Fixing a rap line at Seneca for a day


Original Post
Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278

I'm looking for feedback on how to fix a rap line at Seneca for a day in the least intrusive way possible.

A buddy and I are training for a big alpine objective, but living in DC doesn't give us a whole lot of options, so we're planning to head to Seneca and bang out as many routes/pitches as we can in a day. I'd like to fix a rap line (probably on the Traffic Jam rappel) for the day to speed up our descents, and I'd like to annoy as few people as possible in the process. My plan is to leave a note with a quick explanation that the line is up for just the day and others are welcome to use it, but also fix directly to the bolts/hangers so the rap rings are free for people to rig their own rappel. Oh, and I'll do this on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Any other considerations, either general or specific to Seneca??


Mark Thesing · · Central Indiana · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 55

I've been at Seneca when the guide services out there had rap lines of the Traffic Jam rap station for a couple days. I'm not sure what the proper etiquette would be before hanging a rope for the day. I would try contacting one of the guide service there and ask about it.


Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 100

Most big alpine objectives don't have fixed raps...


Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 511

And most big alpine objectives one carries at least a small back pack.  


Shadrock · · Here and there. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 263

You've probably already thought of this... but downclimbing Old Ladies would probably be faster, give you more mileage, and get you in the right head space as well. I used to do a lot of solo / rope solo shenanigans out there for the same reason you described (also used to live in DC) and never ran into anybody on it during my downclimbs. And it's super cruiser. I'm a huge whimp and it's not bad at all.


Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278
Healyje wrote:

Most big alpine objectives don't have fixed raps...

I don't need practice rappelling. I do need practice climbing a lot of challenging pitches in a single day.


Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278
Mark Thesing wrote:

I've been at Seneca when the guide services out there had rap lines of the Traffic Jam rap station for a couple days. I'm not sure what the proper etiquette would be before hanging a rope for the day. I would try contacting one of the guide service there and ask about it.

Thanks, getting in touch with the guide services is a really good idea I hadn't thought of.


Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 763

If I were you, I would pop my head into the guides' shops and run this past them.  The more people that know that the lines are ok to rap from (and thus ok to stay fixed for a day) the better.  That way you don't risk someone getting a wtf attitude because they don't know what the fixed ropes are for, and taking them down so they can rap off their own.  Also keep in mind that if you fix a single location, that doesn't necessarily expedite a descent- depending on which routes you choose to do.  There are several stations at Seneca and you might be better served rapping at the station that's closest instead of moving from wherever you top out to your fixed rap line.  Unless I'm mistaken, everything there can be done in one 60m rap and definitely in a single 70m rap.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  Just some food for thought.  Have fun.

edit: Mark beat me to it.


Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0

I'm a long time Seneca climber and know the mountain fairly well (but not like the guides).  Just my two cents but using only one rap position is going to really slow down the number of routes you can get in in a day - especially considering there's a lot of good climbing on both sides of the mountain.  Walking to the rap each time at the top and to the next route when at the bottom is going to slow things down quite a bit especially at the Traffic Jam Rappel - you could have to wait just to get trough the notch to the rappel each time if it's a busy day.  I would call Tom Cecil - tell him what you want to do - and ask him the best way to do what you're looking at.  He might even help you lay out the best sequence of routes - rappels at the level you want.  Tom knows the mountain better than about anyone and is a super nice guy to boot.  Honestly most weekdays this shouldn't be an issue but I think you could do better time wise by using different raps.  Or perhaps fix more than one?


Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278

Thanks Chris. I'll call Seneca Rock Mountain Guides before I go and see if I can get ahold of Tom. If I'm not mistaken the Traffic Jam rappel is pretty convenient for the Face of a Thousand Pitons and the right half of the main west face, which should give me plenty of high quality routes to wear me down! Hopefully going on a weekday will negate crowd issues, at least somewhat.


Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0

I would be interested in seeing your "plan" of which routes to do and in what order to do them in.  Curious about how many climbs/pitches you think you can get in versus how many you can actually do in a day?  Please keep us informed.


Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278

I'm curious too!


Jonathan Steitzer · · West Lebanon, NH · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 1,407

my 2 cents:

  • Fixing a rap line is fine. Especially if you leave a note. People will appreciate it.
  • However, on a weekday it's kind of pointless. Seneca isn't crowded enough on a weekday for it to give you any advantage to hike all the way to one rappel. Just rap off whatever station is closest to whatever you top out of.

Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 278

Jonathan, I'd like to hit 12-15 pitches. I'm looking at a bunch of the climbs on Face of a Thousand Pitons and surrounding area, so using the same rap would be convenient. More importantly, I'm pretty sure a 70m fixed as a single strand will reach the ground. Being able to zip down that instead of rigging multiple rappels every descent should save us a significant amount of time.


Jonathan Steitzer · · West Lebanon, NH · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 1,407

RIght on. Well a 70m as a single strand will get you down off anything on Seneca. It's not that tall.


Mark Thesing · · Central Indiana · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 55

70m will get you to the ground from traffic jam. I think 60m will be a little short.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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