Climbing As a Three (Part Two)
Following on from my initial tips on climbing as a three, here I will focus on the stance. If you are going to get in a tangle it is likely to happen in or around a stance, here are a few tips to help avoid this.
Use Different Coloured Ropes
Maybe an obvious statement to make but choosing radically different coloured ropes can make life very easy. On stances especially small ones there can often be some confusion between which rope is which and who it is attached to. Having ropes of different colours makes identifying any potential knots or tangles between the two ropes easier and the task of sorting these out much quicker. Also worth considering is that if using two dark coloured ropes when they get wet i.e. when climbing in winter, they will look very similar.
It's also worth noting that you should use two ropes of the same thickness. Again this may sound obvious but it will make belaying much easier and to a certain degree safer, particularly when climbing in parallel much easier.
Single Point Belays
Bringing your anchors to a single point either using slings or dare I say it a cordelette once again will help avoid tangles and make change overs simple and quicker. It can provide a single strong point to which all three climbers can attach and in the right circumstance can be used as an attachment point for an auto blocking belay device. If the anchors cannot be brought to a single point using any of the above methods each climber must attach to the anchors using their rope. If organised well this can be fairly straight-forward. The trick is to avoid crossing through any ropes that may already be attached to the anchors (other climbers). In this situation it is also best to use separate karabiners for each climbers attachment at each anchor.
Take Time to Back Flake the Ropes
Take time on each stance to separate and back coil the ropes this will avoid tangles and twists on the next pitch, it will also allow the rope to be paid out smoothly to a leader. If tangles and twists are not removed after each pitch they can become compounded on the next often making it difficult and more time consuming to sort out.
Stance Management of Climbers
Spending a few moments thinking about how you are going to organise the stance will be time well spent. Think about where the next pitch goes and the order people are going to climb in. Place the leader nearest to the next pitch the second next to them and the third next to the second. This will allow climbers to leave the stance for the next pitch without having to climb over/under or around each other and therefore avoiding any further entanglements or twists in the ropes.