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Tech Tip: Question Single strand vs. Double strand Rappel

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Mountaineer, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Great post, Mark. Especially the part about "learning and applying principles - over remembering rules or a set of instructions.

    If I may, I would like to add emphasis to 2 of your points.
    First point of emphasis: #2
    Sometimes it is difficult or even impossible to know when the rope is safely on the ground. And I would suggest that it applies equally to SRT and DRT. So, when you're not sure if it's on the ground, you should take added steps to ensure your team's safety. Your method may be different than mine, but the point being, you should do something. Contingency anchor, stopper knot(s), ascending gear ready....it may be a combination of things.

    Think of it this way. Would you knowingly rappel a drop that was short rigged? On purpose? Let's say, dangerously short rigged...as in 100', 200', 500'? I wouldn't, at least not without; 1 - there is a stopper knot, 2 - my ascending gear is at the ready.

    Maybe you're thinking, bah, he's goofy. (And maybe I am.) Even so (and especially if you are thinking that), I have a training suggestion for you. Go find a 200' drop and short rig it 100'. What are you going to insist on before saying, "on rappel!"? I'm not being hypothetical here, this is a serious suggestion. Get your stuff ready, rap down to the end of the rope and then come back up. I submit that if you do this, just once, you will approach all future unknown rappels differently.

    Second point of emphasis: #6
    I'm always skeptical when someone says, "Yes, I know how to do a changeover" (rappel to ascend/ascend to rappel). If I don't know you and I'm going to be responsible/your trip leader, and when it's important that you know this (which is more often than not); I will probably ask you for a detailed explanation of the process. Yeah, I'm that kind of a guy (jerk).

    Please. Practice these things....regularly. I hope you never have to use them. But not near as much as I want you to be ready to use them, when you absolutely have to. Muscle memory doesn't only apply to organized sports.
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  2. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Great post KUENN!
    We have a great little practice crag near our house (30 -40 foot near vertical drop) and
    rappelling SHORT-RIGGED is on the slate for this week end.
    Kuenn likes this.
  3. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Some good stuff. And, good to practice converting from rappel to ascend (and considering the tools, where to place them, the steps to go through).

    These recent events have me thinking about the times I've come up short on rappels, and, some of the risky and silly things one does in such situations. For whatever reason (pilot error, bad beta, bad memory, subtle position changes on a rappel line), coming up short happens. For better or worse, the easy solution can also be the riskiest. Its a bit daunting to think about ascending a rappel line, double or single. Especially if its steep and you're carrying a load (say...a long rope, full pack...etc). Can be physically but also mentally difficult to do something other than to just proceed down and see what happens. Lucky, good choice, bad choice...easy to figure in hindsight. Mistakes happen. We're human.

    Because I climb...(is that a good excuse? Ha ha), I double strand rappel most often. And, to save weight, I'll do a longer route in the mountains with a single 60m rope. Give me a solid 100 foot of rappel distance to work with. Its a risk. Climbing a 10 pitch route, or, a few 1000 feet of terrain with one rope limits descent options for sure. Bad weather, conditions, poor route finding, terrain challenges...all considerations. That said, I still do it. Just like I do Pine Creek with a single 60m rope. Solo or with a partner.

    Does make me think about risk. I carry the tools. Been awhile, but, I've practiced.

    Good food for thought.
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  4. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    seriously jealous of this... we have nothing good in our area for practice.
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  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Now that I've thrown the challenge out there, let me give an appropriate warning.

    This is not a beginners exercise. You need to be skilled at doing a change-over, and you can practice that 2 feet off the garage floor. Once you are proficient at it, proceed to the outdoor event. Keep in mind, there will be no fireman's belay (unless you know a really tall fireman). Take appropriate precautions and be safe. And please, use a stopper knot.

    Some might say, you can do the same thing with a full length rigged rope, just stop half way and simulate. And I say...it's not the same - physically or mentally.
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  6. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    A separate rope and belay from above might be prudent...!
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  7. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    the suggestion sounds scary as $%&& to try. It would be easier to attempt this while maybe 20 above a swimming pool or maybe a trampoline. I have done this exercise in the garage and in a tree, maybe 4-5 feet off the ground... adding the exposure would make a huge mental difference. I actually wish I had a place to try this, but I don't think I would ever try it 100 feet off the ground.
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  8. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Yes, great point. Having both ends touching is considered common best practice. Single strand techniques vary a bit, everyone has an opinion. Lower the first person, block or contingency, what type of block, etc.

    Would you ever throw double strand, toss 'n' go, if you can't see the bottom? Even if you are sure of the rap length? Your rope length?

    So when we say "do something", I believe rigging single strand on those drops, vs. double, is a good start.

