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Multipitch stuff: What's in your bag (of tricks)? (Read 11952 times)

Johnny Brown

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For me it would also require very uncomplicated climbing. My impression of most people using single + tag is that they are wedded to single rope systems and have never given doubles a chance. When I did The Grand for the first time, we invited someone along and then swung leads and simul-seconded on a standard pair of half ropes, swapping one knot on each belay. They were incredulous setting off that the whole thing was going to be one massive clusterfuck. Obvs it was fine.

jwi

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Belaying the second with a micro traxion is even more convenient than with a guide plate, but I think this should be left for low angle terrain where you never have to lower a second. This is a bad habit that has spread from lazy mountain guides in the alps to the general climbing population. IMHO, of course.

I revisit this thread as I was spoking to someone who was doing his rock climbing exams for guiding the other day. My interlocutor was claiming that this practice was now officially sanctioned as Petzl has made tests that shows it is safe.

I must say that I am still a bit sceptical so I went and looked on Petzls website where it doesn't get the most enthusiastic of endorsements
https://www.petzl.com/GB/en/Sport/Belaying-the-second-with-a-MICRO-TRAXION--beware-of-any-fall?ActivityName=Multi-pitch-climbing

Interesting. However, I thought most people who use Microtrax in multipitch scenarios were doing "fix and follow", where the second was climbing with the microtrax on their belay loop?

A friend working as a guide in Chamonix has belayed clients with micro traxion in place of reverso/hms for many years. It is a lot quicker to just smack a directional pulley in the belay and take in by pulling down rather than up. Apparently it is sanctioned by the French guiding organisation now, as I understand it. Obviously, if the second falls you have to build a 3-1 to haul them up as you can never pay out rope. You also have to switch to a normal belay device when the second gets close to the belay if the pitch ends with a traverse. The proponents claim that these inconveniences are a price worth paying.

@Fultonius & Johnny Brown
The only point of climbing with a thin tag-line is that it works as a haul line so you do not have to climb with a back pack. It is a lot harder to follow a vertical limestone pitch climbing with a light back pack than to lead the same pitch without. On complex steep terrain I climb with doubles + rad line, then the rappelling is easier of course.

Fultonius

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 Just relaised I said Paul when I meant JB. Soz.

Fultonius

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A friend working as a guide in Chamonix has belayed clients with micro traxion in place of reverso/hms for many years.
Having heard many stories of various guiding practices around the world (and knowing some guides in Chamonix - Chris say hi etc.  :wave: ) I wouldn't be at all surprised that it being a 3:1 system half pre-rigged would be one of the major selling points for them doing it this way, means they can get an the haul before the poor punter even has a chance to ponder how to do the move....

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@Fultonius & Johnny Brown
The only point of climbing with a thin tag-line is that it works as a haul line so you do not have to climb with a back pack. It is a lot harder to follow a vertical limestone pitch climbing with a light back pack than to lead the same pitch without. On complex steep terrain I climb with doubles + rad line, then the rappelling is easier of course.

I'm slightly more bought into a radline or anything that can be abseiled on rather than a pure tag - for me I'd probably go 7mm or even 8mm in my ideal hauling setup - hauling any weight on a super skinny line is also just horrible. I'm not sure I've ever actually failed on a route because my ropes have been too heavy, but I did nearly fail on the top crack of Sunshine crack because I didn't have half ropes and the rope drag was chronic...

Either way... the most important thing is having a system you and your partner both a familiar with and don't hate... Most of the rope system failures I've experienced or know of from friends were trying out something new on a big route.

petejh

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The times Iíve used a tagline have been on long alpine routes in New Zealand where access was on foot via no-fly valleys, so involved a two day walk in to a hut then 24hrs on a route. So weight of gear being carried in was a consideration as all food etc for 4-5 days plus gear required. In that context a tag line made sense, for the routes being climbed.
But I agree that theyíre normally more faff, especially on lower angles abseils, and donít do many things much better than than a pair of modern skinny ropes.

andy moles

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Another shout in favour of a skinny half rope as a tag line, unless shaving grams is really paramount.

It may end up mostly deployed to pull the bag up on a micro traxion while the second is climbing, but it's nice to have the option of switching to two ropes on certain pitches and having twice as much usable rope along in case of incident.

