Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 13, 2012 1:02 pm

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

From ascent to descent, with a Simple or a micro-rack you can just rig the descender under your Croll. It's especially easy with the Simple. Thread descender, lock off, remove croll, sit down onto descender, remove upper. Doesn't work so well with a 14" weenie roaster.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Chads93GT » Jul 13, 2012 1:23 pm

I do a changeover with a frog with only the chest croll and the cowstail ascender. No 3rd. I even do it with a 14" weenie roaster as jeff says, lol, love that. I simply put the rack above the croll but thumbing out a foot or so of rope through the croll to give me slack. YOu may say, im only on one ascender at that time, while that may be true, as soon as start threading the rack its nullified anyway. 2 hand ascenders for changeovers on a frog or ropewalker is only for feeling safe, it just takes longer. I see no point as even with a ropewalker I leave my foot ascenders attached to the rope
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby graveleye » Jul 13, 2012 5:09 pm

I understand, but I think I'll stick with my 3rd ascender. It just doesn't seem to get in my way, makes me more comfortable having it with me. I like to have two on the rope when I'm changing over. One makes me nervous.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 13, 2012 5:40 pm

graveleye wrote:I understand, but I think I'll stick with my 3rd ascender. It just doesn't seem to get in my way, makes me more comfortable having it with me.


Yeah, as stated in the original post:
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).


Don't want this to turn into a yes/no debate over the value of a third ascender. I'm simply curious as to situations where it gets used. Andy was able to name several I hadn't thought of.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Lava » Jul 13, 2012 6:49 pm

I never carry or use a QAS. I do carry a tibloc in case I lose an ascender, but I've never touched the thing. When I do a changeover, one of the first things I do (assuming my upper ascender is already on the rope) is stand up and clip my short cowstail around the rope over the top of my upper ascender and hang on that. That takes the weight off of the croll or descender and allows you to feed out just enough slack to attach croll/descender (depending on changeover direction) without going totally to a single attach point and without needing a QAS.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Stridergdm » Jul 13, 2012 9:15 pm

I used to carry a 2nd handled ascender with my Frog system (i.e. a QAS). After seeing others do changeovers w/o it, I decided to practice w/o it.

In my personal experience, I found I was more efficient and did better change-overs without it.

I typically do carry a prusik on a loop "just in case".

And while I can typically do all my change-overs with two points of attachment the entire time, I have been known once or twice to cheat. But never when anyone else was looking :-)

I would never be dogmatic about telling others to drop the extra ascender, but I would highly suggest trying without it. You MIGHT find you like it. (on the other hand, you might not). That said, if I had a full-size rack, I'd probably change my mind in that particular case. :-)

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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby NZcaver » Jul 13, 2012 9:26 pm

Lava wrote:I never carry or use a QAS. I do carry a tibloc in case I lose an ascender, but I've never touched the thing.

What Bruce said mostly applies with me too, including carrying a little Tibloc (which is virtually never used, other than for demos). I also carry a little Prusik loop and micro pulley. I did go through a phase of carrying a third regular ascender (so-called QAS) with my Frog rig. This was primarily because NCRC doctrine went through a mandatory QAS phase for a while there, before moving on (thankfully). As best I can recall I have never used any third ascender with a Frog rig in any situation where I absolutely NEEDED it because nothing else in my basic rig would suffice. I've certainly tinkered with it as an option in situations like difficult undercut edges, but decided it's not worth carrying one all the time just for that.

99% of my frogging has been with a Stop or a micro rack, so no need for complicated changeovers. Basic plan for up-to-down is to rig the descender tight under the Croll, lock it off, step up in the footloops while releasing the Croll, and sit back down on the descender. Simple. If/when a long descender ever comes into play, transfer weight from Croll to upper ascender by clipping in with your short cowstail, slack the Croll, and rig the descender in between the upper and the Croll. Remove Croll, step up and remove short cowstail, sit down on locked descender, and finish your changeover. Another variation on this last technique allows that one may remove the Croll completely after clipping in to the upper ascender with the short cowstail. This is based on the assertion that clipping a second cowstail/tether to a single loaded gripping ascender on the rope may be counted as two points of attachment. Individual opinions differ on that one.

