Torn on which descender to use.

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

Moderator: Tim White

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby cavemud2 » May 4, 2011 2:24 pm

:bat sticker: Wouldn't your first thought be to use what would be safer? I mean if you have used or use both and are comfortable with them then I wouldnt see why using them in another part of the country an issue? Just seems odd to have to adjust what you are used to using by being in another counrty.
Randy Gandy Club 2011 :bat sticker:
User avatar
cavemud2
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Jan 2, 2011 10:39 pm
Location: Parkersburg
NSS #: 62,925
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Parkersburg Area Grotto
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby LukeM » May 4, 2011 2:47 pm

Different rigging style and types of caves = different equipment considerations. If you're not used to what you are going to encounter it only makes sense to ask which of your equipment is best suited to those conditions. Also, efficiency = safety, even more so in deep/technical caves, so having the most appropriate descender for the job, even if you are more comfortable with another, is an important thing to consider. You can always rectify your level of comfort through practice. Finally, having similar equipment to those around you is actually a safety concern, as your companions will know how to help you repair things and deal with technical issues, as well as operate your equipment in a worst case scenario such as in a pick-off.
User avatar
LukeM
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 705
Joined: Jan 30, 2008 2:53 pm
Location: Albany, NY
Name: Luke Mazza
NSS #: 59317
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Aug 12, 2011 12:07 pm

Hi Everybody, I'm back from Croatia now and wanted to follow up on this thread for posterity. I did end up making it to the bottom of Lukina Jama (4,500 feet deep), and I used my Australian SRT Stop to do it. My observations are below.

THE GOOD:
- The cave had the most complex rigging I have ever seen. The Stop allowed me to maintain my position, hands-free, with very little effort (compared to a rack) when negotiating rebelays and slack traverses. It was great to be able to use both hands to pull myself across the pit to the anchor on a long rebelay or other similar obstacle. However, that's where the "good" ends.

THE BAD:
- Pushing in on the handle of the Stop is easy... for awhile. I did not anticipate how difficult it would become to push it in for 4,500 feet. This is something that practice in trees and general use in US caves would not have revealed. After awhile I had to push it with my entire palm using the muscles in my forearm. This put pressure on a nerve in my hand and, as of a week later, I still have some numbness in my first finger and thumb. This effect of left-hand fatigue was also reported to me by other cavers on the trip using Petzl Stops, which apparently is just an accepted effect of using them ("well, yeah, our left hand gets tired... that's just the way it is").
- Depending on how I rigged the Stop (it has an extra friction post), I was either feeding the rope or going way too fast, even with a braking carabiner. Of course I opted for feeding to be on the safe side. This let to right-hand fatigue. I noticed numerous other cavers on Stops feeding as well.
- The Stop was not a smooth rappel. The rope fed through it very jerkily. This could very well have been due to the rope itself though. Again, I saw (heard the noise of, actually) other cavers on Stops having jerky rappels.

If I had to do it again, no doubt I would use my micro-rack. Doug Warner was below me, and he was using a micro-rack. Henry Rockliff, a UK caver, was above me, and he also was (surprisingly) using a Petzl rack. By the time we were 1/3 of the way down the cave I was having fits of jealousy watching/listening to their smooth, effortless rappels. It would have meant spending more time locking off my micro-rack at each rebelay, but I would have been okay with that to have a much more pleasant rappelling experience. Honestly, I don't anticipate using a Stop ever again. Ya can't say I didn't give it a try. :big grin:

Oh, and by the way, none of the Euro cavers batted an eyelash at Doug and Henry using racks; they didn't care in the slightest. A few of the Croatians even tried out our racks in a 200' pit and had nothing negative to say about them. So I'd say you can go caving in Europe with a rack and not be worried that someone will consider you unsafe. They might give you a strange look if you tried to use a ropewalker though.

So, there you have it. Hope that's useful info to somebody.
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 paul » Aug 12, 2011 1:40 pm

I found out many years ago about the jerkiness and left-hand fatigue involved with using Petzl Stops which is why I swapped to a Simple (the non-autolock version ). I know Henry and he and a few others do use Petzl racks but the majority of UK cavers use Petzl Stops.

If you're happier with a rack - then that's no problem!
paul
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Dec 9, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Peak District, UK
Name: Paul Lydon
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 12, 2011 3:19 pm

Bruce, what size, type of rope was used?

