/ Purcell Prussik
If so, what for? How has it fared? What size and type of cord do you use? (i'm told 7mm dynamic is best) Does it have any place in british trad? What is its value when faced by more european "double bolt" belay anchors?
I've used one in mountain rescue stuff, where it's really useful to be able to easily adjust length of attachment to stretcher, etc.
Interesting use of a prusik.
seem that it can be used as an adjustable and dynamic way of clipping to anchors when used in climbing situations
or to clip to ascenders and use in rescue situation. It does seem to have limitations IMHO and as its just looped through a krab some care needs to taken when using it.
Some of the benefits described as to shock loading seem a little redundant if you use a rope to clip into belays(as one should)rather the more lazy sling method.
I am not too sure about it to be honest seems that it is a little work in some situation but not in others kind of knot and in reality probably has limited use when climbing with mates. However when taking clients it may be a use way of clipping them to a belay. (although I tend to use ropes as this is a better method and when guiding its all about teaching the best thing to do)
So in short I am not sure and will need to play with it. Doubt I will use it when climbing with mates however. As its just another piece of gear to lug around when you could whip one up on the spot with a long standard prussic anyway.
>rope to clip into belays
That doesn't work for bolted belays surely? Think of it as a dynamic cows tail so if your foot were to slip, you wouldn't shock load an entirely static system with dyneema in the system. So for this reason.
Assuming they're seconding and you're leading multipitch, and then continuing to lead rather than swing, it seems an alternative to "clove hitch to this biner", though not forward thinking for when they're leading I guess.
you should be able to clip to a bolted belay with it on a sport route, I would have thought.
really belays should be tight at all times anyway so ' if your foot slips' it wouldn't be dynamic anyway, but point taken.
Yeh you are right in the taking client, if I were in 'guiding' mode i.e. not teaching i might use it, but to be honest clove hitching to biner is just as quick and less to go wrong via muppetry from the client.
Seems to me it a solution to a problem that has many solutions. I will probably keep to my following principles.
Keep the amount of kit to teh minimum
every bit of kit has a multitude of purposes
Keep belays rock tight and always dynamic rope in the system.
Have a long prussic as well as 2 short so you can do just about anything when its hits the fan
Not so easy if one happens to be using one's rope for abseiling at the time.
This is true. Probably the only situation where it is the best option. in case of ' I am not keeping myself tight on my cow's tail and their is slack, my foot slips and i load the cows tail.'
Of course one can remedy this by making sure the cows tail is loaded by sitting on it.
As i said before it seems to be a solution for lazyness, rather than a solution for good practise.
i use one all the time as a cowstail. would never intentionally fall on it but who would want to fall on a regular dynnema cowstail or daisy chain...you just clip into your anchor, slide the prussik to remove any slack and your done. mines made of 6mm static cord but as i said i treat it more like a daisy chain than anything else.
> Of course one can remedy this by making sure the cows tail is loaded by sitting on it.
> As i said before it seems to be a solution for lazyness, rather than a solution for good practise.
Do you find your cowstails are always the right length for comfort/ideal placement?
I'm not disagreeing about your points on shock loading/weighting.
But, I've never found a gear placement in just the right place and think an adjustable cowstail is a good idea. Get to the stance, place a piece of gear, clip the cowstail, adjust, all whilst maintaining a comfortable stance. Then build the rest of your anchor. Or am I the only one that does this? Yeah, you can do it with cowstails and rope but at the top of a long or pumpy pitch I'm usually grateful to get something clipped right away!
That's what I like about climbing though. Lots of different ways of doing things, you can cherry-pick the ones that suit/work for you - just don't let anyone from UKC see you, otherwise the pics will be plastered over the web before you've got back to the car ;)
for anyone that's interested, you can buy 7mm dynamic prussik cord from here:
This is kinda what I mean; sure, you can double the cowstail up and hang, but that doesn't always make for the most comfortable stance.
I look at it this way:
I need a cow's tail of some kind for multipitch abseils.
In any situation where I might be doing multiple abseils I'll definitely have two things with me:
(1) some dyneema slings, because these are what I use for climbing.
