Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

What your instructor never taught you. Continuing your education and learning from others. Climbing safety topics and accident/incident discussions.
shorti
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by shorti »

At least he's keeping his eyes on the climber. From his position he will also be able to give a soft catch with little effort :wink:

PS. Not to undermine what you said Henk, but the angle won't be as bad as it looks, remember the climber will fall down. In other words, the angle of the pulling force on the nut won't be from the nut towards the belayer, it will be half way between that and the direction of the falling climber. But yes, it has an effect and the way nuts work, the angle might be enough to dislodge the nut, but you probably know that in any case. At least the bit of slack will make sure they don't put force on the nut before the faller is well below it (it always scares the crap out of me when I have a tight belay, it can result in a pull in a direction the gear is not meant to cope with). Anyway, climbing that far with only one piece between you and the ground is asking for broken legs.


Jaydy
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Jaydy »

While I do agree with the fact that people belay appalingly badly with auto-locking devices, I have had two experiences with the cinch that made me stop using it. It the first case a friend of mine took about a 15m fall cming off next to the bolt, and in another case I dropped a friend about 10m, also when he came off near the last bolt (blush). Granted, a wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been (it was a really long route, he was really high up and it wasn't a hard route for him, all not excuses, but it happens to the best of us), but I did and always do have my braking hand on the correct end of the rope. He just took a really soft fall, the device didn't brake and the rope started slipping. In the case of my friend, it was also a soft fall and the device didn't brake. Basically, the cinch brakes really well when it is a high factor fall, but in the case of a soft fall (typically not far from the last bolt and where the climber peels off rather than taking a whipper), the cinch does not lock!!!!! As I openly admit, in both cases there was human error involved, but the fact is that a gri-gri would have locked and the cinch didn't. So, if you do use a cinch (something I no longer do), be super careful, especially when the rope is new or fall is soft.
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Turtle
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Turtle »

Soft fall? Does gravity have less say there where u're at?
:roll:
" all not excuses, but it happens to the best of us)"
um, no.
pierre.joubert
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by pierre.joubert »

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Last edited by pierre.joubert on Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lindawatson17
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by lindawatson17 »

@9ja - i agree with your comment much higher up, about being taught how to belay. I started climbing in london, and before u had access to any climbing gym, u had to do a little test at the door checking your harness was doubled back, that u knew how to tie a figure of 8, and then that u knew how to belay. if u failed the latter, u had to wear a little tag saying something along the lines of not being allowed to belay. if u failed all of the above, u were given a little lesson on tying in etc, and your friend who brought u was reprimanded. u werent not allowed access if u were alone and could not tie in or belay.

if only the same were true of climbing facilities here. i see TERRIBLE belaying. a buddy and i saw a girl belaying another girl on a top rope, and she got sick of trying to pull the rope towards her with her left hand, so she took her right hand, the locking hand, off the rope, and used both to pull the rope towards the device, before taking the right one back to pull it through the device (sorry if i am not using the proper fancy words here....) needless to say we leapt in there and got involved. then cr*pped on the 2 guys who had brought them along but left them alone.

obviously outdoors, there is no one at the door contolling access, no disclaimers, no one who can get sued. so it is survival of the fittest, but seriously, i dont want someone to splatter brain and blood on me. i have told off quite a few people indoors with their belaying technique, got some SERIOUS attitude from a girl who i think was relatively new at it.. i told her, fine if u dont mind killing her friend. so then i told the friend. but as i said, i dont care if i lose friends, just don't get blood on me!
but i will continue telling people if they belay badly, cause the poor bastard up on the climb trusts them! its one thing hurting yourself, but if someone trusts u, and u are told off for doing something wrong, and u give attitude, that is negligence.
i was told off while learning to lead belay in london, and i was incredibly embarrassed and humbled and apologised to my climber many times.
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XMod
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by XMod »

I might add to this lot: Never sit down whilst belaying ever. Always stand as directly as possible beneath the gear. Its perfectly possible to stand near the base of the climb and yet slightly off to one side thus avoiding loose rock and other falling objects. If you sit down you cannot possibly provide an adequately dynamic belay. In addition the sitting position hampers correct operation of any belay device.

