Short rope on Pyramid?

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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby pseudoghost » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:42 am

Monster5 wrote:Oh god. Before this turns into yet another unguided vs guided debate:

The article discusses feature-less snow/ice slopes, which, as I said above, I think is a bad place to short rope. It's harder to get a quick, solid stance or terrain belay and you don't want to be that close to your partner in the event of a fall requiring an axe arrest, else you both will likely end up in a crevasse.

Yes, I understand quite well what the limitations of the tests are. I agree, that it's a bad place to short rope, but as far as the dynamics of the system are concerned, this is often the best case scenario for short roping because the client is likely to slip (and not suffer a 5th class fall) and the guide is in the best place to counter the force of the slip (directly above the client). And yet even in this case, unless it's very low angle, the guide cannot counter the force enough to keep the client from slipping.

On Pyramid for example, while the rock will provide significantly more friction than the glacier, the overall angle of the rock is significantly greater. Worse, the guide will almost certainly NOT be in an ideal position for belaying. There's no way that short roping is remotely safe in this scenario.

Rock, however, has far more opportunities to plug a piece in, sling a horn, terrain belay, waist belay from a solid stance, and so forth. From personal experience, short-roping (which I always felt goes hand-in-hand with the "short-pitching" mentioned above) with proper care is capable of stopping slips. If a significant fall is possible, plug a piece in or wrap the rope around a horn, etc, taking all slack out of the rope. Or just pitch it out or switch to simul (difficulty/skill dependent). A competent party/lead/guide should be able to switch between all three techniques (short-roping/short-pitching, simul, pitched climbing) easily and efficiently and as the route/experience demands.

I'm not disagreeing. Short-pitching is fine. But by definition short roping typically does not include placing protection.

I'm not arguing for or against guiding. I can see the advantages of having a guide in some cases, but just because a guide does something does not make it inherently safe.
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:45 am

TomPierce wrote:I've seen guides short rope clients frequently when I've been climbing in Europe. Agree it's not designed for a full-on fall, it keeps a slip from turning into a fall when the client is always under near constant tension; significant slack building up in the line defeats the purpose of short roping. I've also noticed on the few trade routes I've done that there frequently is fixed pro (pins/bolts/"ram's horns") near the harder sections which a guide can quickly clip into.

Odd though, the comment on page 1 that the client was in front of the guide on a short rope? I've not seen that done, not sure what purpose the rope would serve then (although maybe it was super easy terrain and the guide wanted to give the client a chance to take the lead for a short bit). Just a guess.


I could not tell what the person saw on page one, but sometimes you need to have "eyes on" the client rather than just feel them in the rope behind you. On the descent would be an example. The guide in front on a descent would serve no purpose other than to maybe tackle the client.
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby TomPierce » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:29 pm

I assumed the person was climbing up, but yeah, you're probably right the client was in front on the descent. That'd make perfect sense.
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby rickinco123 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:58 pm

I'm not sure how it affected what anyone saw but you have to remember there is a HUGE customer service component to being a guide. They charge people money for their services.
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby crossfitter » Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:46 pm

I think it's a little short-sighted to totally discount short-roping. It is far from the safest roped technique but, like simulclimbing and short-fixing, it has its uses. Using a body belay (bracing your body weight against a solid object rather than an anchor) and giving a hip belay (rather than using a standard belay device) to control tension is an effective way to move quickly over easier terrain and provide reasonable security for short, intermittent cruxes without the hassle of protecting with more conventional means.

When taking inexperienced climbers up the first flatiron, I almost always short-rope them on the ridge traverse which is a massive bottleneck. Using this technique, we can move through 2-3 pitches in a matter of minutes and pass multiple parties in what could otherwise take 30-45 minutes. By short roping my second, I can also stay much closer in the event they panic on the exposed sections and I can protect them from possible (unlikely) pendulum falls without placing a ton of gear and rope drag.

There are of course, a number of disadvantages and contraindications I can think of for short roping. Namely:

* Without an anchor already built, it is impossible to escape the belay should the need arise.
* The safety/comfort of the belay is at risk if the second were likely to hang for an extended period of time
* While moving unprotected through easier terrain, both climbers are at risk if either falls.
* A rope increases rockfall risk
* Not ideal for arresting lead falls, though the old-school climbers used hip belays for exactly this purpose so it could hold. However if the leader feels the need to protect the pitch at all for their own safety it's probably moved past the appropriate scope of short-roping
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby Dan_Suitor » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:20 pm

I too was on Pyramid Saturday. The guide (I believe his name was Steve) appeared very competent to me. At one point, a suitcase sized rock was kicked down and heading directly at him, not sliding, but rolling and bouncing at a high rate of speed. He and his client were in the middle of the Green Rock Wall. If it was almost anybody else, they would be dead right now. He had less than 2 seconds to scramble out of the way. I was impressed with his quick reaction and ability to get out of the way.

On the way down, I took this picture of him and his client using the short rope. I asked him about the rope and he said it’s required by their insurance company for some of the more challenging sections. I hope this picture clears up some questions others had about how it was being used that day.

PyramidShortRope.jpg (319.01 KiB) Viewed 260 times
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Re: Short rope on Pyramid?

Postby vorticity » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:27 pm

Wow. The photo makes that section of the climb look a lot harder than I remember it to be. Very nice photo.

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