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What to do with a second rope?


dryad
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Say you're a twosome climbing a route than requires double rope rappels so you need to bring a second rope. Sure, you can just carry it with you, but why not climb with it as you would with a double rope system? I've never climbed with double ropes so please enlighten me to pros and cons. I understand belaying with 2 ropes takes some getting used to. Would using 2 fat single ropes as doubles, rather than skinny real doubles, make that worse?

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Climbing with a double rope system can be a bit trickey and if you are not used to it, I wouldn't start with something that is at your limits. But it isn't rocket science either.

 

Be sure that if you do use two larger dimater ropes in a double system that YOU DO NOT PUT BOTH ROPES THROUGH ONE PIECE OF GEAR. blush.gif NOT GOOD. This will produce too much force on the gear and is MUCH more likely to cause something to fail in a true leader fall.

 

If the route is steep and straight forward the second can simply tie it to his/her harness and follow with it dangling behind him. This may prove to be the wrong answer on alpine terrain that wonders, has steps, etc. You don't want it to get caught up in/on anything.

 

Or you can have the second carry it in a day pack. cool.gif

 

Can't you just pick up a smaller diameter rope, say 7mm, for rapelling? confused.gif

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dryad said:

Say you're a twosome climbing a route than requires double

rope rappels so you need to bring a second rope. Sure,

you can just carry it with you, but why not climb with it

as you would with a double rope system?

 

if the climbing doesn't merit double rope technique, and the

only ropes you have are singles then the double rope system is

just extra fustercluckage. Either carry the extra or have the

leader tow it unbelayed. If you have two followers then it might

be worth clipping the xtra rope to directional pieces, but

it isn't really necessary to belay the leader on this rope.

(if it was windy or something you might want to manage it

more closely). Don't have the second just drag the xtra rope

behind 'cause it might jam on something and hose you, what a

waste of time.

 

I've never climbed

with double ropes so please enlighten me to pros and cons.

I understand belaying with 2 ropes takes some getting used

to. Would using 2 fat single ropes as doubles, rather

than skinny real doubles, make that worse?

 

rope drag!!! both on the rock and in your device.

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Another option not mentioned is to buy a 5mm line to use as a zip cord. Then do single rope raps on your lead rope and use the skinny line to pull it.

 

If you dont want to buy another cord, trail the second rope un-belayed or make the second carry it coiled on his/her back.

 

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Dryad

 

Usually when I climb routes that require double rope rappels, the second trails the rope. Last time I tried leading with two 10.5 mm ropes instead of having the second trail. I found that it has the advantage of reducing rope drag (especially at D'Town), but once 75 to 100 ft. of rope was out it began to get heavy and weigh my weak ass down. It also has the advantage of added safety if one of your ropes gets chopped.

 

Give it a try on lead. I'm sure you'll see what I mean once 75 or 100 ft. of rope is out. Personally, I'm just going to buy double 9mm for such climbs.

 

bigdrink.gif

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RBW,

 

Can you clarify this for me? I'm a newbie and am struggling to understand this. Even googled on "zip cord" to try and figure this out, but couldn't find anything useful.

 

OK, so I see how one could tie together a single rope and a thin cord (of the same length), to do a "double rope" rappel. Have done this before on several occasions.

 

But I'm confused about how the 5mm "zip cord" can be used to retrieve your rope after a "single rope" rappel. Can you explain?

 

Thanks.

-Steve

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

RBW,

 

Can you clarify this for me? I'm a newbie and am struggling to understand this. Even googled on "zip cord" to try and figure this out, but couldn't find anything useful.

 

OK, so I see how one could tie together a single rope and a thin cord (of the same length), to do a "double rope" rappel. Have done this before on several occasions.

 

But I'm confused about how the 5mm "zip cord" can be used to retrieve your rope after a "single rope" rappel. Can you explain?

 

Thanks.

-Steve

 

Senor Ramsey,

When using a very thin cord (less than 7mm) as your second rope, you don't put it through your belay device, you just rapel on the thick cord. The knot jams against the rap ring/anchor and holds the thick line in place. You rap on the thick cord, then pull on thin cord to get both ropes down. You just have to make sure that the knot is jammed against anchor before weighting it. If the knot is on the wrong side of the anchor, and you weight it, you take the big ride.

