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Cleaning anchors
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By Josh Olson
From madison, wisconsin
Jul 29, 2011
Looking at a 5.7 crack with Nick
Simple enough, or so I thought. Anyways, how do you do it? I was taught to rappel, simply to save anchor wear.
I have recently, however, seen a lot of talk about lowering somehow being safer. What am I missing?

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jul 29, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
assuming you do everything correctly, rappelling is safer than being lowered as there is no chance for miscommunication between you and your belayer, which could result in a fall.

there are a lot of caveats to that which come back to doing everything correctly.

rappelling is also better on the anchor as it puts less wear on the chains, rings, or whatever.

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By J.Kruse
From So ILL
Jul 29, 2011
do the right thing, don't lower.

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Jul 29, 2011
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Josh Olson wrote:
Simple enough, or so I thought. Anyways, how do you do it? I was taught to rappel, simply to save anchor wear. I have recently, however, seen a lot of talk about lowering somehow being safer. What am I missing?


One argument about lowering being safer is that you never have to be taken off belay. there are ways of cleaning an anchor where even if the anchor failed, you are still on belay so the protection below the anchor would catch you (example: when you tie a knot on a bight to yourself to keep from dropping the rope, tie a figure eight and clip it to your belay loop rather then a gear loop).

Also, if you and your partner agree to always lower and never rap, there is no chance for communication error.

The most important thing when lowering is to not unclip until you feel your weight supported by the belayer, and even then, keep your hand on the oposite side of the rope until you can visually see that your belayer has you on belay (in case there is enough friction at the start of the lower to make it feel like the belayer has you when in fact he doesn't)

Personally, I rap 90% of the time if I'm cleaning the anchors. The times I don't rap are when there are open cold shuts, mussey hooks, or carabiners on the anchors, or when the route is too overhung to get my gear on the way down if rapping.

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 29, 2011
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
If the assumption is made that things are done correctly, then neither is safer. The problem is that things go wrong with both. I'd wager that rappel mishaps and lowering mishaps occur with similar frequencies, so I don't really buy the argument that one is safer than the other. I believe that the reason people feel that rappelling is safer is because they are the only ones in control, so if a mistake happens you have no one to blame but yourself.

The bottom line is to agree upon which you will do before leaving the ground, and make 100% sure that communication is clear if those plans change. If lowering or rappelling, make sure your weight is taken by the belayer or rappel device BEFORE removing your backup and committing to the rope. As a belayer, do not take your climber off of belay until you have been asked to do so AND you are sure that your climber intends to rappel. Too often I hear climbers go off of belay to clean the anchors and then ask to be put back on belay. Just as common is the climber using the phrase "in direct" at the anchors. Both of these are an accident waiting to happen.

In some situations (overhanging or traversing routes) it can be very difficult to clean on rappel. So when sport climbing, I generally default to lowering. Most modern sport climbing areas (at least the ones that I frequent) have easily replaceable rings, so I don't really worry about wear on the anchors. At places like NRG and RRG, I'd say it is much more common to lower than to rappel. When I'm climbing in NC, however, where there are more funky permanent anchors with rap rings that are not as easily replaced, then I am more likely to rappel.

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By Dom
Administrator
From New Brunswick Canada
Jul 29, 2011
Moby dick 5.11-
A lot has to do with the anchor set-up and how much the route overhangs/traverses. A very overhanging route can be a real pain in the ass to clean if you're rapping.

I agree that it's better for anchor wear to rap but I still think it's safer to lower-off. I think it's a judgement call.


Check out last page of the Petzl tech-tips

Lower-off without untying

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jul 29, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
csproul wrote:
If the assumption is made that things are done correctly, then neither is safer...


the assumption was that you do everything correctly. people are the weakest link in the climbing system and the fewer you're relying on, the safer it is. there can be a communication error if you're relying on someone else regardless of whether you talked about it on the ground. if you're not relying on someone else to do something correctly, you've removed some potential for error. rapping is definitely safer.

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 29, 2011
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
Crag Dweller wrote:
the assumption was that you do everything correctly. people are the weakest link in the climbing system and the fewer you're relying on, the safer it is. there can be a communication error if you're relying on someone else regardless of whether you talked about it on the ground. if you're not relying on someone else to do something correctly, you've removed some potential for error. rapping is definitely safer.

In principle I agree with your logic, but I doubt that statistics would back you up. I've not seen real numbers, but it seems like I hear about rappel accidents just as often as I hear about lowering accidents.

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jul 29, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
csproul wrote:
In principle I agree with your logic, but I doubt that statistics would back you up. I've not seen real numbers, but it seems like I hear about rappel accidents just as often as I hear about lowering accidents.


no question, there have been plenty of rappelling accidents. and, sadly, most of them could probably have been prevented simply by tying two knots.

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By Coppolo
From Denver, CO
Jul 29, 2011
Sunrise in Stevens gulch
I was always under the impression that it's bad form to lower off the anchors, in the same way as top roping off of them. I've never even considered it.


I always rap.

Am I in the minority?

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By Jeff J
From Bozeman
Jul 29, 2011
Josh Olson wrote:
Simple enough, or so I thought. Anyways, how do you do it? I was taught to rappel, simply to save anchor wear. I have recently, however, seen a lot of talk about lowering somehow being safer. What am I missing?


Well...
rappelling is deffantly better for the anchor.

but loweroff by letting your belayer controll you, means that you dont have to clip in to the anchor untie and rap. There is alot that could go wrong and I have seen medical personal at the craig because someone uncliped before making sure the rap/retie or what ever they were doing was safe and fall off the top.

If you wish to lower off than please help out the climbing community and replce a anchor or two when it looks like it getting warn out; its only a few dollars.
my advice is rap off if you feel you can but do what you feel is the safest and get home with out injury. Climb safe.

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 29, 2011
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
Coppolo wrote:
I was always under the impression that it's bad form to lower off the anchors, in the same way as top roping off of them. I've never even considered it. I always rap. Am I in the minority?

Yes, I'd say in this day and age, you are. I have climbed in many of the destinations around the country and I think that rapping as a standard is becoming more rare. There seems to be a correlation between how traditional an area is and the percentage of people that rap. One visit to any of the more crowded sport destinations in the country will convince you that the balance has tipped toward lowering, especially since steep sport routes are more in vogue than ever. Modern routes are also generally equipped with rings that better resist wear and are easily replaceable, which makes lowering more tolerated. Areas with lots of abrasive sand that accelerate anchor wear are an exception.

TRing through anchors is a little different, since everyone in a group will put wear on the anchors, where only the last person in a group to lower off will wear the anchors.

FLAG


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