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By TimmyMo
From Calgary
Jun 6, 2013
Bahahaha...heeheehee... ohhhh... <br />

Hi all,

I'm new to the site and was curious if there were any arm amputees or people who climb regularly with arm amputees that can give me some pointers on belaying safely with one arm. Is there any gear out there that would help?
I was in an accident last fall and now my right arm is completely paralyzed. It was a work accident leaving my brachial plexus completely wrecked. But I have 3 kids whom love climbing and I'd love to be able to belay them again.
I also want to get back into gym climbing this winter if the doctors give me the ok but I'm hesitant because with that half of my chest and back being mostly paralyzed I don't want to over strengthen the one side and distort my body. What do you guys think?


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jun 6, 2013

Right on, Timmy. Don't know what part of the country you're in, but good luck.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Jun 6, 2013
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

I have no solutions for you but I gotta say that is awesome you are trying to figure it out. Great example for your kids too. If anything like that ever happens to me I hope I have that attitude. Good luck to you, I bet someone here will be able to help you out.


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By Cor
Jun 6, 2013
black nasty

I have a friend Pete (Gimpmonkey on here?) who is a F'in AWESOME climber - with 1arm.

Maybe send him a PM, he is a great guy!

Cheers,
Cory

Edit: He leads 511 no problem too!!
EDIT: Does FAs too.

Or contact Timmy Oneal @ Paradoxsports


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By Greg Springer
From Minneapolis
Jun 6, 2013
Friends big puppy

Best of luck in the hunt, unfortunately I'm of no help


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By Davis Stevenson
From Flagstaff, Arizona
Jun 6, 2013
Following up a new route out in the Mojave Desert.  Info coming soon maybe?  Fun 5.10 hands and fingers.

I don't think there's any equipment that would work out of the box.

I have NOT tried this, so feel free to critique. I may try this out later.

How about adding redundancy to a grigri or cinch? An autoblock knot above the device, tied off to your harness-- As the slack is pulled through, the device will push the knot up the rope, if the climber falls or weights the rope, it'll pull on the autoblock and lock the rope if the grigri fails. If you keep up on the belay, there shouldn't be much more than a few hundred pounds of force on the knot, which should hold, and the grigri should hold 95% of the time anyway.

The other challenge would be lowering. You would have to figure out how to back up the device below the device to be able to take your hand off to relase and untie the autoblock. Then you have the challenge of releaseing the handle while keeping on the brake strand. Maybe attach a sling to the handle and use your foot to release, or maybe around your wrist-- slide further down the brake side to release the handle.

Keep in mind, this is based on my knowledge of Physics, knots, and the Grigri. I have not tried this, and would advise that you do NOT until it proves to be safe. Just brainstorming out loud here.

Anyone else care to critique/add?


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jun 6, 2013
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Try carabiner96 on RC.com


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By Caprinae monkey
Jun 6, 2013

TimmyMo wrote:
Hi all, I'm new to the site and was curious if there were any arm amputees or people who climb regularly with arm amputees that can give me some pointers on belaying safely with one arm. Is there any gear out there that would help? I was in an accident last fall and now my right arm is completely paralyzed. It was a work accident leaving my brachial plexus completely wrecked. But I have 3 kids whom love climbing and I'd love to be able to belay them again. I also want to get back into gym climbing this winter if the doctors give me the ok but I'm hesitant because with that half of my chest and back being mostly paralyzed I don't want to over strengthen the one side and distort my body. What do you guys think?


My regular climbing partner toprope belays where he uses one hand and quickly jumps his hand up to to take in slack. The guy at the gym and I have discouraged this practice, but so far he hasn't dropped me (on toprope). Like your kids, my partner weighs about 80-90lbs more than I do so he has more leeway. Maybe you should make sure your kids don't climb too fast and wrap the rope around your leg with each take. That is how people sometimes create friction for controlling a rappel.

You can probably toprop belay w/ a gri-gri. However, I am not sure how you would pull the lever and control the descent. I guess you could push the caming area down and have the rope run slowly thru your hand. Obviously it is not recommended and I am not sure who (other than your kids) would want to climb w/ this method.

