Decending on a budget

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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Amazingracer » Mar 2, 2012 12:54 pm

What Greg said.

Also take Marty up on his offer. Lots of grottos in the area and they love teaching new fol

dutchcontractor wrote:
it should take 10 minutes or more, you don't want to burn the rope up...



I think you underestimate the durability of the rope. Regardless saying you have to take at least 10 minutes can be misleading. It would be better to say rappel at the speed at which you can stay in control. I have personally never witnessed a 10 minute rappel at Fantastic or even Golondrinas despite doing both several times. My personal longest rappel is 15 minutes from the Black Canyon (1550') and that was mainly from having to pass a knot in the rope.

Good rule of thumb is if you think the pit is blowing air up from the bottom, probably going too fast. But you can still do a safe controlled descent of Fantastic in under 5 minutes. When you rappel for the extended period of time you can actually become tired from dealing with the rope weight and adjusting speed so much to try and go slow (seen it happen). Where as with the rope weight once you get going, the rope weight can negate itself if you are using your rack properly and you can move on down the rope at a safe speed by simply moving the bars.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Cody JW » Mar 2, 2012 1:56 pm

Amazingracer wrote:What Greg said.

Also take Marty up on his offer. Lots of grottos in the area and they love teaching new fol

dutchcontractor wrote:
it should take 10 minutes or more, you don't want to burn the rope up...



I think you underestimate the durability of the rope. Regardless saying you have to take at least 10 minutes can be misleading. It would be better to say rappel at the speed at which you can stay in control. I have personally never witnessed a 10 minute rappel at Fantastic or even Golondrinas despite doing both several times. My personal longest rappel is 15 minutes from the Black Canyon (1550') and that was mainly from having to pass a knot in the rope.

Good rule of thumb is if you think the pit is blowing air up from the bottom, probably going too fast. But you can still do a safe controlled descent of Fantastic in under 5 minutes. When you rappel for the extended period of time you can actually become tired from dealing with the rope weight and adjusting speed so much to try and go slow (seen it happen). Where as with the rope weight once you get going, the rope weight can negate itself if you are using your rack properly and you can move on down the rope at a safe speed by simply moving the bars.
You may be assuming somebody has the space on the rack frame to move bars. On a standard rack with 6 bars engaged , you are not going to have much room to move bars to make a significant change in friction . With 5 you will, especially if you only have 5 bars attached to the rack. Big boys like me prefer all 6 bars . Like I mentioned in an earlier thread I do not like 5 bars because if for some reason beyond my control my brake hand left the rope I will drop like a rock. I prefer 6 bars and if that means I have to force feed at the top I will. I would rather have too much friction than too little. I now have the best of both worlds with an 18 " frame , I can have 6 bars and room to move them and make nessessary friction adjustments on a long drop and still have 6 bars engaged. To tell somebody with a standard rock to move bars to get the desired friction may be misleading . I am heavier than most vertical guys so what works for the 170 lb guy may not work for me.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby shibumi » Mar 2, 2012 1:59 pm

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:
The changeovers are definaltly something that I'm trying to work on in my free time. The way I've been doing it is hooking the belay device to a carabiner on my D ring. I have a petzl croll attached to my D ring, A petzl Pantin foot ascender (Left) and a Petzl hand ascender with a single leg strap (right). By keeping the Belay device above the Croll I can attach the foot acender and hand ascender, step into the strap. Take the tension off the the belay device, remove it and then attach the croll. With both the foot and hand acender attached, I feel pretty secure on the rope while preforming the switch from the belay to the croll.

I read that the two guys who died in this cave last year either didn't know how to preform a change over or were not equiped to do so. That's why they got stuck in the waterfall and caught hypothermia.


Elliot:

I was the first person there to those two last year. I can tell you with certainty that the problems they faced were far more complicated than that. Highly experienced vertical cavers have been killed doing vertical work in waterfalls. It's not to be trifled with.

I'm very glad to hear you got a rack. A few bucks is not worth your life, or in my opinion, risking the lives of those who will have to come after you should you screw up. When we got to the two men who died on rope there were three of of and one of the hardest decisions was who was going to go into the waterfall to see if they were alive, because that right there was a significant risk. Just last month we had a caver helping out on another body recovery get injured to the point where her knee is still not very usable.

