Home - Destinations - iPhone/Android - Partners - Forum - Photos - Deals - What's New
Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Tech Tip: Auto Locking Munter (ALM)- do's and don'ts
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
   Page 1 of 1.  
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
By Josh Beckner
Jan 25, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Simple, light and fast. These are aspects of alpine climbing that we must constantly strive for if we are to be efficient and reduce our exposure to objective hazards in the mountains. And sometimes this means reducing the security of yourself and your partner. The ALM stands out as an exception. It provides a secure, light and simple belay system. It’s fast to load, it can be made to be as secure as a plaquette (Reverso, ATC Guide, etc) and you can go from a standard munter to the ALM mid pitch.

The auto-locking munter hitch can come in handy in a variety of situations. The munter is a belay technique that is often used by mountaineers and guides due to its ease of use and efficiency. Essentially, the ALM is just a munter hitch tied on to a locker and then a second locker (the blocker-locker) is clipped to the munter and the follower’s strand allowing the munter to ‘auto-lock.’ As simple as it is, there are a couple nuances that you should know before you use it in the field.



*The ALM will create more friction than a standard munter. The friction is best reduced by using the biggest pearabiners you have. Feeding the rope through the ALM, instead of pulling it through, will help reduce both friction and the tendency for twists to occur in the brake strand.
*Generally speaking, the ALM should only be used in top belay situations.
*It is extremely difficult or impossible to lower your follower once the ALM is loaded.
*It’s best to use a locker for the ‘blocker-locker’, especially if you are going to be going hands free while belaying. Also, try to clip the two strands so that the second’s strand doesn’t brush past the gate in a direction that might open it (see the example in the picture below).

The ALM
The ALM


The ALM with the gold ‘biner acting as the blocker-locker. The shorter strand of rope (with the yellow tag) represents the strand that goes to the follower. When the follower’s strand is loaded, the weight will try to rotate the munter into the back of the ‘biner and out the front. Because the munter is clipped to the loaded strand and acts as a post, it won’t let the rotation occur; this is what creates the locking effect.



As with any new technical skill, you should practice this technique with someone that can coach you on the proper application of the given skill. Be safe out there!

For more Tech Tips, check out:

www.facebook.com/ExpeditionTraining?sk=notes


FLAG
By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 25, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

A "belay" device that can't be released strikes me as a super bad idea for anything but really easy ground. I doubt many people will adopt this, but if it happens, there are going to be fiascos with climbers hanging two feet above a ledge and the belayer unable to lower them.

Maybe the rope runs a bit diagonally and the follower swings under a little ceiling---the party had better anticipate every possible bad situation before using an unlockable system which, once loaded, is not releasable and could be a major chore to unload: think about the self-rescue geekery needed to unweight something which is functionally equivalent to a loaded knot.

Anyone using this ought to be able to explain with great clarity exactly what otherwise unavoidable problem they are solving by using such a system.


FLAG
By Tim Zander
Jan 25, 2012

If I place the second locker with the gate facing out it seems possible to get that locker out while the rope is under load.

Just testing at home without real loads so it's hard to say.


FLAG
By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jan 25, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

It's great to have a bag full of tricks for those unexpected situations. I'll add this one but I am finding it a bit difficult to imagine needing it.

If I really want an auto-block belay off the anchor, I'll use my ATC Guide or Mammut SMART (love that new toy...review coming soon). If I happened to drop whichever device, I'd use a Munter but I don't imagine there would be many instances when auto-block would be an absolute necessity and, given the inability to lower a climber, I don't know if the benefits would outweigh the limitations.

But, it is good to have as many tricks in the bag as you can.


FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Jan 26, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

thanks for re-iterating freedom of the hills basic info.


FLAG
By kevin deweese
From walnut creek, ca
Jan 26, 2012
don't throw rocks

Why not just extend a prussic from the anchor point and attach it to the load line if you MUST have an autoblock with your Munter?


FLAG
By Josh Beckner
Jan 26, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

rgold wrote:
A "belay" device that can't be released strikes me as a super bad idea for anything but really easy ground. I doubt many people will adopt this, but if it happens, there are going to be fiascos with climbers hanging two feet above a ledge and the belayer unable to lower them.


rgold, your point can't be highlighted enough! This technique should only be used on low angle terrain and it is not something that should replace your plaquette (atc guide, reverso, etc) on steeper routes. The ALM should never be used if you think the follower won't be able to get up the pitch.

Personally, I use the ALM quite often while guiding in the Tetons. I often belay clients with a munter because it allows be to put them on belay within a couple seconds and then if I want to let go of the rope to refuel I put another 'biner into the munter and I'm free.

Tim Zander- I'll have to check that out in the field. I'll let you know what I find. Seems logical though.....

Kevin D- A prussic would be way too slow and is liable to get caught up in the munter as you reel in rope. We're looking for speed here.


FLAG
By Pete Spri
Jan 26, 2012

This was discussed years ago in Climbing magazine.

www.climbing.com/print/techtips/tech_tips_trad_-_munter_magi>>>


FLAG
By jakeP
Jan 26, 2012

superkick wrote:
thanks for re-iterating freedom of the hills basic info.


After rereading all 528 pages of my Freedom of the Hills 6th edition, I can say that the ALM is not described. Maybe you have that seventh edition though. I, for one, am glad Mr. Beckner shared this tech tip.


