Ropeburns on belayers hands


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Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
May 21, 2010 - 03:09pm PT
Another type of what? Female? Yes, they come in different ages and experience levels. If you talk to them less rudely, they may consider belaying properly. Otherwise, penalty slack.

Anacortes, wa
May 21, 2010 - 03:38pm PT
Definitely a sign of a bad belay.
For what its worth the only time I have ever been dropped was when my then girlfriend was belaying.
Just sayin.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
May 21, 2010 - 03:50pm PT
Wheatus has provided an example that breaks this as a hard and fast rule.


Anacortes, wa
May 21, 2010 - 04:12pm PT
True, but what percentage of catches do you think are hindered in such a way. And why? Shouldn't any aware belayer make sure they have room to lock off a fall?

Trad climber
Monterey, CA
May 21, 2010 - 04:30pm PT
<If someone decks, and the belayer has ropeburns on their hands, does not that somehow indicate that something went wrong with the belay?>
If someone decks, something went wrong with the entire climbing scenario - regardless of what the belayer's hands look like.

May 21, 2010 - 06:24pm PT
Pate...I would have paid good money to see what happened when he got down.

...and people ask me if I wished my GF no.

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
May 21, 2010 - 06:56pm PT
BJ and others, I didn't mean to imply anything by using "her" in my above post. I try to mix it up in all my writing and "her" was where it fell this time. Sorry girls. I meant no harm.

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
May 21, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
Nice belay for Malcom.

Penalty slack for Pate.


Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
May 21, 2010 - 10:51pm PT
When I was a youngun I asked a wise wall man if he wore gloves.

"Don't use 'em in case I lose 'em." -Dean Caldwell

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 21, 2010 - 11:41pm PT
I'm gonna put it another way: if you haven't gotten burns, it is because you haven't had to catch a really severe fall, which in fact extremely few people have to do. Yeah, I know all about climbing N years and never getting burned. I'll see most people their N and raise them a few. But all it means that none of the falls caught transmitted much more than about 600 lbs to the belay, because most climbers grip strength does not exceed 120 lbs and most belay devices don't multiply this by more than about five.

If and when (and I hope it never happens) you get an impact above 1000 lbf, there will be rope slippage through the belay. This has been tested and demonstrated by the Italian Alpine Club Materials Section and they have high-speed video to prove it.

In addition to friction in the system that prevents high loads from reaching the belayer, there are other variables, such as rope diameter and belay device type. In tests done by Mal a few years ago, a Metolius BRD (probably the highest-friction device out there) required a touch under ten lbf to hold a 160 pound load on 9.8mm rope, while an old-style Reverso (one of the least adequate devices ever made) needed about 45 lbf to hold the same load. Obviously, the Reverso guy, whose device multiplies his grip strength by about 3, is going to have rope burns long before the BRD gal, whose device multiplies her grip strength by about sixteen.

And grip strength itself is a variable. It is quite variable in the general population; presumably climbers are, at least after years of climbing, at the upper end. But that doesn't mean there aren't substantial differences. Light people can perform on climbs at the same level as much heavier people even though the lightweights have much lower grip strength. But the lower grip strength will show up in the belay context, which is absolute rather than relative.

I have caught a factor-2 fall, but it was with a hip belay and an 11mm rope, a combination that might have provided more friction than we currently get with most belay devices, which are designed and purchased more because of their rope-handling characteristics than their force-multiplying factors. (For example, how many of you own a Metolius BRD...I rest my case.)

Because I learned to climb in the Pleistocene era, I have caught scores of falls in the UIAA test range with the rope running through a single biner and no other sources of friction. Of course, a weight was used for these belay tests, making them more severe than a corresponding human-body event for the same weight. Still, anyone who has had this experience would never assert that all falls can be stopped without rope slippage, or promote the fallacy that rope slippage represents, de facto, some kind of failure on the belayer's part.

