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Tech Tip: Answered The FiddleStick - an advanced anchor tool for canyoneering

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    My concern would be that the release is too easy. 10 lbs? Yikes, I think the official ICG FiddleStick is about 40 lbs, and I still worry about it at times.

    Be careful out there.

    Tom
  2. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Tom, I actually went out and tested it again today in my tree. I set it up and hung in my harness about 1' off the ground. I probably had to pull close to 40-50lbs to get it to move. One thing that makes it harder to pull when weighted is how much stick you have out on the pull side. Since the load and fiddle stick are perpendicular, when pulling from below, you must wrench the whole knot about 60 degrees to get the fiddlestick in a more vertical position to get it to even start moving. Therefore: the less stick out you have, the less leverage you have to torque the knot and stick into a pull-able orientation.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  4. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    A good yank when dressing the knot locks it down pretty good ;)

    I would be curious to get a scale and test all my ropes, wet and dry, rapped on and unrapped on, etc...
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  5. Sonny Lawrence

    Sonny Lawrence

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    I attempted to address this question. See the archive from Yahoo Canyons in CC at <http://www.canyoncollective.com/threads/stein-hitch-pin-configuration-testing.17543/> The data listed in stein.xls (attached) is anecdotal. There were not enough measurements to make any statistically sound conclusion. So the implication is that if a regular size person is hanging on the rappel rope which has been routed over an edge, it takes about 40 pounds of force to release the pin from a Stein hitch. (Sum up release force from the trials I did=1665 pounds, divide by 40 trials, implies about 40 pounds to release).

    It appears from the discussion that Bootboy is hanging on rappel and tries to release it himself. If he pulls down 8 pounds, he is then unweighting the rappel rope. That adds a little to confusion about what the release force is. It would be slightly better to have a second person do the release. I hope you are using a crash pad.

    Attached Files:

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  6. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    I bought one of those spring scales Tom referenced - it turned out to be around 16 bucks with tax. Just started playing with it. Unfortunately it does not (AFAIK) have "recall max load" feature so you gotta keep your eye on the screen and work your short term memory. Anyway, just played around informally today and here's a fun claim to re-ignite this very important debate:

    The Constrictor Hitch (CH) has greater holding potential than the Stone. When either hitch is tied without special attention to making it very, very tight, the release force is more or less the same. Cinched very, very tightly I got 12 lb for the Stone and 22 lbf for the CH (no load on rap line).

    Thanks to Sonny for posting that spreadsheet on previous work. I plan to do a bunch more backyard testing in July and will pub it here.

    hank
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  7. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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  8. townsend

    townsend

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    Whether one uses a fiddlestick or a smooth operator, what is the longest rappel that you have done using either device? I recognize that there are other features (how direct the pull path is, etc.) that may determine the answer, but I am still interested in knowing about the maximum length of rappel that these systems have been safely employed in. It would seem that the longer the rappel, the more variation in the system. I really can't see using either device for 300' + rappels, but let's collection the basic data and then discuss. Thanks.
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The most important criteria for using the FiddleStick is "Is there a POINT in using the FiddleStick?" Using the Fiddle on the last rap in Heaps, for instance, would be silly. Unless you had to pass a knot on the way down, then maybe not.

    That said, the longest I have done is about 280 feet. On long raps, say, longer than 60 feet, it is a good idea to use a lightweight pull cord on the pull side. For up to 200 feet maybe, the 6mm pull cord seems to work fine. For longer than 200 feet, we use the Super Pull Cord: http://www.store.canyoneeringusa.co...el-1-8-x-300-feet/p/48720000/category=2490784

    We also sometimes trap the pull side in various ways so that the weight of the cord does not rest on the FiddleStick.

    Tom
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  10. Bluu

    Bluu

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    I have used the Smooth Operator on raps over 300 feet. Those that come to mind are the 290 final rap in heaps zion and the largest rap in abysmal in death valley at about 320 i think. To keep the weight of the pull line from being a huge issue i use the 1/8 inch dyneema cord.

    Not everyone likes the dyneema as it handles different and you need to handle it a bit different to avoid tangles etc. And then thers the old debate about not being able to rappel on the dyneema in an emergency. Just thought i would aknowledge these things before the intent of the thread gets derailed.

