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http://www.tradgirl.com/rc/faq5.htm#doubles http://www.gunks.com/rock/double_ropes/dropes_intro.htm does using doubles as twins really risk dangerously high impact forces?

should you really not switch between twin/double technique on a single pitch?

Installing a Belay - safety with two ropes


Step by step.... 1. - The leader arrives at the stance. He secures himself with a clove hitch, one rope on each anchor.

2. - He clips a sling into the two anchors and fixes an ATTACHE carabiner to belay his second. (w/twist in sling) 3.He belays the second with an Italian/munter Hitch on the ATTACHE carabiner.

4. With a second ATTACHE the belayer transfers the safety onto his harness.

5. The second becomes the leader on the rope. He is belayed with an Italian/munter Hitch.

1b. Reassuring a Nervous Second Having two ropes can be very reassuring to a nervous second following the traverse. With a single rope, the rope runs almost horizontally along a traverse, so the second faces a big potential swing if he falls. With two ropes, the left-hand rope will run almost vertically from the second's harness, reducing any possible pendulum fall. Fig. 1b
As you can see, the climber seconding on the left stands to take a longer fall than the double roped climber on the right. The climber on the right benefits from the second rope being belayed from (almost) directly above.

2a. How Double Ropes Cuts Down on Slack in the System The Gallery at Red Rocks (NV) is a sports climber's paradise; littered with short, over-graded routes with closely-spaced bolts, plastered in chalk to show the way, and a five minute approach. Around 1993, a climber broke his back when he fell off "A Day in the Life", a mildly overhanging 5.11, and landed on the boulder behind the route. Climbing on a single lead rope, he fell off just as he was stretching to clip the fourth bolt, with the third bolt just below his feet. Assuming the bolts are spaced about 8' apart, then he probably fell off with about 12' of rope between his harness and the third bolt. (Roughly 4' from the third bolt to level with his waist, 4' more feet of rope from his waist up to the fourth bolt, and 4' from the bolt back down to his harness tiein point). With this much rope out, his minimum fall would be 24', plus rope stretch and slack in the belay.

2b. Same Scenario, but with Doubles With double ropes, and clipping the ropes into alternate bolts, his fall would have been around 8' (twice the 4' of rope between his harness and the third bolt), plus rope stretch and slack in the

belay. The possibility that he could have had gobs of slack in the other rope would not have added anything to the fall distance, and he would never have hit the boulder behind the route.

Fig. 2b
Compared to a single rope, the amount of slack ELIMINATED from a doubles set-up,is equal to the amount of rope from the climber's harness, up to her outstretched hand and back to her harness.

3a. "I'm not convinced...frighten me some more."-- OR, the benefits of non-extended placements. Okay, back to a Gunks route that climbs up 10' (where you place protection piece #1), traverses right 6' (where you place piece #2, a wire in a vertical crack), then up 4' (where you place piece #3, also in the vertical crack). Then you lead 4' above piece #3, and fall off. With double ropes, you would have clipped the left rope into piece #1, and the right rope into pieces #2 and #3. Luckily for you, piece #3 is bomber and your belayer is alert, so you fall about 8' plus rope stretch. The force on piece #3 is straight downwards because piece #2 is directly below it, and because you were directly above it when you fell. After complaining about the humidity, poor fitness, excess beer and so on, you're ready to go back up.

3b. Less Fun: Single Rope, Sling-Extended Placements Things are less fun with a single rope. If all the pieces hold, you are still in for a longer flight because you had to put long slings on pieces #1 and #2 to reduce rope drag. Assume you used a 1' long sling on piece #2. As you weight the rope, the sling on #2 will be pulled upwards by the tension in the rope, between pieces #1 and #3. That adds another 2' of slack as the rope goes tight, adding 2' to the fall. (For simplicity, we'll ignore anything that happens to the sling on piece #1). We're not done yet. Since you placed a wire in the vertical crack for piece #2, chances are that it's only good for a downward load. If it rips out, the rope will run directly between pieces #1 and #3, a distance of about 7' (remember that Pythagoras guy). Now there is an extra 3' of rope to contribute to the fall distance (because the rope ran 6' right and 4' up). Instead of falling 8' plus rope stretch for the double rope fall, you will fly around 11' plus rope stretch if piece #2 rips. Now you're less than 8' off the ground. Let's hope the net sideways force on piece #3 doesn't rip it out too. Single or doubles? It's your call.

Do you do anything differently at the top of the pitch?

Wow, you ask all the right questions. Using two ropes, it is much quicker to set up an anchor at the top of a pitch. With widely spaced anchor pieces at a belay, you can often use one rope to tie into some of the anchor, and the other rope to tie into the remainder. Take a typical Gunks belay on the GT ledge. You have a tree at your feet, and two cams or nuts in a horizontal crack at shoulder height. The belay must be able to withstand a downward force if the second falls off the first pitch, and an upward force if the leader falls off on the next pitch.

With a single lead rope, you would probably try and equalize the anchor using a long cordalette or multiple slings between the tree and the two pieces in the horizontal crack. Then you would tie into the equalized anchor point with a knot in the lead rope. All this can take a lot of time. With two ropes, the cordalette can usually be eliminated. You would equalize the two pieces in the horizontal crack, and tie one lead rope into the equalized point. The other rope would be used to tie into the tree. Some Gunks routes have the final belay from trees set well back from the edge of the cliff. With two ropes, one can be used to tie to the trees to save carrying bunches of long slings. If necessary, you can top-rope off just a single rope. Almost all the anchor schemes described in books such as John Long's "Climbing Anchors" are made much simpler and faster with two ropes. There is no need to pile the ropes into separate heaps while belaying the second. Belay using both ropes and manage the ropes as if there were just one.

Wouldn't it be safer to clip both ropes through each piece?

Tests done years ago by the DAV (German Alpine Club) showed that ropes can be severely damaged and may partially melt if one rope runs over the other while the ropes are loaded. (For the same reason, rap rings are used on rap anchors so that there is no movement of ropes over webbing under load.) Since it's almost impossible to eliminate some slippage of a lead rope in a fall (this applies to single rope belays too) don't run both ropes through a single karabiner. Double ropes are each strong enough to hold any fall you may take. There is a "twin ropes" technique, where both ropes are clipped into every piece, but it has largely fallen (no pun) into disfavor. Occasionally you will see ropes sold as "twin ropes" in catalogs: avoid them, "double ropes" is what we are discussing here. Current double ropes are each about 8.6mm to 9.0mm in diameter; twin ropes are usually 8.0mm or thinner.

Where would you NOT want to use double ropes?

Big wall aid routes are seldom climbed with double ropes. Usually you already have three ropes (one 11mm lead rope, a 9mm haul line, and a lower out line or zip line): adding another rope is just asking for an even bigger rope cluster at hanging belays. The greater durability of a thick rope is important, given the wear and tear of big walls. Spinning around on jumars, with the trees looking like broccoli, is no time to be wondering about the integrity of some skinny cord running over a sharp edge. A thicker rope may be an advantage if you are "working" a sports route, and taking repeated falls in the same place. Single ropes are usually rated to handle more falls before they should be retired. At the highest grades (apparently!), a single 8.8mm rope is often used for the redpoint, to save weight. If you are only interested in top-roping, and never intend to lead, a single 11mm rope will be more durable than a double rope, and only costs about $30 more than the equivalent length 8.8mm rope