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Tech Tip: Video How To: Contingency 8

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Matt Snow, Jul 1, 2013.

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How often do you use a contingent anchor system in canyons?

  1. Never

    8.0%
  2. Sometimes, when deemed appropriate

    80.0%
  3. Every Time

    12.0%
  1. Matt Snow

    Matt Snow

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    A friend asked me recently to explain the Contingency 8, and so in true engineer fashion, I made sure to take it a bit further than it needed to go. Since the video tutorial is plenty long, I'll leave it to the comments to add anything useful. Feel free to add criticism (my first try at this so I'm sure there'll be a plenty) and comment, as well as alternative methods for contingency systems.

    See other interweb resources (not by me) at:
    http://canyoneering.wikia.com/wiki/Figure_8_block
    http://canyonquest.com/~steve/cerberuscanyons.com/tech/007_eightrelease/tech_007_release8.html
    Kuenn, Erik B. and Deerchaser like this.
  2. Southern Canyoneer

    Southern Canyoneer Desert Hiker

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    Nice video! So I girth hitched my rappel a few weeks ago when I was going over an overhang....luckily I was literally touching the ground so was able to get on my tippy toes and pull enough rope through to get off rappel. So my question is other than using a prussik to step up on to get the weight off or using an ascender, etc...is there an easier way to undo the girth back to a regular rappel without using any additional gear?
  3. Benjamin Pelletier

    Benjamin Pelletier

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    More up-to-date version of the wikia page:
    http://ropewiki.com/index.php/Figure_8_block

    It's too bad the canyoneering community doesn't really have a wiki-style resource for definitive summaries of key information stripped of irrelevant commentary. I would have written that up on canyonwiki.com, but when its maintainer shortly revived it upon our request, it then quickly died of spam. I was a little bit nervous about putting a bunch of effort into a personally-hosted wiki (ropeswiki.com), but my good in-person friend is an IT professional and seems to have a pretty good handle on it. We chose that over Wikia because Wikia is ugly and ad-clogged. I'm not sure how to get people to contribute to a wiki -- I think the maintainer of canyonwiki.com had the same problem.
  4. Lee

    Lee

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    You can get a "step up" by simply wrapping the rope around your foot a few times and holding tension on it with one hand while then standing. This is a bit sketch, but it's enough to often undo a girth. Other than not using an 8 knowing how to do a change-over, and being pre-rigged, is easiest. Having a Petzl Basic (or similar) on one of your cowstails (or your clipster, etc.) is the easiest method. Pop it on over the device and rig it as high as possible, and stand in the loop of webbing hanging from the basic and your weight is off the 8. You really want to have a second ascender handy to put between the upper basic and the rap device, but most canyoneers don't pre-rig this way. Google "Alan Warild Vertical" for a pretty straight-forward explanation (as these things go) of what's know as the frog system. Most of the needed info is in chapters 6 & 7 available on cavediggers.com
  5. Canyonbug

    Canyonbug Outdoor Junkie!

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    My question in both these systems you have described is a matter of "Tension." If you use a step up with a loop of rope, you are still pulling tension through your rap device when you step into the loop and your not going to have the slack available to pull out the problem. You still need an ascender above the problem with a foot loop to get that step up and clear the problem from your device.

    With the Basic, I have not used one, and so I am only speculating on this.... I imagine that it functions in the basic same way as a Grigri. If this is the case, you cannot put this on the rope above you if the rope is tensioned. If you are looking to put up a load releasing object that will let you lower yourself while weighted, then a VT Prussik is going to be the best option on a tensioned line. Other than that, it's an ascender and a foot loop.
    ratagonia likes this.
  6. Lee

    Lee

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    This is where late-night internetting gets you in trouble. One the first point you are correct, using a foot wrap still tensions the device. On the second point a basic is just a handle-less ascender that operates like any other cam ascender and not like a gri-gri. The advantage that it has over a VT is that you can get it off your harness and on a tensioned rope with one hand in about 2 seconds which I think is important if you've done something like caught your hair or are in flowing water. Using the foot-wrap lets you then get higher so you may position the upper ascender and hang on it if needed....sorry for the lack of coherent logic in the previous post, thanks for pointing it out.
    Kuenn likes this.
  7. Canyonbug

    Canyonbug Outdoor Junkie!

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    And where my lack of research gets me in trouble :) I was thinking of the Petzl ID when I read Basic.

    I was considering you were trying to put the ID on as a way to lower yourself once the problem is resolved and then be able to remove it, hence the suggestion of the VT. An Ascender is certainly quicker to attach than a VT is in an emergency.
  8. Andrew Humphreys

    Andrew Humphreys

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    If you are truly in an emergency, the fastest, simplest way to escape a larksfoot on a Figure-8 is:
    1) Attach an HMS biner to your short cowstail, and tie a munter on it.
    2) Wrap the remaining rope below several times around your foot. Bring the slack rope up and grasp both it and the tensioned line with one hand.
    3) Stand up in the foot wrap, and with the free hand, detach the figure-8 from it's carabiner.
    4) Unwrap foot and descend on munter. Leaving figure-8 behind.

    It is a disadvantage to leave the 8 behind, especially if you're the last person down. You will not be able to pull the rope. If you are not pressed for time, it is much better to attach a footloop above the 8, stand up, and fix the girth hitch.

    Of course, if you rig your figure-8 the correct way, you will greatly reduce your chance of larksfooting it. It will also make it easier to lock off.

