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#95316 - 04/27/08 06:43 PM "Just rope?"
Wolfeye Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
I took up indoor climbing recently and have been learning the basics of belaying and rappelling. I got in a conversation with my father about it, and he informed me that back in his days as an arborist they just used rope. No harnesses, no braking devices, nothing. He described how they'd fasten a short rope around their waists and tie onto the dual safety lines with a special knot (a prusik knot?) that would catch them if they fell. For braking, they'd wrap the rope around their bodies a certain way and rather uncomfortably lower themselves. Apparently it all got the job done.

My question is, would techniques like these still be useful to learn in case the only item available during an emergency was a coil of rope? It's a question I plan to ask the instructors at my climbing gym. I bet we have better techniques available nowadays.

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#95317 - 04/27/08 07:01 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Wolfeye]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
wolfeye
All you really need is the rope, all the other stuff makes it easier or safer. BUT your father probably carried about a 12mm hemp rope probably, and wrapped it around his leg and back in a classic rappel. Hint - this crushes your shoulder towards your hip and would utterly destroy ANY UL clothing you might be wearing - as in you would want a heavy cotton anorak.

So since probably at best you will have a piece of 9mm rope or at worst 6mm rope, you will need a way to lock onto that rope since your hands would not be strong enough, and it would cut you in half doing a classic rappel. Thus a few round backed carabiners or other realistic brakeing device for thin rope would be required. All you need to make a sit harness is a double length sling and a biner. I have gone solo climbing with 80 feet of 5mm rope, 4 biners, and a double sling and made a double 40 foot rappel down an 80 foot cliff, tying in to a small pine tree jutting out half way down. SO I had a doubled 5mm rope and it wasn't too harp to handle. I have rapped on prestretched marine rope as small as 4mm and it was rappeling on wire, but doable with just biner brakes. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Disclaimer - this really isn't a good idea. However a 9mm rope and most any brake tool and a light sit harness would be considered safe - if you are tied off to something good. An extra sling to leave looped around a small tree is a good idea, place it with a slip knot that tightens around the tree [for an anchor] when weigh is put on it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#95318 - 04/27/08 08:11 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Wolfeye]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
I spent a good share of my climbing with "just rope". It is more difficult to learn to do correctly and you really need to practice, practice and more. I personally think the belay it is quite safe, IF done correctly. You MUST anchor with the correct angle. Being tied around the waist is another thing.

A few years back I forgot my harness in the car after a hefty hike up to "Sugarloaf" rock climbing area. Rather than go back to the car, I belayed my partner (who outweighs me by a considerable amount) by "just rope". He fell, I caught him. Beth Rodden (a very famous climber) was next to us and amazed - being young, she had never seen this done.

The belay is not the problem. The bowline on the coil is a problem. A harness or even a more simplistic "diaper sling" is much better. If you fall with only a rope around your waist, you can easily die if you cannot get the weight off your ribs in a few minutes (that is what the prussik is for). You last a bit longer if you turn up-side down.

Learning the technique is only going to help you with regular practice. And you need to learn from someone who really knows what they are doing. Few climbers nowadays have been trained in this technique.

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#95319 - 04/27/08 09:52 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Wolfeye]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Ah, the good old days! When I started climbing, the rope was 120 feet long, and tied in a single bowline around the waist. Add pitons and carabiners and you were good to go.

The equipment has gotten a lot better, safer, and more comfortable. Still there are occasions where the classic body rappel and the French arm rap rappel can be useful - usually situations where a short rappel is needed, and it would simply take too long for everyone to put on a harness, etc. But be aware, that back when body rappel were standard technique, climbers sewed leather patches on either their shoulders or butts, or both <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#95320 - 04/28/08 09:35 AM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: oldranger]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
But be aware, that back when body rappel were standard technique, climbers sewed leather patches on either their shoulders or butts, or both <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


Wow. I know I've put patches on my pants in high stress or abraison prone areas, but I've never sewn anything to my butt - it'd sting too much - I can see why there is such a market for harnesses. You old timers were seriously hardcore!
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#95321 - 04/28/08 12:18 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: oldranger]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Quote:
Ah, the good old days! When I started climbing, the rope was 120 feet long, and tied in a single bowline around the waist. Add pitons and carabiners and you were good to go.

Yeah, same for me. I started climbing in 1946 when I was in the Boy Scouts; our troop leader had been with the 10th Mountain Division during WW-II and was enthusiastic about teaching kids to climb. We used 120' lengths of 7/16" hemp rope. The rope was tied around our waists and we would use a short length of the same rope to anchor a belay. We climbed in Joshua Tree beginning with friction climbing and then working our way to more technical stuff using pitons and carabiners. We wore tennis shoes with the sole corners sanded off and the sole thinned. Rappelling was mostly "dullfersitz" style, straddling the rope, bringing it around one hip and then over the opposite shoulder. A fast rappel could produce some spectacular rope burns. We would also occasionally use the "French" rappel or the arm rappel.

