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rhyang

Chest harness for glacier travel

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Just curious - who uses chest harnesses on glaciers, and when ? I have read that they are a necessity with a big heavy pack, but probably overkill for daypacks.

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You got it.

I like stuff that serves as double duty.

You can use your tied runner as a chest harness, or the rope if you are on an end.

OR! You could just go with a light pack.

You can easily get a 5 day glacier pack to under 30 pounds.

Never hurts though to have one on though, I would just use webbing and leave the extra weight and bulk of the chest harness at home. You can then use up the webbing for rap slings or use it in your anchors if you are fishing someone out of a slot.

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A piece of tied one inch tubular webbing is the best way to go. Rarely are you going to be pitching into a crevass with a pack so large you should need a manufactured chest harness. The tied webbing can serve double duty for a variety of tasks such as setting up crevass rescue anchors. It, if fitted properly, works just as well as a manufactured chest harness, and it is certainly easier on the wallet.

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I don't use it while traveling. It puts the attachment point above your center of mass and makes it a lot easier

for a falling partner to pull you off-balance.

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I have not used a chest harness either.

I do use webbing attached to the loop on my pack and a beener to my shoulder strap. I figure if I go into a cravase and I am upside down, (never been there yet) then I can take my beener and hook it to the rope above the knot. then drop my pack. set up my prusics and climb out.

 

Am I out of line?

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sirwoofalot, that's half of a great plan. I find it a lot more reassuring to use a little longer piece of webbing and hook your biner into the rope ahead of the knot to start with. That way when you go in you can just drop the pack.

 

As to the chest harness. I would second useing a sling, If you need a harness hook on. when you need the webbing it's handy.

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I have not used a chest harness either.

I do use webbing attached to the loop on my pack and a beener to my shoulder strap. I figure if I go into a cravase and I am upside down, (never been there yet) then I can take my beener and hook it to the rope above the knot. then drop my pack. set up my prusics and climb out.

 

Am I out of line?

 

That's what I do also. Also good for clipping your lack to stuff so it doesn't slide away while breaking.

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The question is whether you feel like you are likely to be flipped. A heavy pack will put you in greater jeopardy and therefore a chest harness becomes more important. If you are traveling with a light day pack, I would not imagine that you would need any chest harness.

On expeditions when I carry a heavy (read 75 pounds)pack, I use the following system. If I am at the end of the rope team, I tie into the rope about 3-4 feet from the end with a figure 8 on a bight and locking biner. This travels up through a biner clipped to my chest harness. The tag couple of feet is tied directly into a reinforced grab loop on the pack. If you pitch into the crevass you can drop your pack immediately, relieving the tendency to be flipped. If you are in the middle of the rope, tie in with a butterfly and locking biner. Then connect your pack to your harness with a locking biner and cord or webbing. I have found that in either case, tied one inch webbing to be perfect as a chest harness.

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That sounds like a good way to go. The reasons that I prefer to drop my pack onto the rope instead of my harness is; 1) with the pack hanging on the rope it steadies the rope and prussicking is easier, 2) with the biner sliding on the rope as you climb it acts as a pulley. That way you only prussick up against half of your pack weight.

 

I would second Bills comment about clipping while breaking. I've been lucky so far but on more than one occasion I have met a ranger walking out with somebodies pack that had melted out after it took an alternate route down.

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Re: the pack, you can also use a pack prusik regardless of where you are on the rope. Make this the prusik closest to you.

 

drC

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Kiwi Coil.

 

Good post.

 

Chest harnesses -- particularly those that are created by webbing or slings -- have been responsible for strangulations. In addition to this, they make crevasse rescue more difficult on small teams.

 

If you are really worried about being flipped over, then the Kiwi Coil is the way to go...

 

Jason

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Chest harnesses -- particularly those that are created by webbing or slings -- have been responsible for strangulations. In addition to this, they make crevasse rescue more difficult on small teams.

 

 

Just curious how chest harnesses made from webbing make crevasse rescue more difficult for small teams?? I've racked my peabrain trying to figure out how, but haven't come up with anything.

 

Regarding the strangulation thing - so true. That's why if I'm using a chest harness (aka a sling), I make sure to use a very short loop of perlon to connect the chest harness biner to my harness biner. The loop should be sized to keep the chest harness biner from sliding up the loop of webbing and crushing your windpipe.

 

-kurt

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Just curious how chest harnesses made from webbing make crevasse rescue more difficult for small teams?? I've racked my peabrain trying to figure out how, but haven't come up with anything.

 

The easiest way to initiate a crevasse rescue on a small team -- i.e. two or sometimes even three people -- is for the person closest to the fallen climber to place a picket or fluke and then to tie his prussik leg loops into that piece. He may then slowly back up and allow the piece to take the weight.

 

If the rope is running up through a chest harness, this becomes impossible.

 

Jason

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...-- is for the person closest to the fallen climber to place a picket or fluke and then to tie his prussik leg loops into that piece. He may then slowly back up and allow the piece to take the weight.

 

If the rope is running up through a chest harness, this becomes impossible.

 

Jason,

 

Ahh... thanks. I was thinking about this from the aspect of the climber in the slot. I wasn't thinking about the guy up top. I knew I was missing something obvious!

 

(added after further thought...