(2) some 6/7mm cord in case I need to make impromptu ab anchors.
Either of these will suffice as a cow's tail. The slings give me almost no margin of error for carelessness about where I stand on the belay ledge, so tying the few metres of cord that I am carrying anyway into a purcell prusik instead seems like a good idea.
Alternatively I could carry a nylon sling specifically for use as a cow's tail as it's a little more forgiving than a dyneema sling, but then that's an extra piece of otherwise superfluous gear.
The most basic question is, do you need a lanyard when climbing?
If you are (multipitch) abseiling then yes, one is absolutely essential. In all other normal UK climbing scenarios, no you probably don't NEED one, although that doesn't mean it might not be useful.
So, when abseiling, is a dynamic lanyard better than a static one? The answer is again yes and given that at least one alpinist has died after shock loading an abseil anchor when using a static lanyard, there is a decent argument in their favour. So that begs the question is a Purcell Prusik the best option for multipitch abseils? The answer is no, it isn't very good. If you want a dynamic lanyard for abseiling then the (non-adjustable) Beal Dynaconnexion would be better as that's what it was designed for.
So, let us consider other potential uses in the UK. We don't really have any multi-pitch sport or big wall climbing in the UK, so I think it would be fair to discount them. That leaves:
- single-pitch trad climbing
- multi-pitch trad climbing
- single pitch sport climbing
- winter climbing
For single pitch climbing they are clearly not needed. Also, for multi-pitch alternate leading there is no need for a lanyard as it is straight-forward to use the rope(s) to build belays. When it comes to block leading the situation is worthy of some more thought. However, even here I can see no need for a lanyard.
In single pitch sport climbing there is a need for some sort of attachment in order to re-thread lower offs. That said, the vast majority of the top UK sport climbers who I've have climbed with all tend to use a chain of quickdraws which suggests they believe that it's a good enough option. Some climbers have a static sling (or Metolius PAS) permanently on their harness but I think it's a distinctly poor idea, so a dynamic Purcell is perhaps a step forward. However, in terms of usability a Purcell would likely be poorer. A normal dynamic rope cowstail (Fig-8 on harness + barrel knot on krab) or a Beal lanyard is far easier to use. So again, I see no reason to use a Purcell over any other options.
Now, what about Winter? Here, I can see no reason why I would do things differently at belay stances from normal rock climbing, so again cannot see a role for a Purcell.
Finally, what about instructing/guiding? Well I can certainly think of numerous scenarios in addition to multi-pitch abseiling when lanyards might be used:
- when rigging on the top of cliffs
- when jugging such as when teaching leading
- when doing other advanced instruction (e.g. improvised rescue training)
However, I fail to see a situation where the Purcell will clearly outperform either a standard dynamic rope cows tail or a Beal Dynaconnexion.
Anyway, I'd still be interested in hearing if anyone else things there is a 'killer app' where the Purcell is the best option.
Can you elaborate on why a sling permanantly (larks foot?) attached to the harness is a bad idea? Does a daisy fall into this category as well? Thanks.
> In any situation where I might be doing multiple abseils I'll definitely have two things with me:
> (1) some dyneema slings, because these are what I use for climbing.
> (2) some 6/7mm cord in case I need to make impromptu ab anchors.
> Either of these will suffice as a cow's tail. The slings give me almost no margin of error for carelessness about where I stand on the belay ledge, so tying the few metres of cord that I am carrying anyway into a purcell prusik instead seems like a good idea.
Having tied and used purcell prussiks I don't fancy your chances of tying one on a belay stance when presumably you are not attached to a belay. Are you going to tie it at the top before you set off or wing it?
Surely it'll be easier to have the prussik made up and chop it up if required?
I carry one when doing via ferratas. Great for engineering an instant comfy rest stop when there is a queue ahead.
String of quickdraws vs a sling doubled through harness loops to a screwgate?
I can't see your logic of crapping on the second and going for the first? There's no dynamic element in three quickdraws snapped together?
Hardly. I'd say they're rarely used by climbers and are somewhat more popular with canyoneers. They are adjustable, but much less so than a daisy chain or PAS-style tether. (Sliding the knot adjusts from full-length to half length, and chain-style tethers can shorten up considerably more than that.)