The safest thing is, why don't you teach your 2 older kids to belay each other while you back up the rope with your good arm/hand - the kid can provide the dexterity, you provide the backup.

Are you going to eventually get feeling back in your body? If not, one side of your body will become overstrenghened as time passes anyway, and you might as well get that one good side strong. My friend is paralyzed from the mid-thigh down, and below that area has atrophied, because even daily use (not exercising, weight training) keeps the body from atrophying.

Distortion is a disconcerting thought, but I am thinking you can surprise yourself with what you can do. Unfortunately, you will have to make use of a lot of dyno-ing- moving your arm quickly from one hold to the other, and little rest for your good left arm. Even if it is on toprope, this will be very tough. I'm not sure about amputation, but if feeling never returns, maybe it would be better to remove the deadweight. I am guessing it is completely paralyzed- no even moving the shoulder. Would it be possible to fit your arm with some kind of interchangeable prosthetic? It would be cool to be able to stick a Cam on the end of your arm to stick into cracks.

please understand I have no experience and am just brainstorming. (I just finished my post and read the others... lol we both used "brainstorming.")

I'm really sorry about your plight. I hope physical therapy would work. The things we do daily, like drive and type, is taken for granted. That post must have taken you a while unless you had a mic. Good typing.


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By Zach Wahrer
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 6, 2013
Unknown problem at Hueco.

You might want to get a hold of Paradox Sports . They do a lot of work to get disabled people climbing (and into other outdoor activities as well). They can probably point you in the right direction.


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By frankstoneline
Jun 6, 2013

what about just stepping on the rope to lock off? Use a gri gri or other, pull in slack, step on rope, slide hand up, pull in more slack repeat.


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By Paul Davidson
Jun 6, 2013

^^gri gri or similar autolock


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By Davis Stevenson
From Flagstaff, Arizona
Jun 6, 2013
Following up a new route out in the Mojave Desert.  Info coming soon maybe?  Fun 5.10 hands and fingers.

frankstoneline wrote:
what about just stepping on the rope to lock off? Use a gri gri or other, pull in slack, step on rope, slide hand up, pull in more slack repeat.


Perfect. I guess we were all overthinking this, haha.


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
Jun 7, 2013

Biner users a normal ATC but has full use of her left arm.. just not a hand.

a Mammut Smart might be a good compromise since there are no mechanical levers that need to be pulled for lowering but it autolocks.

definitely talk to Paradox sports.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 7, 2013

Zach Wahrer wrote:
You might want to get a hold of Paradox Sports . They do a lot of work to get disabled people climbing (and into other outdoor activities as well). They can probably point you in the right direction.


this.

that said, i can safely operate the Grigri with one hand for top rope/lowering. not so much for lead belaying, i'm afraid, but you could certainly (with practice) safely belay with a grigri. i'd avoid the Cinch, the lack of a spring would put your climbers at an increased risk of being dropped if you fumbled at all.

oh, and definitely use a medium thickness rope- 10.0mm to 9.8mm ought to do it. any thicker and you'll risk struggling to lower. any thinner and it could slip through without a brake hand on the line while lowering.

good luck!


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By Ian Stewart
Jun 7, 2013

Lead belaying could be tricky, but top rope is easy enough. I'd actually guess that an ATC is easier than a Grigri or other autolocker due to the whole lowering part of it. Squat with your legs to take slack out of the system (eg. use your body weight), then pull the rope through the device as you stand back up. Your hand never has to leave the brake strand, just slide it back up and repeat the process.

Good luck!


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 7, 2013

csproul wrote:
Try carabiner96 on RC.com


She's here on MP too as Momoface or somesuch. I just dropped her a note on FB about this thread, so hopefully she'll chime in.

Another idea is to ask the folks at Paradox Sports... Finding ways to bring the outdoors to the differently-abled is their core mission. They used to have a web forum, but I'm not seeing it at the moment so can't provide a link. Www.paradoxsports.org


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 7, 2013

Heard back from Momoface/Carabiner96 and she has a great explanation from Pete Davis on how to do this. She'll chime in with it when she gets home tonight.


