Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

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Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 12, 2012 11:53 pm

Those of you who frog and carry a separate QAS or otherwise have a third ascender on-hand for use as a spare... have you ever actually USED it? It just occurred to me that, in about four years of carrying an extra Petzl Basic or Petzl Tibloc at all times, I've used this third ascender a grand total of twice:

(1) Crossing a knot on ascent in Valhalla, about 100 feet in the air. The rigger had tied a triple-fisherman's in 11.5mm rope with no safety loop, so I was forced to use a third ascender instead of a cowstail to pass a very cumbersome knot. A prusik loop would have worked fine for this application, of course. I also suppose I could've tied a safety knot below my Croll.
(2) A climber ahead of me placed a fixed rope in the wrong spot on a very awkward undercut lip, and I found a third ascender handy when clearing this lip. I could've done so without it, but there would have been more grunting.

Background: I use a BMS long-frame micro-rack or Petzl Simple, depending on the trip, and don't require a third ascender for changeovers. I do not use a Petzl Pantin with my frog. The majority of my caving, at least for the last two years, is in TAG multi-drops with anywhere between 3 and 10 roped pitches and wearing my gear the entire time. I use the same system on Lech expeditions, etc. but haven't done any "serious" deep caving like in Mexico or Europe.

I'm not advocating for everyone to toss their third ascenders... but I can't think of very many instances where they get used! I'm curious to hear of some other situations where a third ascender might have been useful (or indispensable).
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 13, 2012 5:20 am

You may want two points of attachment, but you only need one.

I see a lot of people get really hung up and struggle while trying to maintain two points. I argue that if you are competent and confident, it is fine to briefly go with one point. Like when crossing that knot in Valhalla, were you trying to maintain two points?

I don't think I have ever carried three. But, I do go to one, briefly, a lot.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 13, 2012 7:06 am

Scott McCrea wrote:You may want two points of attachment, but you only need one.

I see a lot of people get really hung up and struggle while trying to maintain two points. I argue that if you are competent and confident, it is fine to briefly go with one point. Like when crossing that knot in Valhalla, were you trying to maintain two points?

I don't think I have ever carried three. But, I do go to one, briefly, a lot.


Crossing knot in Valhalla, yes: maintaining two points moving my upper ascender and, subsequently, croll past the knot. The standard approach, I believe, though of course many cavers do skip this step as you describe.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Jul 13, 2012 7:45 am

I don't carry three either. For the majority of my vertical years I used a rope walker. I've done everything in a rope walker - free hanging re belays, crossed knots, etc... Jason knew the only way he'd get me into a frog system was for him to buy me one. Two years ago for Christmas he put together a very light system for me. I use my QAS along with a seperate cowstail with two beaners and have never had the need for a third ascender. I think most of it depends on how a person was trained. Jason does carry a third but like you he has rarely used it.

*after thought - i use three ascenders with the rope walker but not the frog. I realize my wording was confusing.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jul 13, 2012 9:01 am

I have used mine, a lot.

Unless I am backpacked in somewhere, like Grand Canyon, I use a full-sized rack. Having three ascenders makes changeovers much easier with a long rack. Do I have to do changeovers in real situations often? No, of course. But I HAVE had to do them for real a few times. In training, or for NCRC entrance skills, I have done them many times with three ascenders.

I use the third a lot in Lechuguilla to transition from Frog to Texas in awkward pits. Some of the long sloping fissures like the 100 foot one in Apricot Pit are easier to negotiate by disengaging the croll and going Texas with the camp pig tethered. Getting out of that croll will get your face out of the gorilla s**t so you can Texas on up with more style. YMMV, but I find that I curse and sweat less than some other people do in Apricot. Croll won't feed? Get rid of it! I have never had a Texas system ascender fail to feed rope.

I have used the third ascender occasionally to more easily cross undercut lips, especially with a heavy pack tethered.

I used the third ascender one time to save my ass when my mini-rack dropped a bar when I was 60 feet off the deck. My foot ascender would have been slower to access as it was clipped to my side with the footloop also stowed and clipped. It sure was nice to clip that QAS on in less than 2 seconds, as my death grip would not have lasted much longer than that. That one instance made all the years of carrying three ascenders worth it.

Anyway, everyone has their own techniques, and they're all okay as long as they're safe and reasonably efficient. I will admit that I still cling to two-points of attachment dogma, and that influences some of my gear choices and techniques. But, my ascenders tend to be worn out and rusty, and I just don't trust one of them on their own in some situations. I've had them skate down muddy rope, twist off the rope, and remind me to show you the one that I can move down the rope while it is weighted.