I can definitely see the temptation of belaying on a micro traxion, or even two if you have two seconds, conventional guide mode belaying on two single ropes can really do your shoulders in.

csl

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I can definitely see the temptation of belaying on a micro traxion, or even two if you have two seconds, conventional guide mode belaying on two single ropes can really do your shoulders in.

One of these https://www.decathlon.co.uk/p/kong-gigi-guide-plate-belay-device/_/R-p-X4309776 as a secondary device for belaying seconds works well

jwi

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Another shout in favour of a skinny half rope as a tag line, unless shaving grams is really paramount.

It may end up mostly deployed to pull the bag up on a micro traxion while the second is climbing, but it's nice to have the option of switching to two ropes on certain pitches and having twice as much usable rope along in case of incident.

I used this system on many routes for many years, but I am a convert to the rad line. The micro traxion often bite parts out of the sheet of a thin half rope, and it is a lot easier to haul on a static, especially if the bag get stuck under the lip of a roof or similar.

On long steep pitches weight matters a lot as well. Not only for me, but even more for my climbing partner who weighs in at just above 50 kg.

Speaking of, I am tempted by the Nano traxion, as it is even lighter than the Micro, and it doesn't have the stupid button that opens up the teeth. The drawback is the slightly smaller wheel, so a bit less efficient. Thoughts? (Other than that I appear to have more money than sense...)

petejh

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If you and your partner each gained, say, 5-10kg of bodyweight then the relative benefit of saving a few grams on belay devices would be less.  :smartass:

Also petzl should produce a super light titanium grigri.

andy moles

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Funny, I was just coming back on to ask the same question about the Nano Traxion. I'm tempted.

It's a fair point about the traxion teeth shredding the rope sheath, I haven't really noticed that happening but when I think about it, a rope that was used extensively for that purpose did have a disappointingly short life.

Paul B

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Speaking of, I am tempted by the Nano traxion, as it is even lighter than the Micro, and it doesn't have the stupid button that opens up the teeth. The drawback is the slightly smaller wheel, so a bit less efficient. Thoughts? (Other than that I appear to have more money than sense...)

The rope soloing FB group has a method of disabling that button if you're so inclined. We used a local quarry to get fit for a trip with a fixed line and soloing on a micro-traxion that I was sending back down the rope as I topped out. The button got knocked a few times and engaged the cam which wasn't ideal; people have the opposite fear that it'll get knocked and disengage. The Edelrid Spoc uses a cable instead of the button and is preferred on that group for the same reason (the cost doesn't look much different to the Nano-Traxion though). I can't see the Nano being problematic for hauling a bag; I used the micro as a progress capture device on a 2:1 setup (where it isn't really doing any work) but later, when things were lighter in a 1:1 scenario / space hauling and it was fine/great.

Out of necessity in the Verdon one year we used a single and a skinny half as a haul/tag and I can remember it all feeling heavy. This was a few years ago now and I don't think my half was as skinny as they were now (although I settled for a slightly thicker pair when I replaced them semi-recently).

Johnny Brown

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The only point of climbing with a thin tag-line is that it works as a haul line so you do not have to climb with a back pack. It is a lot harder to follow a vertical limestone pitch climbing with a light back pack than to lead the same pitch without.

Ah that makes sense. I'm trying to remember if I've ever done a multi-pitch sport route; if I have it was very easy. I suppose the Vertigine on Brento counts?

I remember a long discussion with one of Petzl's tech guys back in 2000, in their test facility, where across the language barrier I was trying to explain my concerns that the prototype Reverso I'd been testing would not allow me to lower the second. Thankfully DMM solved the issue very elegantly with the Pivot. It is a lot heavier than the Reversino I did a lot of long routes with, but the modern ab control plus lowering is worth the weight. I doubt I'd use a Micro-trax unless with a very trustworthy partner on slabby/ easy ground.

