Caving Knife

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Re: WWYD? rebelay failure when too high passing a knot

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 6, 2008 8:20 am

DrPrusik wrote:There is no prussic - there is only Prusik. Prusik should be capitalized for it is the very good name of a person (Dr. Karl Prusik). It has a little 'k' at the end and a big 'P' at the beginning. It has no 'c' and only one 's'

It is the Prusik to spell right, to use nicely, and to say with grace. Hello?

Hello?

Dr. Prusik, with all due respect, I must apologize. The last birthday card I sent you said, "Happy 111th Birthday!" But according to your profile, you are but a mere 98 years old. :oops:

Did you ever need to use a knife while climbing in Austria?
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Re: WWYD? rebelay failure when too high passing a knot

Postby paul » Mar 6, 2008 8:58 am

David_Campen wrote:
However, there are instances where the solution to a serious problem involves cutting the rope.

In the examples you gave, other solutions are possible. In the first scenario I think it would have been better to use her Petzl Basic or prussic loop to upclimb and recover her ascender and foot loop and if she didn't have either a spare Basic or prussic then I have to question her priorities in thinking that carrying a knife was more important.


The problem was that she had no Prusik loop, the Petzl Basic (i.r her footloop jammer) was suspended between her and the jammed footloop via the very tight safety link (as normal here in the UK she would only have her Croll on her harness maillon and a second jammer for the footloop) and MOST importantly there was no time. The caver on the rope below had been hung up for some time and was already complaining of problems with his legs and could not extricate himself. The priority was to get him back on level ground and not solve the puzzle of how else to avoid cutting the rope. As it was, the rope being cut was the safety link from harness maillon to footloop jammer NOT the SRT rope. In this case my point was that if she hadn't got a knife, then things may have escalated to a more serious position. And she did very well considering they were a few hours into a large system with other help not easily available to hand. Plus she was on the spot and not sitting at home thinking up various alternative solutions.

There are indeed situations where recovering an injured caver during a mid-rope rescue and, depending on the rigging (re-belays above? re-belays below? length of available rope, etc) where cutting the rope might prove the best solution.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby paul » Mar 6, 2008 9:12 am

Scott McCrea wrote:I have to agree with Dave's comments about Paul's scenarios. Cutting certainly got the caver out, but was probably not the safest way to do it. An extra ascender or Prusik may have helped in #1 and down-climbing 200' is a better option than cutting rope, in my mind.

Wyandotte, don't forget to consider the mental state of the stuck caver. He is probably irrational, scared, jumpy, frustrated, cold, angry, etc. Not the best time to be whipping out a blade.

I have a hard time figuring out which twisted rope is which on my couch much less hanging in a waterfall. Cutting one would be similar to MacGyver trying to decide whether to cut the ticking bomb's red or green wire.

I think that sometimes cavers that have easily accessible knives, see them as easy ways out. Which they can be, just ask Goob. He got out of it real quick.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/127913/get_the_rope/


Strangely enough, I was part of the local Cave Rescue team called out last Sunday evening for another similar incident on the same rebelay in the same cave. Only this time the caver was descending. It is a tricky rebelay half way between two 200 foot or so sections in a VERY large shaft and very exposed with little to stand on. We had been called out because the caver had been hanging there for quite a while and when the first of the resue team got to the rebelay, the hung-up caver had safely descended to the foot of the pitch and she and here companion were escorted out via another route. The shaft in question has had a lot of publicity in the media recently and perhaps is attracting cavers who are not yet proficient enough in SRT.

Strangely enough, bearing in mind the current topic, when the rescue team member got to the rebelay, there was a cowstail clipped there with a cut end, so it must have been a problem releasing the cowstail which was causing the hang-up.

My point in all this is that it is indeed very dangerous to start wielding a knife when hanging on a rope, and if you ever have the need to cut something while doing so (whether another item such as safety-link, cowstail or in extreme cases, the rope itself) - yes, you should exercise EXTREME caution. BUT that should not preclude the precaution of always carrying a knife. There may come a time when having the knife available could make a large difference to the outcome.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby David_Campen » Mar 6, 2008 4:08 pm

The problem was that she had no Prusik loop, the Petzl Basic (i.r her footloop jammer) was suspended between her and

Yes, I understood the problem - the caver made the mistake of carrying a knife instead of an extra ascending device. She should have been carrying either a Prusik loop, Petzl Basic or some other ascending device in _addition_ to her footloop jammer and chest ascender. If she felt that carrying an extra ascending device was too much additional weight or bulk then she should have made room for the extra ascending device by not carrying a knife.

That said, the scenario mentioned by someone else of a foot loop (or cave pack on tether) getting jammed below, out of reach, while ascending is a case where a knife may be the only solution. Another case might be when rappeling down a waterfall into a pool of water.