In caving your actions affect not only you, but those on your trip, and those who volunteer (and most folks who do cave rescue are volunteers) to try to come get you. You owe it to yourself and to those other folks to not take unnecessary risks when better alternatives are available.

Anmar Mirza, National Coordinator, National Cave Rescue Commission.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby BrianFrank » Mar 2, 2012 2:37 pm

shibumi wrote:Elliot:
I was the first person there to those two last year. I can tell you with certainty that the problems they faced were far more complicated than that. Highly experienced vertical cavers have been killed doing vertical work in waterfalls. It's not to be trifled with.
I'm very glad to hear you got a rack. A few bucks is not worth your life, or in my opinion, risking the lives of those who will have to come after you should you screw up. When we got to the two men who died on rope there were three of of and one of the hardest decisions was who was going to go into the waterfall to see if they were alive, because that right there was a significant risk. Just last month we had a caver helping out on another body recovery get injured to the point where her knee is still not very usable.
In caving your actions affect not only you, but those on your trip, and those who volunteer (and most folks who do cave rescue are volunteers) to try to come get you. You owe it to yourself and to those other folks to not take unnecessary risks when better alternatives are available.
Anmar Mirza, National Coordinator, National Cave Rescue Commission.


Shibumi:
Lots of different reports came out of that terrible accident (rumors and in writing). Since you were there, can you please clear up a few things for all of us?
1.) Did they run out of rope and had to stop where they were at, OR did their rope get tangled and that stopped them, OR did the water put them into hypothermia and they stopped where they were at?
2.) How far down into the 125' pit were they when they were found?
3.) We know one of them had better equipment than the other one, was it proper equipment that if he was trained and dressed appropriately for cold water that he could have made it to the bottom safely?
4.) Did they lay their ropes right down in the waterfall from the start, or did they lay their ropes down in a dry area and as they descended the expansion of the water fall eventually covered them? I know there is an area off to the right that you can rig from that will take you further away from the start of the waterfall....
5.) Any indication that one or both was attempting to rig to try and come back up?
6.) Reports say that the first person went down to recover a bag that had fallen. Was that to say that they had decided to NOT drop that pit, but he then felt he had to, to retrieve the bag? I know you could not know what he was thinking, but maybe his friends mentioned more about that.

Thanks, I know this forum would appreciate any info on these questions.

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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby shibumi » Mar 2, 2012 3:02 pm

Brian:

I posted all that I can post in the thread we had on that rescue. We were asked by the Walker County authorities to not release any more details than we did in the initial reports. I am currently awaiting permission from the authorities in Walker County so that I can write a report for the ACA. Once I have their permission to publish I will answer those questions that I can.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby BrianFrank » Mar 2, 2012 5:28 pm

shibumi wrote:Brian: I posted all that I can post in the thread we had on that rescue. We were asked by the Walker County authorities to not release any more details than we did in the initial reports. I am currently awaiting permission from the authorities in Walker County so that I can write a report for the ACA. Once I have their permission to publish I will answer those questions that I can.

Figured that was coming. I understand, I had to at least try. :grin:
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Lava » Mar 2, 2012 6:54 pm

To the OP - It appears as though your helmet does not have a chin strap in the pictures. Perhaps it's just obscured. If not, you NEED to get a helmet with a chin strap. Otherwise I guarantee you it will eventually fall off your head and down the pit.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby PeterFJohnson » Mar 2, 2012 8:05 pm

Elliott,

Welcome to the eccentric fraternity of caving. Hopefully I'll see you out there some day. A few thoughts:

From the pictures and your description it seems more like you are using a frog system than a ropewalker? Are you using a chest roller?

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:
The changeovers are definaltly something that I'm trying to work on in my free time. The way I've been doing it is hooking the belay device to a carabiner on my D ring. I have a petzl croll attached to my D ring, A petzl Pantin foot ascender (Left) and a Petzl hand ascender with a single leg strap (right). By keeping the Belay device above the Croll I can attach the foot acender and hand ascender, step into the strap. Take the tension off the the belay device, remove it and then attach the croll. With both the foot and hand acender attached, I feel pretty secure on the rope while preforming the switch from the belay to the croll.


Not sure I am reading this correctly but it sounds as though when changing over from descent to ascent you are momentarily only connected to the rope with a hand(or "upper") ascender and a foot ascender? I am looking at this specifically:

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:Take the tension off the the belay device, remove it and then attach the croll.


