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Sierra Class 4 Rope Redux

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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby Vitaliy M. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:27 pm

3Deserts wrote:Okay, lot of emphasis on rope length relative to rappels. I get that.

It seems though that if one is willing to forego rappels, and downclimb, then the 30-35m ropes might suffice. No?

Oh, also, RickF brought up the issue of thin ropes not working so well with belay devices. The two times I briefly used a thin single through a device, or as a munther, I thought it was fine, but these were also on relatively low angle snow slopes where stress levels were low.

Anyone have problems using these thin ropes through belay devices up high?


I think USUALLY 30 M 8mm rope is enough. Especially if one can down-climb some of the exposed terrain. If one needs a 60 you can actually bring the 30M rope and 30M of pull cord. Really gets the weight down, but you need to know how to use it. There was an accident not too long ago when a climber in Yosemite died because he did not set it up correctly.

If your goal is to rap U notch or the Nose 30M will not work. If you need it for a small rap or to protect an exposed section somewhere it will usually work fine.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:09 pm

Vitaliy M. wrote:I think USUALLY 30 M 8mm rope is enough. Especially if one can down-climb some of the exposed terrain. If one needs a 60 you can actually bring the 30M rope and 30M of pull cord. Really gets the weight down, but you need to know how to use it. There was an accident not too long ago when a climber in Yosemite died because he did not set it up correctly.

If your goal is to rap U notch or the Nose 30M will not work. If you need it for a small rap or to protect an exposed section somewhere it will usually work fine.


Please indicate what CLASS 4+ Route per the OP (in essence a modern day Class 5) anywhere on this planet, you have personally climbed, led & rapped, solely with a 30m length rope. Thank you.

BTW Chad, neither of the three routes you posted doing with a 30m rope have any sections/pitches rated at CLASS 4+ (modern day Class 5).




Back to the OP:



The 50 or 60m Mammut Serenity 8.9 is light yet thick enough and allows for enough drag through any belay device to not be a detriment to safety. One can also purchase a device specifically designed for skinnier ropes if they choose to use one. This will remove any concerns regarding potential hazardous slippage through ones device in any conditions.

Here are some devices that are specifically designed for skinnier rope diameters and can also be used in the Full Auto Lock mode for additional safety:
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Another factor that should always be considered is in the event that a self rescue is required for an injured partner, a longer cord will always make things easier and faster in evacuating/lowering the injured partner. Golden rule of being proactive and planning for a worse case scenario will always make things easier if God forbid something of this nature occurs. Too many folks these days head back into the BC not prepared to initiate nor adequately know how to initiate and complete a self rescue and depend on others to bail their asses out of trouble. Hence, the steady increase in SAR responses throughout North America.
Last edited by The Chief on Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby Vitaliy M. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:00 pm

30M would be good enough to do something like summit blocks of Thunderbolt or Starlight. It was good enough on Clarence King and Gardnier (which are class 4), CK has a 5th class summit block. For normal route or NE ridge of BCS 30M rope would be plenty enough if one just needs a couple of spots to protect, or for summit block. NW ridge of North peak would be ok with one, although I did not bring a rope for that. We used a 30M rope for 3 ppl on NW ridge of Mt. Clark too, which has sections to about 5.5. There are always occasions to use a 50 or a 60, but you can get away with 30 on some.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:09 pm

Taking TWO 30m's is indeed something I do with multiple clients. It works for raps and pro/natural hang up free (slabs etc) extended leads.

Something that needs to be considered is that extending (by tying the two together) the two lines in order to facilitate a longer "lead" is not possible if pro is being placed and the potential of natural hang ups due to the knot getting stuck on flakes etc.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:13 pm

I would concur that 30m is more than sufficient for most Sierra class 4 routes.
That of course presupposes that you are highly comfortable on class 3 terrain and occasional soloing on class 4 terrain, which probably encompasses most folks who go up there without a guide and knowing full well what they are in for. Chief is most often leading folks on these climbs that do not fall into this category which probably justifies the longer rope in order to avoid spicy downclimbing. Context is everything.


The Chief wrote:Please indicate what CLASS 4+ Route per the OP (in essence a modern day Class 5) anywhere on this planet, you have personally climbed, led & rapped, solely with a 30m length rope. Thank you.


There are plenty of routes where this would suffice. Any peak with a class 4+ summit block for example, including The Hermit, Thunderbolt, and Clarence King. But there are also plenty of route where the class 4 is short. Dawin's East Face, Right Side, has a short class 4 section on the lower part of the NE Ridge. Secor calls this a 60-foot chimney, but the lower 30ft are easy to scramble. The traverse from Ruby to Mills is class 4+ and was accomplished with a single rappel of about 25ft. Leconte's NW Chute has a 15-foot class 4 waterfall pitch. I could go on, but to answer your question as written I would say "none" because so far I haven't led any Sierra class 4 routes using a rope. Not that they don't exist where I will need to, but so far I haven't been on them.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:18 pm

So Bob, please share that if you were to take a rope on any CLASS 4+ route, you would personally take a 30m vice a 50m? All this in the event a scenario occurs that self rescue on any of the above routes you indicated, is required?