And, back to the caver rappeling to help some one stuck at a rebelay - after abandoning her only ascending device she is very lucky that she didn't end up as a second person needing rescue.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby NZcaver » Mar 6, 2008 6:37 pm

David_Campen wrote:Yes, I understood the problem - the caver made the mistake of carrying a knife instead of an extra ascending device. She should have been carrying either a Prusik loop, Petzl Basic or some other ascending device in _addition_ to her footloop jammer and chest ascender.

Continuing to dig into this can of worms... technically the Frog system is a 2-ascender system, not a 3-ascender system.

That said, many froggers consider it prudent to carry a spare ascender (or Prusik loop) and a small knife (or cutter/shears) - just in case. Why would you feel the need to choose one over the other, when clearly each can offer some solutions the other can't?
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 6, 2008 6:55 pm

Maybe we can come up with some practice techniques that might simulate these problems. Then we can all try them and figure out how to escape without cutting. Maybe we can all learn something.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby paul » Mar 7, 2008 8:02 am

NZcaver wrote:
David_Campen wrote:Yes, I understood the problem - the caver made the mistake of carrying a knife instead of an extra ascending device. She should have been carrying either a Prusik loop, Petzl Basic or some other ascending device in _addition_ to her footloop jammer and chest ascender.

Continuing to dig into this can of worms... technically the Frog system is a 2-ascender system, not a 3-ascender system.


Absolutely correct. Plus as I already said - there wasn't the time to start getting out spare jammers, Prusik loops or whatever and then sort out the jammed footloop: her priority was to get the hung-up caver off the rope. He had been hung-up for quite a long time, was becoming exhausted and complained of loss of feeling in his legs. Her footloop was jammed above her rendering her immobile. She had a knife so she cut her safety link, abandoned the footloop and jammer and rescued the stuck caver. In fact I'm not even sure she didn't have a spare jammer anyway - I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Far from resulting in a rescue situation (she is in fact a fellow member of the Cave Resue Team for this region of the UK and fellow Team members plus Team Controllers were full of praise for her quick actions). She managed to release the caver (without using the knife :big grin: ) and get the two of them safely to the bottom of the pitch.

If she hadn't got that knife - sure she could have sorted out the jammed footloop after some time - spare jammer or not. But, by that time, what condition would the stuck caver have been in?

NZcaver wrote:That said, many froggers consider it prudent to carry a spare ascender (or Prusik loop) and a small knife (or cutter/shears) - just in case. Why would you feel the need to choose one over the other, when clearly each can offer some solutions the other can't?


I do - but not everybody does. On vertical trips I always carry a spare jammer (a Croll - because it can be used in either position in a Frog setup in case of failure and still works as a spare jammer for hauling, Z-rigs, etc.), a Mini-traxion (combined puley and jammer - again for hauling, Z-rigs, etc,) and a Prusik loop. I use the Prusik loop with a larks foot to carry the knife - not around my neck but in a small bag along with the items listed above.

Scott McCrea wrote:Maybe we can come up with some practice techniques that might simulate these problems. Then we can all try them and figure out how to escape without cutting. Maybe we can all learn something.
Maybe we can come up with some practice techniques that might simulate these problems. Then we can all try them and figure out how to escape without cutting. Maybe we can all learn something.


Sure, that is an excellent idea. And we will all learn something.

But, I still maintain that a knife is an important piece of equipment and may prove just as vital as spare jammers. Prusik loops, etc. (if not more so) in some cases. The reason I started repling to this thread was in response to the point of view that you should NEVER carry a knife bcause it will be a dangerous thing to have around when on an SRT rope.

Of course I'm not advocating cutting everything in sight at every opportunity and at the slightest excuse - it should be a last resort. And we all agree that extreme caution should be exercised any time a knife is used when anywhere near an SRT rope. But there may be a time when no matter what you have practiced on the surface in controlled conditions when you have all the time in the world to ponder and try various alternatives, the only solution may be to cut the rope.

For example. A caver is mid-way up a pitch with multiple rebelays. He is knocked unconscious by falling rock. You are above him at th etop of the pitch and your priority is to get him off the rope within 10 minutes as he may fall victim to Harness Suspension Syndrome. You have a spare rope (possibly de-rigged from a long pitch further below in the system) which is more than long enough to reach the foot of the pitch.

Do you:

A) Ignore the spare rope (of course not). Then abseil down until you reach the tight section the unconscious caver is on and then change over to down-Prusiking and perform a mid-rope rescue? Not enough time. They could be dead in a very short time.

