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Best improvised rope solo setup
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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jul 15, 2013

This weekend my partners bailed during the approach to a ridge climb, so I ended up giving it a try solo. Mostly it was 4th class with a few short steps of 5.8 or so. One of these felt quite exposed, so I tried a rope solo setup for about 25 feet of climbing.

Basically I just rigged a Reverso to my belay loop and then at every placement would try to feed out enough rope to get me to the next placement. Then rappelled, cleaned, and ascended with prussiks. Feeding rope out this way was a huge pain, and I bailed at the next headwall rather than mess with it again. But it made me consider if there was a better way to go about it if you aren't carrying a Grigri or some kind of proper soloing device.


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By John Husky
Jul 15, 2013

clove hitch?


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jul 15, 2013

I can't see that being any easier to feed than a Reverso


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By Daniel Winder
Jul 16, 2013

You shouldn't need to feed rope through the clove hitch. Just tie multiple clove hitches and pop them off when you get to them.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 16, 2013
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Daniel Winder wrote:
You shouldn't need to feed rope through the clove hitch. Just tie multiple clove hitches and pop them off when you get to them.

A hitch (not a knot)needs to be tied to something. You cannot just tie a series of clove hitches in the non-anchored end of the rope. The hitches would need to be tied to carabiners. This would be very impractical, especially if the non-anchored end of the rope were hanging free (ie not carried in a pack with you). If you tie a series of knots, they need to be knots, not hitches, ie like a overhand or 8 on a bight, or an alpine butterfly. Still pretty impractical IMO if you are hanging the non-anchored end of rope, since all those knots find a way of catching on something.

That pretty much leaves you with sliding a clove hitch, using a Reverso/Guide (as the OP did), or tie pairs of loop knots by pulling up enough slack to get to the next stance and clipping into the loop, and unclipping the last loop that you were attached to. All of which pretty much suck. IMO, if you don't have the right device and are truly improvising, then the OP's method is probably your best bet. Unless there is something I'm overlooking...

edit: I guess you could attach a series of cloves on a biner to your belay loop and pop them off as you describe, but that sounds like a clusterfuck to me.


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By Aric Datesman
Jul 16, 2013

Sounds like you were leading on this setup? If so, it's a patently bad idea. It's been discussed here and elsewhere a bunch of times, with the short version being that in a fall the rope can either jam or even cross itself in the device, leading to a complete lack of friction or locking.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jul 16, 2013

Aric Datesman wrote:
Sounds like you were leading on this setup? If so, it's a patently bad idea. It's been discussed here and elsewhere a bunch of times, with the short version being that in a fall the rope can either jam or even cross itself in the device, leading to a complete lack of friction or locking.


Given that the next option down the "safety ladder" is soloing where a fall will result in death, I'm pretty okay with that risk


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 16, 2013
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Aric Datesman wrote:
Sounds like you were leading on this setup? If so, it's a patently bad idea. It's been discussed here and elsewhere a bunch of times, with the short version being that in a fall the rope can either jam or even cross itself in the device, leading to a complete lack of friction or locking.

I'd only use this setup in a real pinch, but if I did use it, I'd tie back-up knots for exactly this reason.


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By wfscot
From Boulder, CO
Jul 16, 2013

Aric Datesman wrote:
Sounds like you were leading on this setup? If so, it's a patently bad idea. It's been discussed here and elsewhere a bunch of times, with the short version being that in a fall the rope can either jam or even cross itself in the device, leading to a complete lack of friction or locking.


Do you have any links on the rope crossing problem? I've been playing around with different ways of using a guide-style device in autoblock mode. In my experience, if the rope crosses, the device jams completely. It sucks in that it's impossible to unjam while weighted, but it's a far cry from a "complete lack of friction".


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By Daniel Winder
Jul 16, 2013

csproul wrote:
I guess you could attach a series of cloves on a biner to your belay loop and pop them off as you describe, but that sounds like a clusterfuck to me.


That is what I was referring to. The carabiner doesn't have to go on the belay loop, I use short slings girth hitched through my tie-in point. On short fifth class steps you should only need a couple of hitches. For longer pitches, a soloing device would be recommended (but you still need backups). And yes, rope-soloing is a clusterfuck until you have your system wired.


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By Greg D
From Here
Jul 16, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

wfscot wrote:
Do you have any links on the rope crossing problem? I've been playing around with different ways of using a guide-style device in autoblock mode. In my experience, if the rope crosses, the device jams completely. It sucks in that it's impossible to unjam while weighted, but it's a far cry from a "complete lack of friction".


