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By Derek W
Jan 23, 2011
First summit of First Flatiron
I've done some research and it seems the preferred glacier rope is half (30m) of a half/double rope for roping a team together on glaciated terrain. Is this your preferred rope?

I don't really want to have to buy another rope to cut it up since I don't plan on doing a great number of them in the near future, but am not going to use the wrong tool for the job. I do have my double ropes that I can keep intact and just carry 15m of tail coiled in my pack if needed...

So, I do have 2x 25m 8mm Mammut Procord lines (rated 16.5kN) that I use for emergency rappel lines, anchor rigging, etc. I have rappelled on these lines before with no problem, but have noticed quite a lot of stretch. However, I don't know what sort of dynamic stretch they may or may not have. What are your thoughts on using these sections on a moderate glacier? I have heard of a few guys using dyneema lines (very low stretch) so at least this is an improvement over that!

Seeing as how you are not taking a lead fall, they seem reasonable to me, but I'm just looking for affirmation.

Thanks!

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By bag
Jan 23, 2011
You should find a book with a good explanation of how to rig for glacier travel, ie Freedom of the Hills or the Mountaineers series book on alpine climbing. The climbers at each end of the rope need to carry some of the rope in coils in order to facilitate a crevasse rescue. I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but in a team of 2 you should have just under 1/3 of the rope out between you, with each of you carrying a touch over 1/3 in coils over your shoulder. This means you're about 20 m apart with a 60 m rope. Half ropes work great, or whatever you need for the actual route if you are climbing. Remember, if you actually fall into a crevasse, it can be a substantial fall like a lead fall. My only fall into a crack was about 15 feet. Good luck. Make sure you know what you're doing if you get on a glacier with real danger.

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By Derek W
Jan 23, 2011
First summit of First Flatiron
I have read the chapter in my FotH book a number of times.

I'm more wondering if anybody has knowledge on the Procord.

We haven't figured out spacing because we don't know who is going yet. So we'll still have to figure out if we'll be in a single team or 2 teams traveling near each other - dictating what we use for rope and what we have for rescue gear.

And before you all get your panties in a twist, we're planning this trip for 2012 so we have plenty of time for learning and experimenting on non-glaciated terrain, etc.

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By bag
Jan 23, 2011
My panties aren't twisted, in fact I could care less what you do. From your 1st post, it didn't sound like you knew what a properly rigged system would look like. Just trying to help. 60m is great, half or single, I think dynamic is better.

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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Jan 23, 2011
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.
+1 for dynamic.

You want to give the topside climber every advantage possible for arresting the fall of whoever popped into the crevasse. If they (topside) don't stick that self-arrest in the first fraction of a second the probability for the faller getting wedged in a constriction or bouncing off some shelf skyrockets (not to mention the increased probability of the topside climber getting pulled into the hole). A static cord would result in a static hit on both parties - for the faller it would be a back snapping hit (especially with a mountaineering pack), but worse is the hit on the topside climber because it could whip-snap them so hard that they lose grip of their ax or are so disoriented they can't get the self-arrest set. Think about it, with no stretch, the force of the falling climber translates directly to the topside climber - yes there is some force reduction due to friction at the lip, but basic f=ma will tell you the hit will still be huge.

Anyway, I'd say bring the dynamic rope and just coil it (or put a WTB on here for a used twin and cut it, it won't cost much).

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By Derek W
Jan 23, 2011
First summit of First Flatiron
bag wrote:
My panties aren't twisted... Just trying to help...


Sorry Bag, that wasn't directed at you. Just past experience has shown that the way I phrase things on here gets people all jacked up on telling me that I'm making poor decisions without knowing the whole situation. I appreciate the input.

With the comments from both of you and Erik's phrase about "every possible advantage" was enough to convince me the weight is worth it or the dollar amount to buy a new/used rope is worth it.

Thanks for your responses guys.

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By drpw
Feb 6, 2011
There's also this:

backcountry.com/beal-rando-30m...

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By G Owings
Feb 6, 2011
I've used the Rando in that capacity with success.

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By jack s.
From Kamloops, BC
Feb 7, 2011
Mean Green P2
You will want to stay away from anything static. It doesn't take much of a fall to generate lethal forces on a static line. These forces could make a typical anchor fail and you won't even be tied into an anchor. What I find that works the best in lieu of a 30m twin line is a 60m half rope. If you have a pack, you can butterfly the rope and store the excess in the pack. This is far less irritating next time you use your half rope, which gets twisted up when you coil the rope. Of course a 30m is best, but 60m lines have never caused me any frustrations for glacier travel. Hope this helps.