Their only real advantage over nylon chain-style tethers is that you can cut them up for rappel slings.
It's nice to learn something new - thanks for posting. Going to have a play with one and see if it might be of use to me
The most obvious issue is that falling on a static lanyard with any slack is a BAD idea. It is doubly so if it is a knotted sling as the DMM video shows. In many situations, a 9mm dynamic rope lanyard is cheaper, safer and easier to use if a permanent lanyard is wanted.
It is not exactly comparable but after slipping when clipped directly to a 60cm x 12mm dyneema sling around a spike and cutting 3/4 of the way through it, I am now very wary of any climbing situation where there is no dynamic component involved.
Admittedly, IF someone ALWAYS manages to stay tight on a sling when using it and they regularly remove and inspect it, then there is no great issue. However, that is a very big IF.
First, it is extremely hard to avoid situations where slack develops. I failed in the situation mentioned above.
Second, it is just human nature that if someone has a lanyard permanently available they will tend to use it more. This means that I regularly see climbers who should know better, using sling lanyards (and in the past daisy chains) in inappropriate situations. As such, either having no lanyard or a dynamic lanyard would be preferable as it would prevent these potentially dangerous short cuts.
However, what really concerns me is that a fraction of climbers I see with a sling attached to their harness (often novice sport climbers) are completely oblivious to the risks of using it incorrectly. They have a sling attached because they have climbed with, or observed other climbers who have slings on their harnesses and have just copied them.
As such (and I accept this applies more to instructors than other climbers) even if you are using your sling/daisy safely it may potentially influence others to be more likely to make potential mistakes.
I regularly use a larksfooted sling when abseiling but just don't think there is anything to be gained from ever putting one on my harness permanently.
> Surely it'll be easier to have the prussik made up and chop it up if required?
> I can't see your logic of crapping on the second and going for the first? There's no dynamic element in three quickdraws snapped together?
There's no dynamic element in a sling either. However, using quickdraws offers an advantage in that you can adjust the length somewhat by using 1,2 or 3, whereas that is not possible with a sling unless you knot it, which in turn weakens it.
It is not entirely objective, but when watching climbers thread sport lower-offs when clipped in with a sling, I occasionally see some end up with slack in the sling from the this lack of adjustability. Conversely that is something I rarely see when someone is hanging off a couple of quickdraws.
My previous post explains my wider arguments against having slings permanently fitted, but fundamentally I just don't see the point of adding an extra piece of gear when using quickdraws works extremely well.
Just to muddy the waters further, what is the general consensus on the Kong Slyde?
I saw a few lads using them in France and hear of them being popular in Spain for sport climbing.
i started to use a purcell prussik 3 seasons ago. i imagine that from this point on in my climbing life, i will always have one on my harness.
a metolius PAS or sterling Chain Reactor is probably a tiny bit better as a cows tail, but the cost difference is significant. In an emergency you have extra cord that the PAS cannot provide
i use a 7mm cord. you need to soften it up the cord a bit since you need it to bite into itself -- brand new cord doesnt do it so well.
you need to cinch it very tight if you want that knot to stay put, give it a good strong pull to make sure the friction engages. Again it is because you are using a 7mm cord to prussik onto a 7mm cord.
I have seen set ups that use 2 separate pieces of cord (one is smaller). I have never used this system.
on bolted anchors i simply clip into one bolt, then use the rope for the other bolt.
on ice, ill do the same
on full trad anchors ill use the rope to clip into a power point.
i dont build anchors from just the rope, the potential faff if i need to escape the system is not worth it to me.
i dont tend to extend my device while abseiling, but the purcell gives you this option. Again make sure that the prussik is fully engaged or risk the device sliding up and further away from you.
in theory all cowstails should be weighed with no extension... but we all know once in a while some slack might happen as people move around and shuffle on a belay ledge. The purcell is more likely to survive any kind of a slip since the knot should slip a little bit.
on multipitches where i need to abseil off... a cowstail is needed anyway. a PAS is good.... a sling works... draws in a pinch.... or a purcell
im quite happy with a purcell
Thanks, but I am already aware of shock loading static slings. My question was more to do with why not permanently have a sling attached.
