Belaying devices. There are so many different belaying devices nowadays on the market and in my hands. And after this video you will be able to pick any of them. Not from my hands. And you will know how it works and how to use it. So first of all, a belaying device is simply a mechanism which allows to control the friction between your hand and the climber. Alright. So here I hang and here I have almost 60 kilograms of force pulling on this strand of the rope. However for me to hold that I'm only using about 6 to 7 kilograms of force on the brake side of the rope. However if I would start raising my brake hand up the force needed to hold that goes to 9 kilograms of force... 10... 12... 15... So my max was around 25 kilograms of force with two hands in this position. That means that in this position at this angle I can not even hold my own weight with two hands. There is no even talking about one hand. So now let's see how much assistance I will get if my rope strands are completely parallel to each other. So I will start pulling up as hard as i can. And so the answer is almost nothing. Now to explain how that works since there is so many different belaying devices I'm gonna group all of them into different categories. First one is tubular style devices. That many mistakenly call them reverso. Which is only this device - Petzl Reverso. Or ATC which is this Black Diamond ATC. While Mammut calls this Alpine Belaying Device. Simple. So with tubes the more I move my brake hand down the more it squeezes the rope between the carabiner and belaying device. And also tubes have a little groove in front of them. Which even further pinches on the rope. Plus as I pull down on the rope it tilts the device which creates extra angles and extra friction. So as we saw in my previous experiment if my hand is at the level of the belaying device or higher the device creates very little friction. So if the climber would fall while my hand is in this position or higher there is a high chance that my hand would simply get sucked into the belaying device. I got my hand pinched... And then maybe I will hurt my hand And let go off the rope. So if you want to see how my hand is getting sucked into belaying device I already made a video about that. Also worth mentioning is that rope thickness or diameter has a huge effect on how easily the rope will go through belaying device. And every belaying device has a recommended range of rope thicknesses which you can find somewhere in the manuals or sometimes on the device itself. And this brings us to advantages of tubular style devices. First of all they work better with wider range of rope diameters. All the way from super thick gym ropes to ultra skinny twin ropes. On contrast if you would take a GriGri it says that it's optimized to work from 8.9 to 10.5 millimeters ropes. But from my experience anything from 10 millimeters and above doesn't work that well anymore. Yeah, there is this older GriGri which works better with thicker ropes. But that one doesn't work well with thin ropes. Next, tubes are super lightweight. And they allow you to belay with two ropes either double ropes or twin ropes. And if you don't know what's a double or twin rope you should watch my master class on the ropes. Also with tubes you can make a soft catch without moving yourself. By allowing the rope to slip through the device. And in general tubes don't catch as hard because there is always a little bit of slippage which reduces the peak forces. Which might be very beneficial for trad climbers. Since it reduces the chance that the pieces of the gear will fall out. And finally tubes have this loop at the top. And that allows you to set this device in a guide mode in which you can even belay two following climbers coming up on top rope simultaneously simon... simultaneously. And all of that are the reasons why tubes are still very commonly used in traditional or alpine or multi-pitch scenarios. However none of that is really useful if you're just doing single pitch sport climbing. And the biggest disadvantage of tubes is of course that they don't lock meaning if you would let go the rope. Which by the way brings us to the main rule of belaying. If you are in need of number two and you have a choice to poop your pants or to let go the brake side of the rope - you poop your pants! Meaning in no circumstances you're allowed to lose control of the brake side of the rope. And that's by the way also equally true for assisted belaying devices but we are gonna talk next. So assisted devices have an ability to lock in case the climber falls. Which obviously adds a lot of safety. For example if you would knock a rock while you're climbing and that rock would fall on your belayer's head... And that's why we wear a helmet! So first of all your belayer would really like to have a helmet. But you as a climber would really love that there would be one of these assisted devices down there. And in fact my own skin was once saved by this guy. When I did a little fall and my belayer did not notice that there was a rock next to her leg. And while she was flying forward, her leg got stuck, and she spun around, and hit her back to the wall. And let both of the hands go. So this guy is basically a reason why I'm still here. And making these videos. Now super important that number two rule is also applicable for these guys. After all they are called assisted. So don't treat them as fully automatic. Because there are cases where they will not lock. Apart from safety this locking is also super useful in long belays If your climber is hanging on the rope a lot and projecting some hard moves. So if we compare this to the tube even in the most mechanically advantaged position you will still need to hold on the rope. And in very long belays this will get tiring. While with assisted devices it's pretty chill. You are literally just sitting in your harness. OK, so the first group of assisted belaying devices is called assisted tubers. That's because they look like tubes and they work similarly to regular tubes where we squeeze the rope between the carabiner and the device. Except that they have a shape that shifts the carabiner in position where it squeezes on the rope so hard that it completely locks it off. A little disadvantage