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Author Topic: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?  (Read 1048 times)

drown

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Jim Ewing in the cordelette thread found in the gear section wrote:

     "The whole fall factor 2 business is a topic for another discussion but let me just say that clipping a part of the anchor to prevent a FF 2 may not be a good idea as is commonly believed. 
       I know this is not the same as getting a bomber piece ASAP but even then there are things that people don,t understand about this practice.  Another topic for another time perhaps."


I am very curious about the value of clipping the the anchor power point, or a piece in the anchor as the first piece vs. not doing so. I have had stimulating discussions with partners about this and with guides that have been out with and I am stil unconvinced either way. I would appreciate pursuing this discussion here.

What are peoples opinion on this practice; safe, unsafe or depends on the anchor/situation? I know there are some rope drag situation where it does not make sense to clip the anchor as well, I am less concerned about that than about getting into anchor blowing practices.

Thanks,

mg
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leewee

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2006, 04:09:47 PM »

i second that...
seeing as though i have always thought that clipping a piece of the anchor would be better than nothing...
id like to hear what others say...
however i cant see how it could be better to fall directly on to your belayer than a piece of the anchor...
im all ears...

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Mike_B

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2006, 06:19:31 PM »

I'm interested to see responses too... that said, I often clip a high piece in the anchor, and get something in soon after. Its generally easy ground at the beginning of a pitch, for a few feet at least, on the climbs I do, tho.
The best practice I imagine would be to clip the sharp end into the master point of the anchor- that way you avoid loading one piece, and avoid your belayer bearing the brunt if you were to slip. If rope drag is going to be a problem, then the biner is close enough to the belayer to take off once the leader gets a solid piece or two in.
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punxnotdead

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2006, 06:38:14 PM »

typically, I will put a draw or locking biner at the center point of my anchor (where the cords/slings/draws meet).  This is above me by a daisy chain length so that I have enough space between the belay and the first piece of protection.  I use a reverso, so I have to have something above my belay for it to work properly in case the leader falls. 

I NEVER put a draw on only one part of the anchor as it would compromise the integrity of the whole anchor.  Think of it this way....would you rather fall onto 1 piece (bomber or not), or onto at least 2 pieces that are equalized?
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epav

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2006, 07:17:15 PM »

My logic goes like this:

If you put significant effort and time into creating an equalized anchor, then it is because you feel that there is a 'significant' chance of needing that equalization.  I'll assume 3 pieces, and perfect equalization.

If I don't clip, a FF2 (assumed 9kN) goes onto the anchor, or 3kN per piece.

If I clip only one piece and the leader falls, then that piece sees 15kN, and when it fails, the remaining two see 4.5kN each.

If I clip the powerpoint, each piece sees 5kN.

Conclusions: 

One:  For high FF falls, the only reason to clip the leader in is to make the catch easier on the belayer, because it always increases anchor loadings
Two:  If you clip, you should clip either the powerpoint, or a separate piece not part of the anchor, because you must be confident that the remaining pieces will hold - therefore that piece was not needed in the anchor.  Not including it means you don't have to worry about how your anchor will equalize after failure.

All of this assumes a lot of worst case things, but that's safety engineering.  Also assumes some best case things - equal quality pieces, perfect equalization, etc.  But I think all high impact cases point to not clipping an anchor piece.  But in practice, of course,  it depends

For example, say the anchor pieces are pretty high - 10' off the ledge - you could be looking at a 20' factor two vs a 4' factor 0.4  if the leader slips up there.  If he expects to get another piece in before the FF will get high, of course he should clip a piece, as much to limit his fall as anything else.

And on the third hand, if you got bomber stuff and aren't relying on equalization, then why not?

But in the grim situation - questionable pieces, good runout coming up -  take it on the waist!
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piolet

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2006, 10:31:59 PM »

