• Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
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  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
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  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
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  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
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  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
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  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
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  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
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  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
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  • Caring For Your Fingertips
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  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
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  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
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  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
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  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
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  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
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  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
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  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
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  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
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  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
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  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
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  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
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    Belay-Loop Myth

    30-Nov-2016
    By

    I work at a climbing gym in Melbourne, where I see people belaying with their carabiner clipped around both tie-in points on their harnesses instead of clipped to the belay loop.

    One person said she does this because belay loops aren't load bearing (lol), but usually I’m told that it is to prevent the carabiner from spinning around. Is the technique they are using safe?

    —Dan Kelly

    The belay loop, Powick says, is designed for, you guessed it, belaying. This harness even comes with two!Ugh. Old-school people make me crazy. Way back in the 1970s you clipped through your leg loops and around the waist belt because belay loops didn’t exist. Now that belay loops are standard features, I’m flummoxed by people who refuse to use them, or force the rest of us to not use them.

    Two years ago, for example, I climbed at a gym where they wouldn’t let you use the belay loop. When I asked why, the gym manager cited “insurance reasons.”

    That belay loops are weak is the grassy knoll of climbing harnesses. Somewhere along the line from the 1970s to today, someone posited the myth that belay loops aren’t safe, and that has infiltrated the insurance industry.

    The fear of belay loops may in part be stoked by the death of the great Todd Skinner, whose belay loop broke while he was rappelling in Yosemite. Skinner's tragic accident wasn't due to a belay-loop weakness, rather his belay loop was simply worn out to the point where it wouldn’t even hold body weight. A belay loop that is in good shape won't break. Inspect yours every time you climb.

    “Some people think it’s better to have the redundancy of clipping to the leg loops and waist belt,” says Kolin Powick of Black Diamond, “but belay loops are BURLY strong. CE requirement is 15 kN, but most are about 20 kN ... if you ever see a load like that on your harness, the belay loop breaking is gonna be the least of your worries.”

    The belay loop, Powick says, is designed for, you guessed it, belaying.

    “You should only ever have a carabiner through your belay loop,” he says. Belay loops keep everything properly oriented, and make it easy for you to visually inspect the system. “If you instead clip the belay carabiner through your harness tie-in points,” says Powick, “then everything is rotated to an inappropriate, non-ergonomic angle, which makes belaying awkward and can cause triaxial loading, where a carabiner is pulled in three directions ... not good.”

    Dan, your “friends” at the gym do have one thing correct—having a belay device or the rope track across the carabiner gate, cross-loading it, is dangerous. This is why almost every carabiner manufacturer produces a special belay/rappel carabiner with a captive feature that traps the carabiner so it can’t rotate out of its ideal orientation. Well worth the money. Gear Guy has spoken!

     

    This article originally appeared in Rock and Ice issue 239 (January 2016).

     

    Find More Climbing Gear Advice Here

     

    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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