Jump to content

descending weighted rope


Recommended Posts

I'm not a newbie, but I have a nagging question: How do you decend a weighted, tight, rope efficiently with standard gear, no Grigri ?

My first guess, which works, is to use two prussiks and " goe in reverse ", but that is very timely. Any other tricks out there?


--I was working on rescue techniques for an unconsious follower and one rope on a multipitch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 37
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I'm not sure of a good meathod, other than reverse ascending.


I'd probably haul the victim to the half way point, then descend the opposite side of the rope, build a belay an continue from there. It'd be qucker with two ropes, one of the benefits of double rope techniques.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I had climbed up there in the first place, then I would

fix the rope and downclimb with at least 2 prussiks as a

backup, downaiding off the gear if that would help speed it

up. I would try to never haul an unconcious person without

going down to check them out first, good way to kill them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Angle piton on a locker as a single-bar brake bar substitute, maybe? I used this set up once when i forgot other rappel gear and it was extremely low-friction so might work well on a taut fixed rope?


In your scenario though, its probably better just to down prussik. Except: you probably used your prussiks to escape the belay, so what do you do then??? Hopefully you have enough slings & stuff....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other possibility would be to lower the climber to the ground or a ledge if available providing enough slack to rappel normally. I agree with fern that you would want to consider your partners condition and if lowering them could further injure them. Every situation would need its own call on this issue, however, if I was lacking the equipment to safely and efficiently get down to check my partner, then I might consider taking the risk of lowering them in favor of being able to get help more quickly.

Good thoughtful topic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

working through a hypothetical like this can be a fun thought experiment. maybe though it is worth also considering what conspiracy of events would get you into such a predicament and thinking if there is some simple proactive solution that would have avoided it. For example, if you had chosen to climb on double ropes then more self-rescue options are available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting question.


In the original scenario, you never designated if the entire rope was stretched out between you and your unconcscious second. If so, that complicates things.


If you have spare rope, as you often might when belaying, you could conceivably escape the belay (tying off the unconscious second with a munter mule knot or what have you) and use the slack (coiled on the ledge beside you) to rap down to them (or maybe at least close to them) to assess their situation.


If there's no slack to work with, then maybe think about lowering them until you have some slack in the rope OR down-aiding to figure out what happened to them.


If there's a mechanism of serious injury (i.e. you incurred or observed massive rockfall right before they went unconscious) then that's info that might influence what you do, eh?


Thanks for bringing up this interesting topic.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given the limited resources and gear, this discussion is more masterbation than anything.


So, with the givens, no help around, weighted rope,unresponsive/unconcious victem......


First off, any action (except cutting the rope) will be time consuming. If you cut the rope then you will NOT be descending a weighted rope. So that is not an option in this scenario.


The only way down will be to reverse ascend using prussiks or webbing, or should you be fortunate enough to have more than half the rope in your lap you could rap on that, BUT that is not a resource listed and can not be considered. Besides, we wouldn't be descending a weighted fixed line would we?


I suppose that you might consider solo down climbing but again thats not an option when faced with a weighted rope we wish to descend.


So what are we left with? descending the weighted fixed rope using prussiks or webbing.


This is an obtuse discussion at best. moon.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The situation as it is stated here is actually quite serious. It is also somewhat unlikely. However, knowing what to do in the situation can only be a good thing. The following response is assuming that you are on a multi-pitch route in a remote area.


In a populated area, help may be availble from other climbers. If the route is only a pitch long, the best thing to do is to lower the victim to the ground instead of screwing around with all kinds of other stuff.


First and foremost, if it is possible, (i.e. there is no gear between you and the climber) then the best thing to do is to haul the climber up. This can be done with a Z-C pully system which is actually much easier to visualize on the rock than it is on the snow.


If the climber is conscious, but cannot climb one could still haul the climber up and have him retrieve gear that is in place as he is hauled.


If the climber is unconscious and there is a bit of rope at the belay, then the best thing to do is to escape the belay using the munter mule knot and to rappel down to him on the other end of the rope.


A belay escape can be quite difficult if belaying directly off the harness. It is a little easier if the belay is redirected. And it is a lot easier if one is belaying directly off the anchor.


Here is a situation where an extra rope is nice. If there is a loose haul line or anything of the sort, don't forget about it. Something like this might make the whole rescue easier to deal with.


In the absolute worst case scenario -- you're many pitches off deck, there's no one around to help, the climber is unconscious on the other end of the rope, there is no haul line to rappel, there's a lot of gear between you and the climber, there's not enough rope to rappel down to him -- then perhaps some of these other ideas might be effective. In other words using a sling or a cord as a prussik to descend to the climber is not a bad idea, but it should truly be a last resort


I think this is a good subject. Thinking about a worst case scenario prepares people for more likely scenarios.



Edited by Jason_Martin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Jason. I think everyone that climbs should learn basic rescue techniques. If you ask around at a crag, you would be suprised how many people don't know how to tie a munter hitch or a clove hitch or rig a carabiner brake, non the less tie a prussik or rescue a partner.

For example, what if they drop their ATC? Well I have done that, and no worries because I've rapped with a munter hitch 10,000 times before that happened. Some have knowledge but I found it few and far between. Yeah, it kind of takes the fun out a little for some, but it can also make you more comforable in a fix. And some you can take advantage of when there is no fix, like leaving the ATC at home in the mountains and using munters to save weight.

That would be great if we all encouraged others to learn rescue and alternative methods, because it can only benefit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A belay escape can be quite difficult if belaying directly off the harness. It is a little easier if the belay is redirected.


I think the exact opposite is true, as long as you are anchored within arms reach of the power-point.


Here is a situation to think about. Lets say you happen to be rapping down a steep blank face (no pro or intermediate anchors are available) and each belay station is 60 meters apart. You have two 60 meter ropes, then...your dumbass partner accidentaly drops one of them. Oh, and your way up off the ground in the middle of nowhere and no one knows where you are. It's either get down, or die of dehydration. What should you do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The knot that stays taut under weight then comes free when it is unweighted and you shake it... you think UIAA approves that one?

In Lambone's case I think it would be better to use the bodyweight break method: tie the rope end to the anchors with a little something that will break when it is weighted with 2x bodyweight. each of you raps in turn (=bodyweight only) then at the station you set up a pulley on the other end and pull until the top anchor breaks and the rope end drops down to you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...