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Ropey shit

Discussion in 'General Exploring Chat Forum' started by GAJ, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. GAJ

    GAJ Mr Muscle
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    Working title as I haven't really gone beyond thinking it was about time a thread like this appeared on the site so bear with me and I'll get it changed to something a bit more suitable when the time comes..

    It's becoming pretty obvious that more and more people are becoming interested in learning rope skills, with particular emphasis on Single Rope Technique, and whether or not that becomes a tool for access, I'm going to do a little thread with some safety advice for anyone using this. @Bigjobs has been running some excellent rope days and it's awesome to see more and more people giving it a go in a fun, no pressure environment like this and I can highly recommend making the effort to get to one if you think you'd like to give it a try. The potential danger comes when someone has a taster day like this and then goes out to buy all the SRT kit thinking they know enough to use it in a different environment, and this is what I'll address in this thread.

    Firstly, the golden rule of any rope access is you only use it if there is no realistic alternative and it is safe to do so. Please remember that, as a realistic alternative to someone with a couple of hours experience a few months ago descending down a 40 metre shaft, is quite simply not descending down a 40 metre shaft. If that sounds condescending I apologise, but if you're at the bottom watching your mate have a panic attack or worse halfway, what do you do? It's likely you won't know how to do a mid-rope rescue and you won't have mobile reception to ring for help so something like this could turn in to a horrific event and hopefully some of the things I put in here will give you a bit of food for thought and make sense. I'm certainly not going to tell you to not do it, it's none of my business, but I will offer some advice on here that you can hopefully use.

    So, you want to use SRT away from the taster day or any other training you may undertake, what do you need to do it safely? Firstly you need more than one person as you never do this alone in a live environment and every single person in your group needs to be able to do basic rope skills like tie knots and do mid-rope changeovers as an absolute minimum. The actual size of your group should depend on your experience/competency level, for less experienced people, the minimum group size should be 3 with at least 1 person being more competent and comfortable with rope work. The only time that drops to 2 is when both people are very competent at SRT and can sort any problems out as they go. You also need at least 2 full sets of SRT kit with extra karabiners (preferably screwgate) and slings, ideally one full kit each, but you can get away with 2 relatively safely as long as the most competent person has one on them at all times and you just keep lifting the harness back up to the top on the rope for the next person to descend, or lower it down for them to ascend. When descending or ascending, the competent person should always go last to make sure everyone is on the rope safely. Rope should be at least 9mm static rope specifically for SRT use, you can use dynamic safely but you'll find it harder so that's more of a general advice tip than safety related. You also need something to prevent the rope rubbing on any edges under load as it doesn't take too many rubs on a concrete edge to go through static rope. You can even cut it under load by rubbing your shoelace on it so please don't underestimate the need to protect against edges with carpet, clothing or specific rope protectors. One other thing to consider is that if you get 100m of rope and you only need 30m, you can tie off 2 'Ý' hangs in the middle and have a backup line should something go wrong. Most people don't do this though in SRT so I'll deal mainly with having only 1 working line

    Here's a video on knots you should find useful, learn them as they are obviously fundamentally important to rope safety!



    And here's one on rope protection, albeit an extreme example, but protect those ropes!



    Ideally, you'll all also know how to pass knots, deviations and rebelays but for simple pitches this isn't strictly necessary for everyone. At least one person in your group should be competent at all these manouvres on the rope however. Here's an excellent video showing various basic rope access techniques we use in a working environment, just ignore the safety rope as in SRT you won't have that, but everything they show on the working line is relevant. Best pro-tip on this is doing a changeover from ascent to descent where he stands holding the rope with a straight arm to stabilise himself as he disengages the Croll as it makes it much smoother (although I personally never move the hand ascender that far up when doing this, more like 6" above the Croll). Make sure you can do either changeover well before ever attempting any major SRT. I'll talk more about some of the kit you'll be using in a bit.



    On the next rope day, see if you can have a go at ascending with your descender and descend with your ascender (down prussik) as these are very useful to know if things go wrong.

