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Rope Tug Communication - what do you think of this protocol?
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By Dustin B
From Steamboat
May 30, 2011
It's always a party.

If your trying to do morse code or something, of course miscommunications are bound to happen.


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By Buff Johnson
May 30, 2011
smiley face

sam.f wrote:
That means no flailing around at the anchor, or while building one


But that's the first thing I do; as well as the chicken dance.


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By Jim Titt
From Germany
May 30, 2011

I was brought up climbing in an area where the belayer is either stood on a rock in the sea or huddled on a ledge at half height, the leader dissapears over and around roofs and then over the curving cliff top to the safety of a rotting line of fenceposts. The waves are crashing, the west wind blowing and the seagulls fighting over something tasty, voice communication is impossible and the rope drag horrific.

Rope tugs donīt work, ever. Learn to get a feel for pitch lengths and what is happening at the lead end and when the rope runs out start climbing, its simple and as safe as it will ever get.

Jim


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By RadTrad
From Prescott, Arizona
May 30, 2011
Storm over on Toms Thumb

On long multipitch alpine climbs where the belayer cannot hear me, we bring along walkie talkies...works like a charm


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
May 30, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

Paul U Roberts wrote:
On long multipitch alpine climbs where the belayer cannot hear me, we bring along walkie talkies...works like a charm


+1 to walkies. I use them with my partner and they make communication a breeze.


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By Aaron Martinuzzi
May 30, 2011
end of the day in the black canyon.

I've got to say that I was never able to execute this method of communication effectively. Always seemed like a good idea but generally ended up reduced to: as follower, wait around until I get antsy enough to climb and assume I'm simul-climbing or on belay; as leader/belaying from above, build anchor, yard on rope until follower gets moving. Doesn't sound too safe, but climbing wasn't what broke my neck ;)


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By Brian Abram
From Columbia, SC
May 30, 2011
Brian Abram, leading pitch 2 of Dinkus Dog on the South Side of Looking Glass.  Kyle Sox is belaying.

My method is one set of tugs:

I get to a belay station and build an anchor. I get safe. I yell "off belay." If there is no response, I'll try again. Maybe even a third time. If still no response, I don't yet pull up rope.

What I do is I put my belay device on the anchor and set up the rope to belay.

At that point, I give at least 10 strong, steady tugs so that there are no misunderstandings. This means both that I am safe and I have started belaying. All in one signal. No multiple signals. My partner doesn't tug back. A follower should avoid tugging on a leader.

I will then wait a minute for my partner to hopefully take me off belay.

I will then start belaying the rope up to get rid of slack. Yeah, it's slower than just hauling it all in, but I deal with it. Often, part of the reason we can't hear each other is we are far away from one another, in addition to being around corners or roofs. This means not a whole lot of slack anyway, usually.

When the rope goes tight, I assume I have pulled in all the slack, and now I'm tugging on my partner who is still clipped into the anchor.

He knows I have him on belay, as we've discussed this beforehand, so he disassembles the anchor and starts climbing.

I know it'll take him a minute or two to take down the anchor, so I'm constantly giving little tugs to check to see if he has started climbing yet. Tugging is annoying, but in these cases, the rope is usually going to have a lot of drag on it. I tug firmly. My partner understands this.

At the very least, my partner will run out of rope to feed and shouldn't let me continue to just pull on him. Whether I am belaying him, or needing to simulclimb, it's time for him to go.

It's not foolproof, but it's simple and it works. I discuss this with everyone I climb with: if we can't hear each other, 10 tugs means the leader is safe and has started belaying. The follower should let the leader belay up all the slack and then get moving.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
May 30, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Jim Titt wrote:
"...Rope tugs donīt work, ever."


Jim, Does the comment above refer to the specific cliff you learned to climb on? Or are you generally opposed to rope-tugs as commands?


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By Elijah Flenner
May 30, 2011

I don't like rope tugs. If there is trouble with communication and I pull the rope tight, you are on belay. It may take a little longer for me to pull up the rope since I have to put you on belay before I finish pulling up slack, but I figure that is a fair trade off for safety.