    Andrew Humphreys
    Operations Manager
    Canyoning.co.nz
  9. Lee

    Lee

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    Question: Is there any particular reason why a Contingency 8 is better than a Munter-Mule contingency? The one argument I can think of in favor of a munter-mule is that it uses gear I already carry whereas a Contingency 8 requires a figure 8 that I'm not going to use for anything else. In favor of the 8, I feel like a Contingency 8 is cleaner looking and is a tiny bit less "in the way" and potentially muddles up the anchor less.

    Thanks
  10. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    A munter mule as an anchor block? What do you use to block against if you need to lower?
  11. Lee

    Lee

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    Hey Mountaineer,

    The Munter-Mule (MM) doesn't function as a block, just as a contingency. There are lots of illustrations of the technique on the web so I won't recreate them, but the last person does have to remove the MM and install a block for him or herself. The MM is set up so that you remove the Mule and lower off the Munter (which is tied on a biner that's through the ring or rapide). The rope is fed through the rapide prior to tying the MM which is located on the rap side. I know that's cryptic, but a few minutes with some pictures and it makes sense.
  12. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Then yes, just need a carabiner! Then you need to re-rig.

    As you know I'm sure, the Munter can be used as an emergency rap knot. Or, many people use it as a belay while the other strand is being used to rap.

    Good question. Possible disadvantages from the contingency eight: a) less friction, heavier loads may need extra care to lower b) need to re-rig as you point out c) mule wears on a rope or creates "fuzz", creates a lot more twist. Others?

    Another contingency anchor system: the jester. Rig it, and the last person just grabs the device and raps without changing anything or even resetting the rope.
  13. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    If i'm not mistaken a contingency 8 might lay flat against the rock when under load which would make it hard to undo in case you need to lower a person.
    This is only/mostly the case with bolts and not so much on an anchor with a sling or chain.
  14. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Maybe. You could pull an 8 free with a sling. I would think a munter against the rock would be more hard on your rope, causing more grooves?
  15. Tayres

    Tayres

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    Matt,
    I thought IDE toss out a couple of points about this rigging system.
    I have found that using the canyon quick draw to attach the bag side to the anchor causes more problems than it prevents. I understand folks are taught to use the canyon quick draw to eliminate any chance of rappelling on the bag side and falling since they are on the wrong side of the block. The problems I see that are created are when the last person forgets about the canyon quick draw and then retreiving is impossible and ascending is required.
    I think it's simpler to clip the bag side to the anchor. It would be very difficult to rap on the wrong end when you are rapping into a bag.
    I recommend using a single carabiner instead of a canyon quick draw and then if a lower is needed to attach a lanyard from your harness to the small horn of the eight before the step in your video when you inform the rappeller that they may feel a pop. Using the lanyard eliminates the chance of the rope coming up and over the small horn of the eight as does the canyon quick draw but it also provides you the ability to create an ever so small gap between the quicklink and the figure eight. I've found that without the ability to create this space sometimes the eight gets jammed up against something and doesn't effectively lower. However, with the space created from the lanyard we have always been able to successfully lower. One last thought...have a back up belay person if more than one person is at the top when a lower is needed. If the belayer grabs and feeds the rope into the figure eight it will decrease the twists in the rope created by the figure eight as opposed to just allowing rope to feed through.
  16. Tayres

    Tayres

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    To transfer the load from a jammed descending device I prefer tying a klemheist with a 1/4" sewn runner above my rap device. I find its quicker to tie and untie than a prusik.
  17. Christian Lupercio

    Christian Lupercio

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    All this discussion is exactly why I have never used it. I feel like it just complicates an already simple set up. Not dismissing it at all, as I know its values in certain situations. I just haven't come across a scenario where I think I'll need it. Here's what I've always wondered though. What is the maximum length of the rappel you guys would use this in? I mean, if the rappel is 200', then even if you wanted to set up a contingency, you wouldn't be able to. Unless of course you're a beast and you're hauling around longer than 200' ropes.
  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I agree with you, Christian, at least, to some points. Personally, I can't see carrying a Figure 8 just to set Contingency anchors, unless I was setting a lot of them. I find a Munter Mule works just fine. Also, you'll see in the photos below, if setting a contingency anchor, DON'T go through the Rapide with the rope. You can do that later. Having the rope through the Rapide unnecessarily complicates things at the worst moment - when you actually need to USE the contingency.

    Since I had the 'studio' set up, I made some pictures. First picture is contingency set up for a 'long' rappel, meaning a rap that is longer than half the length of the rope. The "2nd rope" is the rope for contingency, also long enough to complete the rappel.

    Second photo is the same situation, but where you REALLY want to also set the length of the rap, so the 2nd rope is tied into the rappel rope in the middle, meaning not at the end.

    Long Rap Contingency Rigging.

    Long Rap Contingency w Length Set Rigging.
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Have you ever lowered with a Munter? In the real world, not just in class?

    I've never had trouble getting enough friction on a Munter, even with small ropes. If you really had to, you could toss it through your rappel device, but it seems unlikely.

    If you were lowering multiple people on the Munter, then you might be worried about messing up the rope. Then again, if you are lowering multiple people on the Munter, then you chose the wrong canyon for your group, are already in deep doodoo and have more to be worried about than a little fuzz on the cord.

    Advantage Contingency 8: for you Creepers out there, Contingency 8 is better at creeping.

    Tom :moses:
  20. Lee

    Lee

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    Tom,

    Thanks for the posts. I've only really used a contingency in flowing water/tight space caves and a munter always seemed more than adequate, especially as it was the nucular option. I still think the only time I would ever care to set one in a canyon would be around a waterfall or similar feature that was especially challenging. I still don't see why people would use this on a regular basis; learning to use your ascending gear and being able to do changeovers should, imho, be considered basic technique.
    Kuenn and ratagonia like this.
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