Break Hand Up or Down?

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Nicole Hoepner

Sport climber
Fresno
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 24, 2013 - 08:59pm PT
I learned to belay with my brake hand angled DOWN ,doing the "French sliding technique" (to break a fall, to keep the rope from slipping through my belay device), but recently in the gym and out on the crags I see TONS of people doing the "Slip-Pinch-Slide" method, with both their hands up high above the ATC...then pausing with both their hands still up (so the angle of the brake side of the rope causes hardly any friction on teh ATC and thus a sudden leader fall, even on toprope, results in burned hands...the climber dropping quite a ways, sometimes both...I see newbies especially doing this, and paying no attention to keeping the rope angled DOWN, even while waiting or being distracted !Why does my local climbing gym teach this unsafe method, with the brake end of the rope at a parallel line to the climber end of the rope and the brake hand NOT READY to catch a fall? In my experience , if I were to do that I WOULD BURN BOTH MY HANDS in case of a leader fall (and could definitely NOT brake the fall)
Credit: Nicole Hoepner
so I keep my brake hand and the rope angled down, but my local gym teaches and enforces the other technique. Thoughts on what's actually safer? And why gyms teach to have both hands up above the belay device parallel to each other? ( I understand the belayer doing that to take in slack for a moment, but during those long times of waiting, looking up at the climber, isn't it safer to do like the photo shows?)
Captain...or Skully

climber
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:00pm PT
"Brake". Whatever is safe & comfortable. If you can't brake a fall, you can't belay.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:12pm PT
I agree with the Cap'n, it's brake hand. But I agree with you about the correct way to belay with an ATC or functionally similar device. The photo you posted is exactly right: bring your hand back to loosely lock off the rope immediately after paying out slack. By holding the rope with your hand oriented as in the photo (thumb end of the hand toward the belay device), it's more natural and comfortable to lock the rope off, so that's a good idea too. As you describe it, your gym's policy is precisely the opposite of safe belaying.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
I do both ways interchangeably and have never had a problem stopping a fall or with burning any part of my person.
10b4me

Ice climber
Happy Boulders
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:17pm PT
^^^+1
T H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
Break Hand ...
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
That is T H in his best Schadenfreude, dontcha think?

And he says, Nicole gets -7 for "break" rather than "brake".
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
So, Nicole, I'm wondering now.... Is your gym simply littered with corpses and people with bandaged brake hands?
Captain...or Skully

climber
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
We DO go on so.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:32pm PT
Boor dumb, I reckon. This one is anywaysss.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:43pm PT
You are stronger at gripping with the palm down, but less effective when pumping slack to the leader. As ropes get thinner, I suspect the less strong palm-up position may lead to more control losses. To counter those who say they've never had a problem catching falls palm up, I can say that I know some very experienced and very strong people who have, and (after recovering from the nasty burns) switched over to palm-down belaying.

If you use half ropes, palm up is far better for the increased handling demands, but the need to catch leader falls on a single thin strand makes palm down even more important. I think the best solution to these competing demands is to switch to an assisted locking device (Mammut Smart Alpine, Edelrid Micro or Mega Jul, Alpine Up---the best in my opinion.)

When belaying the leader on multipitch climbs, the belayer should begin belaying with the palm up and only switch to palm down after the leader has placed solid pro. If a factor-2 fall happens, the braking position is hand at chest level, and in this position full gripping strength, which will certainly be needed, is obtained from the palm-up position.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Apr 24, 2013 - 09:47pm PT
I belay with a tuber, I keep my brake hand up so I can yard in more rope if the leader takes a run out fall. It seems that it is going to be hard to yard in with the hand down.

Not arguing either way is right or wrong, just a preference.

With a tuber you have to have the tail end parallel with the sharp end in order to feed rope. Going to the brake position is a reflex after 25+ years of belaying with the same type of device.
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
This is definitely one of my pet peeves. I almost always have my brake hand down. I'm not saying up is wrong. HOWEVER, what kills me is to see people who have learned in the gym, with a grigri, with the rope doubled over up top (lots of friction) who don't even know that the brake position is down.

When I'm out guiding intro climbing classes I get people all the time that learned in the gym and have no respect for how important belaying actually is, and are very surprised that they have to control how fast their partner is lowered. Again they are learning so I understand, but it's still just wild to see the disconnect between danger and climbing that seems to occur from learning in a "safe" gym.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
I have seen this retarded style of top rope belaying. Bring your hand up, to pinch the climber side of the rope with your brake hand while sliding your other hand down to the device.

This style works great with a munter belay. It works horrible with a tube style or atc device. I also have seen gyms that teach this style of belaying. Most recently in ontario, where they did not allow tube/atc devices in the gym, because "they dont work".

Instead they had grigri's permanently attached to each rope, and required you to take slack in with the brake hand up. This completly relies on the cam in the grigri to function properly.

Atc's require friction to work properly. If you do not have your brake hand down, below or at least level with the device, you have little to no friction. I was almost dropped by a beginner that way.

Do not let your partners belay you this way..

The correct way is, brake hand down, take slack, grab brake with other hand, slide brake hand up, ad nausem.
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:31pm PT
Mike laying down the law! I like it!

where they did not allow tube/atc devices in the gym, because "they dont work".

hahahaha
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:39pm PT
I belay with a tuber

Cooked or raw?

I've hear of pipes and batteries made out of 'em but first I've heard you could belay with them, cool!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
Mike laying down the law! I like it!

You got it right when you said belaying is the most important thing buddy!!

I simply cannot believe anyone would teach this method! If you are using a figure 8 or a munter on a locker, sure! That is the correct way. You have less friction with your hand down.
But how many beginners these days are going to use a figure 8?

Every climber should know a munter and proper belay technique with it, but only after they've mastered the fundamentals of belaying with a modern device.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Apr 24, 2013 - 10:53pm PT
As soon as someone shows me clear, empirical statistical evidence demonstrating the comparative belay failure & injury rate of the two techniques, I'll give it close consideration.

And then I'll probably continue to do it the same way that I've always done it, without failure or injury of any kind. Isn't that the point?
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 24, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Are there seriously experienced climbers who belay like this???
Don't do it!!!!!!!!
Don't do it!!!!!!!!
Credit: Big Mike



This video is horrible but at least she has proper technique
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Apr 24, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
"...at least she has proper technique"

Please...please...

Show me the clear, empirical evidence that this technique has resulted in xxx fewer injuries, or that the horrible palm-up method has resulted in xxx more injuries.

Anecdotes don't count, nor do copy/pastes from the AMGA or ACMG manual.
Messages 1 - 20 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews