UKC

Abseil Etiquette

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 Stephen James 03 Sep 2021

Apologies if this has already been done to death, I am unsure about previous postings. Nevertheless I would like some feedback specifically about my situation.

Yesterday at Sennen I wanted to set up an abseil. As I approached the crag there were a large number of Army guys training. I asked them if they had set up an abseil or if I should set up my own. They told me they had set up 2 but due to their work regulations, civilians weren’t allowed to use them but there were 2 other abseils already rigged.

I could not see any other climbers on the crag even though looking around for a few minutes. Of the 2 civilian abseils there was one I didn’t feel was safe enough so decided to use the other.

After I had attached myself and my Dad to the rope and made our way to the edge, I was just about to set off and two climbers, an older couple, appeared and complained about us using their rope.

The man wasn’t too rude but a little bit snotty, I politely explained to him that the etquette is to use a fixed rope if you find one but ask if the fixers are there. I have thought this was the case for a lot of years. I am happy to be told otherwise and would never want to annoy anyone. I was also told about this etiquette during 2 fabulous days guided by Barry Thomas of Crag 2 Mountain who I can’t recommend enough.

I apologised to him and moved away to set our abseil up. There were 4 ropes in place on all the cleanest abseil areas so we had to set one down the very awkward and rope abrasive Griptight Gully.

I would also like to add that these ab ropes were all getting right in the way of several really great routes that people then could not climb without having someone come down on their head. Surely we should be trying to minimise the number of ropes on crags.

I look forward to hearing your views and advice.

Post edited at 03:30
In reply to Stephen James:

Two points

A. There is no etiquette, it's their rope, ask first.

B. Unless it's high tide, big waves, you can usually run around quicker than abseil. 

In reply to summo:

> Two points

> A. There is no etiquette, it's their rope, ask first.

Been to Pembroke much? Or Castell Helen?

Like the OP says, it's daft having four ab ropes at a popular crag. If you set one up (and it's not sketchy) you kind of expect it to be 'the' ab line. If there's someone around then a polite "mind if we use your rope?" or "hope you didn't mind us using your rope" is the norm, and it's always best to find out when they plan to pull it, but I've never said or been told no without good reason.

In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> Been to Pembroke much? Or Castell Helen?

Yes. There's not really many options, going around isn't possible and I'd still say something to them at the bottom or enroute. Unless I can see everything, I don't usually trust others ab ropes. 

In reply to summo:

> A. There is no etiquette, it's their rope, ask first.

Do you mean to say, if you find an unattended ab rope, with the original abbers nowhere to be seen, then you are NOT to use that rope? That etiquette dictates that you should set up your own elsewhere?

Sorry, I agree with longsuffering, that's daft. If you set up the first ab in the most logical place, using the best anchor points, you can expect it to be used by others.

 nikoid 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

In my view nobody should be precious about others using their ab rope. After all they are usually old ropes. Obviously if the owner of the rope is around, it is polite to ask. If I see the owner once I have abbed down, I say something like "We took the liberty of using your rope, I hope that is OK". I have never had anyone objecting to this approach.

 GrahamD 03 Sep 2021
In reply to nikoid:

I am precious about random people using my ab rope after some idiot wrecked the sheath on one of mine at Pembroke.  By the looks of it they had tried to use a T bloc as an auto block.  Despite (or because) the fact that the damage must have been obvious,  the guilty party(s) had done a runner by the time I got back to the rope.

 GrahamD 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

If someone doesn't want you to use their rope, it's their call although it's unusual to refuse a request.  At Sennen the walk in isn't a big deal, though.

In reply to Stephen James:

I will always use ab rope if there is a safe one there, its daft not to.

I would expect others to use mine.

As others have said I always ask if someone is close by out of courtesy.

In reply to GrahamD:

> I am precious about random people using my ab rope after some idiot wrecked the sheath on one of mine at Pembroke.  By the looks of it they had tried to use a T bloc as an auto block.  Despite (or because) the fact that the damage must have been obvious,  the guilty party(s) had done a runner by the time I got back to the rope.

So how do you vet them?

 Trangia 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Always asks out of politeness if see them.

