Simultaneous climbing in snow

Simultaneous climbing in this context refers to the simultaneous climbing of two or more members of a rope team whose members are connected by rope. In ancient history this represented a relatively frequent method of belaying in the mountains on snowy slopes. and yet time and past accidents gave way to the realization that without intermediate protection this is a very risky method of belaying. Do not use it. When walking a person’s stability is poor, and if his partner falls the chance that the walking climber will catch the fall is small. Most likely this climber will also be thrown. Numerous serious accidents serve as warning. In snow the participants in a tour can be so experienced that they either go by themselves without a belay, and when this is not possible, and the participants in the climb now feel that there is risk of a fall, they should belay in the standard fashion using rope from belay stations. The simultaneous climbing of a rope team has therefore nowadays become limited only to very easy hikes, where there isn’t actually even a need to belay, but the rope team is composed of inequitably skilled members, typically this consists of a pair made up of a mountain guide and an inexperienced client, or an instructor and a beginner, and the experienced member is thereby providing her partner with psychological support when she has him connected on rope. If you nonetheless decide in favour of simultaneous belay, then the following principles apply:

  • no more than three persons should tie into the rope
  • one of them must be highly experienced; this one should be the first during the ascent and the last during the descent
  • tie in on a short rope, with spacing between persons of 2-3 m (short spacing in order to prevent a falling climber from gaining too much momentum; a fall = an equally accelerated movement)
  • hold a collected segment of the rope in one hand, so that when pulling on the rope (by a falling climber) the force is not exerted directly on the body of the climber who catches the fall, but first on his arm (the option to pay out the collected rope in a closed palm), whereby valuable seconds can be gained for better positioning and bracing
  • everyone should have their ice axes prepared for self-arrest in the snow

As the climbers must be connected by a very short part of the rope, and the same time it is necessary to maintain the tie-in in an emergency for transitioning to regular belaying using the entire length of the rope, it is a good idea for practical purposes to use the method of tying in on a shortened rope. More on this in the section Tying in to a shortened rope.

Tying rope loops for short-rope climbing.

Tying rope loops for short-rope climbing.

Climbing a snowy slope on a short rope.

Climbing a snowy slope on a short rope.

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 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