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Ascenders popping off Ropes
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Dec 26, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
My opinion is that a correctly attached ascender WILL NOT pop off a rope, and that on diagonal pitches, a biner clipped into the rope on the bottom of the ascender (into the biner you've clipped into the ascender via your daisy) is far more effective and fast. I've been able to force an ascender off a tightly strung horizontal rope but it took a lot of work and I ended up having to pull the ascender down from it's top, a totally unnatural position.

So, I'm asking, what do people who clip a biner into the top of the ascender when ascending a vertical rope think they are safeguarding, what do they think is going to happen?

People all have stories of ascenders popping off ropes but I believe that 95% of the time it was human error and the gate was not fully closed.

(I'm totally rabble rousing here, I have a beef with people who create unnatural or severely rare situations and then run around and get all worked up figuring out ways to protect against them.)
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
373 points
Administrator
Dec 26, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: OMG!
Mark Hudon wrote:
.... but I believe that 95% of the time it was human error and the gate was not fully closed.

Hey Mark, what's the other 5%? I think it is 100% human error.. I can not figure out how to make it pop off unless i load it incorrectly? Yeah, loaded traverses you must be careful, but still....
Too wet on the walls even for you?
(Another Northern California boy, wistfully thinking back on the last 4 years of drought....and dry winters, and great times in the valley in January. Sigh)
Muscrat
Joined Oct 27, 2011
3,553 points
Dec 26, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
I was being generous!

Yeah, I'm in Baja learning to kit sail. I'll be back that way in the early spring and then again in the fall. I have big plans for this year.
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
373 points
Dec 26, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: en route to wham ridge  Photo by Carl Schnitker
I could be misunderstanding this but I thought the biner clipped to the top was to keep it aligned with the rope so it's easier to slide up in the line. eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
422 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Aiding. Photo by Locker.
I'm a jugging newbie for sure, but I've always thought, just looking at my ascenders, that if they came off the rope, you put them *on* the rope incorrectly to begin with. teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Joined Dec 16, 2012
638 points
Administrator
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading "Clocher - clochetons Traverse" ...
The problem is 100% of humans make errors. So in thinking about ascender use, you need to ask what is the mistake most likely to be made? Doug Hemken
Joined Oct 1, 2004
5,783 points
Dec 27, 2015
I'm wondering if it might simply be a carry over from an earlier edition of the Ascention that perhaps didn't hold so well on traverses? Petzl put that upper hole there intentionally, and the instructions they provide say that you can either put a biner in there and/or clip the bottom one. (they show both at the same time) I'm with Mark and usually clip the bottom biner, but I'll say that I still get nervous at times and make sure I back tie to the rope if jugging a traverse. I know folks who only use the jug/grigri which works supurb for traverses and lower outs. Billcoe
Joined Mar 16, 2006
618 points
Dec 27, 2015
I had one pop off while cleaning the great roof, so I know it happens. I don't think a carabiner through the top would have made any difference. David Coley
From UK
Joined Oct 26, 2013
70 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Triple Direct on El Capitan
100% human error but it can still be catastrophic when it happens. I have had the bottom ascender pop off twice, both times I was kinda helping move it along by releasing tension on the teeth of the cam, slid up and off the rope. I use a grigri on traverses and for all other jugging I usually just throw a biner on the top hole of the top ascender, not the bottom one, nothing attached to that biner it simply captures the rope and make me feel better since I am prone to human error. Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Joined Apr 5, 2012
192 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
David, Are absolutely, 100%, swear on the Bible certain the cam was fully locked before the ascender popped off the rope?
Were you moving the ascender when it popped off?

Eli, how much easier could sliding an ascender up a vertical rope be? How could clipping a biner there make it easier?

Just about every ascender I've ever seen had a place to clip a biner to its top. I always thought it was for weighting the ascender when it is hanging upside down being used in the classic hauling situation.

Teece303, that is exactly my feeling and sort of point of this thread.

I REALLY want to see someone pop a correctly locked ascender off a rope. I'm not willing to pay money to see it but I'll donate a pound of coffee!
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
373 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Triple Direct on El Capitan
No idea why the prussik in this picture but I throw a biner in there on my top ascender, not a locking, usually a Photon or whatever is handy.

Rock Climbing Photo: Biner through ascender top hole.
Biner through ascender top hole.


BTW , picture lifted from Rock and Ice
Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Joined Apr 5, 2012
192 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
IMHO, the ONLY reason and situation for a biner anywhere on an ascender is on a traverse (non icy, rock climbing situations only).

The drawing Kevin posted is completely useless. (Again, my opinion)

Also, let me state that no one should ever allow anyone else to dictate their level of safety. If you think they I'm full of it and dangerous and you firmly believe that biners on ascenders are safer, then by all means you should use them.
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
373 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Triple Direct on El Capitan
Mark, the biner on the top hole makes me "feel" safer and is not a dangerous practice. I've seen many others do the same for the same reasons. I wonder why ascender makers put the hole there? Can't be just for using it for hauling when used upside down.

