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Tying into rope through carabiner
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By Edward Pyune
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 19, 2012
Mongol Hoarde

I was asked about the safety of my system when someone noticed that instead of tying the rope directly into my harness, I put a locking carabiner on the figure 8 on a bight backed up with a fisherman's which I clip into my belay loop. He questioned both the use of the carabiner as well as clipping into the belay loop instead of the tie-in points on my harness. I do this when we have a group of 3+ sport climbing and we are constantly swapping the rope around (huge time saver, I know), and I just want to see what you guys think.

I can see that there is a minor problem with using the carabiner in the sense that it would make the system a bit weaker, as it would be the weakest link in the chain, as well as the chance that the carabiner opening being possible, but I don't think it's that huge of a deal.

I was also under the understanding that a good rule of thumb is to use fabric through both tie-in points and metal through the belay loop. From what I heard, the belay loop is actually the strongest part of the harness, in terms of strength as well as being able to equalize the force of the pull onto your tie-in points better than if you clipped a biner into them, since the biner is rigid.

So whats the deal? Am I gunadie?


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By Eric Hamer
From Tucson
Oct 19, 2012
Aint nothin like a chihuahua with a backpack. Someone's got to carry the beer

We do it all the time always with a locker though.


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By YARPo
Oct 19, 2012

What a waste of a carabiner! In fact you do not DESERVE to own a carabiner! Do yourself and others a favor and get a professional instructor to show you some basics.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 19, 2012
Stabby

The belay loop is the strongest single point on the harness, but the tie-in points together are much stronger. Why do you think they are there?
Also, try to envision the shock load of a lead fall on a tied in system, the load being dispersed through the knot and loop. Now imagine all that force hitting a rigid loop of metal. Plus you have a bigger pile crap you have to reach past to pull up for a clip. You need to scoop up all your gear, and your buddies too, and go to Red Rocks and give that shit away to the first climber you see. Seriously. Take up a different sport. Any sport.


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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Oct 19, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

I think you should do it properly. The time you may save using a biner does not negate the safety and strength of the system you forsake by using a biner. You can probably unlock a biner and clip someone and lock it again in about five to ten seconds. Add another ten to twenty seconds if you're untying and tying in properly. Even if it takes you a few minutes to untie a rope that's been loaded repeatedly, it's still worth it to do it properly. Circumventing tried and true processes when lives are on the line for the sake of expediency is not good practice in our sport. Be safe out there Edward and do it like you know it should be done. My $.02.


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By wivanoff
Oct 19, 2012
High Exposure

I personally wouldn't lead tied in like that.

That said, page 30 of "The Complete Guide to Rope Techniques" (Revised Edition) by Nigel Shepherd shows tying in exactly as you describe. I've seen it in other published sources, too.

I've seen groups use a carabiner tiein for TR. Some people who tie into the middle of the rope with an Alpine Butterfly clip in with a locking 'biner or two.

Let me ask you this: How do people tie in at gyms that have "auto belay" devices like Trublue? www.autobelay.com/trublue-auto-belay/specifications/
It's with a locking carabiner clipped to the belay loop.

IMO, "best practice" is direct tie in with the rope. Are you gunna die from this? I doubt it. I bet it's just fine for top roping or following - especially if you use two carabiners.

Edit: Now we'll wait for all the "me too" posts. LOL


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By JMo
From Tucson, AZ
Oct 19, 2012
vertebrae roof

Use 2, opposed, if you gotta do this (NOT for reason OP describes, but real ones... For example team of 3 and 2nd ties in halfway). Why? Cause even top roping weird situations or errors can cause slack, then a fall= if carabiner is single, and it rotates a bit, you fall onto gate, biner can break.


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By YARPo
Oct 19, 2012

If you were my climbing partner with this setup I would question your common sence.


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By Steve86
Oct 19, 2012

If you insist on using a biner, use a steel locker that's appropriately rated in a cross loading scenario. That's about the only way you are going to make it safe the way you are doing it. Or you could just take the extra 20 seconds to tie into the rope properly and not have the extra weight/cluster.


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By Larry S
Oct 19, 2012
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.

