UKC

/ That scary Beal Escaper thing...

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davidbeynon on 06 Feb 2018

It was supposed to be hitting the shops around now.  Does anyone know if it is available in the UK yet?

I'm quite keen to take a look at one.  If I can convince myself that it is safe to use then it would save me quite a bit of weight on a trip I have planned later in the year.

DWS gibraltar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

I won't be  using one!  Looks like it could be tricky if it goes wrong. 

Luke90 on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to DWS gibraltar:

> Looks like it could be tricky if it goes wrong. 

And the UKC award for "understatement of the year" goes to DWS Gibraltar.

davidbeynon on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Luke90:

A politer response than I was expecting to be honest

Hardonicus - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

Having watched this video https://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=3703

I can confidently say - fcuk that!

Steve Hayward - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

Oddly made me think of this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTcBWo4Aj0g

Am sure Beal have done some research, but this seems one step up from ab-ing off on a Highwaymans Hitch... Er,  BOLD.

cb294 - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

You could always ask Chris Tan Death Products for a tip how to make a home brew version!

CB

Greasy Prusiks on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to DWS gibraltar:

I'd imagine the straws are being drawn in the UKC offices as we speak for who gets the honour of doing a full review. 

Andy Hardy on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

> It was supposed to be hitting the shops around now.  Does anyone know if it is available in the UK yet?

> I'm quite keen to take a look at one.  If I can convince myself that it is safe to use then it would save me quite a bit of weight on a trip I have planned later in the year.


A particularly useful weight saving if you're not bothered if it's your final journey or not I'd say

Andy DB on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

I found this video https://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=3701

Where at 1.39 the bloke demonstrating this marvelous product ties a knot in it, presumably because he is worried about falling to his death but also making it no longer releasable. 

My gut instinct says this may never be a great seller for Beal!

nniff - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

It looks like a brilliant idea to me, and no worse in concept than bending a rope around a bit of alloy and trusting someone to hold the end to stop you hitting the ground.  If you're from the 'kick and fly' school of abbing it's probably not for you, and not sure if it would work in one of those distressed, lashing it down with rain type abseils, when the elastic might not be strong enough to counter the weight of the rope, which appears to be necessary for it to work.  ideal for places like the Verdon gorge I'd have thought, but it would make the abs even more invigorating.

davidbeynon on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy DB:

I took that to be a backup that would be removed by the last person down.  If that is the case they did a terrible job of explaining it though.

 

humptydumpty - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to nniff:

> It looks like a brilliant idea to me, and no worse in concept than bending a rope around a bit of alloy and trusting someone to hold the end to stop you hitting the ground.  If you're from the 'kick and fly' school of abbing it's probably not for you, and not sure if it would work in one of those distressed, lashing it down with rain type abseils, when the elastic might not be strong enough to counter the weight of the rope, which appears to be necessary for it to work.  ideal for places like the Verdon gorge I'd have thought, but it would make the abs even more invigorating.


Yeah, looks brilliant for any ab that goes 100% smoothly.  As soon as there's some issue, or someone less experienced abbing, or someone who did one-too-many turns with a prussik, long falls are on the table.

If you've got two 60m ropes, then this means you could ab 120m!  Unless you bounce around too much while passing the knot, that is - in which case you only have to make a 60m ab, and a 60m plummet.

Also it looks a lot more likely to get stuck when pulling the rope than any normal setup.

Lusk - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy DB:

> I found this video https://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=3701> Where at 1.39 the bloke demonstrating this marvelous product ties a knot in it, presumably because he is worried about falling to his death but also making it no longer releasable. 

It's a great product, you just need a friendly cameraman to undo the knot for you

 

nniff - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Yeah, looks brilliant for any ab that goes 100% smoothly.  As soon as there's some issue, or someone less experienced abbing, or someone who did one-too-many turns with a prussik, long falls are on the table.

> If you've got two 60m ropes, then this means you could ab 120m!  Unless you bounce around too much while passing the knot, that is - in which case you only have to make a 60m ab, and a 60m plummet.

> Also it looks a lot more likely to get stuck when pulling the rope than any normal setup.

I don't think so - it's not for the inexperienced, clearly.  Secondly, weighting the rope 14 times takes some doing if you're hanging from it - all a stuck prusik will do is engender some fidgeting.  If you're that worried, feed more rope through it.  If you only have a six inch tail, you would be asking for more trouble than is necessary.

However. the chance of it snagging on something when being pulled down is clearly higher than a plain rope end.

Luke90 on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to nniff:

> However. the chance of it snagging on something when being pulled down is clearly higher than a plain rope end.

I think stuck ropes could actually be a bigger problem than the obvious plummeting issue. I trust Beal's judgement enough to think that it's probably less likely to undo itself during a bouncy ab than it appears. I'd still be nervous using it but I could probably get past that if the benefits were compelling enough.

However, a stuck rope could potentially be a massive problem using this system. At least when doubled over ropes get stuck, you know you've got enough rope down with you to climb back up to fix the problem.

cb294 - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to nniff:

Despite my Chris Tan suggestion above I actually like the device, but it certainly is a niche product.

