Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

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Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby subter » May 8, 2007 11:25 am

I started my previous post seeking consideration of the PETZL ASAP and after consideration it appears this is likely NOT a/the device for caving.

What puzzles me though is what I have often read here, been exposed to in conversation and have read in other places on the web is the GREAT resistance to adding another layer of safety to what nearly everyone concedes is one of the most dangerous operations we will conduct while on rope.

Arguments/excuses range from 'adding another device generates more issues than it solves', if you're not comfortable without your (insert proposed safety device here) then perhaps you shouldn't be on rope. Come on!

This discussion should, though it usually doesn't, go beyond 'user error' or intervention and also consider a scenario when someone has fallen unconscious b/c of rock impact, health issue etc... Certainly the answer to this scenario wouldn't be 'perhaps they shouldn't have been on rope'.

I understand the entire operation/activity is 'inherently risky' and that 'bad things can happen no matter how prepared' but it seems reckless to both ourselves and those that we are caving with to not delve deeper into this issue and come to at least SOME consensus on how to improve our level of safety while rappelling.

I believe I will be taking it up with some of my Grotto members and will continue to post under this thread with progress.

I've included an article by Gordon Birkhimer discussing an approach that has saved his live. Starts on page 10
http://cave.pure.net/~bats/downloads/newsletter/febmar2006.pdf
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Re: Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby hank moon » May 8, 2007 11:54 am

subter wrote:I've included an article by Gordon Birkhimer discussing an approach that has saved his live. Starts on page 10
http://cave.pure.net/~bats/downloads/newsletter/febmar2006.pdf


Hey, stop posting that kind of stuff over here! Might mess with the myopia!

:-)

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Re: Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby Tim White » May 8, 2007 12:27 pm

hank moon wrote:Hey, stop posting that kind of stuff over here! Might mess with the myopia!

:-)


Short-sightedness??? :question: :rofl:

Now Hank, you know all us “experienced” TAG cavers know that we don’t need any back-up. Why does Gordon keep promoting that French Wrap? I’ve told him that I don’t like it. Is my “experienced” opinion not enough?

:kidding:


I’ve been playing with a modified microcender as a type of auto- belay device above the rack. It seems to work. Tell you what...Hank, get your
:nannabooboo: in gear and publish your SHUNT result and I’ll get my :nannabooboo: off the couch and publish my microcender idea.
Be safe,
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Re: Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby hank moon » May 8, 2007 12:34 pm

Tim White wrote:I’ve been playing with a modified microcender as a type of auto- belay device above the rack. It seems to work. Tell you what...Hank, get your in gear and publish your SHUNT result and I’ll get my off the couch and publish my microcender idea.


Deal! :woohoo:

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Postby Princess Butterfly » May 8, 2007 1:03 pm

Good discussion subter :kewl:

Here are two more good articles on the french wrap by Gordon Birkhimer and TinY Manke, pages 8 and 10.
http://cave.pure.net/~bats/downloads/ne ... st2003.pdf
:banana:
See you on a long rope soon,

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Postby Ralph E. Powers » May 8, 2007 2:30 pm

I'm of the opinion that if you need/want/feel comfortable to have this and that redundant rappel safety devices then you might want to reconsider yourself being capable and qualified being on rope.
Much practice and much practice goes a hellva long way in enhancing rope safety and recovery from potential mishaps whilst on rappel. I've had a quick whoops the other day with my Petzl Simple slipping the lock off that I put on it and still only managed to be an inch lower than where I wanted to stop because I kept my hand on the brake... out of habit/training/practice to ensure the lock off is going to hold. Ergo my conclusion is that I am my own best safety device. If I get konked on the skull/helmet hard enough by a falling rock (and it'd better be a big-un because I got a hard head) hard enough to knock me unconscious... whell, might as well write me off anyway eh? But then isn't that what the helmet is for?
Several years ago a fella I know got smacked on the head by a bfr during his rappel of a 315' entrance drop, put 9 stitches in his scalp but didn't put him out and he was able to maintain his grip on the rope til he locked off and was able (with assistance) to change-over and climb back out.

Mebbe a redundant safety on the rappel would help, maybe it won't. Some cavers will want them ... most won't.

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Re: Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby Scott McCrea » May 8, 2007 3:07 pm

subter wrote:...it seems reckless to both ourselves and those that we are caving with to not delve deeper into this issue and come to at least SOME consensus on how to improve our level of safety while rappelling.

The first step in improving a rappeller's level of safety is to learn good technique. Then, if one feels that an extra layer of safety is necessary--so be it.
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Postby Scott McCrea » May 8, 2007 3:09 pm

In case anyone missed it, here's the link to the previous discussion on French Wraps and rappel safeties.
http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?t=380
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Re: Rappelling? You don't need no stinking safety.

Postby MoonshineR DavE » May 8, 2007 3:23 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:
subter wrote:...it seems reckless to both ourselves and those that we are caving with to not delve deeper into this issue and come to at least SOME consensus on how to improve our level of safety while rappelling.

