Anyone use a Petzl Stop Descender?

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Anyone use a Petzl Stop Descender?

Postby jmo » Sep 26, 2005 7:44 pm

I’m thinking about picking one up, and I was wondering what your experiences have been with it. What are the things you like a dislike about it? If you had to buy another descender would you buy the Petzl Stop again or go with something else?

Thanks for your input. :D
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Postby Scott McCrea » Sep 26, 2005 8:35 pm

Petzl Stops are great and they suck. :twisted:

I would replace mine with another.

They are great in certain situations (lots of rebelays and skinny rope) and suck in others (thick, muddy ropes). (There are other +'s and -'s too). So, it depends on what kind of caving you do and where you do it and with who.

Should you get one? Heck yea! Everyone should have one in the descender collection. Depending on where you live/cave, it probably shouldn't be your only descender. Where do you live/cave?

There are some safety issues with Stops/bobbins. They are not a problem if they are used properly. But there was a fatal accident a year or two ago where a bobbin was involved. Here's the accident report: LINK. There is more info about this on the web but I can't find it right now, anyone else got links? This problem is easily fixed, so don't let it discourage you.
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Stop/Bobbin

Postby cavedoc » Sep 26, 2005 9:08 pm

Hi JMO,
The Stop has it's place. Scott covered some important points. One that might or might not be important to you is the habits that it teaches you. Continuing Scott's "It's great/It sucks" theme--the Stop is great for a new rappeler since it will stop (or at least slow down) if you let go. But if you are going to use other devices later, the Stop can teach you that it is OK to let go of the rope, which will kill you with other devices. I have seen someone with a Stop who had locked it in an open position and forgotten, get on rope over a 90m pit, sit down, and go. With no hand on the rope. He caught himself after about 20 feet. He was very glad for his leather gloves.
I don't own one (I do own a Bobbin and think it's a fine device, within limits), but if I did, it's role would be the loaner for someone that's going to rappel, but probably won't ever do it again.
Not sure if any type of belays are needed where you are caving. I would feel uncomfortable being belayed by someone who exclusively used a STop. I want someone whose mental sub-routines say the if he lets go of the rope that he will DIE! rather than someone whose reflexes will allow for letting go of the rope whenever necessary. And yes I'm sure there are Stop users that provide a perfectly fine belay, but it just makes me feel squeamish after seeing my friend go over the side, counting on a friction that wasn't there.

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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Sep 26, 2005 11:11 pm

The stop (and simple) are fine rappelling devices. The stop is a good one for beginners but one has to teach them that they need to LET GO and not GRAB TIGHT should they get skeerd while rappelling down. But as it's been pointed out (and rawther nicely I should say) it is important to learn on other devices as well. It's the "...you never know" scenario that likes to pop up once in a while during caving.

As with any rappelling/ascending systems be sure to get qualified instruction and be sure to get lots of experience yourself before assuming the teaching role. I've seen THAT too many times and heard of several near misses (or are they hits?)...

Have fun.
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Postby David_Campen » Sep 28, 2005 12:42 pm

The Stop was the first rappeling device I used but it is not a device that allows you to vary friction so you really need to run the rope through an additional braking 'biner attached to your maillon but on multi-hundred foot drops where you may have tens of pounds of rope below you it gets to be a pain holding the rope up against the braking 'biner. Also, on stiff 11.6 mm rope squeezing the handle enough to move can also be a pain.

So, next, I bought a 6-bar, j-frame rack with hyper bar. This allows you to easily vary friction over a wide range, easily rappel on ropes of all stiffness and size and rappel on doubled ropes. It is also the gold standard for use in lowering a rescue load. But, it is heavy which is a consideration when you are hiking a long distance to the cave and the length makes changeovers difficult.

So, next, I bought a 4-bar, u-frame micro rack with hyper bar. It does not provide nearly as much friction variation as the 6-bar rack but still better than the Stop. At my weight (170 lbs) it works well even on stiff 11.6 mm rope. It is lighter than a 6-bar rack and, since it is not as long, changeovers are much easier. But, does not work with doubled 11.6 mm rope. Also, if you do have to feed the rope you have to be very careful to not let the bottom bar pop open.
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Postby NZcaver » Sep 28, 2005 2:56 pm

I've been using a Stop for a while, along with racks and other descenders. The Stop is great, but may not be the best choice in all situations, as David just mentioned.