B) Abseil down on the spare rope and waste time performing a mid-rope rescue by connecting him to yourself via cowstails, releasing the caver's jammers and then descend to the bottom (remember - you only have 10 minutes! And you will have spent some time tying on the spare rope and abseiling down...).

c) Abseil down and then connect the two of you together via each other's cowstails, then get out that knife you always carry along with spare jammer, etc. and CAREFULLY make sure you have the correct rope (the one the unconscious caver is on) then release the caver by cutting his SRT rope and then descend together on yours?
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 7, 2008 8:23 am

paul wrote:c) Abseil down and then connect the two of you together via each other's cowstails, then get out that knife you always carry along with spare jammer, etc. and CAREFULLY make sure you have the correct rope (the one the unconscious caver is on) then release the caver by cutting his SRT rope and then descend together on yours?

Have you tried this? How much of a shock load is there on the system/anchors?

When I see the word "carefully" in a set of instructions, I worry.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby paul » Mar 7, 2008 8:55 am

Scott McCrea wrote:
paul wrote:c) Abseil down and then connect the two of you together via each other's cowstails, then get out that knife you always carry along with spare jammer, etc. and CAREFULLY make sure you have the correct rope (the one the unconscious caver is on) then release the caver by cutting his SRT rope and then descend together on yours?

Have you tried this? How much of a shock load is there on the system/anchors?

When I see the word "carefully" in a set of instructions, I worry.


Luckily, I've not had to do this yet. But I have seen it demonstrated. And if you have access to any of Andy Sparrow's "Cave Safe II" videos or the more recent DVD "Speleo Vertical", you can see an example where cutting the rope is used in an SRT rescue.

You are hanging from a long section of rope, remember, as you abseiled down past the rope rigged with rebelays. You have the injured caver attached to you when his rope is cut, his weight also comes onto your rope as well as your own. If there is a fall factor it will be VERY small (say you're some 50 foot down on that length of spare and drop 3 feet when his weight comes onto you - FF = 3/50 = 0.06). About the same as geting onto a rope part way up a pitch in a mineshaft from an intermediate level. Due to the stretch in the rope you drop a few feet and bounce a bit - again FF is VERY low.

Yes - I take note when I see the word "carefully" in a set of instructions. But I don't worry - I do what it says and take care.

After all, we are talking about possibly saving someone's life. Being suspended in a harness while immobile can result in death surprisingly quickly (try googling "harness supension trauma" - I don't have the resources but was informed at a British Cave Rescue Coucil meeting that it was strongly advised to not suspend test "victims" in harnesses and feign unconsciousness in order to investigate HSS - there have been deaths in Mexico and France while investigating this).

This is no time to start think out complicated alternatives which you may think up in order to avoid cutting anything and worry that you shouldn't even dare to carry a knife - never mind use it.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby Rick Brinkman » Mar 7, 2008 12:56 pm

I always carry a Leatherman Juice S2(the orange one). It has a great selection of tools in a small package. The only thing I miss from my older Leatherman, is the ruler.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby NZcaver » Mar 7, 2008 3:53 pm

paul wrote:
Scott McCrea wrote:
paul wrote:c) Abseil down and then connect the two of you together via each other's cowstails, then get out that knife you always carry along with spare jammer, etc. and CAREFULLY make sure you have the correct rope (the one the unconscious caver is on) then release the caver by cutting his SRT rope and then descend together on yours?

Have you tried this? How much of a shock load is there on the system/anchors?

When I see the word "carefully" in a set of instructions, I worry.


Luckily, I've not had to do this yet. But I have seen it demonstrated.

Ditto. I've seen it demonstrated during rescue training, as a "last resort" alternative to doing a traditional pickoff.

A small shock load like that should be no issue for properly constructed rigging.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Mar 7, 2008 5:04 pm

NZcaver wrote:Ditto. I've seen it demonstrated during rescue training, as a "last resort" alternative to doing a traditional pickoff.

A small shock load like that should be no issue for properly constructed rigging.


There's also a pickoff technique for when you are on the same rope as the patient and have access to the tail of the rope (I think it was in Alpine Caving Techniques), as far as I remember it involves using your ascender or similar as an anchor on the mainline then attaching the tail of the rope to it, attach yourself to the patient and rig either thier descender or your own on the newly anchored tail as high as possible and lock it off, you can then CAREFULLY cut the rope just above thier ascenders, there's a small shock load onto the new rope but not huge and you would not need much extra rope than the pitch is rigged with (a little extra would help because you will use some more rope for knots etc)

Again this is a last resort where several other methods of pickoff were not be suitable. But it doesn't involve you lifting the patient so is good in that respect, it also involves minimal gear. :kewl: (you could give up your hand ascender if you don't have a spare, so a knife would be the only extra gear required).

I've not seen this done in practice or for real.
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Re: Caving Knife

Postby dagarner_tn » Nov 23, 2013 9:54 am

Here is a great video on how to make your favorite knife glow in the dark. its supper easy!! http://makezine.com/2012/10/22/how-to-g ... e-handles/ :woohoo:

And here is a good swiss army style glow in the dark knife. http://www.scoutstuff.org/stay-glow-climbers-knife.html
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