left-handed chest ascenders

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left-handed chest ascenders

Postby ek » Dec 31, 2008 4:42 pm

knudeNoggin's mention of discrimination against left-handed people in this bowline thread has motivated me to ask: Are there any left-handed chest ascenders (for frogging) currently manufactured? Have there been any in the past?

I heard a rumor once that Petzl for a short time manufactured a left-handed Croll, and then stopped due to inadequate demand. But I don't know if that's true. And I'd be more interested in a product that is currently being manufactured, anyway.

By left-handed, I mean that the safety catch would be on the left side (with the teeth coming in from the left U-channel on the right side), designed to be operated with the left hand rather than the right. This is from the perspective of the person wearing it, of course.

SUOC has a whole bunch of right-handed chest ascenders (Petzl Crolls). We have zero left-handed ones. If they exist, I may recommend to our next caving chair (whoever that turns out to be) that s/he buy a couple next year.

While I'm at it, I may as well ask--are there any left-handed non-handled ascenders comparable to the Petzl Basic? (The Croll is not ideal for this use, as is it angled weirdly and, more importantly, it has no top holes for use in climbing angled ropes, single-ascender self-belay, and hauling.)
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby adleedy » Dec 31, 2008 5:22 pm

never heard of a left handed croll. Personally i'm left handed and don't really see a need for a left handed one, nor would I use a left handed croll in conjunction with a left handed ascension.
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 31, 2008 5:23 pm

ek wrote:knudeNoggin's mention of discrimination against left-handed people in this bowline thread has motivated me to ask: Are there any left-handed chest ascenders (for frogging) currently manufactured? Have there been any in the past?

I heard a rumor once that Petzl for a short time manufactured a left-handed Croll, and then stopped due to inadequate demand. But I don't know if that's true. And I'd be more interested in a product that is currently being manufactured, anyway.

By left-handed, I mean that the safety catch would be on the left side (with the teeth coming in from the left U-channel on the right side), designed to be operated with the left hand rather than the right. This is from the perspective of the person wearing it, of course.

SUOC has a whole bunch of right-handed chest ascenders (Petzl Crolls). We have zero left-handed ones. If they exist, I may recommend to our next caving chair (whoever that turns out to be) that s/he buy a couple next year.

While I'm at it, I may as well ask--are there any left-handed non-handled ascenders comparable to the Petzl Basic? (The Croll is not ideal for this use, as is it angled weirdly and, more importantly, it has no top holes for use in climbing angled ropes, single-ascender self-belay, and hauling.)

I recall that KONG used to make a modular type ascender for both left and right handed folks... that the modular aspect of it would allow it to become a handled or seat/chest ascender. Other than that... :shrug:
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby hank moon » Dec 31, 2008 8:19 pm

adleedy wrote:nor would I use a left handed croll in conjunction with a left handed ascension.


how come?

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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby adleedy » Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

hank moon wrote:
adleedy wrote:nor would I use a left handed croll in conjunction with a left handed ascension.


how come?


simply a matter of personal preference, I don't particularly care for the way a right handed ascension and croll "could" interact when jammed together. I imagine a left handed ascension and croll would produce the same results for "me"

I'm not trying to say theres a reason why you or anyone else shouldnt use them in any combination.

:grin:
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby hank moon » Dec 31, 2008 11:21 pm

adleedy wrote:I don't particularly care for the way a right handed ascension and croll "could" interact when jammed together.


Still not following you here...can you be more specific about how a right handed ascension and croll could interact when jammed together, and more importantly, how they might come to be jammed together? What has been your experience?

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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby Rick Brinkman » Dec 31, 2008 11:35 pm

I think that I would prefer a left handed croll, if one was made. I'm right handed and use a right handed upper ascender. Just kinda makes sense for my right hand to run my upper and my left hand to run the "theoretical" left handed croll.
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby Stridergdm » Jan 1, 2009 12:11 am

hank moon wrote:
adleedy wrote:I don't particularly care for the way a right handed ascension and croll "could" interact when jammed together.


Still not following you here...can you be more specific about how a right handed ascension and croll could interact when jammed together, and more importantly, how they might come to be jammed together? What has been your experience?


