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Clipping gear when leading on two ropes for two seconds
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By immunizer
Jun 12, 2013

I'll be leading multipitch trad for two seconds tomorrow and I'm wondering about whether it makes sense to provide separate attachment points to each piece of gear for each rope. Basically, I'm wondering if it makes sense to clip each rope into its own biner on each piece. I believe that it does not, but a colleague raised valid concerns that bear discussion. So I ask you.

Here's the scenario:
The leader will ascend to the belay, anchor, and then place both seconds on belay on independent ropes. Top-belay will be from a Reverso and rope will be stacked into separate doubled slings (i.e., closed rope hooks). The leader will thus be dragging two ropes simultaneously. There are four concerns directly related to clipping pro that I have questions about.

1) Friction between ropes
2) Need to protect traverses and other potential pendulums
3) Ropes becoming twisted
4) Open carabiners that may become loaded (i.e., one climber unclips from a piece that becomes loaded directionally as the other climber falls)

1) Friction between ropes.
I don't see this being a significant issue if the ropes are clipped to the same biner. There will be some rubbing, but because this isn't likely to happen under significant load (only likely if one climber hangs while the climber below ascends) I don't think it will be a problem. Also, I believe it will be of limited duration even in that scenario.

Clipping each rope separately would tend to eliminate this problem, but at (I believe) significantly greater risk of tangling. Also, it increases the challenge of clipping gear on lead substantially, which reduces the efficiency of the lead and, hence, the safety.

2) Need to protect traverses and other potential pendulums
Were it not for this it might be unnecessary to even clip the second rope. It may make sense to clip the second rope only to those directional pieces expected to prevent a pendulum. In this case the burden of clipping two pieces separately is reduced for the leader.

3) Ropes becoming twisted
It seems to me far more likely that, by having to separate the strands in order to clip them, the ropes may become tangled only insofar as their being clipped in different orders at different pieces may mean unclipping is necessary to untwist. Although this shouldn't result in additional twisting at the belay, it may hinder the movement of one or other of the seconds by forcing them to climb under or over the rope to undo the twist inadvertently introduced by the leader and having to then reverse this maneuver to untwist again. Clipping in to the same biner seems unlikely to cause this problem.

4) Open carabiners that may become loaded
If both ropes are clipped to the same carabiner, one second must unclip while the other remains below that piece. If the piece being unclipped protects a traverse, and the other (lower) second should fall while the first has the carabiner open, it's possible the carabiner could break.

I'm sure there are other considerations that I won't discover until I'm climbing (and others that I have considered and am satisfied I know the answer to.)

So, what do you folks do? Why do you do it?

Thanks!


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By BTLove
From Jackson, WY
Jun 12, 2013

If the route wanders, you need directionals for both seconds. So clip both ropes into the pieces that are needed to protect a swing for your seconds, then only clip the one rope in places where a directional is not needed. This is what I have done in the past.

This assumes both climbers will be climbing simultaneously. If time is not as issue, it is far easier to have the second bring the second rope up, unclipping his rope, then re-clipping each piece with the second rope as he goes. Meaning each person climbs one at a time. It leaves the third protected from swings and allows for easier leading and belaying for you.

Often I have combined the two methods. Bringing two people up simultaneously on the easier pitches and going one at a time on the crux pitches. As you said, clipping two ropes into a piece is difficult, especially during a crux move.


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By JeffL
From Salt Lake City
Jun 12, 2013

You should think of it as climbing with double ropes. Hopefully your ropes are two different colors. Keep the "red" rope always on the right side and clip your right pieces. Keep the "green" rope on the left and clip your left pieces. Have your belayer put you on belay with both ropes. Keep in mind that when everyone is at the belay, you should keep your ropes oriented so that when you face the wall, red is still on the right and green is on the left. I've gotten a twist in when not being careful.

I would not recommend clipping the ropes to separate biners, there is no need for this. The only friction that you'll have to worry about is the rope drag. 2 9.8 mm ropes suck on something that is less than vertical, especially if you're doing 50-60m pitches.