Thanks for your detailed reply.
I use a sling or daisy (depending on what I have with me) when faffing at the top of sport climbs. I will always be sitting on the sling/daisy so I honestly can't see the problem. If I was just a sport climber I would see no problem with permanently having a sling or daisy attached to my harness. You seem to not think this, or at least that's the impression I got.
In hindsight, I guess your comment was regarding not having one permanently attached, assuming that one is not solely a sport climber?
I started using a daisy for multipitch trad anchors, simply because when climbing with (relative) beginners we'd often take a look at the next pitch together and then decide who would lead it. Not being attached by ropes is a large advantage in that situation. Using a sling is simple, but a daisy is more versatile due to it's easy length adjustment. Obviously if it is used 'correctly'. I then veered away from the daisy to simplify things, and now the person I climb with has more confidence there is less faff deciding who will lead or not, so I use the rope more. The idea of the Purcell interests me, but I can't work out the benefits over a daisy just yet. I think I'll give it a go.
I completely agree with your sentiments about people not using slings or a daisy correctly though. It's scary to watch.
> on ice, ill do the same
> on full trad anchors ill use the rope to clip into a power point.
in this situation i think that the gear with the sling will take more load, as the rope is dynamic. the 'power point' loaded quite lightly. I think as you have a loaded sling straight to your harness. escaping this system is not that easy; and may require a haul, or a knife.
Escaping a full rope belay is easy. and requires a sling a prussic and about 2 mins. If you need to rescue and stuff it takes a we bit longer but its is not difficult.
I am goingt o stick to my dynmaic belays, using the rope. they are easily adjusted and stronger.
As to the purcell, I need to have a play and see how many times I actually use it compared to the pain of it jumbling on my hardness before I decide.
Thanks for your reply again Engi, but I think my point got lost.
As a side-note, you do not need to knot the sling to attach it; just double it through your harness (belay or tie in as per) and clip both ends through a screwgate. However, yes, I understand that the more adjustable your tether, the less likely you are to shock load it. Therefore, an unadjustable sling is worse than a few quickdraws in terms of safety.
Both of these are worse than a dynamic lanyard, of which a purcell prussik represents one option that happens to be useful in other places (though not absolutely optimal, except in sport multipitch) - for three reasons I see.
1) Dynamic, so NO worry of shock loading
2) Connected it with a screwgate
3) Weight (and COST!) vs that of of n+1 quickdraws. Even more if you want to oppose them to counteract point 2). Assuming I have classic sport quickdraws.
I suppose also, how are you to know how many draws you will need at the bottom of the climb? What if the stance is not easy to see - you could be clipping the chains at head height or more?
So in the end, my options are to;
1) Take a sling, double it, and stress about shock load.
2) Take five extra quickdraws (550g, dmm alpha sport)
3) Take a purcell
4) Buy a dynamic rope lanyard
1) is dangerous, 2) is heavy and expensive, 4) is expensive and not adjustable depending on the stance, and 3) Well, it almost seems sensible now, no?
Unless I'm missing a 5), and I open the floor to all possibility that I am.
On deeper consideration you may be able escape using a similar system to rope belays. Need to have a play in the real world rather han my head to see how effectively easy it would be.
5, It a dangling bit of tat that can snarl on your quick draws.
Plus i am not sure its really designed to belay off, more a self preservation thing. I may be wrong though.
use it then judge it. if you need a cowtail, it is hard to beat for the cost. the drawback is that it is bulkier than a sling.
the one on my harness is a near permanent fixture, even if im just cragging on bolts -- gives me an immediate hard point if i need to dog up something
I intend too.
if you want the best of all worlds, get yourself a metolius PAS
costs about 10 times more than the cord you will use for the purcell
wont handle a shock load as well as a purcell in theory
cant be chopped up and used as tat in an emergency
a bit more "adjustable"
can easily be used as part of your anchor since it allows multiple attachment points
you can use it to extend your abseil device and a cowtail at the same time (possibly its most significant advantage over a purcell)
I bought something similar about 6 years ago, used it once now its in teh cupboard.
useful when teaching abseiling that's about it I found.
