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Englestead Fatality

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

  1. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    @Ultra Static

    ATC is simple*, small and lightweight, but offers no other advantages for canyoneering, in general. Especially none that outweigh its significant disadvantages, which as you say have been DTD. That said, it does have devotees and a niche or two, esp. among GRCA canyoneers (aka gram-a-neers). Nanogrammers? And Mae West-ers.

    Anyway...

    Prior discussion:

    http://canyoncollective.com/threads...hat-do-you-like-about-each.24679/#post-105482

    p.s. are you aware that the guy who inspired this thread was using an ATC?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  2. Ultra Static

    Ultra Static

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    I would humbly suggest that not twisting the rope is a significant desirable attribute. I read through what you attached, but I didn't really see a fleshed out discussion of the disadvantages you referenced. You can change your friction with an ATC before your descent, you can change it on-the-fly with a z rig, you can lock off mid rappel, and it's a simple device to use. Would you mind giving some detail about its disadvantages that I'm missing?

    I'm sure people have been injured using (or misusing) all manner of devices, that alone doesn't suggest a bad device to me.

    Sent from my BLN-L24 using Tapatalk
    hank moon likes this.
  3. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Unfortunately, there's no FAQ or white paper on this topic. All of the disadvantages are out there, dispersed among the threads. You've no time for finding them; I've none for the white paper, or repeating old bullets - and what would be the point?. C'est la vie.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
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  4. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Has been realized and noted that any time you Z-rig or add a carabiner on your leg loop for added friction, regardless of the device, that the rope twists all the more. So if the benefit of rapping off an ATC is to avoid rope twist, but you need to add a leg biner, your benefit is gone, and you may as well have just used a sqwuwuwuwrel. The right tool for the job, and all that.
  5. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    With an average canyon day of, say, 8 rappels, I can't think of a day I didn't have to lock off to untwist at least once; if that's what you mean. So if anybody who is newish or not focused is in that position and not thinking ahead, I can absolutely see them rapping til the nest is in their breakhand - at which point an untwistiture is difficult.

    Generally it happens most often with throw-and-go ropebag days where the bag is on the ground with extra rope in it, limiting the rope's ability to unwind itself; and I'm the first one down all day, thus I untwist for the rest of the crew while fireman.

    Or did I read your comment wrong?
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Uh, I don't think so. Not necessarily. Not my experience, and theory suggests not necessarily.

    Tom
  7. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    @Bryan...of Zion for a spell was always using ATC with leg-biner, and Coreshot Cal and I noticed it was consistently coiling le cord more than even our sqwurrels were, which are pretty dang twisty devices in and of themselves.

    I'll pay closer attention in the future and come back to comment if/when I see it again.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The closer the rope path is to being all in a plane, the less twisting.

    Also, it is not "twisting" or "not twisting", but what degree of twisting.

    :moses:
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  9. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Hi Ultra Static
    I was an extremely stubborn ATC user (old climber type), but got really frustrated with them in Zion canyons.
    In sandy conditions they wear extremely fast which mucks up the friction- some will jamb up after wearing grooves in them.
    They are lousy for water landings- too easy to drop since they can fall off an open biner.
    They do NOT adapt well to different diameters of rope without extra fiddling (extra biner, Z rig, etc). Not understanding this can get beginning
    canyoneers in serious trouble.
    Once a person steps off the edge of a drop like Englestead without enough friction on an ATC it is likely that desperation will follow.
    As it did for this unfortunate person
    And has happened for my climbing partner, and for many other noobs before.
    This is partly why I invented the CRITR
    And Luke invented the SQWUREL
    the ability to add friction and/or lock off are inherent to these devices. This makes them 'simpler' by my definition.
    :)
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I used an ATC-XP for the first time in a while last week, since I thought we were on a backpacking trip.

    With two biners underneath, low friction side, single 8mm rope, 180 lbs.

    Man, that thing is slow to rig and unrig. A pain in a pool as great care must be taken to not drop it. For the JIHAD (11 years ago now), I switched to a Pirana for the speed. Now I bounce between the Sqwurel and Critr. In addition to being faster on and off, they offer adjustable friction (on the fly), AND all those rescue functions I spent so much time learning are WAY more easily managed than with an ATC. Yes, ATC for North Wash and the Grand Canyon (perhaps), where there are very few rappels. But otherwise, Critr or Sqwurel for me.

    Did anyone mention Class C (flowing water) canyons? ATC does not tolerate gunk on the rope (common in Class C) or twisted ropes (common in Class C if double-stranding, but one really should be rapping single strand). Bringing an ATC to a Class C canyon is equivalent to bringing a knife to a gun fight. Rookie mistake.

    Tom
  11. Ultra Static

    Ultra Static

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    Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. This was exactly the type of information I had been looking for but had struggled to find even when searching through old threads. I really appreciate your experience and perspective with regards to these "best practices" types of discussions.

    I'll absolutely be purchasing one of the aforementioned rappel devices and thoroughly learning how and when to use it going forward. Thanks again!