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By Derek W
Feb 7, 2011
First summit of First Flatiron
jack s. wrote:
You will want to stay away from anything static. It doesn't take much of a fall to generate lethal forces on a static line. These forces could make a typical anchor fail and you won't even be tied into an anchor. What I find that works the best in lieu of a 30m twin line is a 60m half rope. If you have a pack, you can butterfly the rope and store the excess in the pack. This is far less irritating next time you use your half rope, which gets twisted up when you coil the rope. Of course a 30m is best, but 60m lines have never caused me any frustrations for glacier travel. Hope this helps.


In regards to a 60m vs a 30m. Do you have enough rope to use your tails as a rescue/haul line or do you carry a second rope for that? I've thought about the possibility of the Rando with that 80' section of procord as a haul line. However, I'm starting to lean towards just carrying a 60m since I already have it.

Thanks for the input guys.

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By Eric and Lucie
From Boulder, CO
Feb 7, 2011
Go with a 60. If it's only you two on a glacier, without other parties around to help, you'll want to carry >20m coiled at each end, so that you can drop that into a crevasse and it is long enough to reach your partner. Don't forget to account for the stretch, have enough to make a knot, etc... better to have too much than not enough... When it's just the two of us, we always tie ~15m apart on a half rope (8 to 8.5mm), dynamic of course. Have fun!

PS: we own a 30m 8.5mm dynamic "glacier" rope but have never used it for that purpose (we take it as a just-in-case rope on 4th class stuff etc). These are sold in Europe a lot, where it's VERY unlikely you'll ever be alone on a glacier (hence, other parties can help); not so in most other mountain ranges of the world.

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By Todd R
Mar 23, 2011
Death Star Pumpkin - My kids like Star Wars, what can I say...?
OK, I'll open this can of worms...

There is a very strong case to be made for low-stretch ropes in glacier travel. The forces on the arresting climber are nothing like those in other climbing scenarios so you don't need. A There are loads of reasons why the forces transferred will be reduced, primarily the huge amount of friction generated by the rope cutting through the snow, which it will do to some degree or other.

Dynamic ropes, especially skinny ones with huge stretch built into them can actually increase the chance of injury to the falling climber, by extending the length of the fall by a big percentage. The farther you fall, the more chances you'll have to get injured by hitting something or getting wedged at the bottom. Dynamic ropes also make the extraction more difficult.

Low-stretch (not true static) ropes are quickly becoming the preferred rope of Denali guide services and the NPS patrols up in the Alaska Range for non-technical glacier routes.

Length is dependent on what your objective is and what Range you're climbing in, as each Range has nuances that will dictate how far apart climbers will want to travel.

I'm not familiar with the ProCord, but this is just my 2 cents...

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By Walt Barker
From AZ
Mar 23, 2011
Self portrait on the summit of Gray's Peak, CO
...go with 60m; you never know when you'll need that extra length. depends on what you're doing too, I guess. I got caught with a 30m once when I needed a 60m... I steer away from tying in to static, just my preference..good luck

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By Todd R
Mar 24, 2011
Death Star Pumpkin - My kids like Star Wars, what can I say...?
Veteran Denali and Alaska guide, instructor and all-around good, smart guy, Blaine Smith published an article some years back on the use of low-stretch rope in glacier travel.

It's a fairly easy read and sheds some empirical light on the differences and considerations in rope selection.

Here's Blaine Smith's paper on Using Low-stretch Ropes:

Using Low-Stretch Ropes

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By Derek W
Mar 24, 2011
First summit of First Flatiron
Todd R wrote:
Veteran Denali and Alaska guide, instructor and all-around good, smart guy, Blaine Smith published an article some years back on the use of low-stretch rope in glacier travel. It's a fairly easy read and sheds some empirical light on the differences and considerations in rope selection. Here's Blaine Smith's paper on Using Low-stretch Ropes: Using Low-Stretch Ropes

The link appears to be broken.

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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Mar 24, 2011
Mt. Churchill, University Range
I agree with Walt. A 60m rope adds more versatility/security. Low stretch ropes add more force to the anchor, especially when you’re the anchor arresting the fall, and even more so if you have a chest harness on. Mountains like Denali and Mt. Rainier have well worn trails up the glaciers with a less chance of a crack fall. In my experience crack falls are very painful because of the force generated.

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By Todd R
Mar 24, 2011
Death Star Pumpkin - My kids like Star Wars, what can I say...?
Sorry, I'm a bit of a Luddite on sites like this... Here's the text of the link:

www.mra.org/drupal2/sites/default/.../Using_low_stretch_ropesFinal.pdf

Again, certain decisions that we make as climbers are often best considered in light of the evidence available. At the end of the day, tens of thousands of climbers have climbed Denali and other peaks using skinny dynamic ropes and most are still walking and talking. Most do not experience serious crevasse falls (I've had 1 in 17 Denali ascents and have only held one "surprise" fall), so the anecdotal evidence is in favor of using dynamic lines.

I'm only here to help inform...

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