All this aside, I wouldn't usually dissuade another Frogger from carrying a third ascender/QAS if that is their preference. Like Greg just said, go with what you know works and is safe.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby PeterFJohnson » Jul 13, 2012 11:05 pm

I would also second the notion that sometimes carrying extra gear prevents you from developing technique that makes you less reliant on gear. With the exception of Andy dropping a bar every situation mentioned could have been safely negotiated without the use of a 3rd ascender. And in the case of the dropped rack bar, I would argue that if you are carrying a third ascender for quick deployment in case your descender starts to fail you should reevaluate your descender, not how many ascenders you have. I don't want to rely on getting a QAS on rope quickly to prevent a fall...

Many of the other problems could simply be solved by tying into the rope below your croll with a locking carabiner - I prefer a clove hitch. You are then free to move your upper ascender over a lip or a knot with the comfort of two points of attachment.

As for passing a triple fisherman's without a clip in loop, you can either changeover to ascent or - and I believe this has been mentioned on the forum before - tie a butterfly and put the triple fisherman's into the loop of the butterfly. You now have a much shorter knot to pass and you have created a clip in loop. You have also vastly improved the rigging for the next person or for you on the way back up and all it took was the time it takes to tie a butterfly.

Of course like others I certainly am not suggesting these things are for everyone, but I personal feel much safer knowing I have options that don't include being dependent on an extra piece of gear that adds weight and volume to my pack. I am not sure I would have learned as much if I had always carried a 3rd.

(w/apologies to Jeff Bartlett for possibly contributing to turning this into a debate regarding 3rd ascenders)
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby John Lovaas » Jul 13, 2012 11:23 pm

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


Hi John-

Everyone else here has good answers- another one would be 'consult Alpine Caving Techniques'. ;-) It got me rethinking my frog/therestoftheplanetexcepttheUSA setup.

I do have a Tibloc and a webbing loop handy for a variety of potential uses(loss or failure of an ascender, totally frustrating lip where the rope in tight against it- a Tibloc is nice and skinny, and you can wiggle it underneath a loaded rope). I find that my Pantin gives me plenty of oomph to get over nasty lips. But when I change over, I do it like the rest of the world outside the US seems to be doing it- with two ascenders.

I also think the 3rd ascender isn't much of a safety at all unless it is connected to your harness via dynamic rope, and that there isn't any slack in that rope- and that lack of slack will make an ascender to decend changeover rather annoying. I also don't think an ascender should be used as free fall arrest device.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jul 14, 2012 12:11 am

PeterFJohnson wrote:As for passing a triple fisherman's without a clip in loop, you can either changeover to ascent or - and I believe this has been mentioned on the forum before - tie a butterfly and put the triple fisherman's into the loop of the butterfly. You now have a much shorter knot to pass and you have created a clip in loop. You have also vastly improved the rigging for the next person or for you on the way back up and all it took was the time it takes to tie a butterfly.

Derailing my own thread here, but in this particular instance I'd rappelled one rope and was climbing another. Certainly there's no way to tie a butterfly around a knot that's above my croll on the rope I'm hanging on.

New topic:

While I trend toward a pretty minimal setup myself, I don't think I agree with the implied (or clearly stated) point of many thread responders that "more gear = less skill." Yes, a QAS (or a third ascender dangling on a gear loop) is extra gear. So is a Pantin. So is a prusik loop or Tibloc. Those using 14" racks in multi-pitch caves are making an informed choice to carry larger/heavier equipment due to personal preference. I use an 80g Petzl Attache on my short cowstail instead of a lighter carabiner -- a conscious decision to carry a round-cross-section HMS locker for muntering or use with a Tibloc -- but I don't see how these things are a crutch or constitute a lack of technique.

Like many here, I learned on a two-ascender, double-cowstail classic frog and caved extensively with that setup for a couple of years before trying out extras like the Pantin and a separate QAS. I lost interest in the Pantin quickly, and I rarely do carry a third ascender; however, I've actually caved with my upper ascender on its own tether, independent of my cowstails, for years now. That's an extra piece of gear... does that mean I'm dependent on it because I choose to carry it? Hardly. Let's not assume good cavers like John Harman (Pantin apologist) and Andy Armstrong (purveyor of QAS dogma) chose these "additional" pieces of gear because they lack appropriate training or would be unable to cave safely without them.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Rick Brinkman » Jul 14, 2012 1:01 am

I'm going to answer your headline question and that's it.

