How long should this practice run take?

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How long should this practice run take?

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 16, 2013 4:13 pm

I know that vertical caving isn't about being fast, so I'm not trying to reach any specific time or set off a bragging contest among you speedsters. Speed is a partial measure of competence, though, and that's what I'm interested in. I know I'm a slow frogger, but I've been practicing other on-rope manuevers and these are what I'd most like to improve. Scott Mcrea suggested a skills test of sorts that I've been messing with (thanks Scott), along with rebelay practice. Here's the run I've been doing the last few days (I've only got little trees so the height is limited):

Starting with harness and gear already on, using standard frogging equipment and technique (I think) and micro rack hanging from gear loop.

-frog 15 feet to rebelay
-cross rebelay and frog 10 more feet
-changeover to rappel
-rappel to rebelay
-cross rebelay and rappel to just above the ground
-changover to frog and climb back up to rebelay
-downclimb to the ground

How long do you imagine it would take you to finish this excercise? I should be concerned if this takes more than how long?

Also, any tips for organizing the gear on your harness and d-ring would be great. Initially a lot of my time was wasted wrestling with the gear. Now I have the ascender on the left, sling/cowstail on the right, and when I rig in the rack I do so with an additional carabiner between the two.

-Thanks to all
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby chh » May 16, 2013 6:32 pm

Concentrate on your organization first. Try different configurations and do it until you find the optimum placement for all of your tools, on your harness, for your dominant hand, etc. This will speed you up more than anything.
FWIW, I'm right handed. I keep my rap device on the right hand side. Both my cowstails along with my upper ascender go on my left. I have a Petzl omni-link which has the gate opening on the right hand side. This allows me to take my harness off and put it back on again without unclipping anything and still have everything where it needs to be. At first I kept my upper ascender on my right and my short cowstail on my left, but it was a little clustery to take off and put back on again in an efficient manner in between drops if my harness was coming off. So I taught myself to do everything the way I described. But again, that's just my personal preferance.
And as far as the overall time, the right answer is of course "as long as it takes you to do it safely". However, if your height estimates are correct, and your rebelays are rigged well, probably the thing you'll have to work on the most is down climbing the last 15 feet. I'll throw 5 minutes out there as a "good" time. I reckon that'd put you somewhere in the 85th percentile, if you're looking for precise guesstimations. :big grin:
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Scott McCrea » May 16, 2013 6:45 pm

Super fast could be 3 minutes. Average is probably 7-8. Slow might be 15+. These are just guesses based on similar routines.

However, there is a limit to how fast anyone can climb. The speed and being faster on rope comes from speedy, efficient transitions. Practice transitions. The rest is conditioning and stamina.

Also, as you are finding out, gear management plays a big roll. Simplify. Get rid of extra links and stuff you don't use.

After you get some practice in, you should expect to cut your time in half from where you started.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Amazingracer » May 16, 2013 7:26 pm

Your practice run is similar to the NCRC entrance skills:

Starting with gear in pack, ascend 10 meters, change over to rappel, descend,
change back to ascent, down-climb.


To score full points for time you have to do that in under 8 minutes.

But I like your practice run better because it has the rebelay, although we dont see that many here in TAG.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby firemedic1015 » May 16, 2013 7:32 pm

chh wrote:I keep my rap device on the right hand side. Both my cowstails along with my upper ascender go on my left. I have a Petzl omni-link which has the gate opening on the right hand side.


Personal preference is ok as long as it doesn't compromise safety. The rack is generally placed on the left side of the croll from the user's point of view so that it cant get jammed into an open croll. The half round/omni should always close on the left so that the rope cant accidentally open it by rubbing on the lock while climbing. Most everyone that I cave with has their micro rack attached to the omni with a maillon that they never open. The rack (and everything else) stays in place at all times.

Speaking of attaching the rack... It should be attached with a maillon not a carabiner. If you attach it with a carabiner it can get gate loaded and fail with body weight. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fz0c1rC_88
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby chh » May 16, 2013 7:46 pm

firemedic1015 wrote:
chh wrote:I keep my rap device on the right hand side. Both my cowstails along with my upper ascender go on my left. I have a Petzl omni-link which has the gate opening on the right hand side.


Personal preference is ok as long as it doesn't compromise safety. The rack is generally placed on the left side of the croll from the user's point of view so that it cant get jammed into an open croll. The half round/omni should always close on the left so that the rope cant accidentally open it by rubbing on the lock while climbing. Most everyone that I cave with has their micro rack attached to the omni with a maillon that they never open. The rack (and everything else) stays in place at all times.