For example, it looks ideal for escaping quickly if you are planning a solo climb, and suspect that you may have to abort and descend quickly. The risk of that thing failing does not add too much to the total risk.

Choosing between carrying a thin ab line / half rope plus 90g for the gadget, or double ropes, just as an emergency backup would be no question. 

Using it in when you have anyway been pitching on the way up already?

Better use your doubles.


CB 

Bobling - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Hardonicus:

> I can confidently say - fcuk that!

I love the uninvited extra who appears gazes disdainfully at the set-up for a few seconds then strides off - obviously didn't impress him either!

 

purplemonkeyelephant - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Hardonicus:

Is it really pronounced Bay-al? Other than that the product seems like it needs a LOT of tugging to loosen it. As with most things climbing it will need significant user knowledge to use safely, and the human will inevitably be the weakest link in the chain of safety not the product. 

Hat Dude on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

>  it will need significant user knowledge to use safely

Not something you'll get experience with by trial & error!

oldie - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to Hat Dude:

> Not something you'll get experience with by trial & error! <

Actually that's exactly what I would do if trying it out for the  first time......deliberately bouncy ab but on a toprope!

 

oldie - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy DB:

At the start of the video it states that the system is also to use when a half rope is damaged. This seems completely unnecessary as the damaged rope could be knotted over the break, or even left if not completely severed, and used in a pull cord retrieval setup.

At least it looks considerably safer than the bungee cord method.

It would be useful to know if it would be possible and safe to use with just a sling in trad (ie without sacrificing a krab, as the the video states there must be a ring or krab at the anchor anchor). Out of interest does anyone know how easy is it to use just a sling with an ordinary pull cord system?

 

 

humptydumpty - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> Other than that the product seems like it needs a LOT of tugging to loosen it.

 

Will that be easier or harder when the tug is transferred through 60m of dynamic rope?

 

rgold - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

I think the rappelling part is probably quite secure.  The real problem is going to be retrieval.  If rope friction intervenes in transmitting the pulls from the base to the gadget, it might be difficult or impossible to get it to disengage.   And after trying and failing to get the rope to release, you certainly aren't going to prussik back up on a rope that might be hanging by a hair.  so the risk is getting marooned in the midst of a series of rappels with no rope.  That's a pretty bad outcome and one I wouldn't want to risk.

purplemonkeyelephant - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to humptydumpty:

Yeah the rope stretch was on my mind too, especially if it isn't vertical rock. It's hard enough to pull rope through just a carabiner at the bottom of an easy trad climb. Early reviews will be very interesting! 

HeMa on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

And I'm sure Beal wasn't really aiming the Retriever for slabby and broken trad. Rather the main purpose might have been a pumpy 55m overhanging clip-up. So instead of needing rope stretch and 100m single rope, you can get up and down with a 60m rope.

rgold - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to HeMa:

I'm thinking more like a rappel over a bergscrhund at the end of the day.  Just a single rappel, and if your rope does hang up you probably aren't totally stuck.

HeMa on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to rgold:

That as well. Albeit I seem to recall that it only works with single ropes. And generally people still operate twin or halfropes in the mountains. 

davidbeynon on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to HeMa:

True, but ab range is one of the justifications for that.  Doing away with one of the ropes is the main reason I am interested.

This has been a good thread for potential problems.  I'm tempted to pick one up and design tests around the objections to see which issues are real.  My money is on retrieval and catching on things on the way down being the potential deal breakers.

nniff - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

I thought it would be good for long ice routes.  At Gavarnie last year, the last 10 metres or so of 60m pitches was disproportionately hard work with two ropes hanging from one's waist.  It would be nice to be able to get rid of one of the ropes and still have a 60m abseil - the million dollar questions for that application are how thin a rope will it accommodate, are frosty ropes a no-no (probably) and is your belay device grabby enough and good enough at dissipating heat?

The other application would be long ab in/ab off sport routes, like Verdon - although the omnivorous bushes in the Verdon might see it off

oldie - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to nniff:

>  It would be nice to be able to get rid of one of the ropes and still have a 60m abseil - the million dollar questions for that application are how thin a rope will it accommodate, are frosty ropes a no-no (probably) and is your belay device grabby enough and good enough at dissipating heat? <

I've never noticed heat damage  due to my belay device when abbing on single half ropes.  Surely belay device should be grabby enough as it would have been used on the climb for a potential leader fall. Re question about Escaper ......perhaps try using it first while climbing on double frosty ropes with first person down toproped?

 

cb294 - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to nniff:

The Escape device grabs its own tail, whatever rope you abseil on is tied into the eye at its end. 

As for a frosted up half rope, any grabby device like an ATC guide should do the job, double up carabiners if necessary and back up with a French Prusik above the ATC (which would get rid of most of the ice) if it really becomes slippy.


