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By Tradoholic
Mar 7, 2010
I've working with the silent partner and made this video to share.
The idea is to sport/trad climb alone. Why would I want to that? Because I can.
NOTE: This is NOT how the manufacturer recommends to use this device and this is NOT an instructional video and is for entertainment purposes only.



Issues:
-I am loading the first bolt hanger in the wrong direction. This can be alleviated with a directional trad anchor or....?

-It is a bit hard to feed with a traditional 9.8mm to 10.2mm rope. In the vid I'm using a 10.7mm gym rope. I also used a 9.4mm Petzl rope later on and found it fed better and provided a "softer" catch.

-The Silent Partner is not always guaranteed to lock up, thus back up knots are recommended. I found that trying to tie these knots proved to be too tedious so I decided to just trust the device. Am I a fool?

Discuss amongst yourselves!

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By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Mar 7, 2010
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumblin...
Bearing in mind you've already acknowledged that you're not using the Silent Partner according to the instruction manual, I'll make my comments anyway for the benefit of anyone who wants to know the official method:

-- The attachment point for your twin belay biners should be the tie-in loops, not the belay loop. This has several benefits: the SP is better oriented for rope feed; it doesn't flop around as much; and it's less likely to knock your teeth out in a fall.
-- The attachment biner gates should be opposed.
-- Back-up knots are a good idea, not just in case of device failure, but also to facilitate rope feed by taking the weight of the rope off the device. If you ever lead something longer than an indoor sport route, you'll find out real quickly what this means. Tying the knots isn't tedious if you do it before you get off the ground, and if you use clove hitches, you can release them almost instantly.

I wouldn't necessarily condemn your non-standard usage of the SP this way; if it works for you and you're okay with the extra risks involved, more power to you. But I do think taking the extra time to get the various systems involved with the SP dialed in is worthwhile. Once you've done it a few times, going by the book really isn't any harder than taking shortcuts, and I think it's safer that way.

JL

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By awskitc
Mar 7, 2010
I've never used a silent partner, but i've done a bit of solo leading with other devices(grigri, ATC guide... these have the disadvantage of not holding an upside down fall)

on a single pitch route, you can often use a stout tree as an anchor. i usually use webbing in at least a double wrap to prevent the anchor from sliding up the tree and thus lowering you down the cliff.

the backup loops become necessary at about 20-30 feet when the weight of the loose end of the rope prevents feeding through the device. i skipped this at first as well, but once you have the system figured out, it is way easier than trying to pull up rope and feed it through as you go.

another issue you will run into is that after 30 feet or so the weight of the anchored end of the rope can cause the device to self feed giving you all kinds of unwanted slack. i think the best way of dealing with this is pulling up the weight of the rope and attaching a prussik to your draw to hold that weight. make sure its long enough to accomodate rope stretch. clove hitching the draw is not recommended because A) if you fall on that piece of gear, you've effectively made any fall a factor two fall. and B) if you fall on a piece above it you put upward force on it, which can pull out a nut or hex sending you to the next solid gear if the one you fall on fails. this is the same reason to make the prussik long enough so that it doesnt pull up on a lower piece.

I usually have 5 or 6 loops clove hitched to biners on my harness (more or less depending on the length of pitch and length of fall you are willing to take if your initial device fails), and these are easily and quickly removable with one hand. i make the first loops a bit smaller (10 ft or so) because if the backup knots became necessary lower on the pitch you are less likely to deck if you have a shorter backup loop.

find the system that works best for you and work out the kinks on something you'd be willing to solo before you start to really trust the system. its complicated and dangerous but it opens up doors to new experiences ripe with self reliance so i think its worth it. the best protection is not falling.

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By Mark Kauz
From Madison, WI
Mar 7, 2010
Up on Rat Stew.
I like that route. Its a good one. I also like the green one next to it, that ends up in the corner alcove... you know, the face climb to the layback 4 moves, match, undercling, throw left, match, throw right, match, clip and your done. Ahhh Boulders. Good to see you've been able to replace Vince. (kidding)

Yep. Thats all I have to say on that. Cool video though. I'll be interested what is said about using this right. I came here with the presupposition that if it was labeled Silent Partner Leading and posted by Rhoads, it probably wouldn't be used "how the manufacturer recommends" so I'm interested to see what comes from this.

