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Redirecting off a single piece
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caughtinside


Nov 18, 2004, 12:36 PM
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Redirecting off a single piece
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Just for fun, I thought I'd start this, and perhaps even expose myself to a few safety scoldings.

A month back, I was doing some multipitch tradding. I got to the belay and built the anchor, three great pieces more or less vertically aligned. The top piece was a blue alien.

I was attached to the anchor at the master point, and belayed off my harness with the rope redirected through the blue alien.

In my opinion, the blue alien was in an ideal, although horizontal, placement. The other pieces were a 1 and 2 camalot, textbook placements.

I'm ashamed to admit that I thought at the time: "Hmm, belaying off a small cam. Some people on RC would take me to task for this."

It should be noted that the blue alien was the highest, and the most convenient for a redirect.

What do you think? Would you have done the same? Do you consider all pieces under a certain size suspect to a certain extent? Thoughts and flames welcome. 8^)


alpnclmbr1


Nov 18, 2004, 12:58 PM
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It would depend more on the rock quality, the quality of the placement, the quality of the remaining pieces, the distance to the next gear, and the difficulty to the next gear.

Depending on the combination of the other factors it could be stupid or perfectly fine. (this pretty much assumes granite or something similarly solid)


bilias


Nov 18, 2004, 1:17 PM
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If your second was to peel off and your alien somehow popped out of place, then you'd be left to lock off and let the other two pieces be shockloaded. I'd say you might be better off belaying directly from the master point. But then again, this is a biased opinion just because it's the way I do it.


petsfed


Nov 18, 2004, 1:26 PM
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If you're going to redirect, go ahead and place the first piece in the next pitch. Then the leader doesn't have to worry about factor2-ing onto the belay, and your redirect can blow first before the anchor feels anything. In such case, build your anchor primarily for an upward pull (or use pieces in horizontals that don't care about vertical pull) so that nothing can get lifted out if your partner pulls you up into the redirect (or first piece as the case may be).


slavetogravity


Nov 18, 2004, 1:32 PM
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In reply to:
It should be noted that the blue alien was the highest, and the most convenient for a redirect.

Ok I'll bite.

Personally, I would never belay someone up off a single piece of gear. No matter how bomber it my be. Itís not that I believe that this is dangerous, under the right conditions Iím sure it could be perfectly safe. When belaying someone off a three piece natural anchor itís often forgotten that you always have the option of having a fourth point security. That fourth point being all 150+lbs of you. Iíve often found my self in situations where Iíve had to belay my partner off some real shit anchors. In all of these situations I always belayed off my hip. If and when the rope was weighed by my partner seconding the pitch, absolutely no weight was put on the anchor because my weight and my stance allowed my to take all the load.

In the real world, when your faced with these situations you may say to your self. ďBut if I belay directly off my hip and my partner weighs the rope thatís going to be uncomfortable.Ē If thatís your reasoning then, you should seriously consider whatís more important. Your comfort, or your safety.

As for belaying off the one piece thatís farthest away. If that piece where to blow consider thatís the one piece thatís going to have the most amount of rope running through it. The more slack thatís out if the piece blows, the stronger the shock lode on the remaining two pieces, the more likely the anchor will fail.


slavetogravity


Nov 18, 2004, 1:50 PM
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In reply to:
It should be noted that the blue alien was the highest, and the most convenient for a redirect.

Ok I'll bite.

Personally, I would never belay someone up off a single piece of gear. No matter how bomber it my be. Itís not that I believe that this is dangerous, under the right conditions Iím sure it could be perfectly safe. When belaying someone off a three piece natural anchor itís often forgotten that you always have the option of having a fourth point security. That fourth point being all 150+lbs of you. Iíve often found my self in situations where Iíve had to belay my partner off some real shit anchors. In all of these situations I always belayed off my hip. If and when the rope was weighed by my partner seconding the pitch, absolutely no weight was put on the anchor because my weight and my stance allowed my to take all the load.

In the real world, when your faced with these situations you may say to your self. ďBut if I belay directly off my hip and my partner weighs the rope thatís going to be uncomfortable.Ē If thatís your reasoning then, you should seriously consider whatís more important. Your comfort, or your safety.