One of the jokes about attitudes towards belay-device friction is that people seem to grasp the fact that if they do a single-strand rappel on a 9.8 mm rope, they had better double the biners to create more friction. That would be more friction for holding body weight. What reasoning process admits this fact and then pretends that the same device with only a single biner is going to hold ten times body weight with no slippage?

My experience from back in the day and my understanding of modern-day equipment, which simply cannot stop severe falls without slippage and indeed includes that fact as part of its advantages, pursuades me to use belay gloves. (Feel free to call me all the inappropriate names you wish.) I know the probability of needing their protection is extremely low, and that many climbers have full careers without ever getting burned. But I dislike the idea of being unprepared for perfectly possible scenarios that occur on virtually every climb, scenarios that would result in in rope running. Burns are bad enough and may be far more than a minor first-aid event, but the potential for losing control of the belay is even worse.

I've climbed for the same N years (N=52 in my case) without ever getting hit by a rock. But now that hard hats don't weight a ton, I wear one, as do many others. Belay gloves are in exactly the same category: you may never need them, but if you do and don't have them and the fit hits the shan, the consequences may severe indeed (e.g. 1 month for new skin to form and one year for hand to fully heal).

May 22, 2010 - 11:34am PT
I can see a time when I catch a FF2, but I'm not looking forward to it and haven't had to do it yet. I occasionally use gloves and don't rank on anyone who does, it's situational for me.

I've only had a single partner quit climbing with me and it was when I suggested, 3 times, that he drop in just a piece as he went from @15 feet to 20" directly above me. It wouldn't have been a FF2 as he would have hit me and I would have slowed him down with some broken bones involved I suspect. I was on a hanging belay on a 2nd pitch. Dude later raged that it was only 5.9 and he'd been climbing much more than I had that year and had his sh#t together and wasn't going to fall, didn't need a piece... blah blah.

He got over it later.

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
May 22, 2010 - 11:56am PT
I've kind of noticed over the years...the better the climber one is might be in inverse proportion to the attention/ gravity you give to the job of belaying. Give me a belayer with some fear in his,her, or it's eyes.

Relic Hominid
May 24, 2010 - 05:38pm PT
gf sez: oh jeam?
tell us the tale of the lesbian!
Tami-do you have the original cartoon you can post up?

That was Peder and I whom can take credit for that rescue of Jeam and Craig T. from the Negro Lesbian on the Squamish Chief.

We heard their cries for help from the base of Grandwall and figured we would be faster on the scene if we climbed Grandwall to Bellygood ledge rather than walk around the backside trail. It was more fun too, climbing with a sense of urgency, a heroic rescue effort I must say ....

Jumarring accident apparently. Jeam did you write up that accident report yet ? Worst case of burned hands I have even seen, Jeam was in a lot of pain.

Pat pat on the back boys

Relic Hominid
May 24, 2010 - 06:10pm PT
GF what about your buildering accident in downtown Victoria ? Best it came straight from the horses mouth ... here is your opportunity

Edit: Jeam your Telus mailbox is full

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
May 24, 2010 - 07:32pm PT
I have had BAD rope burn on the guide hand while pulling sheetfulls of rope in on a looooong fall. I got 3 1/2 pulls in but the last half went back out the guide hand and burned it good. I have torn knuckles and fingers to shreds getting pulled up walls or into biners but I have never had rope burns on the catching hand. If this belayer was holding the rope in the palm up position that might explain it as there is not nearly as much power that way.

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
May 24, 2010 - 08:01pm PT
Thanks rgold for the perspective.

It won't make me use gloves, but it's an extra voice of caution when I'm belaying.

It's a risk-factor to consider with double-rope leading (which is my normal setup) because of the smaller diameter ropes and typically only 1 rope actually catching the fall. I had to upgrade my ATC to one with a V-shaped wedge to be able to rap properly with the smaller ropes, and can see it's a concern for catching big falls too.
Messages 21 - 36 of total 36 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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