Like most things there is several ways of doing the something.
I will stick to my long prussic I think, I can knock up a Pursell on route easy enough and i can use it for a million other things including, a dog lead.
It's just personal, I have tried a number of these 'lanyard' things in the past and they all get binned eventually.
On the other hand I did think about putting a 'bungy' style sleeve liek those found on axe lanyards around the pursell prussic to remove the tangling possibility, and any accidental krab mis-clips. again need to play.
I don't know about you, but when I sport climb we always have everyone but the last climber lower, or top-rope if working the route, from quickdraws so they are invariably already in place.
To lower (or top-rope) we put a single draw on one bolt and two draws on the second bolt as a back-up as that generally works better than an 'equalised' draw arrangement.
That means the draws needed to thread are already there. The last climber clips the single draw to finish the route, they can then yard up on it and clip the two draws into their harness. That works about 99% of the time. If for any reason it doesn't, the 3 quickdraws are sufficient to sort things out. [Just to clarify your issue about anchors above head height from an obvious rest, you just pull yourself up and clip in as you'd do if the 'rest' didn't exist.]
It is probably worth also explaining the methods I/we use when re-threading to avoid any further confusion.
Where appropriate I'll generally pull a bight of rope through the anchor, tie a fig-8 on the bight and screwgate that to my harness belay loop and then untie my original knot. If the bolts are too small to feed a bight of rope through, I'll pull up slack, tie a fig-8 on the bight and screwgate that to my belay loop as a back-up and so I can't drop the rope. I'll then untie, thread and the re-tie. If I'm worried about being short of rope or if stripping the route is going to involved vast amounts of gymnastics I'd use the second method so I'm lowering on a standard knot rather than a screwgate on a bight 2m from the end of the rope.
It is probably worth pointing out that both methods ensure I am always securely attached to the rope as a back-up so there is no issue, that I can see, with just being connected to the anchor by a single snapgate.
Anyway hope that makes sense.
Loads of the people I climb with use a Purcell, mainly because they don't have the cash for a PAS, they're mostly yank or Canadian. In my opinion, all of these specific use contraptions merely provide distraction and clutter to those who prefer pointless gadgets to simplicity :-)
Makes me wonder how I´ve gone through 4 decades of climbing without ever seeing a Purcell Prussik.
I use one of these, made from 6 mm tat - picked off the idea from a friend, didn't know it had a name.
I've found it really useful for multipitches and suchlike, particularly in Winter - letting people move past you at belays etc. Highly recommend it instead of a sling cow's tail.
> I started using a daisy for multipitch trad anchors, simply because when climbing with (relative) beginners we'd often take a look at the next pitch together and then decide who would lead it. Not being attached by ropes is a large advantage in that situation. Using a sling is simple, but a daisy is more versatile due to it's easy length adjustment.
You are still better off using your rope to extend to the belay on a clove hitch, then you have all the flexibility you need and its part of the dynamic system. That's not the same as building the anchor using rope, which is the issue you're referring to.
> Makes me wonder how I´ve gone through 4 decades of climbing without ever seeing a Purcell Prussik.
Jim, you need to get out more. .)
> If so, what for? How has it fared? What size and type of cord do you use? (i'm told 7mm dynamic is best) Does it have any place in british trad? What is its value when faced by more european "double bolt" belay anchors?
I've been using one a lot of late on long routes, just for fun. Assuming you want to use a lanyard it has several advantages. It is free and weightless. This is because you make it from the ab tat you would be carrying anyhow. It also does up nice and tight around your waist when not in use. This means it gets much less in the way than a cows tail. It works really well.
> Jim, you need to get out more. .)
Maybe it´s just the people I climb with, they are more likely to associate Purcell with baroque music than a bit of string:-)
we use them in mountain rescue for quickly adjusting your position to safely move around when using a crag top safety line
They're great fun for Knott geeks to play with, the ones that claim that they can tie any knot behind their back, in a pub, after a few pints, with gloves on - go on have a go ... you know you want to try !!
