/ Bolt belays: convenience vs. peace of mind

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bpmclimb on 08 Feb 2019

With certain partners, I find myself doing most of the leading on sport climbing days: since my partner will be removing all the runners as they climb, I always feel a little uneasy leaving just a pair of quickdraws in the lower-off, unless they're perfectly equalised; but more comforting alternatives (involving lockers, slings, daisies, etc) are usually fiddly, clunky and time-consuming. What's the best compromise - light to carry, adjustable, quick to deploy, but providing a bit more peace of mind than a pair of ill-matched quickdraws? 

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SenzuBean - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Three quickdraws

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Jon Stewart - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

If 2 QDs aren't OK (which they are), why would you trust anything else? Easier to adjust your level of paranoia to something more rational?

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GrahamD - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

What's your problem with mismatched quick draws ?

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Rick Graham on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Three quickdraws

Or 4?

On the lower, reclip some bolts onto the rope to the leader. That way, the second will not be unclipping all the gear before getting to the lower off.

Post edited at 17:43
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SenzuBean - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Or 4?

Far too many ;) But in seriousness I will do 3 quickdraws if I feel that 2 isn't quite secure enough looking, and I think it's not enough hazard to warrant an anchor (mostly for psychological reasons)

> On the lower, reclip some bolts onto the rope to the leader. That way, the second will not be unclipping all the gear before getting to the lower off.

When possible, that seems like a good idea.

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Brian, if I'm leading and someone else is top-roping (oh, OK, then, bottom roping!), I always ask them to unclip the last quickdraw before the anchors and clip it into the rope, going back down to me. That way, if, perish the thought, something goes wrong at the anchors, as long as they're clipped into the rope, there's still something between them and the deck.

Doubtless everyone on here will tell me I'm wrong (and I may well be!) but I really don't like equalised quickdraws. I'm terrified of the gates being pulled close to each other, with a (tiny, I know) chance of them opening against one other. If the gates can't touch (because one quickdraw is lower than the other) this (hopefully!) can never happen. If anything goes wrong on quickdraw one, sure, the lower quickdraw two is going to be shock-loaded. But I reckon this is a small price to pay. (Effectively taking a tiny lob on to the quickdraw at the top of the route?)

Mick

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jimtitt - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Why are they ill matched? Colour or whatever?

Like someone said clip a lower bolt, that's standard practice where there's only one bolt at the top.

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ericinbristol - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

I know a good Bristol climber who was top-roping a sport route with a QD in each of the two bolts. He got to the top to find that the rope had unclipped itself from one of two QDs in the bolt belay somehow. Ever since then, he still uses two QDs but with a screwgate in the rope end of one of them. 

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1poundSOCKS - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> If anything goes wrong on quickdraw one, sure, the lower quickdraw two is going to be shock-loaded.

But since you're presumably using a dynamic rope, would that still be classed as shock-load? And is it really any different to taking a short lead fall?

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kristian - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

If the two bolt lower off is not equalized, common and totally ok then a 3 draw system works fine. Have 2 draws back to back on the lower bolt to stop the rope unclipping itself if the ropes cross or use a screw gate on the lower bolt.

I have often seen ropes catch the gate and go in the lowest crab leaving you on one bolt.

Post edited at 18:19
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GarethSL on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

You Sir, need to be introduced to the equalette (quad) anchor.

https://www.climbing.com/.image/t_share/MTQ5MjkyOTY2ODQwNjQxMjMx/46_gn.jpg

https://cdn-files.apstatic.com/climb/110269682_medium_1494369664.jpg

Can be pre-made and deployed in seconds, is self equalising and redundant enough that you wont die.

Post edited at 18:21
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The Norris - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to GarethSL:

Is that basically a sliding x anchor? Thought they were dodgy? If one anchor fails, you shock load the other anchor?

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> But since you're presumably using a dynamic rope, would that still be classed as shock-load?

Shock-loaded, versus equalised?

> And is it really any different to taking a short lead fall?

That's what I meant by 'Effectively taking a tiny lob on to the quickdraw at the top of the route?' Agree, it would surely be like taking a tiny leader fall, with loads of rope out - no big deal.

Mick

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timjones - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to GarethSL:

You beat me to it ;)

I'm generally happier when the knots are adjusted as in your second image to minimise the shock load in the exceedingly unlikely event of one of the bolts failing.

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1poundSOCKS - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Shock-loaded, versus equalised?

Not sure how other people think of shock-load, but I always think of it as being when the force isn't reduced by dynamic rope, such as falling directly onto a dyneema sling clipped into the belay.

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

In 'Yosemite Climber', there's a classic photo of the late Dale Bard arriving at a belay on Sea of Dreams (I think). The belay is four rurps, in line, in a horizontal crack. If I remember correctly, they're not equalised. Each one has a krab, and the rope is clove-hitched into each krab. Obviously if a belayer was pulled against the first one and (heaven forbid) it ripped, there would be a pretty bad jerk (shock load?) on the next. And, if that ripped... well, you get the picture.

Dale Bard is looking a little bemused - as well he might!

