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David_Parker

Abalakov Anchors: aka "V" threads

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I'd be really curious to get some feedback on protocol for Abalakov (sp?) anchors for rappeling. When you set one up, should you expect that someone else might use it? If so, then should you put a rap ring on it or one of those screw-shut chain links from the hardware store so your rope doesn't burn the perlon? What do you do when you come across one in place? How safe is it? How many rope pulls render it "unsafe" if there is no ring or link? In the summer, is a bunch of perlon at the bottom of a climb any better/worse than conduit? I usually back up the first person rapping with a screw, but pull it for the last person. Is this the best way? What do you think?

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David, you ask alot of loaded questions that basically had me saying "it depends" for every one. But in general, V-threads are for *your* retreat, you are not establishing a rap anchor for others. And since it is for you only, it is up to you to be safe and feel safe with the system. Ethics about leaving behind cord aside, v-threads *in good ice* are much stronger than screws and much stronger than conduit. Don't use conduit!

So here are the specific answers to your questions.

When you set one up, should you expect that someone else might use it?

>No.

If so, then should you put a rap ring on it or one of those screw-shut chain links from the hardware store so your rope doesn't burn the perlon?

>No.

What do you do when you come across one in place?

>I often use it whether on lead or decending, but it depends on the v-thread. You need to inspect it, and use it, or not. Often when decending, I will use an existing v-thread, especially if its clear that some additional freezing has taken place around the cord and if the screw holes are frozen solid. I also may skip using it in sun-exposed ice, or on a warm day.

How safe is it?

>What a difficult question! Who really knows without strengh testing it? It can be very safe or garbage depending on who made it and what the conditions are. I have rapped on many v-threads, most of my own creation, often from hanging belays in scary places with dark approaching. It makes me uncomfortable to say the least when rapping off a single anchor, and I am sometimes inclined to put in a double v-thread and rap off two anchors, rather than take the chance.

How many rope pulls render it "unsafe" if there is no ring or link?

>Probably one, but again, who knows? Depends on the diameter of the cord, the age of the cord, and so many subjective factors. Never assume a v-thread that you have not made is safe.

In the summer, is a bunch of perlon at the bottom of a climb any better/worse than conduit?

>It is trash, just like conduit is trash.

I usually back up the first person rapping with a screw, but pull it for the last person. Is this the best way?

> Yes. The heaviest person raps first, typically with a pack if there is one. That person raps with the headlamp, if there is only one, and sets up the next anchor for the second while still on rope. Then its off rappel, the second cleans, raps and arrives at the next station hopefully as the finishing touches are put on the next v-thread by the first. Ideally, while the first raps, the second is not clipped into the rap anchor at all, but to a seperate screw. If the anchor blows, no sense in taking both people with it.

What do you think?

>V-threads frightened me when I first started rapping on them. They are still somewhat scary in poor ice, but in good blue ice there is no problem. I have never heard of a *newly drilled* one failing. I have heard of ones that are re-used failing.

Alex

PS: oops, I just realized there is another one of these, oh well.

[This message has been edited by Alex (edited 02-27-2001).]

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