Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

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PeterHS
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Real Name: Peter Hedley-Smith
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Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by PeterHS » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:52 pm

So, my lead and I head off to a sports crag. We set up at a grade 17. I flake the rope and he ties in. I set up to belay. We go through our pre-climb checks and commands. He climbs .....

So, my lead and I head off to a trad crag. We set up at a grade 17 (14 or 15 if you wish to be picky on equivalent sports/trad grades - it matters not). I flake the rope and he ties in. I spend a while setting up a stance with all the correct protection and angles and equalisation and redundancy and .... I set up to belay. We go through our pre-climb checks and commands. He climbs .....

So, why the difference? Why not just stand at the base of the climb, unattached to the mountain, for a trad climb as for a sport climb? The more I think logically, the more I scratch my head and puzzle. The risk of falling is little different. Is it because bolts are stronger than active or passive protection (which can also be pretty bullet-proof)? Is it because there simply isn't usually places to set up a stance at the base of sports climbs? Is because sports climbers don't have or carry protection?

Why bother then with a stance for a trad climb? Just pondering ...... Have you ever not set up a stance for the start of a trad route?

First pitch only here. Let me know what you think and do please :) It's perhaps not so simple as a naïve trad beginner thinks ....

mokganjetsi
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by mokganjetsi » Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:50 pm

there's no rule that the ground-floor belay has to be on gear. i hardly ever do it, and weighing in at 100kg rarely requires it...... where it does make sense:
the belayer is much lighter than the leader; gear is to prevent them taking off like a rocket in the event of a fall
belay position is close to the rock face / under a low roof / overhang - yanking upwards can cause you to bash your head / hands

either way, the considerations are the same for sport & trad; nothing to do with bolt vs. gear strength

BAbycoat
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by BAbycoat » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:59 pm

I build a stance if there's a non-zero chance of the leader pulling me off ledges below. Holds for sport and trad. Apply with good doses of common sense.

legendarry
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by legendarry » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:09 pm

I generally only build a stance if there's a risk that the belayer will take a step backwards and fall off a ledge. I generally climb with people roughly my weight - so them getting airborne isn't an issue

Brussel
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by Brussel » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:00 pm

if its a good ledge I do not make a stance...same as sport climbing . There is no reason to anything more than. Most trad routes don't have great bases so generally we would put some sort of a stance in place. For example bombay duck has a good ledge but a serious fall off the route could take you both down at least 10m, I always build a stance there. Frasers variation starts off a massive vegetated ledge so I don't do anything there...

Climbing is a sport of managed risks and so dependent on route and the experience of the climbers sometimes a single piece or none at all might be 'appropriate' for those climbers in that situation. But it is definitely more risky and even good climbers can fall off easy routes.

Brussel
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by Brussel » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:07 pm

legendarry wrote:I generally only build a stance if there's a risk that the belayer will take a step backwards and fall off a ledge. I generally climb with people roughly my weight - so them getting airborne isn't an issue
the problem is that if you are climbing on a large ledge that the belayer has no real chance of falling off, and no stance is built and the climber falls, pops his only piece between you and him and inadvertently pushes off the face, he (I use he because women have way more sense than us men and she would have insisted on a stance being built) could bounce further than you think and take you (belayer) off the ledge too. So it's not only a matter of not being able to step off a ledge that is the requirement for safety.

DeanVDM
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by DeanVDM » Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:47 pm

The comparison between sport and trad here has some merits but take note that a high fall factor fall is just about impossible on sport. It might sound like a small thing but it is a very significant difference to me even if the likelihood is not that high.

What could go wrong? When you are belaying a trad leader on the typical slotted belay device the force that a high fall factor fall places on the belayer can catch the belayer off guard and spin the belayer around, pull him into the rock or lead to a loss of control of the rope, especially if you are expecting a sport lead fall level of force.

For this reason whenever higher fall factors leader falls are possible (remember even the best have had seemingly solid gear pop on them - whilst it virtually never happens on sport) the general guideline is to build a solid stance that can deal with upward and downward force and if possible to clip the lead rope onto a solid piece close to or as part of the stance so that a high fall factor fall is not directly onto the belayer’s harness. This will also give the belayer more options to escape the system and self-rescue if things go pear shaped during a fall.

I know of an incident which had a serious injury after a high fall factor fall where the leader fell and ripped the 2 / 3 pieces which was placed above the stance and took an approx. fall of approx. 1.5 to 1.7. Had the belayer not clipped the rope as he did it would have been a fall factor 2. Afterwards the belayer said that if he had not clipped the rope though a piece which was part of the stance that he was not confident that he would have been able to hold the fall and been able to help get the situation under some measure of control and get the leader onto a ledge until MCSA Search and Rescue could help get his buddy off the wall.

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Johanm
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by Johanm » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:26 pm

It's not about Sport or Trad or anything else.

It's about saying "On belay". When you say "On belay", you as the belayer must be in a position to immediately keep your climber safe if he falls.

Whether you're on a big ledge or hanging on the side of a mountain. Effectively you're the first runner.

Learnt that my first trad ever with Basher Atwell 7 years back, MCSA meet.

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henkg
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Re: Taking a (mischievous) stance .....

Post by henkg » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:48 pm

Tying the belayer in restricts his ability to evade falling stuff. Only do it if its needed for reasons such as those described above.
You may still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. Cat Stevens

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