    I feel if the Smooth Operator is safe to use at 30 feet its safe at 400 feet. Do you trust the system or not? Obviously you need to take care to do things in a way that helps you trust the system. For me that is simply pull cord weight and management. Management as in having someone go before the last person and get it set up, laid out of the way then held out of the way before the last person removes the safeties and raps down.

    Of note it is imortant to have someone at the bottom hold the pull line away from the rap line. This avoids tangling the two together when the rap line begins to twist from the action of a rappel device. On long rappels if the rap rope twists a lot and is allowed to grab the pull line........ youve got a freakin mess. Lol ask me how i know this?

    Luke
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Rap in Heaps - why use a Stick?

    Longest rap in Abysmal is less than 300 feet. (we only had 300' ropes).

    Tom
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  12. Bluu

    Bluu

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    I forgot the length of the large rap in abysmal but yup youre right its less.

    Ive used it for final the rap in heaps to make the pull quick and simple. One tug and it all comes down. Much more enjoyable than pulling 290 feet of rope up through the anchor.

    One reason I sometimes use the Smooth Operator is the same reason i use other techniques, because i can and i actually like it. As long as it is set up safely, using one technique over the other can be a matter of personal choice in the moment.

    Luke
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  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Agree. Good reason. Also, with the weight of the 300'er hanging on it, and one is unlikely to unweight the rope on that rappel; the final rap in Heaps is probably a good one to Stick. Extra careful there to make sure the pull cord is staked off to the side.

    :moses:
  14. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    ^^^
    I guess if you screw it up...you'll have a few seconds to ponder eternity on the way down.

    Yikes!
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  15. John Diener

    John Diener

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    I haven't done Heaps, but the last rap seems like a reasonable place to use a smoother operator/fiddle, for reasons as stated by Luke above. The safety is on until (1) last has tossed the pull cord (1/8 dyneema), (2) someone at the bottom has tied it off so that it hangs away from the rap, (3) the last has weighted the rap line. Only then would I remove the safety carabiner. At that point the dangers should just be the same dangers as would be encountered without a fiddlestick - losing control of rap (bottom belay to protect against this), getting something sucked into the rap device, etc. Brian, what do you envision going wrong? You think someone is somehow going to yank on the pull with real force? How would this happen if (1) and (2) were done properly? Would like to hear your thoughts on scenarios. Yes, I suppose it is more complicated if you haven't practiced it before - I wouldn't recommend starting your fiddlestick career at a drop like that.

    Back to townsend's question. I've used a fiddlestick on a 330', a freehanging 260' (Montezuma / East of Eden), many 200'+ chain of multiple ropes through potholes, and a near 400' drop that combined 3 ropes and 40' webbing in a canyon whose scope we underestimated. I certainly don't use it all the time, but there are times and situations where it can be super-handy.

    -john
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  16. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    I've used a stick on the last rap the last 2 times I've done Heaps. Compared to pulling all your ropes down the old fashioned way, it's really nice to just pop the stick and have it all fall.

    We stage a man at the bird perch to manage the station while everyone else plays through. With the fiddle stick in use, it is his (usually me) job to babysit the anchor and make sure the stick is flat on the wall as it is weighted and as the rope slides back into the crack after each rappeller passes the overhang. It has worked well. I'll never do that rap any other way again.
  17. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Hat's off to the LP using a "stick" at that depth. It's not that I don't trust and have confidence in the tool being safe. It's the mental psyche exercise for that length of time. I do this stuff for enjoyment...would take the fun right out, for me. Party on extremists! :woot:
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  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Just repeat my mantra as you go over the edge:

    "This is a stupid sport"
    "This is a stupid sport"
    "This is a stupid sport"
    ...
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  19. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    It may or may not be a 'stupid sport', but the 'experts' broadcasting this kind of stupid s--- for the Heaps exit
    could end tragically, I fear.
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  20. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Yeah, I hear ya!

    I used to tell first-timers (when battling the mental tug-of-war on the edge), "Sometimes you have to dumb yourself down, to do this stuff!" Stopped saying a few years back...wasn't very flattering and from a legal position, self-incriminating.
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