On children on rope.

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On children on rope.

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 3, 2011 12:01 pm

I have been teaching my sister to rappel. She is 9 and, being of my family, incredibly light. I have a few questions.

What descending method do you use for a 40lb. person? When practicing on a ladder and out of a tree, I used a 7mm rope with various devices (rescue 8, atc, rack) and she did very well. Out on the rocks though, I used my 7/16" and she wouldn't budge with a rack or atc.

Is it a sin to use a fig.8 in cave under these circumstances? I'm obviously not planning anything major.

Is it a sin to haul a kid out of a cave if they aren't sufficiently skilled, equipped, or comfortable to climb out themselves? We're working on climbing too but that is going slower and I can't immediately buy all of the equipment needed to make ascension practical for so small a person. I realize that if you get yourself down a hole you should be able to get yourself out. She's just so bloody eager. If all possible precautions are taken and the child is comfortable with the process, are there any objections to aiding the ascent? Keep in mind the fact that these caves will not require long periods of time on rope.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby Marduke » Nov 3, 2011 1:51 pm

Even that weight, there is no reason she shouldn't be able to use a rack. She should have no problems moving on a 14" rack on four bars spread all the way apart.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby BrianC » Nov 3, 2011 1:56 pm

Marduke wrote:Even that weight, there is no reason she shouldn't be able to use a rack. She should have no problems moving on a 14" rack on four bars spread all the way apart.

There are actually spacers that can be used to keep some of the bars apart.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby Cody JW » Nov 3, 2011 2:20 pm

I know I am gonna open a can of worms here but I think a figure 8 is great to teach a new (or young person) to rappel. Why- they do not have to worry about friction adjustments right off the bat and can concentrate on being on rope and knowing the equipment will not drop them. I am assuming you are going to be on a shallow drop above ground at first. Once they are comfortable hanging on rope than you can teach them the friction adjustments on a rack . I have seen on two occasions where somebody new was on rope and needed a bottom belay with a rack because the friction was not correct on the rack and they got out of control because they did not understand the use of a rack. Sometimes it can be guess work as to how many bars to use with a young light person. Do not get me wrong , I have a rack and use it ( most of the time) and love it, but I still like the 8 on short drops because it is light and compact and seems to have the perfect amount of friction even for a big guy like me. Now I know I am going to hear about the twist in the rope, has not been a problem for me. I also read all the accident reports and do not remember reading any where somebody lost control on an 8. I did an Indiana Cave last weekend that had a 30 foot drop to get to the decorated lower level. There is no way I was going to drag a rack in for something like that. Or TAG multi drops with lots of short drops (Unless it is a pull down). Now I know there are lots of anti 8 people on this forum so go ahead and blast me.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby Stridergdm » Nov 3, 2011 2:28 pm

I'm just teaching my 11 yo how to frog and soon to descend. I didn't do it when he was 9. More because I think any person going on rope alone should have the judgment and skills to do a change-over and other basic SRT work.

That said, we did do things on rope.

For both my kids years ago I bought full-body harnesses. Kids are very top-heavy compared to most adults and have narrow hips. Flipping over is a definite issue. Flipping over and sliding out of the harness is a possibility, though, as far as I can tell, remote.

Of course such a harness makes frogging pretty impossible for a kid. In fact, since kids torsos are so small, frogging is problematic.

For rappelling, I think for short drops a figure-8 is probably ok, with a bottom belay.

I have done at least two "vertical" caves with my kids. Both had ladders. In the one, when my son was about 4.5, I simply belayed him down the ladder and back up. (my daughter remained on my back in a pack, strapped on VERY tightly. And while I don't normally belay on that ladder, that time I did!:-)

The second time, I honestly forget how we got in. My son was about 8 at the time. I may simply belayed him down the ladder. Going up, I now I clipped him to my cows tail and climbed out.

In summary, for young kids, I'd say the things to think about are:
judgment
top-heaviness
hip-size
and how sizewise they're not simply shrunken down adults. Proportions are different.

Best of luck. Have fun. And of course most of all be safe.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 3, 2011 2:30 pm

BrianC wrote:
Marduke wrote:Even that weight, there is no reason she shouldn't be able to use a rack. She should have no problems moving on a 14" rack on four bars spread all the way apart.

There are actually spacers that can be used to keep some of the bars apart.


I haven't ever used spacers. I'll have to look into that.

Cody JW wrote:I am assuming you are going to be on a shallow drop above ground at first. Once they are comfortable hanging on rope than you can teach them the friction adjustments on a rack .


That's what we're doing now. She did well with the rack on small diameter rope, the 8 was a means to overcome the friction issue on 11mm.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby NZcaver » Nov 3, 2011 3:08 pm

I agree with the previous comments by Jeff and Greg. A figure 8 with at least a bottom belay should be appropriate for simple in-cave drops. I would recommend against adding spacers to a rack being used by a 9 year old novice for short drops. Spacers are generally considered an option for advanced users on very long drops. Also 7mm rope is not a great choice for beginner cave use, as you probably realize.

As for climbing out, it's nice to have the option of setting up a haul if needed BUT there are many considerations that go with that. Appropriate mechanical advantage and progress capture, good anchors, edge protection, edge transition, high help, friction, good communication/observation of the person on rope, and a high degree of skill by the person controlling the haul. For a simple short drop, maybe. Better to teach her a climbing system if you can, using a tree or similar rig point with the system able to be lowered from the ground.

With young beginner caver groups doing short cave drops, we usually teach them how to climb a cable ladder. In the cave, we use a separate belay rope for both rappelling and ladder climbing. The belay can be pre-rigging for hauling if needed, assuming somebody has the rigging skills to do this.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby BrianC » Nov 3, 2011 3:14 pm

Groundquest, you might have to make the spacers out of heavy nylon tubing to fit the rack frame. The last bars should not be spaced for need of stopping power. As long as practicing much in a controlled environment can be accomplished, the child can learn the friction technique. Also, remember that the longer the rope, the more weight causes more friction. I would always have a belay for beginner vertical folks.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby cavedoc » Nov 3, 2011 4:21 pm

NZcaver wrote:Appropriate mechanical advantage and progress capture...


Now much MA do anticipate needing for a 40 pound load?
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby Cody JW » Nov 3, 2011 4:29 pm

cavedoc wrote:
NZcaver wrote:Appropriate mechanical advantage and progress capture...


Now much MA do anticipate needing for a 40 pound load?
I agree. I think a bearing pulley with a progress catching device and two guys worth their salt could get 40 lbs out of a pit, easy.
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby Stridergdm » Nov 3, 2011 5:58 pm

cavedoc wrote:
NZcaver wrote:Appropriate mechanical advantage and progress capture...


Now much MA do anticipate needing for a 40 pound load?


Well, we are talking Jansen. :woohoo:

Seriously. In a case like that, I'd probably rig myself over the pit as a high point and hand over hand it with some progress capture :-)
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby chh » Nov 3, 2011 6:46 pm

Dude, teach her a carabiner brake and a munter and then she can totally brag to other cavers about being OLD SKOOL!
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Re: On children on rope.

Postby NZcaver » Nov 3, 2011 6:49 pm

Stridergdm wrote:
cavedoc wrote:
NZcaver wrote:Appropriate mechanical advantage and progress capture...


Now much MA do anticipate needing for a 40 pound load?


Well, we are talking Jansen. :woohoo:

Seriously. In a case like that, I'd probably rig myself over the pit as a high point and hand over hand it with some progress capture :-)

40lb load, plus friction. Or rig a counterbalance with a 200lb guy on the end, and watch her fly up the pit! :tonguecheek:
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