To go further into it: When belaying someone working a route, 'slack on' (giving slack for the climber to get back on the rock) by stepping forward and not by pulling the release handle! I have called 'slack on' with the belayer sitting down thinking I was solidly on the rock, only to pop off immediately. The belayer still had the handle pulled into the release postion and I plummetted to within inches of the ground (in this case gnarly angular boulders). All I got was a fat adrenaline rush, but it could easily have meant a hospital visit.

Again: STAND UP, KEEP UR BELAY HAND ON THE ROPE, BE ACTIVE ON UR FEET TO PROVIDE THE BEST BELAY POSSIBLE.
Jaydy
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Jaydy »

Turtle: So in all your years of climbing you have never made a mistake? Never not looked at the climber for a second? Congratulations, you are perfect belayer then! And soft fall = there is no jerk on the rope (low factor fall, light belayer, more sitting back on the rope than actually falling, a lot of stretch in the rope ...)
Pierre: You are confusing two different incedents in your comments. In my case the climber fell approximately 10m (probably less, I didn't go up and measure it, 30m off the ground + dynimic rope = around 2m of stretch in the rope + around 1m of slack + 1m because I moved forward as he fell + the rope slipping about 5m before I reacted) and as the rope slipped through quite slowly there was no rope burn. I have already admitted that it was a mistake on my part that should not have happened.
In the case of my friend, the belayer was wearing gloves (which I don't agree with, before you get the urge to attack me on that) so no, there was no rope burn there either.

So perhaps my wording was incorrect. The danger with the cinch is when the climber leans back on the rope and there is no jerk, THE DEVICE DOES NOT LOCK! A danger with all self-locking devices, but particularly bad with the cinch. Because there is nonetheless friction, the rope slips through slowly and there is no rope burn. I mentioned two extreme examples where this was combined with human error, but I have heard from many people who have had similar experiences with the rope running through the cinch.

And if anyone else who does not know me and has never climbed with me feels the urge to criticise my belaying (or the wording of my posts) feel free to write to me personally. My name is Heidi and you can get my email address from the webmaster, I believe.
9ja
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by 9ja »

lindawatson17 wrote:
if only the same were true of climbing facilities here. i see TERRIBLE belaying.
I think CityRock does the belay test. They used to. (it's been years since I climbed plastic).

It'd be very hard to properly school someone in belaying with a couple of gym lessons though. Belaying is an art that should come from climbing with experienced climbers for some time, possibly starting to belay people on top rope first. The dynamic belay is a skill. Sometimes it's choosing to let the climber fall a bit further to avoid the lip of a roof etc. I've seen some shocking belaying over the years. I used to climb with a guy who was double my weight, and pushing grades. That's a great way to think fast and on your feet!

I'm with Greg on standing while belaying. That's really important. What gets me is that we don't just go out and buy a parachute and start skydiving. Why should climbing be different? How many climbers actually go out and seek proper training in ropework, gear setting, rescue, self rescue, different knots etc? I'd bet very few. That's sad. People should want to have the proper skills to safely do the sport.

I'm still the hugest fan of the GriGri. It's been around for a long time and for good reason. It works. Every time.

@Heidi: forums really suck at communicating tone. I don't think the guys were attacking you. It seems more and more these days people get offended so easily. Heck, you told that story, and so people responded. I'd have responded too, but I fear I might have been attacked :cry:

easy
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lindawatson17
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by lindawatson17 »

yeah i know experience is definately the best way to learn to belay, but there are some simple basics that should be taught. My precious old climbing gym in the UK held a lot of intro to climbing, intro to leading etc courses where they went on and on about belaying technique. dynamic belaying comes with experience, but up front, u aren't usually belaying people on a 24.. it is usually a top rope or easy lead. unless your climbing partner has a death wish.
In fact i would never have considered climbing outdoors without doing a course first, but then i am a rather cautious person. i have a healthy amount of survival instinct, and if i am climbing with a new person, i watch their belaying more than i watch my climb... (which, i appreciate, must be rather annoying)... but it is that survival thing again. My first outdoor climb was with a qualified guide, yet i know a lot of people who went climbing with a buddy up front who knew as little as them. it is that darwin thing again...