 

This potential for a fatal mistake makes the technique kind of scary, especially when you consider that when you are tired, delerious, hungry, in the dark, etc, you sometimes are not as observant/careful as you would otherwise be. 60m of 5mm line sure is lightweight though! thumbs_up.gif Decide for yourself.

 

Note that you can't rap on thin cords (less than 7mm) because you don't get enough friction through your belay device.

 

An Aside: Rappeling using a Gri-gri (scary) is done similarly.

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If the terrain is step and straight forward, the second should haul it behind/trail it. Think about it....if the leader's rope doesn't stick, what are the odds of the seconds sticking...sure it can happen, but again, if the terain is step and straight forward, the second should haul it behind/trail it.

 

2 cents wave.gif

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Also, you CAN rap using a large and a small diameter rope, however, because of the differences in sizes, the rope will feed through in a funky way.

 

That is why I said use a 7mm. Go much smaller and it will really get kinked up. (as others said, smaller than 7mm works as a zipcord)

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Dryad-

 

I assume that you're carrying a single line and a 1/2 rope, right? I've tried both methods, (trailing the other and having the leader pull it up after each lead) vs (leading double rope technique w/ more than just 1/2 ropes), and used them both on the West Buttress of Exfo. (which I assume is why you asked) I'd say that the leader pulling up the "trail" rope can be problematic from it hanging up on flakes and trees and whatnot. However, it is easier rope management wise.

 

Still, I'd prefer to use both in the belay system. (This might be a bit heavy for the leader w/ two fat 11mms though) I like the extra redundancy, the option to use double rope technique, as well as one less step to do before the second starts moving. On strait up stuff, just clip the single line and go, but on pitches like the west butt's 3rd pitch, you go way left off the belay and then back right, so it makes sense to use doubles to reduce the drag.

 

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If you do a lot of climbing that requires two rope rappels, you should just go to a double rope system. It really is the way to go on multi-pitch climbs. It doesn't take any time to get used to it on straight forward climbs. It is just like belaying with a single rope. Where it can get a little more difficult is wandering pitches, where the lines are clipped seperate to keep rope drag down to a minimum.

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

Ok, thanks for explaining. Makes sense.

 

So, what if the knot gets jammed real good inside the rap ring, and you can't pull it out with the zip cord? Is that a concern at all?

 

Thanks again for your time.

 

Cheers,

Steve

 

That is a potential problem with double-rope raps as well, though its less likely because you usually are not forcing the knot into the anchor with all of your weight as in the "retrieval line + fat line" method. That said, I've never had a knot jam into an anchor and get stuck in the rings/chains/whatever while using either rappel method.

 

Note that when relying on a knot-jam for rappelling, you don't want the rope just running through a loop of webbing. You want it running through a metal ring/carabiner/chain that the knot absolutely cannot pass through.

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There are a lot of different concepts being discussed here and I think some of them are getting slightly confused; so I'd like to throw in my own two cents...

 

Rodchester said:

 

Be sure that if you do use two larger dimater ropes in a double system that YOU DO NOT PUT BOTH ROPES THROUGH ONE PIECE OF GEAR. blush.gif NOT GOOD. This will produce too much force on the gear and is MUCH more likely to cause something to fail in a true leader fall.

 

This is true... However, there are double rope systems that require both ropes to be clipped to every piece of gear. Different companies promote different double rope systems and it's important for one to understand what type of system a given rope is meant to be used for. Some double rope systems are such that one should not trust a single line to arrest a fall. Ice floss is a great example of a rope system wherein one should clip both ropes to every piece.

 

That said, even with thicker systems (9 mm for example) you may discover that clipping every piece with opposite ropes creates a tremendous snarl at the belay. This particular method requires the most practice. However, a fall will not load the last piece the same way as if both ropes are clipped through all the pieces.

 

That said, you may decide to clip both ropes through every piece to avoid a snarl at the belay. This is okay, but you should understand the consequences of a fall. The advantage: Less snarling. The disadvantage: Higher liklihood of problems with a particular piece in the event of a fall. It's a toss up, either way you go you may have problems.

 

Whatever system you go with, it is very important to make sure that the ropes are different colors so that you can remember specifics like which rope to pull on after a rappel.

