Early Mechanical Ascenders

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Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 7, 2013 1:35 am

I just finished reading Chevalier's Subterranean Climbers, and wondered if any examples or photos of Henri Brenot's "monkeys" survive.
"These are metal claws which grip the rope in a pinching squeeze when borne upon by the body weight. Three are used for climbing the rope: one for each foot, and one on the trunk; turn by turn you advance the body "monkey" by standing upright on your feet, and the the foot "monkeys" by by burdening the body "monkey" with your whole weight."

Does anyone know exactly what method is being described here? How the foot and body ascenders were attached and so on? Chevelier and Petzl both lived until the 2000's, so I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are very familiar with their Dent de Crolles expeditions and techniques.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 7, 2013 7:23 am

A search of Gary Storrick's web page turned up nothing about the monkey.
http://storrick.cnc.net/VerticalDevices ... Home.shtml
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 7, 2013 8:35 am

I tried that too.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby NZcaver » Dec 9, 2013 1:05 am

Perhaps they function similar to a Hiebler? Not sure how the "trunk mounted" one would be positioned, though.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby tamarmole » Dec 9, 2013 4:17 pm

Brenot's "monkeys" have intrigued me for many years (since I first read Subterranean Climbers).

The subject re entered my thoughts recently when reading "On Rope" (first ed.) On reading p311 I came across the following : "One fact will always remain: the birthplace of rappel / prussic systems was North America". Given Brenot's contribution this caused me to raise an eyebrow.

As Fernand Petzl was involved I wonder if anything survives in the Petzl archives?
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby caver.adam » Dec 9, 2013 10:12 pm

Of interesting note, ropes used to secure a sailor were referred to as a "monkey rope". I wonder if this has impacted the phrase that you've seen. Was there any other name or description?
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby caver.adam » Dec 9, 2013 10:23 pm

You may find this link to be interesting on the third page of the pdf (book page 219). It has a reference to the monkeys in "Traité De Spéléologie de Trombe Félix".

http://www.karstportal.org/FileStorage/NSS_news/1966-v024-010.pdf
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 10, 2013 12:30 am

tamarmole wrote:The subject re entered my thoughts recently when reading "On Rope" (first ed.) On reading p311 I came across the following : "One fact will always remain: the birthplace of rappel / prussic systems was North America". Given Brenot's contribution this caused me to raise an eyebrow.


That does seem to be a bit of a presumptuous statement. Perhaps the point is that ascending by prusik was first widely popularized and expanded upon in the U.S. Chevalier suggests that "monkeying" was a second-best option, tiring and slow, and was only tried because they didn't have enough ladders and could use their old mountaineering ropes. I assume that they were body-rappelling with doubled ropes, but that isn't completely explained either. At any rate, the facts are that there were Europeans conquering the then "deepest cave" in the 30's using a sit-stand mechanical climbing system, and that the prusik knot was not an American invention. SRT may have "grown up" in North America, but I don't think it was born there.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 10, 2013 2:11 am

caver.adam wrote:You may find this link to be interesting on the third page of the pdf (book page 219). It has a reference to the monkeys in "Traité De Spéléologie de Trombe Félix".

http://www.karstportal.org/FileStorage/NSS_news/1966-v024-010.pdf


Thank you Adam! I can't open the pdf on my computer, but I had a look with my wife's phone. Is there any chance that you could copy that image to the forum? I wonder if "Traité De Spéléologie" also explains exactly how these were used?
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby caver.adam » Dec 10, 2013 3:04 pm

I'm not sure. "Traité De Spéléologie" isn't available online, but it appears that a number of libraries have copies.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby tamarmole » Dec 10, 2013 3:58 pm

caver.adam wrote:You may find this link to be interesting on the third page of the pdf (book page 219). It has a reference to the monkeys in "Traité De Spéléologie de Trombe Félix".

http://www.karstportal.org/FileStorage/NSS_news/1966-v024-010.pdf



Good reference.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby NZcaver » Dec 11, 2013 12:34 am

tamarmole wrote:The subject re entered my thoughts recently when reading "On Rope" (first ed.) On reading p311 I came across the following : "One fact will always remain: the birthplace of rappel / prussic systems was North America". Given Brenot's contribution this caused me to raise an eyebrow.

That BS line in On Rope amuses me. Dr Karl Prusik was certainly not American. There is no doubt that some SRT descent/ascent systems were developed and perfected in the US, but this didn't happen in a global vacuum. Bobbin descenders and Frog systems were not US inventions, and neither were carabiners or kernmantel ropes.
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby tamarmole » Dec 11, 2013 6:42 am

NZcaver wrote:
tamarmole wrote:The subject re entered my thoughts recently when reading "On Rope" (first ed.) On reading p311 I came across the following : "One fact will always remain: the birthplace of rappel / prussic systems was North America". Given Brenot's contribution this caused me to raise an eyebrow.

That BS line in On Rope amuses me. Dr Karl Prusik was certainly not American. There is no doubt that some SRT descent/ascent systems were developed and perfected in the US, but this didn't happen in a global vacuum. Bobbin descenders and Frog systems were not US inventions, and neither were carabiners or kernmantel ropes.



But apart from prusiking, mechanical ascenders, frogging, bobbin descenders, carabiners and kernmantel rope what did the Europeans ever do for us! (to misquote Monty Python).
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby NZcaver » Dec 11, 2013 3:19 pm

tamarmole wrote:But apart from prusiking, mechanical ascenders, frogging, bobbin descenders, carabiners and kernmantel rope what did the Europeans ever do for us!

Brought peace? :tonguecheek:
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Re: Early Mechanical Ascenders

Postby CaverCSE » Dec 11, 2013 7:22 pm

And their limp rope..you cant forget that... :)
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