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By Josh Beckner
Mar 12, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Answer the following rappelling question correctly and you’ll be entered to win a free soft shell top from Rab!

Email your answers before March 31st to: info@expeditiontraining.org The answers (more than one possible answer!) and the winner will be announced early April (please don't post your answers on MP and ruin it for all). Good luck!

The question: in a team of two, with many rappels to go, with only one knot in the end of your rope, how can you make it nearly impossible to rappel off the ends of your rope without adding more time to the scenario? Read the scenario below to fully understand the situation....

The scenario: You and your partner are at the top of pitch 12 on Half Dome’s Regular Northwest Face. Bad weather is moving in fast and you decide to bail. You thread your 2 ropes (red and blue) through the fixed anchors, tie knots in the end of the ropes and huck ‘em. You and then your partner rappel to the next anchor, and take the knots out of the end of both ropes. While your partner pulls on the red rope from the anchor above, you take the end of the red rope, thread it through the anchor, tie a stopper knot in that end and begin pulling it through the fixed anchor. You let the red rope (the one with the stopper knot) you are pulling through the anchor fall down the clean face as you feed it through the anchor. Eventually your partner calls rope and the blue end (still without the knot in it) falls past you and hangs in a straight line towards the anchor below. Both ends are about even but, as you recall, only the red rope has a knot in it.

We’ll assume here that you are a relatively prudent climber and you like to have knots in the end of your ropes. But because of the storm that is now starting to unleash it’s fury on you, you decide it will add too much time at each rappel to pull up the unknotted side of the rope, tie a stopper knot and then throw the rope again.
So you rappel first, you pass the next anchor thinking you can likely make it to the next one and rappel off the end of your rope. Game over.

It only took a momentary lapse in attention for the end of the blue rope (without the stopper knot) to pass through your device. Then all your weight was on the red rope. Your weight on the red rope forced the euro death knot that you tied in your skinny ropes to pass right through the large leaver-locker at the anchor above you. Within seconds, 60 meters of blue rope zipped through the anchor and you plummeted to the ground. How can you prevent this?


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By Mike Wysuph
From Broomfield, CO
Mar 12, 2012

Ummmm.....spam??


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By Eric Krantz
From Black Hills
Mar 12, 2012
smoke break, pitch 5 or 6 (or 7??) of Dark Shadows

Josh Beckner wrote:
Within seconds, 60 meters of blue rope zipped through the anchor and you plummeted to the ground.


Not to mention you left your partner hanging from pitch 11, storm coming in, WITHOUT A ROPE! How could you?


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Mar 12, 2012
Mathematical!

Don't try to skip anchors. Do I win?


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Mar 12, 2012
OTL



[Imagine ropes photoshopped in]


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By Buff Johnson
Mar 12, 2012
smiley face

If you rappel faster than the speed of light, thereby giving you more time to rig ....


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By roger fritz from rockford, IL
From Rockford, IL
Mar 12, 2012
Wichita Mountains, Sunshine Wall

Are you really expecting members of Mountain Project to keep their comments to themselves? Seriously now!


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By A.E
From SW CO
Mar 12, 2012

Bail on some quick-links instead of big lockers so the knot can't pass through. Rappel reepschnur style on red, pull blue, alternating as you go down... anyone who raps with a grigri/cinch knows this method well.
Pretty basic, where's my softshell?


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By Ice4life
From SLC, UT
Mar 12, 2012
GYM

If you would just learn to fly like the rest of us, you wouldn't need a rope....

Or get the harness William Shattner used...


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Mar 12, 2012
Mathematical!

It just occurred to me that this situation wouldn't ever actually happen in real life. If there was a crazy storm wailing on you there is no way your rope is gonna fall straight down when you pull it. It'd be much more likely to get blown off route and knotted around a horn.


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Mar 12, 2012
Mathematical!