The first step in improving a rappeller's level of safety is to learn good technique. Then, if one feels that an extra layer of safety is necessary--so be it.


I have to agree with Scott on this one, although I will probably never use one myself. :-)
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Postby subter » May 8, 2007 3:46 pm

I understand that there is no substitute for knowledge and practice. There NEVER will be. Let this be the context for comments after this one.

So, ON TOP of practice, practice (wax on/wax off) and knowledge concerning your equipment and techniques what experience have you seen or heard of that adds that extra layer of safety?

If you had to put your young child on rope on a moments notice with no time to train him/her what would that 'extra' layer of safety be? A shunt, french wrap, prusik, ASAP... a copy of "On Rope".

I'm not trying to stifle a debate or discussion but rather than hearing why everyone thinks certain approaches would NEVER work or are too troublesome, heavy or complicated it would be GREAT to hear what the experts here would stand behind... If anything?
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Postby Princess Butterfly » May 8, 2007 4:02 pm

While there is no replacement for experience, practice and good technique, safeties can be very useful, especially if you are the type of person who likes to push the envelope and take things to the next level. Safeties should not be a replacement to good rappelling technique, but a supplement too.

What would you do if…
1. You are rappelling a long drop with a 100 lb gear bag hanging below you and you have every bar on your rack on and it’s not providing enough friction, with all your bars and your feet.
2. You need to take a bar off/put one on and your not strong enough to handle the 90 lbs of rope weight below you with one hand.
3. You have enough weight below you (lets say 460 lbs for instance) to distort your 24 inch 3/8” diameter rack frame and jamming the bars does not slow you down to a comfortable speed.
4. You want to get out your camera and take a picture while you’re on rappel and there’s too much rope weight to pick it up to lock off the rack.
5. You are in a pit and the rope condition goes suddenly from extremely muddy to extremely we and slick like the story in this post http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.phpp= ... ecdb#35833

Wow, doesn’t a safety really come in handy some times.
See you on a long rope soon,

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Postby Scott McCrea » May 8, 2007 4:08 pm

subter wrote:If you had to put your young child on rope on a moments notice with no time to train him/her what would that 'extra' layer of safety be? A shunt, french wrap, prusik, ASAP... a copy of "On Rope".

First choice: lower the kid. Second: real top belay with a different rope. Third: bottom belay. Forth: clip the kid to me and I rap us both down. I would never put someone on rope and expect them to control their own descent without training.

I'm not trying to stifle a debate or discussion but rather than hearing why everyone thinks certain approaches would NEVER work or are too troublesome, heavy or complicated it would be GREAT to hear what the experts here would stand behind... If anything?

The only 'safety device' that I know of that performs consistently in many situations in a cave environment is the bottom belay.
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Postby Princess Butterfly » May 8, 2007 4:13 pm

subter wrote:If you had to put your young child on rope on a moments notice with no time to train him/her what would that 'extra' layer of safety be? A shunt, french wrap, prusik, ASAP... a copy of "On Rope".


First of all, you should never put anyone without rappel experience on a drop without prior instruction. But, in an absolute emergency where you had to put someone with no experience on rope at a moments notice I would use a french wrap if a belay were not possible or if you couldn't rappel with them. If you weight a prusik you will never get it off, to use a gibbs or a shunt requires an action to get it to catch. If the person starts going too fast and panics, what is the first thing they do, THEY LET GO. When they let go the french wrap catches and they stop. I agree with Scott if a bottom belay is possible, use it.
Last edited by Princess Butterfly on May 8, 2007 4:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.
See you on a long rope soon,

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Postby subter » May 8, 2007 4:14 pm

Thanks Scott, I didn't intend for this to be a riddle or even a real situation but rather an idea to have people thinking. Your answer makes total sense though. Thanks for your feedback.
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Postby hank moon » May 8, 2007 4:15 pm

subter wrote:I'm not trying to stifle a debate or discussion but rather than hearing why everyone thinks certain approaches would NEVER work or are too troublesome, heavy or complicated it would be GREAT to hear what the experts here would stand behind... If anything?


Butterfly: hope you opened some crusty eyes with the what-ifs. What if something happens that reduces ones capacity to rappel properly (even if you're a rap-stud(dette) with all the training and stuff)...and you're on your own. Be good to know a backup system - might help you out of a jam.

It's a good idea for every caver to know some first aid, too, but how many can say they are qualified? Same goes here. I hear people saying "it's fine for those who want it, but I"ll never use one". Why even waste the bandwidth? I would think every vertical caver would at least have an interest in learning the technique, even if never used.

So, here's a suggestion to the naysayers: please don't post your "I don't like 'em" - type stuff in this thread . We've all heard why you don't like rappel safeties or why some "authority" says they're no good. Let the folks who are interested in the topic have a real, uncluttered discussion.

Just trying out my patented Scott McCrea thread-nazi feathers...

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