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The Climbing Club • View topic - Half Ropes and Rappelling

The Climbing Club

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:54 pm 
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UW Climber
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Half Ropes:
A while ago I asked some questions about half ropes and now I'm actually in a position to use some so I'm thinking about getting a set. But I thought of another thing.

Anyone with half ropes have or wish they had 70m rather than 60m?

Another almost totally different question;
Rappelling:
So on the Tooth I had plenty of time and could be very inefficient, but I'd definitely like to change that. Maybe people could post their sequence of setting up rappel to establishing the next one? Include as many details as possible. It would be a huge favor.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:35 am 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Half Rope:
I have never felt the need for anything longer than 60 m. On the extremely rare occasion that I needed a 70 m rope, it's always been at a crag and I need to do a 35 m rappel, not a 70 m rappel. I imagine that it's even more rare to have to do a full 70 m rappel. The extra rope adds a minimum of 1.8 lb. to the system, which seems like unnecessary weight.

Rappelling:
Let's imagine two climbers are descending a route. I'll call them Jim and Obadiah to distinguish what each is doing.
1. Obadiah rappels the first rap, while Jim waits at the station. During this time, Jim sets up his autoblock on the rope.
2. Once Obadiah calls off rappel, Jim sets up his rappel device and rappels to the next station. At this time, Obadiah is feeding on side of the rope through the rappel ring at the second station.
3. At station 2, Jim pulls the rope, while Obadiah feeds the rope through the rap ring and finds the middle.
4. Assume they are using two half ropes tied together, Jim coils one rope while Obadiah coils the second.
5. Jim then holsters the ropes and rappels.
6. Repeat the process until you reach the base.

If you have a party of three, two ropes, and only have to do single rope raps; I have another system. Let's imagine three climbers: Jim, Ava, and Rodrigo.
1. Jim rappels the first rope carrying the second.
2. Jim sets up the second rappel and rappels, while Rodrigo is rappelling.
3. Ava rappels and coils the first rope and hands it to Rodrigo.
4. Rodrigo does the second rappel and hands the rope to Jim.
5. Jim sets up the third rappel while Ava does the second one.
6. Ava coils the rope and hands it to Rodrigo, who does the third rappel.
7. Continue leapfrogging ropes until you reach the base.

I'm trying to think of other things I do to cut down on time. I use an autoblock backup instead of a prusik. I girth hitch the autoblock to my belay loop so I never have to worry about dropping it on rappel. I think the key is to make sure you have a system that both you and your partner know and that you're communicating as you're doing it. Also, there should be very little idle time on rappel. You should almost always be doing something.

I hope that helps a bit. Let me know if you have questions or thoughts on what's slowing you down. It takes practice.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:49 am 
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Tenacious Lee
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Jim's system is pretty much identical to my own (although I'd never thought of leapfrogging with three people, nice!). The only thing I'd add is that this summer I've become a big fan of David Yount's technique of backing up the rappel with a Klemheist friction hitch above your belay device (and binered to your belay loop): I find it more manageable, and if you end up needing to ascend the rope, you're already setup. Of course, use whichever system you like best.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:49 pm 
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Awesome thanks for the info Jim and Lee! As I was on the tooth with Kurt this is obviously something I need to work on as well.

Jim, I have a question about using the holsters. I remember Obadiah had a really detailed essay about them, but I think it is no longer online.

Anyway, the way that I set it up is to girth hitch a runner to the gear loop on either side of my harness. Then I stacked the left coiled rope onto the left runner and clipped the runner back to my gear loop with a biner, then did the same for the right side. When I started rappelling, the rope didn't always feed very smoothly out of the holsters and I actually ended up throwing the rope mid-rappel because it was too much of a hassle. As the rope came out of the ATC on the bottom (brake hand side), it both split apart and sharply turned as it went into the holsters. This bend and split acted like a brake and I really had to pull on the holsters to keep the rope feeding.

One solution I thought of that I want to try is detaching the ATC from the belay loop and using it higher up the rope attached to a sling. Do you think this would fix the problem? Any other tips on using holsters?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:29 pm 
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Dr. Crevasse
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I believe this is what you were looking for by Obadiah Reid. I pulled it from a cached page and made a Google doc (Obadiah - if you want me to remove it, I will, but this seemed like a valuable page to have available for those interested). More discussion from the UWCC about this topic .

As for the issues you are having, I believe that using a sling between your harness and belay device might help solve some of these issues. I find that this makes everything a bit easier to manage as there is more space to feed the rope, my hands, and my backup. I think I've posted this picture before (thanks Petzl), but in case I haven't, this is the setup I use except I use the Metolius PAS instead of the sling.

