/ Via Ferrata fall safety: new self-belay device

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kenr 29 Jun 2019

Key danger with climbing a VF route with a normal Via Ferrata kit used in the normal way ... is that if actually take a fall, the climber will fall down to below the recent cable-attachment post -- which could be a long distance. In theory the shock absorber of a normal VF kit ought to handle the "fall factor" of the impact on the lanyard and harness and climber's pelvis and spine -- but even so there's the problem of hitting external objects on such a long fall, like protruding rocks, VF fixed hardware, and even the VF cable attachment post.

Of course having a Lead partner above with a rope attached to climber and belay device does address this, but one of the attractions of VF climbing is being able to move at your own pace.

A very good device to self-belay climbing VF without a partner is the Skylotec Skyrider, with works sort of like a Top-Rope-solo device, but on 10 mm steel cable (except it does not self-feed as well as some TR-Solo devices). So the distance of fall is kept rather short (which allows the climber to play with more difficult interesting moves).

Big problem is that the Skylotec Skyrider is not available any more.
So I decided to try instead a Petzl Rescucender, which is designed for12 mm ropes.

Today I used it for climbing on VF Gorges du Durance. Immediately on reaching the start of the VF cable, it passed the first key Test: I could get it onto and then off from 10 mm steel cable. Then passed the second Test: I could slide it upward while it was attached to the cable.
Critical third test: When I yanked downward on the attached Rescucender, it immediately grabbed and held on the cable. I put full body weight on it, not problem.

Then still easy to remove after yanking or full-body-weight.

I used it more and more confidently in my actual climbing. On the final 300 ft upward exit I climbed it about 98% "free" with hands and feet directly on the rock, using the fixed hardware (and steel cable) for Protection only, not Aid. Including some "free" rock moves at difficulty Euro 6a -- relying on the Rescucender to keep possible fall distance short.

Drawback: So far I do not know how to (reliably) remove or attach the Rescucender to the 10 mm steel cable without using two hands. (Unlike the Skylotect Skyrider which is designed for one-handed attachment+removal).

Ken

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jimtitt 29 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

The Skyrider was replaced by the Rider 3.0 in 2017

badmarmot 29 Jun 2019
kenr 29 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

Thanks very much!

That's so much better than my attempt to find a non-purpose-intended alternative.

Don't know why I couldn't find the Rider on the Skylotec website when I looked a while ago -- maybe they were "in between" products.

Post edited at 18:55
jayjackson 29 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

Sounds like you have been pointed towards a suitable alternative. 

Personally I would be very cautious using a device designed for use on ropes on a cable, having seen the damage done to light-weight karabiners and pulleys (designed for ropes) after misuse on cables!

Interested to know if your rescucender shows much wear?  

beardy mike 30 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

This is a terrifically bad idea on many levels. I really wish mods would remove posts like this openly advocating things which are utterly untested, the forum is read by hundreds of thousands of people. How would you feel if someone used your technique and died? Weighting it and giving it a good old tug and then declaring it fit for purpose is simply not good enough. What you do on your own time in an attempt to earn a Darwin award is up to you. Unfortunately it's now in the ether and will remain so for good...

Post edited at 07:50
flour 30 Jun 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

 The technical advice specifically shows a graphic showing not for use on cable. Agree that mods should remove the op

kenr 30 Jun 2019
In reply to flour:

>  The technical advice specifically shows a graphic showing not for use on cable. Agree that mods should remove the op

Thanks for that careful response and warning.

Unfortunatelely the forum software does not permit me to Remove or edit my original post myself. If you or some forum expert can arrange it, I do gladly agree to its Removal.

Ken

flour 30 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

Just glad you didn't test it for real!

Neil Williams 30 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

> Thanks for that careful response and warning.

> Unfortunatelely the forum software does not permit me to Remove or edit my original post myself. If you or some forum expert can arrange it, I do gladly agree to its Removal.

You could hit the Report button and ask the mods to remove?

Jamie Wakeham 30 Jun 2019
In reply to kenr:

I'd argue the thread should remain. It's no longer dangerous in itself, because anyone reading it will understand very quickly that this isn't a safe thing to do. 

But the next time someone has the same brainwave and has a go at googling for it, there's a fair chance they will find this thread, which might stop them from proceeding with their plan!

Post edited at 17:23

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