of assisted tubes is that once in locked position you cannot quickly feed slack to the climber. You need a special action to unlock the device before you can feed the rope. For example with Click Up. It even clicks. And now I cannot do anything. I literally need to unclick it. And now I can continue belaying. Now one really important thing that not many know about assisted tubers. That they suffer from the same problem as regular tubes meaning that if your hand is in up position the device will not lock. As you can see it's not locking And if the climber would take a fall the rope would just slide from my hand and burn it. Oh, it's already burning. However unlike regular tubes where you can get your hands sucked even at very big angles most assisted tubers will only fail at the angles that are very extremely high up. And some actually don't fail at all. I'm actually gonna make a separate video where I was experimenting at which angles which devices lock. So stay tuned for that. I can't put everything into one video because I need you to subscribe. But independently of which belaying device you're using just develop a habit of keeping your brake hand down. Also good to know for people who climb with two ropes is that there are assisted tubers that work with two ropes. In case you go on a multi-pitch and you want extra safety you have some options. All right let's move on to cam assisted devices. I'm sure everybody knows GriGri. But there are more devices like Trango Vergo and Birdie and others. And the way they work is that they have a camming mechanism inside which pinches on the rope. Now in the case of GriGri the cam is spring-loaded meaning that as soon as there is no more load on the climber's end of the rope the cam will disengage. And you can belay normally. While in the case of Vergo it doesn't have a spring. And you need to position the device in a certain way to be able to feed the slack. All right back to GriGri. If you press on GriGri's cam but you ignore the rule number two and you don't hold the break side of the rope this can happen... Also if you ignore rule number two and your GriGri gets trapped in the first piece of gear this can happen... Many of you asked if this problem of trapping in the first bolt where it disengages the cam is also applicable for assisted tubers. So with most assisted devices the answer is unlikely. Since there is no cam that i could press to disengage this locking. Only if i would press on this end it kind of slips a bit but still stays locked. This Click Up doesn't even lock if i don't hold the rope. Amazing. Number two rule. Hold the rope. Yeah. There's no way I can unlock this in this manner. So no assisted tubers don't have this risk. Now this is a little future me after I was editing this part that you just seen. And I saw this I realized that I was using a wrong carabiner. Turns out Click Ups need their own specific carabiners And that's a reason why you should read the manual. So that's the carabiner you should use for a Click Up. Let's see if it locks. No difference. So number two rule. And read the manual because some of the assisted belaying devices require you a specific belaying carabiner. I don't know if it's just marketing or the shape of the carabiner is slightly different. Just use what the manufacturers recommend. And finally there is this guy. It's a Revo from Wild Country. It's an inertia based mechanism. Which will lock once the climber starts falling faster than 4 meters per second. So if i pull slowly it doesn't lock. I need to pull really fast in order for it to lock. So my goal of this video is not to compare all of the belaying devices on the market and tell you which one to buy. Sorry for that. Every device have its own pros and cons, haters and lovers. Full internet of that. However if you would want such comparison let me know in the comments and maybe I will make a separate video on that. OK now I have a tip for you that will make your life a little bit easier. And maybe will even save your ass on a multi-pitch one day. Humans, we have two hands normally. And handling more than two objects in two hands is not ideal. What I often see that people take their belaying device, their carabiner, the rope... That's already three objects by the way. And they try to connect everything in space like so... Ready to belay. So doing this will greatly increase the chance that one day you will drop something. You will be trying to connect something and then suddenly whoops... Your belaying device flies down. If you're not on a multi-pitch if you're standing on the ground that's not a big deal. However if you drop your belaying device on a multi-pitch you are in big trouble. So this is what you do to avoid that. Normally your belaying device will live with your carabiner somewhere on the harness. So step one. You take both of them together as one unit. So I'm carrying only one unit. And you immediately connect it to belaying loop. So you cannot drop anything right now, everything is safe. Step two. You take a bite of rope and you insert into your belaying device. Keep in mind of the orientation of the rope which end has to go to the climber which end is your break hand. If you're not sure every belaying device has an image on the side of it. Which will remind you that. And next. Open your carabiner and hook your rope together with the belaying device. So at no point there was a chance for me to drop anything. And once you're done belaying you simply reverse the process. Where you open the carabiner, you unhook the rope. But you hook the belaying device. And then you simply can just pull out the rope. And your belaying device stays on your harness with the carabiner. If you want to put it somewhere else you put it somewhere else. And the same works with assisted tubers. So step one. Connect your belaying device to your harness, take a bite of rope, put that bite of rope into belaying device, open the carabiner and hook the rope and belaying device together. Now in case of the GriGri it's slightly different. So as always step one clip your belaying device to your belay loop. So you cannot drop anything. Now if you're not on a multi-pitch and dropping your GriGri is not a big deal you simply take off your grigri, open it in this cool way, insert