But seriously, if I was on a multi-pitch with several raps and I was in a hurry to get down, I'd figure-8 my ropes together and simul-rap down. I wouldn't skip any anchors unless I could clearly see the rope passing a fair way past the next set of anchors. If I couldn't see the ends of my rope and I knew they didn't have knots in the end I wouldn't risk it.


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By € $t0& 960 €®
From Colorado
Mar 12, 2012
s

Prussik


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By Brannen
From Flowery Branch, GA
Mar 12, 2012

caving/canyoneering style. clove hitch a biner on the long axis(opposite the gate) and make a biner block, then just rappel down the rope with the knot


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By € $t0& 960 €®
From Colorado
Mar 13, 2012
s

Brannen wrote:
caving/canyoneering style. clove hitch a biner on the long axis(opposite the gate) and make a biner block, then just rappel down the rope with the knot

That can be done too


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Mar 13, 2012

If you rap off the end of the blue rope, even if your edk doesn't slip through the anchor, you will still be hanging there at the end of the stopper knot in red with no anchor at hand. Looks like it's time to ascend to the last anchor or downclimb to the next one.


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By Josh Beckner
Apr 10, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

And the answer is.....

"The second to rap could be pre-rigged to rappel above the first on a cows tail. Then, when the first raps off one of the ropes, as long as the second had a third hand below their atc or was maintaining their break hand, the ropes would not move and the first would be hanging on the red rope." -Jake Perkinson, via email.

You win Jake!

Actually, you don't even need the third hand nor do you need to maintain a break hand. The pre-rigged rappel device effectively isolates both strands.

The other answer that people emailed me with was a simul-rap scenario where the first person down to the end of the lines would put a knot in the end of the blue rope. That works too.

Many folks answered with steps that would add more time to the scenario like adding knots or clove hitches- the point was to come up with a system that wouldn't cost more time with knots that you have to do and undo, that way folks will be more likely to do it every time they are in such a situation.


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By Kris Holub
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 10, 2012
Climbing the Ridge Direct Route (Capitol Peak)

Alternative method as seen here: Set up a biner block using the blue rope as a tag line and rap on red. When you both get to the bottom, untie the knot in red, thread blue through the new anchor and knot it, and repeat the scenario but using red as the tag line for the next rappel. For bonus speed, put both climbers on the same device for a tandem rappel. Don't rappel on the wrong strand. Don't get your rope stuck while trying to bail.


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By Josh Beckner
Apr 10, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Kris Holub wrote:
Alternative method as seen here: Set up a biner block using the blue rope as a tag line and rap on red. When you both get to the bottom, untie the knot in red, thread blue through the new anchor and knot it, and repeat the scenario but using red as the tag line for the next rappel. For bonus speed, put both climbers on the same device for a tandem rappel. Don't rappel on the wrong strand. Don't get your rope stuck while trying to bail.


Thanks Kris, that's a pretty tried and true method, especially when using a tag line. It does however add a bit more bulk to the system, bulk that is slightly more likely to get stuck when you pull it. And it does add one more step....

Thanks for taking the time to post that link- it's nice to see that illustrated, that's exactly what a handful of folks above were referring to.


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By Larry S
Apr 10, 2012
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.

If i pull red thru the rings, put a stopper knot in it, and send it down, and the blue rope falls past with no stopper knot in it, wont whatever knot you used to join the ropes jam in the rings? You can't rap off the red rope - it has a stopper knot, and the red rope can't fall out of the anchor if you do rap off blue, the knot will jam in the rings. You could biner-block it to be safe, as said above.


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By Josh Beckner
Apr 10, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Larry S wrote:
If i pull red thru the rings, put a stopper knot in it, and send it down, and the blue rope falls past with no stopper knot in it, wont whatever knot you used to join the ropes jam in the rings? You can't rap off the red rope - it has a stopper knot, and the red rope can't fall out of the anchor if you do rap off blue, the knot will jam in the rings. You could biner-block it to be safe, as said above.


Larry, sometimes the knot that you used to join the ropes together with will indeed jam in the chains or rings but these days, with the skinny ropes we use, it's certainly not a guarantee. And if you read the scenario again....

