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Equipment recommendations

Peter Burgess

New member
I like the Equipment page on the trycaving website - but may I ask who provided the advice notes for each item shown? I am particularly curious about the notes on the belt. It says

"Essential for belaying and attachement of life lines. Also practical for attachment of dragbag and other loose items".

I'm no self-appointed equipment expert, but I was of the opinion that there were circumstances when a belt was definitely not a good idea for belaying, especially when a long hang-up would result. Hanging one's full weight on a "belay belt" is extremely uncomfortable, and dangerous for more than a short time. It might be a good attachment point for a short easy climb, but not a long drop. Surely a proper harness should be mentioned?

In addition, why is a large rope bag shown, when there is no mention of harnesses or ropes? A rope bag is a useful piece of equipment for a group, but probably not for a beginner who will (I hope!) be relying on the expertise and material help of others until they get off the ground, so to speak.

Also, so as to produce a better impression, might the various spelling and grammatical errors be corrected sometime? The forum pendant would be happy to indicate where such errors exist! ;)


 

gus horsley

New member
Peter Burgess said:
I like the Equipment page on the trycaving website - but may I ask who provided the advice notes for each item shown? I am particularly curious about the notes on the belt. It says

"Essential for belaying and attachement of life lines. Also practical for attachment of dragbag and other loose items".

It used to be standard issue for outdoor pursuits centres to equip novices with those webbing belts with a metal d-ring so they could quickly attach a rope for short pitches, but I always thought it was a dodgy practice.  I've still got a few if anyone wants them...
 

Cave_Troll

Active member
remember kids, "belay belts" no longer exist as they are not PPE.
you can however get "heavy duty lamp belts"

BUT there is a reason the regulations. it is a very bad idea to fall onto one. its not a government consipracy and while you may think that its "hyper cautious" to use a harnes, even a short fall onto a belay belt can seriously break you.
its a bit like saying "i don't need to put on my seat belt as i'm only popping down the shops"
 

Stu

Active member
At a guess and in the spirit of "trying to see where they are coming from", I suspect that the belt over harness option is very much seen as being an appropriate piece of kit for the types of trip a beginner may be engaged on. By that I mean a trip suitable for a beginner (their needs) as opposed to a trip a caver wants to do with a tag along novice.

The rope around the waist method is still part of all the syllabi of the various governing bodies e.g. BCA, MLTUK etc. So it's not redundant for those short scrambles that come about; the belt I suppose is one slightly more comfortable step up from a rope around the waist.

I think the picture is meant more as a method of explaining what a caver may seen to have about them rather than a definitive list (though I know nobody has assumed this). It's not an unfamiliar sight!

Also the sight of a fully clad SRT caver with all the "bling" could be as equally off putting to a potential novice i.e. "Do I need to buy all that"; "Where the hell are you taking me to need all that?... Titan-what!!"
 
D

darkplaces

Guest
stu said:
Also the sight of a fully clad SRT caver with all the "bling" could be as equally off putting to a potential novice i.e. "Do I need to buy all that"; "Where the hell are you taking me to need all that?... Titan-what!!"
LOL HAHA - Any novice is likely to ask what all the bondage gear is all about.

These belay belts in my view only have a use for relative easy climbs were confidence needs holding up rather then the novice. belay belt have no place on a ladder, unless again its to aid a non-vertical climb which later becomes a free-climb for most intermediate cavers and even me.

Having said that cavers need to improvise sometimes and a strong belt maybe just the ticket when something unexpected happens. The equipment page I think is very good.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
stu said:
The rope around the waist method is still part of all the syllabi of the various governing bodies e.g. BCA

Really? Where's that written then?  :eek:

I write this not in a "let's-have-a-scrap" style but as a genuinely interested question on the basis that if it does indeed feature within BCA documentation as a listed technique I'd be surprised so would like to find out if it indeed is listed somewhere....
 

martinr

Active member
British Caving (Cullingford, 1953) recommends the following clothing:

PERSONAL EQUIPMENT CLOTHING...... undergarments should preferably be of wool and, even if old, should be strong enough to stand up to hard usage, and once put on should stay in place without repeated adjustment. Ladies' vests with ribbon shoulder-straps are not suitable, and short jumpers ruck up and leave the midriff bare and cold, so.... the following garments are suggested as a minimum for either sex, ankle-length under pants, half sleeved vest, bathing trunks or costume, woollen shirt, a pair of shorts or trousers, a long-sleeved and high-necked sweater, waterproof or semi-waterproof golfing jacket or smock, and the whole covered by one piece overalls ...For a caving trip involving little or no crawling and no waiting about, but some wading up to the knees, the woollen under-pants and overalls may be dispensed with ....... :spank:

