QUESTION:
“How can I reduce the risk of being pulled backwards if my partner falls while we simul-climb?”

ANSWER:
“The correct use of an ascender/progressive capture device, like the Petzl TIBLOC, on one of the intermediate protection points can protect the leader from receiving too hard of a pull if the second were to fall.


EXPLANATION:

Simul-climbing Explained:
Simul-climbing, correctly referred to as progression with a taut rope, is a style of climbing where both climbers move simultaneously while tied into the same rope. Protection is placed by the first climber while the second climber removes the gear.

simul-web

Progression with a taut rope is used on “easy” terrain and/or to save time, but placing reliable intermediate protection is still necessary.

Partners climbing together with a taut rope is an especially dangerous technique and should only be performed by experts who have a good understanding of the risks and advantages that are associated with such a technique. They should be capable of evaluating the difficulties and objective risks of the terrain with respect to the technical abilities of the climbers involved.

Protecting a Fall While Simul-climbing:
While climbing simultaneously, a fall by either climber will affect the other. In particular, a fall by the second will pull back on the leader, probably causing both to fall. The use of an ascender/progressive capture device, like the Petzl TIBLOC, on one of the intermediate points can protect the leader from receiving too hard of a pull on his rope in case of a fall by the second. The fall will be held by the TIBLOC, without direct intervention by the leader. The usage of such a device should not be considered a belay. The TIBLOC only brings a plus to a dangerous situation when used correctly.

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Installation Precautions

  • The rope must pass through the TIBLOC’s carabiner so that it also serves as protection for the leader.
  • The anchor chosen should be solid enough to hold the second’s fall, but also for the extreme case should both fall.
  • The TIBLOC’s movement must not be obstructed by external elements like snow, rock, ice, slings, etc.
  • Avoid using long slings to attach the TIBLOC to an intermediate point. If the device rises above or drops below the protection point, the gear
  • could come out of its placement or the leader could get be pulled backward if the second falls.
  • When using half or twin ropes, the TIBLOC can only be used on one strand to protect the second. The leader could still be pulled backward by the other strand.
  • Beware of twists and tangles in the rope(s) that could interfere with the TIBLOC, cause pulling, or even block progression.
tibloc-progression-a-corde-tendue-avec-un-tibloc-2tibloc-progression-a-corde-tendue-avec-un-tibloc-4

Advantages/Disadvantages of using a TIBLOC for progression with a taut rope

Advantages

  • Saves time on easy terrain where both climbers are confident in their abilities and skills.
  • Can allow the next belay to be reached on a pitch that is longer than the rope: the second can begin climbing without endangering the leader on the last few moves to the belay.
  • Can allow the easier, exit portion of a route to be protected, even when the second is still in a difficult part below.

Disadvantages

  • Risk of lifting slings or nuts.
  • The second cannot descend and must progress upward in any case.
  • The leader can not be belayed in the event of a downclimb, making a loop of slack above the TIBLOC.
  • Depending on the positioning of the device against the supporting surface, some rope may slide through the TIBLOC before jamming occurs, resulting in sheath damage.
  • Can complicate progression when climbing on a half or twin rope system.

CONCLUSION:
Simul-climbing is an efficient, yet potentially dangerous technique for moving across easy terrain and/or saving time. This mode of climbing and the use of a Tibloc to protect the leader should only be performed by expert climbers that understand the associated processes and risks.