Intermediate protection tactics

First let’s repeat the purpose for which we actually build intermediate protection. Its purpose is to shorten any potential fall. And a fall ranks among the greatest danger which a mountaineer can encounter. In other words, intermediate protection distances you from danger, so its construction deserves heightened attention. It is not enough just to build the individual points of intermediate protection and think that you have thereby taken care of it and are safe. All intermediate protection points form a common whole, the so-called chain of protection, and your safety depends on the very quality of this whole. The creation of intermediate protection is a complex activity which requires spatial awareness, awareness of the relationship by which one intermediate protection point can influence another, and it is necessary to think about their mutual redundancy, the distance between them, and their placement in the terrain. Another essential characteristic of intermediate protection is the fact that its points are influenced by the direction of the rope which is threaded through them. And it is the rope itself which must be able to catch a potential fall. When all is said and done, the way you build your intermediate protection is one of your most important activities, it is an art that can make rock climbing safer.

Direct threading of the rope

If the series of intermediate protection points is distributed from the line of leading the rope in an alternating fashion, one on the left, the other on the right, clipping the rope into intermediate protection points must use long quickdraws or slings with carabiners. The objective is to achieve the most direct path of the rope. If the rope is led in a “zigzag” from one intermediate protection point to another, then not only will the friction of the rope against this protection point increase (the leader will find it difficult to pull the rope behind her), but there will also be a risk that a strong pull on the rope will cause temporary intermediate protection, especially chocks, to fall out, as the pull will act on the chock in an inappropriate direction.

Leading the rope through intermediate protection - left: incorrect - right: correct.

Leading the rope through intermediate protection – left: incorrect – right: correct.

Diverting the rope

If the intermediate protection is located under an overhang, it is a good idea to connect a long quickdraw to the rope. A short quickdraw under an overhang will press the rope too much against the edge of the overhang, and thereby increase friction between the rope and the rock. The advance will thereby becomes more difficult for the climber. On the other hand, a long quickdraw diverts the rope away from the bottom of the overhang, and the rope is thereby freely led and is not excessively pressed against the rock.

Left: incorrect – a short quickdraw placed under the overhang increases the friction of the rope against the rock and the carabiner; the rope de facto runs in a “zigzag” pattern, right: Correct – the longer quickdraw diverts the rope away from the rock and reduces the friction of the rope against the rock.

Left: incorrect – a short quickdraw placed under the overhang increases the friction of the rope against the rock and the carabiner; the rope de facto runs in a “zigzag” pattern, right: Correct – the longer quickdraw diverts the rope away from the rock and reduces the friction of the rope against the rock.

But be careful: the use of a long quickdraw can extend the possible distance of a fall by double the difference in length between the short and long quickdraws.

A longer quickdraw increases a fall by double the difference in length.

A longer quickdraw increases a fall by double the difference in length.

More in e-book.

Title Part 3Mountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-09-3

MMPublishing, 2013

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

For example U.S. store – link

Another countries – look on the page Download

See layout.

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

Title Part 3 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-14-7

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.