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All Things Ghosting

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ram, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. Ram

    Ram

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    I have been thinking for a spell, that it would be a good idea to accumulate "All things ghosting" in one place. It's history, evolution, how it works, methods, what people have learned, videos of the tools and anything else. It is my hope that all interested will wade in with. One of the methods, "captures and escapes" has it's own thread and is great.

    Where to start? I think there is 4 distinct tools in modern ghosting, as it exists today. Fiddlestick, capture, water and sand anchors. (I consider potshot anchors a subset of sand anchors, but others may feel differently).

    A short blurb on each...

    Fiddlestick....had past forms, like the macrame. Most used tool among those doing lots of ghosting. Advantages....Do NOT have to pull rope through an anchor, so better than ANY method on mitigating rope grooves. One can keep attaching ropes to the drop, so saves building/creating new anchors at each drop.

    Captures and escapes....2nd most used tool. Awesome method and fun to do. Do rappels start at 16 feet now? Most times that is now true. Best evaluated from below. http://canyoncollective.com/threads/escapes-and-captures.18214/

    Water anchor.....was once rarely used and the last developed, now with its research and development, easy, safe, with a great margin between what can be rapped on and what it takes to pull it (sweet spot).

    Sand anchors....perhaps once the most used, now least used on trips I am doing, but still with great utility. It got the whole ghosting thing going.

    It seems to me that almost everyone who ACTUALLY goes out and ghosts a canyon, falls in love with it. The magic of low impacts and having your anchors follow you down canyon, as part of real teamwork.
    Stories, lessons, ideas, observations, limitations...all open for discussion.
  2. Ram

    Ram

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    The prototype for water anchor, invented by Jenny West, captured by Brian Olliver. I understand that Steve Allen and crew used a slowly emptying dromedary as a water anchor decades earlier.



    Perhaps the inspiration behind the Aguanchor development will be shared by Jenny. The next generation water anchor, the Waterpocket is amazing. Maybe Boot has some video to share too
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
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  3. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I think you left out downclimbing and jumping. There are a few folks out there downclimbing some nasty stuff or jumping into waist-deep water in order to avoid leaving a little sling. Often speeds things up too, but at significant risk of injury.
    Bootboy likes this.
  4. ScottM

    ScottM Looking for a canyon, you got one?

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    Ram,

    Great topic! While I do see meat anchors and hip belays mentioned within the linked thread, wondering if those are techniques in their own right vs. classified as a capture/escape?
  5. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Well sure, the meat anchor works for everyone but the last guy. Who must climb, jump, be captured, or rap off a retrievable anchor.

    I see no reason to do a hip belay though. What's the point of that? Ghosting doesn't mean don't bring any gear, it means don't leave any gear.
  6. ScottM

    ScottM Looking for a canyon, you got one?

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    Yes, I know. However, I'm not sure I implied any gear to be left. The intent is for the first individual to get down and then assess if others can downclimb safely with a capture.
  7. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I'm still lost. What's the point of the hip belay? To save the 1 second of putting the rope into your belay device?
  8. ScottM

    ScottM Looking for a canyon, you got one?

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    Just another option man, not intended to replace a meat anchor. Both have their utility; if the first person (competent down climber) believes they can down climb but wants a backup.
  9. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Longest rock climbing fall I've held I caught with a hip belay (over 50'). Very effective. The point is that it works, and, you don't need a belay device for a simple, quick belay.

    Are you still lost? How can we get you found? Go out and practice? Maybe learn to rappel and belay a bit without that device? That's a skill everyone should have tucked into the toolbox.

    Sometimes less is more...
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  10. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I also learned to climb with hip belays. There's a reason people rarely use them anymore. At any rate, my point was that they're irrelevant to the concept of ghosting a canyon.
  11. Ram

    Ram

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    You make it sound so reckless :jawdrop:. It's not.
    You sound like an emergency room doctor!....Oh wait, you are!

    A LAPAR (last person at Risk) downclimb is a standard, often used method, as you state. It is usual for someone to volunteer for it. Sometimes, a person will downclimb it on belay, to assess its difficulty before the last person downclimb is done. If someone, in toward the front does the downclimb, they might get told. "Hey why don't you go last, if you were going to do that!"

    Everyone wants to test themselves and most enjoy a good downclimb. And on most ghosting trips, there is adequate opportunity for most to go last, often several times. But the thinking is often equated to "Group accumulated risk." Responsible teamwork should look to mitigate unnecessary risk. The joke line, with "tongue in cheek" is..."If you want to do everything, go bouldering!

    Also downclimbs can be supported by pack drags and perhaps sometimes transitioning into captures, toward the bottom of said downclimb.

    Shallow jumping as LAPAR is also a tool. Fast and easy solution, into deep water, it can be done into shallow water too, when fully checked out by those who "meat" rappel before LAPAR. This was one of the assets I brought to the group, being a lifelong shallow jumper, but I defer to other, younger folks now. Still I will do one or two a year, when the spirit is upon me. Makes my tail wag. Murray, Brendan, Bucky are a few folks quite good at this too.

    The usual method, but not only one, is to do a "back flop," all laid out, hitting the water with your arms, legs and back splayed out and at the same time.
    The rowdiest I have seen on both ends of jumping heights is....
    35 feet into 5 feet
    and
    12 feet into 2.5 feet of water.

