Whipper Night…Unsafely?

Whipper Night…Unsafely?

With last night being whipper night at team (sorry Tony) the below video that I found at the newly redesigned Splitter Choss Blog seems especially pertinent.  The video demonstrates 3 techniques that are used when belaying with a Petzl Gri-Gri.  The first 2 methods are good, the 3rd is apparently bad.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSVchbjVKLE]

Last night was the first time I had belayed in a while, and I realized that I use the 3rd, apparently undesired, belay technique shown in the video.  I know that taking your right hand off is taboo, but trying to manually feed rope through a Gri-Gri like it is an ATC inevitably leads to you shortroping the life out of your climber.  Am I the only one that has been belaying unsafely for the past 8 years??

Method 1

Method 3

good

bad

Although my hands would normally be reversed

[poll=73]

Posted In: From The Narc
Tags: , ,

Subscribe

Subscribe to the RSS feed to receive updates, and follow us on Twitter & Facebook

38 Responses to Whipper Night…Unsafely?

  1. Kevlar May 2, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    Were people falling last night while climbing or actual whipper therapy?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  2. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    whipper therapy…1 night only…bummed that you missed out…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  3. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    for the record it was more therapuetic for some than it was for others…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  4. Johnny May 2, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    I have only known one person that belays like the 3rd method, and someone was reaching up to clip from a good 70 feet up on a closely bolted route.  She took the whipper while the belayer was feeding, and was caught nearly 2-3 feet from the ground because the belayer thought he would have been able to let off the cam in plenty of time with that technique, and it surprised him how fast the rope fed right out of the grigri.  Needless to say, we taught him to use the 2nd method, and he nor I will ever let anyone belay us unless we know if they use the 1st or 2nd technique.  It really surprised him how quick everything happened.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  5. Lizzy May 2, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    Almost everyone I ever see belaying with a gri-gri uses method 3 (sport climbing everywhere in soCal, crack climbing in IC). In the video, they look like they’re using new, skinny little ropes – I’d like to see them try methods 1 or 2 with a little more used, fatter (i.e. 10mm, the kind you actually fall on) rope and small girly hands like mine. Maybe I should go back to the Reverso (which they ruined with those ribs!).

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  6. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Great point Lizzy.  I forgot that Petzl’s ropes all seem to be sub 10mm (and getting smaller).  That would definitely make the first 2 methods a lot more feasible.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  7. Johnny May 2, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    I guess that would make a difference with a fatter rope.  Method 2 seems to work with a fairly fat rope (10.2mm) that one of my friends has, and rather than feeding like an ATC all of the time, occasionally I still have to hold down the cam for normal feeding, but I still always have the rope in my hand.  It really isn’t any harder to keep the rope in your hand to hold down the cam and feed once you get used to method 2.  Maybe it isn’t as big of a deal with a fat rope that catches easier, but maybe I’m just paranoid.  I would never want the death of a friend on my shoulders, so I just take the precautions I feel are worth it. I live out here in Utah, and it is very rare to see someone belay with the 3rd method, so I am surprised to see it being used so commonly.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  8. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    How are you able to hold down the cam and feed out slack without letting go with your right hand?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  9. Johnny May 2, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    In the video right at 4:02 minute mark it shows an example.  I hold the rope over the right hand lip of the gri-gri, and hold down the cam with my thumb. It took me a little to get used to, but it is just natural now.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  10. Ben May 2, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    I’ve always used the classic technique, but after watching the video I’m definitely going to try the new technique. I feel the classic technique is safe, but the fact that you don’t really have a good break hand grip on the rope while feeding has always bugged me.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  11. steve schultz May 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    We’ve got a couple comments for you Brian.

    I’ve been using method #1 since I first got my Grigri about 7-8 years ago.  At least it’s a variation on number 1.  I personally hold down the cam with my right hand while I feed out slack with my left.  Your brake hand is off the rope for a short time only and it’s right next to it should the climber fall.  This is only when the climber needs to clip.

    As for the rope, it looks like they used the Nomad(9.8).  If you practice a little bit you can feed out slack just like you do with an ATC.  Then you can hold down the cam while they are clipping.  Obviously it depends on ropes but I can do this on my old fuzzed up 10.3 reasonably easily.

    And in regards to the new reverso, Lizzy.  Hold your reservations until you’ve used one.  They feed easier and the auto block works better.  The teeth don’t come into play until you start using skinnier ropes, which you couldn’t really use with the old reverso.  After using one a little bit, I’m pretty happy with the changes that Petzl made to it.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  12. ibelaygood May 2, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    i use the “classic” method but use my pinkie to depress the cam to prevent short-roping the leader.   for clipping feeds, i typically just push harder with the pinkie, but that “new technique” reach-around thing is lookin’ pretty sweet. 

