Send us a suggestion!

Tech Tip: Question Getting the Right Friction on Long Rappels

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    On a long rappel (generally any rap over 200 feet), the wise canyoneer does not expect to use one friction setting all the way down. The weight of the rope (about 30 lbs, when DRY) means that in order to make progress on the upper part of the rappel, you will need to set the friction on your device at "low". Perhaps every 100 feet or so, you will need to make an adjustment to add more friction.

    Basic info on using a Pirana is available here: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/techtips/how-to-use-a-petzl-pirana/

    Same thing for ATC: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/techtips/black-diamond-atc-rappelling/

    Going over a top horn on the ATS or Pirana ("3" setting) is a BAD way to add friction. In this case, it is not a question of morality - it just does not work well. The accident in Insomnia (Arizona) was due to "going over the top horn to add friction" or, really NOT doing so, missing the hook, and losing control in the process, cratering in from about 100 feet. Thankfully the guy on the ground got it all on camera... though perhaps a bottom belay would have been a (morally) BETTER choice for the guy on the ground's attention.

    But I digress. As many have noted, the point at which to add friction is BEFORE you are out of control, while you can still stop and do stuff. Hard to judge in the sensation overload of being IN a waterfall. There are several ways to add friction, but my favorite system is to go to a left-leg loop carabiner as the first adjustment. In private, this is referred to as a "Lap Dance". I am right handed, so from my EXTENDED rappel device, the rope goes across to my left leg loop (carabiner), then across my lap to my right side and over my thigh. Then I can vary the amount of friction produced by rotating my hips. Rotating toward the rope straightens out the rope path reducing friction, while rotating away from the rope path runs the rope over more of my hip and thing, increasing friction. The rope can be clipped into the "left leg loop carabiner" while you are dangling in space - one of the subtleties is that it is very difficult to bring the rope to the carabiner, it works much better to rotate the hips and bring the carabiner to the rope. Plus getting the rope in place is much easier if the belay device is extended.

    The next phase in the system is to convert to a Z-rig. A carabiner is added to the eye of the Pirana, or the slot of the ATS, and the rope is clipped into this. Thus the rope goes Pirana/ATS to Left Leg Loop Carabiner, up to carabiner in the eye of the Pirana, down to the brakehand (and the ground). Which has additional friction over the Lap Dance.

    It takes a little getting used to, so it is good to practice. No, you don't have to find a 500' cliff to practice on, only a reasonable size cliff with a buddy down at the bottom to adjust the weight of the rope for various situations.

    The better, more adjustable system is to use a caver's rack, but then you are just overwhelming the problem with technology and where is the fun in that!

    Comments? Critique? Questions?
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
    Skyloaf, 2065toyota and Nick like this.
  2. dweaver2130

    dweaver2130 Canyoneering Duo from AZ

    Messages:
    128
    Likes:
    55
    If you are extending your device with something similar to a chain reactor is it ok to run your top carabiner in your Z-rig to the loop below your rappel device, or is in the eye of the ATS/Pirana ideal?

    I have seen some clip a carabiner onto the rope above their rappel device and let it slide down with them until they need it. I did not like it, and didn't really want to try it. Seemed to me that it could get in the way of what you are trying to do in a bad way.

    Being a big guy of 240lbs, I found the two carabiner in the ATC method to not provide enough friction on longer rappels. '

    I have wrapped the horns for more friction on the ATS in practice, and the maneuver didn't feel comfortable. Strangely enough I have had to stop on rappel and lock off a few times and felt comfortable doing that…must be a psychological thing. The only thing I didn't like about locking off on the ATS was unlocking. It seemed like it would be really easy to mess that up and lose control when undoing the last wrap.
  3. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650
    Hey Tom Jones, nice writeup. I tried your lap dance maneuver on the 1st rap in Englestead and it worked pretty well - good technique, just a little weird feeling the first time. Conditioning...

    re: quote above - do you mean the "3" setting on the Pirana? 'Cuz the "4" setting works fine with the right rope (e.g. soft, flexible rope) - not so great with the stiffies most folks are using on the CP.

    And...for super-long drops (> 400' or so) using a rack is arguably a *lot* more fun than fiddling with all the spaghetti rigs it takes to manage friction with most rap devices. With a rack, you can just kick back and enjoy the ride and the views. :)




    [​IMG]
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    I am a big anti-fan of daisy chains / PAS / chain reactor. For big wall climbing - totally excellent. For canyoneering - useless and in the way. In the rare cases that you need adjustment on your clip in, there are much simpler, faster, better ways to get it.

    One of the subtleties of the Z-rig is in where to put it, and with what carabiner. I find with the Pirana it works excellent going into the EYE, but only if using a narrow carabiner (BD Positron for instance). If you use a fat carabiner, the body of the carabiner rubs against the rope, and it is hard to get the rig to move smoothly. On an ATS, I can clip a narrow carabiner into the "belay slot" and it works well there.

