Fixed Hand Lines

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Re: Fixed Hand Lines

Postby tncaver » Mar 7, 2013 7:05 pm

I prefer rappelling rope for a fixed hand line simply because it can be rappelled if necessary and is easy to inspect, as well as strong. But webbing is perfect for a spur of the moment hand line because it is light weight , compact, and strong. Perfect for a unexpected situations far back into a cave.
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Re: Fixed Hand Lines

Postby Extremeophile » Mar 8, 2013 10:27 am

tncaver wrote:I prefer rappelling rope for a fixed hand line simply because it can be rappelled if necessary and is easy to inspect, as well as strong. But webbing is perfect for a spur of the moment hand line because it is light weight , compact, and strong. Perfect for a unexpected situations far back into a cave.

One of the concerns is that one person's rappel may be another's free-climb. A hand line is sort of a compromise. I've used hand lines where there were one or two moves that almost made it necessary, and I've used others where I thought the line was a distraction that actually made the climb more difficult. I've also been through very vertically intensive caves without any rigging at all. You might do a chimney climb and say "wow, that could really use a hand line", then after ten more climbs of similar difficulty you start thinking there's no clear way to decide what climbs should have them. You start to think the cave either needs 30 hand lines or none at all. It's all a function of the capability of the people visiting that cave. Some of the hand lines in Jewel Cave are of a difficulty that elsewhere it would almost certainly be rigged for SRT, but since it's 3-5 hours travel through tight crawlways, and nobody wants to drag vertical gear all that way, it's rigged to allow getting by without vertical gear. Since no one brings vertical gear this may largely justify the use of webbing over rope. In other caves I definitely think about whether it's at all likely that someone would bring vertical gear all that way for a given climb. If it's a long approach hike and many hours of hard caving to reach a 20 foot low-angle slope, then SRT probably isn't a consideration. If it's in a cave where everyone would have vertical gear anyway, then rigging for SRT is a no-brainer. Lech is a counter example to Jewel where everyone has SRT gear almost all the time, and so even relatively easy 15' climbs are often rigged because it enhances safety and it's easy enough to just clip in and go.
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