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The Climbing Club • View topic - Thoughts on using a directional brake in a running belay

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:18 am 
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This is a concept I've come across several times in reading, but never really discussed/thought about. Essentially the idea is that by placing a directional brake (ropeman 2 seems to be the most commonly used) at an intermediate piece of pro in a running belay, a second's fall would be arrested to that piece instead of yanking the leader off/ down to the nearest piece. Obviously if there were any sort of slack between the second and the brake this could be disastrous as you would essentially shock load an ascender.. However if the system were managed well, it seems like this method would provide a far greater margin of safety than simply hoping the second won't fall (still, I would only consider simul-climbing on terrain which both climbers felt extremely competent, obviously - falling while silul-ing seems like poor form no matter what).
So? is this a reasonable idea for increasing your safety margin while moving quickly over moderate terrain, or is it a really stupid way for me to cut my rope in half?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:28 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Interesting concept. I think that for the type of simuling that I'm actually willing to do (easy stuff) it would be more trouble than it's worth just from extra rope drag alone. What kind of stuff do people usually use this on? Big wall speed simuling on more difficult terrain? I could see some big advantages there, like leading 4 or 5 pitch blocks without ever having to meet up until after the last pitch in the block. Interesting. Let me know if you want to try this out.

EDIT: 4-5 pitch blocks on more difficult terrain would either take an enormous rack or more guts than I have.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:44 pm 
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Val- What came to mind for me was steeper snow/ice that would have big consequences for a slip, but not really technical enough or too long to want to actually pitch out - steeper or highly exposed glaciers, moderate mixed snow/rock are spots I have found myself simuling in the past. I guess somewhere in between the lines of self arrest being a viable option and wanting a full on belay.
I guess the question is, if you're gonna simulclimb for the sake of efficiency anyways, would something like this make it safer? Or maybe you should just decide that if you're not comfortable soloing something you should just pitch it out..

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:39 am 
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Dr. Crevasse
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While simul climbing on easy terrain (4th and low 5th), I try to keep 2-4 pieces of pro between me and my second. This means that we can simul climb for many rope lengths before we have to exchange gear. In order to use the Ropeman system for the entire time, you would need several of them. I'm not sure that it's worth carrying that number. I also agree with Val that on the terrain I'm willing to simul, I imagine that it would just add rope drag. One place I could imagine this being useful is if the leader leads a moderate pitch (say 5.7ish) with a lot 4th or low 5th terrain above. The leader could get a normal belay and then when transitioning to the easier terrain could clip the Ropeman to a good piece near the transition. This way the team could start simul climbing earlier.

There are lots of options on the market and one should be careful when choosing/using a system like. For instances, a tibloc is not recommended for this as there are several examples a tibloc shredding a rope's sheath. From several forums, it seems like the Ropeman is designed to be easier on the rope than a traditional ascender.

For more info on the Ropeman System check out tip 7.

Also, I found good simul climbing tips on . I've never tried the Gri-Gri method, but it seems worth considering for its flexibility.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:38 pm 
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those were some interesting reads. I found another description of a similar method . I had never thought of using a grigri in the mountains but his actually sounds like it could be a pretty slick system.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:21 pm 
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Longshanks
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An additional problem with adding an ascender on a simul pitch is that you would completely loose the ability to give your follower slack... I could see this becoming a serious problem. Also, when I'm simuling, I consider the rope as death insurance. I'm not expecting to come away from a fall unscathed, just alive. Introducing an element in the system that could simply sever the rope in a bad fall to me negates the entire point.

I would consider the "add an ascender" trick to be a very advanced technique for specialized situations, with serious drawbacks.


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