"Your weight on the red rope forced the euro death knot that you tied in your skinny ropes to pass right through the large leaver-locker at the anchor above you."

....you'll see that the 'large leaver-locker' would likely allow the joining knot (in this case a low profile EDK) to slip right through.

Fairly recently, someone died on Serenity/Sons in the Valley in a similar scenario, though I think they were rapping on one strand and planning on the knot in the other strand to block it.

Anyone have the report on that?


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By Kris Holub
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 10, 2012
Climbing the Ridge Direct Route (Capitol Peak)

Josh Beckner wrote:
Thanks Kris, that's a pretty tried and true method, especially when using a tag line. It does however add a bit more bulk to the system, bulk that is slightly more likely to get stuck when you pull it. And it does add one more step.... Thanks for taking the time to post that link- it's nice to see that illustrated, that's exactly what a handful of folks above were referring to.


I agree with the bulk which could get stuck on something else, so that is an aspect to be considered. I wouldn't try it on a chossy face but it could be appropriate on a clean vertical face like half-dome. However, the extra time to set up this method involves tying a figure-8 on a bight or a clove hitch for the locker exactly once. For subsequent rappels, the rappel strand can be clipped into the locker without having to retie anything. These steps take literally less than 5 seconds to do.

This method, while not universally superior to the one you posted, does have notable advantages:

  • Unlike the cow-tail pre-rigged rappel, both climbers can rappel in tandem, effectively halving the time required to bail.

  • While very unlikely, it is conceivable that the rope could still pull through the second climber's device if the cow-tail is unweighted and no third hand backup is applied. This would pretty much only happen if the second was incapacitated and/or grossly negligent, but still possible.


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By Josh Beckner
Apr 10, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.

Kris Holub wrote:
I agree with the bulk which could get stuck on something else, so that is an aspect to be considered. I wouldn't try it on a chossy face but it could be appropriate on a clean vertical face like half-dome. However, the extra time to set up this method involves tying a figure-8 on a bight or a clove hitch for the locker exactly once. For subsequent rappels, the rappel strand can be clipped into the locker without having to retie anything. These steps take literally less than 5 seconds to do. This method, while not universally superior to the one you posted, does have notable advantages: * Unlike the cow-tail pre-rigged rappel, both climbers can rappel in tandem, effectively halving the time required to bail. * While very unlikely, it is conceivable that the rope could still pull through the second climber's device if the cow-tail is unweighted and no third hand backup is applied. This would pretty much only happen if the second was incapacitated and/or grossly negligent, but still possible.


Well put Kris. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for your insights. Keep your eyes out for the next contest....


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By Kris Holub
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 10, 2012
Climbing the Ridge Direct Route (Capitol Peak)

Josh Beckner wrote:
Fairly recently, someone died on Serenity/Sons in the Valley in a similar scenario, though I think they were rapping on one strand and planning on the knot in the other strand to block it. Anyone have the report on that?


Discussion on supertopo

TL;DR: The first climber rappelling failed to make a backup knot/biner block and the EDK pulled through the rings. The greatest flaw in their setup is that they relied on a knot rather than a locker to complete the biner block. A contributing factor to this accident is that the climbers were rappeling with different methods; the second climber had intended to remove the biner block setup and rappel normally.


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By Larry S
Apr 10, 2012
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.

Josh Beckner wrote:
...And if you read the scenario again.... "Your weight on the red rope forced the euro death knot that you tied in your skinny ropes to pass right through the large leaver-locker at the anchor above you."


Yeah, i completely missed that last paragraph. I was also assuming normal rings/chains not a large locker. Oops.


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By Dave Swink
From Boulder, Co
Apr 10, 2012

Mike Wysuph wrote:
Ummmm.....spam??



I am not sure what MP's spam rules are, but personally I don't mind the kind of subtle advertising where a vendor is offering a conversation of value while making themselves known in an under-stated fashion.

I thought hard about an interesting scenario, and learned something.

Thanks, Josh.


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