Jugging and rappelling are two of my least favorite parts of doing walls, I have always hated it. I would rather be on a tough lead any day of the week.
Kevin Mokracek
From Burbank
Joined Apr 5, 2012
192 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
Yup, Kevin, it's useless in vertical rope situations but it doesn't really cost you anything in terms of time and is not dangerous. Max has a level of safety differrent than mine but he's quick about it and I'm fine with it. We all have big wall quirks that don't really do anything but we all do them simply because they make us feel better. Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
373 points
Dec 27, 2015
Obligatory link (not me, thankfully):

supertopo.com/tr/Crisis-in-Yos...

""Almost there" I thought. Just a routine move around the piece and then I could relax at the anchor. Taylor had short-fixed about 20 feet above the anchor, and I could see him watching me try to clear the cam. I’ve re-lived this moment thousands of time in my head, and I’m sure I’ll continue to re-live it the rest of my life. I reached for my top jumar - grabbed the trigger - and started falling. And then fell further, and further, and further. Immediately I knew something was terribly wrong. At first I thought maybe the #4 blew, but that would cause me to pendulum a little out, not start a free fall. Or maybe the anchor blew. Or maybe..."

I'm OK with just 2 ascenders on a free hanging line, but once you are passing pieces, or torqueing on things funny bad shit can happen. It may not have happened to you yet, but it has to enough folks to scare the crap out of me. So I tend to keep backup knots close by, and mostly have a biner through the top hole of the lower ascender. I am slow, but it works for me.
Moof
From Portland, OR
Joined Dec 11, 2007
25 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: en route to wham ridge  Photo by Carl Schnitker
Mark Hudon wrote:
Eli, how much easier could sliding an ascender up a vertical rope be? How could clipping a biner there make it easier?

I've only ever used an ascender once (that's probably the culprit) but I found it much more difficult than my mini trax to slide up the rope (which was a fixed line that has had over a year of UV exposure and was very stiff and frozen, also could be the culprit). My partner told me to clip a biner through the top hole and doing so appeared to help keep the fixed line parallel to the ascender which significantly increased the ease at which it would slide up the rope.

FWIW I was using the mini-trax as the top/foot prusik and the ascender as the bottom/waist pruisk.
eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
422 points
Dec 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
I've owned several rope ascending systems for caving and have jugged untold numbers of rope drops. However, one day in a small cave in Austin I was using a rope walker system with two ascenders connected by a small bungie cord going through a pulley on the chest harness and one of them popped off mid step. I wasnt far off the ground and was weighting the other ascender, so I put the second one back on and continued. This was on a free standing rope that was completely clean and vertical, not even touching the walls. So I can confirm the damn things can pop off. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,669 points
Dec 28, 2015
Mark Hudon wrote:
David, Are absolutely, 100%, swear on the Bible certain the cam was fully locked before the ascender popped off the rope? Were you moving the ascender when it popped off?


Not a clue. I assume I just loaded it wrong as it is a traverse.
David Coley
From UK
Joined Oct 26, 2013
70 points
Dec 28, 2015
The prusik is a bit bulky for me. I like to use a bener with tiblock on the top ascender when traversing. It provides added security with smooth action at min weight. Chris Watkins
From Jackson, Ohio
Joined Feb 24, 2014
6 points
Dec 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
An incredibly easy way to counter the notorious popping-off ascender is to also employ one that must be assembled on the rope, like a Gibbs, Microscender, or the like. Rather than spring-loaded safeties that can pop open with inertia and unforeseen movements (the probable cause of this popping stuff) they have shells and pins that one assembles onto the rope, making it virtually impossible to just pop off. They require more futzing with, obviously.


So, hey, do that.
Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,669 points
Dec 28, 2015
Stich wrote:
An incredibly easy way to counter the notorious popping-off ascender is to also employ one that must be assembled on the rope, like a Gibbs, Microscender, or the like. Rather than spring-loaded safeties that can pop open with inertia and unforeseen movements (the probable cause of this popping stuff) they have shells and pins that one assembles onto the rope, making it virtually impossible to just pop off. They require more futzing with, obviously. So, hey, do that.


I'm not sure that would work for aid climbing as one it taking the top ascender off regularly. And for low angle stuff a pair of handled ascenders is I guess quicker.
David Coley
From UK
Joined Oct 26, 2013
70 points
Dec 29, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
David Coley wrote:
I'm not sure that would work for aid climbing as one it taking the top ascender off regularly. And for low angle stuff a pair of handled ascenders is I guess quicker.


One can get good at assembling the cam into the shell with practice.
Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,669 points
Dec 29, 2015
Chris Watkins wrote:
The prusik is a bit bulky for me. I like to use a bener with tiblock on the top ascender when traversing. It provides added security with smooth action at min weight.