Mick

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jon on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

I know the picture Mick, but he's not dead, is he?

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snoop6060 - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

I always do this. I don't do much seconding outside but when I do I get the willies when i get to the chains when it's just me and the draws. I have these visions of me spontaneously undoing everything and plummeting to my death. All a bit weird obviously I don't have the same visions abbing into a 2 bolt anchor and so far have not just undone everything and died. Which is good.

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bpmclimb on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to GarethSL:

Those look as secure as you're going to get - it's the sort of thing one might rig when setting up bottom rope for a group (but with lockers on the bolts as well). Bit clunky, though, for personal ..... ?

To all .... I was considering getting an extra long QD, or maybe a short prestitched rope lanyard, and putting very light lockers (Grivel Plume) on both ends; I could use it (on the higher bolt) when my partner is toproping. Negligible weight penalty, and pretty quick to place and clip.

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to jon:

Jon, I may be wrong but I think he died, a few years ago. If so, it will undoubtedly be on Supertopo. Sadly, so many Valley uprisers seem to have gone. And, over here, well, how awful.

Best to go out on Euro limestone tomorrow, feel the warm sun on our backs...

All best wishes,

Mick

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Chris Craggs - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

> With certain partners, I find myself doing most of the leading on sport climbing days: since my partner will be removing all the runners as they climb, I always feel a little uneasy leaving just a pair of quickdraws in the lower-off, unless they're perfectly equalised; but more comforting alternatives (involving lockers, slings, daisies, etc) are usually fiddly, clunky and time-consuming. What's the best compromise - light to carry, adjustable, quick to deploy, but providing a bit more peace of mind than a pair of ill-matched quickdraws? 


Is this assuming there is no clipper on the belay - and if so who gets to thread the ring? If there is a ring, I always think it is better for the leader to thread it and use a short clip into one of the bolts to save wear and tear,

Chris

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GarethSL on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

With cord they can be a little cumbersome, however a pre-rigged 240 cm sling is actually surprisingly compact. I have one rigged for ice climbing belays that lives on my harness using 10 mm dyeema which is very lightweight and compact, but as a temporary anchor for sport I think a nylon sling would be preferable.

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to snoop6060:

I think it's a really good thing to do. Obviously seconding feels safer but, as you rightly say, when you get to the chains, it's just you and the draws. (Conversely, when you get near the chains leading, you're clipped into half the sodding crag - well, I am!) Colin Mortlock made a great distinction between true risk and perceived risk. Ironically I get gripped about lobbing into space. I'm sure Mortlock would smile wryly about that one.

Mick

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Mick Ward - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to jon:

Hi Jon,

I did a search for Dale Bard and, hopefully, I'm wrong and he's still with us.

I wonder if he remembers those rurps?

Mick

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Neil Williams - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Doubtless everyone on here will tell me I'm wrong (and I may well be!) but I really don't like equalised quickdraws. I'm terrified of the gates being pulled close to each other, with a (tiny, I know) chance of them opening against one other.

Flip them round so they are opposed (i.e. both gates pointing outwards).  Problem solved; at least for me I've always considered two opposed snapgates to be equivalent to a screwgate.

Or if you're *really* nervous, make some small slingdraws using screwgates or something.

Post edited at 21:16
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Neil Williams - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to snoop6060:

> I always do this. I don't do much seconding outside but when I do I get the willies when i get to the chains when it's just me and the draws. I have these visions of me spontaneously undoing everything and plummeting to my death. All a bit weird obviously I don't have the same visions abbing into a 2 bolt anchor and so far have not just undone everything and died. Which is good.

It's a valid concern.  I have stuffed up before and ended up on one bolt only, which is not great.  It is worth checking, double checking and triple checking before weighting anything.

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1poundSOCKS - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> shock load?

For a rurp and a short amount of rope it probably is a shock load, i.e. bad. Not that I know much about rurps. For a lot of rope though a quickdraw in a bolt? Not really a problem.

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Jay83 - on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Use a maillon on each bolt. Cheap, light and reliable. 

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rgold - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Jon, I may be wrong but I think he [Dale Bard] died, a few years ago.

I'm pretty sure Dale is alive and well.  You might be thinking of Allan Bard, who died in 1997  guiding the Grand Teton on a trade route (Owen-Spaulding) that was, on that day, abnormally iced.

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Mick Ward - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to rgold:

Many thanks!

Mick

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Mick Ward - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Flip them round so they are opposed (i.e. both gates pointing outwards). 

I do that as well.

Mick

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Mick Ward - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> For a rurp and a short amount of rope it probably is a shock load, i.e. bad. Not that I know much about rurps. For a lot of rope though a quickdraw in a bolt? Not really a problem.

That's what I keep trying to say!

Mick

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1poundSOCKS - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

> That's what I keep trying to say!

I know part of it is and I think I might be turning into a hateful pedant, sorry 

I was just questioning the term shock load when the force is applied with a lot of rope out. Especially onto a bolt. Anyway... 

Post edited at 09:02
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Enty - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to jon:

The famous rurp belay - the one with the bolt just out of shot ;-)

E

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jon on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Enty:

That's what I've always understood!