As for belaying off the one piece thatís farthest away. If that piece where to blow consider thatís the one piece thatís going to have the most amount of rope running through it. The more slack thatís out if the piece blows, the stronger the shock lode on the remaining two pieces, the more likely the anchor will fail.


easton


Nov 18, 2004, 1:51 PM
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That fourth point being all 150+lbs of you. Iíve often found my self in situations where Iíve had to belay my partner off some real s--- anchors. In all of these situations I always belayed off my hip.

I see your point, but don't forget that your 150+lbs is on the same s--- anchor, adding that much more the anchor has to hold if there is a fall, especially if you are re-directing. I like the idea of the original post, but why not clip into the bottom two pieces, belay of the top two pieces (yes, you share the middle piece)?

Signed,
Fairly new to trad, so let the flames begin.


shakylegs


Nov 18, 2004, 2:12 PM
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Redirecting a belay causes a pulley effect. Just something to keep in mind.
Three cams as an anchor? Ever since R&I's article about the Tuolumne accident, I try not to use solely cams on anchors. But this is usually because I might be wanting/needing them higher up.
But, heck, if you felt safe and happy with the setup, that's pretty much all that matters, right?


caughtinside


Nov 18, 2004, 2:19 PM
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Three cams as an anchor? Ever since R&I's article about the Tuolumne accident, I try not to use solely cams on anchors.

Tahquitz accident?

Yep, it's been stated here and other places that some folks don't like building 3 cam anchors.

Myself, I like to use the best tools for the job. A good piece is a good piece.

What do you mean by pulley effect? That a fall from the second might pull me up? In this situation, I outweighed my second by 30 lbs.


shakylegs


Nov 18, 2004, 2:24 PM
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Um, that's what I said. Tahquitz.
The pulley effect occurs on the anchor, not on the belayer. I say, in my best Barbie voice, "Math is hard." Someone like rgold could give the proper equations. But, think of it like this: your buddy falls, putting weight on the anchor. The rope goes to you, who counteracts that weight. Ergo, you increase the weight that a single blue alien is holding.
But don't quote me on the math.


Partner euroford


Nov 18, 2004, 2:32 PM
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no pulley effect, no redirecting, easier rope managment.

get a b52 or a reverso.

i would personally not like to be belayed on an anchor such as you describe.


caughtinside


Nov 18, 2004, 2:35 PM
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In reply to:
no pulley effect, no redirecting, easier rope managment.

get a b52 or a reverso.

i would personally not like to be belayed on an anchor such as you describe.

I've belayed off the anchor before, but it's not my preferred method because you don't have your body weight there to aborb a second fall. I use a grigri.

Do you not like the anchor for the 3 cam thing, or for the redirect, or for a redirect off a small piece?


sspssp


Nov 18, 2004, 2:45 PM
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In my opinion, the blue alien was in an ideal, although horizontal, placement....

I'm ashamed to admit that I thought at the time: "Hmm, belaying off a small cam. Some people on RC would take me to task for this."

I would redirect off a single piece, but, yes, I would take you to task for belay redirect off a single, small cam. After 10+ years of trad climbing, I though I knew what a bomber placement was even for small pieces. A few dozen practice aid pitches on TR taught me that while the blue and black alien will often hold, it's almost impossible to be %100 sure. The only pieces I've ripped aid climbing have been tiny and several of them I thought were good placements.


Partner euroford


Nov 18, 2004, 2:58 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
no pulley effect, no redirecting, easier rope managment.

get a b52 or a reverso.

i would personally not like to be belayed on an anchor such as you describe.

I've belayed off the anchor before, but it's not my preferred method because you don't have your body weight there to aborb a second fall. I use a grigri.

Do you not like the anchor for the 3 cam thing, or for the redirect, or for a redirect off a small piece?

second falls are fairly low-load, i don't think you have anything to worry about load wise with belaying directly off the anchor. in fact, by elliminating the pulley effect you most likely will greatly reduce the load on the anchor in a second fall.

again, i'll highly suggest you score an autoblocking belay device. though a grigri can get the job done, they are heavy and not truly a 'hands off' belay.

i don't like the redict off the small piece. too likely to fail, and to likely to compromise your ability to hold the fall if it does.

i've built many a belay with three cams, though not my prefered method, its not to be flamed over. you gotta do what ya gotta do.


karlbaba


Nov 18, 2004, 3:00 PM
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Just ask yourself what the consequences would be if the alien failed. If the rest of the anchor was totally bomber and 3 feet of extra feet in your second's fall would be no big deal, then you shouldn't feel bad about the anchor, as long as you are 100 percent sure of that assesment.