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  13. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    That’s the same way I have always done it Steve.  Only hold the cam to let out large amounts of slack.  My impression was that this was not what is described in #1.  

    The pictures of #1 along with the video make it seem like you never take your hand off to hold down the cam to feed slack.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  14. steve schultz May 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Brian, check out the video right around 2 minutes.  That’s the way i’ve always given out slack.  The hand ends up coming off of the brake end for just a bit to feed out slack.  If you do it correctly though the rope stays right there by your hand.  The picture they put up at the beginning is a little misleading.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  15. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Gotcha, sounds like how I’ve been doing it then.  I can’t see youtube videos at work but I’ll check it out when I get home.  

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  16. Ben May 2, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Does anyone feel like they feed out extra rope with a grigri while the climber is clipping vs an atc? I’ve noticed with an atc you can feed out lots of short lengths of rope in quick succession giving the climber close to the exact amount they need to make the clip. With a grigri (unless you keep your hand/finger on the cam), it’s hard to quickly feed out small amounts of rope at a time. I end up feeding larger lengths of rope out, then quickly moving my hand back to the break position.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  17. steve schultz May 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm #

    Yeah Brian, check it out and if you or anyone on the team has any questions let me know.  I’ll be down there on the 22nd also for official business stuff.  I’ll have to answer all the questions you guys have then.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  18. tim May 2, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    hmm, i was half expecting to see the technique i learned mentioned already but it hasnt.  when i climbed at VE in MN, one of the managers there noted i was using method #3 (squeezing the gri-gri to keep the brake from swinging out).he told me that was BAD because when a climber falls, it is a common reaction for the belayer to tense up in anticpation.  this could cause the belayer to involuntarily squeeze down harder, rendering the gri-gri ineffective at stopping the fall.so what he showed me was a combination of method #2 to feed out slack at a slower pace, and then IF you needed to pull out a lot of slack for a clip, loosely grab the rope with the bottom of your brake hand just above where it comes out from the device, then with your non-brake hand, pull out the rope.when you do this, the brake arm will be unable to swing out because you are “pressing” it down with your brake hand but at the same time, you still are not actually restraining the gri-gri either.and in the event of a climber fall, your reaction will be to pull away your brake hand, and that will free up the brake arm to swing out.hope my clumsy explaination makes sense.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  19. BJ Sbarra May 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Brian, I’ve been using a combo of the third and first methods for a long time. I guess I just felt like most people don’t fall clipping, so I wasn’t too worried. I’ve realized though I should switch to the safer method, but yeah, you see the wrong one being used all the time at popular crags. As has been mentioned, it’s hard to feed a fatter rope quickly using the “right” way.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  20. Johnny May 2, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    Actually, I think it has become easier for me to feed rope at the clips with the second method than it is to let go of the rope.  Now that I’m used to it, it is a very fluid action, and I never have to let go and re-grab the rope.  It actually less work in my opinion, and is just as fast.  That’s just my experience since I’ve made the adjustment.  

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  21. Lizzy May 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    Just another thought – Luke and I visited a local climbing gym that requires everyone use a gri-gri to lead belay. We had to get a “lead check” so the manager watched us belay each other with what I now think is kind of like method 1, but using what looks more like method 3 to feed rope for clips (i.e. except for clips, I have my hand on the break). He watched us lead and belay and we passed with flying colors… I have a sneaking suspicion that this is actually the way they teach people to lead belay at this gym. I guess I’ll try to pick up the second method.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  22. steven May 2, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    I wish I could find the video, but around a year back Petzl put out a video with Tommy and Beth demonstrating the second technique. Deff the way to go, if you make a mistake and are still paying out slack, the jerk from the rope pulls the Gri from your hands so the cam can operate normally.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  23. kevlar May 2, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    Ever since i started belaying with a gri-gri i have always done it the classic way and never had a problem. Although i use the “new” way to feed slack slowly; with my thumb facing the gri-gri.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  24. Tony May 2, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    My name is Tony, and I’m a bad belayer…right Kevlar?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  25. Rhoads May 2, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    If you’re not an idiot any of those methods will work, just pay attention to what the hell is going on and stop tending to your dog or asking your “bro” to “snag” you an avocado sandwich. Except, with method one and two you will undoubtedly short rope someone. Nice liability disclaimer video Petzl!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  26. The Narc May 2, 2008 at 9:41 pm #

    that’s pretty much what I thought…and I don’t eat avocados so I should be safe

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  27. Rhoads May 3, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    “Av” is awesome, except it goes bad FAST! Just like a bro trying to plug some gear 🙂

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  28. Tom Markiewicz May 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    I’m shocked that anyone uses “method” #3. I know of at least two occurances at my old gym where people decked from using the grigri in this manner. This is why I’m always wary of being belayed by grigri users unless I watch them belay (someone else) first.I’ve yet to see any manufacturer of a belay device advocate ever removing the brake hand from the rope. The fact that people think grigris are foolproof is just dangerous.Sorry, rant over…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  29. The Narc May 4, 2008 at 11:12 am #

    I guess it must be different everywhere.  I’m not sure I know anyone that doesn’t take their brake hand off to feed out slack. 

