Send us a suggestion!

Hauling/Mechanical Advantage

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Canyon Hopper, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Canyon Hopper

    Canyon Hopper

    Is there a preferred system for a rescue haul system in canyons? I’m familiar with crevasse rescue systems (3:1 and 5:1). My concern about those is that in crevasse rescue you have a decent distance from the anchor to the lip where you can haul for a period of time before resetting. At the top of a rap in a canyon you have little to no room to move down the weighted rope, so it seems like it would be really ineffective to haul any sort of distance.
  2. Sonny Lawrence

    Sonny Lawrence

    Ha. Ha. As always, "it depends." Certainly, mechanical advantage systems are worth knowing. It is cumbersome to carry a lot of technical gear that would be used once in a blue moon. Unless you have really good gear, you won't gain anything above about a 4:1 MA. Friction will be fighting you. My standard now is a Petzl Micro-Traxion and VT Prussik (or similar, competitive products exist). Those two plus some webbing or climbers runners or short cord can do a lot. My first attempt at raising a person is most likely going to be a counter-balance rather than an MA. But ultimately, everything (gear or technique) is a trade-off. Hence, it is worth knowing a couple of different systems.
    Kuenn likes this.
  3. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall

    Gallant, Alabama
    Usually when space is an issue we do a redirect to put the haul team in a different location, although that may not be an option for you. You might also consider a traveling haul if top space is an issue, but this requires working the MA from the bottom.
  4. Canyonero


    I carry similar gear. And have used it. But I probably use it more to ascend a stuck rope than set up MA.
  5. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Well. Thankfully, self-rescue in canyons rarely involves hauling people upwards. Most self-rescue involves lowering people. Except with a real SAR team and SAR equipment, hauling upward in real-world canyon geometry (as you note) is rarely similar to training. The anchor is rarely in a convenient location, and the edges are usually quite bad.

    (caveat: of course, being in Utah, I mostly think of Utah dry canyons with natural anchors. Other locations that are more bolt-anchored might be better for up-hauling.)

    That being said, with only a short throw available, make sure that re-setting the pull is as easy and convenient as possible. And hopefully you are not hauling very far, or have an active participant to help out.

    I have 1500 canyon days (or so) under my belt and have never had to haul anyone. I have converted my anchor to a lower a couple times, and (guiding) twice rappelled down next to the child who was not making progress to assist.

    We do haul people out of potholes from time to time. But that is usually quite short, and often with an active participant, and we use mechanical advantage there, but just a 2:1. Or two people.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    Yellow Dart, Kuenn and Canyon Hopper like this.
  6. Disruptive_Rescue


    I am not one to typically throw out many opinions in threads, but we have done a significant amount of hasty "rescue" training using canyons as our medium. 99% of the time when we are in canyons, it is with vertical teams that work in special operations. The reason for using canyons is due to the difficulty and requirement to understand nonlinear physics in an AO that has ever-changing environmental pathology organic to it. So one technique will never work across the spectrum of canyons. We will typically run canyons - with canyon specific gear...along with gear they will typically have on hand when working various mission sets (although most of their gear is common in the canyoneering and/or "light & fast" mountain movement communities.

    That said, I have no where near the canyon specific experience of many in this group, especially Tom - so his opinion would trump mine from a deference to expertise standpoint. We also have never had the "real-world" requirement for performing a haul while in a canyon. When moving through canyons (typically based out of Hanksville, UT or in Italy) we input hasty rescue situations / scenarios throughout trips - as long as we wont backup any other groups - or we just go back out to the canyons with specific topography at night and practice.

    Just a few points...
    - Our heavy load-out for Access & Extraction (rescue) includes; 1 x DCD, 2 x oval carabiners, 3 x HMS carabiners, 1 x Petzl Roll Clip, 1 x VT Prusik, 1 x Ropeman2, 1 x Microtraxion or Edelrid Spoc, 1 x Small magnapulley w/ becket, 1 x CAMP 5mm screw-link, and a purcell tied in a dog & tails configuration. Like I said - this is our heavy configuration, which contains 13 items - and weighs approx 2lbs 11oz. This allows us to do 2:1, 3:1 (z-drag), 5:1(simple), 5:1(complex), 6:1, or 9:1 (1 or 2 person) hauls, multiple rappel / access configurations, guided rappels & lowers (inc. skate block), obviously contingency anchors -RTL & RTR, knot passing within a system and on rappel, various pick-off configs, ascending: trad or 3:1, or running 2:1, edge restraints and Diminishing loop counter balances. Obviously all of these capabilities aren't necessarily for canyon specific response requirements.