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By John Shultz
From Osaka, Japan
Mar 8, 2010
Above the beautifully positioned routes at Makapuu...
Well, it is cool to see a Silent Partner fall on a video. I appreciate your enthusiasm for a great device.

With some practice you can get comfortable and efficient with the clove-hitched back-up knots. And as said above, you will need to to prevent back-feeding on longer routes. An ounce of prevention for a pound of cure and all that jazz.....

Also, consider using a screamer on that first bolt if you are using it as an anchor. Usually you can find an anchor on the ground or at the base of the route, though the first bolt can shore that up.

hell, even if it is a gym, I think you are on your way to becoming an avid soloist. You are right that you have to find the right cord to complement things.

BTW, I think J. Thompson from CO is probably the resident expert here on the Silent Partner. Dude has logged a lot of vertical with and always has good advice. He will probably be along soon.

Solo-on hombre (but use backup knots!).

Cheers from Osaka,

john

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By Tradoholic
Mar 8, 2010
Excellent advice gentleman. I had not thought about rope weight on long routes, I'll try it out with a TR outdoors sometime. Perhaps wearing a back pack that I feed rope out of? Maybe using a thinner lighter rope will remedy this as well?

The manual does say to attach the device through the leg and waist loops but I switched that because in that orientation it wasn't obvious which was my feed end and which was lead end. The manual is very old school and it's my theory is was written before belay loops became standard. I did think about the teeth smashing but at 6ft tall it didn't seem like that would be an issue for me.

Right on with the screamer suggestion.

Hmmm...Perhaps I don't fully understand how to utilize the back up know set up, I will check it out further.

Thanks!

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By awskitc
Mar 8, 2010
I've tried the backpack technique once. It didn't work for me as I was using an ATC in "autoblock mode" with a chest harness. the angle of the rope (coming from the side out of the backpack and around the torso) did not allow it to feed through the device as well as from below.

I haven't tried it with the silent partner though and would be interested to know if it still feeds efficiently. If you do try this though, let us know how it goes.

this thread is awesome in that all the suggestions can help me dial in the ideal system. i'd really like to know how others have dealt with supporting the weight of the anchored end of the rope to prevent self-feeding and excess slack.

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By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Mar 8, 2010
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumblin...
If you're lucky, Kevin Stricker or Richard Goldstone will add some commentary here, they're probably the most experienced Silent Partner users I'm aware of on this site. You can do a search for Kevin's posts on the subject.

Nick Rhoads wrote:
Hmmm...Perhaps I don't fully understand how to utilize the back up knot set up, I will check it out further. Thanks!

I think the secret to success is to get very specific with your set-up and do it exactly the same every time. Then you don't have to wonder where the rope is feeding from, etc. Here's the system I use:

1. I clip the SP into my tie-in points (as noted above), with the anchored side of the rope on the left and the free side on the right.
2. I set up three backup knots clipped to the right side of my harness. These are clove hitches clipped to notchless Positron locking biners, hung on my front gear loop with the gates facing down and out. The first backup knot is nearest the SP; the second is to the right of the first, and the third is to the right of the second. Each backup knot has a loop of about 15-17' of rope hanging from it, which theoretically will get me as much as halfway up the pitch I'm leading (about 50').
3. I start off on lead, making sure to keep my backup loops clear (not much different from basic lead rope management). Around the time my first backup loop has run out, I just reach over, open the gate on the first biner and slide the clove hitch up and off, then keep going.
4. Somewhere in that first 50' of leading, I can usually count on finding a rest stance or semi-unstressful place where I can stop and pull up another loop (or two) and create new backup knots to replace the ones I've already dropped. To keep things orderly, I'll move the unclipped biner(s) back behind the last backup knot before doing the new ones. Being able to do a one-handed clove hitch is a handy skill to have here. At that point, I'm probably in good shape for the rest of the pitch.

Let me know if you have a hard time picturing any of this.

JL

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By Evan1984
Mar 8, 2010
I've never used the Silent partner, but my understanding is that it is basically a rolling drum that locks up when shock loaded. Thus, it allows the clove hitch to run until it locks up at which time the clove catches. Correct?

If I'm correct in my understanding, it seems like the device could be rigged to a directional anchor at the bottom, feed out rope and lock from the bottom. Therefore, you wouldn't be pulling extra rope up with you. Basically, can you rig the SP off the bottom anchor rather than the climber?

Am I way out in space on this?