Ralph's post talks about teaching beginners to let go rather than grab if they get scared while rappelling. Although I see where he's coming from, I beg to differ. You can't "teach" what is essentially a reflex action. The panic reflex is to grab tight, not to let go. I look at the Stop handle as being more of a convenience than a safety feature. In the rare instance of someone passing out and losing all muscle control - yes, the Stop action should prevent an uncontrolled descent.

I don't think the Stop is the best device to start a beginner on, but it's something that everyone should try at least once. It should be taught like any other descender - grip the rope and control your descent with one hand (usually the right), and keep that hand on the rope at all times when moving! And if you do stop and remove both hands without doing a lock-off, make sure you grip the rope before you grab the handle again.

When you're descending, partially releasing the handle can slow your descent - but that's not what it's designed for! That will pinch and flatten the rope between the bobbins, causing a lot of friction and heat in one spot on the descender and potentially melting/glazing part of the rope. The handle should be used more like the park brake in a car - a safety function applied when you're not in motion.

The previous posts here all make good points about the Stop. It's also discussed more in the On Rope forum under "spinoff post about the stop". :caver:
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Sep 28, 2005 9:23 pm

NZcaver wrote:Ralph's post talks about teaching beginners to let go rather than grab if they get scared while rappelling. Although I see where he's coming from, I beg to differ. You can't "teach" what is essentially a reflex action. The panic reflex is to grab tight, not to let go. I look at the Stop handle as being more of a convenience than a safety feature. In the rare instance of someone passing out and losing all muscle control - yes, the Stop action should prevent an uncontrolled descent.

Yes you're right there. Reflex action does tend to take over when fear raises it's ugly head. Also I guess I need to clairify what I said as it was late and I didn't type everything that went through my mind. When teaching the use of the stop, I do advocate using the braking hand first before relying on the Stop's handle. Basically the brake hand slows the descent enough where when releasing the handle-brake the rappel doesn't come to a sudden stop, but rather a slowing to it.
It takes getting used to, to be sure.
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Postby GoHighGoDeep » Sep 28, 2005 10:02 pm

i love my Stop... although i wouldn't use it for really long drops, and it does tend to stick a bit on thick muddy ropes. I like it a lot for in-cave abseils, as it doesn't flop open and catch all over the place while traveling though the cave. I think stops have their place in caving gear, but racks have a place as well, it's all about chosing the gear for trip.

plus my little plug as a petzl gear freak... check out the article in nat'l geo about the worlds deepest cave... the last picture gives a view of a team members stop very clearly!
c'mon, you can fit through that
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Postby jmo » Oct 2, 2005 1:58 pm

I wonder if the Kong "Indy" would be a better choice since it has a lot of the same features as the Stop but it also includes a double stop feature.
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Postby cavescom » Oct 3, 2005 10:03 pm

The SRT Stop is a fantastic device....sold in the U.S. by IMO and fine for long drops....see article in our 9th issue on page 17 http://www.cavediggers.com/magazine/9th.pdf
SRT site: http://www.srte.com.au

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Postby CaveStar » Oct 14, 2005 6:46 pm

This looks like what I use, save that my SRT has the double-brake feature enabled, by addition of the crescent-shaped piece at the top that is shown in the SRTE company's website.

It's always good to hear from others who like these. I'm particularly interested in the reviewer's comment that her SRT is actually meant to be used as a variable-friction device; it has sure seemed to me that mine works that way; but when I first began borrowing it from the older grotto member who no longer used it -- when I started caving -- and eventually bought it from him, few people knew about them and I only got the conventional wisdom, "don't use that thing to control your speed, instead control or brake your speed with your right hand." In practice you are always making a choice about your speed with this device, since your speed is directly related to how tight you hold the handle. So both hands contribute to the speed control process.

Mark, have you used the double-brake device and if so, what are your comments?
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Postby cavescom » Oct 14, 2005 8:15 pm

Mine was originally a double stop but I took it apart and removed the upper braking portion. On the thicker ropes I found it difficult to move at all so opted to just remove and make a single stop device. Mark
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