Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

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Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Yahtaa » Feb 21, 2012 10:37 am

So my group and I were out in a local cave practicing some rappelling and ascending this last weekend. We set up several different drops, 20', 30', 70'(ish). The 70' drop had a hell of a lip to get over, and on the first dropped posed some problems with my rack being caught on it. The second drop I ran into even more difficulty and when I was finally past it I found that one of my bars had popped out and I was on 3 bars. This made for one hell of a scary rappel trying to slow myself down without burning entirely through my gloves. This completely shook my confidence in myself and my gear for the rest of the time in the cave.

Any suggestions or tips for getting over these lips on a rack?

:shrug:
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby MUD » Feb 21, 2012 10:46 am

Practice, practice, practice. On the surface, a few feet off the ground, with someone who's done it a thousand + times and you'll be ok. You could learn a very hard lesson doing that in a cave without proper instruction and practice! :doh:

Be safe brother and seek out some hands-on help from other cavers!
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Yahtaa » Feb 21, 2012 10:52 am

Definitely agree, Mud. I Generally set up in trees in my yard and practice going up and down, and changeovers, at least 2 times a week. Just hard to recreate that lip in most of my practice areas.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Cody JW » Feb 21, 2012 11:07 am

If you were down to 3 bars I am assuming you started on 4 . I am also assuming you were using a standard and not a micro ?? Unless you weigh about 50 pounds I would not suggest 4 bars on a regular rack on any kind of drop. Disclaimer , I am well north of 200 lbs and if I am going to break out a standard rack I am going to use all 6. I know I am going to open a can of worms here but if I were on drops of 70 feet or less that had nasty overhang I would use a steel 8. It is a shorter device and clears the nasty lip sooner. On longer drops I would suggest a standard rack. If it were that hard to get over on the way down I wonder how hard it was on the way up ? A short pig tail rope ( with a large knot on the end hanging in the pit) helps on the way up to transfer your weight on to get your upper ascender over the lip while your lower ascenders are still on the main line. Sometimes you can use an atrier ( spelling ?) hooked on the pig tail rope with a spare ascender to stand on in order to help clear the lip. Also an illustration in "On Rope" suggests going over the lip sideways instead of facing it may help in some cases. All this can depend on the individual situation.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Carl Amundson » Feb 21, 2012 11:10 am

Use your legs and arms to create space between the rack and the lip.
Get down on your knees of you need to at the top to work thru it.

Some lips are just bad, there is no way around it.
and as Mud so eloquently stated it: Practice, practice, practice.

One more thing.
If you are using a standard rack, learn to add and subtract bars while on rope.
Being able to do that efficiently will get you thru lots of interesting situations.
The longer the rope, the more that comes into play.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Yahtaa » Feb 21, 2012 11:19 am

Yes, started on 4 bars. Which in retrospect all six would have saved me some grief, hopefully. 4 bars is pretty comfortable for me, lots of control. 6 Bars, I felt was overkill for this distance, but I was just what I've been comfortable with. I do like the idea of going over on my side. It sounds plausible, just have to be sure not to roll over and jam up on the lip. Steel 8 isn't a bad idea either, I've not played with those much, and the few times I have it felt awkward. Just preference I guess.

Coming up wasn't an issue we rigged off a shelf that came down over the path we walked up to the shelf. I did ascend up to the lip at one point to just mentally try and run through how it might be negotiated on an ascent, but didn't attempt it. Just changed over and got down and decided to let my brain bake on all the ideas of clearing it.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 21, 2012 11:35 am

Under cut lip? Easy.

approach/rappel to lip.
Plant feet at the lip and continue to let rope through rack.
As you invert completely upside down, you then let you feet slip off the rock
This flips you back vertical, and this also keeps your face from smashing into the lip.
rappel to the ground.

keep your legs straight and stiff the entire time when using yoru feet as a pivot point.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Yahtaa » Feb 21, 2012 11:51 am

That sounds absolutely terrifying. :yikes:
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Feb 21, 2012 11:58 am

Since you are here as a beginner and seem to be open to advice, I will offer this. On a six-bar rack, ALWAYS start with 6 bars. Then, subtract as needed. This gives you the maximum flexibility to deal with situations like bad lips. It may be that as a lighter person you almost always drop to five or four, but I would still start out with 6. Spread the bars. If you still don't move, then drop to 5.

It is worth considering how the gravitational forces change as you pass the lip. When you have your feet on the ground, they are taking some of your weight. This will make it seem like you have too much friction on the rack. As soon as your legs go free, your rack will have to start doing the work that your legs were doing. So, it is okay to fight against the bars as you cross the lip. When you go free, you may need that friction that had been so annoying only seconds before.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 21, 2012 11:59 am

Yahtaa wrote:That sounds absolutely terrifying. :yikes:


Its not, Its how you get past horribly undercut lips. Its either that or you rappel to the lip, plant your feet, pivot on your feet till your legs are perpendicular with the ground and you jump out while rappelling quickly, on the swing back you swing under the lip. THAT is scary ;)

Using your feet as a pivot point, keeping yoru legs straight, and rapelling past the lip till you can flip under it is the easiest and safest way. yOu dont grind metal, you dont lose bars, you dont grind your hip/harness into the rock as you slide past, its a very fluent and controlled movement with no abrasion possibility. Everyone on the team I watched over at bridge day rappelled past the iron girders at the W plate like this.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Yahtaa » Feb 21, 2012 12:14 pm

@Anon - Very open to advice, and after that situation will definitely be starting on all 6.

@Chads - The idea of inverting myself upside down is just hard to process, but i'll definitely give it a try against one of my trees at home.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 21, 2012 12:19 pm

your legs are the only thing that goes truely upside down, you obviously bend your waist and upper body so that you are still looking at your feet. Practice in a tree is always good.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby NZcaver » Feb 21, 2012 3:28 pm

Good comments from Chad, Andy and others.

You might want to check out this previous discussion on etriers, pigtails, and manually deflecting the rope to get people over the lip.
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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Dwight Livingston » Feb 21, 2012 6:12 pm

Yahtaa wrote:That sounds absolutely terrifying. :yikes:


Practice inverting when you are a few feet above the ground. Turn yourself completely upside-down. Get comfortable with it.

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Re: Getting past a sharp pitch/lip on a rack

Postby Cody JW » Feb 21, 2012 6:52 pm

One other thing to remember is to always rig as high as possible, especially if you suspect an overhung lip. Pick the tallest guy in your group with the longest arms to wrap the tree . If you get to a pit you have never been to before look around the lip area close for rub marks in the rock to see the common rig points. Rigging the common rig points will likely give you smoother rub points that you may not be able to see further down. Rig high and rig for what is going to be easier and safer to climb out of , as opposed to rigging for the most spectacular rappel. Bring extra pads , you can use them for the rig tree. Most trip reports will not tell you how many pads you need , be prepared and have lots of pad cord.
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