Would they have let me use my Munter? ;-)

What did you learn about climbing that much rope?
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 » Aug 12, 2011 4:25 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Bruce, what size, type of rope was used?

Would they have let me use my Munter? ;-)

What did you learn about climbing that much rope?


The rope was all 10mm, about 50% Mammut, and I don't know what the rest was. I didn't like the Mammut at all. My Pantin wouldn't catch in it and it also seemed to be jerkier on rappel than the other ropes.

What did I learn about climbing that much rope?

- To prepare for a trip like that, climb a 300' section of rope every other day weighted with 20% more than you anticipate carrying in the cave (in my case it was a 37 lb dive tank). Try to improve to the point that you can climb 300' without stopping at full weight.
- A Petzl Pantin is MANDATORY. It makes climbing that much rope significantly easier.
- Euro rope doesn't feed through Crolls, ever (see one bullet point above for remedy).
- Pace yourself, don't try to impress anybody. Otherwise you'll blow out.
- Eat a ton of food, make sure it's loaded with carbs/fat/protein, and also get plenty of sleep.
- If you're feeling good, don't stop and wait for anybody unless you absolutely have to when you're moving between destinations in-cave. Once you cool down you lose your edge and won't get it back.
- All the practice in the world won't prepare you for every single rigging situation you'll encounter on a trip like this. You must be familiar enough with your equipment to improvise at obstacles you've never seen before.
- Don't worry too much about having your rebelay technique perfected, it'll get there reaaally quick (we had to pass 220 anchors, one-way). By the end you'll be able to do it in your sleep. No, seriously, you'll actually do rebelays while you're asleep (or at least hallucinating). :big grin:
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 chh » Aug 12, 2011 6:45 pm

Sounds like an awesome trip. I've got nothing but questions.
Did you find the Stop rigged in "C" or "Zero" fashion with a braking carabiner to be to fast with the weight you were carrying? If so what about a second braking carabiner? Sounds like disabling/bypassing the cam would have been the way to go (or a micro rack/Simple). I always carry one extra braking biner and have only ever used it with 8mm ropes I wasn't familiar with yet and one pick off.

What was the longest and shortest pitch you did, and the average pitch depth, if there was such a thing?
What is an example of a rigging method you had not encountered before and had to improvise with?
Any tips/tricks for moving tanks along with personal gear through a difficult cave?(nothing pisses me off like two bags :doh: )

Also, I'll say "amen!" to all of your bulleted points. That's all worth heeding.
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
User avatar
chh
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Oct 4, 2005 3:21 pm
Location: asheville, nc
Name: caleb
NSS #: 55745
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Aug 12, 2011 7:47 pm

chh wrote:Sounds like an awesome trip. I've got nothing but questions.
Did you find the Stop rigged in "C" or "Zero" fashion with a braking carabiner to be to fast with the weight you were carrying? If so what about a second braking carabiner? Sounds like disabling/bypassing the cam would have been the way to go (or a micro rack/Simple). I always carry one extra braking biner and have only ever used it with 8mm ropes I wasn't familiar with yet and one pick off.

What was the longest and shortest pitch you did, and the average pitch depth, if there was such a thing?
What is an example of a rigging method you had not encountered before and had to improvise with?
Any tips/tricks for moving tanks along with personal gear through a difficult cave?(nothing pisses me off like two bags :doh: )

Also, I'll say "amen!" to all of your bulleted points. That's all worth heeding.


I have no experience using a Stop in a C rig, so I wasn't comfortable doing that. Generally when I rigged the Stop (keep in mind, it's SRT not Petzl) I would put the rope through the two extra friction posts, and I'd have to feed in that configuration. If I did not put the rope through the friction posts, and used a braking carabiner, it was still controllable but definitely out of my comfort zone speed-wise. And in either configuration it was very jerky.

- The longest rope between rebelays was 100m, and the biggest single pit was about 230m/750ft. And there were four or five other pitches over 100m/328ft.
- Regarding rigging I'd never encountered before: generally everything could either be classified broadly as a rebelay or a traverse, but what varied were the angles, the terrain the rope passed over, the slackness of the lines, etc. There were strange configurations that could not be duplicated in a tree or on a ropes course, and are unlikely to be seen in US caves.
- We didn't have personal gear. I had batteries and extra contact lenses in my cave suit pocket, a small water bottle (although we mostly drank from the stream) and power bars inside my suit top, and then my transport bag w/tank. Otherwise, the only personal gear was dry sleeping clothes that went down to camp at -950m in a different bag on a different person. Don't worry, I still had 3 light sources on me. Quite honestly, after awhile you forget you're carrying a heavy load because it starts to feel normal. When you get on a new pitch from a ledge, your first few light steps before the bag catches feel like anti-gravity!