Thanks,
Evan

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By Tradoholic
Mar 8, 2010
You're not way off Evan but in that scenario you wouldn't be able to get down at the end of the climb with out trailing a line to rap on.

Also, if you fell you would have to down climb the route to unlock the SP.

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By sunder
From Alsip, Il
Mar 8, 2010
ICE PIT 2011
Would a Petzl Mini Traxon on slack end of the SP work as a backup instead of the knots?

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By Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Mar 8, 2010
on top of the RNWF June 2012
why backup a device with another device? use knots, they can't break like a traxion can. also they're lighter. when soloing you have to expect that you'll have to do more rope management, after all, you are belaying yourself.

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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Mar 8, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.
Evan1984 wrote:
I've never used the Silent partner, but my understanding is that it is basically a rolling drum that locks up when shock loaded. Thus, it allows the clove hitch to run until it locks up at which time the clove catches. Correct? If I'm correct in my understanding, it seems like the device could be rigged to a directional anchor at the bottom, feed out rope and lock from the bottom. Therefore, you wouldn't be pulling extra rope up with you. Basically, can you rig the SP off the bottom anchor rather than the climber? Am I way out in space on this?


I told myself that I wasn't going to say anything in this thread.
I should have probably kept it that way.
But you are TOTALLY out in space. The silent partner would not work in this set up.
The rope doesn't move the climber and device do.
Anchoring the device at the bottom will not work.

Read the instruction manual...it's the best info there is on the subject....and it works well.
Do what the manufacturer recommends..it works.

There are a few tricks that some folks have adapted....such as putting the back up loops in a backpack. Little tricks like that work great without changing how the device works, and without eliminating the backup knots. The Back up knots are needed to manage the weight of the rope anyway. As are "rebelays".....tip: use a klemheist NOT a Prussic...it's a similar knot but it's one directional, thus allowing the dynamic qualities of the rope to still be utilized while bearing the weight of the rope. I use 2 locking biners and I layer overhand on a bights. That way I'm only clipping 1 strand of rope vs. the 2 from a clove. Overhands are strong and easy to untie one handed.

One bolt anchor? Dude! Don't do that! If you don't have a good anchor at the base of a sport route....tie off the first 2 bolts. You *intentionally* whipped onto a single bolt anchor, with no backup, in a gym that's like 20 ft tall? Onto a device that is designed to have some slippage? I've done some unsafe things....but wow!

No solo system is perfect. They are all more of a pain in the ass then climbing with a belayer. Get used to it, embrace it just don't cut safety out of the system in order to find your version of the "better" way.

josh

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By Tradoholic
Mar 9, 2010
Have you seen the manual? It looks like it's from the 80's and hand-drawn. It doesn't exactly inspire me that someone actually took the time to test the device. It looks more like someone wrote it simply to cover their liability. Which is fine but tells me I should do some safe experimenting first.

Agreed, I could tie off both of the first two bolts, even better would be a unidirectional trad anchor at the bottom.

This vid was not the first time I intentionally whipped on the SP. I took falls with TR back ups at first. Besides, anyone who has ever trad climbed has relied on one piece of gear alot. I'm not saying this set up is best or even safe. I'm asking for ways to improve it and that's what I've been getting thus far.

Thank you for contributing.

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By Tradoholic
Mar 9, 2010
I did try the clove hitch back up knots on loops but I was worried the loops would snag on things. Perhaps the loops in a backpack will work.

I'm trying to make the system as simple as possible and still be reasonably safe (according to my standards I guess).

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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Mar 9, 2010
Artist Tears P3
Thanks for posting up the vid.

The silent partner is a great device but it takes a fair amount of time and troubleshooting to get your system sorted out. I have one and use it for easy trad and soloing walls.

1. For free climbing I take the rope with me in a small daypack. I tie overhand loops every 30 feet or so and have the rope come from the pack over my shoulder through a biner on the shoulder strap. For aid climbing I use loops and rope bags for rope management.

2. I generally know when a knot is coming up so at that stage I stop, untie the knot and carry on. I'll tie off to a piece if I have too.

3. I carry long rebelays cords which are about 6 feet long to remove the weight of the rope on a long pitch. I generally use two per pitch. Like Josh said, use the klemheist. When aid climbing I also use rubber bands to hold the rope in position. It's not much fun getting almost to the anchor and running out of rope, because there is 30 feet of rope down at the anchor and has now become a snagfest. When doing traverses or roofs this is a big issue. Sometimes I use velcro straps to increase friction. Every pitch is different so you have to think outside the box.

