Microtraxion protected simulclimbing


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 37 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 4, 2016 - 08:25am PT
In theory, it works well to protect the leader from a fall by the 2nd. I know that you shouldn't be simul-climbing if a fall is likely by either climber, but what actually happens if the 2nd falls? Assuming the microtrax is clipped directly to a bolt and the 2nd falls with no excess slack.

Theoretically, the trax stops the follower and while he/she is weighting the rope the leader cannot continue pulling rope through the device. Is that it? How likely is sheath damage if the fall is simply the 2nd sitting on the rope?

It is evident to me that slack between the 2nd climber and the microtrax is no good. It also seems bad to take a swinging fall if the route is traversing and the microtrax is off to the side. I also understand the trax should be placed well above the crux so that rope stretch can help reduce the force of the fall.

Any other considerations here? I know, I'm Gunna Die and Petzl does not condone using the micro trax in this fashion.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Mar 4, 2016 - 08:48am PT
I'm not sure how much slack would be a problem with microtrax (I've never used or researched how much force it takes to damage the sheath), but I think it's almost impossible to avoid a little slack (maybe a few feet?) while simuling over anything aside from a simple slab. There will always be moments of the leader pausing before some move, and at that moment the follower yards up on something before realizing the leader is pausing.

Another common thing- leader feels a pull and pauses, but the follower keeps going so there is a moment of slack before the two get in sync.

Mar 4, 2016 - 09:16am PT

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Mar 4, 2016 - 09:19am PT
Yikes! Getting complicated.

Big Wall climber
Mar 4, 2016 - 09:21am PT
Get yourself an old Wild Country Hand ascender. No moving parts, no teeth, if the leader falls onto it before placing more pro the rope weight goes onto the biner and not a pulley (run the rope back through the bottom biner, not as shown in the link). Very low drag for the leader.


YMMV. I have never done a drop test, but the load is spread over a much larger area of the rope than with the small toothed cam of the micro traxion.

Mar 4, 2016 - 09:59am PT
^^^ yes sir, good post. I think that regardless of the device used it is important to have the rope clipped through the biner not just through the device.

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Mar 4, 2016 - 10:17am PT
Simul-climbing is my preferred method when climbing long and easy routes, like Saber Ridge, Royal Arches, N. Ridge of Conness, etc. Often, we just take a 70m 7.7mm ice twin and tie it as a 35m twin, take a half a trad rack and go. The stronger climber always follows and we pitch out the cruxes if needed.

In my experience, I have never felt the need for an intermediate device to protect the leader from a fall by the follower. There is often slack in the system as the follower needs to make a few short moves to gain a comfortable stance while the leader plugs gear in. Fiddling with rigging a device and cleaning it is just going to slow the climb down.

At some point you will have to set up an anchor to belay up the follower since your rack will quickly get depleted. Let that be in an area where the terrain looks to be a little questionable and just pitch it, then go back to simul'ing.

In good practice, IMO, you should only be simul'ing terrain that is well below your normal leading abilities. It should feel like a nice casual day in the mountains and not constantly worrying if your follower is going to fall and yank you down.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Mar 4, 2016 - 10:19am PT
ANY toothed cam is rated AT BEST 5 kN on a rope, which is a little over a thousand pounds. It is not hard to generate a thousand pounds of force if the second were to fall, especially in the situation where there is plenty of slack between the toothed cam device and the seconder. I cannot tell you how many times over my years of caving and climbing that I have seen toothed cams cut into ropes! In situations you couldn't ever imagine it happening! Toothed cams are SHARP! Toothed cams are DANGEROUS!

So if you use a Micro-Trax in this situation, Yer Gonna Die!

However, the speed climbing pros have already solved this problem years ago by using a Wild Country Ropeman in this situation, which does not have teeth, and will definitely work.

Alternatively you could use something like a Gibbs Ascender, but the Ropeman has been proved to work.

Caveat: Simul-climbing is for REAL PROS only! It is extremely dangerous and while in theory such a setup will reduce the risk, it is still very hazardous!

Paul makes it sound casual above, and I guess in the situations that he's doing it, it is - super easy ground where you're not going to fall. Which is really where you need to use simul-climbing - super-easy ground where you're not going to fall. Cuz if one of you DOES fall, all the Big Wall Theory in the world may not save you when simul-climbing!

Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2016 - 10:42am PT
Wild Country Ropeman or Kong Duck rather than the micro and you're on the right track.

How is the rope drag on these devices? I've looked into both, but never seen one in person.

To respond to the other replies about slack in the system: you're right, in a traditional simul set up slack can enter the system. But careful rope management by the 2nd can minimize this. IMO, quite important if the climbing were anything but casual.
the Fet

Mar 4, 2016 - 10:50am PT
I don't think you should be contemplating this unless you are a very advanced simulclimber. Too complex and anything where a fall could damage the rope is expert level stuff.