Thanks.

Interesting to note Bob that in your early TR's of some of these CLASS 4+ Sierra routes, you indeed indicate utilizing a 50m or longer cord.

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ade_1.html

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... olt_1.html

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ing_2.html

Etc.

BTW Bob, I fully concur with your opinion regarding one's experience and comfort level being a deciding factor in basically "free soloing" these CLASS 4+ routes. Something for many here to consider when setting out and attempting to do so.



What is really interesting to note as well is that some are insisting that the taking of a 30m vice a 50m saves weight. The totally savings is no more than 2.5 to 3 lbs. The weight of a Nalgene full of water. Thus sacrificing upwards of 33 feet of cord. 33 feet that indeed could make the vital difference in the event of an emergency and self rescue is called for.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby asmrz » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:15 pm

Another interesting subject.

Me think that one should also think about utility and cost. Personally, I don't have the money to keep buying ropes that will be specific to variety of uses.

So I have 10.1 mm 60m rope for the hard work and a pair of the lightest double ropes possible. A few years ago they were the Mammut Phoenix, 8mm, 60 m doubles. I cut those to 50m because I couldn't get them at that length and I don't need the extra weight of 60m. That's all the ropes I have. When I need to take something for a 4th or easy 5th, I take ONE of the doubles. I do not intend to take dives on it, so for me, that works. Also, if I find myself in need of rapping, I have a reasonably long rope to do it with. The extra weight is worth it when unexpected problems show up. Works for me.

But I do a lot of scrambling and also a bit more involved technical climbing so my ideas come from that point of view. I do not have any need for 30 m rope in my collection, but I understand why someone could find it usefull for just occasional move or two. If you just want to stay with 4th or easy 5th class (like the OP) the 30m rope might do it.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby Princess Buttercup » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:22 pm

The Chief wrote:
MooseTracks wrote:Oh, and a 35m Petzl Dragonfly 8.2mm.


I am very interested in knowing which Sierra Class 4+ route/s you have done & rapped off of with that 35m Dragonfly. Thanks.


Actually, I just got it for the Middle Palisade glacier.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby x15x15 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:59 pm

Vitaliy M. wrote:Chief, do you carry a 4-season tent with you when you ice climb in Lee Vining just in case a storm comes in? You should, just in case. Along with a week long supply of food, in case the storm stays.


i'm trying to stay out of this discussion. i don't carry a rope for sierra class 4+ routes. i hate ropes. have i been turned around, yup, and have i wished i had one when i didn't? yup! but then again, i don't guide, and i refuse to climb with just anyone. so, moot discussion for me. i also have been playing in the hills for not quite as long as the chief, but pretty damn long and i have gained experience to know what i can and can not do.

it sound like the chief is erroring on the safe side, EXACTLY how it should be on the funny SP discussion boards. personally, i find these discussions scary. but hey, cool with me. i like being scared.

i also understand the point vitaliy is trying to make, and his exaggerations just points to his ignorance. however, VM is sure getting out and getting his experience, and one day i am sure his credentials will be rock solid. but until then, i would trust the chief's experience more than VM. this aint disney land and some of us will be dead as a direct result of climbing.

how many of you understand you may die and early and painful death on your fun weekend jaunt? even at your fun, home grown crag... is everyone ready to die? hope so. this just helps me put these discussions into perspective.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby Bob Burd » Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:34 am

The Chief wrote:Interesting to note Bob that in your early TR's of some of these CLASS 4+ Sierra routes, you indeed indicate utilizing a 50m or longer cord.

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ade_1.html

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... olt_1.html

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ing_2.html


What I said was:
Bob Burd wrote:... because so far I haven't led any Sierra class 4 routes using a rope.

Be careful where you're throwing the extra "+" around, because "class 4" is not the same as "class 4+". All of those routes you listed are class 5 according to Secor. But to show you how magnanimous I am, I'll acknowledge that Roper has the North Pal route as class 4. You got me.

The Chief wrote:What is really interesting to note as well is that some are insisting that the taking of a 30m vice a 50m saves weight. The totally savings is no more than 2.5 to 3 lbs. The weight of a Nalgene full of water. Thus sacrificing upwards of 33 feet of cord. 33 feet that indeed could make the vital difference in the event of an emergency and self rescue is called for.


I don't have a bunch of ropes so for me it's a choice between a 50m/10.5mm rope when I'm doing something serious (class 5, not just a summit block) or a 30m/8.5mm rope for class 4 or "just in case". The difference is significant. And while 33 feet of extra cord may make a vital difference in the event of an emergency, it is also possible that not it having may be crucial in being able to make that lieback because my pack isn't too heavy, or being forced into an unplanned bivy because I'm too exhausted from carrying the extra weight. My point is that mountaineering involves a great many tradeoffs and it's simply impossible to say that having a 60m rope is always better than having a 30m rope.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby MoapaPk » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:18 am

mrchad9 wrote:
The Chief wrote:BTW, the Rap I found for the Chockstone entails no gear/runners etc. Had you done the Chockstone, you would know that there is a nice large sized upward angled flat boulder outcropping on the top left section of the slab (visible in my posted pic above) that one just needs to sling the rope over nicely and then rap. The pull is clean and free of any obstructions.