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By Greg D
From Here
May 31, 2011
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Paul U Roberts wrote:
On long multipitch alpine climbs where the belayer cannot hear me, we bring along walkie talkies...works like a charm


walkie talkies work great... until the batteries die. Then what?


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By Brian
From North Kingstown, RI
May 31, 2011

Mark Nelson wrote:
If it's just rope tugs, 4 pops, I'm off; pull rope & rig up, 4 pops, Second is on. Belayer should never tug when lead belaying; and utmost, if in any doubt, belay it out. If you're the Second, stay in the anchor until you have no doubt that you're on. Usually if you make a move and the rope moves with you, you're on.


+2 for this method. I use three tugs but same principle.

Your tug per syllable method is too complex.

Those who never are out of earshot of their belayer must not climb alpine, long routes, or they do 60 ft pitches. Sport climbers?


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By -sp
From East-Coast
May 31, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Brian wrote:
+2 for this method. I use three tugs but same principle. Your tug per syllable method is too complex.


I'm in complete agreement (possibly the third time ever?).


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
May 31, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

Greg D wrote:
walkie talkies work great... until the batteries die. Then what?


If you use them regularly, part of your normal gear check is checking the batteries. I might be more OCD than most, but I generally check my gear at the end of every day out (harder to lose or forget gear this way) and again before leaving the car for a day out.

We made sure to get walkies that you can charge with a car charger, which has come in handy on longer trips where we sleep in the car or at least have access to it, but all in all getting four days use on one charge is no problem. If I ever stay more than four days without hiking back to my car, I guess I'll cross that road when I come to it.


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By Jim Titt
From Germany
Jun 1, 2011

-sp wrote:
Jim, Does the comment above refer to the specific cliff you learned to climb on? Or are you generally opposed to rope-tugs as commands?


They donīt work on the cliffs I learned on and they donīt work on most of the cliffs Iīve climbed on so why bother with a system which rarely works (and you wonīt find out until itīs too late!). Why not use a system which works on all cliffs in all conditions with all partners. As most of the replies here and many other threads on other forums have indicated, reducing confusion in communication and simplicity are the answers to surviving a long time as a climber.

Jim


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By Curt Hokanson
Jun 1, 2011

Teton Mono-syllabic. Always Reply end with "Thank-you" (2) confirms you heard. "No" (1) if something was not communicated.

3-2-1

"On-Be-lay" (3) Respond "Climb-ing" (2) "Climb" (1)
"Off-Be-Lay" (3) "Be-lay-off" (3) "Thank you" (2)


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By Jay D.
From The Corner Office
Jun 2, 2011
Trees.  <br />Yes, trees.

As long as the climber and belayer establish some sort of protocol prior to the climber leaving the ground, then things should not be an issue. For instance, when I'm in a windy situation on a multi-pitch climb where the leader can't see the belayer I will suggest that the leader is off belay when an absurd amount of tugs on the rope happen. The second knows they are on belay, not when the rope becomes initially tight, but after a few moments when there is yet an annoying amount of tugs on the rope.

The one thing that I do, regardless, is yell and scream the verbal commands in conjunction with the tugs, so that if by chance I can be heard, there is no confusion.


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
Jun 3, 2011

what my normal trad partner and i do. Call off belay first.. if no response (and you can kinda tell when it's going to be tough..wind roof etc) then we just start yarding in the slack quickly.. there is no way you can climb as fast as you can yard in slack so it's obvious. Give them a sec to take you off. then pull in the rest.. put them on belay then pull them very tight. on belay. then pull tests to see when they start climbing.

i don't like multiple tugs or numbered tugs etc.. you can easily miss or mistake a tug and then you're messed up.


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By Paul Hunnicutt
From Boulder, CO
Jun 3, 2011
Half Dome

I'm not a fan of rope tugs. If I can't hear or see my partner and I'm not 100% sure they are off belay - I keep them on. If I probably think they are at belay station ready to haul in slack - I just feed through the belay device. Sure it adds a bit more time as I can't break down my belay, but I have to be 100% sure before I take someone off belay.

What if the three tugs are them pulling a roof move with a lot of rope drag? and you then take them off...now you are simul climbing with potentially a huge amount of slack.