As someone touched on upthread be aware that the owner might pull it up whilst you are climbing if they leave. This could be a problem in a fairly committing area like Boulder Ruckle as it removes a convenient prusicking exit and you could find yourselves stranded in the event of an incident whereby you can't climb out.

 profitofdoom 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Maybe I'm precious but I will never use anyone else's abseil rope no matter what, and I don't want anyone using mine either. And yes I've been to Castell Helen loads of times

Ropes are too precious* and I want mine there ready in good condition in case I need it for an unplanned exit. And in that case I want to know the state of the rope, and anchors

I'm a different case though, I was injured in a serious abseil accident (which I don't want to talk about) in which I was lucky to get away with my life 

*Edit, I'm not talking about 'precious' financially 

Post edited at 08:52
 duchessofmalfi 03 Sep 2021
In reply to summo:

Wrong. 

If there is an ab rope in situ at the location you want and you are happy with the rope (and the landing, check below) then use it.

If you leave a rope then it is fair game to others and you're a bell end if you get the hump about it.

It's polite to ask, say hallo, chew the fat about the weather with the rope owners if they are there but otherwise crack on.

There are three good reasons to set up your own rope:

(1) there is no rope where you want

(2) the existing one is dangerous for some reason

(3) you might need the rope to escape and can't guarantee it will be there otherwise

The alternative is a dangerous mess of ropes with busy crags littered with them.

Where a professional rig is in place (ie the Army) then other considerations count - they might be legally responsibly for your safety if you used the rope - so you can understand they would be reluctant.

In reply to duchessofmalfi:

If someone uses my rope carefully, doesn't run it across edges or ab like an idiot I'm quite happy for them to use it. The rope with be low stretch, good condition, hard wearing type, not a retired climbing rope and the anchors bombproof so I have piece of mind once over the edge. 

Judging by the anchors many rig at Sennen to ab, it would safer swimming around, wearing your rack and rope. 

Abseiling is singularly one of the most dangerous elements of climbing, accidents are numerous. I'm quite happy to rig my own or just run around (often quicker), even if folk choose to label me an idiot.

Post edited at 10:01
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> Where a professional rig is in place (ie the Army) then other considerations count - they might be legally responsibly for your safety if you used the rope - so you can understand they would be reluctant.

at Sennen it's more likely Marines, they use it often. I wouldn't say it's always 5* anchors setup, but it's safe. And yes they have liability, so can't share. 

Either way, unless there is a big swell etc it's quicker to run around, especially if both of you just take in a few coils, run around, drop coils and you're climbing up again within 5 mins of topping out. 

Post edited at 09:59
In reply to Stephen James:

I would say you were right to assume that it was OK to use an in situ ab rope. Of course you should try to ask first, or as soon as the opportunity arises, but I would normally expect consent to be given.  When I set up an ab I do so knowing that others will probably use it.  I believe that is the accepted practice.

On the other hand, the owners of the rope were fully entitled to say no, and didn't need to give a reason. 

Like most etiquette, these aren't strict rules and aren't set in stone.  It is usually to everyone's benefit to minimise the number of ab ropes in place, so usually people will accept this. The risk of damage to your rope is offset by the times you don't have to use it because one is already set up. But people may have their reasons to say no, and whether or not you think they are good reasons that is their prerogative.

It goes without saying that you should be happy with the safety of their set-up.  If I were not, I think I would be reluctant to mess with someone else's and would usually prefer to set up my own rather than try to back up theirs.  There's also etiquette which says you don't mess with others' belays, and I think that extends to abseils too.

Last time I was at Saddle Head there was already an in situ ab off one of the MoD's concrete fence posts.  Apart from safety aspects, as the steel reinforcement was clearly corroded, the guidebook is very clear that this is a no-no.  We decided not to use it, mainly on ethical grounds.  Worst of all, it appeared to have been set up by an instructor.

In reply to Stephen James:

It is polite to ask if you can. I am not too concerned about others using my ab rope as I believe this balances out with my use of theirs.

If it is my ab rope and the crag is busy, I won't queue to use it. 

 Becky E 03 Sep 2021
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> Wrong. 

> If there is an ab rope in situ at the location you want and you are happy with the rope (and the landing, check below) then use it.

> If you leave a rope then it is fair game to others and you're a bell end if you get the hump about it.

> It's polite to ask, say hallo, chew the fat about the weather with the rope owners if they are there but otherwise crack on.

> There are three good reasons to set up your own rope:

> (1) there is no rope where you want

> (2) the existing one is dangerous for some reason

> (3) you might need the rope to escape and can't guarantee it will be there otherwise

> The alternative is a dangerous mess of ropes with busy crags littered with them.