This is bad practice for a change over and can be corrected pretty easily by attaching the croll before removing the belay device(or "Descender" or "Rappel Device").

There are two reasons for this:

1)A foot ascender lacks the safety catch of a normal ascender and therefore should never be considered a device for use in life safe applications. You will find out that most foot ascenders come off the rope fairly easily(for reasons which are good, but irrelevant to this thread). It is best to disregard a foot ascender when thinking about life safety and instead think of it only as something that makes ascending more efficient.

2)Even ascenders with safety catches, like a croll or upper/handled ascender, slip on the rope from time to time. If you cave long enough this will happen to you. As a result it isn't consider safe to rely on only one ascender for life safety. Some people chose to think of an ascender as "half" a connection to the rope to help remember not to rely on a single ascender.

2a) In looking at the picture of you coming up over the lip it looks like you have no connection to your hand ascender other than your foot loop. You should have a tether connecting your hand ascender to your d-ring for safety reasons.

All this might seem like overkill at first, but it isn't. And since you already have the proper gear on you, it only takes small changes to make it a much safer system. See if you can find a copy of Alpine Caving Techniques(unless you actually are using a rope walker, in which case get On Rope) or check out this site for more info. And as everyone else said, its nice to have a mentor.

If I misunderstood any of your posts I apologize, but I thought I would chime in on those few points since nobody else had so far. They seemed preoccupied with other things...

Have fun out there man
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 5, 2012 8:50 pm

PeterFJohnson wrote:Elliott,



From the pictures and your description it seems more like you are using a frog system than a ropewalker? Are you using a chest roller?



This is bad practice for a change over and can be corrected pretty easily by attaching the croll before removing the belay device(or "Descender" or "Rappel Device").



2)Even ascenders with safety catches, like a croll or upper/handled ascender, slip on the rope from time to time. If you cave long enough this will happen to you. As a result it isn't consider safe to rely on only one ascender for life safety. Some people chose to think of an ascender as "half" a connection to the rope to help remember not to rely on a single ascender.

2a) In looking at the picture of you coming up over the lip it looks like you have no connection to your hand ascender other than your foot loop. You should have a tether connecting your hand ascender to your d-ring for safety reasons.



Your right it is more of a frog system. I'm finding that using both legs together is the easiest way.

I just learned that two ascenders should be attached above the waistline at all time for saftey. Like you said consider each one as "half". The way I was doing it left me momentarily with just the hand and foot. I realized I was attaching the croll too close to the bleay device and thus unable to get the tension off the carabiner holding the belay device. Now doing change overs is feels A lot safer.

As for the hand ascender having a tether, it has an adjustable strap that attaches to my D-ring though I don't know about it being a tether. There are unused holes in the hand ascender and i bet that's what they are for.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 6, 2012 4:31 pm

mabercrombie wrote:Hey Elliot
The Chattanooga Grotto meets at the Chattanooga Nature Center on the second Monday of each month at 7:00. We would love to see you there!


Thanks, I'm definatly interested.
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Re: Decending on a budget

Postby dutchcontractor » Mar 8, 2012 9:17 pm

Amazingracer wrote:What Greg said.

Also take Marty up on his offer. Lots of grottos in the area and they love teaching new fol

dutchcontractor wrote:
it should take 10 minutes or more, you don't want to burn the rope up...



I think you underestimate the durability of the rope. Regardless saying you have to take at least 10 minutes can be misleading. It would be better to say rappel at the speed at which you can stay in control. I have personally never witnessed a 10 minute rappel at Fantastic or even Golondrinas despite doing both several times. My personal longest rappel is 15 minutes from the Black Canyon (1550') and that was mainly from having to pass a knot in the rope.

Good rule of thumb is if you think the pit is blowing air up from the bottom, probably going too fast. But you can still do a safe controlled descent of Fantastic in under 5 minutes. When you rappel for the extended period of time you can actually become tired from dealing with the rope weight and adjusting speed so much to try and go slow (seen it happen). Where as with the rope weight once you get going, the rope weight can negate itself if you are using your rack properly and you can move on down the rope at a safe speed by simply moving the bars.


I underestimate the durability of any rope on purpose. :wink:
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