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By gimpmonkey
Jun 7, 2013

Hey Timmy Mo! I am a one armed climber and belay with no problem or specialized gear needed, only an ATC device. Toprope belaying will pose no problem for a 1 armed dude, belaying a leader will be trickier. I have technically 1 1/2 arms, my right arm terminating a few inches below the elbow and I can use this limb to help pay out slack by whipping a quick half loop around my arm to gain purchase on the rope. We will have to figure out something else for you if you are belaying a leader, but sounds like you may have some time before your kids are leading (or do you)?
Before we go any further, Cory, get it straight, I lead 5.10 trad and 5.11 sport all day long!! I am now working for Paradox Sports and this is exactly what we do, get people out on the rock and in the hills no matter what your ability level is. We hope you can make it to one of our events TimmyMo, or maybe we can get up to Calgary some day! Either way if I or any of the other arm amps involved with Paradox Sports can be of service to you our door is open.
Now for belaying a toproper, I use my intact hand as the brake hand obviously. To pull in slack you can lock off the rope and simply squat down or take a step back, then reel in the rope thru device as you stand up or step forward. I just slide my brake hand back and forth along the brake line (always when rope is in locked off position), never letting it go but loosening my grip just enough to slide up or down the rope. So, I can pull in slack by squatting or stepping back, I drop rope into locked off position, then slide brake hand back up towards device readying for the next move. It's bomber, you'll have to trust me, I've caught plenty of lead falls over 20 years climbing and never had a mishap (knocking on wood)! In fact my method is safer than the "slip, slap, slide" belay bullshit they teach in gyms.
You could also incorporate a redirect of the brake line, using a carabiner on your leg loop or some other method like using a rescue 8 type device. This could add an extra degree of safety especially when lowering a climber. Using a Gri Gri is an obvious good idea for a 1 arm belayer, you will just have to figure out how to operate the lever to lower, I can easily do it with my stump but you may not be able to. Again, I would recommend using some type of redirect, Petzl even makes a carabiner for this with an extra eyelet to clip the rope into as a redirect for extra control when lowering with a Gri Gri.
Whatever methods you use I would keep everything as simple as possible as a rule of thumb. I hope this helps a bit, please keep in touch as I am interested to hear how your progress goes. And next we will talk about how to get you climbing again!! It is more than possible, rather simple me thinks. Good luck! Cheers!
-Pete Davis oneapete@hotmail.com


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By TimmyMo
From Calgary
Jun 7, 2013
Bahahaha...heeheehee... ohhhh... <br />

Right on guys! Thanks for all the wicked responses and tips. hopefully i'll be able to try out some of these methods this weekend.

unfortunately the kids are all to young to start belaying on their own tho we could start teaching the oldest how to belay but she'll need someone backing her up on belay for several more years seeing as how she's only six. Their ages are 6,5, and 3. my son is the 5 year old and the two girls are my girlfriends. it is friggin adorable seeing them all on ropes at the climbing gym. especially when they wear costumes XD I'll try posting some pics later of them. Ive had my boy climbing since he was three, hasn't quite got over the heights thing that his mom influenced on him tho :( he bagged his first peak just last summer, it was a small one of course tho he climbed to the top all on his own. then he stood in my backpack while I carried him back down. it was an amazing trip. we just got the girls climbing this winter and I was planning to get everyone skiing last winter too but I seemed to have been squished :p

About my injured arm. I just found out last week, after a failed nerve transfer, that chances are i'll never get control of my upper arm and shoulder again. they may have to fuse the shoulder joint. theres a 50/50 chance of getting my bicep back and control my elbow and close to 0% chance of getting any of my hand back. I'm almost considering amputating the bloody thing and moving on with my life. I already realized there is no goal ive set for myself that I wont obtain with 1 arm, including the big mountains id love to climb one day.. I'm looking forward to mastering the DYNO tho lol. I hope to be back in the gym this upcoming fall or winter to start training.

I love the idea of getting a prosthetic with adjustable cams or an ice axe fitting :p tho im not really sure that's gonna happen give the circumstances. its all good tho.

I'm definitely going to contact parydox sports for some feedback and tips too.

