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Avoiding rope damage when pulling your biner block

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by baffledsloth, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. baffledsloth

    baffledsloth

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    I've just recently gotten into using a biner block and tag line for longer rappels, and on the 3 pulls I've done so far my rope has suffered heavy damage to the sheath, including a core shot. The damage occurs on the clove hitch. I have an imlay canyon gear 8.3. The rappels in question were on Uturn, Tierdrop, and Lomatium in arches. Dragging the biner block/clove hitch across the sandstone abrades the sheath severely. Is there any way to avoid the rope damage? I imagine if the webbing extended over the lip of the rappel it would mostly avoid the issue, but then it is more dangerous to get on rappel. Also, a fiddlestick or smooth operator would not be ideal because the anchor is laying on the ground, with 5-10 feet before the edge of the drop.

    Is this just a scenario where more webbing to extend the anchor over the edge is needed? The only solution I've come up with is just taking some athletic/duct tape out and wrapping it around the clove hitch a few times. Should slide pretty good.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  2. Zach Olson

    Zach Olson

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    Could you post a picture of your biner block/clove hitch and rope damage? Might be easier to diagnose your problem with a visual aid.
  3. baffledsloth

    baffledsloth

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    Well I didn't take a picture of it, but basically picture a clove hitch on the stem of a locking biner, and the abrasion happens on the strands of rope making up the knot as the biner is dragged when I pull my pull cord. The first 5-10 feet of the pull are on flat ground before it gets over the edge, which is where the damage occurs. The rappel is off webbing wrapped around a boulder back from the edge of the drop.
  4. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Wall climbers sometimes cut a 2 liter (or whatever) water bottle in half and thread the rope through it prior to putting on the clove hitch (or knot, etc). Tuck the knot in the body of the pop bottle. When you pull it, the abrasion will go onto the pop bottle body.

    Having done it a bunch, it work pretty well, at least for pulling a haul bag up a rock face. I'd imagine would work similarly for pulling down a rope as well.
    darhawk and Canyonero like this.
  5. danf

    danf

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    Asking because you didn't mention it - where are you pulling from? Maybe take a longer tag line so you can pull from further out and get a better angle? That last rap in U-Turn, for example, has a much smoother pull from the sandy hill a short way back than if you're pulling from where the rappel drops you.

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  6. baffledsloth

    baffledsloth

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    You're right, I pulled from right under the edge, and I had plenty of rope to get where you indicated. Most of the damage occurred on the first rappel in Lomatium, where the canyon is so tight that there is no other way to get a better angle really.
    Rapterman and danf like this.
  7. baffledsloth

    baffledsloth

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    Hmm that sounds like a good idea. I'll try some tape on the rope first, and if that doesn't work I'll bring out a bottle.
  8. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Yes, that makes a big difference. Keeps rope grooves down, too. And no, it's not more dangerous if you know what you're doing ... pull it up, rig it, hold the webbing in your non-brake hand as you move into position and load your device. Usually a sitting start is indicated. All it takes is some planning and reasonable grip strength.

    Gordon
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  9. Zach Olson

    Zach Olson

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    Making "awkward transitions" onto rappel with webbing extended over the lip is a good skill to have. Extending webbing also helps to prevent sticking the rope.

    You can also tie a "courtesy knot" on the webbing 5-10 ft back from the edge and clip the anchor point there for all but the last person. This allows less experienced teammates to make an easier transition with only the most experienced having an awkward start with an extended anchor.
  10. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    When possible this is best since it not only reduces damage to the rope, but to the rock as well, another option is to learn to use a fiddlestick.
  11. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Or you can belay the inexperienced so that they can gain experience safely ...

    Gordon
  12. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    The easy answer? Fiddlestick.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  13. Zach Olson

    Zach Olson

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    Of course there are many factors that affect sequencing. Skill, weight, type of anchor, details of the particular rappel.

    The situations where I've most used the "courtesy knot" has been a marginal anchor such as a dead man with webbing extended over the edge. The less experienced (or heavy) members of the party would be first down and the anchor backed up with meat.

    Ideally our group has 2 experienced people (call them guides) who will be FPAR or LPAR as the situation dictates.