This scenario has been known for years. It can happen with a properly set up auto block belaying a follower. Just this last Saturday i was using an auto block to ascend a rope. This inversion happened. It jammed up quite bad. I knew not to trust it solely so i had a back up in place. It was a pita to remove. Keep in mind that jugging a rope is quite static compared to a lead fall. I definitely would not trust my life with your setup.


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By Aric Datesman
Jul 16, 2013

DannyUncanny wrote:
Given that the next option down the "safety ladder" is soloing where a fall will result in death, I'm pretty okay with that risk


Actually, Danny, the feeding-a-clove-hitch-on-two-biners system is the tried and true method and completely safe (two biners makes unlocking the clove in the event of a fall much easier). Using a Guide in this way is horribly off-label and has proven failure methods, so I'd really encourage looking more into it before doing it again.

Then again, I suppose if you kept placing gear above you so you're essentially on TR the whole time it might not be so bad. Until a piece pulls, and you're back to taking a lead fall on it. So probably still not a good idea.

FWIW, when I find myself doing something like this I use the clove system. Rarely happens though, as I much prefer my regular lead solo system (similar to HealeyJ's system)


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By Aric Datesman
Jul 16, 2013

wfscot wrote:
Do you have any links on the rope crossing problem? I've been playing around with different ways of using a guide-style device in autoblock mode. In my experience, if the rope crosses, the device jams completely. It sucks in that it's impossible to unjam while weighted, but it's a far cry from a "complete lack of friction".



I don't have any links handy, unfortunately. I do recall Jim Titt weighing in on it though, and him doing pull testing of that setup with really scary results. Shouldn't be too hard to find, since it'll be either here, on ST or RC


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 16, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

Here is the quote from Jim's tests:

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"As it happens there was a thread on another forum about using guide plates for roped soloing and I went off and pull tested a few to see what happened under load:-

First Fail Mode:
The trapped rope escapes sideways from under the tensioned rope and gets trapped between the tensioned rope and the side of the slot.This is very difficult to free off and you have to dismantle everything and twist the locking krab brutally to release the rope. Take your Prusiks.

Second fail mode:
Apply yet more load and the trapped rope where it crosses the tensioned rope goes down through the slot with a bang. At this point the holding power drops off considerably but not catastrophically, though pretty near!
Easy to release, just unclip the krab when unweighted. Still need to take your Prusiks!

ATC Guide. 10.2 Mammut, used, non-treated. First fail mode 4.8kN. No second fail mode, rope sheath cut at ca 9kN.
ATC Guide. 9mm Edelrid, used, non treated. First fail mode 2.96kN. Max fail load 5.58kN. Residual load 1.6kN
ATC Guide. 8.2mm Edelrid, new,treated. First fail mode 2.05kN. Max fail load 4.06kN. Residual load 1.2kN

Reversoł. 10.2 Mammut, used, non treated. First fail mode 3.68kN. No second fail mode. Rope sheath cut ca 9kN
Reversoł. 9mm Edelrid, used, non treated. First fail mode 2.25kN. Max fail load 3.60kN. Residual load 0.9kN
Reversoł. 8.2mm Edelrid, new,treated. First fail mode 1.6kN. Max fail load 2.38kN. Residual load 0.7kN
All with Petzl Attache 12mm round profile karabiner.

Not my idea of a reliable roped-solo device!"

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By Aric Datesman
Jul 16, 2013

Thanks, Rich. Didn't have time to track that down.


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By Dan.Schultz
From SW Colorado
Jul 21, 2013
Selfie in the Sierras

I've used the clove hitch method about 20 times. It sucks but it's not too bad with a bit of practice. Falls on this system would be massive. I hope to never fall on this system...

I feel like one of the toughest parts of this system (especially in multiple pitches) is building an anchor that mainly takes an upward force (as well as downward). Generally in these situations you aren't carrying as much gear as normal and you end up using 4+ pieces on the anchor, and the pitch is also limited in length due to rapping and cleaning. Sucks.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jul 21, 2013

Dan.Schultz wrote:
I've used the clove hitch method about 20 times. It sucks but it's not too bad with a bit of practice. Falls on this system could be massive. I hope to never fall on this system... I feel like one of the toughest parts of this system (especially in multiple pitches) is building an anchor that mainly takes an upward force (as well as downward). Generally in these situations you aren't carrying as much gear as normal and you end up using 4+ pieces on the anchor, and the pitch is also limited in length due to rapping and cleaning. And you'll probably feed ~15-20ft of slack after each piece of gear. Sucks.


The same post four times? Quite possibly a new world record!


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