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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

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Topic Date User
St Peters Gym accident 13-Feb-2017 At 12:57:54 PM BBSR

>On 10/02/2017 GlebeChris wrote:
>>(On a technical point, I have always liked to belay from further away
>>from the wall once the climber is above about the 4th clip - that way
>>can normally give rope by walking in and never take the rope out of the
>>locked off position. I hear people on these forums criticizing this technique
>>but if my partner had adopted this method I am convinced I would not
>I agree, and have had some gym staff telling me off for doing just this.
> I don't understand the criticisms - can someone help me out here ?

I'm not an expert (or much of a climber), but can explain what I understand. I'm not making a judgement of the particular conditions or what is right. Just answering the request.

One concern is that the belayer might be pulled off balance horisontally, and lose control of the rope. Once a person is pulled off balance, they become more at risk of some automatic responses kicking in, like putting a hand out to stop your face from hitting a wall or the ground. This hand could be the one that should be holding the brake strand of the rope. The angle of the rope from the belayer to the first piece makes a big difference, so the risk really happens when you have a low first piece relative to the distance back you are standing. Likewise the force of the fall matters, so once you are a few clips up, the leader is less likely to sustain a hard fall (hence an earlier comment about doing this when the leader is up a few clips).

Another concern is zippering the gear. This is a trad problem only I would think, unless you have some very dodgy bolts.

Another concern (or benefit, depending on the situation) is the softness of the catch. The best way to explain it is that gravity helps you resist the fall the most when you are right under the rope. So if the rope has a significant angle to the belayer, you can end up effectively feeding more rope out by being pulled up and towards the gear. Not such a bad thing in moderation, as long as there isn't a reason to restrict the fall distance (ledge or ground close). Really this is the same as the top reason.

On a sport climb with a high first piece, not so important I would think. An overhanging wall with a low first piece is the sort of place this could be an issue. Worth thinking about this sort of thing in multi pitch situations where being pulled out of your stance could be bad. Lots more considerations for Trad. Basically it is situational.

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