So much has been written on this subject, all concerning forces, FF, physics, anchors holding etc., both in books & in forums like this one. Of course alot of discussion brings alot of opinions. You're entitled to your opinion of clipping or not clipping your first piece into the anchor or a piece of it (or even placing a piece from where you stand at the belay station) based on your thinking of the above topics. But I think folks forget one of the best reasons TO do it.
If there is the chance of your leader falling past you, the belayer, before they get to place anything on the rope between your belay device & the tie-in knot on their harness then you probably won't hold their fall if they pass you on your brake hand side. You'll get turned around as they fall past, braking is either improved or reduced to useless as the strands diverge or come together out of the belay device. This will happen if your anchor is made of all titanium components or toilet roll inserts. Maybe a crap anchor would be best so you can fall too & keep your buddy company in the hospital. You'll have plenty of time to debate nylon v's spectra v's the shelf v's the master point v's equalization etc., etc.,
If you decide not to clip before leaving the belay station, remember to ask your leader .. "Hey partner, if you should fall before you get to a first piece, would you mind trying to fall past me on my left side? Cheers, otherwise you might be screwed & I could get some rope burn on my hand. That would be great .. thanks. Ok, climb on!!"
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drown

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2006, 07:04:58 AM »



If I don't clip, a FF2 (assumed 9kN) goes onto the anchor, or 3kN per piece.

If I clip only one piece and the leader falls, then that piece sees 15kN, and when it fails, the remaining two see 4.5kN each.

If I clip the powerpoint, each piece sees 5kN.



Epav,

I agree with your logic but I don't quite follow your numbers.

Why is the FF2 on the waist 9KN, but up to 15KN when redirected, and still 9KN after a piece blows...I would assume some energy is dissapated/absorbed by that piece blowing?

I guess I don't quite follow...


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Tomcat

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2006, 08:43:29 AM »

Personally,I think the most proactive thing you can do is...when you get to the belay,set it up,clip through it,move up,place the first piece for the next pitch and use that to redirect,step down and belay as normal.When the second gets there,the first piece is already in place,no additional load on anchor,no multiplication on anchor,no first piece worries.If you are not swinging leads you will have to pull the whole rope through,but I would restack anyway so makes no difference to me.

It's not always possible,but most of the time it is.I start steep ice this way,and Sleeping Beauty's second pitch as examples.
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jclimbs

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2006, 08:44:49 AM »

Well said "piolet".

Al posted the link to the thread on RC.com (http://www.rockclimbing.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1306133#1306133) which discusses in plenty of detail the controversies surrounding the use of the cordelette.  This thread is highlighted by the comments of Largo (John Long) and the work he is doing to study all the factors of ancors such as the cordelette and the sliding-X.
Consider all of this when considering whether or not to clip a piece or your anchor. I'm no engineer, but common sense tells me you can't use formulas like yours "epav" - because the liklihood of the leader falling EXACTLY on the equalized master point in EXACTLY the direction it is equalized is slim.  As you yourself said, "it depends".
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rustyrat

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2006, 08:51:58 AM »

I go with Piolet. The most basic reason for clipping "some point" in the anchor prior to leaving the belay (if an immediate piece is not avaliable) is to keep the belayer facing in the correct direction, stable and in full control of the rope. If the anchor or an immediate piece is not clipped and the leader falls - What happens? Well the leader goes flying by the belayer, the belayer is sharply twisted around and dropped to his/her knees or flipped over. The belayers natural reaction is likely to be to put out hands and arms to protect themselve and so possibly letting go of the brake rope. The scenerio is even more exciting if a waist belay is used (as it often is on the moderate terrain of whitehorse).

Whether you clip into the power point or a single piece in the anchor will depend on a few factors. How close is the belayer tied into the powerpoint? if he's only a few inches away the leader clipping into the power point makes little sense, as a fall would immidiatly suck the belayer up into the carabiner trapping fingers etc. In this case  you may have no option but to use one of the best anchor points. Obviously always a seperate piece from the anchor is going to be better.

In climbing we have to be careful sometimes. There is no concrete right or wrong way that can be applied to every situation. In some places one thing will work the best and another not.
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epav

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2006, 05:23:15 PM »



Why is the FF2 on the waist 9KN, but up to 15KN when redirected, and still 9KN after a piece blows...I would assume some energy is dissapated/absorbed by that piece blowing?

Quote
Not due to energy lostat the piece - due to the conversion from belaying over a piece to directly onto the belay.  If the rope goes up from the belayer to a piece, and then down to the falling leader, the piece must hold against the pull from both sides.  Given typical friction over a carabiner, the tension on the belayer side will be about 70% ( diameter of biner, angle of fall, slickness of rope, diameter of rope, ...?) so the force on the piece is 9kN + 0.7*9kn = 15.3kN ~=15kN.

When the piece pulls, you are back to ~FF2 on the belay (or should it be FF2+your weight?)

