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3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

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3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby simestim » Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:44 am

Hi guys,

I am goint to Liberty Ridge in June with 2 other climbers and I heard you could do this route (and others I suppose) with only 1 rope.

Now, my rope is a 1/2 rope, 8.1mm and 60m long (mammut phoenix dry). After searching for a while over the internet I could only found this piece of info at this website:

http://www.chauvinguides.com/selfrescue/alpinesnow.cfm

It says:

"When dealing with more than one second there is no need for multiple ropes. A good technique is to tie one second into the end of the rope and place the other second about 20 feet up, clipped into a cow's tail. It is important that the lower climber does not climb up faster than the first second on the cow's tail. This would generate slack between the two followers that could create a significant shock load on the belay anchor."

So here is the question: is this system ok? have you guys tried this? I am trying to avoid carrying another rope if I can.

Thank you!
Vincent
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby mvs » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:15 am

This sounds entirely appropriate to me. If you are using the rope you should be placing pickets and screws, otherwise you should unrope and solo. Have fun!
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:30 pm

I used to climb with my daughter when she was young with a similar system on mulitpitch rock climbs. Most of Liberty Ridge is non technical. An approach for the technical sections is to double the rope and have the leader tie into the middle of the rope and the two followers into each end. Belay using an auto locking device like a BD ATC Guide or Reverso.

Agree with MVS. Each person in the party should carry one picket and two screws, which is enough of a rack for Lib Ridge and for crevasse rescue.
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby Marcsoltan » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:45 am

simestim wrote:Hi guys,

I am goint to Liberty Ridge in June with 2 other climbers and I heard you could do this route (and others I suppose) with only 1 rope.

Now, my rope is a 1/2 rope, 8.1mm and 60m long (mammut phoenix dry). After searching for a while over the internet I could only found this piece of info at this website:

http://www.chauvinguides.com/selfrescue/alpinesnow.cfm

It says:

"When dealing with more than one second there is no need for multiple ropes. A good technique is to tie one second into the end of the rope and place the other second about 20 feet up, clipped into a cow's tail. It is important that the lower climber does not climb up faster than the first second on the cow's tail. This would generate slack between the two followers that could create a significant shock load on the belay anchor."

So here is the question: is this system ok? have you guys tried this? I am trying to avoid carrying another rope if I can.

Thank you!
Vincent


Three of us did Liberty Ridge with two skinny, 8.5 mm, ropes tied together. One person would lead about 300 feet at a time, then the other two would follow about 30 or 40 feet apart. Naturally, you cannot place any pros this way because of the knot in the rope. We did that for easy, long pitches. For harder, steeper or icy pitches we shortened the rope and placed pro. The anchor consisted of a snow picket, a Deadman, an axe and an ice hammer/north wall hammer. We used screws a few times although the leader always carried at least two. So, we exchange gear a lot and everybody got to lead their share of leading. Here's the trip report:
http://www.summitpost.org/liberty-ridge ... imb/484712
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby BigMitch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:29 pm

Vincent:

I have had guides use the two on a rope system for two seconds.
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby simestim » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:45 pm

Guys,

In the first place, thank you all for your response. It did indeed help me figure it out. However, I am still puzzled on the distance I would have to attach these two seconds. The comment above refers to about 20 feet apart but I am not 100% sure if this distance is optimal to keep my belay more secure or if, as I increase the distance, the belay system would be compromised. In other words, what would be the ideal distance?

I wonder if the shock forces would increase more if any of my 2 seconds falls, and which one of these falls are the worst (if I find out at least I could put the more experienced at the right spot).

I imagine some guides would use this system, that way:

1. You don´t need to make the pitches shorter, as the person leading uses most of the length
2. lighter backpack, less weight to share among team members

But I am intrigued. I guess my main concern is if this system is safe and the appropriate for Liberty Ridge for a 3 people team.

Vincent
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:48 pm

Tying the leader into the middle and having two followers on each each while belaying off an auto locking device (ATC Guide, Reverso) is safer as one climber falling should not affect the other. The down side is you are restricted to 30 meter pitches, but there is relatively little terrain on Lib Ridge that requires pitching out. Shouldn't be a big deal. That said, I was perfectly comfortable climbing multipitch trad 5.10s with my 8 year old daughter using the other system. My partner and I would tie into each end of the rope and my daughter clipped into a butterfly knot using two beefy locking carabiners about 10 feet above the second climber. The second could point out sequences for my daughter or even give an occasional boost over a roof. I think either way is fine, but probably the more 'approved' method is followers on separate strands. Either way, a single 60 meter rope should be plenty and either technique should be fine.
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby BigMitch » Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:50 pm

I suggest that you follow ExcitableBoy's recommendation of tying off in the middle and belay each second off a different end of the rope.

Two on a rope is typically done when the leader belays three followers. The first two seconds on one rope and the third second on the other rope.
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby mvs » Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:58 pm

The only problem with following the approach of tying in at the middle is that typically on a steep snow climb your enemy is length. You are talking about 2000 feet or so of elevation gain. Now, if you need to belay all of that, and now furthermore reduce your rope length to 30 meters, you'll be there all day long. So you really need to see all these options as a continuum, each one we've discussed here has a place, depending on myriad parameters, including relative skill differences between leader and followers. I haven't climbed this route, so I'll have the details wrong, but I would probably shoot for a fixed belay with the halfway point tie in for no more than the two or three hardest short pitches of the route. Then some kind of moving together with rope and gear for >50%, then unroped self belay travel for another 30% or so. There are a dozen scenarios that could render that estimation worthless, but as a ballpark concept for managing available time and reasonable safety it might be an idea to consider.
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Re: 3 people. 1 rope on steep snow

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:46 pm

mvs wrote:The only problem with following the approach of tying in at the middle is that typically on a steep snow climb your enemy is length. You are talking about 2000 feet or so of elevation gain. Now, if you need to belay all of that, and now furthermore reduce your rope length to 30 meters, you'll be there all day long. So you really need to see all these options as a continuum, each one we've discussed here has a place, depending on myriad parameters, including relative skill differences between leader and followers. I haven't climbed this route, so I'll have the details wrong, but I would probably shoot for a fixed belay with the halfway point tie in for no more than the two or three hardest short pitches of the route. Then some kind of moving together with rope and gear for >50%, then unroped self belay travel for another 30% or so. There are a dozen scenarios that could render that estimation worthless, but as a ballpark concept for managing available time and reasonable safety it might be an idea to consider.

We belayed only two pitches. The rest was easy walking with a maybe three hundred feet of protected simu-climbing below Liberty Cap. We did it mid July.
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