If you are using the same piece to protect both 2nd's on a traverse, the first person to the piece should only take his/her rope out of the biner and leave the cleaning to the last climber. If it's not a traverse, no big deal they can clean it, but it might be a good rule to have your 2nd's only touch their rope if you are basically guiding them.

Rope management is even more important with 2 ropes and even easier to mess up. Refer to the above where I explained think about the ropes with your body facing the wall, especially when belaying.

Lastly, even with an open gate, your biners are rated to what 7kn? That's about 1575 lbs so a top rope fall shouldn't brake the biner unless there are other variables at work


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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Jun 12, 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.

BTLove wrote:
If the route wanders, you need directionals for both seconds. So clip both ropes into the pieces that are needed to protect a swing for your seconds, then only clip the one rope in places where a directional is not needed. .


+1


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By bearbreeder
Jun 12, 2013

are you climbing on doubles/twins .... or a single and trailing

if the former, just lead as with twins ...

if the latter then simply clip the trailing rope to a second draw on the occasional piece to protect the traverses ... there will be much less drag and itll be much easier for the follower to unclip ...

this of course means that youll need a few more draws

the extra friction of clipping both ropes to a single biner on lower angle ground, the twisting of ropes (youll find out when youre at the belay and if you need to untie) and the unclipping problems are known issues when trailing both ropes in a single biner

twins get away with some of it because they are MUCH thinner than most singles

ive done it enough times on easy ground ... which is where i assume yr going as for anything "hard" the rope/clipping management will be a bit of a biatch


rambles 5.6
rambles 5.6



emil 5.6
emil 5.6


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
Jun 12, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

1) Probably not a concern
2) Definitely a concern
3) Avoid if possible
4) Probably not a concern

The typical one leader-two followers scenario will usually involve a couple of beginners, or at least partners who are ill-prepared to take over the lead or extricate themselves in an emergency. If this describes your scenario, it would be wise to choose a climb that is well within everyone's capabilities, to minimize the risk of an epic, or at worst, a disaster. If you're climbing something that everyone involved considers "cruiser" I think the concern about one follower taking a fall just as the other is unclipping the rope is unwarranted. If it really worries you, you can always throw an extra biner on those pieces that would call for it.

If it were me, I would probably choose a non-wandering route to begin with, though.

I did this once, and vowed never to do it again. It was too much of a cluster and my rope management skills weren't up to the task. I do occasionally take friends on easy multi-pitch, but I use the "2nd trails a rope" method which, though slower, alleviates many of these concerns.


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By Allen Sanderson
From Oootah
Jun 12, 2013

"Clipping gear when leading on two ropes for two seconds"

If yer leading for only two seconds who cares about a rope(s) and clipping gear??

Oh you mean how best to clip gear using two ropes and having two people follow on each rope?

Regardless of who or what is following when utilizing two ropes you either 1) clip both ropes to all gear or 2) clip each rope to gear independently (typically alternating with each piece of gear).

That is you do not clip the first rope into a piece and the second rope into another piece then later clip them both together. By together I mean into the same biner. If you want to clip both into the same piece of gear use two quick draws clipping each rope into different quick draws.

The reason for this is because if a fall were to occur and you could have slack in one rope which could ride over the other and cut through it.


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By John Husky
Jun 12, 2013

Whenever I climb in a party of three, we usually swing leads so we climb one at a time. The second (middle) is tied into two ropes. The second re racks and helps the belayer as needed. Leave in a piece for traverses. I think it is nearly as quick as belaying two at once, which I've never done, because it seems like a cluster fudge looming. Plus, I'll be god damned if I am going to be helmet to ass with some fat gassy bastard on a crack climb.


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By RockinOut
From NY, NY
Jun 12, 2013
Gear

Wow you must be a super fast climber if you can lead a pitch in two seconds... Sorry it was a very long day and it took me a minute and reading a little further to figure it out.