CB

jimtitt - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

https://www.alpinetrek.co.uk/beal-escaper/

Worrying about what ropes you use and whether they are frosted or whatever shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how it works

nniff - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to cb294:

 

> As for a frosted up half rope, any grabby device like an ATC guide should do the job,

That's what I thought until I abbed into Boulder Ruckle one day on a single 10.5 with a Lowe tuber.   With both hands holding as tight as I could I could just hold a stationary position.  I had to grip with my feet to control (just) any sort of downward movement.  Traumatic, that.  This was before prusik loops were the norm.  Funnily enough, I'm rather keen on them now.

george mc - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Hardonicus:

That bouncing up and down motion - it that no akin to the same action made when someone is bouncing about on an abb...? Esp with the ropes grabbing on the device. All fine and dandy in a 'free' abseil where the load on the rope is always the same, but then if you start having the device grab on the rope and you get that slight bouncing action... Still I think it would encourage people to develop perfect abseil techniques with no boucne at all on the rope. Or die trying.

Timmd on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to george mc:

It's almost like something weird and dangerous out of the 60's or 70's before climbing gear become more refined, like something a guy in a small workshop came up with.

Post edited at 21:02
davidbeynon on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

This thread has given me plenty of food for thought.  I have decided to get one and run it through a set of tests in controlled conditions.  Ab with top rope backup and someone watching/videoing the device as I go.

So far I have the following cases to test:

1. Abseil under ideal conditions.
2. Abseil with ledges and faffing with rope on the way down.
3. Abseil with gratuitous bouncing.
4. Retrieval under ideal conditions.
5. Retrieval with heavy rope.  50m+ single or half ropes maybe?
6. Retrieval with slabby/complex rock/bushes to see how prone it is to getting stuck on the way down.

As far as I am concerned failure of any of the first 5 tests would be grounds for binning the thing.  Number 6 is more of a matter of degree.

oldie - on 11 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

> This thread has given me plenty of food for thought.  I have decided to get one and run it through a set of tests in controlled conditions.  Ab with top rope backup and someone watching/videoing the device as I go. <

You could avoid the need for a toprope by using slings or a long tail from the attachment knot in the ab rope which would be set at a length to take over immediately the device came loose from the anchor. You'd then only need a film crew! It might even be safer....possibly a dynamic toprope could stretch considerably if the ab rope was released when you were near the ground.

 

 

davidbeynon on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to oldie:

Or better, a few cm before the thing releases.  No prospect of shock loading at all then and if it gets to that point it has already failed the test.

oldie - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

7th test? Prusik back up with completely and partly released device situations. Possibly bounce around and unweight rope on ledges. You might prefer a toprope with this one!  Have fun.

davidbeynon on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to oldie:

I also missed the "retrieval with rope drag" case.  So that's 8.  This might take a while.

Post edited at 10:33
humptydumpty - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to davidbeynon:

Abseiling with a ridiculously tight prussik seems like a good recipe for bounce, in my experience.

You might also try with a very light, stretchy rope - perhaps it could be hard to get enough bounce to release the thing.

John Stainforth - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Hardonicus:

I laughed at the end of the video when the Beal demonstrators said "perfect"!

Have they not heard of Murphy's Law: "What can go wrong, will go wrong"?

rgold - on 23:45 Mon
In reply to rgold:

Here is a thoughtful analysis and actual test.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QqmdVh4RHM

HeMa on 08:26 Tue
In reply to rgold:

Nice one... and your heritige shows ;).

I still think another use case would be the über long single pitch sport routes we start to get here in Europe. I beleive they are going past 60m now, meining quite a few rethreads to get down (even on a 100m rope). Provided the line isn't too overhanging (to make cleaning too difficult), I believe the Escaper would also work rather fine in such cases.

davidbeynon on 08:51 Tue
In reply to rgold:

That video seems reasonable, and matches my current feelings.

Mine arrived yesterday, and I have had a bit of a play with an anchor hanging off a beam in the garage.  Outdoor tests when I get time and good weather.

According to the instructions it should not slip provided you keep a load of over 10kg on the rope.  The elastic is fairly strong but not  upt to lifting 10kg so I think there is some margin for error there.  The way it is attached would allow for easily changing the elastic and force required.

Another thing that is worth noting is that the thing releases immediately when the narrower end of the tail goes through the end of the webbing.  I expected it to keep gripping until only a couple of loops were around the tail but this is not the case.

 

rgold - on 16:13 Tue
In reply to HeMa:

> Nice one... and your heritige shows ;).

Thanks!  In case there is any confusion, it isn't my video, it is by Christian Fracchia, a Gunks local, smartphone guidebook writer extraordinaire, and high-school physics teacher.

 

HeMa on 19:17 Tue
In reply to rgold:

nice anyway... albeit I really though it was you... physics, maths... same gibberish ;)

davidbeynon on 19:52 Tue
In reply to HeMa:

Same language but we physicists claim to be describing the real world.  Mathematicians write more abstact gibberish but mostly leave people alone

rgold - on 04:24 Wed
In reply to davidbeynon:

> Same language but we physicists claim to be describing the real world.  Mathematicians write more abstact gibberish but mostly leave people alone

Oh, mathematicians think they're describing the real world too, it is just that the real world isn't going to realize it for a hundred years or so...

And I'm happy to be mistaken for Christian, who is a good 20+ years younger!

Post edited at 04:25

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