Break Hand Up or Down?

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 25, 2013 - 02:34am PT
All i know is if i didn't have my hand on the brake side to lower myself after a beginner climber burned their hand on a lower with their brake hand up i might now be here right now.

Good enough for me.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Apr 25, 2013 - 02:42am PT
No disrespect, but that's an anecdote.

You can belay me either way.....just don't drop me.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 25, 2013 - 02:47am PT
You gonna trust a beginner with that pinch sh#t bud? I almost learned the hard way. That may be anecdote to you, but to me, it's hard truth.

Good luck in your future endeavours. I wouldn't trust a beginner not to drop me like that. Someone who is experienced with the technique? Sure.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Apr 25, 2013 - 02:50am PT
I like my Grigri, then I can text, smoke, & drink Starbucks while belaying. If the rope is skinny enough u don't even need to use your hands, it feeds all by itself! Duh!!
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Apr 25, 2013 - 03:00am PT
"That may be anecdote to you, but to me, it's hard truth. "

And like religion, it's what we believe that matters. Facts & science really don't have anything to do with it.

I'm not a strong advocate of either technique, necessarily, but I find it amusing that the palm-up technique was in use for decades until about about 10 years ago, when someone had the intuitive idea that palm-down would provide a belay less prone to failure. Nevermind the fact that there isn't any demonstrable evidence that the previous technique was directly related to x-y-z failures, or that the 'new' technique has substantially corrected this 'problem'.

I've seen shitty belay skills using both techniques. Hell, my own anecdotal observation has seen a more lackadaisical attitude towards the palm-down technique, maybe related to its relation to gri-gri laziness. But that's just a useless anecodote of my own.

If your belay skills are demonstrably solid, I'm good with climbing with you, regardless.

nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Apr 25, 2013 - 03:03am PT
It's such an automated thing for me I can't be sure of how I normally do it. I think I do both depending on the belay circumstances, where the rope is stacked or hanging, etc.

When I'm belaying top-ropes, I have a weird sequence that evolved uniquely for me, involving both hands constantly switching, but always in a position of strength to lock off at any moment. I think I grew into that out of the awkwardness of palm up belaying, that moment of maximal extension when you need to slide your hand back in and what if someone falls at that moment? So I bring in an extra braking hand to lock off while I slide down my hand and do some little hand switch-up to reposition my normal braking hand.

Did anyone else understand that? I sure didn't. Past my bedtime.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 25, 2013 - 03:12am PT
If your belay skills are demonstrably solid, I'm good with climbing with you, regardless.

Given Apogee. Given. Which technique do you think is easier for new belayers to grasp?

Which offers less opportunity for failure?

So I bring in an extra braking hand to lock off while I slide down my hand and do some little hand switch-up to reposition my normal braking hand.

Kinda like the second video i posted nutjob?
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Apr 25, 2013 - 03:20am PT
You'll be horrified to learn this, but climbing instruction has been a core of my career since the 80's. I've taught it both ways, watched lots of other skilled professionals teach it both ways, and I'm not convinced that it has resulted in better technique, or more importantly, fewer incidents.

It's the quality of the instruction, the amount of practice, and probably most importantly: the attitude of the belayer that seems to make the difference in developing solid belay skills.

If not for the AMGA belay nazis running around the gyms & the crags these days ranting about the palms-up technique (and where the load strand in a clove hitch should be placed on a 'biner), I'd be fine with either method, as long as they could do a good job.
Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Apr 25, 2013 - 08:30am PT
I concur: BIG MIKE has it EXACTLY RIGHT.

The belay method described by the OP is correct ONLY for Munter hitch style belay.

When I saw people doing this shortly after starting climbing (only after a year or more of reading about climbing (Freedom of the Hills, etc) I thought it was wrong.

The more I studied the more I realized this is wrong, and dangerous and I always guessed it was some kind of cultural artifact from old-school belay (Munter) technique.

I don't think it is needed for paying out slack quickly. I have no trouble belaying a sport leader with a tube-style belay device (like an ATC or Reverso) and paying out the slack when it is needed.