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By MojoMonkey
Jun 12, 2013

bearbreeder wrote:
are you climbing on doubles/twins .... or a single and trailing


Don't skim past this question from bearbreeder. Maybe it doesn't need to be said, but you sound like you are figuring things out and may be considering leading on two single ropes. I don't have a link to any research on it, but depending on the single ropes used a fall caught on two singles will mean a high impact force on the top piece, and will likely be... uncomfortable for you.


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By Derek Doucet
Jun 12, 2013

If leading with two single ropes, clip them both, with a single carabiner on the rope end, through all the gear so each 2nd has any necessary directionals, but only take a belay on one of the ropes. Twists that do ocassionally occur generally just migrate up the ropes to the Reverso and are only rarely problematic enough to require any action at all. I typically find I need to fix them maybe once on longish routes. The risk of breaking a carabiner when one second falls while the other opens the gate to remove his/her rope is negligible. It's a fairly low probability event to begin with, and as long as you're keeping the belays snug, the loads generated are unlikely to be sufficient to snap a carabiner.

I've done this on many routes with excellent results. All that said, taking two novices up multipitch routes is an involved and sometimes complex process with ample opportunity for serious problems. Make sure your rope management, anchoring, Reverso and self rescue skills are dialed.


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By Alec32
From Brooklyn, NY
Jun 12, 2013

Derek Doucet wrote:
If leading with two single ropes, clip them both, with a single carabiner on the rope end, through all the gear so each 2nd has any necessary directionals, but only take a belay on one of the ropes. Twists that do ocassionally occur generally just migrate up the ropes to the Reverso and are only rarely problematic enough to require any action at all. I typically find I need to fix them maybe once on longish routes. The risk of breaking a carabiner when one second falls while the other opens the gate to remove his/her rope is negligible. It's a fairly low probability event to begin with, and as long as you're keeping the belays snug, the loads generated are unlikely to be sufficient to snap a carabiner. I've done this on many routes with excellent results. All that said, taking two novices up multipitch routes is an involved and sometimes complex process with ample opportunity for serious problems. Make sure your rope management, anchoring, Reverso and self rescue skills are dialed.



+1

Do not belay on both ropes if you clip them both through the same pro, or else your fall will not be sufficiently dynamic. (Or so I've been told. It seems to make sense, though.)


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 12, 2013
OTL

I remember people expressing concern that if you have two single ropes running through the same biners, belayed on one, and fell, there could be an issue of rope burn as they would run past each other.

Belay your followers one at a time - not that much slower usually, b/c less rope clustering or clip only key directional pieces to the extra rope via its own biner/draw.


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By immunizer
Jun 12, 2013

Thanks for all the advice.

This will be a training exercise: all three climbers are skilled and experienced leaders, we simply want to develop our technical skills a bit. I've followed (as a noob) threesomes gone wrong and figure the day will come when I want to lead two novices up a route.

The ropes are of different color but the same diameter. They are single ropes and a bit fatter than might be ideal (~10mm), but they're what we have. It was never my intention to lead on both of them, but the point about insufficient dynamism is well-taken and I'm glad to have it pointed out.


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By bearbreeder
Jun 13, 2013

immunizer wrote:
The ropes are of different color but the same diameter. They are single ropes and a bit fatter than might be ideal (~10mm), but they're what we have. It was never my intention to lead on both of them, but the point about insufficient dynamism is well-taken and I'm glad to have it pointed out.


if anyone has a mammut alpine smart or a gigi ... use it

for 10mm+ ropes, pulling 2 of them through a reverso, or even an ATC guide is a biatch

on the positive side you can skip arm day at the gym for a week or two ;)


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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Jun 13, 2013
Belay

"If you want to clip both into the same piece of gear use two quick draws clipping each rope into different quick draws. "

I was always under the impression that twin ropes were meant to be clipped into the same carabiner on each piece. Is that incorrect?

It always seems like there's some confusion between the precise definitions of "twin", "half", and "double" ropes.

