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Tech Tip: Question Backing up a FiddleStick

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Hi Tom,

    I have a fiddle stick on its way to my house along with a 200ft pull cord and bag :) A quick question for you. When doing the setup will you use a carabiner to backup the fiddle stick? This will be a new incorporation into my arsenal and I am trying to figure out best practices when it comes to this piece of equipment. Could you share with me your process when putting this to use. It would be greatly appreciated :) Super excited to get it and go practice!!!!

    (a canyoneer)

    Tom Responds:

    What I do usually is put the FiddleStick in and not use a backup. I use a biner to clip the pull cord side to the anchor for throwing the pull side, and unclip it last thing before rappelling last.

    If there is more than 3 people, I am likely to use a carabiner in the Stone knot for all but the last person, or the last two. Then set it up for final, clip the pull to the anchor, toss the pull cord bag, unclip the pull, rappel. I worry about the knot tightening too tight from a bunch of people rapping on it.

    I do not think the FiddleStick needs a "backup". Place the Stone Knot where it is in air and will not interact with the environment. If you are concerned about it being knocked out by a rock or something, then tie a KNOT below the FiddleStick and back that up with Meat.

    It is important to see how the FiddleStick interacts with the environment before trusting it on its own. Which is why I think clipping carabiners into the FiddleStick and then to the anchor is "Safety Theater" rather than an improvement to safety. Observing the stick with weights clipped to it does not tell you how it will interact with the environment without weights clipped to it.

    However, as a beginner FiddleSticker, it helps to do a canyon and use it a couple times with an experienced Sticker. If not, it might be a good idea to set up a backup (using the forward knot, which does not effect the FS Anchor) for at least a couple times to gain an appreciation of the subtleties of the method.



    Comments? Additions?
    Blake J and Dange like this.
  2. Sutitan


    Denver, CO
    I think people have this idea that a fiddlestick will just pop out on them while on rappel. I always try to show people uncomfortable with the idea how difficult it is to actually release the fiddlestick when the rope is weighted. Ive seen people put their bodyweights, tugging hard to try get the thing to budge even just a hair. I tell people that the thing is more likely to get stuck than accidentally pop out. Luckily I haven't ran into either situation.

    Id maybe add cinching the fiddlestick before having the first person rappel and preferably using an upward stone knot.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  3. Ali Miller

    Ali Miller

    In my experience, the most challenging part of fiddling is convincing teammates that it's safe. I back it up for all but the last (me), and mostly it's for the peace-of-mind of the folks who rap before me. It's a quick, easy way to make people feel better.

    Another quick back-up method: make the tail on the stone hitch a little longer, put an 8 on a bight, and clip that back to the anchor. Supplement with education and encouragement until your canyon buds realize fiddling is both safe and awesome.

    There's an even "smoother" way to "operate" the backup, as well. ;D
    Bluu, Blake J and ratagonia like this.
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