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Rock climber wondering about 2x120' technique?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Matt M, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. Matt M

    Matt M

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    Just getting into Canyoning as a great hot weather option during rock climbing "off season" Loved the few wet canyons we got to try around Ouray area this summer. I've got over 30 years as a rock climber and consider myself well versed on that side of things but have a few questions, mainly with differences in SRT vs the more common DRT seen in Rock Climbing.

    Looking at gear (I have much of it that crosses over) I see a lot of rope quiver recommendations with 2x 120'. Curious as to why that's preferred vs a single, longer rope (70/80m?) Most SRT rigs seem to be some variation of the Reepschnur setup. What advantage is there to 2x 120' vs a single 240'? I've read through at least 2 technical books and dont recall an explanation for this. Does it have something to do with avoiding having to pull a lot of rope through an anchor?
  2. Craig

    Craig Feeling My Way

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    Matt,

    I'm sure you are going to get a lot of good answers to your questions. There are many experienced canyoneers that participate in this forum.

    The reasons I like having multiple ropes instead of a single long rope are...

    1. 2x120 allows the ropes to be carried by separate team members thus lightening each person's load.
    2. There are lots of 20-60 foot rappels on the Colorado Plateau and using a single 120 working rope makes rope handling easier.
    3. Multiple ropes allow part of your team to setup the next rappel while the others finish the last rappel. Moving efficiently through the canyon is important for safety and is the polite thing to do in busy canyons.

    If I was in a canyon that only required the 2x120, I would also make sure another 120 was being carried by someone in the group. Or, if I'm only with one other person and we can't carry the extra rope, I would always have my toggle(fiddlestick) and its pullcord.
  3. vanyoneer

    vanyoneer

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    In general you need to choose rope lengths based on your canyon beta, not some hard&fast rule of 2x120. I get the feeling you have encountered "canyoning" advice and inadvertently thinking "canyoneering" advice blends.

    As to what the "canyoneer" strategy is, there's no "AMGA" recommended workflow of techniques like in climbing. It's a balancing act of factors. In general having more rope length is always safer than not having the extra rope, until it becomes too exhausting to carry and then it's not safer.

    Bringing 2 65m (220') ropes and a 80'-120' working rope is a good strategy for groups of 3 or more members doing rappels up to 200', everybody carries some weight. You can make this setup even more bombproof by slipping a 65m 6mm pullcord into someone's pack as a contingency for a stuck rope. That would be the most realistic loadout for your current skill level.

    But if you are buddied with another strong climber and it's just 2 of you, you could forego all contingency options in favor of weight savings and bring 1 DRT rope and a pullcord/fiddlestick. Double strand rappel all of the working rappels and fiddle the bigger ones up to your rope length. It makes a lot of sense to get some canyon experience and knowledge/wisdom before you move to this though.
    Taylor likes this.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Craig nailed most of it.

    In addition, ropes get beat up while you use them. And sometimes they get bunged up (technical term). Better to bung up your short ropes than your long ropes. Many canyons around here tend to have one or two raps that are > 120 feet, and many rappels less than 60 feet. So our Mongo gets to carry the 200' rope, which gets used once or twice, and less Mongo-ish people carry a couple shorter ropes.

    The good news is that since you only used it on one rappel, that 200' rope you need for the last rappel is unlikely to be bunged up.

    Tom
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  5. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Not to mention...

    upload_2021-9-18_20-58-33.

    Mad Ducks and Bears. RIP AK.
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  6. Matt M

    Matt M

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    Thanks Everyone - clears a few things up. I can see the efficiency gains with leapfrogging riggers in a larger group.

    - Weight seems to be a much larger concern here. I'm coming from a double trad rack, 70m 9.5mm and tag line or even half ropes so hauling a single, longer 8 or 9mm line is honestly, no big deal. I can see the advantage of saving weight of course...



  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Being willing and able to haul a bunch of rope makes you much more likely to get invited on trips... what you doing tomorrow?

    Tom
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  8. Matt M

    Matt M

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    Ha - I'm in TX but will carry the 300' for Heaps anytime!
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  9. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    You do a lot of stuff with ropes in canyoneering. You might be throwing potshots with them. You might be rappelling. You might be using it as a pull cord. You might be hauling. Your group might be doing all of that at once. Thus, multiple ropes are generally a better option than one long rope.

    Typically, you take one rope as long as the longest drop in the canyon and a pull cord. Then "working ropes" to accomplish the other tasks. You can also tie working ropes together to function as a pull cord. Working ropes tend to be in the 60-100 foot range. If the longest drop in the canyon is 85-120 feet, a 120 footer is a perfect rope for the quiver. But if the longest drop in the canyon is 50 feet, that rope would likely be left behind as the working ropes will take care of it. Same with a 200 footer, 300 footer etc. Some have something in the 150-175 foot range too.

    The 2x120 is a weird combination in my view. Same with 2x200 or 2x300. We pretty much never do that. If you need a second rope longer than a working rope, it's usually a pull cord. Now if you were in a canyon with lots of people with lots of long drops, perhaps we'd take more than one long rope to facilitate travel.

    You can also damage a rope of course, but that is a problem that can be solved with rappel/lowers + LAPAR passing the knot. You minimize risk of damaging "the long rope" by only using it when absolutely necessary.
  10. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    You don't haul a wet suit, knee pads, elbow pads, neo shorts, multiple locking biners, heavy rappel device, sand trap, water pocket, potshots, or multiiple ropes when climbing. Being able to leave 100 feet of rope behind is a real benefit.

    If you have to carry two ropes yourself (plus all that crap) how long do you want them to be? One problem might require 5 ropes--3 potshots, a rappel rope, and a pull rope. Now maybe a longer rope can handle two pot shots or do both the rappel and the pull, but that's it.
  11. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I also like that you consider canyoneering a summer sport. It certainly is in Ouray, but in the class A/B canyons that make up most of the Colorado Plateau it is generally a shoulder season sport and there are even a few whackos who do canyons on Christmas and New Year's Day.
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Context... it depends where you are canyoning. 2 x 120s works very well in quite a few Zion canyons. Maybe not optimal, but works well.

    I also use 120 as a standard working rope length because that is a reasonable weight of rope to carry in one's hand. Bigger people can carry bigger ropes in the hand, but us normal size people... 120 is about the length that I can carry for half the canyon - well, I used to be able to carry before I got weak. If you are working out of a rope bag, the benefits of carrying a shorter rope are not so much.

    Of course, if you're gonna have potholes you need to throw over, you're gonna want to count rope ends, and make sure you have enough.

    In some places, lots of short rope work events leads to a desire to more short ropes.

    ...
    Canyoneering tends to be hard on ropes. When talking to veterans, you will find that they have quite a few short ropes of very assorted lengths. They did not buy them at these lengths.

    Tom
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