Ahhh... but it requires a 50 m rope, which is not otherwise necessary on that particular route of Mount Humphreys.

It was actually hailing when I got back to that chockstone on my descent, thus I did not really feel like playing around and rapping over chockstones regardless of the length rope I was carrying... considering the easy walk-around.


Yeah, but you also used less rope on Middle Palisade, and we know how that worked out.

(tiptoes away quietly...)

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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby The Chief » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:33 am

Bob Burd wrote:Be careful where you're throwing the extra "+" around, because "class 4" is not the same as "class 4+". All of those routes you listed are class 5 according to Secor. But to show you how magnanimous I am, I'll acknowledge that Roper has the North Pal route as class 4. You got me.

The Chief wrote:What is really interesting to note as well is that some are insisting that the taking of a 30m vice a 50m saves weight. The totally savings is no more than 2.5 to 3 lbs. The weight of a Nalgene full of water. Thus sacrificing upwards of 33 feet of cord. 33 feet that indeed could make the vital difference in the event of an emergency and self rescue is called for.


I don't have a bunch of ropes so for me it's a choice between a 50m/10.5mm rope when I'm doing something serious (class 5, not just a summit block) or a 30m/8.5mm rope for class 4 or "just in case". The difference is significant. And while 33 feet of extra cord may make a vital difference in the event of an emergency, it is also possible that not it having may be crucial in being able to make that lieback because my pack isn't too heavy, or being forced into an unplanned bivy because I'm too exhausted from carrying the extra weight. My point is that mountaineering involves a great many tradeoffs and it's simply impossible to say that having a 60m rope is always better than having a 30m rope.


I am not "throwing the "+"" around anywhere. Many of those routes that are Class 5 "according to Secor" were originally rated Class 4 in Voge's guide (which you know is the original Sierra guide book which was first printed and pub'd in 1954) per the Sierra Club Rating System.

Another note of interest in all this, the original Sierra Club Rating System prior to the Yose Decimal System, defines Class 4 as such (per Voge's Guide): Ropes are needed by all for belays. Pitons may be desirable for anchoring all belays as any fall will be fatal in nature. Point, Class 4 was the top of the heap prior to the Yose System adding Class 5 in the late 50's. Thus any route established prior to the addition of Class 5 in the late 50's that would be categorized in the highest of difficulty, was rated Class 4 and they required the use of ropes by all. The standard length of hemp rope during Clyde's era was 135-150 feet in length.

Like any "+" that has been added to any number within this system, it merely indicates the fact that the route is more difficult than the lower rating number it is added to. More of a warning to those to prepare themselves for a tougher difficulty of climbing that will entail a stronger ability and knowledge to safely complete the route.

I also need to add Bob, that if 3 extra Pounds in yours or anyone's pack makes a difference between bivying and/or completing a move, then IMO, they do not belong any where near that route.

Also, the introduction of the single 30m Double rated rope came about some eight or so years ago by guides in Chamonix for glacier travel and belaying their clients up short stiffer approach sections prior to the actual selected climb. All to alleviate the cumbersome Shortening "Guide" Coil of a 50 or 60m rope. I need to add that all guides still carried a standard length rope or an additional 30m length in case of emergency and self-rescue, per their services req's.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby granjero » Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:18 am

I am a Martian and am confused as well.

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Rapping is sketchy business and should be done as efficiently as possible if at all. Embrace downclimbing as an art and climb safe!


On the descent, some may choose to need a stabilizer.
I choose Starship Enterprise with the Vaporizerrrrrrrrrrrr
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:50 pm

I'm trying to sift some wisdom from this thread, so I'll expose my non-climber, caveman sensibilities.

The only uses I have for a rope are for a 1) handline; 2) top belay or running belay; 3) rappel. I never expect a leader fall, because if it's that stiff a climb for the most experienced person in the group, we aren't gonna do it. So our cordage is static.

The Chief may have some good points, but with all the conflict in the air, they don't seem to be getting through.
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Re: Sierra Class 4+ rope

Postby mrchad9 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:03 pm

The Chief wrote:
The rappelling technique I utilized over the chockstone has been in the Safe Operational Protocols of the UIAGM for well over 100 plus years.

Amazingly, both Gaston Rebufatt and Walter Bonatti utilized this technique on a regular basis for most of their personal climbing and guiding careers. Oh, and they wrote most of those protocols for the UIAGM and the Chamonix Guides Service's modern day protocols. Do your homework Chad and you will find that the Chamonix Guides Company is the oldest guiding operation in the world and the foundation of many if not most of today's climbing safety protocols.


BTW, the dude that FA'd most of the routes in question, he also used this technique regularly.

Is it safer than walking around it?

No.

You need to reread Bob Burd's post...

Bob Burd wrote:My point is that mountaineering involves a great many tradeoffs and it's simply impossible to say that having a 60m rope is always better than having a 30m rope.

You seem to have a really hard time understanding that point. Just because someone doesn't do something your way doesn't mean that they are unsafe. It doesn't even mean that your way is better.
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