Makeshift harness and belay

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Ghaznavid
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Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Ghaznavid » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:34 pm

There is a fairly large intersection between "difficult" hiking and easy climbing. In the Drakensberg many examples come to mind, Cathedral Peak standard route's "6 pitches" of B and C grade, Outer Horn's standard route with an exposed C+ pitch, the Turret's C+ grade and the Amphlett's 3 D-grade moves "with little exposure". The list goes on.

As with most other hikers, I strive to make my pack weigh as little as possible. But as always, safety first.

Now often bad weather or eroded routes force you into funny positions where a rope may (at least psychologically) help quite a bit. I always carry a 10m light rope on hikes - mainly to haul packs if necessary, occasionally to help a nervous hiker up a tricky section.

What I've been looking at recently, however, is a different theory: if you take a 1.2m sling and put loops in the 2 ends of it to put your feet through, use a clove hitch to attach a locking carabiner to the sling. Then use a munter hitch to give you friction off a light rope which you loop around a large sturdy boulder, you have a make shift harness/abseil setup.

It would be really dangerous to do a full abseil off such a setup, but surely it would work well as a backup system for nervous hikers or on tricky sections. Especially descending a tricky bit of a pass when wet or iced up.

I would be interested to hear others thoughts and opinions on such a setup, its effectiveness etc.
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GClamp
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby GClamp » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:10 am

I have used a sling when I didn't have a harness. Something similar to what you described. Its not something I would suggest as it is really uncomfortable but if you dont have a harness it will work fine.

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Justin
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Justin » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:50 am

For belaying people up tricky sections I would rather just tie the rope around their waste. It's faster, more simple and situated at a higher point on the body (which makes it safer).

For going down, I would lower the person down using a Munter hitch (rather than have them abseil themselves).
A rope around the waist may be uncomfortable, but for the occasional 10 meters no big deal.

The problem with a made up sling harnesses is that they are prone to 'moving around' and if you don't know how to correct it properly it could lead to complications.
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:51 am

A piece of tape works rather better than a sewn sling in this instance and can be adapted to a fit a child as well.
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:41 am

Like this: Alternate tape harness designs

For a child just add shoulder straps that cross over in front or behind
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Ghaznavid
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Ghaznavid » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:40 pm

Thanks for the advice.

Ok - so I tie a loop into the end of the rope, presumably using an overhand knot to close the loop?

Now, to belay I would naturally need a carabiner or something similar to run the munter hitch off. What would I attach this to? Maybe tie it around a boulder and pull through the slack?
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Ghaznavid
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Ghaznavid » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:49 pm

Thanks for the advice guys.

I took a youngster up the Chain Ladders at Ampitheatre, Northern Drakensberg on Thursday. It was raining when we reached the chain ladders, they were also wet and rather slippery. I took a length of 8mm accessory, tied a loop into it, put a loop into each side of the main loop, folded them into the main loop (i.e. in a harness shape). The main loop was then tied off with an overhand knot joining the 2 ends, and a double fisherman's on the sort end as a backup. The main end was then overhand knotted into a loop of about 50cm and a carabiner was put into into the loop. It seemed to be pretty secure. Fortunately he never fell on the chain ladders though (admittedly I did have a slightly hairy moment near the top of the higher one though).

Chain.jpg
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Chris F
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Re: Makeshift harness and belay

Postby Chris F » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:34 pm

If you are just using the rope as a "confidence" rope, rather than expecting to take a big fall you can waist belay if you learn how properly (must be "how to"s online).


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