 

Another method discussed here is the method of dragging a rope. Some are advocating that the leader pull the rope and some the follower. In some cases, where there is a high liklihood of a rope becoming stuck, it is a good idea for the leader to pull the rope. Another scenario that is very important to pay attention to is whether or not there is a party beneath you. It can be very frustrating to be behind a party which has a rope hanging down in your way while you're trying to climb. When you have a party beneath you, the polite thing to do is to have the leader drag the rope.

 

There are many climbs and many scenarios wherein it is perfectly acceptable for the second to drag the rope. If there is a low liklihood of the rope getting stuck beneath you and there are no parties below, then there is no reason not to drag the second rope. Many smooth granite climbs are very unlikely to eat a rap line. Ice climbs are unlikely to eat a rap line... There are a lot of situations where it is fine for the second to drag the rope. It just comes down to what you are comfortable with.

 

Having a second rope in a pack as a rap line is of course perfectly acceptable. It can also be very nice in that nothing is dangling down anywhere. The diameter of this rope is up to you. What do you feel comfortable with and what kind of rappel are you going to set?

 

The jammed knot technique is not that popular. That doesn't mean that it isn't effective. On a straight forward rappel route it is perfectly acceptable. However it is very important that the jammed knot is large enough not to get caught in rappel rings. It is also important not to employ this technique directly through slings as more likely than not it will fail.

 

There are two problems with the jammed knot technique which I have discovered. The first is that it is impossible to adjust the knot over a lip or some other feature as you might be able to do with two ropes tied together. The jammed knot has to be jammed for the system to work. The second problem is that the pull line -- usually very thin cord -- can be very problematic if it gets tangled. My experience is that thin line likes to get tangled a lot more than fatter rope.

 

For a begining leader on their first trip out to a climb which requires double rope rappels, I would not advocate the jammed knot technique or any of the double rope systems. These require vigilance and should be attempted by people who feel confident in all of the other aspects of their outing first. It is my feeling that beginners should either drag a rope or carry one in their pack... The simplist techniques are essental for an understanding of their more complex counterparts.

 

That's my two cents. Good luck on your climb!

 

Jason

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I would advise you to carry the second rope in a pack as Toast and I did. Because the route is slabby and not very steep you tend not to notice the weight of the pack as much because its weight is over your feet rather than pulling you backward as it would on steeper terrain. This option is much simpler than any of the other options. If you get a 7 mm rap line you won't even notice its weight in your pack at all. I'd recommend the double fisherman if you use a 7 mm, otherwise use the EDK for two fat ropes.

 

I' not sure you have ever used the EDK. If you do, make sure the tails are 1-2 ft long and pull all four ends alternately to tighten it. And for God's sake don't use a figure eight by mistake. It must be an overhand. If in doubt, use the double fisherman.

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erik said:

dryad said:

Have you ever gotten the dangling rope stuck in a crevice or whatever? That just sounds like a clusterf*ck waiting to happen.

 

thats why the leader should trail it, so that the follow can retrieve it, if it gets stuck

 

that is a good point. i guess if the second is going to bring up the rope, they should do so in a day pack as suggested earlier.

 

but to answer your question, dryad, i have not gotten it stuck...............YET!

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Rodchester said:

If the terrain is step and straight forward, the second should haul it behind/trail it. Think about it....if the leader's rope doesn't stick, what are the odds of the seconds sticking...sure it can happen, but again, if the terain is step and straight forward, the second should haul it behind/trail it.

 

2 cents wave.gif

ive helped people get their rope unstuck doing just that shit you describe. just my $64,000 answer.

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dryad said:

Say you're a twosome climbing a route than requires double rope rappels so you need to bring a second rope. Sure, you can just carry it with you, but why not climb with it as you would with a double rope system? I've never climbed with double ropes so please enlighten me to pros and cons. I understand belaying with 2 ropes takes some getting used to. Would using 2 fat single ropes as doubles, rather than skinny real doubles, make that worse?

if your belayer cant handle the extra complexity of belaying with two ropes you climbing with some challenged types.

two ropes helps cut drag way down for wandering routes. climbing with two fat ropes is kinda heavy for the leader though. i done it several times (i used to climb with two other guys who fell a lot and it cut down on rope stretch from their fat asses dangling) but it wouldnt be my first choice. i also done routes where cruxes came up early then the route zagged over. i used one fat rope and one skinny one and clipped the fatty first.

it will pay in the long run to learn how to use two ropes. an atc or sticht plate will make it way doable imho.

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