Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

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Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby OpenTrackRacer » Aug 14, 2011 12:02 am

I've finally decided to ditch my Petzl Spelegyca cowstail (not because I'm afraid of it, because it's too short) and tie my own. I'm making it out of Sterling 9.2mm dynamic rope. I've got it all tied up and I'm readjusting my frog setup and had a question... should the long cowstail be just as long as it needs to be (ie: when you're out of foot travel in the sit position you're also out of cowstail length) or can it be longer? I used the bent elbow method to determine length but with a handled asecender attached I can definitely push it higher than I can tuck my feet.

That brought me to another question... how close should your upper ascender get to your Croll? Should the cams almost touch or should you go to the bottom of the handle?

Thanks as always!

Mike
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby chh » Aug 14, 2011 8:49 am

With your long cowstail and upper ascender weighted you should still be able to touch the top of the ascender with your fingers. This assures you that you will always be able to disengage the cam on the cowstail because it can't get out of reach.

With this figured out the foot loop should be long enough so that it's comfortable to use, not so long that you gain very little distance with each stroke, and not so short that you are balled up in fetal position when your upper ascender is raised. This just takes some climbing and adjustment.
For the most efficient climbing stroke you want the cams of the ascenders to come close, which is where dialing your footloop length comes in. But this also depends on how you use your handled ascender. If you ALWAYS use the handle, then having the footloop tied so that the handle bypasses the croll somewhat may just make it a little more uncomfortable to use, i.e. a little too short. So you sacrifice a little efficiency for using the handle comfortably, that is to say that the cam is perpendicular to your chest, and the footloop should be tied slightly longer.
If you use the handle on the upper ascender only sometimes, as in on really sloping pitches where your knuckles can get scuffed, but grasp the body of the ascender above the handle when doing free hanging vertical pitches to increase efficiency then your footloop should be tied a little shorter so that the handle can bypass the croll.

Hope that's clear as mud :banana_yay:
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby OpenTrackRacer » Aug 14, 2011 4:19 pm

That's exactly what I figured. Tied with the 90 degree arm method, my long cowstail was way to long to reach the cam on my handled ascender. Now here's the funny part... I retied it so at full extension I can reach the cam. That pretty much puts the handle at full extension too. I then compared it to the long cowstail length on my Spelegyca and they're virtually the same. However, the last time out I added a carabiner between my Spelegyca and harness mallion to increase my reach and it made frogging better. So now I'm stumped!

Actually, what I think is that my footloop is too long. That makes a longer long cowstail seem necessary. I'm going to try and shorten my footloop, hang a rope and give it a shot. Still, I think if that's the case it would make sense to have my long cowstail be shorter. If you're hanging from your upper ascender, you still need to be able to get into your footloop and use it. If your footloop is shorter for efficient frogging and your upper ascender can only be reached at full extension you're going to have a problem.

Does that make sense or am I just nuts?

Beyond that, I'm not sure if it's better to reach up higher with your arms fully extended for the stand movement or lower with your arms bent. If I mock it up, to have my upper ascender and Croll meet, my footloop needs to be adjusted shorter and my arms end up at 90 degrees when I stand (meaning I have extra long cowstail length). But what's more efficient? Arms at 90 degrees or arms extended? If my arms are extended, the upper ascender and Croll never meet. However, the total distance gained in the movement is the same.

Looking VERY much forward to hearing what everybody thinks!

Mike
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby chh » Aug 14, 2011 7:12 pm

Really the most important part is not allowing your upper ascender to be out of reach. Everything else can be adjusted with the footloop.
Measuring the most efficient progress up rope is simple. Just measure the distance that you cover with every stroke. If efficiency is what you're going for, chose the setup that has the most distance gained while maintaining a safe distance between your hand and your upper ascender when it is weighted.
And really, IF efficiency in climbing is what you're after, get rid of the handled ascender and switch to a basic for your upper. :devil:
It doesn't save your knuckles in those sloping pitches, but hey, you're tough...right? (just kidding, you can grab the carabiner to save your hands :big grin: )
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby OpenTrackRacer » Aug 14, 2011 7:50 pm

I'm still puzzled though... The maximum "stroke" length is determined by your legs. You can't raise yourself any more on the stand movement than the distance you can bend and extend your legs. Everything else revolves around that. With that in mind, why the constant emphasis on having the Croll as low as possible and having the upper ascender and Croll meet in the standing position? The only thing I can figure is that it has something to do with the strain on your arms... the lower the Croll and the lower the upper ascender when they meet, the less you extend your arms when standing up. Is that supposed to be better?