I do not carry a third ascender. I only have two cowstails. KISS. Learn your gear. "Alpine Caving Techniques" is usually correct.


PS I wished I had a Pantin(with me) once. But that was just poor rigging.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby cavedoc » Jul 14, 2012 4:51 am

No. I'm a purist. While I usually have a prussik loop in the bag I do not carry a 3rd ascender on me. If you're not using a long rack there is no need.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 14, 2012 8:42 am

I am a proponent of the QAS. I believe that everyone should be able to attach themselves to a rope, any rope, securely, in about two seconds. The ability to reposition yourself once attached is useful.

A cow's tail can be a QAS. But, only if the rigging allows it. Pitches have to be specifically rigged to make cow's tails into QAS's

A handled ascender on a lanyard, sans footloop, can be a QAS in most places. The exception being on a horizontal traverse—cow's tails are more appropriate there. A footloop can be a distraction. A detachable footloop can solve this issue. But, it also raises other issues, like the dropping-it-down-a-pit potential.

Consider deleting links to simplify. The more links in a chain... Tie cow's tails directly to the half round instead of attaching with a biner, etc.

It all comes down to transitions—changeovers, on/off rope, doning/stowing gear, travel between pitches, lips, etc. The faster, safer, more efficient your transitions are, the more fun you have.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jul 14, 2012 9:51 am

PeterFJohnson wrote:I would also second the notion that sometimes carrying extra gear prevents you from developing technique that makes you less reliant on gear. With the exception of Andy dropping a bar every situation mentioned could have been safely negotiated without the use of a 3rd ascender. And in the case of the dropped rack bar, I would argue that if you are carrying a third ascender for quick deployment in case your descender starts to fail you should reevaluate your descender, not how many ascenders you have. I don't want to rely on getting a QAS on rope quickly to prevent a fall...


Ahhh, but Pete you are missing the point. As so often happens on cavechat, crucial details have been overlooked. I said myself that all of these situations CAN be negotiated safely without the third ascender. The point is, sometimes an extra piece of gear is NICE to have. It doesn't mean that you have to have it. (I'm not picking on you specifically, Pete. Just answering an overall tone that I am hearing in many of the responses here.)

I also never said that I carried the third just in case my descender started to fail. That's just what really happened. In that situation I had to get an ascender on rope quickly or I would be dead right now. But I'm actually not arguing that anyone should carry a third. I usually do, and was asked to list times that I had used it.

What it comes down to is that it is up to each person to decide what is crucial and what is "extra." It is worth noting that blind adherence to Alpine Caving Techniques could also be considered dogmatic. At least here in Amurica, innovation and variety are still considered good things. Without them, we never would have had rappel racks, wedge bolts, braking carabiners, Pantins, LEDs, or really any of the gear or techniques that we are talking about here. We would all be climbing cable ladders on belay or getting hauled out of pits by winches.

I do agree it is a good idea to practice with "crucial" pieces of your system missing. This is how you learn to overcome problems. At the latest NCRC mock rescue, I was able to build a complete frog system with a 20 ft. webbing, two carabiners, a prusik loop, a spectra sling, and one miniTraxion, and used it to rappel and ascend a 70 ft. pit. All the years of carrying a 6-bar rack and a third ascender did not "prevent" me from knowing how to build and use it.

Minimal gear is a great and extremely useful philosophy, but to say it is the only way is a little short-sighted. I will also say that once you have to enact a vertical self-rescue from deep within a multi-drop cave, the lines between "extra" and "crucial" start to blur a little, and that can tend to affect what you carry from then on.
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Re: Froggers: have you ever USED your third ascender?

Postby chh » Jul 15, 2012 8:24 am

I have never used a third ascender. I don't carry one. I always carry a prussik loop, which I view as a necessary piece of gear, and which I have used. Most of the time a micro-pulley lives with the prussic. I view the pulley as unecessary, but nice to have on occassion or concievably when those lines between "extra" and "necessary" are blurred.

Once again, Scott pretty much beat most people to the punch here insofar as a concise appraisal. Inherent in that was that a cowstail IS a QAS if the pitch is rigged correctly. And I'll wager clipping a biner is faster than putting on an ascender every time. Rig right so you can carry less stuff and have more fun. That's right on.
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