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Accident in Muir Valley RRG this past weekend
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By theschwill
Apr 22, 2013
Does anyone know exactly what occurred that led to a climber falling in Muir Valley this past weekend?

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By Christiney
Apr 22, 2013
a beautiful line
hey are you the person who mentioned it to me yesterday morning at lago linda? I have no further info

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By theschwill
Apr 22, 2013
Nope. The Muir Valley Facebook page said that he is expected to make a full recovery, which is good news. As far as we heard, his belayer just dropped him.

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By Christiney
Apr 22, 2013
a beautiful line
Thanks for the info... I'm always freaked at things that might jepordize access to Muir Valley.

It's so important to be & have a good belayer. That's why I always use a Gri-Gri and prefer my belayers to use them too (esp on long multi-pitches). You never know what can happen to the belayer - a swarm of bees, rock fall, a bear, a seizure, anything.

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By theschwill
Apr 22, 2013
We were told by the rescue team that the reason for the accident was the belayer didn't know how to use his gri gri.

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By todd w
Apr 22, 2013
Classic.

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By Alex Mitchell
From Cincinnati, OH
Apr 22, 2013
Me Climbing
The combination of these posts is the funniest thing I have seen all day!

Hope the hurt party makes a full recovery.

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By Christiney
Apr 22, 2013
a beautiful line
theschwill wrote:
We were told by the rescue team that the reason for the accident was the belayer didn't know how to use his gri gri.


... wow. Yeah, that can happen, that's why I hate climbing w/ new belayers. I originally got a gri gri so newbies would not drop me at the gym on toprope, but this one new guy did not know how to let me down, he told me to "hang tight" while he opened the device. What??? I was pissed. After I yelled to pull back the lever, it was a very jerky lower, he wasn't using his brake hand to slow the rope down, just the lever.

And, some people can't feed rope out w/ the gri-gri when lead belaying... but if you don't can't understand how to feed rope out w/ a gri-gri probably not enough rope management skills to belay me on lead.

People get complacent thinking climbing is so popular it must be safe, but it is only if you are smart about things! I hope that guy recovers quickly so he doesn't miss the rest of the season!

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By Dylan B.
Apr 23, 2013
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008
Caprinae monkey wrote:
... wow. Yeah, that can happen, that's why I hate climbing w/ new belayers. I originally got a gri gri so newbies would not drop me at the gym on toprope, but this one new guy did not know how to let me down, he told me to "hang tight" while he opened the device. What??? I was pissed. After I yelled to pull back the lever, it was a very jerky lower, he wasn't using his brake hand to slow the rope down, just the lever. [b]And, some people can't feed rope out w/ the gri-gri when lead belaying... but if you don't can't understand how to feed rope out w/ a gri-gri probably not enough rope management skills to belay me on lead. [/b] People get complacent thinking climbing is so popular it must be safe, but it is only if you are smart about things! I hope that guy recovers quickly so he doesn't miss the rest of the season!


I've been lead belaying with an ATC for years, and most of my climbing partners think I do it well. I've caught some dramatic falls. However, I have only tried to lead belay with a gri-gri once or twice and I found it very awkward. I'm just not used to having to hold the device open while feeding rope. I keep my brake hand back from the device while I'm feeding rope; putting it right on the gri-gri makes me uncomfortable because I feel like I don't have the right hand position to brake if the climber falls while I'm feeding.

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By theschwill
Apr 24, 2013
D.Buffum wrote:
I've been lead belaying with an ATC for years, and most of my climbing partners think I do it well. I've caught some dramatic falls. However, I have only tried to lead belay with a gri-gri once or twice and I found it very awkward. I'm just not used to having to hold the device open while feeding rope. I keep my brake hand back from the device while I'm feeding rope; putting it right on the gri-gri makes me uncomfortable because I feel like I don't have the right hand position to brake if the climber falls while I'm feeding.


I couldn't agree more.

At my home gym, they teach the gri gri in the beginner classes. They show the class an ATC, pass it around, and then put it in a drawer to be forgotten about. They also tell students that if they panic while belaying to simply let go with both hands, and the gri gri will stop the fall.

Two people have decked at the gym since January. Both times, the belayer was lowering, pulled the handle the entire way open and dropped their climber 30-40ft. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

Gri gri is not the appropriate belay device for a beginner, and under no circumstances should it be used for a lead belay by someone who has never used it. Force them to use an ATC and learn to belay properly before giving them a more complicated device and telling them that it will do all of the work.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Apr 24, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
I hate lowering with a grigri.....no wonder accidents happen with that jerky movement it provides. I use a click-up device and it is foolproof and smooth like an ATC when used correctly.

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By David Barbour
From Denver
Apr 24, 2013
D.Buffum wrote:
I have only tried to lead belay with a gri-gri once or twice and I found it very awkward.


I thought the same thing until I learned the proper method and used it a few times. After you get the hang of it, it's very easy and secure.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Apr 24, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.
theschwill wrote:
I couldn't agree more. At my home gym, they teach the gri gri in the beginner classes. They show the class an ATC, pass it around, and then put it in a drawer to be forgotten about. They also tell students that if they panic while belaying to simply let go with both hands, and the gri gri will stop the fall. Two people have decked at the gym since January. Both times, the belayer was lowering, pulled the handle the entire way open and dropped their climber 30-40ft. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. Gri gri is not the appropriate belay device for a beginner, and under no circumstances should it be used for a lead belay by someone who has never used it. Force them to use an ATC and learn to belay properly before giving them a more complicated device and telling them that it will do all of the work.


