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 Post subject: Re: Rappel Safe, Please
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:37 pm 
UW Climber

Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:15 am
Posts: 129
Ian, that was a remarkably honest, transparent and soul bearing Incident Report. It is courageous to publicly admit your mistakes so that others may benefit from your misfortune. Of course, I am beyond joyous you suffered nothing serious; but after that sentiment I really want to tell you how deeply grateful I am for your heartfelt sharing.

In my experience I would share in the manner of safe rappels –

Place one end through the rappel anchor and match ends and then find the middle by pulling from each end together, most ropes do not have a manufactured indicator of the middle of the rope, if the middle is marked either by a manufacturer’s color change (Sterling) or a weaving change (all other manufacturers) of if the middle is marked by the owner it still doesn’t matter as sometimes the last 20-feet is removed on one side because it was getting soft from all the falls and hangs by working routes, and other times you can’t reliably see the middle in fading light. Match ends and then you’ll find the exact center, everytime

Friction hitch is useful but don’t count on it. I almost always use a friction hitch, I use a Klemheist (often misspelled as climbheist) and I use this hitch following my primary rappel device – I rig my friction hitch up rope from the rappel device. I connect the friction hitch (tied with 6mm cord) to a sling which, and the sling is girth hitched around my harness.

You may prefer a friction hitch that is rigged in front of the rappel device – an autoblock secured on the leg loop is one very common example of this. ... -2-54.html

Tests have been conducted (sorry I’m not including the links, but the truth is out there) and conclusions were that if a caver (or a climber) was rappelling and then did not know exactly when the end(s) of the rope(s) were coming, then the caver was not able to release their grip on the friction hitch to allow the hitch to lock on the ropes. So, don’t think that a friction hitch will save your ass when you rap off the end(s) of the rope!

Watch for the ends as you rap. This is such an obvious idea, duh! But, it could have saved countless lives. Seriously. Watch for both ends while you rappel. Sometimes the ends will be hiding within cracks below you, or concealed in bushes on a ledge. Doesn’t matter, always watch for the ends. Always.

Stopper knots, like Friction Hitches, are a personal choice. There is much more evidence in favor of using them, there are many good cases for not using them. I don’t use them; when asked for advice, I always urgently advocate using them. If you do choose stopper knots then never tie the two ropes together at their ends. A stopper knot should be tied separately for each rope. A stopper knot is not a knot unless the knot is tied correctly, the knot is dressed cleanly, the knot is set with adequate force, and the ends should be a full foot, nothing less. Choice of stopper knot is fairly wide – I would prefer to use a Double Overhand which is exactly half of a Double Fisherman’s knot; when set, this will NOT come undone, ever. A Figure-8 _can_ come undone. ... -knot.html

Gloves. Few carry them; those that do have the sweetest smiles on their faces. It’s worth scrounging up a pair of free gloves, old gardening gloves, work gloves, whatev (no reason to begin by spending $35 on “belay gloves” by a climbing label). Give them a try. You might like the sweet smile you’ll have on your face!

Hostering or Saddlebagging the rap lines is virtually necessary sometimes. And even with this high-touch solution for managing the ropes, you should not think it foolproof to keep you from rapping off the ends.

Headlamp. Put that little sucka in yo pocket and fuggedaboudit!! Always have this, even when you leave the ground in the morning for nothing but “….. a threeeee hour tourrrrr…………………”

Rushing. ‘nuf said.

David Yount.

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