/ Knot the dead end of the rope!
Just a friendly reminder to everyone (can't hurt)
Had a close call today lowering off a sport route when my belayer ran out of rope. So remember to do your checks (rope/route length), double checks, and to knot the dead rope if not completely sure.
My belayer had climbed that route before on his rope with some friends and it was comfortably long enough, however he and his friends re-tie-in to the end of the rope when lowering, I tie in to the bight, so there was less rope than usual. This combined with probably a different belaying position (the ground is sloped) meant the rope went slack when I was about 10ft off the ground, fortunately I managed to leap away from the scramble start of the climb and land on a flat load of rocks, rather than tumbling.
A stupid mistake on both our parts. Very lucky just to have scrapes and bruises (left heel is quite bashed so got a bit of a hobble on but that's all).
I've been there also, so I'm sure have others. Good on you for having the guts to post it on a public forum, and thanks for the reminder.
This afternoon, I fell off trying to down climb the bouldery start to a local mixed route that wasn't really in condition. Fell a few metres ripped my one not very good runner, landed ok on the steep grass and snow bank below the vertical rock but fell down that bashing my head. Helmet fine and mainly snow and grass that I ended up nutting, but enough to give me a headache for a bit all the same. Also cut up my calf muscle with a crampon point and strained something in my back - but not hitting my head harder was probably the most important thing! Anyway, thought that might make you feel better. :) So yeah, knot in the end of your rope AND wear a helmet!
I thought you'd have to be an idiot to do this. Then I did it. - very similar circumstances. Glad you're OK and others take the advice rather than learning the hard way!
That's exactly what happened to the guy in this stretcher: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=218350
This kind of consequence free mini epic has superb value don't you think? Embrace it as a positive.
Had an X-Ray yesterday and no fractures, good stuff.
Have you told Rockfax?
Same goes for abbing... contrary to Peter Cliff's advice.
Lowering off is IMO worse as you just have to trust the belayer will notice. At least when abseiling you set your own pace and should be looking where you're going anyway.
Possibly. Though you'd bloody hope the belayer was keeping an eye on the remaining rope (certainly whenever I climb we have calls/signals for half way, 10m, 5m and 2m); especially when multi-pitching. I'd get pissed if I climbed past a ledge only to find I ran out of rope 5m later and the bloody belayer hadn't said!
But I have heard of one very experienced climber who abbed off an unknotted rope end. End of a long day when tired etc... it can happen.
I think in both cases it is equally important! Personally myself and partners tie in as a belayer as it means we're ready for seconding and stops the rope running though in case communication fails.
Thanks for this post. It is so easy to make assumptions (and in your case you were fairly justified!). It's not something that I've had to think about before as I don't really do long sport routes, but I'll start getting in the "knot the end of the rope" habit right now.
Just wondering how/why you would tie into a bight?
At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs...
Clip yourself to anchor somehow (a single draw will do, as you're going to remain on belay), pass bight through central ring, tie fig 8 in it, clip it to harness, undo original knot, lower. Makes sense to do that if you can, because you remain connected to at least two things at all times.
That's different though - the belayer can never not notice the end of the rope there and it won't (usually) have the same safety implications (why wouldn't you be tied to the rope after the first pitch on a multipitch?). Lowering off a sport route is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Yes, very different situation.
Exactly, I prefer this method when possible (sometimes the lower-off is too small to thread a bight through). Two attachment points all the time.
ok now i get it.....worth noting that an extra metre or two of rope can make all the difference.
Thats clearly not true. When abbing you can see whether the rope reaches the ground. When lowering off you have no way of knowing beforehand.
Happens to the best of us:
In reply to Graham D:
Not necesarily, eg if the route starts as an overhang then finishes as a slab.
Sweeping statement there! Overhang... yes. But on a slabby face or something with foliage the rope doesn't usually just go straight down.
On two occasions I've abbed from somewhere thinking it will just reach the bottom or a point (estimating because there was too much vegetation for a smooth rope) only to find I was short and had to place gear and do a quick abb using one side ofhthe rope doubled (well one it was above the bottom, not a pitch, so down climbed and then jumped).
So are you seriously suggesting that you don't bother tieing knots in the end while abbing??
I never do when abbing (use a prussick), but would do so when lowering if there was any doubt.
I find this surprising, a prussick wouldn't help if you abbed off the end! I've read too many accounts of climbers falling a long way after doing this.
I don't knot the ends when abseiling as a rule either, because of the tangles that almost always form.
People lowering off the end of the rope always surprises me - I am aware when a pitch is long enough to be close to half a rope length, if I think it might be close, I always alert the 2nd too. The rope is usually tied into the rope-sheet as a back-up anyway,
I've done it too in similar circumstances. I had a very lucky cuts and bruises landing between a lot of pointy things!
These often seem to occur when there are several people involved and something a little unusual is going on - maybe a time to be extra alert?
Same here. All 3 of us who climb regularly here have 80m ropes, there is alway a knot in the dead end. I sometimes root around under the rope to find the end and make sure.
Quite a few 35/40m pitches around here especially at St Julien.
A Prusik on a leg loop, and the belay device on an extender so it's so much higher than the Prusik, would SLIGHTLY help, as hopefully at the time the Prusik scoots off the end of the rope (and is hopefull NOTICED by the abseiler!), the belay device is still some distance from the end of the rope, and the abseiler will have time to lock off and start dealing with the situation. Obviously this is not as good as just having a knot in the end of the rope.
Don't be daft, the abseiler's hand will be pushing the prussik down, so the moment it comes off the end the abseiler will have nothing to hold unless they happened to be using two hands on the dead rope.
A very good point and well made. Thank you. I shall consider switching things around so that my PRUSIK is extended ABOVE the belay. I can then picture my right hand controlling the dead rope and my left hand pushing the Prusik down. Then in the case of the belay device coming off the end of the rope it would a) be more noticeable and b) leave me still having to put real effort in to descending, and obviously that effort would cease as soon as I react (panicked or not) to the situation. Hands free, I am still secure. Might try this out (sounds a faff though...)
Or put a knot in the end of the rope before throwing it down
No more sweeping than always tie a knot in (sub text irrespective of the situation you are actually in). Of course tie a knot if there is any doubt, but why risk the danger of eg forgetting to untie it and getting your rope stuck if you don't need to.
The important thing is to evaluate each case as you find it - not to get dogmatic about it.
Yup, I was swinging from route to route stripping clips from 2 lines when I took my tumble. I'd changed ropes and tied in at about 10-15m from the end of the new rope for some reason, convenience/laziness probably. Nobody, me included spotted the significance.
I had addressed that in my slightly earlier email where I said "Obviously this is not as good as just having a knot in the end of the rope.". I didn't deem it worth repeating so soon afterward; I thought it went without saying.
That's not nearly as good. The prussik should be below the descender as then it has little load to hold to be able to lock you off... ie. The small force your hand applies. When it's above it has to carry your whole weight which means more chance of slip (maybe even melt) if there is a slight shock load due to a little slack.
Thanks! Maybe I just won't abseil any more :-)
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