That is just boneheadedness on the part of the belayers. GriGris are excellent tools. If the same attention is applied as when properly using an ATC, a safe, smooth belay and lower will be the result, with an extra layer of safety. If the same boneheadeness and improper use is applied to an ATC, the climber will hit the ground.

Anybody holding the handle down in a panic obviously hasn't been drilled enough before given the task.

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By Christiney
Apr 24, 2013
a beautiful line
D.Buffum, I like the security of a gri-gri as a backup. An ATC requires active strength (even if it is minimal strength) by the belayer to catch a fall, hold the rope, and lower. Even if the belayer is great at catching falls, sometimes events beyond our control happens. If the belayer gets stung by bees/wasps/scorpions/snakes (on accidents in mountaineering a climber got stung 1,000x by bees), gets hit by a rock, or suffers a seizure/asthma attack, I would still want any falls to be caught.

Here, I am going off on a tangent. I don't know the official self-rescue thing to do, just imagining this, on a sport route:

If my belayer is using a gri-gri and passes out unbeknowest to me (until the rope stops feeding) I can more safely fall or downclimb to the last clipped bolt, temporarily connect myself to the bolt, tie the rope off to itself through the bolt, and downclimb the remaining way backed up by a prussik to my harness.

On an ATC, as long as the belayer is not lying on the rope I can can climb up to the anchors, but it would be a free solo climb, with the additional work and friction of pulling the rope through the ATC. But, the climb is still unprotected. Alternately, I can get to the last clipped bolt, but I'd have to free solo down climb, which is much tougher than climbing up. I suppose the advantage over a gri-gri is, if I can I can get to a bolt or anchor, I would be able to rappel using the last clipped bolt as an anchor. However, I don't want to risk free-soloing at any point.

Anyone know the official self rescue procedure?

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By Christiney
Apr 24, 2013
a beautiful line
theschwill - It is definitely important to learn proper belaying techniques. I can't believe that gym tells the belayer to LET GO in a panic situation. What happens if they switch to ATCs!?!?! It should be the Default to always always always keep the brake hand on the rope so that in a panic situation, it is second nature to maintain the brake hand on the rope. What if in a panic situation I forgot I was on an ATC (and not a gri-gri) when my hand got pinched in it catching a lead fall? I am concerned. I hope to not climb with those people!

They say toprope belaying w/ a gri-gri is easier than with an ATC, while lead belaying with an ATC is easier (no rope feeding issues). I agree. That is why beginners need to learn how to belay w/ an ATC to start to understand the concept, feel and purpose of a belay, and not be ignorant of what happens in a fall. Beginning lead belayers should learn on an ATC as well - but for different reasons - lead belaying is more complex, and it is better for the belayer to first focus on feeding rope and taking slack before adding the complexity of a gri-gri. And while lead belaying on a gri-gri is more complex, if you've come this far, after lead belaying on an ATC you can figure out how to belay w/ a gri-gri.

I've been to several gyms, and I think my home gym's policy regarding belay devices is the best.

We learned to toprope and lead belay first on an ATC to get the concept. But after passing the ATC belay test, we are also allowed to belay with a Gri-Gri if we have one. There are instructional posters on how to lead belay w/ an ATC. This way we can practice lead belaying w/ a gri-gri, which does take some practice, before climbing outdoors. Some gyms don't allow use of a gri-gri so "belayers learn how to belay." But lead belaying w/ gri-gri is more complex, so that is not a good reason, and besides, how would people learn/practice before climbing outdoors?

In another gym, at the top rope routes, Gri-Gris are anchored to the floor, and the belayer is not in the system. No ATCs are able to be used in toprope routes. Again, here, how would a beginner learn how to belay w/ an ATC? -which is how you would first learn to lead belay, as to not throw in the additional complexity of feeding rope through a gri-gri.

I feel better when my belayer uses an autolocking device, and I think my climbers feel better too (if they are men, they outweigh me by 50-90 lbs). I admit, because I try not to have too much slack out, on a particularly stiff rope section it is tough to pay out lots of rope when clipping, leading to my short-roping them. But, it is only for a second, and they prefer being short-roped to me using an ATC because of the weight difference.

Click up is good... seems like a mammut smart belay. I find with the wrong carabiner, the Mammut smart belay doesn't operate as effectively.

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By zenetopia
Apr 24, 2013
The gym where i train does not allow the grigri...

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By Aaron Bugh
From Bozeman, MT
Apr 24, 2013
Me
I've had the "to gri-gri or not to gri-gri" debate with a bunch of people over the last few years and what I've gotten out of these many discussions and from working in gyms where I have taught lead belaying with a gri-gri and an ATC is that the belay device is nowhere near as important as the belayer. If the belayer is taught the right way to belay whether by someone who works at a gym or by a friend, then the belay device doesn't matter. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but it all comes down to what the belayer is competent using.

I hope whoever got injured has a speedy recovery. Stay safe everyone.

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