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#18611 - 03/17/06 11:39 PM Question on Double Rope Technique
yip Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/17/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Edinburgh, UK
Hi I'm a trad climber seeking advice for belaying with double rope (multi-pitch).

I was introduced to double rope climbing this year by my current partner and I still have difficulties handling it, specially on belaying the second from top.

With my single rope I usually belay the leader (indirect) with plate on my harness, when leading I will belay the second (direct) with Italian Hitch clipped into the anchor, so it's comfortable to pull him up and easy to set up a pulley.

However when I thread two ropes into an Italian Hitch (same HMS biner) it is very difficult to take in just one rope without losing grip of the other. Sometimes when the route traverse a lot the tension between the two ropes can differ up to few metres. I found it impossible to pull the slacking rope when the other rope is tight like a guitar string.

So I tried a different technique. I thread both ropes through my plate on harness and clip each live rope into a separate biner at the anchor (to change load direction). It's now easier to pull but still it's hard to take one side in without unlocking the other side. It's still clumsy basically.

The device I use is Wild Country Variable Controller which I like a lot. My partner use Petzel Reverso and doesn't have my problem since it can auto lock while you're pulling hard on one side. He said I should get one. However I am not convinced this is the only solution to my problem as climbers have been using double ropes for decades before Reverso (or similar devices) is available.

Any suggestions will be much appreciated!

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#18612 - 03/17/06 11:52 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
Mike Rawdon Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/29/99
Posts: 4269
Loc: Poughkeepsie
Two Italian Hitches on separate biners perhaps. The Reverso is so popular because it makes bringing up two ropes easier. But be aware of its shortcomings before you run out to buy one, incl. the limit on small rope diameter.

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#18613 - 03/18/06 02:02 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2082
Loc: SoCal
Climbers have used double ropes since years, yes, but the autoblocking belay device is a relatively new thing. Back in the day, belayers just ... belayed. It seems to have worked well enough.

I use doubles quite frequently. I'm not a big fan of the Reverso, but I did have a Trango B-52 that autoblocked, and currently use a Mammut that does too. Even with that capability, I rarely actually use the autoblock. My preferred belay mode (from above) is to redirect both ropes together through the anchor, then belay off my waist. I don't find it clumsy to lock off one side while taking up on the other ... maybe you just need to play around with how you do it.

You could also set up two hitches from two 'biners, but offset one height-wise with a draw, that would keep them from cinching on each other.

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#18614 - 03/18/06 02:03 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
The device I use is Wild Country Variable Controller which I like a lot.

If you can use a Wild Country Variable Controller then the ropes are pretty thin, so you would probably want to try a Reversino. On the other hand if the ropes are not so thin the the WC VRC might be the whole problem.

You would think that any doubles would be thin enough for the WC VRC even though it like the Revsino were intened for thin ropes.

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#18615 - 03/18/06 01:19 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
mgs Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/02
Posts: 264
Loc: albany, ny
I know you're asking more about technique and not about gear, but if you're not using this device to belay with doubles, you're doing it the hard way. People used to do alot of things, but if technology has a better way to do it, we should take advantage. And by the was it is the TRE device from PMI. Absolutely the easiest and probably safest way to belay off the anchor with doubles, very easy to manipulate the ropes individually.





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#18616 - 03/18/06 07:16 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Julie]
yip Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/17/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Edinburgh, UK
Thanks for the advices. I realise some autolock belay devices allow fast and safe separate control, e.g. Reverso, Alpine plate, TRE (as mentioned by mgs) However my questions are about the control technique without one of these devices. To be more specific,

1. When you have to spend some time taking in lots of slack from one rope how can you do it quickly without completely unlocking the other rope? (Otherwise the tight rope will push the plate against the biner, makes it impossible to move the slack rope)

2. How can you pull the slack rope with just one hand, as your control hand is occupied holding the other rope in position?

I know some climbers can belay two seconds at the same time, so there must be a smooth and safe way to control the two ropes separately. Do anyone know a good trick?