I took a quick look at the videos and pictures I could find of the frog system in use. It seems like just about everyone has the upper ascender and Croll not even getting close to each other and the users arms extended high above their heads when beginning the stand stroke. Alpine Caving Techniques shows the footloop adjusted so the upper ascender meets the Croll but the diagrams still show the user reaching high above his head. Now, maybe I just have stumpy legs but at 5' 11" I kinda doubt it.

I therefore remain stumped (or dense, or both)!

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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby gdstorrick » Aug 14, 2011 9:05 pm

Post deleted.
Last edited by gdstorrick on Jul 8, 2012 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby OpenTrackRacer » Aug 15, 2011 1:45 am

I've used both my Ascention and my Basic as an upper ascender and prefer the Ascention. I don't really see any disadvantage to having the handle other than a small amount of additional weight and bulk.
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby chh » Aug 15, 2011 6:23 am

You are partially correct about your legs determining the length of your stroke. However, if your ascenders are not in a position to allow you to use all of that distance then your climbing will become less efficient. This is why you want your croll as low as possible. If you have a rock climbing harness, put a croll on the belay loop and frog for a while, you'll see a difference.
Adjusting the length of the footloop, cowstail and all that is to let you to use the most distance with each stroke that your skeleton will allow. That you use this distance with every stroke is probably unlikely. Fatige, poor technique, tired low back, arms, tight hamstrings etc., etc. All these things will contribute to not using all that distance when climbing.
A lot of people find that when their upper and lower ascenders are adjusted so they touch at the bottom of the stroke they have to crunch up in a ball more than is comfortable for them when raising the upper ascender. So, they lengthen their footloop by a couple inches. Also, as you are standing the closer your hands get to your croll, the harder it is on your arms to help keep you upright. Another reason why when you watch people frog their ascenders don't touch. But also keep in mind that in ACT the illustrations for the footloop length are based on the caver just standing there, not while on rope, if I remember right. Things have a funny way of lengthening when your harness in loaded.
I don't know if that helps at all.
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby DeanWiseman » Aug 15, 2011 6:26 am

chh wrote:Really the most important part is not allowing your upper ascender to be out of reach.


Accidentally did that during a practice session. At first I was totally embarrassed :doh:, but I figured out how to solve the problem by tying a foot loop in the main rope, since it was unweighted below my ascenders. A quick knot in the cow's tail to shorten it a bit, and I was in business again.

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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby PeterFJohnson » Aug 15, 2011 8:52 pm

CHH and OpenTrack -

Correct me if I am wrong, but the way I see it for most people their legs do not determine their stroke length when frogging. Your maximum theoretical stroke is determined by the distance between your croll and your upper ascender when you begin to stand up. This is in turn determined by two things:

1)How high up the rope you can push your upper ascender when you have your croll weighted(i.e. How long your arms are).
2)How low your croll is relative to that position.

So for your average person stroke length is actually determined by their arm length no? For your legs to come into play, you would need to have short legs relative to the length of your arms. A quick non scientific measurement of my body seems to indicate that I would stand up about 30' in a stroke. But I know that I get far less than this - something closer to 22 or 23.

From this, I agree with chh that your long cowstail should be as long as you can get it without being able to strand your ascender out of reach. This way you are not letting your long cowstail shorten your stroke. But I would be interested to hear other's opinions - perhaps the most efficient way isn't to use your entire stroke in the same way that when I run I don't take the longest possible strides I can? Just a thought.

As for sizing footloops, I have found the ACT method to be pretty effective. But that's just me.

As for putting a carabiner in between your maillon and your spelegyca, I would be pretty concerned about cross loading my biner as reaching some biners cross loaded rating(7 kN or so) is conceivable.

Dean -

Tying a footloop is a good solution to a stranded upper ascender, but you don't even need to go this far.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT53S0Gcj70

Footlock technique, like that in the video above, allows you to wrap the rope around your feet, without using your hands, and stand directly up on that. This can come in handy at other times as well.
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby DeanWiseman » Aug 16, 2011 7:16 pm

PeterFJohnson wrote:
Dean -

Tying a footloop is a good solution to a stranded upper ascender, but you don't even need to go this far.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT53S0Gcj70

Footlock technique, like that in the video above, allows you to wrap the rope around your feet, without using your hands, and stand directly up on that. This can come in handy at other times as well.



