Decending on a budget

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Decending on a budget

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Feb 29, 2012 11:07 pm

Ok, I know that the saftey conscious people on here are probably going to want to crucify me for what I'm about to ask. I live just 45 minutes away from Ellisons cave. Been going to Petty John's for years and didn't really know much about Ellison's until I stumbled across a Nat Geo photo of fantastic pit. WOW! I had no idea there was a world class cave so close to where I live. Anyway, Just a couple of weeks ago me and a few friends who are more familar with vertical gear then I, hiked to the cave, decended "warm up" pit and found the rigging point for fantastic.
Image
That's me after ascending out of warm up.

I ordered the 600 ft. rope I need for fantastic but chose not to get a rack yet. I was wondering if it would be possible to make this decent with multiple figure 8's rather then using a rack? I've been training almsot daily for weeks and am good at safley switching out belay devices on rope. Logically, it makes sense if I have 6 figure 8's (60$ cost) I could switch one out every 100 ft and prevent them from ever getting hot enough to damage the rope. I also got to thinking about using ice packs or cold water as a "radiator" for them as i'm going down.

The only reason I am proposing this is because it would save almost 50% of the cost of buying a rack. The local rope and rescue store and local grotto frowned at this idea and were almost condeceding saying NOBODY makes those kind of decents with anything other then a rack. However, there is a first time for everything and life is full of risks anyway. Would I be crazy to try using mulitple figure 8's granted I can stop the decent at any point to change them out, allow them to cool or even apply something to aid cooling.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby NZcaver » Mar 1, 2012 4:35 am

Welcome to the forum. If you're patient, an experienced vertical caver forum member in the area might reply and offer to go with you. Or hook you up with a local grotto. If you're lucky, somebody may help arrange to loan you a rack and train you how to use it. Then you'll understand why you want to save the extra pennies and buy one for yourself. Who knows, a caver might even have a spare they'd be willing to sell you. :waving:
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Chads93GT » Mar 1, 2012 8:41 am

The rack is the cadillac of rappel devices. Smooth, STRAIGHT (no twisting of the rope), the ability to add and remove friction at the flip of the wrist (something you need to do on drops like fantastic pit due to the rope weight, else you will be feeding rope for 586' and your arm will fall off before you get half way). Why twist up a brand new rope like a cork screw because you want to use figure 8's? Figure 8's have their place, but not in fantastic pit.

You want to do this to save money. Ask yourself. Is your life not worth the $120 cost of a rack? Mine is.

Yes, there is a first time for everything and life is full of risks, but smart people minimize risk. Part of risk minimization is proper gear, correct? Afterall, are you prepared to goto Fantastic pit, knowing that you may be seeing daylight for your last time because of your refusal to buy the right gear? I think your life is worth more than a $10 figure 8 and an ice pack, no? There is a first time for everything. Last year, the first 2 people died in the warmup pit, only a few feet from where your photo was taken.

Im sure those 2 kids famlies wish they would have had proper training.

Afterall, if you are going to fork out $400 on a rope to get to the bottom, why not fork out another $120 on a proper device to use on it so you dont trash the rope on the first use?

And here is the real kicker. after that 600' rope gets wet its going to shrink. How much? Its going to shrink enough that you wont even be able to use it to get to the bottom of Fantastic Pit. Buy a rack, get training, learn to use it on shorter drops, as there are lots of 100-200-300' drops in yoru area. Learn why rope weight is a factor.

At Bridge day we rappel 876' and its not a beginners rappel, people have to train on drops and be prepared for the rope weight issue. How many 70 lb 1 arm curls can you do to change out figure 8's on the way down? the rope is going to get wet (even more weight) and its going to get muddy (even more weight).

Im in great shape but 70 lb curls will wear me out fast ;) Be safe, get the right gear. Id rather you be around to do that drop multiple times, and others, instead of just once. Fantastic Pit is no place for experiments. Be safe, Be smart.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 1, 2012 8:55 am

A. I applaud your frugality. However, fig 8's won't work on a long rope. If you don't know why, you shouldn't be in Ellison's. And, heat is not the issue. Sorry to be blunt, but you need to research, learn and practice before you attempt a world class cave.
B. Your 600' rope will be too short.
C. This is a family-friendly discussion board. Striking a George Costanza pose with your harness undone maybe too racy for some.
D. You are not ready for Fantastic Pit. Get some help from an experienced caver. There are lots of willing tutors, just be polite, eager to learn and patient.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 1, 2012 9:26 am

You can afford a 600' rope but not a rack?
My rack cost $30.

