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ketch

Another scout issue

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Last winter there was a thread where somebody needed to explain a "ski pole arrest" to help with a scouting merit badge. Now I have been asked to direct climbing for a bit with a local camp. I was looking at the requirements that I am suppose to cover. One item is to explain why you should belay every rappellor. I can think of a few cases I would belay a rap but what is it I am supposed to expain? Anyone have some advice? crazy.gif

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Are they talking about a fireman belay, which would work for everybody but the first rappeler? That may make sense if they're kids and someone is worried about operator error and liability issues. (Now why they don't teach them to be use an autoblock...)

 

drC

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Can you tell them that you only have to belay the rappellors whom you want to live?

 

Just kidding: I think they just want to be sure to highlight safety issues. It's like always checking your partner's knot, etc. Also, you could argue that if you do something the same each time, you will be in the habit of doing so and it will become reflexive.

 

Does that help, or did I misunderstand the question?

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I think Dr._Crash is thinking correctly. The only other sort of belay would require a separate rope. Belays are a good idea for inexperienced and first time rappellers.

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rappelling with a sepoarate belay is lowering with the illusion of rappelling added.

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I'm still interested to hear if there is scout experienced folk out there. Good stuff so far. I would belay first timers (probably a firemans) or in a rescue scenario where the person could get distracted or hung up. I' still don't know what they want taught.

 

Minx good point about, a little extra protection first time around.

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You can help someone rap safely by having someone on the bottom end holding the rope they are rapping on. If they freak or let go of the rope, you have control of how fast they come down the rope. That's how we used to do it. wave.gif

 

In terms of an actual belay, though that seems like a bit much and would keep them from descending very efficiently, it could certainly be done from the top just like you were bringing someone up.

 

Or is this something completely different??

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Couloir, holding the ropes from the bottom is called a fireman's belay.

 

For someone's first rappel, I think it makes sense to give them a belay from above.

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I remember being on belay for my first official rappel on Outward Bound. (This doesn't count my improvised Dulfersitz off the swingset at age 8, after I saw the technique pictured in a Time-Life book.) I also remember feeling like the belay made the experience into a lowering exercise masquerading as a rappel. However, I can appreciate why OB instructors would want to belay a teenager who had never rappelled before, since the freak-out potential for newbies is significant, and the fireman's belay is IMO less reliable.

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How about a pair of prusiks tied above your rappel device? Just slide them down with you - if you get out of control, the prusik will stop you. Then you can just step into the longer prusik and readjust to continue the rappel.

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That would prolly be a bit much to ask a n00b to accomplish on their first rappel. Picture this scenario: N00b rappeller thinking to himself... "Lessee, keep my feet apart and against the wall, sit back, hold the rope and brake myself with this hand, manage these twisty rope thingies with my other hand. Ooops! There's two of them! Now what should I do?"

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong or unsafe with giving them a fireman's belay. It is quite reliable.

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OK, so it sounds silly to actually use another rope to belay a person rappin' but I'm pretty sure that's what the BSA is asking for. It's simple to rig but it does add more confusion and equipment that can help you out when Timmy absolutely freaks and dives for the anchor completely fogetting what a 'brake hand' might be. I think that the scouts are looking for minimal risk exposure. I'd suggest using another belay line for the first few times the scouts rap and then possibly move to a fireman's when they are more comfortable. Also remember that they are asking for you to belay every rap, not back up every rap. Have a good time at camp.

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Don't forget that story recently in the news about the guy teaching students to rappel who had other students doing the fireman's belay below. One person freaked out while rapping and wouldn't lower herself so the instructor was screaming "let go of the rope". The rappeller and the belayer both heeded his command and the rappeller fell (and died I think).

 

As far as prussik above the rap device, supposedly that's far from failsafe. You have to grip to prussik to move, then if you get scared because you're going too fast, you might reflexively hold on tighter instead of letting the prussik go. I remember reading a long time ago about a group that experimented with this using ropes hung over a bridge. The subjects were people who knew what was going on and they had to let the end of the rap rope slip through their brakehand and simultaneously let go of the prussik. Even though they were belayed above by an extra line, many of them couldn't let go of the prussik and shot off the end of the rap rope.

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Don't forget that story recently in the news about the guy teaching students to rappel who had other students doing the fireman's belay below. ...

 

Chuck's comment is along what I was going to say.

 

Whatever method for belay you use (fireman's or an actual belay) make sure you have a responsible person (adult?) doing the belaying. If you just assign one of the kids to do it, you are now teaching TWO kids TWO different things at once. This is probably not a good thing. You could be the one doing the belaying, but unless it's a fireman's I'm thinking it wouldn't put you in the right position to help coach, etc.

 

-kurt

 

PS... Wow - that "Belayer Wanted" thread suddenly comes to mind.

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It is not uncommon for guides to have new clients belayed with a separate rope while rappelling. Although it does add some confusion for the rappeller initially, it does make them feel a lot more safe. If it's a short rappel, do it with a doubled 60m rope--fix it halfway and have them rap the fixed side while belaying (say with a Munter) on the other half. no extra equipment necessary.

 

For style bonus points, belay on a separate rope and give a fireman's on the rap line. cantfocus.gif

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And another thing I've seen around here with youth groups is the need to rap off of huge shit when teaching. There's no need to have kids do 90 foot raps.

 

Start with something small like 20' that just might not kill someone outright...

 

-Fear

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And another thing I've seen around here with youth groups is the need to rap off of huge shit when teaching. There's no need to have kids do 90 foot raps.

 

Start with something small like 20' that just might not kill someone outright...

 

-Fear

Same advice, but different reason, no one is going to fall with a proper belay. The issue is making it fun for the kids. I've seen kids go right off the overhang at Alphabet rock without the slightest hesitation, while others are terrified.

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It looks like I'm not the only one that doesn't quite get it. I am in agreement with most all of what is said so far. It is the merit badge requirements that have the kids belaying raps. Unless somebody gives me a good reason I couldn't tell the kid to belay every one. I would teach them to use an autoblock saftey on their own though. Then of course I have to make them learn a new knot. Oh well I intend to have fun either way and if I learn something "new" I come back and share.

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After you watch them do it right two or three times, then let them do it on their own. Just make sure there is someone at the top to check their setup. It might not be a bad idea to have someone standing at the bottom ready to reach out and tug on the rope if they get out of control.

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ketch, i worked for a summer as a climbing counselor at Philmont, the BSA camp in new mexico. they make you do a belay on the rappell for added safety and it also helps ease the kids fears because they may feel more secure. its as simple as that.

 

by the way, you should absolutely apply to work on staff at philmont. it was the best summer of my life!!

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ketch, i worked for a summer as a climbing counselor at Philmont, the BSA camp in new mexico. they make you do a belay on the rappell for added safety and it also helps ease the kids fears because they may feel more secure. its as simple as that.

 

by the way, you should absolutely apply to work on staff at philmont. it was the best summer of my life!!

 

Me too. I was there from 87-91. Back then, we belayed participants on rappel with a bowline-on-a-coil and a hip belay. Has anything changed?

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