NZCaver has an article on this. Apparently some believe it's possible to jam the croll up tight enough against a right handed ascender as to make it basically impossible to move either one and you're now stuck on the rope. If I recall correctly, his conclusion was basically it was possible but you had to really work at it.
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jan 1, 2009 12:22 am

This is part of On Rope 1's printed catalog (see bottom of page)
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 1, 2009 7:59 am

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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby hank moon » Jan 1, 2009 4:39 pm

Is this an issue of genuine concern or a speleo-myth? If it is a concern, where are the published reports of actual incidents where a problem has arisen? If no actual incident has been documented, then talking about the "dangers of using a Right-Handed Ascender as the top ascender" is premature. Note that in Jeff's link, the problem is said to be associated with a "short" foot cord. This is an important qualification b/c it is difficult to imagine this occurring with a properly set-up Frog system. So...why is the cord "short"? Is it because the footloop broke and was re-tied using the same materials? A loaned (non-adjustable) footloop? Note that in a properly configured Frog system, the footloop length is adjusted so as to preclude the ascenders jamming together in normal use. I suppose that if one was using a "short" footloop (for whatever reason) *and* inattentive, then the ascenders could "jam" together during a stand phase of ascending, but then why couldn't the upper ascender simply be moved up to clear the jam?

I am puzzled as to how this perceived issue has gained weight sufficient to induce folks to change their behavior and to urge others to do so. Does anyone out there have any evidence to support the notion that this problem is more real than imagined?

---

Text from link in Jeff Bartlett's post:
During the stand-up motion, the Croll rises to meet the handled ascender. If large steps are desired and the foot cord is short, there is a possibilty that the two ascenders could become jammed. Using the Left Ascension with the Croll will provide the easiest arrangement for freeing up the jam. Use the left hand to advance the left ascender.

Text from diagram in Scott McCrea's post:
The above pictures serve to illustrate the dangers of using a Right-Handed Ascender as the top ascender (i.e. the one supporting the foot loops) in a Frog System. Note that in the case of the above right-handed ascender (i.e. blue ascender on right), both the Croll and Ascender gates are blocked if the devices should be inadvertently jammed together her while climbing. However, in the case of the Left-Handed Ascender (i.e. gold ascender on left), both gates remain assessable to the climber.

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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby NZcaver » Jan 1, 2009 4:49 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Image

Please don't believe everything you see at first glance. Several years ago Chris and I spoke about this warning poster he created, and after a nice prolonged chat he said he was going away to think about the whole issue a bit more and would "get back to me." I'm still waiting. :wink:

Note the demo ascenders shown in the photo are hanging free on the rope, rather than being connected to the components of a frog system with a human being inside it.

xcathodex wrote:This is part of On Rope 1's printed catalog (see bottom of page)

Yes, this informational suggestion on the OnRope1 website has not escaped my notice. Thus far I have not found a single other caving equipment distributor (or manufacturer) who endorses that theory. In fact, on another caving forum, an OnRope1 employee admitted that he's always used a right handed ascender with his frog system - and does not plan to change. Good for him!

Stridergdm wrote:NZCaver has an article on this. Apparently some believe it's possible to jam the croll up tight enough against a right handed ascender as to make it basically impossible to move either one and you're now stuck on the rope. If I recall correctly, his conclusion was basically it was possible but you had to really work at it.

You're more or less correct. If you really work at it, you can jam up a Croll with an LHA just as badly as with an RHA. Having the cams and safeties pointing neatly in opposing directions certainly looks nicer and less likely to foul up. But go ahead people, try it for yourself. Don a frog system and get on rope in a controlled/supervised situation. Work at jamming and un-jamming your ascenders, first using an RHA and then an LHA. Then come back and tell us how much of a practical safety difference you really think there is between the two ascenders. Of course if you're using a properly adjusted frog system, your ascenders shouldn't jam together anyway!

The bottom line for me is this. I feel strongly that encouraging/advising new cavers to use only a left handed ascender with the frog system (regardless of their personal dexterity or comfort preference) is misguided and could even become potentially dangerous - as previously discussed here.