here is a thought... i have lived in the UK and Switzerland, and in both places, there are heaps of mountain guides... well trained and experienced and part of the BMC or whatever etc etc... so they have heaps of training and experience. hence the safety standards over there are pretty damn good. (But then in the UK, if u don't wear a seatbelt in the back seat, people look at you like u are insane... apparently we are much more hardcore in Africa...) We don't really have many such people... i know we have courses that the rope access guys do, but it would be cool if we had more qualified guides for introducing people to the sport.. maybe teach them respect for the mountains, other climbers, and for gravity.... i know we don't have Switzerland's mountains, but the UK isn't exactly the most hilly place around, and they have lots of guides..
9ja
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by 9ja »

I'd much rather belay a climber on a hard route than easy. Usually hard climbs are overhanging. Great idea to learn from a mountain guide, especially trad climbing.

Here's a blog with a list of local guides: http://samountainguides.wordpress.com/
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lindawatson17
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by lindawatson17 »

yeah it was trad climbing. still the best climbing day i've ever had! :)

thanks for the link. would be cool if they were more advertised in the climbing gyms... i am sure most people don't even think about getting a guide.
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Hann
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Hann »

Jaydy wrote:Turtle: So in all your years of climbing you have never made a mistake?
Hurt Ego Heidi?

Mistakes do happen, yes.
But dropping a climber is an unacceptable mistake. Period.
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justin
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by justin »

And an accident is an unplanned event (the Japanese just had one the other month!).
I think its important that people do not become complacent about safety.

I believe that one needs to be extra careful belaying in a gym. The reason is that there is much less friction in the system (the rope not against the rock and draws are perfectly aligned).
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9ja
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by 9ja »

I equate dropping someone to cheating on your partner.

This should NEVER happen. With care, attention, trust and focus both of these things should never happen. I've certainly not come close to dropping someone. I couldnt live with the gravity of hurting a friend. I expect the same when I'm climbing. Nothing worse than trying to focus on a hard move while in the back of your mind wondering if you'll be safely caught.

See it this way: "hey can you belay me" = "hey can you hold my life in your hands"
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Turtle
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Turtle »

@Heidi:
I did make a mistake about 16 years ago when I started - I went climbing without a rope, fell, broke some vertebrae in my back, almost died, and since learning the ropes(sic), I equate my concentration when belaying to the same amount one puts in when walking a slackline. If you don't FOCUS, you fall, and in the climbers case - he might end up where I've been 16 years ago or worse.
9ja put it best - its a ART, not just a stooopid job...

So, I disagreed with passion, not anger... its always been a schlep explaining the difference.
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justin
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by justin »

As a matter of interest: Petzl’s GriGri 2 and four pieces of equipment from Black Diamond have become the first braking devices to be certified by the UIAA and can now bear the UIAA Safety Label – the only certification for braking devices worldwide.

The Black Diamond devices are: ATC, ATC-Guide, ATC-XP, ATC-Sport.

Read the full article here: First braking devices receive Safety Label
justin@CapeTownClimbing.com
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XMod
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by XMod »

Id definitely agree with 9ja that good belaying is quite an art. Its not only knowing when to drop the climber further (for instance below a roof level so they dont smack their head on the lip) or when to whip in slack and run like hell away from the crag (eg the climber is runout above a ledge or spike), it goes way further; from anticipating clips, knowing when to shut up and when to shout encouragement through to even being able to assist the climbers swing back onto the rock after a fall on steep rock and aid them in shimming back up to their high point. A great belayer can really make the difference between a climber snagging a hard redpoint on a road trip, and failing because their belayer didnt aid them as much as is actually possible. I think very few people are aware of just how far a belayer can go to help the climber. Its not just 'watching their back', there's way more to it.