the rope, and clip it back. Simple. Now if you are on a multi-pitch there is a technique. So this is what you do. You open your carabiner and hook only half of the GriGri together. Then you can open the GriGri. And it's connected to your carabiner. You cannot drop it. You insert the rope. You close it. And then you open your carabiner again and hook the GriGri back. So this is as safe as you can do with the GriGri on a multi-pitch. And obviously once you're done it's just simply reversing the process of doing this and doing that. OK so I hope that by now I gave you enough examples how not to use belaying devices. And now i'm gonna show you proper techniques. The good part is that no matter what belaying device you use good belaying techniques don't change. There are slight differences that i'm gonna mention. But for majority it's the same. All right. So I hope that by now number two rule is strongly embedded into you. However if for some reason you really need to go hands-free you can tie a backup knot at your brake end. Like so. And this is totally fine. In case something happens and the rope would slip all the way the GriGri will lock. However in the case of tube it's slightly different. If you would just simply tie a knot here. And the climber would fall. There is a chance that this knot will get jammed in your belaying device so hard that you will have trouble to unjam it. Let's use a slightly different carabiner so it's easier for you to see what's happening. So in the case of tube you take a bite of rope and then you take another bite of rope and put through the first one and you make it tight. And make sure that this loop is long enough. Like so. This will hold but this is not enough. To make it extra safe you tie in back up knot here. So now i can go hands-free. And in case my climber takes a fall this will hold him. And if i want to release all of that hold the brake side of the rope, untie the top backup knot, and start pulling the rope until you have a little loop left. At this point inform your climber that he might feel a little bump and tug fast. Like so. If you do this correctly your climber will not go down at all. Now if you're not familiar with slip slap slap... this technique - good . You can safely ignore my next sentence. However if you're using that technique I would strongly advise you to reconsider because in the case of the fall your hand might get sucked into the belaying device faster than you might think. So as a good rule of thumb keep your break hand always down. And do any hand swapping or sliding there. So now a little disclaimer. I'm gonna show you three different techniques of taking slack. And depending on where you are on the planet some of them might be not considered as acceptable. So stick with me I'm gonna explain. Because i went really deep in this rabbit hole. So all the techniques start the same. Your left hand reaches up and pulls down on the rope. While at the same time your break hand pushes forward and locks it down. And now at this point you need to bring your right hand up the rope. And there are three different ways to do so. The first one. It's more popular in Europe. And it's called hand over hand or V to the knee. So you simply take your left hand and go over your right hand and then right hand goes over your left hand. That's why it's called hand over hand. So you take, .... hand over hand, you take, ... hand over hand. So I find myself using this technique when the climber wants me to take really hard as he's moving up the rope. Because you're always pulling down on the rope. You can... It kind of feels like climbing up the rope. Very comfortable. So the problem with this technique is that when people get really good and can do it really fast they start letting go the brake hand before the left hand goes into the locking position. So we do this. We take this, let go already, and then go into locking position. If the climber would fall in the moment where you let go this and you don't lock the hand down you probably know what would happen. So obviously a simple solution - lock, and then in the locking position do any hand swapping. And another thing you need to be aware of that sometimes if the climber drops a bunch of slack your belaying device falls down. And here you need to be careful to not take your left hand over the belaying device. Otherwise if you do so and the climber falls your hand gets into this awkward position. So instead you reach under your belaying device and you grab the rope. And now if the climber would fall everything would be fine. All right. Next technique is called PBUS. Which is more commonly used in America. Which means Pull, Break... So basically the same stuff, as before. But now instead of taking over the hand you take Under and Slide. So Pull, Brake, Under, Slide. Pull Brake Under Slide. So the benefit of this technique is your strong hand never leaves the rope. A little drawback of this technique is when you have weight on the rope, and you're trying to take hard, now sliding up this hand is not as comfortable as in hand over hand technique. So at some point as you will be practicing your PBUS technique you will realize that you don't actually need to bring your left hand down there in order to bring your break hand up. You can simply slide it up. And this is a third technique which is called a tunnel technique. And since your left hand never leaves this rope it's the most efficient technique. Because you can always switch between taking slack and giving slack instantly. So no matter in which moment of taking slack I am I can always give slack. And contrary any other technique where my left hand leaves now it needs to go back in order for me to give slack so it's an extra action. Also tunnel technique is the best for taking small amounts of slack. If I would try to take a small amount of slack continuously with any other technique it's a lot of hand movements. While the tunnel technique it's very relaxed. And that's why it's the most efficient technique. However you might know or maybe you don't this technique is actually not considered acceptable in some parts of the planet. With the argument that during the moment where you slide the hand up you don't have a firm grip on the brake hand. And during the