Belay stations in ice

In order for a belay station in the ice to be solid, it must be formed by a minimum of two protection points, but easily three if you have enough protection devices. When building a belay station in the ice it is necessary to give priority to long and fat screws, as these have greater loading strength in ice. Protection points must be mutually joined with a connecting sling. When connecting protection points it is necessary to shorten the sling by coiling so that if one protection point fails, the next will not be loaded with too forceful an impact. When driving screws the ice around the screw often cracks, and for this reason the screws of a belay station must be placed far from each other, ideally 70-80 cm apart, so that any cracks in the ice will not multiply at one point. It is important to place the first intermediate protection point in ice immediately a short distance above the belay station (1-2 m) so that the belay station could be as well protected as possible from direct loading by a fall with a fall factor of 2.

Indirect belay (from the body)

If you suspect that the protection points of your belay station are not of high enough quality, it is better for loading in an upward direction (when belaying the leader) to belay indirectly; that is, the belayer hangs into the screws on a longer cowstail, clips the belay device to the harness on her body, and places the first intermediate protection point immediately above the belay station. When catching a fall the belayer will be raised up, and it will be the body of the belayer that catches the first impact of the fall, which will have a significantly softening effect toward the anchor points of the belay station. For a downward direction of loading (i.e. when belaying a second) it is possible to improve the belay station using ice tools embedded into the ice near the belay station. The ice tools must be joined to the anchor points of the belay station using a sling or shortened rope. This is redundancy: if the protection points of the belay station itself fail, the embedded ice tools can still prevent a fall.

Schematic diagram of a belay station in ice - indirect belay (from the body).

Schematic diagram of a belay station in ice – indirect belay (from the body).

Direct belaying

Direct belaying is recommended only in cases where the anchor points (ice screws) are placed in high quality water ice and we can rely on their strength. In truly very good, high quality water ice, where the loading strength of an embedded ice screw 16 cm long usually reaches up to 19 kN, you can build the belay station with a backup connection of two anchor points. The connecting sling, or rope, between the anchor points must be kept taut. The upper anchor point of the belay station can also be used as the first intermediate protection point.

Connection via one strand of a doubled mountaineering rope, where the connecting section of the rope is fixed and detached using clove hitches.

Connection via one strand of a doubled mountaineering rope, where the connecting section of the rope is fixed and detached using clove hitches.

Connection using webbing runner with central loop (double bowline knot) and shortened using an overhand knot.

Connection using webbing runner with central loop (double bowline knot) and shortened using an overhand knot.

This content is preview from e-book.

Title Part 5Mountaineering Methodology – Part 5 – Snow and Ice

ISBN 978-80-87715-11-6

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

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Another countries – look on the page Download

Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 5 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 5 – Snow and Ice

ISBN 978-80-87715-16-1

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play