    - All of the above items were selected using a P-A-C-E (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) methodology - so there is built in Requisite Diversity (redundancy based on both capability and materials) for rigging

    - IE. Although we technically have 2 rope grabs - they are not "more of the same" redundancy for hauls - if building a haul system higher than a 3:1 and making it compound or complex - you only need your first grab in the 3:1 - making it into a compound or complex - just do a 3-wrap in your carabiner and that will act as your grab - and you can reset it easy because your PCD will have the load. We started using the VT as our primary grab in a 3:1 because if we get anything stuck and need to lower a little - we can just take tension off PCD and lower using VT. VT also works well to access unconscious person on line with a rescuer - who can ride a VT down the tensioned rope to casualty and help manipulate them (litter attendant...without litter) during lower or haul...but practice it quite a bit - can be touchy depending on VT or XT config.

    - We cut a bunch of the above out if we are just recreationally hitting the canyons and need a one-person recovery capability.

    - For a one person (load) haul, using a meat anchor as a primary or secondary anchor typically work well...depending on your edge(s) - as long as you are pulling towards your anchor (without a COD or using a 5:1 complex) - then force becomes an issue.

    - If you need a COD, or you are a single hauler / rescuer - use multiple hasty anchors, understand the behavior of your anchors and the behavior of your haul system - if using a deadman, hook, or any anchor close to ground, pull in line & low (stay on your knees and pull - so you don't create upward force on your anchor - think soft starts vs hard starts when doing edge transitions rappelling.

    - Typically dropping a loop for a 2:1 - or a simple z-drag 3:1 is all you need if person being hauled is conscious and can assist in maneuvering over overhangs.

    - If you are with a small party - go with efficiency if choosing to carry a micro pulley - sealed bearings - you will get enough friction over edges to decrease your MA, don't add to it with internal pulley friction if you don't have many haulers.

    Choose all rescue gear to give you capabilities elsewhere - so you are not carrying 3 or 4 new components for an event that is statistically unlikely - get out and "tinker" with rigging - from various anchors to gear exploitation. The heavy rig I listed at the top - is for worst case scenarios - where you may have to send a rescuer down to manipulate an unconscious casualty - while someone up top hauls - not highly likely for what would present in a canyon - where you can just become good at hast anchor conversions to lowers...
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    Canyon Hopper and ratagonia like this.
  7. Disruptive_Rescue


    That was a lot of words to say - If you are using a contingency anchor...just make a canyon quick draw (using a 24" runner) with a micro or a spoc on one of the carabiners and have a rope on anchor they are rappelling on - put micro on rope, slide until tight - release contingency into canyon quickdraw add rope grab and use a 3:1... should have probably just typed that...
    Canyon Hopper likes this.



    Luckily as Tom stated for most injuries you will likely just lower them or pick them off and rappel them down to the ground. Majority of canyoneering rescues go this way. Get them down to a safe spot and then someone goes and gets help. SAR team comes from the rim.

    As for room for a throw in the haul system, you may have an anchor option up canyon that you can transfer the load on to (dependent on the canyon obviously). If you are using single rope with a biner block it is easy to do (double rope, sandtrap, fiddle, etc its definitely harder requiring another rope and probably cutting some stuff). Depending on the original anchors strength and if it is above the ground it can become a high directional or you cut it out of the way once you have started raising on the new anchor.

    Do not role out one person (preferably bigger) ascending them up. I have done it in practice and it sucks but it is an option depending on the rappel geometry and length. If they are able to assist in anyway it is not too bad but an unconscious person is going to be a lot of work.
    Yellow Dart and ratagonia like this.
Similar Threads: Hauling/Mechanical Advantage
Forum Title Date
Tech Tips and Gear Mechanical Advantage - a simple explanation Dec 11, 2013
Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group Updated Toss and Go Double Strand Technique - Advantages and Limitations Nov 20, 2005
Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group TECH~ 2:1 Mechanical DISadvantage Apr 11, 2002
Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group unfair advantage May 29, 2001