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Cord vs. Webbing for Alpine Slings
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By Mark P Thomas
From Oakland
Jun 21, 2011
Kor Roof on a windy day. Hard to tell which way is up here! Basically into the photo, up about 45 degrees, rotated 30 degrees clockwise.

So I'm trying to lighten my groups climbing load for a technical climb we're doing on Rainier. I'm already going to have some quickdrawed slings in our rack for the ice screws/pickets/rock pro. However, for glacier travel I've always preferred having the ability to make prussicks for any emergency hauling system, rather than using a Klemheist or Autoblock knot.

I know that nylon webbing has better shock absorption than climbing cord, but I'm wondering how big of a difference it would make for use on pickets & ice screws on 40-50 degree terrain, as I'm tempted to use cord for some (but not all!) of my alpine draws.

Any thoughts?


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By OReid
From Denver, CO
Jun 21, 2011
preparing to rap over a crevasse; Mt. Waddington, Bravo Glacier Route

"shock absorption" is a non-issue for runners. The rope does all energy dissipation. As long as your cord is strong enough, I don't see a problem.

I honestly prefer klemheist or bachmann knots to the prussik, so I usually just stick with sewn dyneema slings.


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Jun 21, 2011
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Every member attached to the rope should have their own set of personal prusiks. These are used both for getting out of the hole yourself, as well as getting your mates out of the hole should you be the only one topside. One should never rely on 'additional' prusiks beyond your personal set, because who knows, maybe the chap with the rack is the one that pops into the crevasse, then where are you? Realize that with just one prusik (you should have 2 as your personal set) you can transfer the load from your harness to a deadman, and you can thereafter setup a 3:1... again, just with one prusik. That second is just icing on the cake and makes hauling all the more easier should you employ it.

So you have your personal prusiks, which means every other runner on the rack is subject to minimizing weight, bulk, and water-absorption... in all cases dyneema slings win out.

HTH. And have a fun trip!


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By Pete Spri
Jun 21, 2011

The new dyneema slings are nice because they aren't water absorbant, but 7mm cord is really nice for any sort of friction knot. I don't feel very good about trying to prussik on a dyneema runner with how slippery they are, especially if you added icy/wet ropes to that equation.

Each to their own, though.


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By Topher42
Jul 2, 2011

Dyneema or spectra same thing chemiclly is not suitable for friction knots due to it's slippery nature and low melting point,
Mark although the rope will absorb the shock you loose the shock absorbing of dynamic nylon right on the pro. But what about using smaller size of nylon. But I don't see forces being as high on snow or steep slopes as rock. Each system has it's pros and cons.
Good luck


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By Topher42
Jul 2, 2011

Dyneema or spectra same thing chemically is not suitable for friction knots due to it's slippery nature and low melting point,
Mark although the rope will absorb the shock you loose the shock absorbing of dynamic nylon right on the pro. But what about using smaller size of nylon. But I don't see forces being as high on snow or steep slopes as rock. Each system has it's pros and cons.
Good luck


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By Mark P Thomas
From Oakland
Jul 2, 2011
Kor Roof on a windy day. Hard to tell which way is up here! Basically into the photo, up about 45 degrees, rotated 30 degrees clockwise.

For strategy I was thinking each member has their two prussics for self-rescue in addition to the climbing pro distributed amongst the group for the glacier travel sections (we are bringing 3 pickets & at least 3 screws on each route we are climbing). We are traveling in a team of 3 and I'd say chances are pretty small that more than one person could end up in the crevasse, so this leaves enough prussics & anchors to set up a Z-C system from the two remaining members. If at least one member had a third prussic, then the chances of complications from the middle member falling are pretty small.

So my idea, since the technical ice climbing is in terrain where crevasse falls are unlikely, is to have 6 prussic cords and some pickets & ice screws distributed amongst the team of 3 , and then, once at the technical climbing terrain, collect the gear & cords and use them as 6 alpine slings, plus any additional slings brought in the form of webbing, or more cord for the additional prussic for one or two of the members.

Assuming that there is no major drawback with using cord for alpine slings vs. webbing, this seems like a good idea to me since I'd prefer to have multi-use gear and cord for friction knots.


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Jul 3, 2011
At the matching crux

Unless you're making the 7th attempt ever on the Willis Wall (you aren't), then the extra weight of either 2 prussiks or 2 extra dyneema slings is non-existent. If Colin Haley carries prussiks, you probably should too.

Oh, and you probably won't use a single picket once. The odds are the snow won't be hard enough to pound them, so you'll have to dig a trench and use it as a deadman. If the snow is hard enough to take a pounded picket, you probably won't fall through into a crevasse either.

If someone takes a crevasse fall, then use an ice tool as a deadman.


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By chasegru
Sep 13, 2011

I like the flat surface of webbing against sharp rock edges vs round cord which seems to be more prone to getting sawed.


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By Mark P Thomas
From Oakland
Sep 13, 2011
Kor Roof on a windy day. Hard to tell which way is up here! Basically into the photo, up about 45 degrees, rotated 30 degrees clockwise.

We actually used pickets a lot on the climbing section of Ptarmigan Ridge (it ended up being 2 of us w/ 1 picket each). If the snow wasn't ice, requiring screws, it was hard enough for good picket pounding. We were short on screws for the route, too, so we were able to use pickets strategically to save the screws. We bothered with pounding pickets because even with secure conditions, the regular bits of falling rock & ice could have easily knocked one of us off when simul-climbing.

We decided to bring fewer slings and substitute prussic cords for extensions, which worked well for having less clutter on the harnesses or in our gear. Based on the responses, I think this is perfectly appropriate to do on pitches of neve & easy ice climbing.


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By Richard Radcliffe
From Louisville, CO
Sep 13, 2011

Line 13


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