 

As I ponder this some more, as long as your leg prussiks are attached to the rope AFTER it runs through the biner on your chest harness, you can still set the anchor in the manner you mention... can't you? Situation I'm picturing: partner below you in a slot; you face down in snow with rope pulling tight on your chest harness biner trying to merge it with your harness biner!; leg prussiks attached after biner and stuck in coat pocket; reach EASILY ACCESSIBLE picket and make anchor; attach leg prussiks to anchor; slowly let up on your position and allow anchor to take the rope load; unclip from chest harness.

 

Isn't this doable? )

 

-kurt

Edited by knelson

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I went thru this a couple of years ago. Most of it is summarized HERE.

 

The last post references this document. While poorly translated, it can provide some pertinent info to the savvy reader.

 

The gist of my opinion is this: It appears that if a chest harness is rigged properly, it can provide additional safety, esp when wearing a pack. But, if rigged improperly, can cause more damage to the climber's spine than not having one. I may wear a chest harness, but will likely only attach it to the rope if I'm crossing a snow bridge where I risk a signifcant vertical fall.

 

I agree with Jason in that having the rope run thru the chest harness will tend to line up the person catching a fall with their head toward the crevasse...not my preferred orientation. IF you get the fall stopped from that position, then you have the whole problem of setting the anchor from that position. I'd much rather be free to pivot around my midsection, where the rope is tied in at my waist.

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If I am in arrest position holding the fall of my buddy I want my feet pointed toward the crevasse, and I want the rope to go from my waist straight down. I don't want it to go from my waist up to my chest and then straight down... That's gonna put a lot of stress on my back, and essentially I would be holding my buddy with my chest harness, rather than my waist harness. Ouch. Not a comfortable position to try to place an anchor from. Or if your chest harness is tight, maybe it would tend to pull you head first towards the crevasse, making arrest even harder.

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Thinker - thanks for the link. Good discussion there.

 

Sweatinoutliquor - yup... I agree that head downhill is not the position you'd want to be in. Chest harnesses do have their definite drawbacks, which is why I wear one, but rarely clip in to it. Like Thinker, I only clip in through it when I think I may need it. Nothing like that little mental statistics game we all play in our head while climbing, but don't really realize we're doing it!

 

-kurt

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I like to have one on if there is much chance of going in. I can't think of a time when I clip in while walking. A practice session a while back showed me how much more difficult it is to arrest. I like having one on though as it makes resting while prussicking out much easier. Or if for some reason I need to hang out for a while.

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Another quick exercise to demonstrate the effect of center of gravity is this: don your harness and chest harness. tie in, run the rope thru biner on chest harness. have someone pull on the rope while you're standing. compare the effort it takes to keep standing to that without the rope clipped thru chest harness biner. major difference.

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This is all well and good to postulate about centers of gravity when you are sitting at a computer, but how many of you all have ACTUALLY pitched into a crevass with a heavy pack on with or without and chest harness? Similarly how many of you have ACTUALLY arrested the fall of a partner who was wearing a heavy pack while wearing a chest harness yourself? Is there really anyone out there who is willing to fall into a crevass with an 60-70lb pack on without a chest harness? Kiwi coil? Perhaps, but what about the middle person on a rope team? Strangulation? Never heard of it with a PROPERLY ADJUSTED chest harness.

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I can't say that I have fallen in with a #60-#70 pack. I have gone in with #40. I have also tried to arrest someone after they pulled me over while we both had packs. I didn't find the fall to be too bad. I found the arrest to be a bitch.

 

It's a very revealing practice when you have some time and a group. Set up a bomber anchor and assign a belayer to "back up" your rope team. Start with everyone knowing when the "fall" will happen. Work towards the guy in back falling in at random with no one else peeking. My conclusion was that I would much rather fall without a chest harness than wrestle my way into arrest position when someone else is pulling me in backwards by the chest.

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I guess my point is that what we are dealing with here is a judgement call based on experience, comfort level, pack size, technical knowledge, etc etc. There are going to be pros and cons to each side of the debate, but I would never say one technique is better than another. There is a time and a place for a Kiwi Coil, chest harness, or no chest harness. The chest harness is a function of the size of the pack that you have on. At some point you need to decide that the weight of the pack is great enough that the discomfort and difficulty of stopping a partner's fall does not outweight the probability of being upended and potentially seriously hurt when falling into a crevass with a heavy pack on.

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Some of us HAVE set up scenarios to demonstrate these principles to ourselves and partners. Other data comes from pure observation.

 

I've seen the blood from biners on chest harnesses cutting lips and smacking noses in a fall. I've seen the pain of climbers holding a fall while wearing a chest harness. I've launched partners headfirst down hill on simulated falls...neither good nor fun, nor conducive to their arresting my fall. A properly adjusted chest harness is difficult, at best, to achieve...especially when a climber is continually adjusting layers.

 

If you're keen on wearing a chest harness, consider buying one that's designed as a chest harness. The 1" tubular webbing jerry-rigged as one may have been OK back in the day, but there are much safer options available now.

 

Nobody has really addressed this here, but tying into a chest harness and seat harness at the same time is a skill that isn't immediately obvious. Simply clipping the rope into the biner on the chest harness and letting it run free is a very UNDESIREABLE method. Imagine what happens in one kind of fall....climber sliding headfirst down a slope, rope comes tight, biner on chest harness is immediately pulled to the tie in point on the seat harness, back/spine is bent and compressed, what happens then is all a function of how flexible your body is, how poorly or well adjusted your chest harness is, momentum, impact force, etc. Truly less than ideal. Same could hold true if a climber somehow took a header into a slot.

 

So, in my personal assessment, I don't clip a chest harness on steep terrain, and very sparingly on flat terrain...at least in the WA Cascades.

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