    As a matter of habit we teach EVERYBODY in the group a few basic skills including fireman's belay. FPAR uses a VT or Prussik belay every time...
  14. LonePeak

    LonePeak

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    Not a fan of the Fiddlestick because things can go very badly wrong.

    Tough pulls are sometimes hard to avoid. Instead one can slip a length of tubular webbing over the rope as a disposable sheath and tie the whole onto the biner block. Straighten out the webbing. The pull may be a slightly harder, but now the rope can take it. You can leave extra webbing for other sections of rope that may also take a beating. Always test pull before descending.

    I also use athletic tape to protect rope at rub spots, and it passes ok through a CRITR and doesn't leave much residue when promptly removed.
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  15. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Because nothing ever goes wrong with a biner block....

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/poor-rappel-setup-led-to-asu-students-fatal-fall-7468789
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  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Let me summarize and comment.

    0. Use a FiddleStick, if this is a technique you are proficient in and find appropriate.

    1. Should pretty much always, when possible, pull the rope from a place where you can see the ring. Or as "far out" as possible. Makes the pull easier, decreases rope grooves, prevents the block damage you mention.

    2. It is good form, in general, to put the ring over the edge, to a place where it can be "line of sight" to where you are going to pull it. Again, makes the pull easier, decreases rope grooves. The disadvantage is that the start of the rappel might be more difficult for the last person; and it might end up using more webbing. In the example shown, the amount of extra webbing is excessive, therefore, not really an option.
    2B. No reason for more than one person to do the incredibly awkward start sometimes required. After setting the rappel up for good retrieval, pull the ring up and set a "courtesy anchor". Even with experienced canyoneers, difficult starts are slow and unpleasant - unless you are into torturing people, in which case just volunteer them to go last.
    2C. If the ring is really in a place where getting to it is dangerous, you can always rig a rapide higher in the rigging, and rappel down to the place where the actual rappel starts, using a short piece of rope (for instance, the tail of your retrieval rope).
    2D. Webbing left in the environment tends to shrink, often resulting in the ring being JUST TOO SHORT. Or maybe it was rigged that way. In any case, raps with this problem need to be re-rigged more often than raps without.

    3. In unavoidable places where the biner block will be dragged across rock, likely resulting in rope damage, there are several options to minimize the impact:
    3A. pull the biner block and rappel double strand.
    3B. if you really really want to leave the biner block, make sure it is at the END of the rope, which usually means then tying on a separate rope for the pull. Damaging the rope 2 feet from the end is a lot better than damaging it in the middle. Then again, pulling more rope through the system than absolutely required usually just makes matters worse.

    Hope that helps.

    Tom
  17. AW~

    AW~

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    Id think this is a better summary.

    1) Rope grooves are fine....thats "loving" a place.
    2) Bolts are fine....hint hint.
    3) Unnecessary suffering is for awkward people. What planet are they on?
    4) Remember to take a selfie going over the edge and causing the grooves, and hashtag it REI, optoutside, etc.
    5) You are mighty!

    Sincerely,
    the outdoors tourism industry
  18. Moab Mark

    Moab Mark

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    Canyoneers in Moab really need to improve their rope pulling. The rope grooves at the last rappel in Rock of Ages are extreme. I think the local guides placed bolts in the wall and where they are is destroying the ledge in front of them.

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  19. Moab Mark

    Moab Mark

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    U turn and tierdrop are terrible also. People need to take enough rope to walk way back from the edge. At lomatium if you walk down canyon and then pull your rope that helps greatly with the rope grooves also.

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  20. NotBob

    NotBob

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    I realize I'm pulling up a quiet thread, but you could try one of my cogs...

    And I really like Tom's response 3A - pull the block and rap double strand - pretty much sums it up; but, In rare cases of last man on the block I've used this little contraption shown in pictures below.

    I made a bunch of them a while back and I call it the Biner Block Cog (BBC or Cog).
    It works marvels in protecting the rope on drag pulls.

    I sometimes use it with a constriction hitch, but a double clove works and a single fits too obviously, but has to be really seated well or I fear it to slip maybe - donno.

    And just to be clear - THIS HAS NOT EVER BEEN DYNO TESTED - so, I have no idea whether it holds better or worse than a regular biner block with no cog. I just know it works for me in the rare cases I choose to use one.

    20170524_084046.
    20170524_083910_009.
    20170524_084028. 20170524_083940.
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