But no matter how good you get at belaying you can still make mistakes. We are human! Heck Ive actually let the end of the rope go through the device whilst lowering someone before! :shock: Thankfully there was so much rope drag I managed to grab the end of the rope as it slid past me but Im sure that climber will never climb with me again! Both myself and the partner who dropped me have over 25yrs of experience each. Mistakes can be made by anyone at any time - shit happens. Recriminating someone retrospectively for making an error is utterly pointless. The best we can do is to learn from those errors and do our best to prevent them from re-occurring. And, yes, this involves correcting other parties around you (they will thank you later), five times world champ Francois Legrand does buddy checks not only on his partner but on the ppl climbing either side of him all the time, so should you!

The grigri is a great device and will always be my first choice for belaying someone working a route, the control it offers is unparalelled. But for general lead belaying and especially for hard redpoints I wont touch it, simply because I give shit ratchetty belays with it, I give a ten times better belay for fast climbing with my sum or an atc - thats just me and my preference/inadeqaucy. Whatever device you chose make sure you know it inside out so that you are working with and for your climber, not against them.
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justin
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by justin »

Jaydy wrote:the belayer was wearing gloves (which I don't agree with...
I'm intrigued to know why you disagree with belayers using gloves?
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DiabolicDassie
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by DiabolicDassie »

Wow, what a debate, guess the main thing to take away here is if you let go of the dead rope gravity will win. If you gonna take your hands off the rope lock it off, if you don't know how learn.
I've never had issues with my cinch although I have to admit that it is better for leading than for top-roping.
Happy safe climbing :thumright
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Nic Le Maitre »

Hi there

There are pros and cons to using gloves when belaying.

Pros: Less chance of burning your hands when belaying with new ropes, ability to let the rope run faster.

Cons: You actually have less grip on the rope - gloves provide less friction than skin, danger of snagging gloves in belay device (particularly with Fig-8s, not that many people use those anymore), bulky - may have to remove them to deal with knots/loops in a twisty rope.

I use gloves all the time when doing rigging/technical ropework/rescue/kloofing (half finger kite-surfing gloves) but not when climbing, just personal preference I guess
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by jellybelly »

Isn't the basic principle that a belay assist device should always be handled in the same way as a simple friction device such as an atc?

The locking device in a belay assist device is not meant to catch falls.

The belayer is meant to catch the fall with the hand on the brake end of the rope. The rope tightening beacuse it is held by the hand on the brake end and loaded at the sharp end by the falling climber activates the locking mechanism. This happen so rapidly that it seems that the device is "auto-locking". It is not.

Certainly, these devices can activate on rope friction alone. But the amount of rope friction in any situation is an unknown parameter to both manufacturer and belayer. So you cannot stake your climber's life on it.

If the firm hand on the brake end is absent the locking device, as we have heard on this post, can fail to activate, the rope can run freely through it and the climber can hit the ground.

In other words always have a hand firmly on the brake end.

Don't slide your hand back down the rope when feeding out to the climber. Always pay out rope while holding the brake end firmly and when your hand approaches the device get your other hand on the brake end further down and so on... just the way the nice guy at the gym taught you.

A lead sport climber is at their most exposed when making a clip, especially if they're clipping high above their heads. There's a lot of rope out then and a potentially long fall. If you are giving them rope by allowing it to slide through your brake hand then your grip on the rope is necessarily slackened off. When the fall comes you may not close your hand fast enough to arrest it.

You can feed out rope safely and quickly whether using a belay assist device or a simple friction device. If you stand up, keep your eyes glued on the climber, concentrate on listening to their calls and focus on the climbing then you can feed rope out as fast as needed to the leader and always catch the fall which inevitably comes.

ALWAYS HAVE A HAND HOLDING THE BRAKE END FIRMLY REGARDLESS OF THE DEVICE BEING USED

Am I right or am I right?