    Well... if you use the "4" setting, rather than the "3", I think you will find it is a much better transition. Still from "2" to "4" is a big change in friction, and "4" to "2" is also!!!

    Tom
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah

    Correctamundo keen eye of Mr. Moon. I edited the OP to "3", as intended. Thanks for picking that up.

    Yes, WHEN you an I go to Hawaii we will be bringing racks for all those ridiculously long rappels.

    Tom
  6. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650

    That'll be AFTER the last rap in T-phone :)
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah

    I think we are going to do that next time Kuenn is in town! :)

    Tom
  8. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650
    I'm counting on it! :) Kuenn? you coming back in 2014, riiiiiight?
  9. Kuenn

    Kuenn

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes:
    1,505
    It's on the list of things to do - 2014! I'm shooting for Aug/Sep...have to wait and see how things stack up.
    hank moon likes this.
  10. dweaver2130

    dweaver2130 Canyoneering Duo from AZ

    Messages:
    128
    Likes:
    55

    By this you mean 2 being no wrapped horns and the concave face of the ATS away from you, 3 being bottom horn wrapped, and 4 the bottom and top horn wrapped. Correct?

    I always wrapped the bottom horn first and then over the top horn. It wasn't so much the transition in amount of friction that I was uncomfortable with, it was more the fact that it seems very easy to either miss the horn, and it also feels that you could easily lose control if you didn't keep the right amount tension on the device when changing the position of the brake strand. Maybe it is all in my head, but the thought is there.

    When I am unlocking from hands free, it is kind of the same thought.

    All mental…I always over-think….everything.
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah

    I think they are pretty clearly labelled here::

    Basic info on using a Pirana is available here: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/techtips/how-to-use-a-petzl-pirana/

    Tom
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,479
    Likes:
    5,488
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah

    It is good to be alert. It tends to be a bad thing to be overly-alert.

    "4" is not "hands-free", it is a soft-lockoff, meaning it still requires a hand on the device.

    Tom
  13. dweaver2130

    dweaver2130 Canyoneering Duo from AZ

    Messages:
    128
    Likes:
    55
    That's why I was a little confused there, we were speaking two different things. My numbers for the ATS are a little different than what you have there.

    Similar but just a little different
  14. dweaver2130

    dweaver2130 Canyoneering Duo from AZ

    Messages:
    128
    Likes:
    55
    I go for both brake side horns wrapped, then a bite through the carabiner and the over the top non brake side horn and pull it tight.

    I have seen it done both side horns wrapped, then a bite through the belay slot and over the bottom non-brake horn. Still looked "ok" but it seemed like too much going on in a very small space.
  15. Kuenn

    Kuenn

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes:
    1,505
    The rack, "overwhelming the problem with technology"? haha :rolleyes:

    So, the caver's rack debuted in June 1966, recognized inventor John Cole. Yes, it was certainly a step up from body rappels and double carabiners (my first rappel device), and it beat the bejeebers out of that, but technology? That's a stretch.:) Used my first rack in 1972, a John Cole version...in fact, I believe it's still around here somewhere...probably buried under a box of 8 track Skynyrd tapes!


    As for "The better, more adjustable system"? Right on, brother! :twothumbs:
    townsend and hank moon like this.
  16. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650
    [​IMG]
  17. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650
    Free rack!
    Kuenn and ratagonia like this.
  18. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes:
    1,650
    pic of a Cole rack with too many bars on it. You can see (contrasting with the SMC rack, below) how the design has evolved since then...not much, really. Mainly longer frame w/more space for unused bars between the eye and the nut, allowing greater bar spread for those in play.


    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
  19. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

    Messages:
    1,288
    Likes:
    989

    Great thread!


    I've found it difficult to release the lock off using the left horn to finalize, as the rope going to the anchor has a tendency to pinch it:


    [​IMG]


    Even though there is a lot going on the right side, placing the final loop behind the previous rope wrap wrap seems to work.


    Thoughts? Perhaps finalizing on the right has a higher risk of prematurely falling off?
  20. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

    Messages:
    1,288
    Likes:
    989
    To the right slot of the ATS, eye, or belay biner of the ATS? Seems a slot or eye placement would cause the rope to bind as the rope passes through?
Similar Threads: Getting Right
Forum Title Date
General Discussion Getting kinda crowded in Coyote Gulch... Oct 7, 2018
Tech Tips and Gear Getting New ropes Apr 16, 2018
General Discussion Odds of getting Lava Point Campground July 5th? May 2, 2017
Tech Tips and Gear Dead SQWUREL or just getting AARP card? Jun 9, 2016
Tech Tips and Gear Help getting sqwurel, critr Apr 22, 2016
Trip Reports Getting Piggy in Swine Flue - Dec 31st, 2015 Jan 15, 2016