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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

Just looking for some general thoughts on auto-belay devices from climbers. Being new to the sport, I stumbled upon this concept at the US National Whitewater Center. Most of my time spent there is, obviously, whitewater kayaking for hours on end and then mountain biking the trails for amping up my cardio.

For the most part, I ignored the climbing walls until recently. Not having a partner to climb with, I asked the attendant at the wall if he would belay me for a couple of climbs. He then explained one of the walls has an auto-belay device. Essentially, it is set up for those who don't have a climbing partner. I found this odd and bit unnerving.

I guess my gripe with this system is it does not allow the climber to properly rest, request or receive beta from their belayer, vocalize their needs, or really select the proper routes. If you stop, you are holding on with your arms fully engaged. Doing this repeatedly, could damage or cause some major injury to the climber.

On the other hand, it forces the climber to basically HangDog the entire route, otherwise, you will come down intentionally or not. One could argue such a system is good for conditioning, but is it really? HangDogging too much could become habit forming and defeat the whole point of climbing--especially lead climbing, right? I found, I rushed through just to get to the top, not thinking about hand or foot placement. I just didn't want to "hang" anymore.

I am really curious as to what others think about this type system. I look forward to some engaging conversation.

~Ericka~


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By Unassigned User
Dec 20, 2012

You are correct it could be injurious to the climber to rest by hanging on their arms, we have a term for this in climbing called getting "pumped".

very injurious....horrible really

could cause a horrible fall.


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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

thefish wrote:
You are correct it could be injurious to the climber to rest by hanging on their arms, we have a term for this in climbing called getting "pumped". very injurious....horrible really could cause a horrible fall.


So you understand where I am going with this concept? I find it promotes a failure induced climb. Essentially, making the climber (especially a newbe) lazy and effectively dangerous for "real" climbs.


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By Unassigned User
Dec 20, 2012

Ericka Heath wrote:
So you understand where I am going with this concept? I find it promotes a failure induced climb. Essentially, making the climber (especially a newbe) lazy and effectively dangerous for "real" climbs.

yes i see your logic

lazy and dangerous newbies can be very dangerous on climbs

they could fall


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By nicelegs
From Denver
Dec 20, 2012

I just swallowed an entire puffer fish. Don't make any loud noises.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Dec 20, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Ericka Heath wrote:
...HangDogging...

I don't think this word means what you think it means


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By Zappatista
Dec 20, 2012
Book me, officer.

Hi, Ericka. Welcome to Sarcasm World, we're having a big sale right now...

The concept you're talking about is something worth thinking about. However, the bottom line is that toproping and lead are very different mediums, and this tends to be very apparent once you leave the ground. The cumulative effects of running laps and getting pumped tend towards not getting as pumped, which will help, not hinder you, on lead.

Leading is a self-limiting medium. If you posess any of the standard survival instinct that most of us do, you'll stay out of trouble on the lead for the most part by making intelligent, and eventually, experience-based decisions about what you're capable of.

Have fun, be safe.


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By David Houston
From Boulder, Colorado
Dec 20, 2012
J-Tree

I am appalled at how often the auto belays at my local gym malfunction. Halfway up when I need a rest and yell "take" it inevitably lowers me to the ground! I guess it is a trad auto belay, I wish they would put in some sport models ;-)


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By bearbreeder
Dec 20, 2012

POPCORN TIME !!!


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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

csproul wrote:
I don't think this word means what you think it means


No, not in the climber's dictionary sense of the word. Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to me hanging like a dog by one arm and my shoulder in excruciating pain. All the while questioning this entire concept and how it could be useful for ANY climber, let alone a newcomer like myself.


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By sanz
From Raleigh, NC
Dec 20, 2012
One of my first trad leads, on Ooga Chocka at Crowder's Mountain.

trololololo
trololololo


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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

David Houston wrote:
I am appalled at how often the auto belays at my local gym malfunction. Halfway up when I need a rest and yell "take" it inevitably lowers me to the ground! I guess it is a trad auto belay, I wish they would put in some sport models ;-)



David, that brings up yet another issue I hadn't thought of--device failure. The one's at the whitewater center are not even as sophisticated as what you are referring to. One misplaced hand or foot and your on the ground before you know it. They don't even give you lessons on how to use the damn thing. I watched two girls pony up to the wall and get hooked in. Off they go, only to fall flat on their butts when they missed a step. They said the only thing they had ever climbed was the stairs to their apartment!!!!!!


