/ Protecting Scrambles when Soloing

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bowls - on 08 Jul 2012
Just wondering what thoughts users have of doing some of the harder scrambling routes solo and protecting a couple of bits using some long slings from a harness. I soloed Clogwyn Y Person Arete yesterday evening, but put harness on (in case I had to ab off for any reason), on a couple of sections where a slip would have left me in a mess, I managed to flip a long sling over a rock spike, which in theory would have helped protect me if I should have slipped on that particular move:

Now I expect responses saying that slings aren't dynamic and I shouldn't be soloing where i need protection etc. But would be interested to hear others views on doing this..

Thanks
stonemaster - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls: Understand what you are trying to say, more or less. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Well done.
cbonner - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

Of course you are right, slings are not dynamic - especially dyneema - and would almost certainly fail if you fell on it.

On easier ground, I would protect myself using a loop on rope tied on to my harness. The loop might be 5 meters in circumference or more. Place protection as you move and clip the rope loop as you go, when the rope loop runs out move back to the first piece of protection and remove it, then place another piece and repeat.

Obviously this method is very time consuming, but for short difficult sections its much better than a sling. Just carry a few nuts and slings for protection, and a short length of rope. I carry a 20m length or 9mm rope for this kind of terrain.

Hope thats useful. Be safe out there!
butteredfrog - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to cbonner:
> (In reply to bowls)
>
> Of course you are right, slings are not dynamic - especially dyneema - and would almost certainly fail if you fell on it.

Think the OP is talking about protecting a slip, not a 40" lob onto static gear.

Adam

Steeve - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:
for protecting a slip on a scramble, slings should be fine, I would have thought in reality you'd end up grabbing the sling, with your arms absorbing most of the shock.
bowls - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog:

Cheers for your answers, yes a typical scenario may be when traversing to have a look round a corner from a good stance with solid flake, but going round to very exposed ground, or in the case of yesterday on the awkward chimney, there was a small flake about 3m up it where I managed to get a long sling around it by flicking it over which would hopefully protect me if I were to slip back down the chimney/groove but more importantly stop me slipping off the ledge at the bottom of the groove onto a massive drop. In reality the slips are likely to be couple of metres and also scraping slips rather than swinging falls. It really is just precautionary really, but it is the consequence of falling a lot further which is the reason for using them. As another poster said I maybe better coiling the rope round my body and creating a larger loop on it rather than using slings. Either way I would normally be with a partner, but sometimes when the weather is good (Rare this year!) and you just want to get into the mountains then going solo is sometimes the only option!
Jim Walton on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls: There was a legendary climber in the Lake district call Bill Peascod. he did numerous first ascents in the Lake District mainly in the Buttermere Area (Eagle front etc). Now he often struggled to find people to climb/scramble with him so he developed a unique way of protecting his climbs when 'out on his own'; it went something like this...

Tie a suitable length of rope around your waist (no harnesses at this time), 15-20m. On the other free end of the rope tie a large knot, not as big a s a turks head but bigger than a figure of eight. Go climbing/scrambling.

If he fell off, he would hope that the knot would catch on something and hold his fall...

MFB - on 08 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

there are a number of options to reduce the loadings on your gear however the loadings, on any protection/sling system, will still be very high and may well rip protection or cause slings to fail

Dyneema sling straight to harness is probably going to fail, think a DMM video shows why (nylon is apparently better in this role)

Cows tails, attache 2 short lengths of climbing rope to your harness with
loosely tied but secure knots, both the rope and knots will absorb some energy under load

Adapt via ferrata kit - they incorperate a load limiting device however i don't know if the force will be reduced sufficiently to prevent failure

in addition add shock absorbing slings to the system

good luck
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

In the senario you have described in the OP I would be perfectly happy using your system, you are protecting a slip not a fall. However some posters seem to think you would be better off using a system like this:

http://tinyurl.com/c5fk535

Anything less is death on a stick! :P

Adam
stonemaster - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog:
>

That well known grit pioneer, Mr Brunel, no less...:) (Not)
nocker - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to MFB: Another vote for watching the eye-opening DMM video. It made me rethink about using a sling as a cow's tail at a belay stance !
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to nocker:

Which video? The only one I can find is the knotted dyneema testing vid. whilst an I opener to the dangers of knotting dyneema slings, they do conduct a factor 2 drop test on a stiched sling, which survives a 26KN shock loading fine.

Adam
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog: "eye" not "I"
fraserbarrett - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

A 50cm fall onto a sling can break it (see the dmm video already mentioned) and probably injure you in the process; so this is almost certainly just peace of mind protection.
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to fraserbarrett:

Which video? give me a link

Cheers Adam
nocker - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog: Search - "how to break nylon & Dyneema slings".
nocker - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to nocker: Adam, when you find it perhaps you could put up a better link !
NEClimber on 09 Jul 2012 - 31.111.10.111 whois?
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to nocker:

The DMM testing video I was referring to:

http://dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/knotting-dyneema-vid/

At about 5:40 shows testing of a stitched sling on the drop test rig.