If you could slam in another piece up high, even if you didn't intend to leave when you started the next pitch, then so much the better.

Personally, I like to belay the second off the powerpoint of the anchor with a gri-gri. Easy to escape the belay, doesn't twist the rope like some redirects do, and it's equalized.

peace

karl


slavetogravity


Nov 18, 2004, 3:32 PM
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In reply to:
That fourth point being all 150+lbs of you. Iíve often found my self in situations where Iíve had to belay my partner off some real s--- anchors. In all of these situations I always belayed off my hip.

I see your point, but don't forget that your 150+lbs is on the same s--- anchor, adding that much more the anchor has to hold if there is a fall.

This would be true is you where belaying a person up off a hanging belay. All your weight would be on the anchor+plus all the weight of your partner if they where to take a fall.

Of all the times I've built natural anchors I can only think of one occasion where I built one where I was in a truly hanging belay. All my weight on the anchor, both feet dangling in space.

Because these situations are extremely rare. On most trad climbs, Climbers finds theme selfs building their anchors on big ledges, under these circumstances the belayer can use his weight and stance to hold the person seconding if they come off.

With the fiction of the rope running across the rock and over edges, you'd be surprised how little weight you'd find your self holding. Even if your climbing partner is a real fat SOB you can still hold him without putting any weight on the anchor.

Buy belaying directly off your hip/belay loop you still manage to put the least amount of load on the anchor, and can manage to put most of the weight on your self. Say your partner weights 150lbs you weigh 150lbs, your in a stance that allows you to put no weight on the anchor. They come off seconding the route. Buy belaying off your hip you're not going to put 150lbs on the anchor.

With a reasonable amount of rope drag and buy you simply leaning against the weight of the seconders fall you can expect to put as little as 50lbs on the anchor.


takeme


Nov 18, 2004, 5:14 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
That fourth point being all 150+lbs of you. Iíve often found my self in situations where Iíve had to belay my partner off some real s--- anchors. In all of these situations I always belayed off my hip.

I see your point, but don't forget that your 150+lbs is on the same s--- anchor, adding that much more the anchor has to hold if there is a fall.

This would be true is you where belaying a person up off a hanging belay. All your weight would be on the anchor+plus all the weight of your partner if they where to take a fall.

Of all the times I've built natural anchors I can only think of one occasion where I built one where I was in a truly hanging belay. All my weight on the anchor, both feet dangling in space.

Because these situations are extremely rare. On most trad climbs, Climbers finds theme selfs building their anchors on big ledges, under these circumstances the belayer can use his weight and stance to hold the person seconding if they come off.

Extremely rare, huh?


Partner rgold


Nov 18, 2004, 5:14 PM
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OK---you want a safety scolding, here goes:

Climbing safety is based on playing the percentages. From this perspective, I'd say you made a bad bet, especially since your choice has to be compared with the much smaller probability of failure had you redirected through the power point or chosen some other method that would have protected the second with the full strength of the anchor. Since these other methods are neither more complicated nor more time-consuming then redirecting through a single small cam, I don't see any argument for your reduction of the margin of safety.

I find myself in disagreement with a number of people I usually agree with on most things. For example,

In reply to:
Depending on the combination of the other factors it could be stupid or perfectly fine.

This is true but requires a judgement that can only be made with certainty after the experiment is conducted, at which point it is way too late to switch to another method. I think that choosing a method that might be worse is worse, unless time and/or complexity dictate such a choice, which doesn't seem to be the case here.

In reply to:
Just ask yourself what the consequences would be if the alien failed. If the rest of the anchor was totally bomber and 3 feet of extra feet in your second's fall would be no big deal, then you shouldn't feel bad about the anchor, as long as you are 100 percent sure of that assesment.

There's two "if's" in this, a "bomber" condition that has to be modified by "totally" to be satisfactory, and 100% certainty caveat. These linguistic contortions suggest the conclusion can't be supported in the uncertain real world. And by the way, if that Alien is three feet above your belay device (I doubt it was a foot and a half above), then the second is going to fall six extra feet, not three extra feet. Remembering that this could be combined with slack in the belay that might have built up unnoticed, the question is whether the second---and the remaining 2-cam anchor---should be exposed to a possible leader fall when other approaches that take no more time and are no harder to set up are available.