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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

Smarty Ports/Shants wrote:
Hi, Ericka. Welcome to Sarcasm World, we're having a big sale right now... The concept you're talking about is something worth thinking about. However, the bottom line is that toproping and lead are very different mediums, and this tends to be very apparent once you leave the ground. The cumulative effects of running laps and getting pumped tend towards not getting as pumped, which will help, not hinder you, on lead. Leading is a self-limiting medium. If you posess any of the standard survival instinct that most of us do, you'll stay out of trouble on the lead for the most part by making intelligent, and eventually, experience-based decisions about what you're capable of. Have fun, be safe.


Yeah, I am sensing the sarcasm. I have climbed on rock and the "plasticy" stuff painted to look like rock. Toproping is easy, even for me the FNG. However, lead climbing is a different animal. After watching some people jump right up to the wall with seemingly no sense of safety or a clue of self-preservation; this system kind of worries me. I foresee litigation issues for centers that offer this style of climbing for those with NO experience whatsoever.


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By Maurice Chaunders
Dec 20, 2012
Colombian Crack

You gotta learn how to rest dude. You don't use you hands when your rest, ideally, or as little as possible, or comfortably an efficiently alternating. Footwork is important to lessen the load carried by your arms, and can often be overlooked by those new to the sport. If you are trying to rest by hanging painfully on your shoulder, you are doing it wrong. Rest actively on your way up, moving slowly and in control; flick your hands when you can; grip as tightly as you need and try not to over do it.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Dec 20, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Ericka: Screw the colored tape routes in that gym. Just find the easiest way to grasp holds to go up the route on the 'autobelay' device. Smooth movements with ease, so you don't get pumped. ( how high is the place?) Or pick a lower, shorter route if you can. Try to build up stamina to do 'laps' up and down several times on the autobelay route. BUT don't hog it if there is a line waiting to use the climb. Then when you get stronger and feel more comfortable, try the colored tape routes for more difficulty.
In reality, you need to find a climber to partner up with to get the most out of the sport in any sense.


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By The Maverick
Dec 20, 2012

Thanks for ALL your input. I was looking for both sides of the issue and I certainly found it.

Got some sustainable information for future climbing decisions. Remember this sport ranks third in my bag of insanity. I'm not looking for competition, just fitness and a break from throwing law breakers in jail on a daily basis.

Again thanks for your input!

Climb Safe!


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Dec 20, 2012
tanuki

Ericka, i know that you are new to climbing and the forum here. don't be put off by all the sarcasm. most climbers (myself included) are much bigger assholes online than in person. Meet us at the crag, and most everyone is cool.

That being said, I think that you are somewhat off-base on how you are looking at auto belay systems. They are just a tool, and IMHO, they great for increasing your time and vertical feet of climbing experience. You can find the easiest route on the wall (or just make your own) and practice moving in a vertical environment. You can use this type of practice to both refine your technique and develop some climbing specific conditioning. As an absolute beginner, you will benefit a lot from this type of training.

As far as safety, ALWAYS make sure that you are clipped in. In the gym I use I have, on more than one occasion, see a person get to the top, prepare to lean back only to realize that they forgot to clip into the auto belay. Sounds stupid, but it happens with frightening regularity.

One more thing. I have not been to the whitewater center since 2009, and left Charlotte in 2011. However, when I was there the route setting at the whitewater center was pretty bad. Inner Peaks, the gym in Charlotte, had some pretty good route setting. I don't know who is setting there now, but Doug (the owner) takes a lot of pride in the facility and I am confident that the quality of the routes there is still top notch. If you want to climb indoors, drive the extra :30 and give inner peaks a try.

good luck and climb safe!


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By Jeremy Riesberg
From Boulder, CO
Dec 20, 2012
Palisaid, SD.

Ahh, this has to be a joke.


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By Sam Stephens
Dec 20, 2012
Top half of Melifluous

NC Rock Climber wrote:
Ericka, i know that you are new to climbing and the forum here. don't be put off by all the sarcasm. most climbers (myself included) are much bigger assholes online than in person. Meet us at the crag, and most everyone is cool. That being said, I think that you are somewhat off-base on how you are looking at auto belay systems. They are just a tool, and IMHO, they great for increasing your time and vertical feet of climbing experience. You can find the easiest route on the wall (or just make your own) and practice moving in a vertical environment. You can use this type of practice to both refine your technique and develop some climbing specific conditioning. As an absolute beginner, you will benefit a lot from this type of training. As far as safety, ALWAYS make sure that you are clipped in. In the gym I use I have, on more than one occasion, see a person get to the top, prepare to lean back only to realize that they forgot to clip into the auto belay. Sounds stupid, but it happens with frightening regularity. One more thing. I have not been to the whitewater center since 2009, and left Charlotte in 2011. However, when I was there the route setting at the whitewater center was pretty bad. Inner Peaks, the gym in Charlotte, had some pretty good route setting. I don't know who is setting there now, but Doug (the owner) takes a lot of pride in the facility and I am confident that the quality of the routes there is still top notch. If you want to climb indoors, drive the extra :30 and give inner peaks a try. good luck and climb safe!