Cheers Adam
Simon Caldwell - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to nocker:
> It made me rethink about using a sling as a cow's tail at a belay stance

Why?
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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Jul 2012

I'm not convinced the DMM video proves you could break a sling by falling 1.2m onto it. The test is not an exact analogue of a climber falling - the reason the force is so high is there is no elasticity in the system with a dyneema sling and a 70kg metal weight. But with a climber there is elasticity in the harness and the mass is a complex set of interconnected elements. A person wouldn't stop dead like a metal weight: arms, legs and head can move independently of the torso to a degree so the total time to decelerate would be longer and the forces on the sling correspondingly lower.

If you wanted to know if a sling would break if a person fell on it you'd need to use some kind of crash test dummy and a harness.

Not to say it's advisable to fall on a sling or you wouldn't get injured!
Offwidth - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Not convinced is hardly a good way to go... why not make up a rope sling which won't snap, won't break gear (as dynema might on a FF1) and is less likely to shock load and hurt you. Go to 11 mins in that video and look at the 60cm fall impact force results. As they rightly say for slings: "having slack in the system is bad news".
MG - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> Not convinced is hardly a good way to go... why not make up a rope sling which won't snap, won't break gear (as dynema might on a FF1) and is less likely to shock load and hurt you.

Because you have to carry it. Was wondering about this in the alps recently on walks to huts with lots of via ferratery ladders. Is clipping a sling a couple of rungs above you beneficial? On the plus side it would probably catch you if you slip, in which case a fall is likely to be a low FF slither, on the negative side it is a real faff and tangles, increasing the chances of slipping. We chose in the end to rope up properly or (more commonly) just solo.
Jack Gillespie - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls: If you are faffing about with gear more chance of an accident.Dont solo if you dont have a head for it.
Simon Caldwell - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> I'm not convinced the DMM video proves you could break a sling by falling 1.2m onto it.

If I fell 1.2m onto a static sling I'd be more worried about my pelvis than the sling.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]
>
> If I fell 1.2m onto a static sling I'd be more worried about my pelvis than the sling.

Yes, that's my thoughts. It would be like falling from 1.2m onto something hard and landing on your backside rather than your feet. Unpleasant, potential for damaging your back or pelvis but not likely to kill you.

Frogger - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

If you're no good at lassoing rock spikes, you could always try one of these

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Ninja-Folding-Grappling-Hook/dp/B0009PGVG8
Bruce Hooker - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to cbonner:

> Of course you are right, slings are not dynamic - especially dyneema - and would almost certainly fail if you fell on it.

I doubt this, have you tried to see if it is true or are you just repeating something people often say?
Kevin Woods - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to Frogger: I didn't know you actually bought those things
colina - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:
i generally use a 30m rope with an ice axe attached which i chuck up the route when scrambling .i sometimes shout "keep your f***ing heads down"to make fellow climbers aware im coming through ( this is good etiquitte on the crag) works for me
thommi - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog: 40" ain't that far dude. :-) 40' however.... :-)
butteredfrog - on 09 Jul 2012
In reply to thommi:

Spotted the deliberate mistake then! :)

At least someone is paying attention.

Adam
Offwidth - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Have you watched that DMM video? Another thing that forced me to rethink such activity was a recent demo by Dan Midlleton at a BMC Peak Area meeting where a sling extender rubbed on rock but looking OKish was weaker when tested than a sling cut 1/3 through.

The 'shock absorber effect' of a harness will probably mean a new dyneema sling will hold FF1 even though the normal attachment knot like a larks foot will weaken the sling; but who wants to guess in such circumstances? My strong advice is dont do it, and if you must, dont risk taking falls of FF1 and above (where your tie-in point goes above the placement) and use nylon, not dyneema (as its stonger and its elasticity reduces the impact force).
butteredfrog - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

Just a reminder guys, we are talking about protecting a slip while scrambling, not soloing on vertical ground.

Cheers Adam
cbonner - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to butteredfrog:

At the end of the day its down to the person, and if they feel comfortable using slings to protect a slip, then its their call.

It may not be vertical ground, but you can't predict all outcomes and scenarios.

I wouldn't call it good practice.
deepsoup - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> and use nylon, not dyneema (as its stonger and its elasticity reduces the impact force).

If you're going to do it, I'd have thought it'd make more sense to use a via ferrata lanyard and have some proper shock absorption in the system.
Ross McGibbon - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply:
Having read all the responses, it is clear most posters feel a sling cannot be relied on to take any shock-load at all. Since I might shift my weight on a belay and create some slack or grab a sling I was using as pro and they would clearly snap, I suggest we all throw our slings away.
Ramblin dave - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Ross McGibbon:
Yes, well done, that's exactly what people are saying. Ten out of ten for reading comprehension.
deepsoup - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Ross McGibbon:
> Having read all the responses, it is clear most posters feel a sling cannot be relied on to take any shock-load at all.

