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Long Lower Methods

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by NevadaSlots, Jan 28, 2020.

  1. NevadaSlots

    NevadaSlots

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    I'm anticipating the day when the team has to facilitate a long lower (300 ish feet or more) with a long canyon rope with knot pass shinanigans not being part of the equation. This would be in the event of someone not being as confident in their ability to control their own rappel as they thought, or say they are hysterical, perhaps injured, you forgot your rope bag and throwing the rope is going to create serious problems, or something along those lines. None the less capable of landing on solid ground and getting out of the way. This would be in a self-rescue scenario when a tandem rappel set up would not be the better choice. Maybe let's imagine lowering someone down the last rappel in Heaps to create a familiar image in many people's minds.

    How would you set up the lower at the anchor? And those of you who have experienced such a situation, in what ways did your ability to control the descent change as you lowered, i.e. friction fluctuation

    Here's what I think I would do, which doesn't differ much for what I would do on any lower so, I'm curious if something could-should be added in the fact that the lower would be so lengthy. Pick it apart for flaws or ways to improve, please.
    1.Stack the rope so it feeds nicely
    2. Sharp edge management as needed.
    3. If an ATC is around using it in standard belay (or guide mode with LSD) mode clipped into the anchor with the brake strand diverted through a separate biner. Have extra biners prepped to add more friction
    4. If no ATC is round us a CRITR or Pirana inverted making sure to bring brake strand back up through a leg, horn, or biner then to the brake hands.
    5. If no ATC or canyon rap device use a Munter
    6. Finish it off with a friction hitch off the harness.

    Obviously, there are scores of reasons that a lower may not be a viable option at all, or maybe not the best one. I wish I could go out testing setups on a big cliff but no can do at the moment. Thanks for the responses.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
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  2. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Heaps? I'd just lower them off on the 300 footer. Up from my harness/belay device, through the anchor, down to their harness. Or maybe easier just straight off the anchor. You did bring the 300 footer right? No big deal.

    But if you have to pass knots and they can't unweight the rope, it gets really interesting really fast. Now you'll need a knot you can undo under tension like a munter mule overhand along with a higher anchor point with the second rope running through it.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Uh, well. It is entirely possible to do chained munter mule overhands. Or chained any combination of rappel devices. I am thinking directly off the anchor. Twisting generally makes things a bit ugly.

    Here's it rigged up... not the clearest. Yes, it does involve lowering the lower lowering device over the edge.

    Save Roo.
  4. NevadaSlots

    NevadaSlots

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    That’s a slick set up! I’d work good too for a isolated core shot in the rope when a lower has to be done because a rappeler isn’t confident passing a knot on rap.

    Also addressing canyonero’s post, I see no reason why you would need a second higher anchor point for the second rope. Could you not just facilitate the knot pass with a VT Prusik in VT configuration or use a cordelette (or similar) with a MMO attached to the same anchor? Or am I missing something?
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    If the Roo is capable of rappelling, then you just do a "Lower and Rappel". Very basic.

    Tom
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I have just shown you that passing a knot on a double-lower is entirely unnecessary. So while I agree that the "higher anchor" seems unnecessary even if you chose to do a knot pass... I hope i have made the question moot.

    Tom
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  7. NevadaSlots

    NevadaSlots

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    Agreed, nonetheless the more tools in the toll box the better, learning one useful method does not excuse me from understanding another.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Yeah, I've heard that old canard. Having a toolbox cluttered with useless, rusty and inappropriate tools does not do you much good. Just as having a rappel device that you can rappel with 48 different ways is less than useful. Better to thoroughly understand a few powerful methods than to have a superficial understanding of a wide variety of weak methods.

    and... get rid of that ATC. It is an excellent belay device. It is a weak rappel device.

    Tom
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  9. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I believe I can draw up a hypothetical that would invalidate everything I'm about to opine, but here goes a few points of consideration:
    1. Methods for assisted lowering on a long drop are not equivalent to short drops (stating the obvious first)
    2. Variable friction control, anchor quality, rope damage (based on methods used), contingency actions/plans, and on and on are all considerations and possible trade-offs (especially exaggerated when time is of the essence).
    3. There is a preferential order of methods, i.e. a munter shouldn't be a first choice (just because one knows how to use it) when better friction control devices are available.
    4. With all that said, "go with what you know".
    To leverage on Tom's comment, "if Roo is capable of rappelling, then you just do a "Lower and Rappel". I also submit, If Roo is doing a 300+ footer, Roo is not a novice (better not be) and is most likely capable of passing a knot - as in teachable, OTJ.

    Case in point: A few years back, in ZNP, our team encountered a long rappel where a 600' rope came up 80' short. In this case we opted for passing the knot - lower as opposed to higher. Could we have applied these other methods? Sure! But we didn't. We discussed and all agreed upon the method we chose. Raising the ante, one of our team members was 15 years old. Maja, had never passed a knot. She did, however, know how to do a changeover. Her father was first person down and relayed the short rig news. I was topside and started quizzing her. We relayed back to her father that we were confident in her passing the knot. I'm sure he was a bit nervous during the event; it all turned out well.

    Bottom line, this wasn't a hypothetical. It was how we determined best to "eat the elephant". Use all the tools in your possession, including the cerebral ones.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  10. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Disagree. Its a perfectly fine device for lowering and rappelling. Doesn't twist the rope. Smooth. Very predictable friction.

    I'd take an ATC in a lowering system as described above over a munter hitch. You can certainly use a mule knot to tie off an ATC and you won't have to "pop" the munter.

    An ATC is only weak in the mind of the beholder...(ha ha).

    Certainly easier to carry as a back up than these huge arms and legs devices...and...they won't get stuck on a shelf when you're rappelling...

    Anyhow...
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  11. Dan H

    Dan H FNG

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  12. NevadaSlots

    NevadaSlots

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    The mind is infinity capable of understanding. I can learn about practical tools and become progressively effective in using all of them over time.A knot pass mid-lower is a practical tool. If the rappel device has 48 different usages, I choose to thoroughly understand the weaknesses and strengths of each one.


    I will keep my ATC, its an incredibly versatile tool. And in this instance, I wasn't using it for rappelling and typically don't.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  13. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    ....or being lowered...(didn't someone get stuck on rappel when the leg of their rap device got hung up on the rock? I dimly recall).

    I'd be nervous about a lower when I'm dropping any thing that could hook up on the rock...

    Speaking of...

    Anyone done a super long lower on an ATC in guide mode? I've done short lowers...and its pretty nifty for that. My guess it with practice it could be done fairly smoothly, with the added bonus of being able to stop it at any time and restart. I'd take that over a munter/mule any day.

    I'll admit I really dislike being lowered in a canyon...
  14. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    True, and if you actually do learn all 48 usages very well (and continue to practice them from time to time so you don't forget), that is a very good thing, unfortunately most people don't do this. They learn the technique, and then never need it so it rusts in the back of their mind and then on the day when something is needed they have 48 half formed ideas in their head instead of the 2-3 well kept and practiced ones like Tom J said.
    ratagonia likes this.
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