> Where a professional rig is in place (ie the Army) then other considerations count - they might be legally responsibly for your safety if you used the rope - so you can understand they would be reluctant.

Agree with all this.

I see it as karma. Sometimes others use my rope, and sometimes I use other people's ropes.  In the end it all balances out.

 TheGeneralist 03 Sep 2021
In reply to summo:

> at Sennen it's more likely Marines, .... And yes they have liability, so can't share. 

Tell me more. Are you saying they have more liability than others?

If so, why?

 Jamie Wakeham 03 Sep 2021
In reply to TheGeneralist:

They are at work. Their insurance will specify that they are covered if anything goes wrong with one of their own participants, but won't cover any other users.  It's annoying - especially as they will likely have bagged the best spot - but understandable.

I'd agree with others: if you can see the owners of an ab rope you ask, if you can't then you just use it.  If you don't want your own rope used as an ab by others then pull it.  

In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> So how do you vet them?

You say... What are you going to use to ab? and if they say Italian hitch (munter) you give them a pithy reply

You ask them about speed and gauge if they are going to go gung-ho and stripe/shine the rope, or descend at normal speed

You use the "sniff test" (metaphorical: before anyone responds literally!) and see if they stand on ropes etc, look like they will die near your rope, or damage things.

If they ask nicely and are sensible then sharing-is-caring, if not they can go and poke it. Not sure this is written in an official code of conduct, but it seems to work for me

 GravitySucks 03 Sep 2021
In reply to CantClimbTom:

Why dont you ask them to fill in a questionaire ?

How many people have you rejected with your 'system' ?

Been climbing for nigh on 40 years and have always shared abseil lines/ropes, never refused anyone, never been refused by anyone, enjoyed the chat whilst waiting in line to use my rope or someone else's, shared some beta if asked and generally been chilled about the whole situation, its part of climbing.

In reply to Presley Whippet:

> If it is my ab rope and the crag is busy, I won't queue to use it. 

Do you mean that if your rope was in place, and you returned to it after doing a route to find that there was a queue to abseil, you'd just push in the front and go first? Or have I misunderstood?

I think the rope is fairly irrelevant, the queue is for the abseil. You haven't got rights on the descent just because you put your rope there.

Apologies if I've misunderstood your meaning. 

 GrahamD 03 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> So how do you vet them?

Muppets often look like muppets.

 trouserburp 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Sounds like asking a stranger "How are you today?" and getting an answer other than they are good or fine (meaning bad). Guess you have to accept the wrong answer 

I would have been inclined to set up my rope on the same anchors explaining that the crag was getting littered with ab ropes and asking if they would like to remove their gear before it gets rubbed a bit or somebody else uses it

Also I'm sure I've used military ab ropes there before, with permission!

In reply to Luke01:

That is exactly what I mean. Done many times before.

"Hi guys, I am more than happy for you to use my ab rope but I don't wish to queue for it"

If you have a problem with that, then set up your own.

I would, of course, afford the same privilege to a team who's rope I was using. 

Post edited at 12:29
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Hmm, I don't really see that as being particularly in the spirit of things. I would have a problem with it, and I'd gladly set up my own rope before letting you push in front of me.

As someone above has said, in 20 years of climbing I've never refused or been refused use of a rope, and I've never seen someone push in a queue because it's their rope. It's just the way it works, otherwise there'd be multiple ropes down every ab line at Pembroke etc. 

In reply to Luke01:

It is rare that such a scenario occurs but it does. Other users have always been happy about it when it has.

It is after all the rope owner who's is doing the other users a favour.

To clarify, I am not talking about "pushing in between a team of 2 but if there are a few teams waiting to use the rope.

Most recent occurance was St Govs East on a high tide, big swell sunny morning. Popular due to conditions and only 1 stake. All happy. I don't see your problem. 

Post edited at 12:53
 Andy Gamisou 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> They are at work. Their insurance will specify that they are covered if anything goes wrong with one of their own participants, but won't cover any other users.  It's annoying - especially as they will likely have bagged the best spot - but understandable.

A few times over the years I've rescued army "instructors" gear for them when they've tried to lead sport routes at my local crag that they've found a bit too hard (it's a regular haunt for their adventure training).  Just pondering what the liability would be if I were to hurt myself whilst doing this.

So far as OPs question - I'd always thought sharing the done thing in this situation. 

