Autobelay Rope Treadmill

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Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 11, 2012 1:08 am

Got a bit of inspiration the other night and devised a clever (IMO) way to enhance my home treadmill to autobelay as I practice climb with my rope walker. I had been self belaying and that's always worked perfectly fine, but I simply wanted to experiment and see if an autobelay setup could be done, and as a bonus to see it it could be done with a minimum of extra gear and expense.

Succeeding on both accounts, I shared a video of a prototype with some friends last week and the response was universally positive. One longtime caver encouraged me to post it here as he has never seen or heard of something like this discussed or done before.

Features
It slices!
It dices!
And more importantly... it automatically starts and stops the rope, controls the speed dynamically with the climber, and automatically adjusts/tensions itself up when you start. Getting on/off is no more complex than normal.

Usage
  • Hop on
  • Hold the belay side and climb up, as you do this both the upper and lower tethers (see below) are automatically tensioned.
  • “Look ma, no hands!” Let go and climb!
  • Get tired? Stop climbing. It stops with you.
  • Down a coffee? It speeds up with you, then slows down or stops when you crash.
  • All done? Grab the upside down ascender, push down, and float to the ground.

The System
It starts with the basic self-belay setup with an upside down rack directly above the climber (I'm using 4 bars), a pulley rigged above and a little bit away from the rack to feed the rack, and the tail of the rope falling back to the ground for belay. I have to give credit to the kind folks on this forum who presented photos and descriptions of that setup. It has worked very, very well for me.

To that base system, I added the following:
  • An upper tether, which routes from the front attachment point on the climber's harness to a pulley at the ceiling between the rack and the pulley holding the rope (i.e. slightly offset from the rope to prevent interference), then routed to a biner at an anchor on the floor below the belay side of the rope, and back up to a klemheist or french wrap (I've tried both with good results) on the belay side of the rope. This tether forms a big Z rotated 90 degrees. *This tether stops the rope when you stop.*
  • A lower tether, which routes form the back of the cimber's harness to biner attached to a floor anchor underneath the climber, then up to an upside-down ascender residing just above the klemheist or french wrap. This tether forms a V. *This tether releases the friction knot to resume motion as you ascend.*
  • Together, these two act as a surrogate hand to automatically belay you and maintain your position in midair. Particularly helpful if you have your treadmill in a tight space (my space is only 18' tall) and don't mind the feeling of not going anywhere and climbing in place and/or if you don't have access to a willing belayer when you wish to practice.
  • Not having to self-belay, this can leave your hands free for other things...

Here's a short video of it in action:
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby NZcaver » May 11, 2012 4:12 am

Good job! :clap:

Welcome to the forum, and thanks for sharing. :waving:
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby dseasholtz » May 11, 2012 7:38 am

Very cool Jon! :kewl:
Now, how do I explain to the wife what that large eyebolt is for, when she looks up at the cathedral ceiling of our living room...
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby Chads93GT » May 11, 2012 9:26 am

Post pictures of your auto belay as well. I am having trouble visualizing your setup. Ive used the self belay for miles, yours seems like a great evolution.
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby Chads93GT » May 11, 2012 9:36 am

and to get down i take it you just manipulated the klemheist?
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 11, 2012 12:26 pm

Chads93GT wrote:and to get down i take it you just manipulated the klemheist?

Similar to the way the upside down ascender pushes down, releasing the klem during climbing to release the knot, I just grab the ascender and let gravity take over. The same is true if the french wrap is used in place of the klem. I haven't used both of them enough to decide which I like best for this setup.

The ascender BTW is truly overkill for this, anything that can clip (or tie?) onto the rope, and slide freely when dragged downward to release the friction knot as you climb may work in it's place. There is no need for teeth or camming action. It's mainly just needs to slide down freely so it is always resting on the knot and have a point to tie a tether to it in more or less inline with its intented motion down belay side of the rope.

I'll take some detailed pictures the next time I pull the rope out - hopefully w/in a few days. And some close up video in action of at least that piece.

Thanks for the kudos all. I'm happy to give something potentially useful back to the group after all that I have learned here and in real life adventures.
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 11, 2012 12:31 pm

dseasholtz wrote:Very cool Jon! :kewl:
Now, how do I explain to the wife what that large eyebolt is for, when she looks up at the cathedral ceiling of our living room...

Hey Dave! :waving:

I bet if you start digging for caves in the yard, she'll forget about the eyebolt...
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby cavedoc » May 11, 2012 1:19 pm

Since this is "No hands" then it could work for any climbing system?
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby NZcaver » May 11, 2012 3:35 pm

lefalaf wrote:The ascender BTW is truly overkill for this, anything that can clip (or tie?) onto the rope, and slide freely when dragged downward to release the friction knot as you climb may work in it's place. There is no need for teeth or camming action. It's mainly just needs to slide down freely so it is always resting on the knot and have a point to tie a tether to it in more or less inline with its intented motion down belay side of the rope.

Sounds like a job for a small Prusik-minding pulley. Can you post a diagram or photo with labels showing your setup?
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 11, 2012 4:27 pm

NZcaver wrote:
lefalaf wrote:The ascender BTW is truly overkill for this, anything that can clip (or tie?) onto the rope, and slide freely when dragged downward to release the friction knot as you climb may work in it's place. There is no need for teeth or camming action. It's mainly just needs to slide down freely so it is always resting on the knot and have a point to tie a tether to it in more or less inline with its intented motion down belay side of the rope.

Sounds like a job for a small Prusik-minding pulley. Can you post a diagram or photo with labels showing your setup?

I trust a PMP would work. I don't have one, but I bet I can test similar well enough with the pulleys I have. ...and take photos to annotate. :wink:
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 11, 2012 4:34 pm

cavedoc wrote:Since this is "No hands" then it could work for any climbing system?

I am hoping so, but I haven't tried anything but the ropewalker with it yet. I'm planning to give some others a shot and it will be fun to test. :grin: I'll shoot some video to share and take some photos as I go about it. Stay tuned...
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby chh » May 11, 2012 5:39 pm

huh. pretty clever. Is that just weight on the floor or is it secured somehow?
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby Steven Johnson » May 12, 2012 1:06 pm

I'm having trouble visualizing it all -- a diagram would be super-useful.
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 14, 2012 9:25 pm

chh wrote:huh. pretty clever. Is that just weight on the floor or is it secured somehow?

Yup, that's just weight. A permanent anchor in the floor would be more ideal but this is inside my foyer, so... I'm using a short stack of 10" and 12" pieces of pressure treated lumber I happened to have handy. The need is to have something that is enough to counteract the load placed on it by the tethers. ~1/3 of my weight seems to be plenty to keep both bottom anchors in place.

Diagram and pics will be forthcoming...
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Re: Autobelay Rope Treadmill

Postby lefalaf » May 14, 2012 10:21 pm

Here is a diagram of the setup:
Image

A photo of the belay mechanism:
From left to right, you can see the middle section of the upper tether running from ceiling to floor, then the lower tether from the floor to the upside-down ascender, then the upper tether from floor up to the friction knot.
Image


Belay (pulley in place of the upside-down ascender) w/bottom anchor. To the left you see the biners which attach to the climber. the red one to the back of the harness and the other to the front. I found this particular pulley didn't operate as efficiently as the ascender. Perhaps a PMP would work better. I don't own one, but feel free to try and let me know how it goes!
Image

The ceiling setup:
Image
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