Those who are sampling caving for the first time and do not have all the clothing mentioned should ask elderly relatives for cast off woollen underwear  :eek:

As outer garments an old jacket and pair of trousers will serve, and a discarded raincoat, if obtainable, should be worn, with the skirt cut off about 3 inches above the knees. If wet pitches are to be negotiated, sets of waterproof smocks, trousers, and head-hoods are useful.....In use, the sleeves should be bound tightly at the wrist so that, when the arms are above the head, water is prevented from trickling inside. There are some caves where it is necessary to walk or crawl through water up to the neck, or even duck completely under for a few feet; and if it is likely that after such a wetting a period will be spent in dry passages, it is advisable to take a change of clothing. This should include everything except the overalls, which may be wrung out and replaced on top of the dry gar¬ments. It is worth while to include a small towel. To keep this change dry, the garments should be packed in a watertight tin or part of the inner tube of a motor-tyre with the ends clamped  :sneaky:......

....Old boots that are not watertight are good, because after paddling in water they drain naturally and are more comfortable than if they are full of water. ....

...... The best and safest head covering is a compressed fibre helmet as used by miners, .... A good temporary substitute is a beret or felt hat with some crumpled cloth or paper packing in the crown. ‘Tin helmets', either complete or with the brim cut off, must not be used; if they came off and fell on to anyone the result could be serious.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Thanks Martin!

But I notice....

martinr said:
British Caving (Cullingford, 1953)

Perhaps this needs updating a bit? After all, it's not as if modern cavers use Martel's techniques for GG trips  ;)
 

Stu

Active member
cap 'n chris said:
stu said:
The rope around the waist method is still part of all the syllabi of the various governing bodies e.g. BCA

Really? Where's that written then?  :eek:

I write this not in a "let's-have-a-scrap" style but as a genuinely interested question on the basis that if it does indeed feature within BCA documentation as a listed technique I'd be surprised so would like to find out if it indeed is listed somewhere....

You are kidding, right? You've been through at least one of the schemes I have. Just to reiterate what i said - small scrambles; the type of thing a caver/climber/mountaineer would take in thier stride, but which a novice may need some confidence roping in. Ropework for ML and LCMLA One still has the use of the rope as an aid, around the waist or other makeshift harness, as part of the syllabi.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Thanks, Stu; of course you are right and it's good to check these things from time to time. Indeed, BCA documentation does make mention of waist belaying (as an emergency technique) and attaching rope to just a belay belt on novices (on slopes, not vertical climbs) but it does also state that the waist belay technique is "obsolete" (I interpret this to mean for vertical lining). It is true that in certain circumstances a simple rope assist will work well but I think it is wise to make the distinction so that people reading this don't come away thinking that "BCA say its OK to routinely line people off belts using the old waist belay method" - thankfully something which is rare nowadays but I've still seen it being done twice this year so far at the Twenty in Swildon's Hole.

So, in summary; yes, you're right but....

Don't use waist belay/belts except on slopes, to assist; for vertical climbs/ladder pitches use Italian Hitch (or other suitable direct belay device).
 
A

andymorgan

Guest
cap 'n chris said:
So, in summary; yes, you're right but....

Don't use waist belay/belts except on slopes, to assist; for vertical climbs/ladder pitches use Italian Hitch (or other suitable direct belay device).

?
Does the italian hitch work in conjunction with a belay belt?

In answer to an earlier post If being belayed correctly, there shouldn't be a big fall on to a belay belt to snap you: there should be little if no slack.
 

Peter Burgess

New member
Andy:

Surely, even without a big fall, and with a good tight rope, you can still end up becoming suspended solely by a belay belt, which is very painful if the climber cannot recover a hold quickly. I think a belt is about as useful as having someone there ready to grab you if you lose your footing, but this is only of use if the climber can recover quickly.

So, what is the best recommendation for, say, Swillies 20, when you arrive at the head of the pitch with a group of cavers, most of which only have a belt and krab? Do you use the krab, or is it safer to tie the rope around the person's middle? Or should we arrange for some better kit to be carried?
 
A

andymorgan

Guest
Peter Burgess said:
Also, so as to produce a better impression, might the various spelling and grammatical errors be corrected sometime? The forum pendant would be happy to indicate where such errors exist! ;)

Hmm, I don't know if your are being ironic but it is pedant not pendant  :spank: :spank: :spank: Unless you are a piece of jewellery hung around the neck  ;)
Pedanthttp://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=58401&dict=CALD
Pendant http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=58585&dict=CALD

Just thought I would let you know ;) :tease:

 
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andymorgan

Guest
Peter Burgess said:
Andy:

Surely, even without a big fall, and with a good tight rope, you can still end up becoming suspended solely by a belay belt, which is very painful if the climber cannot recover a hold quickly. I think a belt is about as useful as having someone there ready to grab you if you lose your footing, but this is only of use if the climber can recover quickly.