Image

The critical piece is to be meticulous with your coiling technique. You must start at the knots so that they are at the bottom of the pile. I often got things twisted when I moved the coils from my shoulder to the holster (easy to do) so extreme care is required here that the pile of coils does not rotate. I'm not sure what size sling your using, but I use an alpine draw that is doubled over (not tripled). I clip one side to my front gear loop, put the rope in, and clip the second side to the back gear loop. This gives the rope more space to pull out of the holsters smoother. It required a bit of practice to get it right and get most of the kinks (excuse the rope pun) out of the system.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have additional questions.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:19 pm 
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Longshanks
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No worries about re-posting my article, Jim. The only reason all that stuff is gone is that I lost my UW web-space when I graduated and haven't seen fit to replace it with anything.

Kurt/Dylan, I second Jim's comment about rope management being the #1 priority when you are trying to holster the ropes. When done correctly the ropes feed smoothly. It takes practice though.

It probably won't come as a surprise that I use exactly the same system as Jim in most respects.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:27 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:50 pm 
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Banana Nut
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Hello UWCC, long time no speak!

I just thought I'd pipe up with a couple of my own tips that have served well over many years of climbing and talking as if I were still climbing...

Prussik/autoblock - I use the latter, which sets up in just a few seconds, below the brake so that it takes less force to stop the rappel, and also takes less force to unlock when you want to continue the rappel (on free-hanging rappels, which is when you reall want a backup, this helps a lot). To make sure it actually can lock, I clip it to my right leg loop. yep, a small biner right around the leg loop. It's plenty strong enough. If I were a lefty, I'd clip to my left leg.

I just thought I'd also mention my favorite safety check. Rappelling is still, statistically, one of the most dangerous aspects of climbing, so above all it's important not to die. This is best done by have a safe system that is fast, easily learned, and is done without fail absolutely every time you rappel. It goes like this:
A - anchor: is the rope through the anchor? does the anchor look ok (backed up, solid, equalized, etc.)?
B - buckle: harness double-backed through the buckle? (you think this doesn't matter, but you may have dropped your harness to pee or something)
C - carabiner: is the main carabiner locked?
D - devices: is the rap device correctly set up? Both rope ends through the device, and the biner? Good. Is your backup device (autoblock, prussik or whatever) set up?
E - ends: have your ends reached the ground? How do you know? If you don't know, is there a knot in both ends?

There you go - takes less than 5 seconds to check once you have it down (takes about 10 seconds when you're learning, so not exactly time-consuming). There you have it.

Hope this helps someone out there. Happy climbing!
-DP

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:03 pm 
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Okay, a ton of this makes sense. Cant wait to get out and put it to use.

Obadiah, your Rappelling Safety article is genius. You should amend it with the updates though so it's in one nice source.

Everything in this sequence seems pretty bomber except the knot used to tie the two ropes together at the top. It seems like the EDK works fine, but instinctively many climbers arent satisfied by it.

I just came across this, any thoughts.
Image


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:39 am 
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Jim and Obadiah, I have one question. Do you stay tied in to both ends of the rope? If so do you just briefly untie to thread the rope through the anchors at the second rap station. Does that make coiling the rope more difficult?


Also since we're on the topic of rappelling, saw on cascadeclimbers the other day. Does it seem as ridiculous to everyone else as it does me?
Image


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:44 am 
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Longshanks
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Dan:
Good system there! One thing I have never bothered to check when I am rappelling is my harness buckle. I will in the future! Otherwise I follow pretty much the same procedure. For checking that your device is loaded properly, one thing I always do is to weight my rappel setup before unclipping from the anchor with my personal.

Also, In the Waddington Range Jim and I backed up every rap anchor with at least one piece of gear (sometimes it was impossible to get more), and bounce-tested all the slings/anchors. Testing I have always done, but I have been lax in the past about backing things up. The only instance in which this procedure cost us any significant amount of time was when we forgot a backup piece and had to go retrieve it the following day!

Kurt:
Thanks. I may update and re-post it here since my old site is gone. As for the knot, I'm perfectly happy with the EDK. Just be sure you leave sufficient (>10") of tail, and tighten it well, pulling on each strand individually to snug it as tight as possible. Tests show that even very poorly tied overhand bends (EDKs) fail through rope breakage at the knot (at very high forces), so long as you leave 10"-12" of tail! This leaves room for the badly tied bend to roll a few times and snug itself down. Well tied overhand bend's don't roll. If you're nervous about it you can tie a 2nd overhand directly above the first, which is what I frequently do.

Dave:
It's not as crazy as it looks. I believe Jim and Daniel tried this system in Peru. The problem is that the knot/biner combo often gets stuck in the anchor and becomes impossible to pull. Jason also made the good point that if you use this sort of pull system and your rope gets stuck on the way down, then you are left with nothing but a flimsy bit of static line with which to lead up and retrieve it!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:17 pm 
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The only time I've wanted 70m doubles is for ice climbing.