Here's a map of the cave:
http://www.speleologija.hr/lukinajama/f ... jagram.jpg
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 gdstorrick » Aug 14, 2011 9:13 pm

Post deleted.
Last edited by gdstorrick on Jul 8, 2012 5:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
gdstorrick
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Jan 3, 2009 11:06 am
Location: MI, USA
Name: Gary Storrick
NSS #: 12967
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Pittsburgh
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Patrick Wilson » Aug 19, 2011 9:08 am

Just out of curiosity, would they give you a weird look if you used ropewalker because frog or something else is the accepted "standard" over there?
Patrick Wilson
NSS 59279 RE
User avatar
Patrick Wilson
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 137
Joined: Oct 1, 2007 4:40 pm
Location: Dalton, GA
NSS #: 59279RE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Chattanooga Grotto
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Aug 19, 2011 11:36 am

KG4YUV wrote:Just out of curiosity, would they give you a weird look if you used ropewalker because frog or something else is the accepted "standard" over there?

Well, yes, they would give you a "what the heck is that contraption??" look initially, but for the most part they'd be concerned that you'd hold the whole group up at every rebelay (which you probably would).
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 Patrick Wilson » Aug 19, 2011 2:14 pm

Lava wrote:
KG4YUV wrote:Just out of curiosity, would they give you a weird look if you used ropewalker because frog or something else is the accepted "standard" over there?

Well, yes, they would give you a "what the heck is that contraption??" look initially, but for the most part they'd be concerned that you'd hold the whole group up at every rebelay (which you probably would).


Ahh, well there's that. :roll: Good think I'm not going on any expeditions anytime soon lol
Patrick Wilson
NSS 59279 RE
User avatar
Patrick Wilson
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 137
Joined: Oct 1, 2007 4:40 pm
Location: Dalton, GA
NSS #: 59279RE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Chattanooga Grotto
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Chads93GT » Aug 19, 2011 2:33 pm

Lava wrote:
KG4YUV wrote:Just out of curiosity, would they give you a weird look if you used ropewalker because frog or something else is the accepted "standard" over there?

Well, yes, they would give you a "what the heck is that contraption??" look initially, but for the most part they'd be concerned that you'd hold the whole group up at every rebelay (which you probably would).


So why would you hold up the whole group at rebelays with a rope walker? Climbing out I don't see how you would take any mroe time than a frog system climbing past a rebelay, and rappelling past, I dont see how it would take any longer either. I mean........it doesnt take me any longer........
User avatar
Chads93GT
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2293
Joined: Jun 24, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Missouri
  

Re: Torn on which descender to use.

Postby Lava » Aug 20, 2011 2:31 am

Chads93GT wrote:So why would you hold up the whole group at rebelays with a rope walker? Climbing out I don't see how you would take any mroe time than a frog system climbing past a rebelay, and rappelling past, I dont see how it would take any longer either. I mean........it doesnt take me any longer........


I figured somebody would say this. :big grin:

It wouldn't take any longer on the rappel, only the climb out. I know some folks are pretty quick at rebelays with their ropewalkers - I was too when I used to use one. That said, a ropewalker would be hell to use in a cave like the one we did in Croatia. I can't imagine a scenario where it would have been efficient or even pleasant. You'd probably make up some decent time on the free drops, but 90% of the time we were on the wall due to the prolific rebelays. Not to mention all the weird traverses and j-rappels would be quite awkward with bungee cords and chest rollers to deal with, especially when you're hanging on a line at 45 degrees.
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 DeanWiseman » Aug 20, 2011 8:18 am

Lava wrote:Not to mention all the weird traverses and j-rappels would be quite awkward with bungee cords and chest rollers to deal with, especially when you're hanging on a line at 45 degrees.


I try to imagine climbing out of Apricot Pit in Lech on a Ropewalker. Bwahaha... :laughing:

-Dean
Image
User avatar
DeanWiseman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 322
Joined: Jan 23, 2007 4:39 pm
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
NSS #: 32690
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Central Indiana Grotto
  

PreviousNext

Return to On Rope!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot]

cron