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#18617 - 03/18/06 11:08 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
When you have to spend some time taking in lots of slack from one rope how can you do it quickly without completely unlocking the other rope? (Otherwise the tight rope will push the plate against the biner, makes it impossible to move the slack rope)...How can you pull the slack rope with just one hand, as your control hand is occupied holding the other rope in position?

These questions are only critical if one of the ropes is weighted, in which case you can't take in the other one with a typical belay plate. If you like your current plate for belaying the leader and want a locking system that allows you to take in one rope with the other one weighted, consider using a Gi-Gi (NOT Gri-Gri!) plate for belaying the second.

I know some climbers can belay two seconds at the same time, so there must be a smooth and safe way to control the two ropes separately. Do anyone know a good trick?

If you insist on using your regular device, then if one of the seconds falls, the other simply has to wait. But of course the trick you are looking for is to use one of the devices that locks off one rope and allows you to take in the other.

Frankly, I think the discussion is somewhat academic though. You typically have two seconds climbing together in situations in which neither is that likely to fall, and if hard sections have to be climbed, then one of the climbers waits above or below while the other negotiates the hard bit. Having one climber hanging on the rope for more than a moment or two while the other climber is climbing shouldn't happen when two seconds are climbing together. If one of 'em is gonna hangdog, then the other should just wait at the belay stance and only climb when the epic is over. If one of them is, for some reason, incapacitated, then the belayer will have to tie them off so that the other one can be belayed without tending to the tied-off rope at all.

If you aren't belaying two seconds, then you should be keeping both ropes almost even and there shouldn't ever be a lot of slack in one compared to the other. If you are used to using a "palm-down" hand position with your belay plate, it is going to be much harder to do this properly. Time to learn the "palm-up" method if it isn't your usual way.

There is an exception to even rope lengths for some traverses, when keeping one of the ropes relatively tight might pull the second off.

The other time a big slack differential might occur is when the second unties and prepares to climb; in this case the second shouldn't start climbing until the belayer has taken up both ropes.




Edited by rg@ofmc (03/18/06 11:28 PM)

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#18618 - 03/19/06 03:04 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: rg@ofmc]
yip Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/17/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Edinburgh, UK
Thanks your suggestion is very detailed and helpful. Although I usually belay just one second each time it's useful to learn how to belay two climbing together in a 'time become critical' senario.

I guess much of my problem can be resolved with more practices.

>Time to learn the "palm-up" method if it isn't your usual way.

I always wonder why climbers belay with palm up. Suppose it allows you to pull dead rope easily with the non control hand. Good tips!

>If you like your current plate for belaying the leader and want a locking system that allows you to take in one rope with the other one weighted, consider using a Gi-Gi (NOT Gri-Gri!) plate for belaying the second.

I do prefer direct belay second from the anchor so the GiGi seems a good option. I heard the downside is it's not ideal for belaying the leader with thin ropes(some suggest extra biner to increase friction?). It's hard to find one single 'perfect' device to carry which do every job nicely. Maybe when I'm more experienced with two ropes I'll know what suit me most.


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#18619 - 03/19/06 04:46 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
dalguard Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1515
Loc: CT
Or you could go back to a single rope. For me, the fear factor - imagining that the belayer is fumbling around with two fingers, allowing slack to build up where it needn't because it can't be easily dealt with, instead of comfortably and perfectly belaying with his whole hand - doesn't outweigh the supposed safety factor. If you have a partner who insists on double ropes, you could look at some of those new twin/double combos and just clip them as twins when you're leading.

Just think - you're having a hard time controlling both ropes belaying him as a second. What's he doing while you're leading? Scary, isn't it?

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#18620 - 03/19/06 06:40 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: dalguard]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
Dawn is right: double rope technique requires much more skillful belaying than single rope technique, and if the belayer isn't up to the task at least some of the advantages will be lost.

This is one of the reasons I prefer the TRE over other devices: you belay palm up and do NOT have to move your brake hand to a different (locking) position in order to catch a fall.

By the way, one of the belaying tricks is to watch the ropes in front of you. The climber's motions do not provide a good idea what to do with the ropes, whereas if you keep them evenly paid out right in front of you, they'll always be right.

If climbing in a party of three, the two seconds can each handle one rope if the leader is worried about a single belayer handling two ropes.

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#18621 - 03/19/06 01:18 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
I’m having trouble understanding the difference in how palm-up or palm down matters in handling double ropes. I almost always belay palm down. Except for use with devices that lock off with parallel strands, why does it matter?

Brake hand: I grasp the closer rope with thumb and forefinger. And the further rope with the remaining three fingers. I can squeeze them independently or together.
Control hand: use that to help feed or pull rope from the live side.

Someone once asked me if I’d mind using one of his Tre’s. I was happy to play with one but would not have minded at all anyway. I thought it was ideal a device to hand a second you don’t know. It auto-locks and is easy to release. For use with doubles the only real issue is cost, app $65. I bought two shortly after that – though I have to admit that for other reasons I haven’t climbed on doubles much since then.


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#18622 - 03/19/06 04:52 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Mark Heyman]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2082
Loc: SoCal
About TREs - Scott got one, and loved it for a while ... until he tested the auto-locking capability at the end of a rap, and ended up with his butt on the ground. He's back to a tube-style now. We use double 9s. Caveat emptor.

About palm down/up - I agree with Mark, if you really know how to manage ropes, it doesn't matter. When belaying a second, I use palm-down, two fingers on each rope, and use the other hand to pull the rope through the device as necessary.

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#18623 - 03/19/06 06:04 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Julie]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
About TREs - Scott got one, and loved it for a while ... until he tested the auto-locking capability at the end of a rap, and ended up with his butt on the ground. He's back to a tube-style now. We use double 9s. Caveat emptor

That's scary. I have used mine without that problem - yet!

See below.



Edited by Mark Heyman (03/19/06 07:33 PM)

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#18624 - 03/19/06 07:05 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Mark Heyman]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
The TRE does not autolock, except when holding leader falls on 10mm+ ropes. Even in that case, it should never be viewed as a hands-off device.

It is important to understand how it works: rope pressure pulls the crosspiece towards the ends of the slots and pinches the rope. So perhaps the right way to think of it is as a variable-resistance device. As the load increases so does the force multiplying braking effect. With doubles, you still get enough force to stop leader falls with the usual amount of hand pressure, without having to move your hand to a lock-off position.

When it comes to rappelling, the TRE is ok but not ideal. Never never never count on it to lock off. How much locking effect you'll get depends on how much pressure the cross piece exerts which in turn depends on the weight of rope hanging from the device. Near the bottom of a rappel, or anywhere where rock friction, tangles, ledges, or other things reduce rope weight, the locking effect will be mitigated. The only sensible response is to behave as if there is no expectation of locking. If you need to stop during a rappel and take both hands off, use leg wraps or one of the standard belay-escape tie-off methods to anchor the rope.

I've found that as the edges of the slots round off, there is slightly less braking effect for rappels. But Gabe has had a much more serious problem, with the cross-piece wearing a groove in the bottom of the plate that eventually interfered with the cross-piece's ability to full pinch the rope under tension.

I have heard that this issue has been resolved in later models of the TRE. Personally, I haven't experienced it.

As for palm orientation, I can manipulate double ropes more quickly and accurately with both palms up and the strands parallel, but that's just my personal preference---I certainly don't want to get into one of those silly palm up/down wars. If you and your leader are happy with your performance, nothing more need be said.

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#18625 - 03/19/06 07:32 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Mark Heyman]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
Quote:

That's scary. I have used mine without that problem - yet!




I should not have written this. I have always known the Tre slipped sometimes and just backed it up with a leg wrap when needed.

Added: I did not realize that an uncontrolable "fall" was much of an issue! I would like to know from Scott in how deep the groves were worn into his device were when he tested it.



Edited by Mark Heyman (03/20/06 05:18 PM)

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#18626 - 03/20/06 12:45 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
crackers Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 3424
Loc: pdx
Quote:



I do prefer direct belay second from the anchor so the GiGi seems a good option. I heard the downside is it's not ideal for belaying the leader with thin ropes(some suggest extra biner to increase friction?). It's hard to find one single 'perfect' device to carry which do every job nicely. Maybe when I'm more experienced with two ropes I'll know what suit me most.