Post edited at 13:29
 duchessofmalfi 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

It's also "everyone else" doing the "rope owner" a favour and not taking their rope down so they can place their own...  They might own the rope but they don't own the crag, leaving a rope up doesn't give you any special privilege-- it's not like the apocryphal German towel on a club 18-30 holiday sun lounger.

What's needed is a spirit of comradery and generosity, to share the crag nicely, to share the ropes nicely,  to chat to your fellow climbers and not to be selfish.

On <very> rare occasions I've set a 2nd rope up.

Once after the rope owner offered be their rope but I declined because 2m of the core was open to the elements and some of the core strands were broken (it was "well used") and once because the rope owners were finishing up and I had a novice with me and I wasn't 100% confident they'd climb out ok (but they did with style).

The only improvement to the "share nicely" scheme I can think of would be and intelligent internet enabled rope that would tell me I didn't have to drag my rope to the crag.

The worst thing that's ever happened was to return to the top of the crag only to realise some scrote had nicked my belay gear and tied the rope to a stake with a single overhand knot out of sight of the bottom. Just enough to allow you to start climbing it should you need it but not enough to last the climb.

 TheGeneralist 03 Sep 2021
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> It's also "everyone else" doing the "rope owner" a favour and not taking their rope down so they can place their own... 

Hmmmm. Not sure I agree with this.  You don't take down someone else's  abseil rope on an otherwise  inaccessible cliff, Full stop. It's not a favour, it's just.....

(IMHO) interested in other people's opinion. 

 Stephen James 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Thanks so much for all your replies. I’m pleased to hear I was not in the wrong for my assumption, though obviously it is their prerogative if they allow others to use.

The whole thing did leave a sour taste in the mouth though and now I am feeling deterred from doing the same thing again. It was the first time I have used an in-situ rope when I was in charge of the climbing party.

I think I will just suck it up and use an unattended in-situ rope again if the situation arises, mostly based on the fact that some say they have never been refused a rope. Because I am not massively experienced my record stands at 0-1.

 Stephen James 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Thanks so much for all your replies. I’m pleased to hear I was not in the wrong for my assumption, though obviously it is their prerogative if they allow others to use.

The whole thing did leave a sour taste in the mouth though and now I am feeling deterred from doing the same thing again. It was the first time I have used an in-situ rope when I was in charge of the climbing party.

I think I will just suck it up and use an unattended in-situ rope again if the situation arises, mostly based on the fact that some say they have never been refused a rope. Because I am not massively experienced my record stands at 0-1.

In reply to GravitySucks:

> How many people have you rejected with your 'system' ?

Refused nobody... yet...  but I reserve the right

In reply to Stephen James:

Sounds like you were very unlucky then. I've been climbing over 30 years, last 15 in pembrokeshire so most days involve abseil approach.

As most others above i've never had anyone object to me using their rope, and have had plenty of people use my rope to no ill effect. It's a 70 pounds item that I inspect every time I use it and replace every 4 or 5 years. 

Polite to ask, but if no one around, then crack on.

I'd say anyone who objected that didn't have a good safety related reason for the refusal is a bit of an arse. 

Post edited at 15:21
 Sean Kelly 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Say hello to Baz from me!

I often set up an abseil rope on the Torbay crags, mainly to save my toes suffering, but indicate that others are welcome to use it, subject to the usual terms, conditions & exclusions. Third part insurance preferred!

Post edited at 15:44
In reply to mountain.martin:

> Polite to ask, but if no one around, then crack on.

> I'd say anyone who objected that didn't have a good safety related reason for the refusal is a bit of an arse. 

Absolutely 

In reply to Stephen James:

Might go against convention but in that situation I would have setup my own unless I could ask. But wouldn't be bothered if someone used mine.

What I did take offence to was for someone to ask if they could use my ab line, which I had no problem with, only for them to strip down my anchors, and build their own with my rope!

 craig h 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

I have no problem of someone using a rope I have set up as an abseil rope at a crag, often a down graded lead rope which I would not want to take a huge dynamic fall onto if I was leading a route, but still happy that it is still fit for purpose.

My bugbear recently was a party who chose to use my abseil rope at Gogarth felt the need to put a stopper knot in the bottom. Fair enough, but had overcompensated by a few meters so they would have been in the Irish Sea anyway. Pretty glad the stopper knot did not snag in a crack when I retrieved the rope. 

If you're not happy with an insitue abseil rope please don't either change the rigging or stick a stopper knot in the end, just rig your own.