fall maybe you will not be able to catch the fall. To which here is my arguments. First of all if you use any assisted belaying device you don't even need any hard grip on the brake side of the rope. Any light tug will make the device lock. So this is not an issue immediately. Now if you are using a tube I actually went out and did an experiment on this. Where I asked inexperienced belayers to keep moving the hand up and down while I was distracting them and the climber was taking unexpected falls for them. So stay tuned for that it's gonna be really crazy and really interesting episode. But in general when sliding the hand up don't make a big tunnel. I don't like that this technique is actually called a tunnel method. It shouldn't be a tunnel. You're barely opening the hand just barely enough for it to slide up the rope. And if you are a beginner it's really good idea to start practicing with PBUS technique. Because you will be sliding your hand up the rope a lot with the backup of your other hand. And you will learn the feeling of the rope going through your hand. So start with this and once you get really comfortable with this not bringing the left hand down and just doing this will feel very natural. By that point. And just to make sure that I'm not missing something in regards of safety of these three techniques I wrote an email to about 25 different climbing safety related organizations and associations. And asked them to comment on these techniques. Not all of them replied, unfortunately. However out of those who replied none of them said anything against of any particular technique. So as long as you follow the basic guidelines of proper belaying you will be fine. Maybe with an exception if you're in the US and you need to take a belaying exam. Then you might be forced to use the PBUS. And few more mistakes that people do when they're taking slack. First of all they take the slack like this or like this... So unless you are using a assisted belaying device and you're guaranteed that that device will lock at this angle which I will make a separate video on that you might be in trouble. Second mistake is people hold both strands of the rope with the left hand. They do something like this. The reason why they do this is to prevent the belaying device from falling down there. However to fix that you don't need to hold both strands of the rope. You can just simply hold one strand of the rope. And you will have exactly the same result. OK that's a lot of talking about taking slack. I just felt that that's the most important part. And the rest will be much more simple. So to give slack you simply reverse the tunneling technique. Where your left hand pulls up while your right hand assists. Then the left hand goes down. And you slide the break hand down. And you repeat. And the same technique works with most of assisted belaying devices. While with some of assisted devices you will need a special action. With assisted tubers it's common to push them up while you're giving slack. Now in case of the GriGri you can either use that standard way of giving slack. Or you can press on GriGri's cam and pull the rope. Just don't forget the rule number two. The rope stays in the hand all the time. Now in case you need to give a lot of slack quickly. Like if the climber is about to clip. You take your left hand close to belaying device and your break hand far from belaying device. This is important. Only then you can give a lot of slack quickly. If your left hand is somewhere up you will be limited by it how far up you can raise this hand. Equally if your break hand is close you will be limited by that hand how fast you can give slack and then you will need to do more actions. So left hand close, right hand far. Anticipate. And you can give a lot of slack quickly. And if things go wrong you can take all of that slack quickly back. Now when you need to lower the climber you take both of the hands on the brake side of the rope. And you use one hand to feed the rope to the other hand. That's one way or if you're comfortable you can let the rope slide through both of your hands. The risk here is however if you go too fast the rope will go so fast through both of your hands that it can burn both of them. And then you will probably drop your climber. So simply don't go fast. There is absolutely no point of lowering a climber fast. There is nothing cool about that. It heats your equipment way more, wears down your equipment, it's expensive. And go in a controlled manner. And if you're not sure you can always feed the rope like so. And in case your climber takes a fall just hold on the brake side of the rope even if you have number two in your pants. Hold it. Never let go. And as soon as your climber will regain the ground and unload the rope most of the belaying devices will unlock themselves. And you're ready to continue belaying. While with some devices like Click Up once it locks you need a special action to unlock it to continue belaying. So as i already said it's a good idea to look into the manual of your belaying device to know all these little nuances that there might be. Now if you are teaching beginners or you are a beginner yourself practice using belaying device on the ground, without a climber. And only once you're completely comfortable and you're ready to go and actually belay somebody then make sure to have somebody experienced backing up, holding on the break side of the rope, and giving you guidance, assistance on your technique. This is really important. I actually once saved a climber when inexperienced belayer was using a GriGri I was backing up the rope. And actually I was the one who caught the fall. And the full story if you're interested is in this video about GriGri. And of course don't take this video as a complete guide into belaying. There is way more things you need to know. From proper slack management to soft catches, to belayer movement, to good communication with your climber. And all of that is coming in the future episodes of belay master class. That's a lot of effort to make these videos to be honest. And this video was brought to you by Mammut and by all the people who are supporting me by visiting my website. So huge thank you for everyone. And see you in the next episode.