4. Anchors must be totally bomber and set for upward pull. I incorporate a screamer into the anchor.

5. First piece off the anchor is also a screamer.

6. The silent parter is attached directly to the harness, not on the belay loops with two opposed lockers. Putting it onto the belay loop is more conveient but it doesn't work nearly as well (flops around) and it can get very close to whacking you on the chin.

7. Rope, I like to use a 10.2 to 10.5 diameter. Newer the better.

If you search the web for information about the silent partner there is a ton of information about it. Also on the bigwall forum on this site and supertopo.

If you put the time into learning how to use the device, it will work well and you're be surprised how efficient you can get compared to the first few times you used it.

Practice on muti pitch 5.low routes, to learn all the rope work and get your systems down pat. Good luck and have fun.

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By Tradoholic
Mar 9, 2010
Thanks John.

I did find that if you do attach the SP to the leg and waist loops that standard locking biners won't do. During a fall they can become cross loaded on the spine. Petzl Omni lockers allow it to travel from down to up with out catching on the spine.

See link to the Omni here: moosejaw.com/moosejaw/shop/pro...

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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Mar 9, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.
Nick Rhoads wrote:
Have you seen the manual? It looks like it's from the 80's and hand-drawn. It doesn't exactly inspire me that someone actually took the time to test the device. It looks more like someone wrote it simply to cover their liability. Which is fine but tells me I should do some safe experimenting first. Agreed, I could tie off both of the first two bolts, even better would be a unidirectional trad anchor at the bottom. This vid was not the first time I intentionally whipped on the SP. I took falls with TR back ups at first. Besides, anyone who has ever trad climbed has relied on one piece of gear alot. I'm not saying this set up is best or even safe. I'm asking for ways to improve it and that's what I've been getting thus far. Thank you for contributing.



The way the manual "looks" has little to do with the content. Yes I've seen it, I own it(it comes with the SP). The device has been tested. The original designer(and his wife?) post online a bit, mostly on Supertopo. The is a lot of history with the device, it's been around a very long time. When it was first around there weren't internet forums. The testing info and rumors about the "holy grail" of soloing device's were word of mouth.

Yes the loops can and do get hung up...which is why John and others will put them in a small pack. However they still tie the backup knots. Again don't cut safety corners for convience.

I've mostly used the device to climb long free routes. When you climb a pitch longer than 30 ft you'll be painfully aware that the backup knots are dual function and absolutely needed.
The rebelays are also needed. Without them the device will no longer feed smoothly.
I use 2 Petzl "William" carabiners on my waist and leg loops. I do NOT oppose the gates(which is how the manual instructs) and I turn the gates towards my body....thus giving the SP a nice smooth surface to move up and down on. It's never been a problem.

josh

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By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Mar 9, 2010
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumblin...
Nick Rhoads wrote:
Have you seen the manual? It looks like it's from the 80's and hand-drawn. It doesn't exactly inspire me that someone actually took the time to test the device. It looks more like someone wrote it simply to cover their liability.

Nick -- I agree that the manual looks kind of low-rent, but trust me, the guy(s) who wrote it did so after lots of mileage on the device. They know what they're doing. If you read enough posts from climbers who use the SP a lot, you'll find that most go "by the book" with few deviations.

Nick Rhoads wrote:
I did try the clove hitch back up knots on loops but I was worried the loops would snag on things. Perhaps the loops in a backpack will work.

I've never tried the backpack arrangement, but my experience with the hanging loops is that (once you get used to them) they don't snag any more often than the gear on my harness does, and such snags are easily cleared.

John McNamee wrote:
3. I carry long rebelays cords which are about 6 feet long to remove the weight of the rope on a long pitch. I generally use two per pitch. Like Josh said, use the klemheist.

Rich Goldstone has a nifty solution to the re-belay problem. Instead of anchoring the rope to a piece of pro with prusik or klemheist, he ties a slipknot in the rope just above the piece. The slipknot then rests on the biner you used to clip in to the pro, keeping the rope from back-feeding, but allowing it to travel up in case of a fall.