Mark
Marcaunon
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Marcaunon »

Interesting discussion.
It amazes me how little attention people can give to safety.

I'm not an expert climber and don't have that much experience but I know that belaying and safety should
be taken serious! Don't wait until you have a screw-up to figure out how to properly belay or whatever.

Climbing is after all more fun if you don't get injured :)

Ps. only used an ATC ever. Don't see any reason for complicated devices that invites people to screw up.
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Turtle
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Turtle »

Interesting info: I see most >10mm dynamic ropes say they can stretch up to 33%-37% if weighted...

THATS ALOOOOTTTTT! Does that mean you can get up to 3.3m stretch on a 10m line?

That's ways further than what makes me feel good, maybe also why some people miscalculate a bit.

That rope stretches lank! Awe...

ps: can someone shed some light on that?
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Marcaunon »

I believe thats dynamic strength during something like a 1.7 fall factor or something?
what ever they use for UIAA standards..
static stretch on like an 80kg weight will be far less I believe.
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by frosty »

Okay so this is confusing, when belaying other than sport, or though even sometimes in sport, you almost always sitting on a ledge, hanging on a stance etc..... So how can you say this:
XMod wrote:I might add to this lot: Never sit down whilst belaying ever. Always stand as directly as possible beneath the gear. Again: STAND UP, KEEP UR BELAY HAND ON THE ROPE, BE ACTIVE ON UR FEET TO PROVIDE THE BEST BELAY POSSIBLE.
Surely trad is where you want the most dynamic belay possible?
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Tristan
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Tristan »

@9ja if dropping someone is equitable to cheating on yr partner what is your, marital, equivalent of a "semi-auto-locking-belay-device"? A ring? If so does it come with preclusion too? :jocolor:

Would a Tre equate to a polygamous wedding ring? 8)
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XMod
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by XMod »

frosty wrote:Okay so this is confusing, when belaying other than sport, or though even sometimes in sport, you almost always sitting on a ledge, hanging on a stance etc..... So how can you say this:
XMod wrote:I might add to this lot: Never sit down whilst belaying ever. Always stand as directly as possible beneath the gear. Again: STAND UP, KEEP UR BELAY HAND ON THE ROPE, BE ACTIVE ON UR FEET TO PROVIDE THE BEST BELAY POSSIBLE.
Surely trad is where you want the most dynamic belay possible?
I was of course referring to when you are on the ground (Obviously, surely? Especially as it was in reference to picture of someone sitting on the ground- duh!). The various situations presented on a trad route may require a different approach.
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by 9ja »

Tristan wrote:@9ja if dropping someone is equitable to cheating on yr partner what is your, marital, equivalent of a "semi-auto-locking-belay-device"? A ring? If so does it come with preclusion too? :jocolor:

Would a Tre equate to a polygamous wedding ring? 8)
haha, well, I'd say it's ok to have many 'belay devices'. Try them all. Just whatever you don't start belaying with the baby rattle or I'd reckon you've then taken it too far :thumright
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Nic Le Maitre »

frosty wrote:Okay so this is confusing, when belaying other than sport, or though even sometimes in sport, you almost always sitting on a ledge, hanging on a stance etc..... So how can you say this:
XMod wrote:I might add to this lot: Never sit down whilst belaying ever. Always stand as directly as possible beneath the gear. Again: STAND UP, KEEP UR BELAY HAND ON THE ROPE, BE ACTIVE ON UR FEET TO PROVIDE THE BEST BELAY POSSIBLE.
Surely trad is where you want the most dynamic belay possible?
I guess it should read: Whenever possible, belay standing up.

Also, at least when I'm tradding, I only belay sitting down when I am bringing up the second and a dynamic belay is not required as a lead fall is not possible, or if I cannot stand up on the ledge I'm on.
Happy climbing
Nic
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Re: Assisted breaking device + dodgy belaying

Post by Russell Warren »

To all of you that say you will never make a mistake while belaying I hope you are correct, but I also think you forget that you are human.
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