    I tried method 2 yesterday at the gym and found that it actually worked quite well.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  30. nate- Dawg May 4, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Im glad 2 see that u belay the bad way narc. seeing as u almost killed me with that last shortrope whip. hah. im a poor belayer too.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  31. Sara May 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    There are definitely regional differences in belaying technique — I climb at a gym where people use methods 1 & 2 and would probably be forced out of the gym by a mob if they belayed using method 3.  A friend moved to the other side of the state and had a terrible time finding climbing partners because EVERYONE belayed with method 3.I use a hybrid of 1 & 2… I belay with thumb out (like 1) but then flip and use my thumb to hold down the cam while I feed out for clipping.  I’m going to try #2 the next time I climb, since it is slightly more elegant than what I’m doing now.  I prefer the grigri to an ATC while belaying — I actually short rope my climbing partners less on a grigri using my 1/2 method than with an ATC (I’m not kidding).  I climbed my first season belaying on a grigri using thumb-out and trying to feed like an ATC… I constantly shortroped partners and was miserable until someone taught me the method shown as #1 in the video Narc posted.To the poster who said that his or her partners don’t tend to fall when clipping — I have exactly the opposite experience.  My climbing partners DO tend toward falls when clipping, so I am a very careful belayer.  I had a climbing partner take a massive whipper from the top of the climbing wall at our gym — I was belaying on an ATC, and he’s a big guy, with really, really long arms (I’m a small girl).  He got to the finish holds and I have to throw out several of my armlengths of slack for him to clip in and his hand peeled off the finish hold before making the clip.  He fell, I flew, and we just about met at the first clip.  I’ve had other partners fall while clipping, with extra slack out for the clip.  In my circle of climbing friends, we communicate — if the leader thinks they’re in for a sketchy clip, they let their belayer know so that the belayer can feed out adequate rope for the clip but be prepared once the rope is out to catch a big fall.Climb safe, all…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  32. Tom Markiewicz May 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    @The Narc – but it shouldn’t be different anywhere, that’s my point. just because everyone you know does it the wrong (and unsafe) way, doesn’t make it right…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  33. Tom Markiewicz May 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Just a follow up to my last comment as it the rest of what I was going to write got cut off and it makes me sounds like an ass!I think the reason this is a big pet peeve for me is I have seen a lot of people using a grigri the wrong way at the New the past few years.It’s very easy to assume the device is infallible and belayers then don’t pay attention. This combination is then extremely dangerous.When experienced and attentive belayers use method 3 I guess that’s why we haven’t seen more accidents.I think the key is simply bringing this to climbers’ attention so that everyone can at least make informed choices.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  34. The Narc May 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    That is why I thought it would be interesting to post this as a topic.  I agree that just because a large number of people are doing something wrong doesn’t make it right, but it is intriguing the number of people using method 3 that probably don’t think what they are doing is all that unsafe (myself included until recently).

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  35. Tom Markiewicz May 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    Good point. Wasn’t trying to place blame or call anyone out of my first comment. It is quite interesting over the years I’ve been climbing to see so many different methods of teach people to belay. I’ve had people criticize me on my use of an ATC once because I held my brake hand with thumbs out as opposed to thumbs in!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  36. Luke May 9, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    I think that the method you use really is related to what you are trying to protect the climber from.

    A climber can: Fall while clipping. Fall because he/she is short roped or just fall while climbing.

    A belayer must consider how large the diameter of their rope is and how worn their gri-gri is.

    These are all important factors and should be taken in effect when you gauge safety of your belay.

    I think method 3 is often used because it allows a belayer with a 10mm or higher rope the fastest way to give out slack. This may be unsafe or unnecessary when you have a well worn gri-gri or a smaller rope.

    For really long clips can methods other than 3 give our rope quick enough or do you have give some slack a bit sooner than the climber is clipping?

    Thoughts?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  37. The Narc May 10, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    I did some more practice with method 2 yesterday and while it works pretty well, there were still times when I shortroped the leader.  I found that you do have to anticipate clips a bit more and give out a bit of extra slack. 

    It’s funny, the managers at our gym just got back from CWA with a couple of large posters depicting this new belay technique.  Apparently it is sweeping the country.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Being a Better Belayer « Dream In Vertical - July 18, 2008

    […] devices like the Petzl GriGri or the Edelrid Eddy. A couple months ago, Splitter Choss and the Climbing Narc fostered some discussion about the “proper” way to use a GriGri. If you’ve not […]

Leave a Reply