JL

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By Evan1984
Mar 9, 2010
This whole deal is seeming too futzy for my tastes. Mind as well go aid climbing...

to each his own

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By awskitc
Mar 9, 2010
wow, that thing with the slipknot for the re-belay sounds genius! i'm definitely trying that next time.

also, regarding the silent partner manual, i don't even use a silent partner (i use an ATC in autoblock mode with a chest harness... the SP is just soooo expensive.) and i tried a ton of different systems but, the one that i've found works best is pretty much exactly how that manual explains it. they've definitely done their homework and if there is a better system, well i'd sure like to hear about it. but i imagine that's about as good as it gets in order to "safely" belay yourself on lead.

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By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Mar 9, 2010
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumblin...
Evan1984 wrote:
This whole deal is seeming too futzy for my tastes. Mind as well go aid climbing... to each his own

Heh heh! Yeah, compared to climbing with another person, it's a pretty big production (at least until you get used to it). But the challenge of working with the SP offers its own rewards, and it definitely beats staying home when you don't have a partner!

JL

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By scottydo
From ventura, ca
Mar 10, 2010
chalking up at a rest
saxfiend wrote:
Here's the system I use: 1. I clip the SP into my tie-in points (as noted above), with the anchored side of the rope on the left and the free side on the right. 2. I set up three backup knots clipped to the right side of my harness. These are clove hitches clipped to notchless Positron locking biners, hung on my front gear loop with the gates facing down and out. The first backup knot is nearest the SP; the second is to the right of the first, and the third is to the right of the second. Each backup knot has a loop of about 15-17' of rope hanging from it, which theoretically will get me as much as halfway up the pitch I'm leading (about 50'). 3. I start off on lead, making sure to keep my backup loops clear (not much different from basic lead rope management). Around the time my first backup loop has run out, I just reach over, open the gate on the first biner and slide the clove hitch up and off, then keep going. 4. Somewhere in that first 50' of leading, I can usually count on finding a rest stance or semi-unstressful place where I can stop and pull up another loop (or two) and create new backup knots to replace the ones I've already dropped. To keep things orderly, I'll move the unclipped biner(s) back behind the last backup knot before doing the new ones. Being able to do a one-handed clove hitch is a handy skill to have here. At that point, I'm probably in good shape for the rest of the pitch. Let me know if you have a hard time picturing any of this. JL


i think saxfiend explained it best so far. I just got back from soloing Touchstone Wall in Zion and this was the method I used. (though I used 40 foot loops) Worked pretty well for me. Hopefully the OP gets some of the good advice that's out there on this topic. This thread has actually covered a lot of it thus far.

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By Chris Clarke
From La Paz, BO
Mar 10, 2010
awskitc wrote:

i use an ATC in autoblock mode with a chest harness... the SP is just soooo expensive.


awskitc:

I assume you know that there are two major issues using the guide atc in autoblock mode for rope solo. First is that it won't catch an inverted fall which you can somewhat mitigate with back up knots.

Second is that the rope will cross itself and jam at a relatively low level of impact force. Even a fat rope will cross itself and jam at less than 7 kn and possibly tear the sheath, according to pull test results from a guy on ukclimbing.com. Most ropes will actually start slipping at far less force. Slipping may not be catastrophic but you will probably slide to your backup knot as the stopping power of the atc guide is very minimal once the rope has crossed itself and started to slip.

You can use load limiters in the anchor and on gear but, even so, that's kind of a small margin of safety in my opinion. The ukclimber's username is jimtitt so you can register and search for his posts on the subject.


edited for clarity.

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By John Shultz
From Osaka, Japan
Mar 10, 2010
Above the beautifully positioned routes at Makapuu...
Greeting All,

SInce it is germane to the OP's quest for more info, can anyone describe the use of slipknots for holding the weight of the rope? Is it simply jammed sideways in the rope-end carabiner or are you clipping the slipknot. For some reason, this is not obvious to me.

For ease, i do sometimes rebelay off of bolts or pins mid-pitch again using a screamer. You can do this to set up a safer jug when wall climbing too.

Leading solo on an ATC in auto-block mode sounds sketchy to me! It kinda reminds me of the fact that people used to lead on prussiks (Barllet System?), until they found out how really dangerous it was.

Cheers from Osaka,
john

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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Apr 3, 2010
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me?...
John - how do you incorporate a screamer into the anchor?

Do you attach the screamer to the powerpoint and then to the rope - presumably backed up with another loop of rope? I ask because I assume nobody wants to trust the system to a single screamer and the logical place is AFTER the power point.

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