I find three ascenders to be more versatile, in some situations. When I need to trim gear, I leave the third behind. You can certainly do all SRT maneuvers without it, but the third ascender can make some techniques easier and faster, especially if you use a 6-bar rack or are doing awkward pits with a heavy pack.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 13, 2012 9:05 am

Anonymous_Coward wrote: I will admit that I still cling to two-points of attachment dogma, and that influences some of my gear choices and techniques. But, my ascenders tend to be worn out and rusty, and I just don't trust one of them on their own in some situations. I've had them skate down muddy rope, twist off the rope, and remind me to show you the one that I can move down the rope while it is weighted.


Derailing my own thread here -- is it funny that I'm still using the Basic I dropped down a 70ft section of Apricot Pit as my upper ascender, even though the housing is slightly warped and it'll walk down the rope if I tilt it the wrong way? I'm finally on the verge of retiring it, but that may be part of why I'm a two-points-of-attachment stickler myself.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jul 13, 2012 9:06 am

Kelly, do you only have two ascenders on your ropewalker? Maybe I misunderstood. But, if that is the case you might want to consider adding a third so that you have an above-the-waist attachment. You know, fall factors and teeth and all that. But here I go again with the dogma....
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby jharman2 » Jul 13, 2012 9:34 am

Jeff Bartlett wrote:Those of you who frog and carry a separate QAS or otherwise have a third ascender on-hand for use as a spare... have you ever actually USED it? It just occurred to me that, in about four years of carrying an extra Petzl Basic or Petzl Tibloc at all times, I've used this third ascender a grand total of twice:


I deleted the third ascender and associated tether several years ago. It's a vestigial organ in my opinion. I connect my long cows tail to the upper ascender via a slightly oversized maillon. If I want to use the ascender tether as a cows tail I simply clip a biner through the maillon.

It is better to rely on technique instead of extra gear. Invariably when I see someone with lots of extra gear hanging from their half round they are slower and struggle with technical obstacles. I don't know if a lack of understanding of technical rigging drives them to have more gear or if their extra gear makes them struggle with technical rigging. Either way, I'm a strong advocate for minimizing your gear and maximizing your technique.

I will mention that I have carried a Prusik loop and a pulley in my pack for a long time. I recently replaced the pulley with a Petzl Micro Traxion: http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/self-jamming-pulleys/micro-traxion So far I'm very happy with the Micro Traxion. It can be used as a backup ascender, pulley or progress capture pulley. It's probably the best piece of kit that I've added in a long time.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Chads93GT » Jul 13, 2012 10:02 am

After a friend crossed a nasty lip in southern illinois and got hung up, simply because of the two attachment dogma on a ropewalker (above the roller) everyone around here started using two qas's. I did away with that as soon as I put a chest croll on my ropewalker and started frogging up shorter stuff, but I always use my frog with my ropewalker. It just makes crossing lips easier when you can fly up a pit, then remove the roller and not flip over becuase of the frogging croll at your chest. I havae no problem crossing lips that are undercut and nasty with NO qas (suprise pit, neversink?) where others take a lot longer to cross those same lips because of using 2 qas's to do it.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 13, 2012 10:36 am

jharman2 wrote:It is better to rely on technique instead of extra gear.

Except for the Pantin? :)
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby gindling » Jul 13, 2012 10:38 am

Never. Though I wish I had one once. Someone did the same thing to me in Ferris (pheris?) Pit in Putnam Co that you encountered Jeff. A long fisherman's knot with no loop and a bitch to get over, maybe it was the same person?! I agree with jharman2 about the simplicity of your technique trumping all.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Jul 13, 2012 10:40 am

Anonymous_Coward wrote:Kelly, do you only have two ascenders on your ropewalker? Maybe I misunderstood. But, if that is the case you might want to consider adding a third so that you have an above-the-waist attachment. You know, fall factors and teeth and all that. But here I go again with the dogma....


Yes, I most definately have a third with the ropewalker. It's only with the frog I use two and a two beaner cowstail. Before I had my frog all I used was the ropewalker. Now I use the frog nearly everywhere since it's much lighter system.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jul 13, 2012 10:49 am

Jeff Bartlett wrote:
jharman2 wrote:It is better to rely on technique instead of extra gear.

Except for the Pantin? :)


...and apparently a microTraxion
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby jharman2 » Jul 13, 2012 12:21 pm

Jeff Bartlett wrote:
jharman2 wrote:It is better to rely on technique instead of extra gear.

Except for the Pantin? :)


I consider the Pantin an integral part of the frog system - not extra gear. While that may be debatable the pantin undeniably adds versatility to the system. You can't turn the frog into a frogwalker without it!
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby graveleye » Jul 13, 2012 12:36 pm

I'm trying to think here... how would you do a changeover with only two ascenders?
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