I will order a Nano and report back. Petzl claim the same efficiency as the Micro - 91%.

jwi

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I suppose the Vertigine on Brento counts?
At least the second half ;)

SamT

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Slight aside, but several people have died in caves where they've been belayed up a wire ladder or some such using a micro trax, and have become stuck for whatever reason (exhaustion, or entanglement etc) then been unable to be lowered nor ascend.
(usually cold water is involved).  The belayers should have had, but did not have the skills to unweight the mircro trax and swap over to a lowering device.  :(

andy moles

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Slight aside, but several people have died in caves where they've been belayed up a wire ladder or some such using a micro trax, and have become stuck for whatever reason (exhaustion, or entanglement etc) then been unable to be lowered nor ascend.
(usually cold water is involved).  The belayers should have had, but did not have the skills to unweight the mircro trax and swap over to a lowering device.  :(

Grim. I can imagine that even if you do know conventionally how to unweight the traxion, it could be hard to do if the person on the other end is pinned tight against a roof or something. If you couldn't hoist them enough to release the cam, you'd have little option but to bypass to another capture device on the live rope then cut the rope between the two, right?  :-\

Paul B

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Thankfully DMM solved the issue very elegantly with the Pivot.

Am I correct in that the Pivot works the same way as the Reverso (iv) for lowering, just with more modulation/control because of the pivot?

SamT

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you'd have little option but to bypass to another capture device on the live rope then cut the rope between the two, right?  :-\

Yep, something like that, every situation will be different.. you remembered your knife right?!

Johnny Brown

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Am I correct in that the Pivot works the same way as the Reverso (iv) for lowering, just with more modulation/control because of the pivot?

Yeah. I find the reduction in effort required significant too though, which aids control further, plus it is (from memory intentionally) compatible with their nut key which gives a much longer control lever than a krab. Your second probably has that though.

I've very rarely used it in anger but years' experience teaching rescue has taught me the value of having flexible tools. The moment you land in the shit is not the time you want to be cobbling together some complex escape.

jwi

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Also petzl should produce a super light titanium grigri.

Oh yes, sign me up... (Alas, I suspect that the properties of high quality steel is what make them so good).

We know from experience that it is very hard to hold even a medium hard fall by a much heavier climber on a skinny single using a reverso when you are tied in to a belay and not free to be pulled up. I am more than a little bit sceptical about my climbing partner's ability to hold a big fall close to the belay on a single strand of a half rope.

There is apparently some new evidence that it is in practice very hard to hold falls on thin half ropes clipped into every other screw in ice climbing scenarios, unless using break assistance devices.

Johnny Brown

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Guessing you have tried a few devices? At least the modern ones are better?

One more reason not to fall off when ice climbing!

mde

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Ropes: I climb on doubles unless we haul the bag, which we usually only do in multipitch "sport climbing mode", or if it is seriously hard and steep climbing. Else, the follower carries a small pack or we have a bit of drinks & food on the body/harness. I'm not a fan of radlines. If climbing on a single, I always use an older (thin) half rope as a tag line.

Device for belaying 2nd: never done that with a micro traxion, I personally wouldn't want to be belayed like that on anything that isn't simul-climbing terrain. A plate like linked to above is much more convenient than using an ATC in guide mode or (even worse) the Megajul. As a team, (when climbing with doubles), we usually carry 2 plates and one Megajul. Bit of added weight, but less faff/more efficient at the belays.

Device for belaying 1st: I don't feel safe if not belayed with an assisted device - neither when sport climbing, even less so on multipitches (where the leader can be out of sight, the belayer is often distracted by other tasks, rock fall, risk of hitting the belayer in a fall, ...). Hence we use a Grigri if in "sport climbing mode", resp. the Megajul in "onsight mode" or when climbing on doubles. The downside of an assisted device is that it's more difficult to give soft catches, especially from hanging belays... use the sensor hand an an appropriately long lanyard.

SA Chris

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I'm trying to remember if I've ever done a multi-pitch sport route; if I have it was very easy.

You must have been to Verdon??

jwi

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For most routes in Verdon, twins make perfect sense. There are not that many free routes that start at the bottom, and those are rarely more than just above 200 m long. On the longer routes I find it very convenient to haul if I think I would spend more than five hours on the route, otherwise I do not bother.

Johnny Brown

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I'm trying to remember if I've ever done a multi-pitch sport route; if I have it was very easy.

You must have been to Verdon??

Sadly not. Iíve done very few single pitch sport routes in Europe either, just the odd rest day on alpine trips. In fact I donít think Iíve ever clipped a bolt on European limestone.

jwi

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You could easily spend a week in Verdon without clipping many bolts, except on the belays. Bottes-Surbottes, ULA, La Demande, Estamporanťe, etc...

 

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