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Topic - Ascending and descending ropes -- prusik alternatives

Flashy - on 01 Feb 2014

I teach crevasse rescue to a team that is in the position of only ever rescuing victims who are unequipped with ropes, harnesses etc. So one member of the rescue team always has to descend into the crevasse to take a harness, helmet etc.

At the moment I have them ascending and descending with prusiks as it's easy to transition back and forth between ascent and descent. The safety prusik for abseiling becomes the foot prusik, and an additional one is added above the belay plate. Then if they have to transition back to abseiling then they can lower themselves gently back onto the belay plate by loosening the prusik.

However, I've noticed a lot of people, especially heavy ones, struggle with the top prusik and I'd like to experiment with a mechanical alternative. Something like a Jumar is no good because it is toothed and they can't lower themselves down the rope again to weight the belay plate when transitioning back to descending.

Does anyone have experience of equipment that might be suitable? A mechanical ascender that can be slid back down the rope if required. I wondered about a Grigri or similar but haven't used one for 15 years and thought there is probably something new out there that may be better. I've done a search on some caving sites as I thought they'd be likely places, but haven't found anything right yet. Any advice appreciated!
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