This Knot Can Save Your Life (i.e. CLOSE YOUR SYSTEMS!)


Original Post
Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 46

Following the fatality last month in Yosemite and a local less tragic accident here in Rumney, NH I dedicated this week's tech tip to closing your system.

Please check it out, comments and shares much appreciated!

https://northeastalpinestart.com/2016/10/04/this-knot-can-save-your-life/

beau Griffith · · Fresno, CA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 15

I also enjoyed the link to the AAC Universal Belay Standard article (embedded in your article but reproduced here:) americanalpineclub.org/univ...

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
NEAlpineStart wrote:Following the fatality last month in Yosemite and a local less tragic accident here in Rumney, NH I dedicated this week's tech tip to closing your system. Please check it out, comments and shares much appreciated! northeastalpinestart.com/20...
It's also worth noting that while that knot solves some issues, it also creates issues. Twice I've had a rope get stuck because of stopper knots in the end and in one case it was pretty serious. The most dangerous situation I've ever faced while rappelling was caused by a fishermans stopper knot in the end of the rope.

Considering the tendency for the rope to get stuck with stopper knots, I would suggest just coiling it on your harness. That solves both the problem of rappelling off the end from failing to see the end of the rope as well as the problem of the rope getting stuck. Further, it's advantageous if descending a busy route as you wont be dropping the rope on other climbers.
BigFeet · · Texas · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0

I second the saddlebag method vs. stopper knots for possible snagging issues if you are worried. Snagging really is conditional on just the pull now.

I would rather saddlebag before throwing into the unknown.

Works well in windy conditions too.

The only issue I have with the article; it is not always advantageous to do the same thing in all situations. I believe a more versatile mind with proper methods instituted will lead to less complacency while allowing more awareness of what is taking place with the objective at hand.

I guess I'm trying to say... don't get caught up in a mindset of there being only one solution to the problem.

Paul Deger · · Colorado · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20

Just ran into stuck rope issue on extremely windy day - had a stopper knot and when threw the rope, went 30 feet off the line and hung up badly. I considered trying to swing over to free, but that would have resulted in weighted rope sliding over sharp edge. In the end, I was able to free, but made me think twice about stopper knits on windy days.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

It does seem like there are times where saddle bags are a smart way to go. Windy days, low-angle slabs, lots of ledges all seem to reward them. But in that case a stopper knot would be a risk for getting caught since it's in the bundle?

mbk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Tradgic Yogurt wrote:It does seem like there are times where saddle bags are a smart way to go. Windy days, low-angle slabs, lots of ledges all seem to reward them. But in that case a stopper knot would be a risk for getting caught since it's in the bundle?
I have only done a few saddlebag rappels but always with knots and I haven't had trouble with them.

I let the knots dangle a few feet below me (so they aren't actually in the bundle).
ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

Thanks for posting. Over the last 3 weekends, I have unfortunately witnessed 2 separate accidents that were easily preventable. In the first the climber rapped off the ends (uneven ropes) which resulted in a 30-ish foot fall and multiple fractures. Yesterday a climber was lowered off the end of a rope that was too short - climber fell about 15 feet onto a large boulder, was able to walk out and was super lucky her head missed the rocks.

In the second case, the climber used the 'AAC approved' method of threading the anchor with a bight. The issue here being that a 70m will barely get you to a block about 10 feet off the ground that you can down climb. She had a pretty large loop for threading and had effectively shortened her rope by another 6-8 feet increasing her fall distance. She had linked 2 pitches and was lowering off an upper anchor.

Obviously in both cases, knots would have prevented the falls. I firmly believe having the end of the rope tied off (to belayer, the rope bag whatever) should be as much a part of the pre-climb check as checking your knot and harness double back. People get those drilled into them when they learn, but the rope management part not so much.

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 25
20 kN wrote: It's also worth noting that while that knot solves some issues, it also creates issues. Twice I've had a rope get stuck because of stopper knots in the end and in one case it was pretty serious.
Everything has been already invented. The first is lowering on a single strand with the top rope belay using the second rope strand. On brocken rock the furst carries the first strand's tail in his backpack (limiting knot!) hanging on a shoulder length sling in between her legs. When the first reaches the next rappel anchor she pulls both strands, coil 'em, that's it.

For sure the first has an autoblock and jug or other ascender ready.

This is the default rappel routine.
ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

Question for windy/more complex rappels- I have used saddle bag method for high wind which works great when I stack well - cluster if I mess it up. What are thoughts about simply clipping your ends to your harness and allowing the loops to drop? Any reasons not to do this? I sometimes do this on raps with lots of ledges and then drop the ends when I have a clear shot and haven't had issues.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 540

Clipping the rope ends creates effective stoppers. However, letting the rest of the line dangle could still create snags if it's seriously windy (and you'll have to throw the rope at some point). Saddle bags really help alleviate this problem.

The other issue with clipping both ends is that it prevents the rope from relaxing on the way down, basically creating a twisted mess if your rope is kinked up or has twists in it at all. This can be solved by clipping only one rope end as the stopper, the one opposed to the joining knot (only works with a two-rope rappel unless you use a knot block or pre-rig/stack the rappel devices). As you complete multiple rappels, the stopper knot clipped to you alternates ropes, allow both ropes to relax while prevent rapping off the end of the rope.

For saddlebagging issues more generally mentioned up thread, I find that just letting the stopper dangle a foot or two below the saddle bag works fine.

Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 46

Great points already made above... RE: saddlebagging this can be a tricky skill to master. Anyone have a good video demoing the best way to saddlebag? Maybe I should put one together....

Jordan Gans · · Laramie, WY · Joined May 2012 · Points: 5

I prefer the method detailed in the post by Greg about half way down this thread: mountainproject.com/v/how-t...

Never had an issue with rope tangles or snags using this method.

Jordan

ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

Thanks for pointing to that Jordan! I will try it next time I'm out.

JohnnyG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 0
ErikaNW wrote:I firmly believe having the end of the rope tied off (to belayer, the rope bag whatever) should be as much a part of the pre-climb check as checking your knot and harness double back. People get those drilled into them when they learn, but the rope management part not so much.
I agree. Having twice seen people lowered off the end of the rope, I really don't want to see it again. Grim stuff.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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