    At least whenever I can't see the bottom, I rig single contingency. Throwing the rope bag and listening for a thud doesn't always guarantee you found a safe bottom...
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  9. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I put 3 eye bolts with some webbing into the side of my house and we just practice different techniques on it.
  10. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    DITTO BRIAN!
    I think rigging the rope short for this exercise has psychological value (versus tying a knot there)
    BUT the rappellor MUST BE ON BELAY ON A SEPERATE DYNAMIC ROPE FROM ABOVE (toprope).
    Practice should always be backed up!
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  11. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I do have a pine tree with a webbing sling & rapide on it, but it's not very high off the ground.. better than nothing. Don't think our house is tall enough (1-story).
  12. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Yeah...toss-n-go all the time. For climbers especially, its fairly common to toss a double strand down without being able to see the bottom, regardless if you know (or think you know) rap length. So many routes finish either in different locations that the git off, or, descend a very different line.

    As soon as I get a peek, and confirm that the ropes reach, I certainly relax a bit.

    An example of this, and, commonly done, is the standard rappel off the Grand Teton. No one climbs up the route of that descent. So, its a bit of an unknown if you haven't done it before. You can't see the deck. There's now two fixed anchors (three counting the older wrap of slings), and, a distance written on a tag on at least one of them (implying you need a longer rope I recall). The placement of the rope and exact location of the rappel path will accommodate a single 60m rope, but, if you screw it up...well, that would suck. And, the finish is free hanging so...high penalty points.

    I've never seen a climber rig single contingency for a sight-unseen rappel. Not saying it isn't a good idear. But, usually, you have enough information to know that your distance is in the ball park for the amount of rope you have with you.

    So...yeah, those type of rappels kinda stay in the memory banks a bit longer. A couple from the last couple of months for me were the rappel off the Grand, which I'd done a gob of times, but, never with a single skinny 60m rope. But, I knew it would work, as long as I rappelled the right line. And it did. The second was on a route in the Kaisergebirge in Austria. Long approach, sorta had ok beta, and given the route's difficulty and length, I choose a single 60m skinny again. The rappel off, after a pretty high angle downclimb to a scree covered gully/ledge traverse, just sorta rolled over and I couldn't see the ground. Toss-and-go. By 1/4 of the way down, I could see the deck and the rope ends barely touching...and I just started laughing. Fairly relieved. I noticed intermediate anchoring if we'd have needed it...but...down we went, nice free air finish as well.

    Memorable rappels. Like that last one in Zion out of Birch Creek in the dark with the Kipper. Nothing as disappointing as seeing the end of the rope and darkness, with no bottom...
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  13. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Great candor Brian! Ah, well, I'll say that I learned the best way the first time. :)
  14. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Great point. The second time I did Heaps, we didn't carry a 100m rope through and I knew that I'd be passing a knot partway down that drop. It encouraged me to practice a bit ... got it down to a couple of minutes with a prerigged prusik above my rap device.

    Gordon
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  15. SARguru

    SARguru

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    Hank..
    If you are using twin 9mm with ASAP, is the ASAP on a separate 11mm or does it work on 9??

    Nic


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  16. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Maybe you should have practiced a lower/rappel while you were at it. :)
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  17. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    4-5 feet off the ground is absolutely the right place to practice. And yes, the suggestion I proposed is scary, it's in the "zero tolerance/no mistakes zone". Hence one needs to have complete confidence in their skills before attempting it.

    There are several ways to mitigate the risk, I didn't offer any mainly because that is part of the puzzle. I can actually think of a way to provide a fireman's belay on a short rigged rope; bottom-line being, take "appropriate precautions"as said by several here, when practicing/acquiring skills.

    And yes, this exercise has high penalty points...but then so does technical canyoneering - on every trip. We just choose to ignore those things, most of the time. Every time I get in the car to go buy a gallon of milk, I'm not thinking this trip could end in a fiery-crash...that would be morbid and wrong headed...doesn't mean the risk isn't there though.
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  18. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Welcome to my world...most weekends. ;)

    There is a silver-lining, rappelling into darkness does oddly enough, mollify exposure/pucker factor. One of the many reasons I like canyoning... I can see, I can SEE!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  19. gajslk

    gajslk

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    That's what we actually ended up doing, but without any practice. We figured it out at the Bird Perch and the guy lowering me had lowered me off tons of sport climbs, so ... we went for it. You should have heard all the yelling from below when I started down with the rope end 100 feet off the ground ...

    Gordon
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  20. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    It's a great technique when you get a core shot in your rope too. Butterfly out the core shot, get on rappel just below the butterfly, get lowered out, then rap the rest of the way down. Only the final rappeller has to pass the knot. Ask Bootboy what that's like 200 feet up on a free hanging rappel on a rope with now two core shots in it attached to a sand trap.
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