Screw the tugs. If you aren't sure - keep them on and feed the remaining slack through your belay device.

my .02


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
Jun 3, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

Jim Titt wrote:
They donīt work on the cliffs I learned on and they donīt work on most of the cliffs Iīve climbed on so why bother with a system which rarely works (and you wonīt find out until itīs too late!). Why not use a system which works on all cliffs in all conditions with all partners. As most of the replies here and many other threads on other forums have indicated, reducing confusion in communication and simplicity are the answers to surviving a long time as a climber. Jim


I think you just need better walkies. Mine have never failed to function, even under a pretty serious roof. I regularly use them when I am hundreds of feet from my partner when we are both scouting for an open classic on holiday weekends.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 3, 2011

Alicia Sokolowski wrote:
I think you just need better walkies. Mine have never failed to function, even under a pretty serious roof. I regularly use them when I am hundreds of feet from my partner when we are both scouting for an open classic on holiday weekends.


the last time i tried using walkie talkies was in yosemite valley. never attempted again after doing battle all day trying to find a channel where kids werent going to harass us all day.

to each their own, i'm perfectly happy with my system- its fast, efficient, and doesnt require any extra gear or weird technique.


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By Jim Titt
From Germany
Jun 3, 2011

Alicia Sokolowski wrote:
I think you just need better walkies. Mine have never failed to function, even under a pretty serious roof. I regularly use them when I am hundreds of feet from my partner when we are both scouting for an open classic on holiday weekends.


I think you are seriously confused about who is posting about what, I have never used, needed to use or wanted to use a walkie-talkie ever in my life.

Jim


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jun 3, 2011

Jim Titt wrote:
I think you are seriously confused about who is posting about what, I have never used, needed to use or wanted to use a walkie-talkie ever in my life. Jim


Jim,

Alicia was commenting on your previous post two days ago, which was seven posts above your last one. Unless there is another Jim Titt from Germany. If there is another Jim Titt, from Germany, that is the genesis of the "confusion"!


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By boman
From Boulder, coloRADo
Jun 3, 2011
moon hill

Cruxic,

Easy check for the last step:

assuming you have plenty of rope left... the second holds the rope tight about 3' out from his/her harness so there's a loop of slack. The leader thinks that they've taken out all the slack because they can't pull up anymore, puts the climber on belay, and as the second you can watch that extra 3' get belayed up- it'll move much differently than when the leader pulls up slack and reassure you that you're on belay. Also useful if anchors are awkward to clean and you need a bit of moving room.

Doesn't work if your leader is at the end of the rope, but it doesn't matter then anyways.


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By Jim Titt
From Germany
Jun 4, 2011

FrankPS wrote:
Jim, Alicia was commenting on your previous post two days ago, which was seven posts above your last one. Unless there is another Jim Titt from Germany. If there is another Jim Titt, from Germany, that is the genesis of the "confusion"!


So now there are two confused people, or are `Frankī and `Aliciaī really one and the same person?!!!
All the Jim Tittīs (and there are possibly millions of us) have only ever posted on this thread about rope tugs and replied to questions on rope tugs as is surely clear from the quotes which we included in our replies:-

"Rope tugs donīt work, ever."
"Jim, Does the comment above refer to the specific cliff you learned to climb on? Or are you generally opposed to rope-tugs as commands?"

Jim


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By rhyang
From San Jose, CA
Jun 4, 2011
21-August-2012: Me just before heading up the Twilight Pillar (III, 5.8+)

I do it this way if I don't have radios :

- 4 tugs : leader is off belay
- 3 tugs : leader has put you on belay

Follower never tugs on the rope, for obvious reasons.

The walkie talkies we use in the US operate on certain frequencies / power levels, dictated by our FCC. Other countries use different frequencies and surely have different products -- as evidenced by the experience of the gentleman from Germany.

Many of these radios now have subchannel codes which help eliminate interference; this is preferable in an area crowded with families & such. If someone breaks in on your channel, you can just agree to switch to a different one.

For most cragging I don't bother with radios, but on some routes they are helpful. I usually bring them on alpine routes, where wind and rope drag can drown out rope tugs and voices.

Sometimes you need to communicate things that rope tugs can't, like "there are two parties at this belay .. get comfortable, it will be a while" .. stuff happens in the mountains.


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