/ Managing rope drag

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sharpendclimbing 29 Jul 2019

Had some utterly horrendous rope drag on Callabins Creep VD recently, almost to the point of being unable to continue/pull the rope up. Cannot think why; used double ropes, long(ish) extenders. Is a single rope better for traversy routes? Are there any nuanced techniques for managing rope drag? I did try using a revolver at the most bendy point to little avail.

Post edited at 13:07
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Will Hunt 29 Jul 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Could it be that the climb you mention involves climbing through a tunnel and turning left?

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DubyaJamesDubya 29 Jul 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Even if careful there is always a danger of the rope dragging through a notch. Hard to see how using a single rope would reduce drag.

One thing you can do is place runners specifically to hold the rope(s) away from drag points, or cracks they can catch in, but this is dependant on the gear being in the right position to be of use.

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bpmclimb 29 Jul 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Do you mean this one?

Caliban's Creep (VD)

>  Are there any nuanced techniques for managing rope drag? I did try using a revolver at the most bendy point to little avail.

Well there are several; for example, placing runners strategically, more to steer the rope than to protect the leader, using gear to block notches/cracks where the rope will run, missing out off-line runners and putting up with the run-outs, taking a mid-pitch belay ...... I've no idea whether any of those would help on that route though - I've not done it myself.

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sharpendclimbing 29 Jul 2019
In reply to Will Hunt:

Yes! Is that normal?!

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sharpendclimbing 29 Jul 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

Aye, that's the one. Figured I must have been doing something wrong, but it was very bendy.

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Will Hunt 29 Jul 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

This must be a troll?

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Jezz0r 29 Jul 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Is it normal that climbs go through tunnels? No.

Is it normal that there's rope drag if the rope unavoidably runs over several edges of rock? Yes. It doesn't matter how much you extend the runners, if the rope geometrically must rub against the rock, there's going to be drag.

Edit: I guess the only solution is to split it over several pitches, but this may become a bit ridiculous

Post edited at 17:30
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sharpendclimbing 16 Aug 2019
In reply to Will Hunt:

No, it's a genuine question... Just because something might seem obvious to you doesn't mean it's not a valid topic of discussion for others.

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henwardian 16 Aug 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Lots of good general advice, in addition:

- thinner and/or newer ropes drag less.

- make it a habit to look back at where the ropes are going and flick a rope left or right over things immediately after you place each bit of gear to try and get them running as well as possible.

- if it's pretty easy, move together with say 20m of rope between you and the rest coiled and tied off. Leader needs to be sure to place gear frequently though and make sure they are good placements.

If you really get in the doodoo and you are on half-ropes, you can always untie from one of them and keep climbing just on the one that isn't stuck but you'd better have good communication with your partner or its all likely to go sideways...

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David Coley 17 Aug 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

Place a micro trax if the drag makes the climbing difficult 

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C Witter 17 Aug 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

I'm not quite sure why you think a single rope would be *better*. To be brutally honest, I'm led to thinking that this probably means you're not using your half ropes very well.

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Eric9Points 17 Aug 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

I vaguely remember getting rope drag on the traverse and I did it with a single No.4 hawser laid rope. So no, a single rope won't help and I doubt it ever would. One of the main reasons for adopting double ropes was to reduce drag.

Mind you things might have changed since I did the route, it was only diff then ;-).

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HeMa 18 Aug 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> One of the main reasons for adopting double ropes was to reduce drag.

Nope, redundance and option of full lenght rappels were the first 2 reasons... only third was the option of reducing drag.


And the drag is only really true on wondering routes that go left, right and back again with few gear placements.

As for the OP and his question...

Single ropes can help (easier to plan the rope line, so that there isn't anything for the rope to snag, get caught and generally have a nice straight line of on with minimal twists)... But the key points have already been mentioned above.

1. Aim for a straight rope line (this  means that you might not be able to place gear when you wan't rather you place the gear to direct the rope).

2. If there are potential snag-points, use nuts etc. to block them. Quite often these are cracks in a roof the rope goes near... so place a strategic nut at the lip, so that the rope can't get in the crack.

3. Extend the gear enough to full fill criteria one.

4. If the route is doing too big turns (e.g. come out of  bloody tunnel and do a right angle turn), build a belay close by. Remember, the guidebook describes where the route goes... and where the 'marked' belays are, depend greatly on numerous things... in the alps, pitches tend to be 25m or less (because that's the ropes they had). Now it might be smart to link pitches (if line is direct)... same goes the other way, too twisty and/or running out of gear, build a belay somewhere earlier.

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Eric9Points 18 Aug 2019
In reply to HeMa:

> Nope, redundance and option of full lenght rappels were the first 2 reasons... only third was the option of reducing drag.

> And the drag is only really true on wondering routes that go left, right and back again with few gear placements.

Well it might have been for you but not for me and the other folk I climbed with.

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HeMa 18 Aug 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

Nope. Not for me, but the reason why half ropes were developed in the first place.

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bpmclimb 24 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

> I'm not quite sure why you think a single rope would be *better*. To be brutally honest, I'm led to thinking that this probably means you're not using your half ropes very well.

Possibly, although sometimes having double ropes encourages one to consider complicated "solutions" which do more harm than good. I can recall situations where I separated the ropes left and right, because that seemed the best strategy, and ended up wishing that I'd run the ropes together. 

.... this route comes to mind:  Fibre (VS 4c)

.... where the route goes rightwards around a bulge, and it's tempting (and natural, on an onsight) to leave the left rope free, but it's better in practice to take both ropes with you around the bulge. Hindsight is a wonderful thing

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Trangia 24 Aug 2019
In reply to sharpendclimbing:

I don't know the route, but if the rope drag is that bad is there any way of splitting the offending pitch(s) into 2 or 3 shorter ones so that your second can better manage the rope where it's likely to occur?

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Gordon Stainforth 24 Aug 2019
In reply to bpmclimb:

The two pictures in the UKC gallery of Fibre show some pretty good rope work.

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bpmclimb 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

True ... but they appear to have gone straight up rather than go right under the bulge to the recessed slab, which is the bit I was talking about. They also appear to have done the climb in two pitches. Not a criticism, but climbed that way the rope work would be straightforward.

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