Your proposal sounds like more that $60 worth of hassle anyway. Not that I haven't asked a lot of similar questions. Usually when almost everyone, and in this case I believe absolutely everyone, tells you it's a bad idea, it's a bad idea.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby LukeM » Mar 1, 2012 9:41 am

I'm sure there are a ton of awesome figure-8 appropriate vertical caves around that you can check out while you save up for a good Fantastic Pit descender. If you're really into this caving thing, see it as a long term investment that will take you many other amazing places. Good luck! I'm jealous that you're so close to these great caves.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 1, 2012 10:29 am

Thanks for the advice from everyone.
Last edited by Elliott-Hellmann on Mar 1, 2012 11:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Yahtaa » Mar 1, 2012 10:39 am

I mean, there is always the option of a bobbin style descender like the Petzl Simple ($60) or Petzl Stop ($125). I love my rack though, just feels good, and gives me the reassurance of six bars of safety. The amount of danger in switching 8's on that long drop just isn't worth it. If you can afford the rope to drop it, take the time and money to obtain and train on a proper descender for long drops. Never dropped Ellison's, but after reading over so many trip reports, and last years accident(which was just the warm up pit), I wouldn't touch fantastic until I had the most bombproof confidence in my skills and equipment. Just my two cents.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby BrianC » Mar 1, 2012 10:51 am

This is a very simple answer, Figure 8's work very well on very supple dynamic climbing rope because the rope has so much friction in continuous contact with the eight. On the other hand, caving rope is very hard static rope because we don't want any stretch or wear from the cave environment, and it will NOT have enough contact on caving rope to be controllable. DO NOT ATTEMPT this without at least a rack designed for caving. Go to On Rope in Harrison tn. and speak to them about your desire, they will guide you in the right direction. I have used 8's on caving rope in a controlled outside setting, and am lucky to still be here. :doh:
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 1, 2012 10:56 am

Thanks for all the responses. I'm going to pick up a rack this afternoon. The idea I had was obviously extremely radical and there was one major flaw in it that I overlooked. The rope weight would make installing a new figure 8 extremely difficuilt if not impossible.

To whoever said they got their rack for 30$, I wish they sold them that cheap where I live. You can't even buy a Frame for that cheap, at least not one that is SAFE to use. While saving $ is a priority, I'll never buy used vertical gear. Also whoever said that 600 ft is not enough for fantastic, that's just not true. The place where we are going to rig from called "the balcony" 600 ft is more then enough rope. In fact some of the people who I talked to who have done this drop told me after i make the ascent back up I might consider cutting the some of the excess just to make that last trip up warm up a little less exhausting. Lastly to the guy who said my ppicture was inapropriate for this forum, it would pobably be worse if the harness was FASTED. Also even without doing fantastic, Ellisons is a very physically ehausting trip and you'd probably find yourself in a similar "pose" afterwards

Once again thanks to everyone for the responses and advice. I'm really looking forward to getting to explore this cave some day in the future.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Chads93GT » Mar 1, 2012 11:10 am

Sorry. Ive never rigged the balcony. I forgot about that rig point hahaha.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby LukeM » Mar 1, 2012 11:14 am

Yahtaa wrote:I mean, there is always the option of a bobbin style descender like the Petzl Simple ($60) or Petzl Stop ($125)..


Just FYI, if you want to use one of those on a 600ft free drop be prepared to literally haul yourself down the rope. Bobbins aren't made for really long free drops. A micro rack is cheaper than a full rack, and can work fine on big drops depending on certain variables. YMMV.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 1, 2012 11:18 am

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:to the guy who said my ppicture was inapropriate for this forum

:laughing: :rofl: Joke, dude. It was a joke. It's a silly picture and deserves to have some fun poked at it.

Ah, the Balcony. Yes, 600' is plenty for the Balcony. You didn't say that you have already talked to people that have done Fantastic. You said you read about it in NG and then bought rope and went to do it. That's scares us. But, you have done some homework and were smart enough to come here and ask a few questions. Keep asking questions and getting advice and you'll be fine.

BTW, how are your changeovers? The ability to change from descending to ascending and vice-versa is your best option for saving yourself should you get in trouble. Practice with a weighted (~40lbs) rope in the tree.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 1, 2012 11:44 am

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:To whoever said they got their rack for 30$, I wish they sold them that cheap where I live.


I bought it on Ebay after extensive homework. It was is new cond. with no polishing on the bars.

BrianC wrote: I have used 8's on caving rope in a controlled outside setting, and am lucky to still be here.


Oh dear. Myself and planty of others on this forum have used 8's on caving rope without the slightest issue, and will continue to. Just not 600 footers.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby sandcast69 » Mar 1, 2012 11:56 am

I'm glad to see your getting a rack. I am curious what style ascension system are you planning on using to get back up?
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