    In that video the descending device is an ID (Industrial Descender) which is rated for rescue and also has a failsafe should you load the rope incorrectly. You're more likely to be using a Stop descender or some other bobbin type so there are certain things you should be aware of when using these. Anyone who has used one on the 9mm static we all seem to own, and the stuff you're likely to buy as it's very good value, will tell you it should be renamed as 'Go' due to the braking device not being fully effective so make sure you know how to use a friction karabiner and also lock the Stop whilst on the rope. Without wanting to sound like the prophet of doom, the Stop has received some bad press in caving circles due to people relying on the brake lever for controlling their descent and there has also been a couple of incidents when inexperienced cavers have become panicked as they descend a bit too quickly and they grip the Stop for dear life. This opens the braking mechanism and they freefall to the next surface to break their descent. ALWAYS use a Stop with a friction karabiner and control the rate of descent with your free hand, which should never leave the rope at any point whilst descending and incidents like this will be avoided. If you use a Fig 8 or belay plate for descending, there's nothing essentially wrong with that but there is realistically only one way if things go wrong, and that's downwards, rather quickly, so consider getting something like a Stop or Rig if you want something with a bit of safety built in. The rest of the kit is standard caving stuff, so get it from a reputable source and it's all good for the job in hand as long as you know how to use it properly.

    So you've got a basic appreciation of SRT, purchased all the kit and you're having a go at it somewhere, what happens if someone gets in trouble on the rope? Be totally realistic about your options as a wrong decision could result in serious injury or worse. If you don't have the skills to do a basic rope rescue, you absolutely have to call for official help as soon as you possibly can no matter what the consequences may be. Now if you happen to know a local person with the skills, feel free to call them rather than the emergency services, but time is of the essence as you do not want to leave someone hanging on the rope for a long period of time. If you go in a group of 3 (remember me mentioning this was important), someone can remain with the casualty whilst the other goes for help and keep them talking until a rescue can be performed. Rope rescues in SRT can be a bit messy as you only have one rope to work with and simply mean you get the casualty off the rope safely, not necessarily out of the environment and almost always involve descending. If you do one, you can then decide what course of action to take once the person is off the rope if you haven't already called for official help. What happens if the person struggling is the first to ascend though leaving the rest of the group at the bottom I hear you ask? You send your most competent person up and if they aren't confident in getting the person into descent and back to the ground, they pass them as if they're a knot in the rope and call for help when at the surface (think back, I also said this was important). The casualty will probably take a foot in the groin and head during this but needs must and all that. There aren't many videos I can link to showing rope rescues on a single rope, so I'll put a video showing rescue from ascent the IRATA way & explain how this works in a SRT way and if anyone finds a good one for descentusing SRT , please add it to this thread.

    Rescue From Descent

    From Below

    This is probably the easiest one I'll describe here and it's simple enough to try out only a few feet off the ground to get used to doing it. Also it will get your mindset into doing anything rescue wise whilst in descent as loading the toothed cam of a single ascender with the weight of 2 people isn't something you'll easily get out of. Think about what you'd do if the person had descended to within reach of you stood on the ground and suddenly passed out leaving them hanging (assuming the Stop actually stopped). You'd simply operate their descender to get them down to the ground and this is exactly what you have to do wherever they are on the rope. From below, ascend and pass the casualty like you would a knot and put a full lock on their descender if they haven't already. Now use a couple of your extra karabiners to hard link yourself to the karabiner on their descender and also use one of your cows tails to clip on to them too. Now get yourself out of ascent normally so you hang on their locked off descender. You may drop too far to retrieve your hand jammer doing this & if that happens make sure you can disconnect any safety line from it and leave it on the rope, you can just take their hand ascender should you need to go up afterwards. Remove the lock from the Stop and ensure a friction karabiner is being used before starting to descend whether that is on your harness or theirs doesn't matter, but you definitely need one. Descend slowly and assess your next options once the casualty is on firm ground.

