French Wrap Rappel Safety Myths Debunked

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Postby chh » Jun 7, 2007 10:33 am

The alpine bod's leg loops are rated to protect against a fall. And why would you have full leg support in a caving harness and NOT in a climbing harness, where dynamic falls are far more common. What makes a comfortable fall ARE the leg loops. It's more than just body positioning. Otherwise you might as well just make a swami belt out of 1" tube and jump. Not the most comfortable thing. If you fall and are caught comfortably, you leg loops took the brunt of the force, just as dwight said.
And while I agree with Hank's sentiment, i.e. a hitch is not a "secondary" attachment, if my rap device blew apart, I'd rather take my chances with a hitch on a single leg loop than nothing but air.
I think the semantics of "secondary life support attachment" is really the issue here. Right?
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 7, 2007 11:08 am

Some times stitched joints are directional. They are meant to be stressed in certain directions. Pulled in those directions they are usually very strong. Pulled in other directions, they may not be as strong. Attaching a secondary life support to the leg loop of a harness would most likely pull in directions not intended by the designers. Some joints may handle it, some may not.
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Postby hunter » Jun 7, 2007 2:20 pm

I think the semantics of "secondary life support attachment" is really the issue here. Right?

Totally correct, I'm not saying the FW is bad or that the leg loop won't catch you in many cases. What I'm saying is that harnesses are not as a rule designed, tested, and certified for you to use the leg loop as a main attachment.
This differs from a top belay or a shunt above the device which is a life support attachment in and of itself (however inconvenient to use).

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Postby Randyrn » Jun 7, 2007 5:00 pm

My French Wrap rig is a little different. My straps wrap nearly all the way around entirety of both leg loops, and the rope always runs between my legs when I'm using the Wrap. Unlike the "normal" version where the loop is located on the outer aspect of the leg, this rig won't yank you sideways if it sets really hard.

Image

Image

There's about 8-9 inches of space between the French Wrap and the bottom of my rack when the wrap is fully set.

Image

Plenty of range of motion when I'm not using the Wrap. [No more pics of my Man Junk...promise! :rofl: ]
Last edited by Randyrn on Jun 7, 2007 7:58 pm, edited 12 times in total.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 7, 2007 5:17 pm

Aww, jeez... Didn't need to see that right before dinner.

j/k. I think that's an interesting set up. Just looking at it, it appears that it might be a better spot for a FW. Nice work. Might have to try that.
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Postby Randyrn » Jun 7, 2007 6:13 pm

I won't be making a break into adult entertainment anytime soon! :laughing:
Last edited by Randyrn on Jun 7, 2007 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby kmstill » Jun 7, 2007 6:13 pm

interesting idea. question on the alt set-up:
if your rack actually FAILED/came totally off rope, would you be left hanging upside down?

if so, what about bridging your actual half-moon loops - with a short wrap and the large biner/standard rack you use, it looks like there still might be enough room for the wrap, but maybe less room to manuver rope? or maybe clipping your FW biner into your half-moon so weight would transfer there (as long as the distances could be set not to cross load the biner)? granted i'm not currently a user of the FW, but would appreciate the educational feedback
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Postby Randyrn » Jun 7, 2007 6:28 pm

Hi Kelly! :waving: To be honest, I'm not concerned in the least about my rack failing. I'm VERY anal, however, about improperly loading the biner during the brief moment when weight is being transferred to the rack. During that moment, very little in my world matters except my eyeballs being locked onto that biner! The ONLY reason I began playing around with the French Wrap was with the idea in mind that something could potentially cause me to lose control of my rappel.

I don't think the idea that you mentioned would leave me enough room to manipulate the Wrap the way I'd like to. I DO understand your thinking though.

I still don't use the French Wrap all the time, but I have been experimenting/training with it for several months.
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Postby kmstill » Jun 8, 2007 6:14 pm

fair enough, thanks
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Improvised attachment of French Wrap loop to D-ring

Postby Mark Ostrander » Jul 20, 2007 10:58 am

Just stumbled onto this thread, so am adding my 2 cents a little late. I was down at TinY's a couple nights ago for vertical practice. I asked about the French Wrap, so he showed me how it works and had me try it out a few times. I have an unmodified OR1 Goliath seat harness, so we had to improvise an attachment for the wrap. Rather than just run a 'biner through the leg loop, which might have rode up into the leg loop buckle, TinY came up with a configuration that used two Prusik loops. The first loop attached to my main D-ring, went down behind my right thigh and came up on the outside of my leg and the end was clipped in to a 'biner on the leg loop. The second Prusik loop clipped in to the biner and wrapped the main line as usual. In this configuration, the load was transferred all the way back to my D-ring attachment point. The leg loop carabiner kept the first loop in place and not dangling out of reach, and the first loop in turn kept the 'biner from sliding. There was an ever so slight discomfort from having the biner in the leg loop, but nothing I wouldn't put up with for five minutes or so until I'm safely down. I'm very excited about learning the technique and expect to try it out for real this weekend.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jul 20, 2007 2:05 pm

