POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

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WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST FEARS WHILE VERTICAL CAVING? Choose 1 or 2 items.

Poll ended at Nov 22, 2012 5:34 pm

Line breaking while ascending/descending.
18
28%
When off line, someone stealing/cutting my rope (leaving me stranded).
8
13%
Equipment failure (other than line).
8
13%
A rock, bag or tool falling from above.
15
23%
Coming to end of the line and finding it too short (misjudged line length to depth of pit).
1
2%
Having to do a changeover while ascending or descending.
0
No votes
Making it over an extreme lip while ascending.
6
9%
Headlamp going dead.
0
No votes
Encountering stranded animal or snake in pit.
3
5%
I HAVE NO FEARS WHEN VERTICAL CAVING!
5
8%
 
Total votes : 64

Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby NZcaver » Nov 9, 2012 4:59 pm

Tlaloc wrote:
NZcaver wrote:...Most of the other options just seem like an inconvenience...


Tied for first is "A rock, bag or tool falling from above". Having been hit by rocks while on rope, I can assure you that it's a lot more than an inconvenience. This is why I think that climbing up re-belayed rigging with someone above you is a bad idea. I'm surprised that this is not part of the debate about French vs American rigging.

Note my use of the word "most." For that one I would make an exception, as I have also been hit by rock while on rope. For me this is a concern, but not really a fear. Rebelayed rigging is fine with somebody above you, so long as there's no loose rock and they don't drop things on you.

I don't think I've ever factored in some random person coming by and pulling up my rope, but perhaps I should keep that one in the back of my mind.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby cavedoc » Nov 9, 2012 5:54 pm

Tlaloc wrote:Having been hit by rocks while on rope, I can assure you that it's a lot more than an inconvenience. This is why I think that climbing up re-belayed rigging with someone above you is a bad idea. I'm surprised that this is not part of the debate about French vs American rigging.


Rebelay rigging frequently offsets the rope so htat you're not climbing under someone else. You can have multiple people climbing the same rope but very few are above/below each other.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby Patrick Wilson » Nov 9, 2012 6:45 pm

So since the top result (at this time) is the rope breaking, I wonder what the actual likelihood is of something like that happening, assuming all appropriate edges are sufficiently padded. It may seem silly to ask but perhaps it could help put some folks' minds at ease, I mean is there any recorded instance of a working line just snapping under normal strain of one or two (e.g. tandem) people? The accident at Mega Well comes to mind, if memory serves it was a Polish-made rope sold in Mexico, but even so, wasn't it determined that there was an unprotected rub point that sawed the rope?
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby KWW » Nov 9, 2012 8:53 pm

I'm most afraid of me making a mistake or the rock giving way from underneath me causing me to slam into the wall. I'm not sure of the likelihood of that, but if it was to happen while descending I only hope I can keep it together enough to hold on to the line.

While practicing repelling once at Pigeon Mountain the yellow jackets were ruthless. I was scared to death how I was going to react to being stung while descending. After being stung about 20 times (not on rope) we left.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby Stridergdm » Nov 10, 2012 8:11 am

Honestly, I don't have much fear. Not that I'm naive but I just don't give it much thought.

I'm sort of glad that as of now no-one has selected "doing a change-over" since I think that's a fundamental skill and you shouldn't be near a rope if that's #1 or #2 on your fear list.

While I can certainly understand folks' fear of the rope breaking, I'd argue that stats suggest again it's pretty low on the list of real-world problems.

The other top one seems to be fear of stuff falling on you, and based on experience and the experiences of folks here, that seems like a VERY valid fear.

Roger makes a good point about rebelays possibly being safer. I know in one case, on the way out I had the climber before me put in essentially a rebelay exactly so we could both be on the rope at once and not be hanging below each other. (Of course unknown to me rather than use the nice new shiny bold in FRONT of us, he found an old, rusted one that ended up behind my shoulder (tight narrow crack).)

Now, I honestly have never given much thought to someone pulling up the rope, but I'll have to say, given the reports of that, I think I may move that up on my list!

(Years ago, in one of our old newsletters at the RPI Outing Club/Grotto, I found an article from some of our cavers in the 70s who were caving in Mexico. I believe Bill Stone was among them. I don't recall the details, other than apparently when about 1/2 the group was up, the federalas showed up, speaking no English and the cavers speaking no Spanish. Not knowing what was going on, the federalas insisted on pulling up the rope and detaining the cavers at the top. It took I believe 24 hours before a translator was found who could explain that "Umm, you need to put that rope back... at least for a little while." I've always tried to imagine the feelings of the folks at the bottom as they watched the rope disappear.... and not come back.)
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby mgmills » Nov 11, 2012 2:33 pm

BrianFrank wrote:
graveleye wrote:I worry a bit about someone pulling up my rope. I recall a friend of mine telling me about being at a cave that we all know with a short 40' entrance drop. They went in, explored the cave and when they were getting ready to climb back out they noticed the rope going up the hole. One of them grabbed the rope and held on tight, and pulled it back down. He held on to it until someone could get their gear on and start climbing. When they got up top, no one was there.

Another friend of mine will not use carabiners on his rig, asides from obvious redirects etc... He says that shiny things attract the locals and he doesn't want them messing with his rope.