    From Above

    At first glance, this one appears to be a bit tricky as you can't simply attach a descender to a loaded rope, so how do you get down to the casualty? You descend using your ascenders, or down prussik as it's called (you should be getting why I mentioned all these things above now). This is something I'd say anyone who does SRT should definitely learn to do as it isn't particularly difficult and can be useful in various situations not just this. My personal pro tip for this is to have the rope going over the outside of your left leg, loaded or unloaded, as the slight bend it puts in the rope will keep it away from the teeth on your Croll and prevent it grabbing the rope as you move it downwards :thumb
    Once at the casualty, follow the steps to descend safely with them outlined above and then assess your next moves.


    Rescue From Ascent

    It doesn't matter which way you approach this as you now know how to get there and the process you'll go through will be exactly the same. The video for this is pretty good and shows how you release the chest ascender from the rope, but remember you will probably be performing all this on one rope so anything they do on the safety rope will have to be done on the main line.



    The first thing you have to do when you reach the casualty before anything else, is get yourself into descent as close to his chest ascender as possible with a friction karabiner and full lock. Only then go into hard linking them to your descender karabiner and doing the weight counterbalance using their hand jammer and a sling to get them out of ascent and lowered on to your descender. This definitely takes practice before doing it in real life, despite how easy it looks in the video so do not attempt this unless you're confident. Again, once the casualty is safely on the ground, assess what you do next.

    I've mentioned assessing what you do next a few times here and that is purely down to the situation in hand. If, for example, the person who had the problem had simply caught their long hair in a descender & you're able to get them off the rope you can carry on with what you're there to do. If it's an injury or anything medical meaning you can't get the person back out normally then you have to call for help no matter what, as even if you called me to help for something like this, I'd call it in before getting to you. Fuck the consequences, even for me as I'd be in there with you and that is how serious you have to take this.



    This is not a definitive list on rope rescues by any means but everything mentioned here is fairly simple and easy enough to practice within a few feet of the ground and I encourage anyone to give everything a good go whenever you get the opportunity if you're going to be doing this kind of thing. The upcoming rope day would be ideal as @Bigjobs knows what it takes to get his set up safely for you so if you've done a bit before, maybe have a go there as learning new things on the ropes will give you a load more confidence in anything you use them for. It's fun, no question about that, but it isn't to be taken lightly as things can go very wrong and that's something I don't want to hear about for anyone on here so please, if nothing else try to make sure you always have someone who has a bit more experience with you and go in at least the numbers I've suggested.

    The golden rule still stands though, any rope access is a last resort even in an industrial sense and if you aren't confident in doing it safely, then staying at home doesn't make you a pussy.
     
    #1 GAJ, Jun 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
    canute, Conrad, Screw Loose and 16 others like this.

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  2. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Excellent article GAJ, thank you. I've suddenly realised I don't know anywhere near enough. Alll the gear and no idea.
     
  3. GAJ

    GAJ Mr Muscle
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    I want everyone to feel free to add anything useful you find to this thread as I'm certainly not trying to say I know everything there is to know about rope rescues & I've deliberately left the more technical side of hauling a casualty up out of it so everyone stands a chance with the kit they should have with them. If people can find specific SRT rescue videos that would be great to see & maybe easier for people to imagine than the double rope IRATA ones I've put in there. There's a lot of knowledge on here when it comes to ropes so let's get it out there & make sure anyone trying it has as much information as we can give them. It's no substitute for practice when it comes to SRT but knowing what you're potentially getting into & what to do may save your life.
     
  4. Maniac

    Maniac rebmeM LD82
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    Too much to read, but those videos from rope access techniques are the ones I've used when learning bits and pieces. :thumb
     
  5. Bigjobs

    Bigjobs Official Smartarse
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    Really good write up, very comprehensive.

    One thing I'd add is that there's nothing like hands on experience, so come along to a rope day, or if you've got something planned and need some help, feel free to give me a shout. I'm not above travelling to help out on ropes, in fact I'd rather do that than read about someone being found at the bottom of a shaft.
     
  6. GAJ

    GAJ Mr Muscle
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    Absolutely right & no write up by me or videos will replace experience on the ropes. I'm too far away to offer any hands on training in the UK unfortunately but if anyone does happen to be my side of the globe, give me a shout & I'll do my best to sort you out.

