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Tech Tip: Answered Why do we bottom belay?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. townsend

    townsend

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    The rock climbers I associate with -- Texas Mountaineers -- teach the use of an auto bloc to back up the rappel. Some of these guys are very experienced, and I think they would say that is the standard in "their" climbing experience.

    I think canyoneers disparage use of the backup too much, thinking they don't need it because of their expert technique. I think if Hank were to chime in, he would say it definitely has a place in the tool box. Just don't take it out every time.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
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  2. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Seen it more than once with this setup. Johnny's primary rap device gets hung-up, snagged or pinched on an awkward start. He stops tending the backup (auto bloc), fidgets and thrashes about to release the snag, followed by sudden movement downward, which engages the block (because it wasn't being tended).

    Presto! Now they're both hung up, and even worse, Johnny is in the middle of an awkward start....inverted.

    I have friends that believe (religiously) in the auto-bloc backup method. To each his own! Just know how to use it, strengths and weaknesses. (Never have understood why it's needed on a 30 footer....yeah I know, habit.) Peace out.

    Edit: So, I've certainly helped redirect the discussion from the OP's original intent which is "bottom belay", not auto blocking backups. Although, why would you need an auto-bloc if you have a bottom belay... YIKES, I'm straying again! :banghead:
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
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  3. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Ahh...Texas...the pic I posted above of the rappeller...is a bonafide Dome Driver. Her hubby and the godfather of Texas rock climbing bestowed upon me a license to drive domes. Anyhoo...the Prices live around the corner from me...we get together fairly often...

    I've never seen them use a back up for a rappel...and...they've been around a bit longer than the Texas Mountaineers...neener neener...ha ha.

    (Speakin' of which, I've climbed with Texas rockers Mike Coe (met in Peru in '86...small world that we ran into each other at the City of Rocks years later) and Eric Hobday. Haven't seen Eric or Mike use one either...they both have a bit of mileage on them...)

    But, I guess all the newbies are doin' it...! It's all good...
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  4. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    <ding>

    Not sure what is meant by "Just take it out every time," @townsend - does this mean to use it (autobloc) on every rappel? Remove it from toolbox on every trip so you don't have to fool with it? :) Please explain.

    FWIW I only carry a tool belt, or perhaps a small tool pouch. Toolboxes are too big and heavy.
  5. townsend

    townsend

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    It's called a typographical omission <don't >

    A metaphorical toolbox full of techniques and methods is weightless . . .
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  6. AW~

    AW~

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    Thank you for pointing out that a bottom belay is not in the same section as an autoblock of any toolbox.
    Bottom belay is in the 'partner check' section....its not in the rappelling section.

    As a person who travels solo, its surprising to see so much grief directed towards the bottom belay.
    As if its just holding a rope and has no purpose.

    A bottom belay is not for people to not know how to rappel feasibly....just like all the other partner checks.
    They actually owe an extra attention on rappel to the belayer.
    Its very uncool to suddenly remove hand from the rope just because there is a bottom belay. There are places where there will be no bottom belay available....now what?
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  7. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Agree that classic, no frills, is fast and effective for most occasions. I would interject that when you're going to be belaying on a long rappel 150+ feet, I typically prefer using hardware for those occasions. A handled ascender, like Petzl Ascension, is a tool that is ALWAYS in my tool box...correction tool belt.

    The mechanical gripping advantage will allow you to apply maximum weight load, if and when it's needed. IMO
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  8. Taylor

    Taylor

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    Why do we bottom belay? Because it’s possible your friend’s fingers may cramp on the final rap of Imlay. You might see him begin to tip upside down and try to grip the rope in the crook of his elbow since his hands have stopped working. If you’re paying attention, you can pull down on the rope and lower him to the Narrows. This happened Saturday after a fantastic 6+ hours battling Imlay in difficult conditions (low water and quite cold). Good stuff.
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