    Sent from my BLN-L24 using Tapatalk
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  12. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    A good choice. I own far too many different types of rappelling devices, but these days I really only use a CRITR, and have encouraged many folks to switch to it. I own an ATC, but I usually only carry it as a lightweight backup device for the group. I descended Englestead the day after the fatality that started this thread, and being the first down had no belay. Just before the freehanging section I added some friction and the whole operation went smoothly with no concerns whatsoever. Yes, I can add friction with an ATC, but the ease at which one can do that with a CRITR or Sqwurel can't be beat. Complexity is not desirable when rappelling, especially when the people doing the rappelling may not be hardcore canyoneers with thousands of rappels completed. On my first trip through Englestead several years back I had a friend, a bigger guy loaded with gear, lose control of the initial rappel and it was only my belay that slowed him down. He was a big climber-type using an ATC, who simply was confident and hadn't given much thought to needing extra friction, and by the time he realized that he definitely really needed it, he didn't have enough control to stop and rig a Z-rig or anything of the sort. I have seen a couple of situations made worse by an ATC, and have never seen anything that would have been solved by it. Love the CRITR, great device.
  13. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Lot of good data in this thread, too bad it's in "this" thread (needs to be relocated/labeled). But being the hypocrite that I am, I'll add my 2 cents to the ATC discussion.

    I still have a few and have worn out a few, mostly belaying. I agree it's a very good lightweight backup with several useful purposes, usually one found in my pack.

    Contrary to some's belief, the ATC doesn't add twist to a rope, it squeezes the twist out of it (inner core), like your great-grandma's wringer washing machine. Whereas some of the more popular rappelling devices actually contribute to adding twist to the inner core, FWIW. Although in practice, the pros usually outweigh the cons.
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  14. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    What do you belay with? Or do you not do any climbing anymore?

    I'm not sure which Grand Canyon technical canyons you have done, but most technical canyons there that I am familiar with have a lot of rappels and some really long ones as well.
  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Jeesh, man. Show some respect! I now do at LEAST one rated rock climb a year. Got two in this year. ATC-XP. Great belay device.

    Depending. But I struggle just getting there and back. With fond memories of being strong. So I bring very minimal technical gear. Most of the routes I have done in the Grand Canyon, from the rim, don't have all that many raps, and the raps are generally pretty straightforward. ATC acceptable.

    T
  16. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    I was just asking. I was just curious what you belayed with since you said you just used the ATC-XP for the first time. The only devices I have ever used for belaying are the ATC, ATC-XP, and Trango Pyramid.

    In the past few years I have switched to more climbing than canyoneering, not because I like it more, but because most canyons now days seem to fit in the category of either been there/done that or a long drive. (I guess the Dinosaur area is the exception).

    I guess that's another topic though.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Tom said: "I used an ATC-XP for the first time in a while last week, since I thought we were on a backpacking trip."

    Words have meaning, Scott.
  18. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    My mistake. The words on my phone are really small.
  19. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    "chances are he did not actually "fall", but rather as an easterner and inexperienced canyoneer he failed to fully appreciate the significance of a 300 ft rappel, and lost control with his ATC or 8 after two hundred feet, went into the ledge hard and then bounced on down to the bottom 40 ft below."

    I know this is a super old thread, and response to a comment made way earlier, but I figured I'd give my two cents as a New Jersian who goes out canyoning a few times a year. :)

    I've taken up to ACE level three, I've been climbing for 12+ years, I cave, I'm a candidate for the MRU team for search and rescue, I follow a lot canyoneering groups, read accident reports, keep up as much as I can on best practices, practice outdoors, go rappelling in NY wherever I can find places to rappel, ask a lot of questions to people I trust, read beta, plan as well as possible, and make sure I do things within the limit of my knowledge and abilities. I've yet to have an accident. Doesn't mean it won't ever happen, and doesn't mean I won't make a mistake someday. However, I do have the added motivation that I wouldn't have had if I lived out west which is this - Every Time I go out to a canyon, the first thing I tell myself is 'Don't f**k up because those locals are just waiting to say in 'Accidents and Near Misses' - 'Inexperienced beginner from the east doesn't know what she's doing because she came out west and is probably totally unfamiliar with how things are out here and maybe has never touched rope ever'. Thanks guys, for keeping me on my toes.
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  20. rick t

    rick t

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    after seeing skyloafs comments and re-reading all four pages here, I realize that with all of the talk about auto blocks and valdotains and of multiple cases of melted prusiks of accessory cord or even the old climbing rope valdotains, as my first one was, even with the specific mention of the Blue Water VT Prusik product, nobody pointed out one of the primary features of this product- its construction. The technora sheath has a melting point in the 900 degree range, which mean that even dry, there is no way you can melt it by sliding it along another rope; one of the reasons for its late popularity with SAR crews. Not trying to sell it, but this feature sells itself when compared with just everyday accessory cord. I witnessed a canyoneer using accessory cord with a Bachmann hitch on a 40 ft ascent practice, and when he got frustrated and tired in being unable to get over the top edge, and accidently put his hand on the carabiner, releasing the hitch, the prusik cord melted through in the first 10 or 20 feet pitching him backwards off the rope in a relative heartbeat. So this Blue Water VT piece will not only release, under control, while loaded, unlike most other prusik setups, which are either locked or unlocked, it will not melt through on you.
    GravityWins and Rapterman like this.
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