But the secret, especialy if you have a few to make, is to use a toilet roll or kitchen towel roll tube.... let you work out the rest
The Purcell's is 45 minute drive west of where I am sitting and you seldom if ever see it around here. The first time I saw one on a climbers harness was this winter with a client from the US who learnt it from a guide in colorado. He was using it to clip in on rap. I didn't really like that he was using it but that may be just because I don't do it that way. Over complicated and not really necessary.
Rescue work is where it shines and is a good thing to know but it really has no place in my personal or professional climbing.
"Americans go crazy for them?" Really? I'm a Yank and I've never seen one.
My $0.02 - while at a belay, tie in with the rope and a clove hitch - nothing is faster, safer, and it is adjustable. The Purcell Prussik would be nice while rappelling (abseiling to you limeys), but who wants to carry another piece of cord, and have to tie it every time you rap? I'll stick with my slings and be sure not to fall.
> My $0.02 - while at a belay, tie in with the rope and a clove hitch - nothing is faster, safer, and it is adjustable. The Purcell Prussik would be nice while rappelling (abseiling to you limeys), but who wants to carry another piece of cord, and have to tie it every time you rap? I'll stick with my slings and be sure not to fall.
Agree completely. But you have to admit, fancy PAS type nonsense and monkey fist of cordelette are not uncommonly seen hanging from people's harnesses over there (here actually, greetings from Vancouver). The Purcell is just another one of these, I've seen a fair few of them in Squamish. Freedom of the Hills might be to blame.
(The part I don't like is it's junk on my harness, it lives girth hitched there)
It has its uses, for cleaning sports anchors, extending my abseil device so my prussik can't hit it, anchoring me to an upward pull piece.
It costs money and I don't need it. But on the scheme of my unnecessary rack costs....I probably didn't need the second set of cams I just bought.
 Didn't todd skinner die that way?!! YERRR GONNA DIE
 Girth hitching dyneema to nylon?!!!! YERRRRRRRRR SO GONNA DIEEEEE
>and have to tie it every time you rap?
Yeah, that part sucks. Hence why I'd have it already tied and ready to use ;)
If you are going to have an installed tether, the Purcell prussik is an inferior solution because of its limited adjustability. But much of the discussion denigrating such tethers appears to be unaware of all their uses and just focuses on rappel anchoring.
The primary application of such tethers is to (long) multipitch trad climbing.
1. When the leader reaches a stance and places the first piece of the anchor, they can clip to it with the tether and call off belay without pulling an armload of slack through the belayer's device. Then they can finish building the belay anchor while the second is getting everything ready for following.
2. I don't believe in using such tethers as the primary anchor connection and assume the second is connected to the anchor with the rope, but also have their tether clipped to one piece (with slack in it). When the leader calls off belay, the second can disassemble all but one piece of the anchor and unclip the rope from everything. When the leader is on belay, the second unclips the tether and only has one piece to remove. This part of a system in which the second is always ready to climb immediately as soon as the leader calls on belay.
3. When the second arrives at the belay, they immediately clip their tether to the belay anchor and are off belay, ready to start the gear handover. The belayer can just drop the belay and pick it up again when the second takes off leading the next pitch. The combined efficiencies of (1), (2), and (3) can save a good amount of time over, say, twelve pitches of climbing.
4. Sometimes, the second will need two hands to work on a recalcitrant nut or cam, and the rock does not provide a no-hands stance. Hanging with tension from the rope can be very problematic, either because of rope stretch or communication with an out-of-sight belayer. It is usually better, if possible, to place another piece (cleaned previously) and hang from it while working on the stuck piece. Having an installed tether ready to go makes this simple, but the tether needs to be very adjustable and easy to deploy. A Purcell prussick really stinks at this application; it isn't adjustable enough to begin with and it is really hard to adjust while you are hanging from it.
5. If the weather turns bad or a pitch exceeds the leader's ability, improvised aid may become necessary. Again, the lack of adjustability in a Purcell prussik makes it far less useful than a PAS or daisy.
7. Installed tethers have the minor rappel advantages already mentioned.
8. If the party moves over ground either simultaneously or unroped, having an installed tether is a considerable advantage.
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