    Be careful out there
    Ram
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  12. Ram

    Ram

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    I kind of look at it as all being included in LAPAR. Many ways to skin a cat...or get the last person down safely.
    Meat anchors are used a ton. Often to get one down to appraise options. . Sometimes just to get more people moving forward, no matter what anchor is being used and sometimes getting all down in prep for LAPAR.

    Hip belay is used less often, but a form of that is used is often applied. Getting folks down with assist from daisy chain attached to the top of the pack or the person being lowered. It is used a LOT on me, these days, to ensure my brittle body doesn't have to land dynamically or as an additional safety, when I am not sure I can downclimb this year, what I could downclinb a year or so ago.
  13. Sutitan

    Sutitan

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  14. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    The Fiddlestick has superseded all other releasable/retrievable slings. It is simpler and more reliable. It also means the rope falling with just the end trailing, unlike the CEM, which releases the rope with a bite in it, a bite that is a significant snagging hazard. Slings and other hardware also pose much greater risk of snagging.
  15. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Agreed. I can't think of a time when a releasable sling would work and a fiddlestick wouldn't.

    The pack drag is a good addition Ram, good point.
  16. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Also remember that you're not just risking your own body. Getting injured ruins everyone else's day too and might force a very uncomfortable or even life-threatening bivy on your comrades. A simple ankle fracture in the wrong location could be a multi-day ordeal.

    There is a lot of unnecessary risk being taken in canyons. Be wise about how much risk you're willing to add to your day in an effort to avoid leaving 8 feet of sling in a canyon that can be cut out and removed on the next trip down without any long-term effects on the canyon.
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  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I see your point ScottM, but... A meat anchor is a useful component of several techniques, but in the sense of this discussion, is not a technique by itself.

    I have found it just as quick to load the rope in my belay device though occasionally I use a hip belay position for the meat anchor. The rap device has the advantage that lowering using the device is less painful that using the hip belay, in the few cases that lowering is required.

    Tom
  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    We rarely belay, let alone do a running hip belay. Are you doing a lot of belays? Or perhaps you mean that you use a hip-belay-type-meat anchor?

    In any case, these are components, that can be done many ways, rather than essential elements of canyon ghosting techniques.

    Tom
  19. ScottM

    ScottM Looking for a canyon, you got one?

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    A lot? No. But on a rare occasion if the downclimb appears doable and the lead just wants some protection. It is easier to downclimb with a backup (slack) than feeding rope through a rap device in a constricted area.

    I think the spirit of the original message has been lost with the whole notion of the application of a hip belay. That being said, I understand the points made.
  20. Jenny

    Jenny

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    OK, Ram, I’ll take the bait...errrrrrr….the invitation to sound in. What is that saying? “Necessity is the mother of Invention”? That very well sums up the inception and birth of the Aguanchor.

    In one of my favorite canyons there is one rappel that had the skankiest anchor options and sketchy choices for anchors each time I saw this spot. Many options had been tried - all were horrid! How many times I was met with nods of agreement with the statement: “Dang! We need a water anchor! This is the perfect place for one. It would be the best choice each and every time! We need a water anchor”.

    Thus the discussion ensued about others who had experimented with water anchors. I chatted with Steve Allen about this and others that had tried ideas. That grew into literally a vision of a water anchor made from an old river bag (from the 80s) that had a pull rod closure. I tried that. I moved on to other ideas and tested them off my high deck on Bowen Island. Try, modify, test, modify, repeat. You know the drill.

    I paid a friend (who had an industrial machine) to sew and glue my first prototype from a specific pattern template. It went through quite a series of modifications with the ideas shared by some keen brains committed to the idea of a reliable new ghosting tool: a bag holding water. HA! The name came naturally, Aguanchor. It fit, it stuck. I still have the original red prototype, with marker and chalk marks on it, and continued to use it until Bootboy came up with a super alternative design. He made me a “geriatric version” in pink upon my request for a lighter weight and smaller volume model.

    Another great pal, (Doc Rosen) offered me the use of his industrial machine. I sewed and glued only five Aguanchors. I knew that I would never make more. I put the design, construction specs and testing results online and hoped that someone would take the seed and grow something better. Each Aguanchor’s construction and testing took about 40 hours and burned many braincells with the toxic fumes. I designed each of the five with the receiver of the anchor in mind. For instance, I made Ram’s with the toughest material and the easiest to set. I made Doc Rosen’s the one with the cleanest look (he’s a surgeon after all and stitches matter, eh?). I placed the others in the super capable hands of Tom and Brendan. These original bags have changed hands over the years and I don’t know where they are now. John D, didn’t you end up with one? Jonothan Z?

    There are several releasable water anchors out there now. Such great designs! It is so exciting that canyoneers continue to create and use consistently reliable ghosting tools. The inventors and users of these tools usually have a keen awareness of the importance and relevance of these methods. They put in the effort to become proficient and at some point are usually very happy to teach the tools to anyone interested.

    I love the idea of this thread and will tune in to see what the current flavor turns out to be these days.

    Like everything, there are folks that don’t like this. They won’t step onto this train. But folks, the Ghosting Fun Train has left the station.


    Jenny of Many Words.

    (as usual)
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