I do think there's a bit of overthinking going on on this thread...

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David Coley - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

If by ill-matched, you mean one longer than the other, then is is exactly what you want. It stops the two carabiners touching and possibly getting entangled, and stops the rope twisting slightly as it passes over two carabiners. You have a minimum of a pitch length of rope out, so shock loading is not possible

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Rick Graham on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to David Coley:

Just given you a like but to finish the post.  

So shock loading is not possible if good practice is carried out at the lower off.

For a dislike to myself , I add , judging by a lot of the responses above , any thing is possible at the lower off and accidents therefore inevitable.

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Wild Isle - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Depending on the route I keep two or three QDs on my rack with Edelrid Slider crabs: https://www.edelrid.de/en/sports/locking-carabiners/pure-slider.html

These are one of the least expensive and easiest to use locking carabiners out there and can give you peace of mind in a variety of situations: anchors, crux bolts, extended abseil rigs etc... Once you practice wit them, they are very easy to use, requiring only a single thumb action from harness to pro and you'll develop a slick technique for clipping ropes where you can push the rope against the lock to open. To the uninitiated that might sound like the locking mechanism isn't robust, but it is. 

The only con I've found is that the lock needs a little TLC once or twice a full season. I assume grit gets in there, nothing a little warm water and lubrication doesn't seem to fix to like-new. If your second isn't familiar with them it's worth a quick heads-up, but like all climbing gear, they're really quite intuitive.

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mauraman - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Jay83:

following the discussion.

Can anyone explain why the "maillon idea"  posted by jay63 got 6 dislikes? Anything ineherently wrong with it?

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Frank the Husky - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

I wonder if your concern is misplaced. I might be reading between non existent lines but perhaps you are subconciously worried about the competence of those "certain partners"? Might you be worrying that they will unclip themselves from the system in a moment of thoughtlessness or inexperience?

This might not be the case at all, but with competent partners (i.e. all my partners) I have zero concerns in this area.

If I'm wrong, then the easy solution would be to have one QD comprising of 2 screwgates as your lower off QD, backed up by a normal one. That seems to be a simple solution to the problem.

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jon on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Wild Isle:

> Once you practice wit them, they are very easy to use, requiring only a single thumb action from harness to pro and you'll develop a slick technique for clipping ropes where you can push the rope against the lock to open.

I've posted this tale before but I'll add it here for fun... Great Wall, Craig y Forwyn, 30 years ago. My mate wanted to lead it and asked me what the gear was, as I'd done it several times before. So I told him exactly. There was a fair amount of fixed gear on it so it was almost - but not quite - a clip-up. He set off with exactly what I'd told him and all was going smoothly until the very last bit of gear (an old bolt, maybe?) when it became clear that somewhere lower he must have clipped something that I'd missed. The only thing he had left was a twistlock krab... with a stitch plate... complete with spring, clipped to it. The word pumpy was invented for Great Wall. The battle was impressive...  

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fotoVUE - on 09 Feb 2019
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john arran - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to mauraman:

> following the discussion.

> Can anyone explain why the "maillon idea"  posted by jay63 got 6 dislikes? Anything ineherently wrong with it?

I can see why people disliked it, as there's no conceivable advantage of maillons over lightweight screwgates, which are lighter, quicker and stronger than maillons.

Maillons come into their own as bail or fixed ab point kit, If you're intending to remove them straight after use it's surely better and easier to use screwgates.

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Wild Isle - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to mauraman:

> Can anyone explain why the "maillon idea"  posted by jay63 got 6 dislikes? Anything ineherently wrong with it?

Well I didn't dislike it but I can say that I wouldn't choose that as an option for a few reasons.

- Typically people use mild steel maillions on stainless hangers and mixing alloys isn't a good idea. There's all sorts of debate about this but basically rust is rust and being unable to see the interior of a bolt means prudence is best. Stainless Steel maillions? No problem with that. Except, see next point...

- Also people typically use single maillions on each hanger and the way they lie (parallel to rock surface) has a horrible tendency to kink or even lock ropes. To avoid this you need either two maillions in series or the ready made maillion-ring combo as made by Fixe.

Better yet though route developers should use rappel/abseil rings at all anchors. I've equipped hundreds of sport routes (in British Columbia) and to begin with I would cheap out and just put regular hangers on anchors but you eventually realize that it's a major hassle for climbers (witness this very thread) and people don't want to climb your route if they have to walk back to the top to retrieve their gear. Chains, rings or some other fixed solution should be considered part of the expense/investment of equipping a route. 

Of course there is the issue of climbers ignoring best practices and running top ropes through rings causing wear, but ongoing education and simply accepting the cost of replacement is the easy response.

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Neil Williams - on 09 Feb 2019
In reply to Wild Isle:

I thought he was talking about temporary use of maillons, i.e. putting one up to top-rope off then taking it back down again when cleaning the top?  If so, the metallurgical issue doesn't really apply.

That said, it seems a cack-handed solution to me compared with just reversing/opposing the snapgates on a pair of quickdraws or using a screwgate on one of them if really paranoid.

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