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Topic Date User
No good belay devices yet? 18-Oct-2010 At 8:59:24 PM ET
Fair point, but let me ask you this. If you walked past a stranger with their hands off the belay device whilst their leader was struggling on a climb, would you tap them on the shoulder and at least tell them that they need to hold the belay device?

Any decent person would most likely tell them what they were doing was dangerous and I suspect a lot of us would grab the brake end of the rope if their leader was really struggling. Now if I asked the same question again, except instead of poor belaying techniques the belayer is now leashed to the ground, would you stop and tell them what they are doing is dangerous?

If being leashed to the ground isn't dangerous for the leader, doesn't inconvenience the leader and doesn't affect people in the immediate vicinity of the belayer then what do you have against someone leashing themselves onto the ground?

As far as I can tell, your tirades are mainly based around two points.
1) The belayer should just harden up.
2) The belayer catches the leader harder.

In regards to the first point, some people let go of the rope when suprised it's their instinct. Some people just feel more secure leashed. Does it affect you? Maybe, you don't know how someone reacts instinctively until something happens, and by then it usually too late. The belayer IS making the climb safer for the leader by leashing themselves to the ground if all they are doing is making themselves feel more comfortable. They can concentrate on on belaying and not on how to protect themselves if they are pulled towards the wall or how bad the cheese grating will be if the slide up the wall...

In regards to the second point, this is a little bit more complicated. On good rock and good pro, I doubt anyone has been injured by a hard catch. I've had less than a handful of lead falls, but each time I was caught by someone leashed and I can tell you I barely felt anything (a soft catch on my last one would have probably ended with my head swinging into a rest ledge when I inverted...). On crappy rock or crappy pro, a hard catch may pull out gear and which can complicated things (ground fall, loose rock falling, etc.). In this case, it's up to the leader to tell the belayer that s/he doesn't feel safe with him/her being leashed to the ground. In any case it's quite common, at least in my experience, for leaders to communicate with the belayer and say stuff like "watch me" when they're feeling shakey or "last piece is marginal" or "the rock here is chossy" followed by "I want a soft catch if I fall here". The leader may not say anything at all or give any indication that s/he is about to fall... In some situations the leader may have just climbed a couple meters from a fairly large which they maybe in risk of hitting on a fall (and may state they prefer a hard catch in the given situation). In this case the leader gets to decide whether a hard or soft catch is appropriate and if the leader states he wants a hard catch (or doesn't say anything, but it can be seen by the belayer that a hard catch is safer) then it's preferable for a lightweight belayer to be leashed to an anchor (and disconnect it if a soft catch is required as dave h. mentioned).

As I stated before, every situation is different and it's up to the individuals to decide whether or not the belayer needs an anchor. No one is the same, so it's pointless to tell everyone to harden up and sometimes a hard catch maybe safer than a soft catch... not every climb in the world is overhung and not every lead fall just goes in to free space.

As you stated before, you have to use your head (and evaluate the situation). Not everyone is a "total numpty" if they choose to be anchored to the ground. Just because it maybe perfectly safe not to be anchored doesn't mean it's unsafe to be anchored. If it doesn't affect you or anyone else and they feel more comfortable with a ground anchor, why should you care?

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