Alan Jolley is writing a series of Better Beta tips for Guide Tricks for Climbers and each tip is based on a technique from one of our videos. Each tip has a video clip available for viewing so you can see what the words mean. As an aid to your learning the text of the Better Beta tip is included next to each clip.
Remember these clips have been compressed so you can view them over the internet. The quality of the DVDs is much higher. You may need a Quicktime Plug-in to view the clips.
Flip Mode (Butterfly Flip)
When you block lead— take a stack of pitches in a row—you must manage the rope so the lead end pulls sans tangling. At the anchor, when taking in slack, make a “butterfly” stack by laying loops back and forth across your clip-in tether. Make each successive loop about an inch longer than the prior loop. Keep the stack neat and compact. When the rope comes taut to the second, belay her as usual and continue adding loops. Once the second clips into the anchor, grab the butterfly stack and quickly flip it upside down. Now that your lead end is on top, the rope spools out easily.
Put Yourself Where You Can See
How many times have you been unable to see or hear your partner? Wind, rushing rivers, and ledges conspire against you. You’re not sure if you’re on belay, so you spend a tense 2-10 minutes shouting back and forth trying to communicate.
Stop on a ledge where you can still see your partner and place the anchor pieces high. When you’re the leader, if you position yourself so you can see the second, communication between team members is increased. To facilitate this, you sometimes need to lean back off the anchor or hang completely off the ledge. If your anchors are appropriately strong, then you shouldn't give it a second thought. Your belay anchor is a tool and it’s OK to use it to hang from, belay from, and as your first piece for the next pitch.
When you can see each other, simple hand signals suffice to tell your partner what’s going on. For example, when the leader is safe they lean out and give the universal “cut your throat” signal to take them off belay. When the leader is ready to belay you they motion for you to “come on up” with their hand.