When I moved to Seattle in the early 50's, I went through the Mountaineers climbing course and started using some different equipment. We still used hemp rope tied around our middles although Army surplus nylon rope was available. We used prussik slings made of 3/8" manila rope; sometimes with wood rungs tied in. These were used for crevasse rescue and occasionally for direct aid climbing. My boots were like most with Tricouni nails embedded in the thick leather soles. These were great for mossy logs, ice and wet rock but were heavy and cold. We used these mostly on approaches and on glaciers. When we got to technical rock climbing, out would come the whittled-down tennis shoes. If the rock was wet, not unusual in the NW, we would get out the rope-soled booties and put them on over the tennis shoes. The rope-soles were simply a lace-up canvas bootie with raggy cotton rope firmly stitched to the sole. The bootie would stick like glue to most wet rock, even that with thin moss. I still don't know why they fell out of favor; they were light and worked great!

We started using jam nuts in the early 60's. These were simply threaded nuts with the threads filed out, a chamfer on each side of the hole and a cable or nylon loop through the hole. We carried a hacksaw blade for maneuvering the nut into and out of the crack and orienting the nut so it would jam in place. We also used home-made wooden pitons for large cracks. I don't think I would have liked to have tried to hold a hard fall on one but they were great for aid climbing.

I never heard of using chalk until the late 70's. Still not sure that I approve of it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
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#95322 - 04/28/08 03:56 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Pika]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
OF COURSE it's desirable to learn hip belay and even bowline on a bight for tie-in..
In lieu of a harness, 15 feet of tape or even that much rope, make a fairly decent sit-harness. You can consult mountaineering handbooks for method.

You can't hang on bowline around your waist for any length of time. It's deadly.

The hip belay is more useful. In my opinion at least, It definitely has practical applications for the odd moment and marginal circumstance. "Aiming" is a very important concept to consider using this technique.

I started climbing in about 1970 and first encountered belay plates in 1977. Note that Munter Hitch is highly effective replacement for belay device and much more effective than hip belay, assuming you've got some sort of harness.


Edited by johndavid (04/28/08 04:02 PM)

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#95323 - 04/28/08 07:15 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
phat,
some of us actually iron leather onto our butts! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#95324 - 04/29/08 10:50 AM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Pika]
Wolfeye Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
Sounds like men had to be tougher in the ol' days. I paged through a rappelling book my father lended to me, and along with recognizable harnesses & other devices, it also describes an army method of using a length of rope to make a harness & 'biners for braking. It also describes methods of wraping a rope around the body for controlled decents, and it does look a bit painful.

It sounds like the older decent methods are becoming a bit of a lost art, sort of like old navy knots. It would be interesting to see a book or exhibit on the subject, maybe starting with methods of old time alpinists and spelunkers.

I'm going to see if I can get dear ol' Dad to show off with a rope, maybe on a gentle slope so I won't die of heart attack. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#95325 - 04/29/08 05:23 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Wolfeye]
obi96 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Vermont
It's no coincidence that the body rappel was first used successfully in Switzerland followed seconds later by the invention of Yodelling.
As for a harness, I have used a Riggers belt to good effect on 4th class terrain. http://www.tacticaltailor.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=10

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#110170 - 01/27/09 03:47 PM Re: "Just rope?" [Re: Wolfeye]
Becks Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 18
Loc: Switzerland
Originally Posted By Wolfeye
Sounds like men had to be tougher in the ol' days.
[...]
It sounds like the older decent methods are becoming a bit of a lost art, sort of like old navy knots. It would be interesting to see a book or exhibit on the subject, maybe starting with methods of old time alpinists and spelunkers.


They werenīt harder, they just used the most advanced materials and techniques they were aware off. It took some time (and some killed persons) to find something better than hemp for a rope. And maybe someone in 100 years thinks the same when looking at our times.

Beside this, it might be a lost art, but rapelling as example is dangerous, especially if some old fashioned methods are used.

Driving without a safety belt (and staying alive) also could be seen as "lost art", but the costs to keep it alive in other areas than in a museum are too high.


Donīt know whatīs happening in the USA, but here in the alps we have groups specialiced in analyzing accidents, testing materials even under strange conditions and giving advise to the alpinistic clubs. One of famous persons is Pit Schubert. He is the founder of the saftey group of the DAV (german alpine club). His three books "safety and risks in rocks and ice" are simply a must if you care about such things.


becks


Edited by Becks (01/27/09 03:49 PM)

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