Purchasing a Vertical System at B&M Stores?

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Purchasing a Vertical System at B&M Stores?

Postby Ozymandias » Feb 16, 2007 10:25 am

Hi all! My g/f and I took the DCG vertical course last night. It was awesome (thanks to Andy and Mark for spending time teaching it)! I'm afraid we should've bought equipment prior to the course -- we're both so excited that we want to go NOW! Even if we can't con someone experienced to join us at an easy pit, we could still practice on some cliffs / walls nearby (we're both climbers).

So, there's the conundrum. Can you build a complete vertical system via B&M (brick and mortar) stores alone? (Just for the basic "frog" system). We're located in Atlanta. Let's look at each component.

1. Handle Ascender -- REI has the Petzl "Ascension" online. In store, too?
2. Chest Ascender -- REI has the Petzl "Croll" online. In store, too?
3. Chest Harness -- We have excess webbing. Where to buy a buckle?
4. Cowstail / Footloop -- Can be fashioned from std. dynamic rope, right?
5. D-Biner, Addtl 'Biners -- Most definitely at REI.
6. Rack -- ???

That last one is the one I'm not sure about. Do any B&M stores carry racks? I like the look of the BMS Micro... But really, is there anyone in Atlanta that carries ANY brand racks?

Thanks for the thoughts...! We might just have to wait. :cry:
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Postby JoeyS » Feb 16, 2007 10:31 am

How far is Bethleham, GA from Atlanta? You might be able to go to Inner Mountain Outfitters and buy over the counter. Their # is 770 307 4686
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Postby Ozymandias » Feb 16, 2007 10:37 am

JoeyS wrote:How far is Bethleham, GA from Atlanta? You might be able to go to Inner Mountain Outfitters and buy over the counter. Their # is 770 307 4686


Joey -- Thanks! Didn't even know about them. Bethlehem is ENE of Atlanta about an hour. Do you know if they have an actual storefront? Or is it a "by arrangement only" if you want to transact business in person?
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Postby caverdoc » Feb 16, 2007 10:40 am

REI should have everything you need. I've seen racks in some REI stores (Minnesota) but if you strike out there, you might try an industrial safety store where window washers buy gear.
A chest strap can be made by buying two 1" d-rings (metal) at REI. Loop them onto a ten foot piece of webbing (or shorter if you're smaller than me), fold the end back on itself and tie an overhand knot trapping the two d-rings. I learned this trick from Phil Whitfield last summer at Gold River and have to admit: simple but efficient!
Make your cowstails out of dynamic rope. Make your foot loop out of static rope/cord, about 8mm.
You can also check out Georgia Tech's outdoor club website, they have a pretty good into to the frog. Probably the best online article is Matt Oliphant's article (first printed in the NSS News). There is a link to it on John Ganter's technical caving article, which you can find linked on the Inner Mountain Outfitters web site.
If you're in Atlanta, You're probably not that far from Jeff and Nina at IMO and they WILL have everything that you need!
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Postby Tim White » Feb 16, 2007 10:45 am

Go see Nina at IMO....you best bet to find what you need. Any you will be buying from REAL cavers that know the stuff they sell.

(BTW: I should know...I work part-time at the Burford REI) :doh:

And as a novice, stay away from the micro rack, go with the standard SMC 6-bar stainless steel bar rack.
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Postby JoeyS » Feb 16, 2007 10:52 am

Ozymandias wrote:
JoeyS wrote:How far is Bethleham, GA from Atlanta? You might be able to go to Inner Mountain Outfitters and buy over the counter. Their # is 770 307 4686


Joey -- Thanks! Didn't even know about them. Bethlehem is ENE of Atlanta about an hour. Do you know if they have an actual storefront? Or is it a "by arrangement only" if you want to transact business in person?


I would call first, but I doubt they mind at all. Tell Nina I said hello, eh?
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Postby caverdoc » Feb 16, 2007 10:52 am

When I started my post I hadn't realized that IMO was close to Atlanta. Definitely go there and let them kit you out!
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Postby Ozymandias » Feb 16, 2007 11:07 am

Thanks for the suggestions, all! IMO sounds like a great place, just hope they're not too expensive...

We'll do the research and see if there's much of a price difference. We'll definitely go the value route on some of the minor components. I like the D-ring idea. Still poor twenty-somethings, so we don't have a ton of cash to burn. And these systems are EXPENSIVE!

Especially if we decide to each get a "safety ascender" like they showed us at the DCG training. Another $160 (for the two of us). Ouch! Wish we could rent all this stuff somewhere...
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Postby JoeyS » Feb 16, 2007 11:13 am

Their prices are just as good as REI's (but no dividend), and they have a better selection of cave related and SRT gear than REI.
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Postby caverdan » Feb 16, 2007 1:05 pm

What's your life worth to you? If you want to make sure your getting the best equiptment and advice to put it all together into a working package, IMO is the way to go. If you already know what your looking for and how to use it, then REI is probably a little cheaper, but your on your own for customer service unless you know a caver that works there, like Tim.
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Postby Dane » Feb 16, 2007 1:30 pm

As an FYI, On Rope 1 in Chattanooga does rent equipment - mainly on the weekend but they may have daily rates.
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Postby Ozymandias » Feb 16, 2007 4:46 pm

Dane wrote:As an FYI, On Rope 1 in Chattanooga does rent equipment - mainly on the weekend but they may have daily rates.

