Send us a suggestion!

Englestead Fatality

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Mountaineer, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Sad indeed. In this case, a properly-installed rappel device probably would have prevented his fall. I understand that setting up a rappel device can be complicated, sometimes involving the complexity of extending the rappel device, etc,

    But hauling his body out of the canyon in a body bag is both difficult and disheartening. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to properly install a rappel device. And I do agree, that a fireman's belay properly executed could have prevented this death -- if he was inexperienced, it would have been preferred for him NOT to be the first one down, which explains the absence of a fireman's belay.

    Tom
  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Messages:
    923
    Likes:
    969
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
  3. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,378
    Likes:
    1,611
    I haven't heard of a "VT Prusik knot" - got a reference?

    AFAIK, "VT Prusik" only refers to the Bluewater product. That product was designed primarily to enable use of a Valdotain Tresse in dry conditions, for descending a loaded rope. The classic Valtotain Tresse, typically tied from old nylon climbing rope with a few core strands removed, is usable only in wet conditions for that application.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Ah. My contribution to the confuxion. VT Prusik == Valdotain Tresse.

    T
  5. Mac Wray

    Mac Wray

    Messages:
    5
    Likes:
    0
    For longer rappels i just rig a prusik with a sling and keep my hand on the knot, plus i use a pirana with both horns
  6. tom_brennan

    tom_brennan

    Messages:
    15
    Likes:
    13
    I’m somewhat confused by this issue of long abseils and lack of experience.

    Assuming you have them rigged the same (same rope, same descender, same rigging of descender on rope), your speed at the bottom of a 100m abseil should effectively be the same as your speed at the bottom of a 10m abseil.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    You would think so, but it is not so.

    There are several factors that make long rappels more-technical, but the main one is the weight of the rope hanging below you. At the start of a 300' rappel, you have roughly 14 lbs of rope hanging below you which, at any chosen setting, makes your friction higher. As you descend, the rope weight below you becomes less, and the friction becomes lower.

    If you use your normal setting (for a 20 foot rappel) at the top of the 300' rappel, you will have too much friction and have to lift up and feed rope through your device. This results in a herky-jerky descent that is tiring and also tends to work the rope pretty hard where it crosses an edge above you. It is dangerous.

    On the other hand, if you set your friction so you move smoothly at the top, at about halfway down you will have too little friction and will struggle to maintain control.

    Cavers use a rack which is adjustable, and will tighten up the rack (increasing friction) as they descend to manage their speed.

    Experienced long-rap canyoneers will make adjustments to their friction setting every 100 feet or so. This can be done by adding a leg loop carabiner (various configurations) and then a z-rig, using pretty much any device; or by using a Sqwurel (and adjusting as needed), or a Critr (adjusting as needed). Other rappel devices tend to be less successful at adding friction "in combat".

    Other factors tend to add to the problem. Probably the next most important factor is fatigue of the rappeller - hand, body, mind.

    Hope this helps clarify things for you @tom_brennan

    Tom (Jones)
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  8. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,146
    Likes:
    1,040
    Ironically, on long rappels on some rappel devices, increasing friction as you descend on long rappels can also be a problem. I haven't had it happen to me, but I have read about it sometimes being a problem that has lead to some rescues.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
  9. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,378
    Likes:
    1,611
    Explain, please. Apart from sheath bunching issues with defective or low-quality rope, I haven't heard of this happening, nor do I see how it reasonably could. Sounds apocryphal.
  10. Mac Wray

    Mac Wray

    Messages:
    5
    Likes:
    0
    I've always wondered how reliable a leg wrap is for friction? As in if you start to lose control, can you just wrap your brake side leg around the rope below you if your already moving to fast to brake? Kind of an emergency option i realize as i can imagine it can do some damage to that leg...
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    A leg wrap is a tie-off. To do a leg wrap, you need to be stopped, so it is not an emergency option, unless you can manage coming to a full stop first. It is also not a way of adding more friction as it is a full-stop, not a more-friction.

    It may be possible to tangle your leg in the rope below you when you are plummeting out of control, but this seems like an unreliable method.

    Tom
  12. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,146
    Likes:
    1,040
    I haven't ever seen it, only read about it. After the SRT vs DRT discussion a while back, I was curious about how many people actually get stuck on rappel. I knew about girth hitched figure 8's and people getting clothing and hair stuck, but that's about it. I did come across a story about someone on a long rappel getting stuck using a figure 8 because the rope twisted enough to stop the rappeller. Apparently it has happened a few times, but I've never seen it or heard about it until then. I can probably find the story again later, but in the meantime maybe you could find similar stories.

    Any thoughts about this happening? Not many people use a standard 8 anymore. Can it happen with other devices if the rope twist enough?

    Usually though, long rappels have the opposite problem and concern; friction decreasing as you descend, so this is more about curiosity than anything.
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Happens all the time, really. Most devices produce twists. Twists accumulate below the device. Many times when close to the bottom, the totally twisted up portion of the rope at some point prevents progress. One has to stop and work some of the twists out of the rope. I suppose if one does not know how to stop (and lock off) and work the kinks out, one could be stuck requiring rescue. Worst would be with an ATC type device, but I have had problems with a Pirana. Once you have rapped into the nest of kinks, it gets quite difficult to get the rope straight enough to proceed.

    But it is hard to consider this "increasing friction".

    Tom
    Rapterman likes this.
  14. tom_brennan

    tom_brennan

    Messages:
    15
    Likes:
    13
    I understand the issue of the rope weight at the top and bottom being significantly different.

    My point was more that I figure the average beginner would rig using their default method, which would result in too much friction at the top, and "normal" friction at the bottom.