Very little energy is absorbed by a piece pulling - Energy = force x distance, and although the force is large (up to ~10x bodyweight), the distance a cam or nut can track through rock at max force is usually pretty small - a couple of inches at best.  The fall energy is ~bodyweight*distance of fall, so the energy absorbed by a piece pulling out is on the order of one foot's worth of fall or less. 
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epav

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2006, 05:38:28 PM »

But I think folks forget one of the best reasons TO do it. ....

 You'll get turned around as they fall past, braking is either improved or reduced to useless as the strands diverge or come together out of the belay device.

I did say that "the only reason to clip the leader in is to make the catch easier on the belayer".  And I must confess I have never caught a FF2, and have no plans to practice it.

But you will have rope burn on any sizeable FF2, whether to the good or bad side.  The presumed good part of all this is you can see the leader, and prepare to catch - by turning to the appropriate side before being jerked, and by bringing the brake hand back around the hip. (or by getting both hands on it?) And I have often (but not always) switched brake hands during a lead when the leader starts out one way, then traverses across the fall line.  The strands will not be together during an FF2 - the one to the climber will be down, and the one to the brake hand will be sideways or up.  That's the belayer's job.  It is straight forward and easy to prepare for - unless a piece fails, and then the direction suddenly changes.  Another reason not to clip a suspect piece.
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Tomcat

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2006, 06:10:57 PM »

An important point in all of this is that any tube type belay device requires that you have the rope bent back around the device to stop a high factor fall.Most of us belay so casually and think we can stop them the way we do lesser falls.If the leader passes the belayer,as the belayer gets yanked around,this situation changes,the bend back dissapears,along with your ability to stop the fall.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2006, 07:51:00 AM by Tomcat »
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piolet

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2006, 06:28:02 PM »

Epav, it's just as Tomcat says. My understanding of your post is that you don't think you'll get turned around in a FF2 scenario. You will, & it may hurt ... not just your hands!! Take a rescue course & have the instructor show you how some small things like clipping the biner of your belay device thru your belay loop & the loop of your tie-in knot can make a difference to your comfort in a situation like this.
But think about what you're supposing ... you can watch & change hands as the climber moves across the rock. That may be so, we've all done it. But where a FF2 situation can happen is when the lead climber doesn't have any pro in. He or she probably won't be 60' above you in this situation, but close in ... who wants to climb 60' & not get something in. So lets keep it real. The climber is just 15' above you. If they come off without warning they'll be by you in a flash. Their full weight will come on your belay device, then harness, then your hips, the rest of you will follow naturally & you can't do a damn thing about it.
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epav

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Re: Clipping Belay anchor as first piece...yes, no or maybe? and Why?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2006, 01:27:46 PM »

My understanding of your post is that you don't think you'll get turned around in a FF2 scenario. You will, & it may hurt ...

... So lets keep it real. The climber is just 15' above you. If they come off without warning they'll be by you in a flash. Their full weight will come on your belay device, then harness, then your hips, the rest of you will follow naturally & you can't do a damn thing about it.

I don,t understand how the bend at the ATC disappears.  Please elaborate.  I think I won,t get turned around because I,m already facing the fall line.  The only reaction I am counting on is the holding the rope behind the back/hip.  Before the leader falls, I know which side it will be on, and I should be prepared for that.  The rope from the ATC to the leader is down, the rope from the ATC to my hand is to the side.  My body will move, but  I control my hand relative to my body, which is wherever the ATC drags it.

Again, it is best to avoid this situation if possible.  However, there are 50+ pages on rc.com going over the difficulty/impossibility of building an equalizing, non extending anchor.  It is illogical (insert favorite Spock eyebrow lift) to build such an anchor and then subject a single part of it to a force greater than the whole needs to be designed to withstand.  Have the leader either clip the powerpoint, or clip a piece separate from the 'anchor'.  Otherwise, you are acting emotionally - you feel better with a pseudo-equalized anchor, and you feel better with a leader clipped to that POS in the upper left position.  Best of both worlds, eh?

Luckily, this discussion is usually academic.  People don't take FF2 falls, the rope runs through the ATC instead of locking so the forces are much lower than the worst case, and almost everyone is on trade routes with pretty obvious belays with the weak/loose stuff cleaned out, so few surprises.  But one should still be prepared for the leader's piece pulling, wherever it is.

As far as comfort, I worry about the brake hand – the rest is luxury.  Memo:  Must stop climbing with heavier people, and hope the midgets can catch me.
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