Dane, I wasn't aware of that. Sounds like a good alternative... I didn't see anything mentioned on their website, do you know anything about their pricing or availability? Or does anyone else have experience doing such a thing? Any other impoverished souls out there? :-)
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 6:48 pm

We'll do the research and see if there's much of a price difference. We'll definitely go the value route on some of the minor components. I like the D-ring idea. Still poor twenty-somethings, so we don't have a ton of cash to burn. And these systems are EXPENSIVE!


Well...true and not true so to speak...

With some hobbies you can spend a ton or a little....not so much with vertical caving....

You NEED a harness....you NEED 2 to 3 mechanical ascenders....you NEED a descender....and your standard sized rack is cheap, durable and easy..so get a rack....

If looking to save money....DONT buy fancy carabiners...the simple cheap ones are as good as anything else..and dont buy a dozen of em...just enough to get by....

Dont buy fancy links or rings either.....simple cheap steel ones are just as good..just a bit heavier/rusty....but actually probably safer than fancy alloy ones...

With the ascenders/rack buying at IMO versus the best deal you can find on the internet would probably cost you at most 20 percent more...and maybe even less...and being able to SEE IT, try it, and buy it from people who UNDERSTAND the needs of a vertical caver is WORTH IT..and considering shipping and handling still might be cheaper in the long run...

You can only waste money on vertical if you buy fancy stuff, stuff you dont actually need or use...or buy the WRONG things or things that don't fit..

Tell the IMO folks you are really trying to do it on the cheap and I am sure they will do their best to accomodate you...

with a frog you can even get by with 2 mechanical ascenders each...and carry a third homemade prussik (or even a couple) that can be made for a few bucks....that will save you 50 to a 100 dollars right there for the both of you...

And simple harnesses will be a bit cheaper than fancy ones....just MAKE sure its the right kind for a FROG system...the attachment point for the D ring/mechanical ascender (croll) need to be LOW....like down in your crotch low...not floating up high on your belly...

If you can take an avid frogging caver with you on your purchase trip that would probably help too....

The harness is probabably the only risky purchase outa the whole thing and thats because you dont REALLY know how good/bad/functional/disfunctional it will be until you use it for awhile....

Everything else you buy you pretty much have to have...

Now you COULD "frog" only using homemade prussiks and then your only major purchase is a harness and rack...its slow until you get good at it...but if you are patient...and the drop isnt too deep....and its dry....it will work fine....and to be honest as a begining vertical caver you REALLY should stick to shallow/dry pits/caves to start....and you still have hundreds/thousands to choose from!

Also remember that a pit being a little deeper makes a BIG difference//particularly as a beginer....

You may go do a 50 footer and think...hey that wasnt too bad....but when you go and do a 100 footer...it will FEEL ALOT deeper climbing out than that 50 footer!

Blll
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 7:17 pm

Opps

forgot a few things...

get "cheap" biners...but they MUST still be LOCKING biners...clean em good after every trip....work the locking part to get the grit out....and mabye a very light oiling to the threads after a wash and dry...

You CAN do a really cheap and functional frog system this way...

rack

good/appropriate for froging harness and D ring

ONE mechanical "croll" ascender for attachment to harness...

home tied/sewn chest harness/webbing....not so much tight to hold up the croll...just tight enough to keep you from falling outa it and the harness should you turn upside down

You THEN use some bunggee cord that goes under one arm, up the back, across the opposite shoulder....then back down the croll....THIS is what keeps the croll taunt and sliding up the rope as you frog....NOT the webbing/chest harness....

Then for your "upper handled" ascender you use a prussik instead...and maybe a second one floating above the lower/main one if you really feel you need three points of attachment....

Its almost as good as a two mechanical ascender frog system....very close to one when you get the hang of the prussik....and MUCH better than a two/three prussik system...

So now the only major purchase is rack, croll, and harness...

The KEY to frogging is NO slop in the croll....when you start to sit down again...your butt should drop very little before you are hanging from the croll....and standing up using your FEET/LEGS for standing up - NOT pulling yourself up by the arms...is also a critical aspect for efficient frogging...

Blll
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Postby Dangerjudy » Feb 19, 2007 4:38 pm

Entire Gonzo Guano Gear frog system from IMO for $210:

"GGG Frog Chest Harness, Petzl Croll chest ascender, GGG Adjustable Frog Footloop, Petzl Expedition handled ascender, MR7 quicklink, safety strap, double cowstail with two non-locking biners, and GGG Cave Harness with MR10 Half-Round quicklink. "
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