Petzl indicates that twin ropes are not clipped to the same pieces, whereas Mammut clearly states "Twin ropes must only be used in pairs and are clipped together into each piece of protection, as with single rope technique."

The Mammut page goes on to say "...you have the choice between twin rope technique, where both ropes run parallel through the protection and half rope technique, where the «left» and «right» ropes run separately through different protection points" regarding Half (Double) ropes.


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By bearbreeder
Jun 13, 2013

Peter Franzen wrote:
"If you want to clip both into the same piece of gear use two quick draws clipping each rope into different quick draws. " I was always under the impression that twin ropes were meant to be clipped into the same carabiner on each piece. Is that incorrect? It always seems like there's some confusion between the precise definitions of "twin", "half", and "double" ropes. Petzl indicates that twin ropes are not clipped to the same pieces, whereas Mammut clearly states "Twin ropes must only be used in pairs and are clipped together into each piece of protection, as with single rope technique." The Mammut page goes on to say "...you have the choice between twin rope technique, where both ropes run parallel through the protection and half rope technique, where the «left» and «right» ropes run separately through different protection points" regarding Half (Double) ropes.



twin ropes are clipped to the same carabiner ... half ropes can be done either or according to mammut ...

now before anyone goes off and off about the dangers of clipping half ropes to one piece/biner then splitting them or vice versa ...

ill save everyone the trouble by pointing out my prior email from mammut saying its fine with their ropes

or i can start posting screen shots from the Odyssey of hazel findlay and james person doing routes and taking falls on doubles that have went through a single biner then split up, etc ... they climb harder and more than most MPers, and fall more on halves than anyone here ...

;)


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By Josh
From Golden, CO
Jun 13, 2013
Stairway to Heaven (pitch 3)

Hey Bearbreeder,
Would you be willing to share that email from Mammut? After doing a quick MP search, I didn't find prior discussions of the specific issue you referenced, but I've been interested in getting that exact question answered for a while now: if I am climbing with a set of ropes rated both as twins and halfs (like the PMI Verglass, my favorite alpine ropes ever), any reason why I can't switch back and forth between those two techniques on the same pitch? In other words, is there any problem with clipping both ropes through some points of protection (i.e. clipping both ropes through a single biner) and then clipping each through separate points of protection on some later portion of the same pitch (and then maybe even switching back to treating them as twins [i.e. clipping them both through single protection points])?

It sounds like you have an email from Mammut saying this is OK, as well as some footage of hardpersons climbing in exactly this style (and taking falls I wouldn't have the gumption to face, etc.). If so, that would be helpful corroboration.

Thanks.


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By Cory
From Boise, ID
Jun 13, 2013
Relaxing in the Tuttle Creek Campground after a fun day in the Hills

bearbreeder wrote:
for 10mm+ ropes, pulling 2 of them through a reverso, or even an ATC guide is a biatch on the positive side you can skip arm day at the gym for a week or two ;)


^ This.

Get thinner ropes. Well never mind. Use the ropes you have once, but pick a short route. Then you will actually appreciate the thinner ropes when you get them. If you really want to stick with the fatties, look at a B-52 belay device, I think they are a bit wider, and can also be used in auto-lock mode to belay off the anchor.

I've used something similar to the setup you mention several times with one experienced partner and one total noob. It can work very well if you and your experienced friend have everything dialed. Belaying two at once is MUCH faster than one at a time as long as you can avoid rope clusters while bringing them up (stack the ropes in two piles). If you are going to do it, make sure to use an auto locker (ATC guide, reverso, etc). We typically let our beginner friend follow 2nd, with me or my experienced friend following 10-15 feet or so behind. This way whoever is following 3rd can help the beginner friend out if he/she has any issues.

As for your system using two singles:
-When leading: Make sure you are only belayed on one rope at a time. Clip the other one to your haul loop so that you don't accidentally clip the rope that you are not being belayed on. The rope from the haul line should be the line to the middle climber (only really matters if you're swinging leads w/ climber #3). Only clip the hauled rope to protection points before a traverse where you need a directional.