 Misha 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

I think you are right. It’s polite to ask if the abseil rope owner is there. It’s polite to let people use your rope. However if the owner is not there, there is no need to ask. Of course if it’s a serious sea cliff with abseil only access, you might want your own rope down there anyway…

 Misha 03 Sep 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

Well you can say, you can use it as long as you don’t use a tibloc instead of a prusik…

 jkarran 03 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

There is no rule, if there's a safe rope where you want to go you might as well use it if you can live with the risk of it being pulled before you climb out. Ask first if you can, say thanks if you get the chance and sorry if someone's an arse about it.

Jk

 GrahamD 04 Sep 2021
In reply to Misha:

You can if you see them using the rope.  I didn't as I was climbing and just came back to a trashed rope and no other parties in the immediate vicinity. 

In reply to Stephen James:

Civilian abseil 🤣. I'd have been straight down the super dooper military grade ab myself. Sounds exciting. 

 bpmclimb 05 Sep 2021
In reply to all:

In theory I like the idea of everyone freely using anyone's ab rope, but this does rather presuppose a universal level of care and skill. In practice I find that many climbers are too preoccupied with where they are going, and with the area at waist level where the device is, and are well-nigh oblivious to what's happening to the rope above them - how and where the rope lies on the rock.

I don't think it's "snotty" not to want your weighted rope rolling across rough rock or, worse still, scything across an edge.

In reply to bpmclimb:

> I don't think it's "snotty" not to want your weighted rope rolling across rough rock or, worse still, scything across an edge. <

In practice I think the majority of people will use an abseil rope without asking if they want and if the owners are not present, etiquette or not. Options would be to leave appropriate rope protection in place or clip a note to the rope at the anchor requesting others not to use it (never seen that done).

 Ciro 05 Sep 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

> Maybe I'm precious but I will never use anyone else's abseil rope no matter what, and I don't want anyone using mine either. And yes I've been to Castell Helen loads of times

If I come across one of your ab ropes set up at the obvious abseil point for a crag, should I pull it up and coil it before I set up my own for everyone else at the crag to use?

 profitofdoom 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Ciro:

> If I come across one of your ab ropes set up at the obvious abseil point for a crag, should I pull it up and coil it before I set up my own for everyone else at the crag to use?

No, leave it alone, please (along with any other of my stuff which I leave around). If I've left it there, I might need it as it is, e.g. on a sea cliff. And I'll leave your stuff alone

There will be an alternate abseil point for you to use

 Ciro 05 Sep 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

> No, leave it alone, please (along with any other of my stuff which I leave around). If I've left it there, I might need it as it is, e.g. on a sea cliff. And I'll leave your stuff alone.

If you leave your rope unattended and in-situ there's a fair chance I'm going to ab down it and otherwise leave it alone. I would never pull the rope for the safety reasons you suggest, so my question was slightly tongue in cheek, but it was meant to highlight the point that the non-selfish alternative to shared ab ropes would be to clear the line after you've abbed in.

> There will be an alternate abseil point for you to use

Most probably - but that also probably means another rope hanging down a lower grade climb that someone might prefer to climb without an in-situ rope, and without other climbers abbing in on top of them.

At a busy crag it makes sense to limit the amount of ab lines where possible.

If I felt the need of a guaranteed escape rope I would set up my own, but I would expect anyone else coming along who didn't need a guaranteed escape route to use it.

 nikoid 05 Sep 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

> No, leave it alone, please (along with any other of my stuff which I leave around). If I've left it there, I might need it as it is, e.g. on a sea cliff. And I'll leave your stuff alone

How will we know it is your rope and therefore we shouldn't use it?

 barry donovan 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

The only thing about using another rope to get in is that they finish and take it away - then something goes wrong with your team and there’s no way out to cover yourself.  I often add to the already placed ropes because i want mine there if its my problem to get out. Anyone can go down mine but I always say “when we get back to this rope we’re pulling it up “.  

Hence I never go down another rope - but if the place is rammed its just late - and I dont climb in a cram at sea level. As others have said Sennen is not the big committing ab in that some other sea cliffs are. 

 Strife 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> A few times over the years I've rescued army "instructors" gear for them when they've tried to lead sport routes at my local crag that they've found a bit too hard (it's a regular haunt for their adventure training).  Just pondering what the liability would be if I were to hurt myself whilst doing this.

> So far as OPs question - I'd always thought sharing the done thing in this situation. 