    However, the concern with long raps seems to more be around rigging for too little friction - but I wouldn't have thought most beginners would go that way, because they'd have to rig using a different method to what they'd have done on shorter abseils.
  15. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,146
    Likes:
    1,040
    Of course I have had to fix many rope twist, but never enough to stop a rappel mid air. I have to admit I'm surprised that "it happens all the time" since I've never seen it. I have only done three or so rappels in the 300 foot range though.

    Anyway, as far as increasing friction goes, we may just be splitting hairs, but personally I would call slowing down until stopping a result of increased friction. No big deal though.
  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,367
    Likes:
    5,292
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
  17. Kuenn

    Kuenn

    Messages:
    1,400
    Likes:
    1,478
    You might be thinking of this incident, as reported here on the CC, firsthand.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  18. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,378
    Likes:
    1,611
    Excessive feeding often results in rapid hand/arm fatigue, which has been a major factor in uncontrolled rappel incidents. This danger is more relevant to the topic than potential rope damage (not to downplay the latter).


    My experience/understanding has been the opposite: the main concern with long raps is starting with too much friction and then failing to adjust friction on the fly, hence the hand/arm workout, loss of grip strength, etc. I imagine also that the inexperienced can get mentally over-focused on feeding, perhaps accompanied by increased anxiety, and so the fatigue issue stays out of consciousness until it's too late to react properly. Of course, starting w/too little friction can produce a similar result due to prolonged over-gripping, when feeding isn't an issue.

    Fortunately for me, my one (unintentional) out-of-control rap was over deep water w/no rocks. The landing still felt pretty hard, though. BTW that one did begin w/too little friction.

    Sidenote: I recently met some ATC users who asked me for a glove recommendation. They had been burning through them too quickly. A change of device was the recommend. Is there enough material for here for an "If X, then you *might* be an ATC canyoneer" type thread? :)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  19. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,146
    Likes:
    1,040
    It wasn't that one, but I found the report. Here it is, but I'm not advocating anything said here. There seems to be a lot of bad advice in the post (at least in my opinion).

    I have rap'd off 6mm countless times. The problem is not friction in the ATC. Well, it is as most are used to ropes autoblocking anymore. If you want more friction you just wrap it around a biner several times if you feel like it on the UPHILL side of the ATC, figure 8, etc. So it goes, anchor, rope, biner with rope wrapped around, once ore more with biner tied to your harness main loop, rope, atc, figure 8 etc, around your body, firm grip. No more of this typed moronacy of pulling UP to brake. Though you could just as easily tie several biners together on your harness before the atc, fig 8 and then wrap the rope around them before going back up through the atc, but getting out of that scenario has got to be a nightmare.

    Have a nut job for a friend who raps off of 2.3mm static line. The guy is gonna die doing that, but as he points out it has a 600lb breaking strength. To rap on the stuff, you just wrap it around a biner a whole bunch of times before going through your rap device. Can just leave the rap device home really if you use 2 such biners.

    Those claiming pain... sigh. Not true unless pansy or against skin, of course that is true of large ropes as well. Wrap completely around the waist if right handed and then wrap a leg if one so desires. Hardest part of small diameter rapping is keeping a firm grip in your hand. Gloves are near mandatory. Especially when it is hot out(sweat) or rope is wet(snow). Always be prepared to wrap around your thigh.

    Beware if using 6mm in conjunction with +9mm climbing rope. The 6mm will pay through your belay device faster than the larger rope and you MAY rapel off the end of the 6mm line! TIE THEM TOGETHER!!! Pay ATTENTION for this extra slippage and hold the 6mm a bit tighter as you rappel.

    Try this at home FIRST. Get comfortable with it. Make sure you know how much extra friction you need when the rope is WET.

    I seriously have to wonder how many who replied to this thread have actually rapelled with small line.

    Accidents can happen with fat lines as well, especially when you are using a figure 8. Had another friend who got stuck on rappel while using a figure 8 on fat ropes and he had to be rescued half way up a wall. The figure 8 twisted the rope as he went down creating too much friction between the two lines until he couldn't descend any more.

    http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB3/how-do-rappel-off-very-thin-rope-t66735-15.html
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  20. Ultra Static

    Ultra Static

    Messages:
    22
    Likes:
    12
    I'm sure this has been beaten to death in other threads, but would you or someone else like to chime in with the bullet points of why (it seems) an ATC isn't a preferred device amongst experienced folk? I'm aware of the increased amount of friction adjustability and on-the-fly adjustability/lock offs that some other devices are capable of, but I'm also aware of excessive rope twisting other device types cause as well as some added potentials for failure (rope loops slipping off of pirhanah horns.) In addition, I am aware of the somewhat "nonconventional" but perfectly doable methods with an ATC to increase friction and to lock off.

    I've seen first-hand ropes becoming tangled from Figure 8 devices to where the rappeller couldn't descend without locking off to untangle. On the other hand I have not experienced or witnessed friction issues when rappelling on an ATC. Would anyone like to jump in with some thoughts?

    Sent from my BLN-L24 using Tapatalk
Similar Threads: Englestead Fatality
Forum Title Date
Utah Englestead 2 Stage Rap Oct 17, 2018
General Discussion hanging bolt station in Englestead Aug 25, 2018
General Discussion Englestead Canyon Jul 18, 2018
Tech Tips and Gear Englestead in December Dec 19, 2017
Trip Reports Englestead Hollow 09-04-17 Sep 6, 2017
General Discussion Bolts removed from Englestead (Zion) 9-24-2016 Sep 26, 2016