Makes sense... I was mostly focused on freeing up my hands to shorten the 'tail. Looks like the rope needs to be fairly pliable, though. Have you tried this technique on a less flexible rope like PMI MaxWear?
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby OpenTrackRacer » Aug 16, 2011 8:48 pm

Interesting. I mocked this up standing by a wall but I can easily reach much further than the distance I gain from standing up (from a crouch). I'm 5' 11" and don't have unusually sized limbs. I suppose I could gain more distance in the stand movement on rope by getting my feet up a little higher (either in front or behind) but I don't think that would help because of the extra effort expended.

If I stand in front of a wall and put my hands where my upper ascender would meet my Croll, my elbows are at about 90 degrees when I crouch down. That's what led me to the line of questioning about why it was so important for the Croll and upper ascender to meet and also about the arm effort expended on the stand movement between arms extended and arms close to the body.

I need to get on a rope and mess around with this sooner rather than later.

Mike

PeterFJohnson wrote:CHH and OpenTrack -

Correct me if I am wrong, but the way I see it for most people their legs do not determine their stroke length when frogging. Your maximum theoretical stroke is determined by the distance between your croll and your upper ascender when you begin to stand up. This is in turn determined by two things:

1)How high up the rope you can push your upper ascender when you have your croll weighted(i.e. How long your arms are).
2)How low your croll is relative to that position.

So for your average person stroke length is actually determined by their arm length no? For your legs to come into play, you would need to have short legs relative to the length of your arms. A quick non scientific measurement of my body seems to indicate that I would stand up about 30' in a stroke. But I know that I get far less than this - something closer to 22 or 23.

From this, I agree with chh that your long cowstail should be as long as you can get it without being able to strand your ascender out of reach. This way you are not letting your long cowstail shorten your stroke. But I would be interested to hear other's opinions - perhaps the most efficient way isn't to use your entire stroke in the same way that when I run I don't take the longest possible strides I can? Just a thought.

As for sizing footloops, I have found the ACT method to be pretty effective. But that's just me.

As for putting a carabiner in between your maillon and your spelegyca, I would be pretty concerned about cross loading my biner as reaching some biners cross loaded rating(7 kN or so) is conceivable.

Dean -

Tying a footloop is a good solution to a stranded upper ascender, but you don't even need to go this far.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT53S0Gcj70

Footlock technique, like that in the video above, allows you to wrap the rope around your feet, without using your hands, and stand directly up on that. This can come in handy at other times as well.
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby self-deleted_user » Aug 18, 2011 1:09 pm

So the footlock...the video is too fast I'm not getting it...(really impressive, btw) so are they basically making the rope do an "S" through their feet, one foot on top of the other, so the middle of the "S" between the feet is pinched between the bottom of the top foot and top of the bottom foot, allowing the moving up, kicking it off and re-making the "S" each stroke?
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby chh » Aug 18, 2011 10:36 pm

Peter, mostly I think that in order to get the fullest of every stroke, the flexibility in your hamstrings and lower back will come into play. I can throw my upper ascender up quite high, but if my upper ascender is going to make contact with my lower ascender EVERY TIME I find that the footloop is too short for my relatively inflexible lower back. Other people do not have this problem. For me it is just one of comfort most of the time. Do I get every nanometer of travel with every stroke? No. But I do get every bit that I can within the perameters of comfortable climbing for me. I think that's the most important thing, getting your climbing system in tune with your particular skeleton.

Sungara, footlocking is for dry ropes. As an arborist it's something I do on a regular basis, but it isn't so much for caving. Possible, yes, but way harder than it should be. But you do have the guts of it figured out. Make an "S" with your feet and pinch the rope, stand up, repeat. It's got to be the lightest climbing system there is! :banana_yay:
(Problems do arise though, when you are wearing wellies that are slick with mud and trying to climb a rope that is also covered in mud. Much different than using a more supple arbor line and boots that have Vibram everywhere.)
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Re: Long cowstail length (and frog footloop question)

Postby Caver John » Sep 3, 2011 10:18 am

I've been fine tuning my frog recently and ask you guys and girls... What is the average distance you advance each stand with your frog? With my ascenders nearly touching and keeping the upper within reach and everything comfy, I've been getting like 18" or so per stand.
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