It was probably the Royal Marines Mountain Leaders course. The instructors know what they are doing. And if they lose any gear they'll just sign it off as a loss and get stores to replace it

In reply to duchessofmalfi:

OK so picture this scenario, which happened last time I "pushed in".

At the end of our climbing day, I told the party who were lunching and chatting at the top that if they wished to use the rope, they should get a move on because we were leaving.

Should we have waited politely for them (and the next party, and the one after that) too? 

In reply to Stephen James:

Maybe I am lucky enough not to climb often at busy crags and am out of touch with etiquette, but I don't think I would use somebody else's rope without their express permission and would expect he same of others. 

In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Should we have waited politely for them (and the next party, and the one after that) too? 

No. Maybe give them 5 minutes if you are feeling generous.

 gravy 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

I don't get what you're asking:

- In the original comment I took this as you'd left a rope and expected priority access to the crag because it was yours.

- In this comment, the other climbers are having lunch, they're not in the queue to use the rope and you're leaving.  In which case you pack up your rope and ship out.  When they've finished lunch they can fix their own rope.

Post edited at 22:14
 bpmclimb 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Maybe I am lucky enough not to climb often at busy crags and am out of touch with etiquette, but I don't think I would use somebody else's rope without their express permission and would expect he same of others. 

You got dislikes for this, but I tend to agree. I feel uncomfortable using an in situ ab rope without asking first. If at a crag which doesn't have alternative descents/escapes, I'll always have an ab rope with me anyway. I'm happy for others to use mine, unless they're the crap abseilers I mentioned above, oblivious to what's happening with the rope above them.

In reply to bpmclimb:

> You got dislikes for this, but I tend to agree. I feel uncomfortable using an in situ ab rope without asking first. 

 

Me too.

 timjones 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

There is no etiquette, Barry may be fabulous in your eyes but he is wrong about this.

Assess the situation. Make your choice to rig your own abseil, ask someone whether you can use theirs or just use one that you find in situ and deal with the consequences but don't hide behind some perception of etiquette to justify your decison to use someone elses kit if they are not happy about it.

 PaulJepson 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

If you are monopolising a descent with your anchor/rope then expect it to be used. Same with if you leave your quickdraws in a route while you have a rest. Yes it's polite for someone to ask first but it's rhetorical.

If you're not happy with people using your rope on a popular descent then pull it once you've abbed. Also, get a grip. 

 Andy Gamisou 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Strife:

> It was probably the Royal Marines Mountain Leaders course. The instructors know what they are doing. And if they lose any gear they'll just sign it off as a loss and get stores to replace it

No it absolutely wasn't.   And no - the instructors don't know what they've been doing (at least not to a standard I'd expect).  I've had 16 years, average once a week or so, to observe them.  I'd hope the instructors on a course such as you mention would be able get their own QDs back without getting a short tubby almost 60 something (or his same age, even shorter, not so tubby wife) to rescue their kit for them.  Nice to see you think they should be so cavalier with the tax payers money mind!

Post edited at 11:18
 Offwidth 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Me too. I'd add that some ropes I asked to use were in such a poor state I wish I hadn't. Profit is also right that on some routes the abseil is also the plan B escape route... no one should ever mess around with an in-situ abseil position.  On a busy crag with one convenient abseil position I can understand why climbers use the same rope. Still I'd be pissed off if someone damaged my rope with a tiblock. I've also had a muppet tie a knot in my rope end which led to some annoying messing around with retrieval from the top. As ever with climbing there are always exceptions to standard rules of thumb.

 Moacs 08 Sep 2021
In reply to bpmclimb:

Me too

 craig h 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

Many years ago we used a 9mm rope to abseil in at the Toix Sea Cliffs in the Costa Blanca, had only taken it if we fancied doing some trad routes, but was happy to use on the free hanging abseil into the sea cliffs as we didn't have anything else. Not something I'd have abseiled in on normally.

On finishing our climb we bumped into some fellow Brits, the Ron Hills confirmed this from far off. They too had opted to use our abseil rope, there were 4 of them.

Not sure which one had the first issue with our rope, but the outer sheaf did slip meaning it would not pass through their abseil device, free hanging it could have been interesting, but turned out they were all instructors from Glen More Lodge, so managed to bypass the slippage. 

If they had not known advanced rope skills it could have turned out differently. I did end up with a trashed rope, but meant I could buy a cheap Spanish one on a rest day. It could have been an interesting situation if someone could not have passed a damaged section of rope.