It is painful, but if you are lowered quickly it is ok. Perhaps it is more painful for heavier people?
 

Elaine

Active member
Are you suggesting then that only harnesses should be worn when being life-lined up a vertical pitch?
I feel this is getting unnecessarily pernickety. A life line attached to a strong belt that is done up correctly is perfectly adequate for most pitches. As Andy Morgan said, if the life-liner is doing their job properly, the rope will be kept taught and there should not be much of a jolt if the climber is unlucky enough to lose hold of the ladder. There should not be much 'dangling' by the belay belt as even if the life-liner cannot see or hear what is going on he will certainly know if a sudden load comes on to the life-line, and can lower the climber back to the bottom if necessary.

I do accept though that there is a potential danger with climbers with - how shall we say - larger than average girth. These people tend to wear their belay belts very low through necessity (!) and there is the distinct possibility that they are top heavy and will rotate upside down if free hanging off a belay belt. Possibly slipping out of it altogether.

Just how far do you go though to make things safe without losing the whole thrill etc of caving.
 

Peter Burgess

New member
Are you suggesting then that only harnesses should be worn when being life-lined up a vertical pitch?

Not at all. But if harnesses are not used, what is the best alternative? I have used a tape sling improvised harness in combination with a strong belt to good effect. Should we be encouraging this, as it's no great hassle to carry a sling with you. I agree that on a short simple climb a krab on a belt is going to be OK, properly belayed of course. But what about a 40ft drop? Would you want to be lowered all that way just hanging in a belt?
 

paul

Moderator
Peter Burgess said:
Are you suggesting then that only harnesses should be worn when being life-lined up a vertical pitch?

Not at all. But if harnesses are not used, what is the best alternative? I have used a tape sling improvised harness in combination with a strong belt to good effect. Should we be encouraging this, as it's no great hassle to carry a sling with you. I agree that on a short simple climb a krab on a belt is going to be OK, properly belayed of course. But what about a 40ft drop? Would you want to be lowered all that way just hanging in a belt?

It is actually recommended to wear a belt with a caving harness if the harness is attached to a lifeline. Since caving harnesses are designed to give a low point of attachment for use in SRT, where a chest harness is also usally worn, there is an increased risk of inverint after a fall.

By linking the harness maillon to the belt with a large karabiner and attaching the lifeline to that, the point of attachment is raised and helps prevent this.

Another point to consider: supposing something happens to the climber so they end up hanging on the lifeline and they cannot be lowered for whatever reason (lifeline is jammed in a crack for example or that small karabiner you chose to use won't let the Italian Hitch easily reverse or you are using some sort of jamming device and cannot quickly release it) - being suspended by only a belt, although more comfortable than just using a loop of rope around the waist, will still quite probably end in the same result if the climber's weight isn't taken off their abdomen quickly: death by suffocation.

At the very least it is a very good idea to use a sling around the thighs connected with the belt so that some of the climber's weight is taken by the legs. Of course you now need to consider Suspension Syndrome - but at least it gives you more time!
 

Brains

Well-known member
To hang imobile (unconscious) in a harness is nearley as bad as in a waist belt - you have about 10 mins before the toxins build up in the legs and will do for you, moving around however stops this...
It is perfectly possible to tie a full body harness from rope, and there are several methods of doing this, but the rope WILL dig in if a fall and suspension result - padding with a tackle bag helps.
For Garlands, or Swildons 20, I would be relatively happy with belaying a ladder climber off a waist belt in order to balance the need for safety, speed, enjoyment, and cost - hiring gear is not a lot, but can be off putting for some. In the advent of a mishap, tiredness etc. the victim can be lowered to the floor and an improvised harness from the belts of the rest of the group constructed. With a suitable hauling rig now in place the tired and inept can then have a second go and be pulled to the top as required.
As with most things, practice for the disaster beforehand means that when it does happen, you have a plan ready to go. Learn those knots, try out hanging in a waist belt or rope harness, know "how to get out of that"
Waist belts for belaying, like ladders and carbide, are older techniques that have there advocates and detractors, and still can serve a purpose in the right place.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Personally I think the best approach is to plan for the trip ahead. If you're going into Swildon's with a strong bunch of experienced cavers then a belt is going to be fine. If you've got some newbies who have done little in the way of ladder work before then a harness is preferred. If you're going into a system with significant ladder lengths then a harness is pretty much standard issue. If you've got an unplanned scenario on your hands, sure you can rig an improvised harness with a sling or additional belts. I think it's horses-for-courses.

If you're planning the trip and the gear is available then why not use it?
 
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