Randyrn wrote:Hi Kelly! :waving: To be honest, I'm not concerned in the least about my rack failing. I'm VERY anal, however, about improperly loading the biner during the brief moment when weight is being transferred to the rack. During that moment, very little in my world matters except my eyeballs being locked onto that biner! The ONLY reason I began playing around with the French Wrap was with the idea in mind that something could potentially cause me to lose control of my rappel.

The only thing I can think of based on my experience that would cause you to lose control of your rappel would be a BFR konking you on the head and knocking you unconscious and you lose your grip on the "brake". This this would be an ideal set up/safety for drops with loose debris that hadn't been gardened at the lip or further down. But then that's what helmets are for.
A caving buddy of mine got konked on the back of the head by a very large rock while rappelling down a 315' drop. His helmet (Petzl Roc) saved his life and prevented the blow (which was more of a glancing one actually) from crushing his skull. The 400' coil of rope around his neck and shoulders help prevent the rock from yanking his head back and snapping his neck.
He remained conscious (though stunned for a few moments) enough to maintain a grip on the "brake" and managed to lock off enough to attach his QAS. After which he was assisted in a change over and made his way out.

Point is; that is the only thing I can think of where you'd lose control (loss of conciousness) ... other than letting go of the brake long enough to build up speed/momentum that you couldn't stop without melting your hand.

Have you tried rappelling down at a moderate speed and just simply letting go of the brake hand altogether (simulating unconsciousness) to see if the wrap will catch you on it's own? Trying this (with an experienced Top Belay) might help answer that question.
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Postby Randyrn » Jul 20, 2007 2:56 pm

Ralph E. Powers wrote:Trying this (with an experienced Top Belay) might help answer that question.


Okay, I'm confused. I didn't know I asked a question. I just explained the variation that I've played around with and gave a reason why I would be compelled to use it.

I've already tested the French Wrap to see if it will stop me if that's what you mean. I didn't have anyone to belay me, so I pulled a spare pair of balls out of my cave pack. I used 7mm cord for the French Wrap, and that diameter worked great on both 11mm and 9mm PMI. The longest drop I tried it on was Fantastic Pit with 9mm rope, but I understand that Tiny and others have done it on much deeper ones. For grins and giggles, I let the wrap engage probably every 50 feet all the way to the bottom just to see if it would give me any problems. I went BOING, BOING, BOING all the way down, and it stopped me on a dime every time. I don't think it's a question of whether the thing works, but rather a question of who out there is willing to use it. As I said previously, I don't use it most of the time...but I've used it enough in real-world application to know that it WILL stop me if I let go of the rope either in some sort of medical emergency or if I get flatrocked. :waving:
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Postby Francis » Jul 21, 2007 3:45 pm

The wrap looks nice for long pitches with no rebelays, but isn't it a total bugger when you don't have a straight drop?

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Postby cave rat » Aug 12, 2007 11:05 pm

I am a big fan of trying out new types of vertical equipment and rigging, so when read about the French Wrap a year ago, I decided to give it a look at when I got a chance. I had the chance to try out the French Wrap this last week.

When I bought my new Endurance Harness last month, I had a technician at On Rope 1, sew a loop for the set-up on my harness.

I tried out this set-up by climbing up about 30' up and changed over to rappel. I engaged the French Wrap, put on 4 bars on my Rack, and executed a free fall, out of control rappel, with my legs ready to do a leg wrap if needed.

After letting go of the rope, the French Wrap slowed me down and locked me up in under a foot.

I feel this system for lifesaving is worth having in any rappel and every vertical caver should give this system a try.
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Postby Mark Ostrander » Aug 24, 2007 9:33 pm

Francis wrote:The wrap looks nice for long pitches with no rebelays, but isn't it a total bugger when you don't have a straight drop?

Francis


I've only used it a couple times for real, so far. Pretty Well (210'), Short Drop Pit (79') and O'Shaughnessy's Pit (110'). I've liked it so far. As far as the rebelay point goes, since it's just a wrap clipped to a biner on the leg (or somewhere), it would just seem that you could un-clip it and let it hang while you do whatever, and then re-wrap and clip it when you're ready to go. Sounds like something to work out in a practice session.
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