaying but device locking as I yanked rope out. With an experienced belayer this is dealt with by side pressure from thumb pad on cam (not top of cam) so if one does take the fall then the cam lock is not  impeded. If the dead rope is controlled then even if the cam does not engage (unlikely) then it still functions as a friction device. For belay failure using a GriGri then something has gone badly wrong and I note that the Generalist doesn't actually know what has gone wrong but has leapt to condemn the device ... presumably because of the myth perpetuated that it is a complicated device prone to failure. I'd be asking if the device was attached properly, the amount of slack in the system or whether the belayer was controlling the dead end.  My (light) 10 yo daught had no issues belaying or lowering provided there was a sand bag or ground attachment  in the system to stop her shooting in the air.

1
In reply to Stuart Williams:

>You literally have someone's life in your hands when belaying. I know it's not cool, but read the bloody instructions and practice at home before you belay someone

For anyone interested if they're using their GriGri right, this is the correct safe technique: 

https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Belaying-with-the-GRIGRI

I would say that given what I see at my gym and crags, there's about a 50% chance that if you use a GriGri, you've been using it wrong. There are two modes of usage (well, 3 including letting someone down), which are swapped between depending on what's going on with your climber. If this is news to anyone, then watch the video. 

 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to JimR:

I'm not sure that a myth that it's a complicated device, it is literally a complicated device.

Moving parts, a cam, a very specific way of operating it to give out slack quickly, which basically involves holding it in a way that stops it doing what it supposed to do but it's fine and still works as long as your thumb and index finger are holding the bloody thing in the exact cack handed way that the manufacturer recommends a lowering method which (if an earlier model) allows you to drop the climber to the fall in free fall?

I mean, they're fine once you get used to them, I'm belaying my mate on one tonight as my partner has taken our click-up on holiday, but bloody hell, they are complicated when compared to the likes of the modern ABDs such as a mega-jul or a click-up!

5
 Howard J 29 Mar 2022
In reply to JimR:

>  ... presumably because of the myth perpetuated that it is a complicated device prone to failure. 

Not failure, but it is prone to misuse.  In particular, the issue of holding down the cam incorrectly when paying out has been known about almost from the time it was introduced, but people are still doing it.

In reply to Iamgregp:

>the manufacturer recommends a lowering method which (if an earlier model) allows you to drop the climber to the fall in free fall?

I'm not sure that this is any different on a GriGri than a Mega-jul though, is it? If you lift up the front of the mega-jul when lowering, and take your hand off the brake rope, your climber will deck. 

With a GriGri, if you pull all the way back on the lever, and take your hand off the brake rope, your climber will deck. 

Keeping your hand on the brake rope in either scenario, ensures no decking. 

I'm really not seeing the difference. 

Post edited at 13:33
 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to StoneG:

Only used a megajul a couple of times so not sure if it allows you to lower the climber as fast as a free fall?

Click up doesn't, you can't orientate the thing upwards enough so that it offers no resistance, well maybe you can if you really try, but it's not something I've ever heard of anyone managing to do.

Also with both a megajul and a click up, the lowering action and resistance is connected to the angle of the device, essentially to drop the person faster you have to pull back progressively harder and harder with ever increasing difficulty so there's a feedback loop there.  On a gri gri it's just a handle that offers no feedback at all...

That's the difference, pull back on the handle on a mk1 Gri Gri and they're free falling...

Regardless, my point remains, you could put a Gri Gri and either of the other two in front of a 5 year old and even they would know which one is the complicated one.

Post edited at 14:46
1
In reply to Iamgregp:

Dunno about the Jul but pull the nose of the Smart all the way up and your leader will freefall, unless you are holding the dead rope. Exactly the same scenario as the GriGri.

 wbo2 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp: As a regular megajul scenario there are scenarios where you could put a leader in freefall but they'd be pretty contrived.

And talking of contrived circumstances 

'pull back on the handle on a mk1 Gri Gri and they're free falling... ' - not if you're holding the brake end as the manual, and everyone on this thread will tell you to do.  Or do you thing just using the handle to lower is the way to do it?

Also , re. complicated, have you used a megajul in guide mode? Or non locking mode via the slider plate.  It's not as obvious as say, a pivot,.  But then, with the pivot, how does it work if you let go? Point being all these things have pro's , cons, do's and dont's.

 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Alkis:

Is it as easy to do as pulling back the handle all the way on a gri gri or does it offer some resistance?  Genuine question, never used a smart.

Post edited at 16:21
 Cobra_Head 29 Mar 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

> This method of belaying is called 'tunneling' and is absolutely fine. In Germany it's the official method of belaying taught by the DAV (German BMC) who run most of the courses.

> It works fine because the hand is simply loosened and can tighten very quickly. Don't worry about it. 

The people I've seen doing this, have been absolutely shite at it, sometimes either forgetting to relax their grip and pushing the dead end up, or more often opening their hand wider than is necessary. It's probably OK if you're using a grigri, type or if you know what you are doing, sadly most people I see trying this, simply look lazy and inept.