    Also If SJP still has them I left some home made strops in the Drainor Kit outside my house so people could even have a go at aid climbing if they're still around. I certainly used them somewhere ;)
     
  7. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Excellent post. Let me add that many climbing walls these days offer courses for the complete novice on things such as basic belaying and abseiling. Industrial rope access courses can be done to the IRATA syllabus levels 1 to 3 at lots of venues around the country.

    Sorry guys and gals but I couldn't help posting this link which shows what happens when a bunch of (drunken?) idiots discover a bit of climbing gear and try to work it out ad hoc like.

    Eric's epic abseil fail (be assured that Eric did survive and was soon discharged from hospital)
     
  8. The Lone Ranger

    The Lone Ranger Safety is paramount!
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    Cheers @GAJ :thumb

    A good article and something anyone thinking of playing on the ropes should be aware of. The videos are spot on, Alternative Access have many at the moment showing different techniques and types of rescues as free downloads (this may change if they ever work out how to charge). It is rope access where safety is paramount, so always twin ropes, in the real world it's single rope, hence SRT (single rope technique).

    I'd say practice rescues as the last place you want to be learning is when the shit hits the fan and your mate is loosing blood faster than you can tie knots or ascend a rope, been there.

    Putting together a basic equipment thing, but has grown arms and legs. Need to make it simple. That's probably the best advice for anything on the ropes too, simple works :thumb
     
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  9. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    I have been fortunate to get some instruction from Morissey and have Been to a few of Jobs and Hils's rope days and we are lucky here on the forum to have good people who are willing to give up thier precious time to show folk the ropes (pun intended), also I recently paid to attend a rigging, anchoring and basic rescue course at a local climbing centre, but by far the best thing for me was joining my local caving club, they do SRT regularly and I learned lots from the trips out, hands on experience cant be bought.
    On the course that I attended they used a DVD called "cave safe" link here http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b88ccc981 to help with instruction and it is invaluable, I found it on the world wide web and cant recommend it enough.
    Great idea for a thread.
     
    #9 The Kwan, Jun 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
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  10. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    I'd like to think people would watch some of the videos and go and practice this stuff, before deciding to go and throw themselves down the nearest vent shaft in a vain attempt to follow in the footsteps of others

    All too recently there have been tales of people (mainly workers) falling off buildings and resulting in a fatality

    The danger is here, the adventurous 'all the gear no idea' brigade are going to end up in bother soon enough and unless they learn some skills it's going to end in tears!

    I remember getting a call a few years back from someone who was stuck, despite being told otherwise by myself to not venture in alone, he fucked up and ended up in a right predicement

    At the time, I was miles away in a meeting and couldn't attend until later in the day, the lad was proper distressed and I got in touch with jobs, who managed to leave work immediately and go and rescue the poor lad

    This shit is the real deal, so either invest some time as money doesn't buy skill unless you fork out for a level 1 and even then your expected to have a competent rope skill set

    Kwan mentioned caving clubs, but again I've seen some proper shonky rigging over the years, by some of the bearded lot who think they know better, so I wouldn't use that as a yard stick either

    Props to @Bigjobs as always for investing his time into these meets and having the patience of a saint to coach people at different levels, we pulled off a massive through trip with essentially a bunch of n00bs and I'd love it if one day we could re-run that trip and put a smile on a few more faces this summer :thumb

    What's the worse that could happen ?

    rescue_zps04b4f09e.jpg
     
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  11. ViralEye

    ViralEye Drain Ninja
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    Fantastic write up!!

    Im always up for learning some techniques so if anyone is ever organising anything drop me a line :thumb
     
  12. fourtytwo

    fourtytwo 28DL Regular User
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    Oh.... so you're good with ropes? ;)
     
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  13. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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  14. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Just bumbping this again, I have split the SRT instructional dvd that I bought at a car booty into bits and have uploaded the first section to youtube, its taking hours to upload and I will do another section Tomoz and over the next week the whole DVD so watch this space.
    it is well worth a watch and covers plenty of aspects, the picture quality gets better as it goes on so bare with it.
    FIRST BIT


    Part 2
     
    #14 The Kwan, Nov 27, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
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  15. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Part3 rescues, pullthrough and stuff
     
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