That seems like a cool Idea, but I try to stay the fuck away from Tiblocs. I think the new one should be good, but if your ascender were to fail and your Tibloc were weighted, it would almost definitely damage your rope. I used a Tibloc clipped to directly to my belay loop as a waist ascender on a short pitch recently, and put a few small tics and tears in the sheath of my relatively new rope. I used to defend the tibloc to death and claim that it did not weigh the sheath and there for could not damage the rope. Although the tibloc does not weigh the sheath when used properly, unless a load is slowly applied to the tibloc while the tibloc is pressed into the rope, it will slip and the teath will rip any strands of the sheath in the way. I understand now that I was totally misusing the device, and that this is to be expected, but the point is, the tibloc (at least the old version) should generally be avoided. Normal ascenders on the other hand, are SPRING LOADED camming devices, meaning that the cams will automatically engage. Because of this it best to just throw an empty locker in the upper whole, so that if an ascender somehow slips, the rope is held in the device so the cam can reengage.
This guy has got it right:

New Tibloc:
Rubin Field
From portland
Joined Sep 8, 2015
95 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Yeah, I only use my Tiblocs in emergencies. I did weight one before it set and it stripped the sheath of my rope pretty badly. The core wasn't exposed, but it just tore into the outer threads and left them frayed. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,669 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Birds and Beards
Never had them pop off the rope but have def had the gate open while passing a piece that's pretty far out. Always wondered about the top biner as its only going to keep the rope in the device when the gate opens but I guess there's always the chance that the rope will catch the teeth and reengage the cam. kevin deweese
From Oakland, Ca
Joined Jan 14, 2007
304 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex ...
Look, you wanker climbers who know next to nothing about using ascenders need to quit listening to Mark Hugedong, who is sounding like a total n00b on this post, and listen to cavers, who have nothing better to do with their time than perfect their jugging systems, and analyze accidents that happen.

Climbers, on the other hand, see jugging as trivial, unimportant, and "easy" and accordingly often devote little time to properly learning and understanding this fundamental wall climbing skill.

Here is what you need to know:

You must ALWAYS be attached to the rope by two or more points of attachment to your sit or chest harness, meaning things like ankle cams and floating cams on ropewalkers don't necessarily count unless they are attached.

If you are jugging a rope while cleaning, and you have to take a jug off the rope to pass a piece, you have to have a backup - Grigri, Micro-Trax or backup knot - or you are going to DIE.

Ascenders can and do pop off diagonal ropes frequently and unpredictably. To suggest that someone didn't properly close the cam is ludicrous. Accordingly, do not trust ascenders on a diagonal rope!

Adding a carabiner both through the top and the bottom of the jug doesn't hurt on diagonal pitches, but it is NO safeguard! You STILL need a backup as described above.

If you are cleaning an aid pitch on jugs, almost certainly it will not be plumb, and almost certainly there will be situations where you have to remove an ascender in order to pass a piece of gear to clean it. Accordingly, make sure you have a backup as described above or yer gonna die.

When I clean aid pitches - which by their nature are traversing and overhanging - two jugs just get in the way. I use a single handled ascender, and a Grigri which I use as the second ascender. The post is here in the aid forum, so have a look if you haven't seen it.

Every now and then, I get to clean one of those rare aid pitches that is actually plumb. In this instance, I might choose to clean the pitch without tying a single backup knot. I will do this if I never have to take one of my two ascenders off the rope. If I did have to remove an ascender, I would quickly tie a backup knot, pass the piece, stick my jug back on, and untie the backup knot. This is because I don't want to jug with the weight of the remaining rope hanging off my harness. Duh.

But if I am cleaning a typical traversing/overhanging aid pitch, I will use a jug plus Grigri, and tie backup knots every now and then, since the weight of rope hanging beneath is a hindrance when using a Grigri, rather than a benefit when using a jug. In this instance, when I get to the top of the pitch, I have the loops of rope ready to stack in the rope bag. And I also don't have to worry about the wind blowing the rope sideways and hanging it up irretrievably on a flake somewhere.

As for jugging a free hanging rope, which is obviously plumb owing to the laws of physics, you are fine with only two ascenders, no backup, and no carabiners through the holes of the ascenders. Even so, some choose to run a Micro-Trax below. I would if I have a spare, but I don't.

Are you guys all aware that not ONE but TWO people have DIED while cleaning the fifth traversing pitch of Tangerine Trip on El Cap? They were jugging and cleaning, and both became completely detached from the rope because one or both jugs popped off, and they hit the deck from five hundred feet up!

So DFU.

P.S. None of you should be using Tiblocs for any reason whatsoever, except absolute emergency. They are total junk, extremely inefficient, and they will cut the sh|t out of your rope!
"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Joined Dec 8, 2007
645 points


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