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beginner questions-rope managment

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by andrew vaughan, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. andrew vaughan

    andrew vaughan

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    forgive the simple beginner questions but I am trying to slowly learn, be safe and expand my experience. Yesterday was my first time through birch hollow and was my first rap longer than 100 feet and hence longer than half of my 200 foot rope. I was carrying 2-200 foot ropes. My question is what is the best way to use the pull cord. do you set the rope length to the bottom and keep the extra rope at the top and then tie in the pull cord on the end and when appropriate toss the extra length and pull cord bag, or do you deploy the whole rope and tie in the pull cord near the anchor? also in this circumstance if you have two ropes tied near at the anchor do you rap double strand or leave it blocked and rap on a single strand?
  2. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    There’s been a lot of debate recently on single vs double and what’s better, especially where beginners are concerned, I’m on my phone now though and don’t feel like finding it, it’s an easy search here and on bogley. Personally I would say set the length of the one rope to reach the ground, block the rope, and tie the second rope to it, but leave it up top until LAMAR goes. However If you have any concerns about anyone managing friction on the long rap then just tie the ropes together and rap double strand. Not to be mean, but if managing friction on rappel is a concern then you might want to practice in easier canyons first.
    joeb likes this.
  3. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Lots of ways to skin this cat. You can just "throw and go" by tying the ropes together with an overhand (aka European Death Knot/EDK), putting the knot next to the anchor main point and rappel double strand. This has the benefit of being relatively hard to screw up, having a lot of friction, and lots of strength. The downside occurs when you get to the bottom. You now have to take 90 feet out of a rope bag that you wouldn't have had to take out using another technique. You also have to now pull 200 feet of rope over a bunch of edges and through the anchor. Especially when the rope is sandy, this wears out the anchor and your rope and also puts big nasty rope grooves into the rock. And if you're rapping into water, there may be all kinds of rope swirling around in the pothole down there, especially after you pull 300-400 feet of rope down

    The most elegant solution is to tie a single one of your ropes to the anchor with a stone knot using a locking carabiner also through one strand of the anchor loop and have the group rappel single line. LAPAR (you, rappeling last), prior to rappeling, remove the biner, replace it with a fiddlestick, attach the fiddle stick to rope # 2, toss rope # 2 down to your pals (while holding on to the fiddlestick until it's down), double check everything, and rappel down the original rappel rope. The upside to this is you only have to pull 5 feet of rope through the anchor instead of 200 feet. And you only have to stuff 210 feet of rope back into bags, instead of 290. And you nearly eliminate rope grooving. And you feel supercool. The downsides? Well, you have to rap single strand (so less friction- ask that guy who cratered in Englestead about the importance of plenty of friction) and fiddlesticks require more skill than throw and go techniques, especially for a rappel with an awkward start, like a rap off a chockstone you're standing on top of.

    There are a few options between this, most notably putting in a block and rapping single strand. You can decrease how much rope is out that way, but you still have to pull 110 feet of rope over edges and through the anchor, Plus there is the risk of rapping on the wrong side, and you have to leave some gear behind in the canyon (i.e. you can't ghost it like you can with a fiddlestick).

    Double strand is an especially bad idea if you're in a canyon with only two ropes because if someone gets stuck, there is no easy rescue. You've basically got to do mechanical advantage and bring them back up. But if you're in a canyon with only two ropes and someone gets stuck rapping single line, you can probably lower the other rope and certainly can send someone down the other rope to help.
    joeb likes this.
  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I'm certainly an advocate for limiting grooving. That said, fiddle-sticking, ie. using toggles, is probably a more advanced technique than it appears the OP may be ready for, given the original question.

    But now that the can of worms is open, I recommend if you're toggling then toggle for ALL. Luke's toggle (Smooth Operator) allows safety blocking for all but last person (removes safety biners). IMO, it's just as safe as the stein/biner block and it doesn't require "last person" to make any "last minute" anchor adjustments. LAPAR should not be adding more "R" (risk) than is necessary.

    I do agree there's lots of ways to skin this cat. Although, I've never really needed to skin one. Come to think of it, I've never opened a can of worms either.
    Yellow Dart and Ronnie Winn like this.
  5. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    @andrew vaughan If this sounds like something you want to learn I would go ahead and read up on it, then when you're in canyon sometime, but aren't in a hurry practice setting it up once or twice to see how it would pull and what problems would arise. Then go back and set up a simpler rigging you are familiar with. This way you can play around with it and get some experience without the risk. Wait until you are with someone who knows what they are doing before actually using it. It's never too early to learn new tricks, just don't be in a rush to actually use them where your life is on the line.
    joeb likes this.
  6. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    Get yourself a short rope as well - say 9mm 50' length as most canyons have a ratio of a lot of short drops to large drops. I like this rope to be a thicker diameter than my long ropes as it takes the most abuse and the extra weight is minimal on a short length. This way you are not lugging two 200' ropes through a canyon like Birch. Your "short working rope" now allows longer drops as (length long rope + short rope)/2.

    The risks:
    1. This assumes that everyone in the group is comfortable single line rappelling. (if not - get trained up on this prior to anything else)
    2. Both sides of rope (blocked & unblocked) coming off the anchor now are identical - so don't throw the pull side down until last person AND if you are the last person be VERY SURE you are using the blocked side in your descender.

    I would recommend getting comfortable with these techniques as well as ascending the rope and anchor building & evaluation prior to learning how to fiddlestick
  7. Scott B

    Scott B

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    Just to keep it simple I set the rope length after first rap is down, attach pull cord (you don't want to use your only other rope in case you have a stuck rope) LAMAR attaches pull cord to end of rope and raps down with pull cord in bag attached to harness or throws it.
    darhawk likes this.
  8. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    You mean fiddling.
  9. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Agreed. It's an advanced technique. But it's not THAT hard to do. Except in the dark. In the rain. From a chockstone anchor you're standing on.
  10. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Please tell me there's a story attached to this and if so do share!
  11. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    I believe you are referring to your second rope being the pull cord? For beginners in a dry area like that, I think its a better idea to tie both ropes with the knot closest to the ring and block at the top. This will look less confusing to those that aren't experienced and also gives folks the option of double stranding if they desire. Plus its really simple.

    Do not concern yourself with Fiddlesticks/toggles at this stage in the game.

    Birch Hollow first rap: I usually walk around it down canyon left. Its a chossy mess of a rappel.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There is a cleaner (and shorter) rappel about 50 feet to the right. I think Luuke has it in his beta. Did Birch on Sunday last (24th). First rappel had not very much loose rock.

    Tom
  13. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I don't think I've had a story involving all three at the same time, but certainly each of the three one at a time.

    It's really pretty tricky to fiddle something with an anchor below you. The fiddlestick is pretty darn stable with a weighted rope, but until you weight it, not so much, especially with awkward climbing and ropes going everywhere. And if there is no anchor but a rope around a chockstone, if that rope comes untied, there is no back-up. It's not like you can clip a back-up into something else. You could put a sling around the chockstone, clip into that, climb down underneath it, rig and weight the fiddle, and then remove the sling I suppose if you were going for maximal safety. But if maximal safety were your goal, you probably wouldn't be ghosting this drop in the first place.
    Rapterman, Tom Collins and ratagonia like this.
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