As Greg said, I did create a grotto newsletter article about this. I think it's appropriate to share my concluding paragraph (also posted in this lively topic a couple of years ago):

Personally, I continue to advise new vertical cavers to start with whichever handled ascender suits their dexterity. And if that doesn't feel right, they can try the other one. I believe if you're using a Frog system and you're comfortable with it - leave it alone! I have spoken with several right-handers who use left-handed ascenders because it feels more natural. That's fine! Just don't dismiss the right-handed ascender for the wrong reasons. Each year, the Petzl catalog continues to show the Frog system using a right-handed Ascension with a Croll. And over the past two decades, my Frog system has undergone many changes - but it still has a right-handed ascender.

OK, I suppose that's enough beating the dead horse for one day! :laughing:

PS - I second what Hank just said. :wtg:

PPS - Eliah, in answer to your original question I'm not personally aware of any chest ascenders for frog systems made in a left-handed version. I even checked Gary Storrick's website. There are plenty of short frame (no handle) ascenders made in both left and right versions, but none which use anything like a true Croll-style design that I could see. For what it's worth I once tried using a Basic for a chest ascender, but as you can imagine it doesn't feed too well.
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby ek » Jan 1, 2009 5:58 pm

I think the issue of having the cams less accessible when the ascenders touch (which they never should...) is a very minor one. A person might consider it...but it's a concern over an event unlikely to occur which, even if it does occur, is not substantially easier to ameliorate with Bruce Smith's recommended setup.

There is, however, a much better reason why a right-handed person may wish to use a left-handed upper ascender (and why a left-handed person may wish to use a right-handed upper ascender, even with a right-handed Croll). Your ascender is then not operated by the same hand that you use as your brake hand (or control hand) on your descender. Then when changing over (or passing a rebelay, if you remain clipped in while doing so) you can more smoothly unclip your upper ascender / cowstail--you don't have to switch brake/control hands to do so. You also have the option of speeding up changeovers and various other maneuvers by slowing down and popping your ascender on. (This would be particularly useful for knot-passing--you could stop with just enough room between the descender and the knot to remove the descender; throw on the upper ascender attached to the short cowstail and move it up as high as it will go; clip the long cowstail to the knot; let go with your brake/control hand, remove the descender, rethread the descender below the knot and lock it off; stand up in the footloop and unclip the short cowstail from the upper ascender; sit down; unclip the upper ascender from the rope and clip it to a gear loop--you can reach it because you attached it at the end of your short cowstail rather than the long as you normally would; fully unlock the now-weighted descender, verifying that it is properly attached to the rope; and finally unclip the long cowstail and resume the rappel.)

A couple of right-handed cavers have told me that they use left-handed handled ascender as their upper ascender in their frog systems, and always keep the cam open when on rope, so that in the event that they need to stop quickly they can just snap it on the rope. This strikes me as not the best way to stop while rappelling...but one of them did tell me that he was in a situation where that saved his life.

If you also had a chest ascender designed to be operated by your non-brake/control hand (i.e. a right-handed one if you're left-handed, a left-handed one if you're right handed), then you could perhaps safely and easily complete a changeover from rappelling to ascending without actually locking off the descender (throw on the upper ascender attached to the long cowstail and move it up as high as it goes; lower your weight off onto your upper ascender but maintain a grip with your brake hand; put on the chest ascender with a bit of slack between it and the descender; remove the descender).

Rehashing the original subject of the post, does anybody else know any facts or rumors about any left-handed chest ascenders?
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby NZcaver » Jan 1, 2009 7:53 pm

ek wrote:A couple of right-handed cavers have told me that they use left-handed handled ascender as their upper ascender in their frog systems, and always keep the cam open when on rope, so that in the event that they need to stop quickly they can just snap it on the rope. This strikes me as not the best way to stop while rappelling...but one of them did tell me that he was in a situation where that saved his life.

:yikes: Not exactly what I'd call a traditional rappel safety, but hey... I guess it worked once for some lucky guy.
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Re: left-handed chest ascenders

Postby ek » Jan 1, 2009 7:55 pm

Well, it requires extremely positive action to engage. It's not like he rappels with his ascender *on* the rope ready to close the safety catch (or on the rope with the safety catch closed and the cam thumbed open).
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