regaining control when using bars and a rack

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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby NZcaver » Jan 10, 2013 5:58 pm

Proactive planning repels reckless rappels. :woohoo:
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby nathanroser » Jan 14, 2013 9:37 pm

The first pit over 200 feet I did I began with 5 bars engaged, the rope wouldn't move at all so I went down to 4 bars. This worked nicely for the first part of the drop but part of the way down the rope was wet so suddenly I was going too fast for my comfort. Instead of stopping to engage a 5th bar or push the 4 closer together I just relied heavily on my braking hand which didn't work too well since the rope was wet. So the rest of the descent turned into dropping at unsafe speeds and then clamping down with my hand which caused me to bounce up and down while rappelling. I reached the bottom at a safe speed but lesson learned is to take it slow and be aware of the rope conditions, especially on a drop you haven't done before.
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 14, 2013 11:31 pm

muddyface, learn to add a bar while moving and you wont have that happen again. its very easy to add bars while moving fast if you have your rack oriented properly, a simply kick of the rope outward to whichever side it needs, will move the rope enough to engage the bar while hauling butt.
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby caver.adam » Jan 15, 2013 3:44 pm

I'm going to agree with the proactive planning. In most dangerous activities you need to train your body to react in a certain way. First, you should be using your left hand to control the spacing of your bars throughout the whole rappel. Practice it. Every time. I've been told by half a dozen people who were grabbing the rope above the rack that they never grabbed the bars on their rack. They then proceeded to continue to grab the rope above the rack and ignore my advice.

We need to be teaching people to practice safety every time they climb. Use bars to add or relieve tension on your descent. Every time you rappel. Get in the habit. Try opening the bars up before you remove a bar. Practice adding a bar while moving in a safe environment. Use good rope handling. With a hyperbar you can pull down and back to slow down the fastest. Without a hyperbar do you need to pull up?
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby eyecave » Jan 29, 2013 12:51 am

i am so sorry for not responding to any of your posts...i thought i would be notified and just assumed it was completely uninteresting to all....

....i wrote about how to add bars as you zing down the rope without stopping to do it in a situation where total loss of control had occurred.......i have seen people try to rappel on two or three bars......this is for them or others with more bars who have weight hanging off them to the point they are losing the ability to slow down......

....increasing and decreasing hand grip pressure and positioning the rope to add the bar properly with the rope oriented properly.........what was confusing about that?.........visualize the scenario....if the rack i oriented bars facing you it would be in and out and if bars tips all you see then moving the rope would be left to right as bars were added....remember people this is an outta control rap without time to decide whether to wipe that speck of mud off the bar before you add it........changing hand grip and rope position using your arms and hands and other parts of your body relative to left right and in and out is all you can do in an outta control rap..(other than worrying about whats coming up fast)...reread my post with these thoughts added.............. .

i then created a problem by mentioning the shoving of something into the rack.........i had previously mentioned that this action was a total complete last resort seperate from the emergency adding of bars....and was preferable to slamming into the pit bottom, probably butt first, and sustaining rather severe permanent injury to your lumbar spine....i mentioned a sudden stop....i also mentioned not using body parts and thought most people would think of their shirts, or t shirts......not much else there but maybe head hair.......oh.....a glove would work, a finger..not the palm or the end your hand goes in at......look people someone needs to discuss these taboo topics, like shoving stuff into a rack as a LAST RESORT.......if i get any more upset i may bring up knives!....

i hope this helps.....i am going back to the thread and may reappear later tonite..........
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby eyecave » Jan 29, 2013 1:57 am

muddyface wrote:The first pit over 200 feet I did I began with 5 bars engaged, the rope wouldn't move at all so I went down to 4 bars. This worked nicely for the first part of the drop but part of the way down the rope was wet so suddenly I was going too fast for my comfort. Instead of stopping to engage a 5th bar or push the 4 closer together I just relied heavily on my braking hand which didn't work too well since the rope was wet. So the rest of the descent turned into dropping at unsafe speeds and then clamping down with my hand which caused me to bounce up and down while rappelling. I reached the bottom at a safe speed but lesson learned is to take it slow and be aware of the rope conditions, especially on a drop you haven't done before.


this is a classic early experience sir.......any vertical caver has had this happen..........if you are right handed and when you are experienced you should be able to successfully rappel without a right hand glove, though i don't endorse or recommend it i merely point out that the focus of control is in the bars engaged on the rack, and their ruler, the LEFT hand...(i have also suggested long ago in a land far away that people should rap left handed cause the right hand would then be pushing on the bars.......total point being the total critical part of rappelling is the spacing between the number of bars you have engaged......and spacers and spacing......

spacers set the speed of the rack......i recommend spacers the same size as the rope you are using.....used between the first two bars...use another set or even more if the rack is a mega-rack.............this makes the rack factor more predictable and not effected by your adrenaline or its opposite the limp thoughtless pressure you use to snug up bar number two and three....or, another factor seen sometimes, the pressure created by the lip as it's rock on rack friction creates a slower rappel for you by squeezing the bars together..pinching the rope tighter than its diameter if no spacers are used...all or any of these factors will set the speed of rappel you experience....think of it, bars one and especially two have at least half of the friction.....why let this pressure be variable?...why not make the spacing between the bars and the rope predictable?.. :roll: ..of course, if desired, the spacers could be made slightly less than rope diameter for a predictably slower rack..... :down: .....

for those with no or little experience with using bar spacers........be very aware that using spacers creates certain dangers.. :yikes: ..if the width of the spacer exceeds the diameter of the rope being used it will result in a very substantial and dangerous increase in rappel speeds due to the loss of friction and should at no time be used...7/8 rope, use 7/8 or 3/4 spacer.......ANY larger will cause the rack to be FASTER.. :sadbanana: ..as spacer size goes up friction lost goes up faster........really people..larger spacers belong only on mega-racks........oh lord here i go inciting a debate........larger spacers belong only on mega-racks and limited rescue rack situations....... :shhh: ..

muddyface.....keep getting muddy.......next time use five bars to start with and bars three four and five space them apart after you get on rappel.....then gently pull down number two and note it's affect on the friction situation.....forget that gripping the rope......thats a last resort, loss of control, unusually slick or small rope final action in a loss of bar control, left hand control, of the rap......but i loudly and strongly add, nothing wrong with using hand friction if its in a controlled situation where hand grip is more controllable.....a not uncommon situation.....but for the bulk of the freefall and other descent where some speed is not unsafe..bars are the answer... :down: ..but at the end and sometimes in between hand grip friction can provide better sensitivity control some of the time over controlled bar spacing.......read my posts at least twice if you don't understand something or something seems confusing.........
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jan 29, 2013 11:42 am

muddyface wrote:I reached the bottom at a safe speed but lesson learned is to take it slow and be aware of the rope conditions, especially on a drop you haven't done before.

Without meaning to be critical here, I think the lesson learned is that new cavers need to understand how to add bars before attempting deep pits. Adding bars is a fundamental skill when using a rack. The only reason this is a "classic early experience" (as correctly noted above) is that people insist on rappelling big pits with racks before they have any idea how to rappel a big pit with a rack.
"Although it pains me to say it, in this case Jeff is right. Plan accordingly." --Andy Armstrong
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Re: regaining control when using bars and a rack

Postby eyecave » Jan 29, 2013 2:42 pm

i agree.......however, i always remember that i was taught to control the speed by hand grip and running the rope over the thigh......bar spacing was not emphasized at all!......so, some people start out incorrectly trained......i have always felt thats what happened to that guy who lost control on an el cap rap many years ago......
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