FLAG
By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 27, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

It is true, many of us learned this seven or so years ago from the magazine article linked above. But that by itself doesn't mean it isn't worth mentioning; a lot of climbers do not know about it still.

And agreed, it should be fine for belaying on easy low-angle rock, although this may be primarily a guiding technique.

One application it is good for is improvised prussiking. A prussik on the rope for a foot loop and a locking munter at the harness make for an efficient improvised prussik set-up with minimal equipment requirements.


FLAG
By Jeremy Espinoza
From Denver, CO
Jan 27, 2012
Dry tooling near the shroud.

jakeP wrote:
Maybe you have that seventh edition though.


Nope, not in the seventh edition. Maybe he has that new eight edition though.


FLAG
By kevin deweese
From walnut creek, ca
Jan 27, 2012
don't throw rocks

rgold wrote:
One application it is good for is improvised prussiking. A prussik on the rope for a foot loop and a locking munter at the harness make for an efficient improvised prussik set-up with minimal equipment requirements.


interesting


FLAG
By Karsten Delap
From North Carolina
Aug 23, 2013

Here is a video I did on this a while back:

www.karstendelap.com/2012/05/09/lockingmunterhitch/


FLAG
By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Aug 23, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

Since this has come up again, it is worth mentioning that Bearbreeder has described an approach to unlocking the locking Munter in the following thread: www.mountainproject.com/v/garda-knot/108253899#a_108254353 .

Bearbreeder's quote:

you can release it under load

- use a larger biner for the actual munter
- use a smaller biner for the lock
- to release simply unclip the strand from the biner lock ... even under load you should be able to shimmy the rope out
- the small biner will now rotate through the large biner and the munter works normally


FLAG
By bearbreeder
Aug 26, 2013

rgold wrote:
Since this has come up again, it is worth mentioning that Bearbreeder has described an approach to unlocking the locking Munter in the following thread: www.mountainproject.com/v/garda-knot/108253899#a_108254353 . Bearbreeder's quote: you can release it under load - use a larger biner for the actual munter - use a smaller biner for the lock - to release simply unclip the strand from the biner lock ... even under load you should be able to shimmy the rope out - the small biner will now rotate through the large biner and the munter works normally


as a warning ... this works best with half or thin ropes, same with the ALM in general .... with thick ropes its a gongshow ...

;)


FLAG
By Dylan Weldin
From Austin, Texas
Aug 26, 2013
Summit of my first tower, the Rectory via Fine Jade

Karsten Delap wrote:
Here is a video I did on this a while back: www.karstendelap.com/2012/05/09/lockingmunterhitch/


I first learned this technique from Karsten's video last year. Thank you both for providing the community with a valuable bit of technical information. Josh, I'm sorry to see your effort was so negatively received... I used it today, in fact, out at Rumbling Bald to bring up my partner so I could go hands-free to take photographs

Thanks again for your advice and your efforts to enlighten the skeptics!


Fruit Loops @ the Bald
Fruit Loops @ the Bald


FLAG
By Grant Price
From Nellysford, VA
Oct 2, 2013
Moores Wall NC

Simply put, this is a guiding technique and should be selected as a belay method at the utmost discretion.

Josh, the point that might be made about your setup illustrated above is that the munter is tied "backwards" based on your description of the shot end or yellow tagged end going to the second. It is preferred that the loaded strand of a munter whether flipped in the belay or lower orientation be closest to the spine of the carabiner. Karsten's video depicts the munter tied in this manor.


FLAG
By Josh Beckner
Nov 3, 2013
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Grant Price wrote:
Josh, the point that might be made about your setup illustrated above is that the munter is tied "backwards" based on your description of the sho{r}t end or yellow tagged end going to the second. It is preferred that the loaded strand of a munter, whether flipped in the belay or lower orientation, be closest to the spine of the carabiner.


I'd argue that it's more important to tie the Munter so the break strand does not unscrew the gate. I would also venture to say (and I'm sure I'm opening up a can of worms here) that it doesn't matter if the load strand is on the gate side or not- it's just simply not going to break the biner unless you're dealing with factor 2 falls, rescue scenarios with mega loads, etc. In which case, the ALM should not be incorporated into the system.

When using the Munter in guiding scenarios or any other scenario where you are belaying from above, you simply can't generate a load that will break a biner that is not loaded right on the spine. Think about all the lead fall catches that happen every day where the rope (or GriGri) is not loaded on the spine side, but on a random spot in the basket of the biner.

I'm not trying to be an antagonist, I just want folks to re-think what modern hardware is capable of and to make decisions based on the massive collection of data that is out there.


FLAG
By WDW4
Nov 4, 2013
Global Village, Red River Gorge KY

Josh Beckner wrote:
I would also venture to say (and I'm sure I'm opening up a can of worms here) that it doesn't matter if the load strand is on the gate side or not- it's just simply not going to break the biner unless you're dealing with factor 2 falls, rescue scenarios with mega loads, etc. In which case, the ALM should not be incorporated into the system. Think about all the lead fall catches that happen every day where the rope (or GriGri) is not loaded on the spine side, but on a random spot in the basket of the biner. I'm not trying to be an antagonist, I just want folks to re-think what modern hardware is capable of and to make decisions based on the massive collection of data that is out there.


I've been thinking the exact same thing.


FLAG


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 1 of 1.