It's not ideal, but it's not so hard either. I personally like having two devices because I'm weird like that. I love my plaquette.

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#18627 - 03/20/06 04:51 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: rg@ofmc]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2082
Loc: SoCal
Scott's TRE had serious rope grooves in the cross-bar by the time he retired it, after ~2 years? of use. I'm pretty sure he bought it because it was advertised as an autolocker for doubles (at the time, at least) - he wanted the 'safety' of GriGri when climbing with relatively new people. Plus, he liked the idea of the rappel being automatically backed up (we both back up rappels with a prussik). So he was very disappointed to realize that wasn't the case. I'll ask him to toss in his own $0.02 here, so I'm not muddling things.

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#18628 - 03/20/06 06:22 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Julie]
talus Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1259
thread drift but what's the latest and greatest on double ropes now? around 8.5 mm.
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#18629 - 03/20/06 09:14 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: talus]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I'm pretty sure he bought it because it was advertised as an autolocker for doubles (at the time, at least) - he wanted the 'safety' of GriGri when climbing with relatively new people. Plus, he liked the idea of the rappel being automatically backed up (we both back up rappels with a prussik). So he was very disappointed to realize that wasn't the case.

I can understand his disappointment. The very few US sources did not, in general provide accurate descriptions of what the device does.

I knew from the manual that locking action under a leader fall is only certain for single ropes or both strands of a double, but I did think at first that would lock off on rappels, until I thought about how the mechanism worked and conducted a little experiment with low rope weight.

Rock and Snow wouldn't carry it precisely because they were concerned that people would misunderstand what it does and does not do and that those misunderstandings could lead to accidents.

My understanding is that the grooving problem has been addressed by the addition of brass bearings on the part of the cross piece that contacts the slotted plate.

By the way, I haven't given up on mine. I still think it is better than ATC's, but you have to judge it for what it actually does.

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#18630 - 03/20/06 09:20 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: talus]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2082
Loc: SoCal
We've been through a set of Edelweiss - can't go wrong there! - and currently have Mammuts, which are really nice too. Mammut factory-marks their middles, which is less urgent on a double rope, but still comes in handy.

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#18631 - 03/20/06 10:03 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: rg@ofmc]
GOclimb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/26/01
Posts: 2354
Loc: Boston
I knew from the manual that locking action under a leader fall is only certain for single ropes or both strands of a double, but I did think at first that would lock off on rappels, until I thought about how the mechanism worked and conducted a little experiment with low rope weight.

Well, it's tricky, because it *kind of* auto-locks. Kind of is not what most people want, although if you understand the limitations, I think it's actually a nice balance between mutually exclusive things (dynamic catch and auto-locking).


My understanding is that the grooving problem has been addressed by the addition of brass bearings on the part of the cross piece that contacts the slotted plate.

PMI, who distributes them in the US, was nice enough to sell me one of the new ones at a discount. It *looks* like the brass sliders may fix the problem I had, but I'll let you know in a year or two.

GO

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#18632 - 03/25/06 06:46 PM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: Mike Rawdon]
mt10climber Offline
member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 195
Loc: Grand Junction,Co.
Reversino for small diameters and know how to set up to lower before you get in a situation where you need to. Best belay device out there. My opinion only.

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#18633 - 03/26/06 02:19 AM Re: Question on Double Rope Technique [Re: yip]
quanto_the_mad Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/14/02
Posts: 2628
Loc: brooklyn
I usually belay off the harness with my Mammut 8.5s and the WC Variable Controller. It works fine, although it can get uncomfortable if you have a heavy second hanging for a long time. If I expect my second to hang, am bringing up someone much heavier than my regular partner, or am bringing up two, I'll use the reverso.

At least that's what I used to do, I picked up an ATC Guide last week so I might just replace the trusty WCVC and leave the reverso at home.
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