How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

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How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 28, 2011 4:06 pm

Two caves that I am currently surveying have pits and banks that must be dropped. There are no natural anchors. The walls and floors are mud and crumbly conglomerates. While the ceiling could be bolted, I lack the skills or equipment to do so. My only idea was do dig a hole in the floor and bury an anchor of some sort, a section of 2x8 or a worn down disc blade or such. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Also, I need to climb a massive mudbank that is nearly vertical. My best idea so far is to cut steps and climb up with the aid of an ice axe or hand mattock. Any better ideas?
Thanks very much folks.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby NZcaver » Oct 28, 2011 4:57 pm

What about a stemple? Any sturdy length of timber or log or whatever firmly braced across the passage should suffice, assuming you don't mind dragging it through the cave to where you need it. I'd be wary about burying a deadman type anchor in mud.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby Scott McCrea » Oct 28, 2011 5:26 pm

Short answer: Depends on the situation.

Longer answer: Go farther away from the drop. I have rigged a drop over 100' from the lip. Of course, there are lots of other considerations with such rigging. Also, look up stemples. Basically a 4x4 piece of lumber wedged in somewhere that won't pull out. Also, any cracks in the ceiling where rock climbing pro could be used?

Mudbank: We have used 18' rebar for anchors in mud slopes. It didn't work in this particular case, but the theory is good. Tent stakes could work, too.

Best answer: Find an experienced cave rigger (NCRC training will help, because it teaches a lot of rigging stuff) and show them your problem. Then learn from their experience.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby rlboyce » Oct 28, 2011 5:27 pm

Those are some mighty peculiar caving conditions!
Happiness can be measured in mud/in².
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby mgmills » Oct 28, 2011 5:53 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:Two caves that I am currently surveying have pits and banks that must be dropped. There are no natural anchors. The walls and floors are mud and crumbly conglomerates. While the ceiling could be bolted, I lack the skills or equipment to do so. My only idea was do dig a hole in the floor and bury an anchor of some sort, a section of 2x8 or a worn down disc blade or such. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Also, I need to climb a massive mudbank that is nearly vertical. My best idea so far is to cut steps and climb up with the aid of an ice axe or hand mattock. Any better ideas?
Thanks very much folks.


Be very careful of mud banks and crumbly conglomerates. Years ago a group I was with rigged a conglomerate mud bank from a rig point about 50 feet away and just let the rope lie on the mud bank. It worked well until the second climber was coming up and the combined stresses of his weight and the rubbing of the rope (on a rope pad) caused a collapse and the entire bank crumbled dropping the climber about 12 inches.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 28, 2011 10:23 pm

NZcaver wrote:What about a stemple? Any sturdy length of timber or log or whatever firmly braced across the passage should suffice, assuming you don't mind dragging it through the cave to where you need it. I'd be wary about burying a deadman type anchor in mud.


A good idea. I'll have to check to see if there is a suitable spot. I've used wedged logs before but didn't even think of dragging one into the cave with me. Of course I would like to avoid it if possible since it's a long walk through pasture to the cave and some distance into the cave before the pit. It may have been a bit unclear to simply call the floors mud. They are not slimy, soft, buttery mud, but semi-moist clay and shale. This being the case do you still feel that burying an anchor would be unsafe?

Scott McCrea wrote:Go farther away from the drop. I have rigged a drop over 100' from the lip.


I've already rigged the first pit about 200' from the lip...from a tree at the entrance. It takes all the rope I have available to get that far and leaves me unable to complete the next drop.

rlboyce wrote:Those are some mighty peculiar caving conditions!


There are at least four such caves all in a row in one valley. They aren't really very pleasant or pretty.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 29, 2011 9:44 am

sounds like you have a short rope problem rather than an anchor problem. How about bringing self propelled anchors? Find a few stout fellas, sit them well back from the drop and clip in :big grin:
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby harrym » Oct 29, 2011 11:08 am

NZcaver wrote:What about a stemple? Any sturdy length of timber or log or whatever firmly braced across the passage should suffice, assuming you don't mind dragging it through the cave to where you need it. I'd be wary about burying a deadman type anchor in mud.


That's what I've done in the past.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby Ch33s3n1p » Oct 29, 2011 11:12 am

Simple solution: Buy me a plane ticket to Ohio and I'll be your anchor :-).
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby chh » Oct 29, 2011 11:25 am

If the ceiling is boltable, I would suggest learning how to bolt.
You could also use snow pickets, though they are more expensive than bolts, but all you need to set them would be a hammer. Angle iron with some holes drilled in it will also work. Kind of like using rebar, but with more surface area when placed right.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 29, 2011 5:30 pm

chh wrote:If the ceiling is boltable, I would suggest learning how to bolt.


I would like to. I'm not really able to handle the expense just yet.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby gdstorrick » Oct 30, 2011 7:41 pm

Post deleted.
Last edited by gdstorrick on Jul 8, 2012 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you rig/anchor a rope in mud?

Postby shibumi » Oct 31, 2011 8:37 am

On numerous occasions I have rigged off pickets hammered into mud. I have rigged of crowbars hammered into mud. I have rigged off wonderbars hammered into mud.

Yes, it can be done and be done safely, but teaching someone how to do it properly is a little more complex than is really suitable for an online forum like this, IMNSHO.

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