I set at IP for a while and am still very close to the staff. Great place to get one good knowledge, classes, and experience.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Dec 21, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

Erika need to have your belayer give you a rest, is just admitting that you failed at the route.

The auto-belay device sensing your immenent failure throws you back to the ground to start over. It is a very smart machine.


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By Unassigned User
Dec 21, 2012

superkick wrote:
Erika need to have your belayer give you a rest, is just admitting that you failed at the route. The auto-belay device sensing your immenent failure throws you back to the ground to start over. It is a very smart machine.

yes this is correct.

my colleague from connecticut has stated some correct information.

immenent failure of dangerous lead climbing is bad for beginning climbers.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Dec 21, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

though the one at the gym near me claims to be a fully magnetic system..but doesnt use a BD magnetron for clipping in? whats up with that???


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By Unassigned User
Dec 21, 2012

superkick wrote:
though the one at the gym near me claims to be a fully magnetic system..but doesnt use a BD magnetron for clipping in? whats up with that???

yes it should have the magnetron otherwise it could be injurious to rest or it could make you lazy and a dangerous newbie of lead climbing.


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By amarius
Dec 21, 2012

Ericka Heath wrote:
David, that brings up yet another issue I hadn't thought of--device failure. The one's at the whitewater center are not even as sophisticated as what you are referring to. One misplaced hand or foot and your on the ground before you know it. They don't even give you lessons on how to use the damn thing. I watched two girls pony up to the wall and get hooked in. Off they go, only to fall flat on their butts when they missed a step. They said the only thing they had ever climbed was the stairs to their apartment!!!!!!


OH MY GOD!
Did you start WW runs with Class 4? Why not - there are folks who can do them in squirt boats, and it looks easy.
Perhaps you rolled your playboat after thinking about it?
And, that cartwheel came naturally to you as well?

I am quite sure they would be willing to provide instruction


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Dec 21, 2012
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

Jeremy Riesberg wrote:
Ahh, this has to be a joke.


not a joke. she is just new to the sport. give her some slack.

Ericka: Hang dogging is actually the act of "climbing" a route on lead (normally a route that is much harder than the leader is actually able to climb fluently), then resting frequently on the rope at each bolt, possibly even using the quickdraws as holds to get past cruxes.

To rest frequently without the use of the rope is normal and good technique. But as others have said, you must learn to do it correctly or you'll just waste more energy than you're saving.

Auto belays are nice if you use them correctly, because you can get some endurance training in with no partner. But suck if you are trying to work on a particular section, because rather than let you try one move over and over, it will just let you down after your first failure.

My advice; find partners. Bouldering is pretty social. And can be done alone in a gym too. Keep at it!


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By The Maverick
Dec 21, 2012

Jon Zucco wrote:
not a joke. she is just new to the sport. give her some slack. Ericka: Hang dogging is actually the act of "climbing" a route on lead (normally a route that is much harder than the leader is actually able to climb fluently), then resting frequently on the rope at each bolt, possibly even using the quickdraws as holds to get past cruxes. To rest frequently without the use of the rope is normal and good technique. But as others have said, you must learn to do it correctly or you'll just waste more energy than you're saving. Auto belays are nice if you use them correctly, because you can get some endurance training in with no partner. But suck if you are trying to work on a particular section, because rather than let you try one move over and over, it will just let you down after your first failure. My advice; find partners. Bouldering is pretty social. And can be done alone in a gym too. Keep at it!


Thanks Jon. Yes. I am very new to climbing. Lighten up people. It's climbing. No need to get bent. I know what "Hangdog" means. I was using it in a silly way to explain how I felt just chilling out at the top with no one around to help or offer advice. Not using it in the proper climber jargon apparently rips some people's hides. Get over it! Thank goodness I am a better person than that. As a cop, I could really rip some ignorant drivers and otherwise non-law abiding citizens into shreds. I started climbing to keep me sane and not say or do what I really would like to do to ignorant people who should be removed from the gene pool. It's climbing. People chill! Many thanks to those of you are supportive. Know, if you are ever my way, I will be glad to assist you in any way--food, shelter, police, fire, or medical. Just hollar.


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