In reply to craig h:

Like most things in climbing, there are no rules and even 'etiquette' is only a broad and sometimes disputed consensus about what should be accepted practice in a given situation.  It's comes down to being reasonable, and also about being friendly and helpful to other climbers. 

On the one hand you should respect other people's gear, and obviously seek permission if you can.  If no one's around, you have the choice to use it anyway and hope to ask later, or set up your own. On a quiet crag that might be the best option, but when it's busier that can create its own problems.  If everyone at Saddle Head on a typical day were to set up their own independent abseils there'd be no routes left.  Having half a dozen ropes hanging down the same descent will only lead to confusion, tangles, and possible danger.  

I've never been refused consent to use someone's rope, and would always give it myself, so I would usually use an in situ ab in the expectation that retrospective consent will nearly always be given.  It the owner isn't happy I will apologise and set my own the next time.  From observation I would say that most climbers adopt a similar approach.  If you set up an abseil, then whether you like it or not you must expect that others might use it.  If you are really not happy with that then make up a sign and leave it clipped to the top.

 Jim Hamilton 09 Sep 2021
In reply to Howard J:

I agree loads of ab ropes makes no sense, although I remember my solitary ab taking a hammering at a busy St Govans, so I pulled it up at lunch time interested to see what would happen, and sure enough there was no rush for anyone to rig their own. This “sharing” of the ab rope etiquette can be a bit one sided!   

Post edited at 09:55
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> I agree loads of ab ropes makes no sense, although I remember my solitary ab taking a hammering at a busy St Govans, so I pulled it up at lunch time interested to see what would happen, and sure enough there was no rush for anyone to rig their own. This “sharing” of the ab rope etiquette can be a bit one sided!   

Are you saying that people were putting off climbing rather than rig an ab or is it not more likely they would do so when they were ready to go down.

 Offwidth 09 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I though it was obvious: the ab rope can risk taking a bit of a hammering (especially if its dynamic rope)  and too many climbers would prefer that is happening to someone else's rope.

In reply to Offwidth:

> I though it was obvious: the ab rope can risk taking a bit of a hammering (especially if its dynamic rope)  and too many climbers would prefer that is happening to someone else's rope.

And I don't see anyone delaying climbing to avoid it.

I recall some research that showed that hundreds of abs had barely any effect on the strength of a rope. What people believe is another matter.

 Offwidth 09 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Such research wouldn't deal with real world problems like rope stretch or slideways slide over rough rock or edges, nor aggressive back-up devices. I looked after hundreds of ropes in my 15 years as a club gear secretary and sheath damage and slippage on dynamic rope was a very real result of some poor abseil practice. 

 Jim Hamilton 09 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

A team, climbing well into the E's, just downclimbed and a couple of others milled around before wondering off. 

In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> A team, climbing well into the E's, just downclimbed and a couple of others milled around before wondering off. 

An in situ ab rope is meant to be all part of the service these days isn't it? Probably worth someone putting in a complaint to the BMC about it.

 Offwidth 09 Sep 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

The BMC give plenty of advice already, which incudes a preference of walking or scrambling down, given the number of abseil accidents. An example:

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/climb-skills-abseiling

In reply to Offwidth:

> Such research wouldn't deal with real world problems like rope stretch or slideways slide over rough rock or edges, nor aggressive back-up devices. I looked after hundreds of ropes in my 15 years as a club gear secretary and sheath damage and slippage on dynamic rope was a very real result of some poor abseil practice. 

All I know is that if I'm happy to let anyone use my ab rope, when I've set it up, and nothing I've experienced, to date, leads me to worry about it.

In reply to Jim Hamilton:

I seem to remember that the easy descent at St Govans wasn't too bad as long as you were carefully aware of the level of polish.

Has it got that much worse recently?

 Offwidth 09 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

That's very generous of you, I have a fairly similar view most of the time (I'd be reluctant to let anyone clearly demonstrating bad practice to add risk to the rope or themselves). Yet several on this thread have made it clear sometimes damage does happen. Hence it's fair enough that others are a bit more concerned, especially if strapped for cash. It's a choice. 

Post edited at 15:35
In reply to Michael Hood:

Down the chimney behind the stack? It's graded Diff in the guide but is polished and often dirty. The abseil is easier, quicker, safer and more pleasant in my opinion. I've scrambled up it plenty of times, but would always prefer to abseil down, on my rope, or someone elses if they have set up before I get there.

