On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

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On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 1, 2011 10:43 am

Is it inadvisable to leave a permanent knot in ones rope for the purposes of rigging? A few above ground rappellers I know leave a permanent fig. 8 in their rope end, flop it around a tree or whatnot, and simply clip a carabiner through the knot and around the rope.

Also, several sources, including "On Rope" suggest alternating the ends of the rope when rigging. I wonder if rope length would sometimes make such a practice unwise. I for example have ropes of two lengths; two 60m and two 45ft. (obviously I don't do any major vertical caving). If I have a 50' pit I have to use a 60m rope. If I alternate ends I will wear both ends of a rope that I usually only use maybe one third of. Would it not be better to use the same end and preserve the rest of the rope? Since I don't usually need long rope I could chop off the worn end eventually and still have 40m of practically unused rope. Or am I overcomplicating an obvious situation?
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby Kuzgun » Nov 1, 2011 11:27 am

If a pitch you descending is deeper than your rope length you have two options. you could tie the ropes with double fisherman or you could tie them on an anchor. If you use double fisherman, you could tie the ropes out of cave and rope end knot type is not important you could use stopper knot too except fig.8, bigger knot and less rope required but if you tie them on an anchor, fig8 is better for rope end knot. because after rigging you can attach the rope end to a carabiner without opening the knot then you could tie other rope with open fig8 to both carabiner and upper ropes end
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby NZcaver » Nov 1, 2011 3:24 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:Is it inadvisable to leave a permanent knot in ones rope for the purposes of rigging?

I think you're over-complicating the situation. I have a couple of ropes in throw bags which have pre-tied bights in the rigging ends and stopper knots in the other ends attached to the bottom of each bag. I often untie and retie the bights after use and when cleaning the ropes, and I also switch ends in the bag sporadically. But I don't think it would be a big deal to leave knots permanently tied either, if you choose to.

To further complicate this discussion, I seldom rig to the bights that are tied in my ropes. Confused? I put the bight in there in case I need to clip-and-go with the rope in a hurry. But most times I rig with the spare rope left at the TOP of the drop, not in a useless heap at the bottom waiting for somebody to grind it into the mud or drop rocks on it. I usually rig the system to be releasable under load if necessary, using a locked Munter hitch, Tensionless hitch, or similar. Something you might want to consider.

I'm not sure why Kuzgun replied about joining ropes, because I don't see any mention of that in your original post. For what it's worth the Double Fisherman's bend he mentioned is a standard for joining ropes, but it can be quite difficult to untie after loading. There are other more rigger-friendly options.
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 1, 2011 3:46 pm

I try to leave my excess rope at the top as well. I often don't know how far I'm going, though, and have to throw down the whole thing just in case. Have you had any success carrying a rope bag and feeding rope out as you descend?
Last edited by GroundquestMSA on Nov 1, 2011 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby NZcaver » Nov 1, 2011 4:19 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:I try to leave my excess rope at the top as well. I often don't know how far I'm going, though, and have to throw down the whole thing just in case. Have you had any success carrying a rope bag and feeding rope out as you descend?

Yes, but that was many years ago. You'll want to hang the bag just below you rather than "carrying" it.
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 1, 2011 4:27 pm

Indeed. I intended the word "carry" to mean, "convey in close proximity to and correspondingly to ones person."
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby Chads93GT » Nov 1, 2011 4:40 pm

when using my long rope for a pit, i use arm lengths (6 feet per pull) to get as much rope as I need and lower it into the pit, then rig around whatever tree, anchor is at the top of the drop, that way i dont have 280 feet of rope on the ground, especially if I know the pit depth, which is usually the case. I never leave knots in my ropes as I coil them and knots in coiled ropes = pain in the ass to coil.
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby Bob Thrun » Nov 1, 2011 5:46 pm

Climbing ropes sometimes have a problem with sheath slippage. Rappelling and climbing in alternate directions would make the slippages cancel out. I have not seen any problems with PMI ropes, which have a tighter sheath.
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Re: On permanent knots and alternating rope ends

Postby chh » Nov 1, 2011 6:37 pm

There are scenarios in my opinion in which switching rope ends is a good decision, as well as scenarios in which permanent knots are advisable, but the opposite is also true. Most often it doesn't particularly matter. Or, It Depends.

In all the ropes and cords I use on a regular basis for a variety of functions I can count on one hand the number of knots and hitches that are left permanently in the rope, cord or webbing. I [i]prefer[i] to have unknotted or spliced lengths as opposed to lengths with permanent knots as I find the variety of usage broader with a length of cord without a permanent knot. You can always add a knot. You can't always remove one in a timely fashion particularly if it has been installed for some time and subjected to hard or cyclic loading. That being said permanent knots and/or splices can very much aid in the deployment or completion of certain tasks, though not many of these apply to recreational caving in my opinion. Exceptions off the top of my head include rope cut to length and with end knots designed for particular caves and rigging situations, cowstails, and prussik knots. Although I personally even keep most of my prussik cord lengths unknotted.
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