I am very selective when it comes to who I let belay me. If I see someone using that style on a tube device I will not ask them for a belay even on top rope.


rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 25, 2013 - 08:55am PT
As with so many things involving belaying, one of the problems with "real-world" experience is that a very high proportion of "real-world" falls involve a combination of low to moderate fall factors and enough systemic friction to render the differences between palm-up and palm-down grip strength totally irrelevant. The question then becomes whether the belayer will be ready for one of the very rare events in which the loads are far higher than the "typical" ones.

The rarity of very high loads means that the acquired "wisdom" of "experienced" climbers might be seriously biased. In the absence of the kind of "data" apogee calls for (which might exist in Europe, by the way), it makes sense to fall back on logic rather than taking the position that the differences, if any, are unknowable. I'm not going to go into the details here, which in any case have been hashed over repeatedly, but everything we can understand logically about hand positions leads to the conclusion that the palm-down position will be accompanied by higher grip strength.

Whether that additional gripping power will be called on by the circumstances of some particular rare incident is very hard to know, but that very lack of certainty could be part of an argument for using the strongest possible procedure for all cases.

I think the fact that the palm-up belay was common for many years is simply an artifact of the transition from the hip belay. People were very used to this position from the hip belay and so continued to use it when plates and tubes were introduced. It took a while for the different logic of the belay devices to penetrate the communal climbing psyche, and even then one has the essentially competing demands of ideal handling and ideal stopping power in conflict with each other.

One of the reasons I've switched to an assisted locking device for half-rope belaying is that I find the palm-up position far better for handling, but seriously mistrust the ability of myself or any other belayer to hold a major impact on a single 8.5mm or less strand. As single ropes get thinner and thinner, I think analogous considerations will carry more and more weight for them too.

Climbing technology has increased safety by removing certain aspects of human fallibility from the belay chain, and I think assisted locking devices will continue to develop until no one uses anything else, and today's belay plates will seem as quaint and unreliable as the hip belay appears to most of today's climbers.

nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Apr 25, 2013 - 11:30am PT
Hey Big Mike, not at all like your second video! That looks like a problem to me. If someone falls at the moment of that transition, you either have the left hand pinching the rope with little hope of stopping it, or the right brake hand in motion down the rope that will try to grasp the rope hard at a moment it starts moving fast, risking a burn.

Edit: more weird stuff about that video: ATC taken off belay biner, risks dropping it. tells climber in non-standard terminology they can climb when there is gobs of slack.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 25, 2013 - 11:41am PT
Hunh? Second video is the one where she has the brake hand down and locked off when making the transition?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 25, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
Most important thing is to never let go of the brake hand......unless, of course, when taking pictures.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 25, 2013 - 12:37pm PT

Most important thing is to never let go of the brake hand......unless, of course, when taking pictures.

Bingo
mechrist

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Apr 25, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
break hand smreak hand... pffft, just use a gri-gri


Show me the clear, empirical evidence that using a break hand has resulted in xxx fewer injuries, or that the horrible "hands off the gri gri while drinking coffee and spraying beta" method has resulted in xxx more injuries.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Apr 25, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
My understanding (palm up or down) is, yes, you brake with your hand down. Like Donini says, keeping a grip on the rope is what matters in the whole belay scenario, I don't see palm orientation trumping that.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 25, 2013 - 01:02pm PT



donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado

Apr 25, 2013 - 09:16am PT
Most important thing is to never let go of the brake hand......unless, of course, when taking pictures.

A true pro can take pictures, and brake! ;)



"Uhhh Mike, can you put the camera down for the crux please?" ;)

Still caught him ;)
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Apr 25, 2013 - 01:04pm PT
This thread has drifted. The OP point was about having the brake hand down below the belay device vs up above it. Not about palm up or palm down.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Apr 25, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
I'm a Down belayer.

Palm down, brake hand down below. When using an ATC style device anyway.
ddriver

Trad climber
SLC, UT
Apr 25, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
I go both ways.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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