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Breaking an Ushba Basic


Original Post
Mark Cushman · · Cumming, GA · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 995
Ushba Basic

I bought a titanium Ushba Basic from Ouray Mountain Sports a few years ago after watching a few rope soloists use it in the ice park. It seemed to work really well and I liked the way it had no teeth and instead used a lever to pinch the rope. After testing it out on a few routes in the gym and using it outside on TR routes about 20 times, I've heard more and more talk about how the Ushba Basic will sever a rope with a relatively small load applied. This report in particular:

hse.gov.uk/research/crr_pdf…

Ushba failure report

Notes that the Ushba Stop-Lock (similar if not identical to the Basic) fails by severing the rope at 5.5 kN. I love the way the Ushba works for TR soloing, but I am curious about the strength of the device. I haven't heard of any other tests being done on the Ushba, hence my post.

1. Does anyone have any details/stories/testing reports about breaking an Ushba Basic?

2. If not, I will donate my titanium Ushba Basic for breakage, along with static rope and dynamic rope to use to break it. I have some 10.5 dynamic, some standard static line, a few lengths of 8mm double rope, etc. to use. My preference would be to do this in the Boulder/Denver area so that I can be there to watch/video/photograph and participate in the breakage, but if there is no one local I can ship this anywhere. If I do ship it out I would like to have some decent published results, HD video and photos to go along with it.

So, does anyone have a good testing rig in the area?
Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 378

". . . and I liked the way it had no teeth and instead used a lever to pinch the rope."

this is a common misconception. The lack of teeth concentrates the force on the outside of the sheath and shears it. This may be the reason it is cutting the rope.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 14,449
Mark Cushman wrote:I've heard more and more talk about how the Ushba Basic will sever a rope with a relatively small load applied.
That report is pretty interesting and I read it a number of years ago as I'd heard about the USHBA failing the dynamic test.

Relatively small load?

"Peak impact force and slippage with a fall factor 2 drop with a 100 kg mass....The total lanyard length was therefore simulated as being one metre including connectors: giving a factor 2 fall of 2 metres."

In other words, they dropped a 100kg weight on the device for two meters.

I rig my Basic straight to my harness. I'm pretty careful to notice if the rope is feeding when I use the device for soloing. I try not to pop off in a situation that would shock load the rope really hard (avoid traverses, watch for slack, etc).

So, while I can imagine a few scenarios which might lead to my USHBA basic failing, I can mitigate those situations by paying attention to the rope and how the device is positioned between me and that rope.

Bottom line: don't free fall any distance onto the USHBA basic.

Cheers,

-Brian in SLC
Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

It's worth looking into some more.

Granted, to even get a small sample, you'd need to take about 10 of those things and have at it with different types of ropes and situations. I think there will be an ITRS paper on hitting some of the other rope grabs; but I don't think the USHBA Basic was part of the equipment tested.

If you want Cush, I/you can have it hit at PMI using a rope I know won't be in question; but that's just one data point, and you'll ruin your Basic.

I have thought the same thing; not to mention, they are becoming the device of choice. I can certainly ask if you want to go ahead and hammer it.

The additional argument is low-stretch rope versus dynamic rope -- does that make a difference?

There really is something to this if you use it with a normal amount of slack and hit it and it fails the system; there's something not right.

Kevin Connolly · · CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

As long as you weight the bottom of the rope you will never create a load nearly as severe as the one in that test. i would be interested in seeing results from tests that more closely simulate situations you would encounter rope soloing with one. like how much slack you need in a 10.2 dynamic rope to sever it with a falling 200 lb mass. i have fallen on mine quite a lot on a dynamic rope but never with more that a foot of slack and its hanging off of my belay loop not a 1 meter sling.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 14,449
Kevin Connolly wrote:As long as you weight the bottom of the rope you will never create a load nearly as severe as the one in that test.
The basic follows up the rope so nicely, I wouldn't think there'd be an advantage in adding any weight to the bottom of the rope.

Also wondering if you take away some of the dynamics in the system if you do that?

Hmmm....
J. Thompson · · denver, co · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,475
Killis Howard wrote:This is some unsettling shit. Anyone broken anything by Wren Industries, i.e. the Soloist, Solo Aid, or Silent Partner?
I've not heard of any of those devices breaking...but keep in mind they were designed for rope soloing.

The ushba basic was not.

josh
Kevin Connolly · · CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

with a fat rope it will drag a little right when you are getting off the ground, weighting it prevents this. i can't imagine any negative affects it would have as far as taking away any dynamic properties from the system as all the stretch is in the rope between the device and the anchor. anyone know of any incidents where this device actually severed a rope when being used properly to self belay on top rope? i remember reading something bad a while ago where someone decked. i forget the details but i think the problem was it didn't grab but i don't think the rope was severed.

Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,254

I'm intrigued by Kate's use of the Ushba for semi-dynamic adjustable daisies, but this has me reconsidering.

Has anyone tried the CAMP Lift?
(I know: it says it's not designed for self-belay.) CAMP Lift

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145
Kevin Connolly wrote: anyone know of any incidents where this device actually severed a rope when being used properly to self belay on top rope? i remember reading something bad a while ago where someone decked. i forget the details but i think the problem was it didn't grab but i don't think the rope was severed.
I don't believe any reports have been made in the States and haven't heard of anything in the ice park. I've used it both dynamic & low-stretch ropes -- 10.6 & 11 mm respectively, I'm close to 200 lbs. no problems. (granted, maybe I should add "yet")

That one case you may be thinking is where the Basic hit a sweet spot in a fall and never contacted the rope (don't know the rope diam in this one); which is why the thought is to tie the back-up knots, which sux while you hang from a tool, might as well aid climb; but there that is.
Ryan Williams · · London (sort of) · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,280

Living in Thailand we use a lot of Ushba gear because a lot of the stronger Russian climbers bring over Ushba gear. I've heard stories but never think twice about using the stuff.

Anything can happen, and most things do happen at least once. The way I see it, don't go climbing above your anchor or last fixed point, and you probably won't die.

Teeth or no teeth, Ushba or not, I'd never trust an ascender or auto belay device in a factor two fall, just like I don't trust a lot of other gear in a factor two fall.

Don't be stupid and you probably won't die :)

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

What you probably mean is not taking a fall of more than x amount; the fall factor isn't really applicable here.

I don't think it's a matter of using equipment improperly. The concern is more using it within intended design; will it fail the rope, or will it fail a rope of a certain type but be good for other types?

Anyone that uses these, like myself, can say "no, it's fine" all day long, but do we really have a test set other than the guinea-pig trials? We really don't have anything, other than the strength of the device is adequate, but that's only part of the safety equation.

Mark Cushman · · Cumming, GA · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 995

I was intending on pulling it slowly with a comealong attached to a load cell or something like that. I know it will be destroyed, I want that to happen. I was wondering what the failure method would be - if it would warp the device and cut the rope over the edge or would the lever pinch the rope enough to make it cut there? I realize with a factor 2 fall that all kinds of stuff would happen, but I like many others have typically used this for very simple TR setups where the device is constantly monitored and no slack is allowed to generate.

Still haven't had a local offer, anyone have access to any testing equipment locally?

Kevin Connolly · · CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

this is the guy that fell

supertopo.com/climbing/thre…;msg=125583

they don't seem to be too sure of the cause, any ideas? i'll try grabbing the rope tomorrow and see if i can get it to slip

JFK · · San Diego, CA · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 5
Gregger Man wrote: Has anyone tried the CAMP Lift? (I know: it says it's not designed for self-belay.) CAMP Lift
I'm curious about this too? Anyone used the CAMP lift for TR solo?
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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