Kevin and Stephen:
Should it become standard practice then to rig the rope at the bottom to a fixed point so no one can pull the rope out? That is when you are in a pit all alone or if everyone in your group is down in the pit at the same time.
Brian



Brian, they could still untie the rope and throw it down the pit. Best bet is to make sure a reliable person knows where you went and have a call out time so you won't be stranded forever.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby mgmills » Nov 11, 2012 2:40 pm

Can't really say I fear any of these. Aside from the first two I've had all of these things happen to me. Well actually I've had to change over while descending but never had to change over ascending (though I have practiced it many times).

Vertical caving is not an inherently safe activity. You accept the risks when you decide to do it. Paying attention to rigging can minimize risks of cut or damaged ropes and also unplanned rock fall. However, the several times I've had rocks fall around me as I descended or climbed we thought we had rigged safely but the cave surprised us.

I'm with Scott, user error. . .mine or someone else's is probably what I fear most. . . though I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on it.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby harrym » Nov 12, 2012 9:44 am

None of the above.

My only fear is, "Will I have the stamina to climb back up the rope?"
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby Chads93GT » Nov 12, 2012 11:28 am

trogman wrote:
graveleye wrote:I worry a bit about someone pulling up my rope. I recall a friend of mine telling me about being at a cave that we all know with a short 40' entrance drop. They went in, explored the cave and when they were getting ready to climb back out they noticed the rope going up the hole. One of them grabbed the rope and held on tight, and pulled it back down. He held on to it until someone could get their gear on and start climbing. When they got up top, no one was there.

Another friend of mine will not use carabiners on his rig, asides from obvious redirects etc... He says that shiny things attract the locals and he doesn't want them messing with his rope.


Sounds like an experience I had once. I was solo caving (yea, I know that's not a good practice either), and was at the bottom of a 67' virgin pit sketching in my survey book. All of a sudden, the rope started going up! I was still attached to it with my ascender, and I immediately hollered "Hey, there is someone down here!" Whoever it was stopped pulling, and when I exited there was no one there. All of my gear at the top was untouched. I can only assume it was some hunters who walked by, and saw the rope and got curious.

As far as fears, my biggest worry is sharp edges that
are not properly padded. My wife had a very close call once in Flowing Stone pit in GA once. The rope was almost sawed in two on the ledge about 15' down, and fortunately we had enough to re-rig it and pad the lip so she could exit.

Trogman :helmet:


When I went to flowing stone we had one person at the lip of the pit always. No one climbing up would climb all the way to the surface as its impossible to know if the rope is still on the pad when you are done climbing up that crappy entrance climb. As a result the rope was always in the pad for the next climber.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby ggaliens » Nov 12, 2012 11:41 am

My biggest fear is fear itself ... nothing "REAL".

More or less like ... not having adequate MOJO on a given day.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby Amazingracer » Nov 13, 2012 11:06 am

My first trip to Ellisons, upon returning to the warm up pit we found out rope in a tangled mess just out of arms reach. Luckily we were able to stack some rocks and get to it. What had happened is some one pulled the rope to see how deep the pit was and simply thew it down in a big heap.

And that is my biggest fear vertical caving.

I now tie all my ropes off at the bottom.
This serves two purposes, one to keep people from pulling it up. I dont think they are being malicious most of the time, they are just curious about a rope in the ground.
Second, is to keep other cavers off the rope. That sounds selfish but what if some bops down my rope and goes off to some other part of the cave and we have no clue they are there and pull the rope. Logic would dictate that they would leave their own rope, but not all cavers are that smart sometimes.

While the rope could be derigged and thrown down the pit, people arent normally interested in being malicious, although that still happens. And if the rope is in bolts at the top, it may be impossible to derig anyways. But they could use a knife, but see above, not the case normally.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby LukeM » Nov 13, 2012 11:19 am

My biggest fear is the most common cause of accidents - user error. Specifically, forgetting to do something correctly or not knowing how to get out of a specific jam. This is why regular practice is so important.

I have to say, even more than causing my own demise, I fear causing the demise of others. As someone who often sets up rigging for others, I have to question my decisions constantly in order to be sure I've done the best I can, and it's sometimes tough to stave off worries that something important was overlooked. (Was that slight rub point enough to be a concern? Did we clear enough rocks from the top of the drop? Is this lip too much for a beginner?...) Most all of my worry is on beginner trips because you don't have several sets of experienced eyes all looking things over.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby BrianFrank » Nov 20, 2012 1:16 pm

Get your vote in as there is only 2 more days left. With 63 votes tallied so far the #1 fear is your rope breaking and the #2 fear is something falling from above.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby rebelfirefighter » Nov 20, 2012 10:10 pm

I've heard one story of a rope break. Several years ago in Ellisons some cavers were doing warm up. One caver decided to ascend a rope that someone had left rigged in the cave. The rope broke about 25ft off the floor. This has made me curious so I browsed through the American Caving Accidents starting in 1994. The incident I had heard about is listed and happened in 1997. Its the only incident I found that stated that the rope had broken. There were several equipment failures. I found 11 incidents of out of control rappels. There were a ton of caver falls but these aren't necessarily rope related. Also one killer bee attack in Pozo de Gavilon, Mexico.
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Re: POLL - Biggest fears while vertical caving?

Postby paul » Nov 21, 2012 7:25 am

The only incident of a rope breaking in SRT I'm aware of was in the UK in 1974.

A caver named David Huxtable was abseiling into the 365 foot entrance shaft of Gaping Gill in the Yorkshire Dales in the UK and the rope broke causing his death.

Unfortunately it was in the early days of SRT in the UK and he was abseiling on a polypropylene rope which has as well as a low melting point, poor resistance to abrasion when in contact with a sharp edge. Apparently the rope was in contact with such an edge and was not protected and broke.
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