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Feedback request -- fiddlestick advice and info

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Fat Canyoner, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    After going canyoneering in Utah last year, and being really impressed by some of the advanced techniques, I've been actively using a fiddlestick in Australian canyons. It has come with me through dozens of canyons and abseiling trips, including exploratory adventures and even popular trade-route canyons. I'm convinced it should be more extensively used by Australian canyoners, not just for the ethical benefits, but because of the practical benefits it offers.

    I've written a detailed post about what the fiddlestick is, how it works, benefits, risks, and everything else: https://fatcanyoners.org/2018/08/29/fiddlestick-retrievable-anchor/

    I've tried to combine what I learnt in the States, along with online resources and personal experience. I'd really appreciate any feedback, corrections, or criticisms though, especially from those who have been central in developing this technique.

    Thanks in advance.

    T2
  2. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Nice Post, T2!
    Can you tell us what material is a "sheet of dyneema" ?
    Thanks
    Todd
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    FiddleStick is a common-law trademark of Imlay Canyon Gear. There is not any problem with that, except it would be great if you typographed it correctly - " FiddleStick ".

    It is nice to THINK that it came from the piton trick, but it did not. I originated it, a bunch of people worked on developing it, a good group effort, but it did not originate as you suggest.

    When you show pictures on non-Imlay FiddleSticks, you should tag them with the name of the object shown.

    A large advantage of the FS is that you can use objects as anchors that you would not previously of considered, or that would have required substantial lengths of webbing or rope - you mention this, but have not emphasized it... I think it is an important advantage largely overlooked.

    One of the required attributes of the material to MAKE FiddleSticks is that it have the RIGHT frictional properties. Either too little or too much could be bad. Are you really using dyneema sheet? Might be too slippery. Polycarbonate is an excellent choice as it is STIFF, and Ductile. Less stiff plastics might fail by bending and two-person loads. They could also be made from Aluminum 6061-T6 bar. Definitely should NOT make out of the clear plastic Acrylic, which is both weak and brittle.

    I realize this is not a user guide. So will not provide feedback on that.

    Tom
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  4. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    I believe whalebone was the material of choice for the old-school togglers, at least the high-end users. 'Course it's in short supply these days, outside of Japan, so we're stuck with a low-grade lexan substitute <sigh>. It wouldn't surprise me if evidence someday appears that the technique is many thousands of years old. Rope, bone and brains have been around a long time.

    Nice article, T2 - thanks for posting that. Good luck getting anything "new" like SRT to stick in Oz. It seems a fair number of folks down there enjoy the near-drowning experience. :) You might consider adding well-documented whitewater drowning hazard to the list of DRT limitations.

    BTW the generally accepted generic term for the technique is toggling with the stick itself called a toggle.

    ashley book of knots_p317.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  5. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    Thanks for that extremely useful feedback.

    Todd, I've used a couple materials for prototypes, but my favourite has been 10mm thick extruded sheet Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). I just reference the brandname dyneema because otherwise most people wouldn't know what it is otherwise. Lots of our rappels end in pools, many of which contain branches and other debris, so the benefit of a floating fiddlestick is much greater here than it would be in Utah!

    Tom, I've edited my post to clarify the history of the technique and also name the people involved in its development. I've also ensured I clarified that the "FiddleStick" was the original version, and I've made sure I've corrected the spelling (capitalising the S) when referring to it. I've also tagged the photos so it is clear what is being used and added your comment about the additional objects it allows to become anchors. Re the materials used, I agree about the concern about too little friction, but I've found the process of having the edges machined to a curve actually provides more friction and makes the pull force required pretty comparable to my polycarbonate one. I also agree about your aluminium comment. I intend to make a prototype later this year to see how it compares. My main concern there is having a piece of metal flying down at me, but I think it might help people who are nervous about trusting their life to a piece of plastic (no matter how fancy it may be!).

    Hank, that's some really interesting stuff you've shared. So many toggle options. I've updated the post to reference that earlier sailing history. It's actually reassuring to realise the fundamental system involved has been used so extensively for so long. Re the use of "toggle" or "fiddlestick" as the a generic term, I've just gone with what I've heard used. When I was in the states, people referred to them as a fiddlestick regardless of which brand or version they were, and back here in Australia the very small number of people who use them do the same. I think the boat may have sailed on how they are referred to...
  6. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Objection, sir.

    I use the term generically. It is not my intention to explicitly co-opt the generic term.

    Am I also undermining the nomenclature of “rope Bags” by not having a separate and distinct name for my product?

    Carry on
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  7. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    My misunderstanding :facepalm: <self face palm> - thanks for the clarification and genericity support! OP edited.
  8. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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  9. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    So many options in that graphic.
    Taking note of Figure 1921, where I could fiddle off webbing without a maillon if necessary...
    Untitled.
  10. Jason Linder

    Jason Linder

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    You might even be able make your webbing retrievable with a basket configuration. (UNTESTED-Just thinking out loud) [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
  11. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    What advantage would there be to incorporating the webbing at all?

    Just run the rope around the anchor as conventionally done. A big knot and loop of webbing completely negate one the toggle technique’s major advantages - minimal snagging hazards.
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  12. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Just run the rope directly through the webbing in that case. The 2-3 feet of rope sliding through the webbing poses no significant threat of damaging it
    Jason Linder likes this.
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    We have, on occasion, left a piece of sling around a rock (with sharp edges) or a prickly bush that might not have a clean pull. Just put the rope through the webbing, tie the knot, stick in the stick.

    You are making things complicated when they could be simple. That is usually my job.

    Tom
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  14. Jason Linder

    Jason Linder

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    Not saying this is the method I would use, but I've seen several cases where using webbing around an object protect a unique feature more effectively. Even a small amount of contact with sandstone by the tail of rope falling down when releasing "TheToggle" (did I get it right?) has caused noticeable grooving that webbing doesn't. Bolts are not always an option and retrieving that webbing is a necessity in certain circumstances cuz reasons.

    If only big ole anchor bags made for holding water* were readily available.

    *Can I get a little help from you all getting that to stick as the generally accepted generic term for this new technique?
  15. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Just tools in the toolbox, IMO.
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  16. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    Just a note on the aluminum stick concept. I have had the opportunity to use an aluminum stick, courtesy of @Craig, and the flying metal javelin effect is definitely a safety concern. We also found after multiple pulls small sharp dents and dings started to form in the stick. This caused snag and sheath damage to the rope when pulled through the hitch.

    Also Fat Canyoner, we have started closing off the toggle system with two locking carabiners on a dogbone, instead of through the main loop of the hitch. This allows the last person to fully load the stick before removing the carabiners. We have found this especially useful when we want the stick extended over an edge, and it would be a dangerous transition unprotected.
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