Speaking of attaching the rack... It should be attached with a maillon not a carabiner. If you attach it with a carabiner it can get gate loaded and fail with body weight. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fz0c1rC_88


Hmm. Perhaps i should have been more clear. I meant I keep my descending device (a bobbin) on the right gear loop. It of course gets installed in the appropriate place (left of the croll) when I actually use it. Also, I use a tri-act Omni, so it doesn't get "unscrewed" in the way a normal screw link might. I could, of course, have the gate open on the left side anyway, and still keep all my stuff where it is. I just find that the way I have it, things come on and off faster. Not that it matters much. Most of the time I'm waiting for people to get their sh!t together anyway. :tonguecheek:
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Scott McCrea » May 16, 2013 8:44 pm

firemedic1015 wrote:The half round/omni should always close on the left so that the rope cant accidentally open it by rubbing on the lock while climbing.

And, you should turn it around, to close on the right, when you rappel so the rope can't accidentally open it by rubbing. :roll: I believe this is another myth. Anyone ever see it happen?

Speaking of attaching the rack... It should be attached with a maillon not a carabiner. If you attach it with a carabiner it can get gate loaded and fail with body weight. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fz0c1rC_88

Micro racks, or any U shaped rack, will not lever open a biner like a J shaped rack will.

I have tried to break biners this way. It's not easy. It depends on the type of biner and a lot of luck (or bad luck). I've tried about 10 different biners and only managed to break two. Yes, it is possible, but I would put this pretty far down on my list of things to worry about. Doing the rappel test every time you weight a descender is the best way to prevent problems.

Here's my biner breaking video:
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Stridergdm » May 16, 2013 9:12 pm

I would second the idea of "be deficient on the transitions". In my experience, climbing is really a matter of endurance and when I'm out of shape it simply takes longer. But change overs and the like are where the work really happens.

A note on the NCRC entrance exams, note while there's a time limit, pretty much what I've personally seen (and I know a few other instructors will concur) is there's sort of a bell curve with a second hump.

Most people do it in say 8-12 minutes (guessing there). A few are faster, some are slower. Then there's the folks who simply can't do it in 10 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes. It's not the climb that slows them, it's the changeovers.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 16, 2013 10:12 pm

While we're at it, here's exactly what I'm using and how I've been setting it up. Let me know if anything is horribly wrong or could easily be improved.

GGG harness and half-round mallion, bit of webbing for fig 8 chest harness, chest ascender with little snaplink in the top to attach to harness, RH handled ascender with GGG footloop, footloop and sling/long cowstail clipped into common carabiner, short cowstail (tied in the same piece as the sling) clipped on right gear loop, chest ascender on left, cowstail/sling on right, chest harness looped under half/round instead of through it to keep it out of the way, micro rack clipped onto left gear loop,

I've rigged the rack right of the ascender and cowstail, and in between the two. Haven't yet tried to the left of everything which sounds like the proper choice. Though it slows things down a little, I have been starting out with the rack on the gear loop in an attempt to simulate real life. I guess a lot of folks leave it on the half-round but I find it irritating. If I were to attach it with a mallion, I would leave it there, but I like using a carabiner. I've experimented with rigging and locking off the rack before attaching it to the d-ring but that's probably bad practice.

chh wrote:However, if your height estimates are correct, and your rebelays are rigged well, probably the thing you'll have to work on the most is down climbing the last 15 feet. I'll throw 5 minutes out there as a "good" time.


I took the laser out and measured. I don't know about the rigging, having never seen a rebelay in real life. I used Vertical as a reference when deciding how much droop to rig. The downclimbing hasn't been bad at all. I'm sure that it would get rough after 40 or 50 feet, but 15 seems to go real smooth.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby jharman2 » May 17, 2013 8:00 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:How long do you imagine it would take you to finish this excercise? I should be concerned if this takes more than how long?


First, good job on practicing these transitions over and over in a controlled environment. My advice - run this course until you can do it without thinking.

An "average" time for these maneuvers should be ~7 minutes. 3-4 minutes is fast and 10-12 minutes is slow.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby NZcaver » May 17, 2013 3:42 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:
firemedic1015 wrote:The half round/omni should always close on the left so that the rope cant accidentally open it by rubbing on the lock while climbing.

And, you should turn it around, to close on the right, when you rappel so the rope can't accidentally open it by rubbing. :roll: I believe this is another myth. Anyone ever see it happen?

