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Badger Creek, Marble Canyon 1/8/18

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Drock, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Drock

    Drock

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    Short and sweet canyon! I decided to ascend the three rappels for my exit instead of hike back out so I brought three ropes: 50ft, 75ft, and 140ft. The first rappel was into calf deep water and I used the 50ft rope. Second rappel was down a chute and into an easily avoidable small pothole filled with water and I used the 75ft rope. I used the longest rope for the third rappel which had an anchor pretty far back off a large rock, the actual height of the rappel was 20ft or so but I needed all that additional rope for the anchor. The third rappel goes down an overhanging ledge and I was sure getting back up over that overhanging ledge on the ascent was going to be a hoot and I'd find out shortly how much fun it would be. Wasn't as wet as I had expected even though it had rained two days prior. After the second rappel, it was completely dry. The walk to the river and back was easy.

    After hanging at the river enjoying the scenery and watching kayakers hit the rapids, first rappel badger. second rappel badger. final rappel Badger. side view final rappel badger. I headed back to the final rappel to begin my ascent. I was using WC Ropeman 2 ascenders. I've practiced extensively with these devices and am comfortable with them but the top ascender proved to be a problem because I couldn't remove it to reach up over the ledge and instead had to try and push it up and over which was totally exhausting. My other problem was the tether was too long on my top ascender, I was falling too far back when I wanted to put my weight on it. After I got pass the third rappel I simply put an overhand knot in it and it worked better for the other two ascents. I also had to readjust my foot loop a couple times while I was hanging. I hung there dealing with that ledge for close to 45 minutes, worked me pretty good. The other two ascents were fine. I was pretty well licked by the time I got up the final ascent. Dealing with that ledge made me think about the rescue that just occurred in Arizona where the man had to ascend and couldn't get his ascender over the ledge. I hadn't practiced ascending an overhang before. I also hadn't practiced ascending with a pack on. I pack heavy, especially in winter in case I have a forced bivy so that added to the problem. I am now thinking of switching to a different ascender, any suggestions?

    Anyway, whole bunch of rain came on the following day so I'm certain that it'll be a wet muddy mess down in Badger for a bit.
  2. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    It's been several years since I ascended, it's probably time for some refresher work. Assuming favorable geometry, I would much rather ascend, then haul the pack up.
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  3. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Hi Drock - nice TR, and a timely supplement to the AZ rescue discussion. A few comments:
    • Your experience is a good reminder that even extensive practice may not reveal every difficulty encountered in "real" use.
    • Proper pack management while ascending can greatly improve efficiency: in general, hanging the pack may be desirable in vertical or free-hanging terrain, especially with a sit/stand ascending system. Of course, this varies depending on other factors (how the pack is hung, specific ascending system used, water flow variables, terrain snagginess, etc.).
    • For planned significant* ascents, it's best to have a dialed system, with proper full-size mechanical ascenders. Many find that a minimal "Texas" style setup works fine. I prefer the Frog system, which requires a chest strap to tow the chest ascender, whereas the Texas does not. As you discovered in Badger, footloop and tether lengths in any system are critical.
    • It is ideal to have a minimum of 3 ascenders, even if your system only uses two under ideal conditions, to handle the occasional awkward lip. For especially awkward lips, a handled sheet metal ascender such as the Petzl Ascension can't be beat for ease of use in getting it on/off rope, and moving it up (or down) when the rope is pressed against the rock.
    • As we saw in the AZ incident, knowing how to down-climb the rope, and to transition between ascending mode and rappel mode are important parts of the ascending game that often get overlooked.
    As with any tech topic, there's plenty more that could be said - enough to write a book, in fact. Nice job working through the problems in Badger.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thanks for the TR Drock, and Good comments Hank. To which I would add:

    1. when doing ascents like this, I tie my pack to the bottom end of the rope and pull it up afterwards.

    2. Petzl Basic. Small, light, still has that sheet metal thing that can install on the rope even when the rope is pegged against the rock.

    Personally, I think one should be able to do the 3 short ascents in Badger using your 'contingency' ascending system. Bringing extra gear would be cheating!!!

    Tom
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  5. Drock

    Drock

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    Thanks Hank, I appreciate the tips!
  6. Drock

    Drock

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    Thanks Tom, I will add either the Petzl Ascension or Basic to my ascending gear. Lesson learned about the pack!
  7. pyle762

    pyle762

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    Thanks for the TR Drock. Badger is on my short list of canyons and I plan on doing it like you did by leaving ropes and then ascending back up, with some trout fishing in between the decent and ascent. Hopefully I will be able to make it this year. BTW, nice non-canyoneerning related avatar. ;)
  8. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    So...one Tom Jones should be able to do it with Drock's 2 x Ropeman system and no extra gear? This I want to see (on YouTube). :D


    @Drock To answer this directly, some upgrades to consider:

    Level 1: Add a Tibloc + footloop to your emergency ascent setup, to deal with the occasional bad lip, etc.
    Level 2: Make that a Petzl Basic, for greater ease of use, with minimal increase in size/weight
    Level 3: Get 2 full-size, sheet metal eccentric cam ascenders (e.g. Petzl Ascension, Basic, etc. or at least a decent Petzl knockoff, of which there are many) and configure with tethers and footloop(s) to have a real ascending system (or systems), in addition to your emergency setup. Handled models add bulk/weight, but offer greater ease of use (especially with the "Yosemite" system). System choice varies with terrain and preference, but the Texas system is a good baseline setup that every canyoneer should know and practice.
    Level 4: @Kuenn ? :)


    One to avoid: Black Diamond NForce ascender (they slip).
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Kind of a give-away... since one sets the rope on the way down, one can set them up for an easy ascent.

    The second time I jugged up Badger, we crossed the river to swap teams, and Todd Martin, a caver, had set up the ropes caver-style for our ascent. Don't let a caver set up the ropes.

    Tom
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  10. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    LOL. Now THAT's a quality cheat.
  11. Drock

    Drock

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    While I was at the river I was wishing I would have brought some fishing gear. Next time for sure!
  12. townsend

    townsend

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    Tom, Hank, and others . . .

    I wondered if you preferred the "old" Petzl basic, before they reissued it and made it smaller and lighter. I have a pair of the old ones, and along with their added weight (not good), they are slightly larger (good), and therefore might provide more "girth" to grab onto in your hand.
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    My priority is small weight, small size while still working very well. So I like the new one much much better. That and the Micro Traxion are my standard carry, even though I use them very rarely these days.

    And I don't really grasp it as much as place my hand atop it, so I have no problem with holding on to it. I do not find it "too small" as you might be suggesting.

    Tom
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  14. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Well, also...

    In addition to my Basic and Microtraxion, I also carry over-the-shoulder nylon slings. With these, I can (and have) reached up past the edge and constructed a Bachman knot. I could also get high on my Micro-Traxion, tie a chicken knot, and then take my basic off and clip it on above the edge.

    If I had the misfortune that the ropes were set up for ascending by a caver.

    Tom
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  15. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Hey @townsend I prefer the new one, especially what French ppl call the "prise en main" or handfeel - very comfy (of course, hand size plays a major role in this). The old one does have notable advantages: downclimbs easier and has the self-belay/angled rope security option (oval 'biner through top two holes to better trap the rope in the rope channel), FWIW. Some cavers report that the older cam lasts longer (harder, chromed steel vs. softer stainless on the new one) but I have no hard data on that.

    Rope trap (red circle):

    Screenshot 2018-01-17 09.47.44.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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