Don't get me wrong, there are times---many times---when less than optimal choices are called for. This wasn't one of 'em.


dirtineye


Nov 18, 2004, 8:49 PM
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I love redirects for belaying up the second.

But not on one piece, and especially not on one small piece.

If you had more gear that you could have put in that horizontal and created a more solid redirect, why didn't you do it?

This question is the kind you don't want to have to answer after a mishap.


Partner philbox
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Nov 18, 2004, 9:06 PM
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I like to belay a second up using a Gri Gri just as Karl has explained.

As to why one would belay off the hip in a less than optimal belaying scenario. One can use ones legs to cushion any possible shock load on the anchor. Say a second takes a fall then their weight can be efficiently caught by your legs before any apreciable weight transfers on to the belay. That said it then becomes a scary prospect to use this same anchor in a leader fall scenario. If you can`t trust it to hold a seconds fall then what is the prospect of it holding a leader fall when the leader eventually launches off on the next pitch. Bomber first pieces need to go in soon in this scenario. :shock:


rickvena


Nov 18, 2004, 9:24 PM
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what about extending your personal anchor point to the master, facing the anchor (back to second) and redirect off the master. doesnt work in every situation, but really sets you up for ez rope management.


karlbaba


Nov 18, 2004, 9:38 PM
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There are trade-offs for everything. If, for some reason, you can't get a bomber anchor, then you have a case for belaying directly off the hip. The sacrifice is that it's way, way harder to escape the belay in this case, and of course, it's particularly hard to escape the belay if you don't trust the anchor.

BTW Rgold. I was making the assumption that the alien was about 12 inches above the other pieces so I factored in the double length and slack into it. Where I come from, solid granite, it's often possible to know that rest of the anchor is 100 percent bomber.

Still, I don't like Blue aliens as part of the belay and anchor. It's not the way I do things, but that's a different question than if somebody's doing something quite dangerous or just less than optimal.

Peace

Karl


mattm


Nov 19, 2004, 12:47 PM
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I'll jump in one this one too. I'd go with Rich G on this one and say, yeah, bad idea. I get into a lot of discussions with people about redirecting off the belay one one piece (or more commonly off one bolt at a belay on multi pitch stuff) The redirect creates the pulley effect on the top (and if I read correctly) most questionable piece of gear. It would be a lot safer to belay directly off your power point or harness since there's no pulley effect going on. The debate I get into with friends is when they start leading off an anchor and clip into one of the two anchor bolts. They say it's better than a factor two and I disagree because of said pulley effect. Ed Leeper wrote a GREAT article in Summit a LONG time ago (1980?) that I have scanned somewhere (I was 2 at the time; a friend sent me the PDF) about dynamic belays (he examines the Paul Bovig accident) and factor two falls and a lot of other stuff. I'll see if I can get it up (or if it;s even legal to) He has an interesting section on how factors 2 falls can be the SOFTEST fall onto on anchor given a dynamic belay (reason I belay with gloves!) as opposed to a redirect with a more static belay (like a grigri - even though they didn't exist at the time)

I'll see if I can post it


caughtinside


Nov 19, 2004, 1:00 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I'll admit it. The main reason I wanted the redirect was to save energy. The second I had that day climbs fast, and I wanted to be able to pull rope down through the redirect, rather than pull it up to just above waist level, where my powerpoint was. I was doing all the leading that day, was looking at another 7 pitches or so, and didn't want a dead left arm.

I will also admit that I considered that my second was highly competent and unlikely to fall on the moderate pitch. THis was also a well traveled route, so a hold breaking was very unlikely.

All these factors were considered in my decision to use the redirect, coupled with the fact that I was able to get a good, close look at the blue alien placement, in good granite. I considered the anchor bomber, and my stance was pretty good (but by no means a big ledge, probably 4" wide).

I used the blue alien because it was the best piece for the crack. But I like the idea of building the anchor and then placing a separate, independent redirect up high.

It may have been an error in judgment. Thanks for the thoughtful responses.


Partner cracklover


Nov 19, 2004, 1:12 PM
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In reply to:
I used the blue alien because it was the best piece for the crack. But I like the idea of building the anchor and then placing a separate, independent redirect up high.

If there were sufficient placements further up, then the solution would have been to build your anchor off those. Then you could have done the redirect off that (higher) power point. Voila, problem solved. High anchors often make a lot of other problems go away.

GO

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