You should be simulclimbing stuff where the second will not fall. If you are worried about the second falling you should be at the point where you can figure this stuff out on your own, not asking about it on the Internet.

If you are just asking out of curiosity, that's fine. But other people may read this and think simulclimbing with a device to protect a second fall is some type of normal climbing practice. I've done a fair amount of simulclimbing and never considered a device to protect the second because I've never simulclimbed anything where there was more than a VERY small chance the second would fall. That should only be attempted by true experts. Hell even regular simulclimbing where no falls are expected is something only experienced climbers should do.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 4, 2016 - 11:24am PT
Sounds like a cluster pluck. The time spent by the leader setting up a questionable jingo mechanical belay is much better spent belaying the second through the harder ground where there is a fear of the second falling.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Mar 4, 2016 - 03:04pm PT
^^ READ the Petzl Catalogue! Great info to be found there.

If the guy who had died rappelling on Sons of Yesterday/Serenity Crack had familiarized himself with the Petzl Catalogue, he might well be alive today.

Read, learn, live. [the converse is also true]

Mar 4, 2016 - 04:47pm PT
JL, my opinion is that you should think about it this way: there is only one applicable theory and assumption with simulclimbing: neither climber can ever fall, ever. For anyone at a climbing level that he or she would consider asking your question, simulclimbing needs to be regarded exactly as if it is free soloing, only you haven't bothered to take the time to untie and coil up the rope. Period. The only reason you should contemplate simuling is that it's way quicker for either climber to set up a belay when there needs to be one, not because you (mistakenly) believe that anything less than total disaster could result from a fall.

From your post, the only reasonable inference is that you don't have the climbing experience to be thinking of simuling. I've simuled thousands of feet of climbing, and never ONCE was there a bolt on climbing that's easy enough that anyone thinking of a microtrax dynamic belay would be able to simul. Where on earth did you get the idea that it is a plausible real-world assumption that the second will ONLY fall at one of the fleeting instants when there is no slack? How does the leader pick which piece to put the stupid device on? Or are you planning to put a Micro on each of your quickdraws???

If you're climbing with a rope and gear at all, isn't the "assumption" that a climber might fall at many different unpredictable moments? If you just "assume" one unreasonable thing, just go a step further and "assume" that no one will fall at all, and go unroped.

Dude, don't even think about it. Pitch it all out, or be realistic and take the rope off completely. Or take Paul Tolman's advice which is excellent: if you have the time to screw around with the device, just set up a quick belay. Enjoy and be safe!
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Mar 4, 2016 - 05:24pm PT
If your partner is an equal climber simul may not make sense. I simuled a lot of terrain where my partner would rather have soloed. As leader I could pick my spots for pro. Without a close belay a 15 foot fall might turn into a 25 foot fall. That might hurt a little more. A free solo fall, I guess your worries are over.
I found simul a good comprise between speed (and the fun of continuous movement ) and a somewhat elevated risk. Leading easy terrain I'm going to be running it out anyway so any fall is dangerous.

Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2016 - 08:15pm PT
I'm sorry I asked this question and made you worried, I simply prefer simul climbing to short fixing, and was hoping to push simul climbing into 5.11 terrain
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Mar 4, 2016 - 08:16pm PT
I want one.

Trad climber
I'm back!
Mar 4, 2016 - 09:11pm PT
How is the rope drag on these devices?

A friend told me when his partner used Ropeman (not sure about the II part) between them when they were simulclimbing Steck Salathe, he was initially suspicious, but he found out that it worked well even though no fall was involved. They knocked it off in 5 hours. After I heard that, I immediately bought a Ropeman II. I learn from the masters.

I've yet to use it in simul-climbing. But I've used it for many days as a rope solo backup to a microtraxion device. As long as the rope is decent, it feeds just fine.

P.S. Interesting, your handle can be easily confused to be of a NorCal climber/photographer well known in the circle.
mike b

Gym climber
Mar 4, 2016 - 10:00pm PT
Hey Jlundeen, I have not used one for simul climbing but if I did more of that for sure I'd be using them. If a factor 1 fall only causes sheath damage or worst case cuts through the sheath of a single rope, it seems like a reasonable trade off versus pulling the leader off and both climbers taking massive whippers (which could also cut the sheath and more...). Connect the second to the rope with a grigri and there really shouldn't be that much slack - certainly not enough to create a FF of 1, no?

I believe micro traxions were recently used while simul climbing by some big names in the sport, down in Patagonia. Seems like a good tool when used in the appropriate situation.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 4, 2016 - 11:10pm PT
If you're worried about rope sheath shredding then use a unicore rope.

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 5, 2016 - 12:14am PT
According to Colin Haley's instagram, him and Honnold used a micro trax while simul climbing the Wave Effect link up. But, Yer Gonna Die if you try!
Messages 1 - 20 of total 37 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta