Torn on which descender to use.

Discuss vertical caving, equipment, & techniques. Also visit the NSS Vertical Section.

Moderator: Tim White

Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Dec 29, 2010 12:11 pm

Next year I will be spending a couple of weeks doing some very deep (1000m+) caving with some very technical Eastern European folks. I have narrowed my descender choice down to two: SRTE Stop and my custom titanium micro rack. Gotta say I am totally torn on which one to use. Here are my main considerations:

- SRTE Stop is much faster at rebelays than micro rack. Will increase efficiency when in a group negotiating sequential pitches.
- Ti micro rack is way lighter than SRTE Stop. Like, big-time. This will be a considerable advantage when ascending out with a heavy pack.
- While I am more than familiar enough with stop-style descenders to use them safely on this trip, there is no question I have significantly more on-rope time with micro racks. Not sure if that translates into added safety, and if it does is it significant at all?

And there is one final consideration which probably shouldn't factor in, but I just can't ignore it: My perception from meeting European cavers, albeit limited, is that USA SRT in general (read: racks, here) is at best smirked at and at worst frowned upon. If I show up at the expedition with my micro rack, is someone going to be averse to caving with me? I can tolerate being the butt of a joke or two, but I don't want to make anybody uncomfortable or fearful. Do any of you have enough experience with the Euro caving community to characterize what their reaction might be? It annoys me that I'm even worried about this, but I can't deny it.

I have to stress here that I am very confident in my abilities and am not worried about my safety when using either device. And I am a strong caver and will probably be fairly efficient either way. At the moment I am leaning towards the rack just because it is so amazingly light weight, and I know the hard part is going to be on the way out.

What do you think?
User avatar
Lava
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 11:29 pm
Location: Molten core of Earth
Name: Bruce White
NSS #: 39223
Primary Grotto Affiliation: San Francisco Bay Chapter
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 29, 2010 12:22 pm

Bruce, my experience with Euro caving dates back to the 70s in France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, and I cannot imagine any controversy at all among modern cavers. We used racks back then as well as Petzyls. With multi-pitch caves I would prefer the Stop rather then a rack simply for its ease of use, quick connect, etc., but I have no experience with the micro-rack you describe.
Phil Winkler
13627 FE
User avatar
Phil Winkler
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2371
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 8:48 am
Location: Wilmington, DE and Dewey Beach
NSS #: 13627FE
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby self-deleted_user » Dec 29, 2010 12:22 pm

Maybe...ask them? I mean, if you are confident with both, it seems then their imput as to the best for the drop you will be doing, the way they rig, their rope, etc (my understanding is Europian rigging is a lot different that states with lots of rebelays and jazz and also that they use thinner rope - would that be an issue on a rack?) so if you are cool with both stop and rack...then find out which they think will be best.
Self-deleted due to large troll population on the forum, and absence of moderation.
self-deleted_user
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1408
Joined: Aug 6, 2010 8:33 pm
Location: Offline, in real life, with real cavers.
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Is the Ti rack durable enough to handle a (multiple?) 1000m deep cave? I don't have any first hand experience, but I have heard they wear faster than SS.

Jack Thomison, TN Caver, went to Spain (?) a few years back with a full size rack and Prusik knots. He survived and even made friends.
Scott McCrea
SWAYGO
User avatar
Scott McCrea
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3198
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 3:07 pm
Location: Asheville, NC USA
NSS #: 40839RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Flittermouse Grotto
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Dec 29, 2010 12:38 pm

Thanks for the input guys. The Ti rack is only a Ti frame with steel bars so I don't have to worry about the bars wearing out.

See, I'm even hesitant to ask the expedition leader for fear of "GASP! I told a rack user he could come on my trip??" reaction. :laughing: But yeah, that's probably the best idea.

And I should have mentioned that I am well aware of how both devices perform on all ropes from wet 9mm up to stiff dry 11mm.
User avatar
Lava
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 11:29 pm
Location: Molten core of Earth
Name: Bruce White
NSS #: 39223
Primary Grotto Affiliation: San Francisco Bay Chapter
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby self-deleted_user » Dec 29, 2010 12:40 pm

Well if he laughs in your face about using a rack you could always do the "HAHAHA I gotcha! Just kidding!" type of response :P
Self-deleted due to large troll population on the forum, and absence of moderation.
self-deleted_user
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1408
Joined: Aug 6, 2010 8:33 pm
Location: Offline, in real life, with real cavers.
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby ian mckenzie » Dec 29, 2010 2:55 pm

Just take both over, and see what the locals think will be best. If you're worried about their reaction, try discussing US foreign policy as a diversion.
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Tenzin Beck » Dec 29, 2010 6:45 pm

Bonus points if you bring up Israel or healthcare :boxing:
Darkness is impossible to remember. Consequently, cavers desire to return to the unseen depths where they have just been.
Darkness never satisfies. Darkness cannot satisfy. Especially if it takes something away, which it almost invariably does.
Tenzin Beck
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Oct 20, 2009 8:31 pm
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Sandia Grotto
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Kuzgun » Dec 29, 2010 6:48 pm

If you will go under 1000m i think you wont care about Stop is heavy etc. a km vertical caving means a few hundred kilos of caving material you or your friend will carry so there is no means of grams. And all Europe is using Stop too. Which cave will you go Lava ?
"If you look long enough into the void the void begins to look back through you."
Kuzgun
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 77
Joined: May 28, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Turkey
Name: Mesut Sen
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Dec 29, 2010 7:05 pm

Long Vehicle wrote:If you will go under 1000m i think you wont care about Stop is heavy etc. a km vertical caving means a few hundred kilos of caving material you or your friend will carry so there is no means of grams. And all Europe is using Stop too. Which cave will you go Lava ?


Lukina Jama in Croatia:
http://www.speleologija.hr/lukinajama/foto/Lukinajamablokdijagram.jpg


:banana:
User avatar
Lava
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 11:29 pm
Location: Molten core of Earth
Name: Bruce White
NSS #: 39223
Primary Grotto Affiliation: San Francisco Bay Chapter
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Jon » Dec 30, 2010 1:24 am

Take what you like, if they give you grief, agree with them, act astonished and amazed at their methods. And then invite them to the US of A to spread the good word. When they get here tell them about WNS and that they can't use their stuff.

Anybody who gets snobby about SAFE and PROVEN equipment isn't anybody I'd go underground with. Sooner or later someone who caves in (sorry) to their pressure will get hurt because of unfamiliar equipment. Now if there is a reason for not using safe and proven equipment in certain circumstances that's another story, but again there are better ways to address the issue than ridicule.
User avatar
Jon
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 241
Joined: May 22, 2010 11:29 pm
NSS #: 60164
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Cochise County Cavers
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Kuzgun » Dec 30, 2010 4:27 am

It has a lot of long pitches, amazing. Will be a great expedition :bananabat:
"If you look long enough into the void the void begins to look back through you."
Kuzgun
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 77
Joined: May 28, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Turkey
Name: Mesut Sen
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby NZcaver » Dec 30, 2010 9:59 am

Simple solution. Take your Stop and send me your titanium micro. (I already own an SRTE Stop, but no ti racks - yet.) :big grin:

Seriously though, you seem to have covered most of the bases in your pros and cons list. Sounds like the SRTE might have the edge for what you're doing and a little more "local recognition."

ian mckenzie wrote:Just take both over, and see what the locals think will be best. If you're worried about their reaction, try discussing US foreign policy as a diversion.

:clap: :laughing: Assuming that ti rack is as light as it sounds, you could take it over as a backup/conversation starter. :wink:

Jon wrote:Anybody who gets snobby about SAFE and PROVEN equipment isn't anybody I'd go underground with. Sooner or later someone who caves in (sorry) to their pressure will get hurt because of unfamiliar equipment. Now if there is a reason for not using safe and proven equipment in certain circumstances that's another story, but again there are better ways to address the issue than ridicule.

Have you done much caving outside the US? There's a bit of a cultural gap. And not just alpine/rebelay techniques versus the typical US Sling the Rope Down method. When cavers from other countries get together their equipment tends to be more uniform than US cavers. This is because they learn one climbing system (frog), and (almost) everybody uses basically the same gear. At least that's been my impression. In the US there seems to be a lot more individualization, modification, experimentation etc with gear - which is not a bad thing of course. It's just... different. :shrug:

Take what you like, if they give you grief, agree with them, act astonished and amazed at their methods. And then invite them to the US of A to spread the good word.

FYI - the good word has been spreading for decades. Why do you think the frog system is now the most common US vertical system, especially among new cavers? Or why the vast majority of US cavers use tooth-cam ascenders instead of lever-cams? Some US cavers even use bobbins! :panic:

When they get here tell them about WNS and that they can't use their stuff.

It's OK, humans aren't spreading WNS in North America. Visiting cavers should have clean gear anyway, regardless of WNS. Although their home countries might not let them bring the equipment back!
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6316
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: CCG
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Dec 30, 2010 2:44 pm

Good advice, Jansen. I keep on waffling. Yesterday I was all about the rack and today I'm leaning towards the Stop after having a few conversations with some other folks (including some British expats with lots of EU experience). I do think I will take both though, to give the Euros a chance to check out and even try the rack if they want to.

Outside the USA I have caved in Mexico, Canada, and Malaysia. But none of those places would really give me much perspective on how things are done on a large European expedition.

EDIT: Why on earth did I start this thread in the Equipment forum? If a mod wants to move this to On Rope!, feel free.
User avatar
Lava
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 11:29 pm
Location: Molten core of Earth
Name: Bruce White
NSS #: 39223
Primary Grotto Affiliation: San Francisco Bay Chapter
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby NZcaver » Dec 30, 2010 3:52 pm

Lava wrote:Why on earth did I start this thread in the Equipment forum? If a mod wants to move this to On Rope!, feel free.

Thanks for mentioning that, Bruce. I didn't even notice! :doh:

Fixed. :grin:
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6316
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: CCG
  

Next

Return to On Rope!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron