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New article on rappelling and down climbing

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New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:47 am

I wrote a new article on descending safely here: http://www.summitpost.org/the-necessary-and-sometimes-black-art-of-getting-down/773375. I will try to take some photos tomorrow to illustrate the more esoteric points.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby Gafoto » Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:16 am

This is handy article for reference! So for any anchor you generally use a piece of webbing or cord joined with an EDK? Is there any benefit or downside to using an EDK vs. a double fishermans (assuming you leave enough tail for slippage, etc)?
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:32 am

Gafoto wrote:This is handy article for reference! So for any anchor you generally use a piece of webbing or cord joined with an EDK? Is there any benefit or downside to using an EDK vs. a double fishermans (assuming you leave enough tail for slippage, etc)?

Apologies if the article was not clear, I use an EDK to join the rappel ropes (e.g. two half or twin ropes). For the anchor (V-thread, sling around a horn or tree, etc), I use a water knot (AKA ring bend) for tubular webbing or a fisherman's knot for perlon/cord. I'll edit the article to make this more clear. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. The main benefits of joining two rappel ropes with an EDK is the knot faces away from the cliff when the ropes are retrieved, and it is a small, low profile knot. Both characteristics make it less likely to hang up behind a flake or in a crack.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:20 am

Climbing would be a whole lot of fun... if you didn't find yourself on the summit of a high peak, faced with a gnarly descent. I used to have nightmares about some climbs, but those were never as bad as the nightmares about the descents....

I used to down-climb class 5 terrain all the time. It's a great way to save your gear for when you really need to drop in some rap anchors. The key to down-climbing to place protection strategically for the last guy down. Down-climbing is also the fast-track to becoming a much better, more confident climber.

Personally knowing your descent route is especially true if you're skiing down. ALWAYS climb anything that you plan to ski down.

Descending an unknown route is a sure way to get into trouble. That's okay, just be prepared psychologically. There's no terror like rapping down an unknown rock face only to have your ropes get stuck when you try to pull them down.

Once I free-soloed a peak and planned to descend via a class 2 route (a chute). I didn't realize that there were about a dozen chutes that all dropped steeper and steeper until they ended in cliffs - all except the one class 2 chute. There was a whiteout, so I had to descend each chute, one by one, until I found the correct descent route off the mountain. The moral of the story is that descending an unknown route can be very problematic even if you don't think the terrain will be very difficult.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby The Chief » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:08 pm

Rapping is the most dangerous component of what we do. 100% faith on one's technical knowledge, ability and use of equipment. The act itself comprises over 75% of all fatalities that have occurred in the vertical world in the past ten or fifteen years since this gig has become a "cool" thing to do.

Bottom line, if you fuck up on this evolution, you will most certainly get your ass seriously kicked or ultimately killed.


Learn and know the right way to do it.






Good thread EB!
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby TheGeneral » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:13 pm

Good article. I wouldn't use a sliding x for a rap anchor though. Something with no extension would be the ticket, IMHO.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 7:43 pm

TheGeneral wrote:Good article. I wouldn't use a sliding x for a rap anchor though. Something with no extension would be the ticket, IMHO.

I disagree and here is why: http://gravsports.blogspot.com/2006_11_19_archive.html

Exerpted from the above linked article written by Will Gadd:

"'m going back to a sliding X with a big biner, backed up with a sling of about the right length to a third piece. If the belay is so shitty that I feel perfect equalization is in order then I might go for the duo-glide option, but realize I'm basically being an idiot for trusting my life and that of my partner to a dubious belay."

FWIW, I work hard to not advise anyone to do anything 'unsafe' in my articles, and research and cross reference most everything against trusted, conservative sources. When folks do bring lapses to my attention, I fix them.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:44 pm

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:I used to down-climb class 5 terrain all the time. It's a great way to save your gear for when you really need to drop in some rap anchors. The key to down-climbing to place protection strategically for the last guy down. Down-climbing is also the fast-track to becoming a much better, more confident climber.



I totally agree. I was trail running near a small crag and saw a couple of guys top roping my favorite climb there, an overhanging, 5.10b hand crack. I jogged up to them and asked if I could have a quick go. I tied into a bowline on a coil and ran up the climb in my running shoes and surprised the guys by down climbing it as well. I honed this skill at the famous University of Washington Rock which has perfect straight in cracks I would climb up and down, up and down until wasted.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby Marcsoltan » Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:56 pm

I'm such a safety freak that I have pissed people off a few times, and have saved a life at least once. But, it's possible to totally f#@k up while you're making sure things are getting done correctly by others. A little story: I had wired this 30 foot 10d and wanted to do laps on it on top rope with my, then girl friend and now, my wife. I was in the process of putting my harness on with only velcro holding the two ends together. My wife asked if she had done everything right. I looked at her harness, her knot, her belay set up, etc.etc.etc. Then, I said are you ready and started up the rock. Made a quick ascent and thought about it for a second on top and asked her to keep belaying for me to down climb. When I got down, I went to untie, and you all know what I saw. Yup, you've got it. What I don't understand is how on earth I tied into the rope without seeing that my harness wasn't buckled up!!!!!!!!! But, the same thing happened to Lynn Hill. She asked her then husband, Russ Raffa, to hand her her shoes. She forgot to buckle up her harness. Tied in and climbed. In her case, she fell 90 feet and lived to become the first woman to do a 5.14. A little unrelated to the subject here, but thought to share.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:06 pm

I've seen, and tried to correct other folks' serious lapses in safety. Often times not appreciated, but at least my concious was clean. Examples include a father and his kids top roping tied in with a figure eight - that is to say, they clipped a figure 8 rappel device to the harness with a single, non-locking carabiner with the rope tied to the figure 8 rappel device with a series of some version of trucker hitches. 'The book said to tie in with a figure 8".
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby Marcsoltan » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:22 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:I've seen, and tried to correct other folks' serious lapses in safety. Often times not appreciated, but at least my concious was clean. Examples include a father and his kids top roping tied in with a figure eight - that is to say, they clipped a figure 8 rappel device to the harness with a single, non-locking carabiner with the rope tied to the figure 8 rappel device with a series of some version of trucker hitches. 'The book said to tie in with a figure 8".


LOL, and you thought you had seen it all !!!!!!
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:28 am

I've also seen a guy rock climbing with a static caving rope because he wanted a black rope to go with his tattoos and all black clothing, and top roping through a small rescue pulley rather than carabiners.
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Re: New article on rappelling and down climbing

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:34 pm

Good find! I'll add this one to the article. Thanks!
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