It might be fine, but it's not the safest, is it?

There's a point where the dead rope isn't held, if that's at the start of the belayers hand movement, then there's a period of time before they recognise their partner has fallen off. It's a very short period and at a specific time too, but it's there all the same, V123, the dead end is never not held.

4
 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to wbo2:

> As a regular megajul scenario there are scenarios where you could put a leader in freefall but they'd be pretty contrived.

> And talking of contrived circumstances 

> 'pull back on the handle on a mk1 Gri Gri and they're free falling... ' - not if you're holding the brake end as the manual, and everyone on this thread will tell you to do.  Or do you thing just using the handle to lower is the way to do it?

No, regardless of belay device, and whether it has assisted breaking or not, if you've got a firm grip on the dead rope anything is fine.  But obviously thewre are times where people neglect to do that, or something happens which makes them lose their grip, which is why ABDs exist.

> Also , re. complicated, have you used a megajul in guide mode? Or non locking mode via the slider plate.  It's not as obvious as say, a pivot,.  But then, with the pivot, how does it work if you let go? Point being all these things have pro's , cons, do's and dont's.

No, and I don't think I would.  I use a pivot if I'm multi pitching and want to bring up a second on guide mode.  Horses for courses and I think a pivot works great in that scenario.

 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

I've seen people do V123 and be shite at it...

Holding the rope between pinched index and middle as they move the other hand is one I've seen on more than a few occasions - no chance of holding the rope if the climber falls at that moment.

If someone is doing either method badly then it's shite, that doesn't make one better than the other.  Shite belaying is just shite belaying.

 wbo2 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> If someone is doing either method badly then it's shite, that doesn't make one better than the other.  Shite belaying is just shite belaying.

That is the basic truth of belaying.  I recall a similar argument re. guide mode - 'I don't do it,  therefore it is rubbish and stupid'.

Re. the pivot in guide mode - I agree - I changed to a megajul as it's assisted, can handle multiple ropes, ok for abseiling and does guide mode, therefore it ticked a lot of boxes for a single do all device even tho' it looks like it's made of meccano

In reply to Iamgregp:

It's really easy, it's the same mechanism as paying out loads of slack fast, which you do by pulling the nose up with the side of your thumb while still holding onto the dead rope.

In reply to Iamgregp:

> No, regardless of belay device, and whether it has assisted breaking or not, if you've got a firm grip on the dead rope anything is fine.  But obviously thewre are times where people neglect to do that, or something happens which makes them lose their grip, which is why ABDs exist.

It's more about that one.  If you're* not going to pay attention when belaying, perhaps bouldering is more for you.  But if climbing outdoors and the climber kicks down a rock and knocks their belayer out, it's the difference between being able to be rescued and being dead.  That's the sales pitch, really.  Not so you can smoke a cigarette, drink a coffee and belay all at once.

* Not you personally, obviously

 Iamgregp 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Yes I agree.  It was more the belayer becoming incapacitated or something happening which makes them lose their grip for me too.  I trust my partner more than I do myself!

 peppermill 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> It's more about that one.  If you're* not going to pay attention when belaying, perhaps bouldering is more for you.  But if climbing outdoors and the climber kicks down a rock and knocks their belayer out, it's the difference between being able to be rescued and being dead. 

>That's the sales pitch, really.  Not so you can smoke a cigarette, drink a coffee and belay all at once.

Yes, along with it just being effing hard knackering work holding someone in one place if they're sitting on the rope with an ATC. 

"FFS stop lowering me I'm trying to work out the crux!"

;p

 Cobra_Head 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> I've seen people do V123 and be shite at it...

Obviously true.

> ....., that doesn't make one better than the other.

Not sure that's true, there is a period of time when sliding where the rope isn't gripped, there isn't when doing 123. It's small and it would need to coincide with the climber falling for it to make any difference, but it is there.

5
 Ian Carr 29 Mar 2022
In reply to climberchristy:

Belay glasses make a massive difference. No need to walk back away from a steep walk with them.

they also focus you on your leader.

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In reply to peppermill:

And that, yes.  Indeed, that (rather than safety) is why the Grigri was invented, isn't it?  To aid sport climbers working routes with multiple falls?

 climberchristy 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Ian Carr:

Fully agree on both counts, Ian.

 JimR 29 Mar 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> And that, yes.  Indeed, that (rather than safety) is why the Grigri was invented, isn't it?  To aid sport climbers working routes with multiple falls?

Actually , no, it was for instructors to supervise multiple novices. https://m.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/News/2015-7-22/The-GRIGRI-belay-device--a-concept-that-forever-changed-climbing
 

i , as I said above, bought and used it with my wife and daughters. I’ve never had a problem with them using it. I suspect that people going to a wall are utilising much more complex devices than grigris to get there, like cars, bicycles or shoelaces 😀

In reply to JimR:

Interesting, cheers.  Surprising, given that, that the very common use of them for "bell ringing" style peer belaying (one kid pulls down, one or two pull through, instructor on the tail of typically 2 or 3 ropes) remains an "off label" use.

Post edited at 19:29

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