Frank I love the idea of using my foot as a back up brake line but I don't want to be stepping in mine or anyone else's ropes, especially if we're outdoors.

Pete thanks so much and I would love to take a road trip with the kids one year and check out one of your guys' events on the way :D

I'm definitely gonna stay in contact with you all. thanks again for all the advice ill try to post some pics of my set up once I get it figured out. I think that squat/stand method with a redirect for lowering is a great idea. hopefully the gyms out here are cool with me doing all this with on hand.


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 7, 2013

Timmymo- First off, good luck. Second, once Momoface/Carabiner96 chimes in ask to see a pic of her prosthetic ice axe arm. It's badassed.

Thinking on this some more, you might be well served for toproping by tracking down a Hewbolt Single. Absolutely the best thing for toproping IMO, as they're passive lock-assist and give the best control when lowering (much better than the almost binary on/off nature of other devices when used one handed). Will be hard to track down since it's been years since they stopped making them, but definitely worth looking.


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By Cor
Jun 7, 2013
black nasty

:D Sweet! Thanks for chiming in Pete!

I was pretty damn sure you lead harder, but just remember that awesome picture
of you leading that 5.8 called V something up on cad. crag. Eldo

Hope all is well down in Ouray.

If you are up this way again let me know man.
Happy Friday,
C


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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Jun 7, 2013
I was pretty bummed when they didn't greenlight my "Bourne Identity" style reboot of The Eiger Sanction. This was from the rough draft's first act.

Racking my head on this, and while it would work better for the belaying portion, I think the gri gri is a no go because of the nature of lowering with the device.

With an ATC: as the climber is top-roped up the route keep your left hand locked on the brake strand. Do a squat to take in slack. As you stand up, pull in the slack with your left hand, and once standing, quickly slide your hand back up the brake strand and repeat the process. As I see it, there is an inherent risk if the climber were to fall as you reposition your brake hand in the standing position, However we're talking a split second here, and that could be somewhat elleviated by placing a foot firmly down onto the brake end of the rope as you move your hand up. Again, it's not ideal, but with practice I think you could master the technique with sufficient confidence to insure your climber's safety.


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 7, 2013

willeslinger wrote:
Racking my head on this, and while it would work better for the belaying portion, I think the gri gri is a no go because of the nature of lowering with the device. With an ATC: as the climber is top-roped up the route keep your left hand locked on the brake strand. Do a squat to take in slack. As you stand up, pull in the slack with your left hand, and once standing, quickly slide your hand back up the brake strand and repeat the process. As I see it, there is an inherent risk if the climber were to fall as you reposition your brake hand in the standing position, However we're talking a split second here, and that could be somewhat elleviated by placing a foot firmly down onto the brake end of the rope as you move your hand up. Again, it's not ideal, but with practice I think you could master the technique with sufficient confidence to insure your climber's safety.


Hence my recommendation for the Hewbolt Single... Feeds in easily and locks if weighted, yet is quite controllable one handed on lowering. I actually spent quite a bit of time doing this very thing this week while using it as an adjustable tether while stuccoing a chimney on a really steep roof (one hand for the device, one hand for the 40# bucket of stucco).


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By Chas Waterman
Jun 7, 2013

maybe you could make a stirrup for your foot and attach it to the gri gri lowering lever ...a lowering pedal...


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
Jun 7, 2013

The nice thing about Pete and Mo is they actually KNOW how things work with one arm instead of guessing ;) I've been belayed by both of them and they have had their whole life to come up with ways to accomplish tasks one handed.

i don't think attaching a sling to a gri gri is good idea at all.. accident waiting to happen if you can't get the pressure off. (lots different than letting go with your hand and people eff that up plenty)


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 7, 2013

Jake D. wrote:
The nice thing about Pete and Mo is they actually KNOW how things work with one arm instead of guessing ;) I've been belayed by both of them and they have had their whole life to come up with ways to accomplish tasks one handed.


Well worth keeping in mind, Jake. Sorry about my part in the armchair quarterbacking... (That said, I'd be interested in Mo's and Pete's opinion of the Hewbolt...)


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