If you absolutely must do this with a biner, you can make it a bit safer by taking a few seconds to thread it thru both tie-in points that way it can't get cross loaded. There's a gym near me in philadelphia which doesn't trust people to tie in for some reason - the knot's already tied and you have to clip in this way using two locking caribiners.


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By RockyMtnTed
Oct 19, 2012

El Tigre wrote:
Ttry to envision the shock load of a lead fall on a tied in system, the load being dispersed through the knot and loop. Now imagine all that force hitting a rigid loop of metal.


Thats gotta be one of the dumbest things I have read. He is still tieing in with a figure eight to the locker so you are not making sense... There is still a knot in the system to disperse energy.

Also, I am pretty sure this guy is talking about top roping on this setup for gumbies that do not know how to tie knots quickly, NOT for lead climbing.

Christ you guys are a bunch of idiots, learn to read.


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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Oct 19, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey

Gaaah knots do not distribute forces!!! Anyhow +1 For opposed lockers.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 19, 2012
Stabby

RockyMtnTed wrote:
Thats gotta be one of the dumbest things I have read. He is still tieing in with a figure eight to the locker so you are not making sense... There is still a knot in the system to disperse energy. Also, I am pretty sure this guy is talking about top roping on this setup for gumbies that do not know how to tie knots quickly, NOT for lead climbing. Christ you guys are a bunch of idiots, learn to read.

There is a shock load directly on the biner when the belay loop is pulled taught. He also calls what they are doing sport climbing, which infers leading.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 19, 2012
Stabby

Medic741 wrote:
Gaaah knots do not distribute forces!!! Anyhow +1 For opposed lockers.

Here comes a days worth of input from the engineers. I suppose the way a knot is cranked super tight from a fall doesn't disperse any energy?


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Oct 19, 2012
El Chorro

A lot of bullshit responses so far. You're system, while probably not the best way of doing things, is safe. It's done like that at the climbing walls that end up at schools and carnivals and stuff. You have a line of people waiting to take a turn on the wall. Two lockers clipped to a fig 8 knot. Both lockers go through the belay loop. Fast and safe.

That said, if there are only three of you, just tie in. It won't take much longer and it is the most simple solution. Simple is good.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Oct 19, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

I'd say fine if you are top-roping with the caveat that I'd use two opposite and opposed biners. One locker could become unlocked (or accidentally not locked in the first place) and then you'd be attached with only one non-locking biner. I've definitely ties in like this for rope travel on glaciers, and when top-roping with two ropes tied together to prevent the need to pass the knot.

I'd not lead on this setup, but that is as much because it'd be annoying and cumbersome as any real safety concerns. The only place I see a real advantage here would be in a climbing gym situation where you are switching ropes between lots of people. I cannot see any real advantage in most normal outdoor climbing situations.


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By Dan Bachen
Oct 19, 2012

If your toproping (and using a locker) you're probably ok, I would be hesitant to lead with this setup, but if the structural integrity of your gear is sound theoretically you should be fine. In climbing we like to think that we should not rely on just one piece of gear, but it happens all the time (think belaying a second with an autobocker off an anchor, repelling, etc.) usually these techniques are only used when there is little chance of putting a huge load on the system. The biggest concern I have with this setup is the rotation of the biner and potential cross-loading which could break the biner in a factor 2 fall scenario.
The shock loading concerns others have posted are just wrong. Shock loading is problematic when all components of a system are static (daisy chain to a bolt). The biner is tied into the rope which last time I checked should be dynamic, makes the entire system dynamic. (check out John Long's anchor book for more on this subject).
Bottom line I would not have any problem using this setup for toproping, but its better to use two biners for redundancy. If you're going to lead, take the extra 10 seconds to tie yourself in, is probably worth it.


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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Oct 19, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

My response was based solely on what the OP wrote. To me, this:

Edward Pyune wrote:
a locking carabiner on the figure 8 on a bight backed up with a fisherman's which I clip into my belay loop.

means that he is using one locker to tie into and clipping it to the belay loop.
Edward Pyune wrote:
I do this when we have a group of 3+ sport climbing

To me, sport climbing does not denote or infer top-roping. Someone explain to me where sport climbing, potentially taking lead falls on one locker through the belay loop which can be cross-loaded is safe.