For rock and alpine, if the climbing is easy and low angle the rope drag gets to be obnoxious with longer pitches and if the climbing is hard I'll need a break before 70m anyway.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:36 pm 
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Half Ropes, also called Double Ropes, are da bomb! I've logged 1000's of pitches on Half Ropes (nearly 100 pitches with Lee Willcockson in 2010) and I've never wanted a pair of 70-meter lines.

I wouldn't spend the extra cash on bi-color or bi-pattern Half Ropes, but I would strongly advise marking the middle of each line. Often enough you'll only need one line to make a specific rappel, and the middle marking increases efficiency as well as safety.

I know this next bit is perhaps a highly personal choice, but I would suggest 8.8mm Half Ropes. Yes, there are Half Ropes that are smaller and therefore lighter, and I have owned and used such lighter Half Ropes. After 100's of rappels on smaller diameter Half Ropes (as well as 2 years of exclusive use of 7.6mm Twin Ropes) I am here to say 8.8mm is the smallest I go 'cuz any smaller and the ropes tangle so much more frequently and violently.

The EDK (overhand knot with tails together on the same side of the knot) with 10-inch tails has been tested in the lab, as well as in 100'000s of outdoor rappels, and it is safe. The big advantage is that the EDK allows the ropes to slide far more easily over edges during the process of pulling the ropes after the rappel. Further, the EDK seems to get caught in cracks much less frequently than a few of the other options for joining two ropes, again, while pulling the ropes after the rappel.

The EDK has also been called the Offset Overhand (as opposed to the Inline Overhand, which would look similar to a Double Fisherman Knot).


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:30 pm 
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You sure you meant 8.8? I'm not seeing very many half ropes at 8.8 and above.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:50 pm 
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True, I don't believe ropes advertised with nominal "diameters" greater than 8.9mm are marketed as "Half Ropes." I use the two instances of quotes because of how the rope industry operates. More about that later.

Sterling Ropes does offer "Half Ropes" and they market their "diameter" as 8.8mm



In my experience ropes that are marketed with "diameters" less than 8.8mm frankly annoy me with how more frequently and violently they will tangle together in horrible knots. I'd also suggest that whatever manufacturer you select for your "Half Ropes" that you consider choosing stiffer, rather than softer. The softer the rope the more likely it will tangle. Sterling makes moderately soft ropes and I would suggest a stiffer choice for "Half Ropes."

A small part of my experience with the proclivity of ropes to tangle while rappelling involves my pursuit for the speed record on Infinite Bliss 5.10B 23 pitches, just outside North Bend. I've been up and down that route too many times to recall, and each time I've come down I've made the 21 consecutive rappels on Half Ropes. I've had various Half Rope combinations to experiment with. While climbing 23 pitches I wanted the lightest ropes possible! But while rappelling I wanted the stiffest and thickest ropes, to avoid tangles. When you're making 21 consecutive rappels and you're keeping track of time, you don't want to loose any unnecessary time fumbling with a tangled mess while on rappel.

UWCC Trip Report with 6 climbers on Infinite Bliss - what a wild night they had!


You may certainly use a pair of 9.1mm "single" ropes in the same fashion as a pair of "Half Ropes." The choice is yours. You could even use a pair of 11mm old skool lines in "Half Rope" technique. There is nothing about the construction of a "Half" rope that makes it superior nor inferior to a "single" rope. A "Half rope" is simply a ' "single" ' rope that the industry deems is not safe to be used exclusively by itself. There now exist due to technology and heavy research and design, "single" ropes that are the same "diameter" as "half" ropes. You may use a pair of these "single" ropes together as if they are "Half" ropes. In fact, at least one manufacturer now markets it's skinniest "single" rope as a "single" rope and also as a "Half rope." This new breed of rope is marketed for both markets, as a "Half rope" and also as a "single" rope. Soon there will exist a rope that will be marketed across all 3 categories: single,

The "diameter" that is marketed for a specific rope is not actually a physical dimension that is accurately measured. The value that is marketed is a nominal value. The manufacturer submit a sample of their rope to a certified tester (some manufacturer's now have all the testing equipment within their private facilities). Depending on the results of the destructive testing, the manufacturer will choose a "diameter" that reflects the actual capabilities of the rope.

If the rope breaks on the 12th fall then likely that rope will be considered 10.5mm and not 9.6mm. Get ruler out, and check out how small 0.9mm is. The actual difference between a piece of steel rod that is 10.5mm and another rod that is 9.6mm is nearly indiscernable. Well, if you had two ropes and one actually measured 10.5mm and the other measured 9.6mm you could not tell the difference by looking, nor by feeling between your fingers. Both ropes would squish as you grabbed them, the 0.9mm difference would be undetectable.

Yet, as climbers we universally have an idea about how we feel about a "10.5mm" versus a "9.6mm" rope. Don't we.


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