Not personally, but I've had the rope rubbing on the gate before and given the right circumstances accidental opening is possible. There is an example in the ACA of a Maillon Rapide half-round apparently becoming unscrewed due to rope action during a climb in a NM cave in 2002. It is detailed on page 15 of the 2005 ACA. (I looked it up because I remember the person describing the incident to me years ago.)

Despite this, I find opening on the left to be awkward so I run my rig the same way Caleb does. However I also use a Petzl Omni Tri-Act, which avoids the risk of unscrewing. My usual descender is a micro rack connected to the Omni by a short Zicral oval MR. I keep it permanently connected on my left side of the Croll, and hook the top of the rack to the side of my harness with a small bungee loop when not in use. (Prevents one dangly bit from interfering with other dangly bits while climbing.)

Jonah - good job with the practice setup. Reminds me a little of the NCRC entrance skills test, but with a rebelay thrown in. As previously noted the NCRC time includes putting your gear on, and there is good reason for that. In the past some students have turned up to do their entrance skills test with brand new vertical gear and no knowledge of how to assemble it. D'oh!
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Stridergdm » May 17, 2013 6:58 pm

NZcaver wrote:Jonah - good job with the practice setup. Reminds me a little of the NCRC entrance skills test, but with a rebelay thrown in. As previously noted the NCRC time includes putting your gear on, and there is good reason for that. In the past some students have turned up to do their entrance skills test with brand new vertical gear and no knowledge of how to assemble it. D'oh!


Worse, I won't say where, who or how, but the non-Level 1 student who managed to put his helmet on BACKWARDS and complete the entrance skill. Needless to say that's a safety violation and he failed. How he got beyond Level 1 to get to this point is beyond me.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby trogman » May 20, 2013 12:26 pm

firemedic1015 wrote:Speaking of attaching the rack... It should be attached with a maillon not a carabiner. If you attach it with a carabiner it can get gate loaded and fail with body weight. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fz0c1rC_88


I always attach my rack with a carabiner, and have never had it load against the gate. It is a simple matter- if you start your rappel with the rack properly loaded on the carabiner, it will stay that way as long as your weight is on it.
It is another matter entirely when we are talking about ascenders, which, when used as part of a climbing system, are alternately either loaded or unloaded. In that case, if your attachment to your carabiner is loose, it could easily slip to a position where it is side-loaded.

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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby Carl Amundson » May 20, 2013 1:04 pm

trogman wrote:
firemedic1015 wrote:Speaking of attaching the rack... It should be attached with a maillon not a carabiner. If you attach it with a carabiner it can get gate loaded and fail with body weight. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fz0c1rC_88


I always attach my rack with a carabiner, and have never had it load against the gate. It is a simple matter- if you start your rappel with the rack properly loaded on the carabiner, it will stay that way as long as your weight is on it.
It is another matter entirely when we are talking about ascenders, which, when used as part of a climbing system, are alternately either loaded or unloaded. In that case, if your attachment to your carabiner is loose, it could easily slip to a position where it is side-loaded.

Trogman :helmet:

I always coach new vertical cavers to use a quick-link (maillon) and not a locking biner to attach their rack to the D-link.
There is no danger of cross loading the gate, which gives them one less thing to worry about.
It's also shorter then a locking biner and that makes change-overs a little easier.
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Re: How long should this practice run take?

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 20, 2013 11:46 pm

After a week of intense practice... :roll:

I have cut my time in half, Scott is right again. Thanks for the tips everyone. Even simple stuff (like where to put the croll) helps a lot when you're learning. I set up an 8mm rope at first and then realized that an 11mm would be more productive. The first 11mm try took over 9 minutes. After fiddling, readjusting, and rearranging, and several dozen repetitions, I can consistently finish the course in under 5 minutes. 4.03 was the best time, and I'm pretty sure it isn't going to get any faster than that. I can't force myself to rush without double checking everything (esp. the rack) so 3 minutes is not going to happen for me.

I'm wondering how you guys lock off your micro rack. The literature that came with the rack (short frame micro 2 hyper bars) shows a soft lock off (over top hyper bar, through frame, and back over top of rack) but not a hard. I've been wrapping the top hb, bottom hb, top hb, through frame, and over top of rack. How is it really to be done?

Carabiner or mallion? I'll keep using a carabiner for now. I switch between descenders a lot since most of my time on rope is above ground. I would like to stick to the micro rack, but with the short frame and a light passenger, it probably will be too sticky for crusty rope. I always watch the carabiner as I weight the descender to make sure everything is properly oriented.
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