In reply to Michael Hood:

> I seem to remember that the easy descent at St Govans wasn't too bad as long as you were carefully aware of the level of polish.

When I was first climbing there in the 80s, we routinely scrambled down either of the chimneys behind the stack.  When I went back about 10 years ago I was struck by how polished it was.  It was genuinely far more intimidating and can well understand people preferring to abseil in.   God knows what it's like now.

 bpmclimb 09 Sep 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I recall some research that showed that hundreds of abs had barely any effect on the strength of a rope. What people believe is another matter.

Pretty much irrelevant. It's careless/ignorant abseiling which can cause immediate and significant damage to the rope, not many abseils done properly. I speak from recent experience - only last week I set up an ab rope for the day, which a few other parties subsequently used. I saw one chap in action on my rope, since I happened to arrive at the top just after he set off. He had allowed the rope to catch on a thin fin of rock above him and, oblivious to this, proceded to descend, swinging from side to side. I shouted down to him to lift the rope into a better position, but too late, he'd put a nick in the sheath, bad enough to have to chop that section off, and so my 55m ab rope is now 40m.

In reply to bpmclimb:

> Pretty much irrelevant. It's careless/ignorant abseiling which can cause immediate and significant damage to the rope, not many abseils done properly. I speak from recent experience - only last week I set up an ab rope for the day, which a few other parties subsequently used. I saw one chap in action on my rope, since I happened to arrive at the top just after he set off. He had allowed the rope to catch on a thin fin of rock above him and, oblivious to this, proceded to descend, swinging from side to side. I shouted down to him to lift the rope into a better position, but too late, he'd put a nick in the sheath, bad enough to have to chop that section off, and so my 55m ab rope is now 40m.


The comment I was replying to talked of heavy usage being the worry not careless use.

 pec 09 Sep 2021
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> Tell me more. Are you saying they have more liability than others?

Last time I was at Sennen the Marines were training their Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre there and had some in siutu abseil ropes.

I asked about using one and the instructor explained that whilst he personally would be quite happy fo me to use it, and indeed they used to be able to allow others to use them, they can no longer do so for insurance reasons. Furthermore if he allowed us to, he would be officially disobeying orders which is quite serious in the military and he would be subject to disciplinary action if found out.

He was quite friendly and polite about it all and his reasons are entirely understandable so we had a good chat about climbing and I set up my own abseil.

Post edited at 22:37
In reply to Stephen James:

In my 40-year climbing career (long since over), I had many experiences of such abseils to popular sea-cliff routes and I don't remember any issues whatever. I really don't think this has much to do with climbing; it's all about basic courtesy, rational discussion and diplomacy. 

 lithos 09 Sep 2021
In reply to pec:

exactly the same a few weeks ago. a couple had asked someone up top, the 3 instructors below were not impressed (with their colleague). very friendly, same explanation (made sense).

we just walked down !

 barry donovan 10 Sep 2021
In reply to timjones:

There was I thinking oh wow at least someone thinks I’m “fabulous in their eyes” . . . Even though I’m wrong (I’m ok with that ). . . But then I realised it was another Barry . . . .

sod it !  I’m back on the shelf again 

 fred99 10 Sep 2021
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Pretty much irrelevant. It's careless/ignorant abseiling which can cause immediate and significant damage to the rope, not many abseils done properly. I speak from recent experience - only last week I set up an ab rope for the day, which a few other parties subsequently used. I saw one chap in action on my rope, since I happened to arrive at the top just after he set off. He had allowed the rope to catch on a thin fin of rock above him and, oblivious to this, proceded to descend, swinging from side to side. I shouted down to him to lift the rope into a better position, but too late, he'd put a nick in the sheath, bad enough to have to chop that section off, and so my 55m ab rope is now 40m.

Same thing happened to my rope on Lundy a few years ago - thankfully on the last day of the trip and after our final abseil. Careful abseilers I have no problem with using my rope - careless ones we could all do without, as the next person down that rope could find out the hard way that the rope has just been damaged.

 Albert Ross 10 Sep 2021
In reply to Stephen James:

Can't see any point setting up a separate abseil if a secure, well positioned rope is already in place. Sensible to ask the owner for permission though. Last time we climbed Baggy Point there was a rope in situ. We decided to place our own line simply because the party who were climbing were on their last route and were needing to pull the rope shortly so we did not want to be at the base of the crag without the security of a fixed rope in position above us.

In reply to Albert Ross:

Could you not just glide down?


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