When belaying the followers: Stack the ropes in two piles. As they climb, if there is a piece of pro with two ropes clipped to it, instruct #2 only to unclip their rope. Other than that, #3 cleans everything (since ideally they are more experienced, faster, and won't get your pieces stuck). When #2 & #3 get there they clove in to the anchor with their ropes.

For bonus points, and extra speed: You can swing leads with #3. This way you only need to re-stack the middle guys rope (that was clipped to your haul loop). Once it's re-stacked, simply unclip it from your haul loop, and have #3 clip it to his/her haul loop. While #2 is re-stacking #3 can be re-racking. After this throw #3 on belay and he/she is ready to lead, and you will now be following 3rd. Since #2 doesn't have much to do other than climb, have him take photos.

Good luck!


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By bearbreeder
Jun 13, 2013

Josh wrote:
Hey Bearbreeder, Would you be willing to share that email from Mammut? After doing a quick MP search, I didn't find prior discussions of the specific issue you referenced, but I've been interested in getting that exact question answered for a while now: if I am climbing with a set of ropes rated both as twins and halfs (like the PMI Verglass, my favorite alpine ropes ever), any reason why I can't switch back and forth between those two techniques on the same pitch? In other words, is there any problem with clipping both ropes through some points of protection (i.e. clipping both ropes through a single biner) and then clipping each through separate points of protection on some later portion of the same pitch (and then maybe even switching back to treating them as twins [i.e. clipping them both through single protection points])? It sounds like you have an email from Mammut saying this is OK, as well as some footage of hardpersons climbing in exactly this style (and taking falls I wouldn't have the gumption to face, etc.). If so, that would be helpful corroboration. Thanks.


Hello (deleted),

you had a question on your Mammut rope Phoenix 8mm and whether it can be used in twin and half rope technique in one single pitch. This is the case, you can always clip the two rope strands as twins, then split them as doubles, join again etc. This is exactly the advantage of half ropes compared to twin ropes where you always need to clip both ropes.

Hope this helps you,
best regards from Switzerland,

(deleted)

(deleted) Kind regards
(deleted)
Productmanager Climbing Equipment
Mammut Sports Group AG, Birren 5, CH-5703 Seon
Tel. +41 62 769 81 32, Fax +41 62 769 82 47, www.mammut.ch


from the Odyssey ... the amazing hazel findlay flashing E7 ... she splits the ropes then joins em back together at the last pin

hazel findlay on e7 from the odyssey
hazel findlay on e7 from the odyssey


james pearson on e8/9 ... he joins the ropes then splits em ... and even takes a fall latter ... doesnt die quite yet

james pearson e8/9 from the odyssey
james pearson e8/9 from the odyssey


miss findlay again ... onsighting e6 she joins the ropes at the first piece then splits em ...

hazel findlay e6 from the odyssey
hazel findlay e6 from the odyssey


to the OP ... dont be afraid to try it youll learn what works and what doesnt work

ive done enough runs up the chief bringing 2 people up ... it takes around 20% more time even with newbs if they you keep them inline ;)

1. make sure both ropes are flaked out nicely

2. tie the lead rope to your harness, you trailing rope to a locker on yr haul/gear loop ... easier to haul and less likely to screw up clipping the wrong rope

3. as you lead up clip the trailing to the occasional second draw on pieces to protect traverses .... clipping the rope to the same biner and every piece as the lead rope will cause the rope to rub more against the rock, more drag, and be harder to pull up the rope on belay

4. when you get to the top go on autoblock ... make sure the weaker climb is in the middle as they only need to unclip their draws, not clean gear ... always keep 20 feet+ separation between the climbers ... the second climber need to know to keep his feet UNDER the rope on traverses so if he falls he doesnt pull off the third

5.you can either flake the ropes into 2 slings like you mentioned, which honestly is going to be a total biatch with 10mm+ ropes and a reverso ... or just or just pull em into piles ... if you do this, when the second and third get up, their immediate job is re-flake the ropes over their tie in points

6. if you want to swap leads with the third, he simply takes the trail line and leads up, no untying needed ...