Now, had the OP specified something like "the leader ties in like normal, then subsequent climbers top rope the route on a locking biner", I would say no big deal. But he didn't. So, going by what the OP actually wrote, I would say that he's not using the best and safest practice possible.

A biner that becomes unloaded in a lead fall can rotate. A screw lock can easily catch on either the rope or the belay loop causing it to crossload. I concede that the odds of anything going terribly wrong are slim, but if you have zero chance of something going wrong on your harness or a slight chance, especially considering the only deciding factor is sixty seconds or so, which one are you going to choose? Seems like a no-brainer to me.


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By jumping fish
Oct 19, 2012
tree climbing Love it.

45kn steel carabiner should leave you worrie free.
All rope soloers/self rescue gurus are attaching themselves via carabiners direct to belay loop.


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By mmainer
Oct 19, 2012

I have seen this technique used in large instructional groups, where the instructor cannot routinely check everyone's knots. Structurally, it makes sense, even for leading (the biner you are falling on will see twice as much force as the rope and the biner you are clipping to your belay loop).

Cross-loading could be an issue. If anything it's a less than ideal method since it adds complexity, and another biner you need to avoid cross-loading. Also, while multi-pitch climbing you tend to have other stuff (personal anchor, belay device, etc) attached to the belay loop and it's nice to keep your tie-in seperate and out of the way.


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By Boots Ylectric
From Roselle IL
Oct 19, 2012
Tebow Climbs.  Bet you didn't know that.

On a top rope I'll do this with a double figure eight and TWO locking caribiners with their gates oposed. Pretty much failproof. Only on a top rope setup though.


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By Julius Beres
From Boulder, CO
Oct 19, 2012
Rewritten

I wouldn't do it like that unless you use two locking carabiners. There is a chance that the biner gets cross loaded and fails. Some people might say "it is rated to x", but one gate failure and you are in trouble. And it does happen.

I believe it was one or two years ago in Utah that someone was climbing with the setup you described (on top rope) and the gate got cross loaded and the gate opened and the guy decked. There is a photo/thread of it on MP somewhere...

Hard to believe that clipping a 'biner would save that much time versus tying in... but if you feel it really does, I would use two 'biners.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Oct 19, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

jumping fish wrote:
45kn steel carabiner should leave you worrie free. All rope soloers/self rescue gurus are attaching themselves via carabiners direct to belay loop.

Not entirely true. Most all rope soloist using the Soloist tie in with cord through the tie-in points. If using the the Silent Partner, the directions recommend two locking carabiners through the tie-in points and explicitly say not to use the belay loop. I may occasionally tie back-up loops that I clip into the belay loop, but it is never my primary attachment while rope-soling. Never used a Grigri, so I can't comment on that.


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By Julius Beres
From Boulder, CO
Oct 19, 2012
Rewritten

Here is the story of a failure that happened from your setup:
www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=12588657

Couldn't quickly find the MP thread. If I recall correctly, the carabiner failed because the gate was torqued and it went around the key lock catch and opened outwards. The kid fell from near the top, but was slowed down by trees and lived.

There is a decent chance the gate was not locked(although the rope could theoretically unlock it as well), but it still demonstrates the dangers of climbing off of a single carabiner that can cross load.

I would probably not climb with someone that climbed like that if they did not have a good reason to do so (and saving tie in time seems pretty lazy to me unless you are trying to set a record for pitches in a day or something). If they insisted on doing it, I wouldn't belay them unless they used two biners. With two the chance of failure seems remote and it is fairly safe... but why add another component to the system that can fail?


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By Gunkiemike
Oct 19, 2012

There is a shock load directly on the biner when the belay loop is pulled taught.


First rule of holes- when you realize you're in one, stop digging. So stop saying any more about shock loading, as you are operating under a WAY mistaken understanding of the term as it applies to forces on climbing gear and systems.


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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Oct 19, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey

Or it gets loaded on the nose and can Fail under body weight and you die.

The knot should be tight before you climb. Tell me. How much line pulls through the knot? Tell me how this provides any dynamic properties to this system that would not be negated by harness and body deformity, rope stretch, rope slip through belay device, belayer movement.

Huh.


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