There's nothing magical about a "shock" load, its just a load that is transient, and relatively large. In all but the most unusual circumstances a sling can be relied on to take more than enough shock-load to rip the gear or break the climber's body. (So from that point of view you're right - it is silly to worry over much about breaking the sling.)

Its one thing not to lose sleep over the possibility of shifting about on a belay and introducing a bit of slack, its quite another to deliberately choose to introduce a *lot* of slack.

At the very least the OP could ditch the slings and make some dynamic rope cowtails instead. You can buy suitable rope by the meter and its not expensive (eg: http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Cord-Tape/Cord-by-the-Metre/9mm-Dynamic-Co... ). Barrel knots are good to hold a karabiner captive on the end of the rope and absorb a bit of shock if necessary.
Neil Williams - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Ross McGibbon:

Hardly, slings are fine if there is another dynamic element in the system, e.g. the rope.

Neil
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cbonner - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to deepsoup:

My thoughts exactly!
Ross McGibbon - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply:
I just feel this is another thread with alarmist stuff when people have been successfully using slings as single-move back ups for years and years.
Darkskys - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to colina:
> (In reply to bowls)
> i generally use a 30m rope with an ice axe attached which i chuck up the route when scrambling .i sometimes shout "keep your f***ing heads down"to make fellow climbers aware im coming through ( this is good etiquitte on the crag) works for me

Can't wait to try this method out...soloing up Tryfan and hooking onto a small family! Awesome!
Bruce Hooker - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

The video refers to a metal weight with rigid anchor in free fall so hardly relevant to this situation.

PS. For what it's worth I don't think the method or protecting scrambling with slings is a particularly good one but not because I think the slings would snap; IMO you scramble on easy ground which requires no protection, otherwise go with a partner and a rope.
JLS on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

>"I managed to flip a long sling over a rock spike, which in theory would have helped protect me if I should have slipped on that particular move"

The way I look at it is that a sling over a rock spike is not protection as such but a means of providing a good hand hold in a position that means a foot slip would never become a fall.
jamesofdeath - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls:

Are there are video's/diagrams on protecting a solo scramble? Be interested to see this in practice!
ben b - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to jamesofdeath: Rach and I once found a man attempting to aid Bryant's Gully. Jumars and all. He looked really embarrassed. We gently took the piss. He took it in good spirit and we spent a convivial hour with him chatting about the hills.

I would say he looked sheepish but given that we then used his rope to aid a tricky bit that would otherwise have involved standing in a decaying sheep - and then possibly falling onto the decaying sheep - that's not quite right. The implications of a fall (well, slide) of a couple of feet into a maggoty corpse were too awful to contemplate. He gently took the piss and we ended up having a most enjoyable day out.

Moral of the story: relax, and use a bit of rope if you want.

Re slings vs rope: a short length of dynamic rope retired from 'active service' (but still suitable for confidence and low fall factor situations) and a couple of slings sounds like the answer.

b



Euge - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to bowls: Excellent DMM video and certainly makes me want to go back to nylon :o)

However, I agree with most folk on here, the OP was referring to preventing a slip turning into a fall, or using a sling to extend a hand hold to aid progress... It's very handy if you need to retreat a bad step etc..

Still interesting debate though..

Cheers
E
Bossys gran - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Ross McGibbon: Watch the DMM video. I wouldn't have protected a single move with a sling before , I certainly wouldn't do it now. A FF2 on to a sling(especially dyneema) could have serious consequences. Personally I'm with the chap who said if u don't have the head for soloing scrambles .... Don't. How often do you see people soloing and protecting a scramble as being described?? Seems like a dangerous ,impractical pain in the arse.. IMHO.
bowls - on 11 Jul 2012
Thanks for all the input from everyone:

So the general consensus seems to be that a sling would probably protect a slip, but you wouldn't want to guarantee it, so if I am to employ this method use some small loops of dynamic rope.

With regards to not soloing if I don't feel comfortable, well I wouldn't start the route if I didn't feel comfortable on it, however any climber no matter how good is subject to external circumstances - rocks becoming loose, rock fall, changes in the weather etc, so I don't think it necessarily unwise to take a harness and some protection on harder scrambles. In addition to this there could be the requirement to remove rucksack, or even perhaps want to take a photo from a narrow ledge, so again in this circumstance it make be wise to secure oneself.

Just because an individual is bold, it doesn't necessarily mean they are at less risk of slipping, and for a few small sections of a route, I don't really see it as that much of a faff. Rock is sometimes suspect on scrambles, so what looks to be like an obvious hand hold just out of reach, sometimes may not be, so for a position of considerable exposure, if I can protect myself against a rock spike/handhold giving way/not being there then I don't see why not, it is far better than to end up dead at the foot of the route!

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