7. its a great way to teach the multi newb in the middle how to lead/top belay under supervision

again i strongly recommend a gigi or mammut alpine smart for 10mm+ ropes

with multi newbs ....


banana peel 5.6
banana peel 5.6


;)
butt face 5.8
butt face 5.8


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jun 13, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Friction between ropes isn't much problem, unless they get twisted. Try to be consistent pulling one rope up toward your left and the other toward your right. Twisted ropes can actually clean your gear behind you!

On short traverses and zig-zags, just clip one rope left and the other rope right. For each second, the next piece beyond the traverse will usually be up far enough that the pendulum they face won't be too severe.

For long traverses, you will need to protect them both in the middle of the traverse.

Don't "twin" your ropes on traversing terrain. When the first tries to unclip, the second's rope will often make things awkward. Only twin if the pitch is a straight shot all the way up (and your gear is bomber).

Hope you are having fun ... tell us how it went!


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By Derek Doucet
Jun 13, 2013

Have a look here:

.
Check out ~5:29, among other spots. These are folks working at a high standard with 2 seconds. I'd recommend you emulate them. You'll see for yourself what they're doing the vast majority of the time: 2 skinny singles, both clipped to a single rope-end carabiner, through all the pro. They're belayed on only one of these ropes. You'll also see that they either tie in to both ropes, or ocassionally tie in to one and clip in to the other with a locker on the front of the harness. The former works very well, while the later makes dealing with the ocassional twist a bit easier. It's personal preference. What they are not doing is clipping the trail rope to a haul loop on the back of the harness. Among other reasons for not doing this, it's incredibly annoying to have to fish for it to clip it through pro.

Rope drag with both ropes through all the pro is no big deal if you use skinny ropes and sling your gear appropriately. I do this all the time, and it's a non-issue. Sure, there's more weight and drag than with a single rope, but it's seldom a problem, and when it is, it's the leader's fault for poor rope-line management.


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By Allen Sanderson
From Oootah
Jun 13, 2013

Peter Franzen wrote:
"If you want to clip both into the same piece of gear use two quick draws clipping each rope into different quick draws. " I was always under the impression that twin ropes were meant to be clipped into the same carabiner on each piece. Is that incorrect?


Peter my comment was in reference to

1. Clip blue rope to first piece of gear - rope through single quick draw

2. Clip red rope to second piece of gear - rope through single quick draw

3. Clip blue and red to third piece of gear.
Wrong : clip both ropes into the same quick draw

Right : clip red into one quick draw, clip red into another quick draw.

Alternative (i.e twins): clip both ropes into all gear.


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By The Ex-Engineer
From UK
Jun 13, 2013

For what it's worth, normal practice for UK mountaineering instructors would be keep both ropes separate and use a second quickdraw on directional runners pretty much exactly as described by bearbreeder and others.


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By immunizer
Jun 13, 2013

Thanks for all the advice. We put much of it into practice today, with good results. We did Lover's Leap (Morrison/Evergreen), which is a slightly wandering and generally easy route. I led on one rope and clipped the second only to directional pieces. I had the second rope clipped to my belay loop to make it easy to untangle, but that was never required. Large belay ledges made it possible to simply stack the ropes at the first two belays. One of my partners led the final ("crux") bit and stacked things into the slings I mentioned. This took her a while longer than just stacking on the ledge, but seemed to work well. Moving from longer to shorter loops is definitely the key there, though, to make sure things pull back out easily when that time comes.

The hardest part of the day was definitely pulling rope through the Reverso. I pulled something like 200m of fat rope through it today - which I don't recommend. Skinny ropes are definitely recommended, especially with fast climbers (as my partners were). Overall the day went as planned. Rope drag wasn't at all bad with properly extended slings and judicious placements (I tend to run it out on easy terrain which minimizes drag).

Thanks again!


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