/ Portland/Swanage Abseils
New to abseil entry to crags, there seem to be a few in portland/swanage. I was just wondering, what is the norm for this? is the anchor normally a stake or 2? Do you leave your abseil rope in place for a last ditch escape or take it down and commit leaving the abseil open for others?
Not many I can think of on popular places on Portland. But generally I'd use 2 stakes and leave the rope in situ, partly because it's a lot nicer to abseil on a static abseil rope than on my climbing ropes, which are halves.
Always leave it in situ and know how to climb it. If other people use it that's up to them, similarly if you turn up and there is one there already you should make your own judgement. But putting multiple ropes down the same line is a bit silly. Try and coordinate with other parties that are leaving to make sure a rope stays in place. Basically you really want to avoid calling the coastguard because youre stuck at the bottom. There's normally two stakes
In general, but definitely not exclusively so: Portland and Swanage Sport venues no abseil; Swanage trad venues abseil. For abseils there will generally be two stakes in place at the popular abseil points and most people chose to leave a rope in place and maybe do a couple of routes from the same abseil point. If for no other reason, pulling a rope down at Swanage is likely to drag a lot of loose material down with them !
If you are new to abseiling, be mindful your rope wearing against the cliff edge, you can trash a rope pretty quickly if you are not careful. Swanage edges can be quite sharp.
Ideally, use a static ab rope as they are generally harder wearing and cheaper to replace. Try to descend smoothly and avoid sideways movement as much as possible.
Also be mindful when others ask to use your ab rope as not everyone is as careful (I've had at least one rope trashed at Swanage when another group used it without asking and were swinging all over the place while the descended).
One technique I picked up over the years to reduce wear is to start off with a few meters of extra rope at the bottom of your ab, and clip the rope into your anchor point with carabineer on a figure of eight on the bite. Then after every few descents, pull up an armful of slack and tie a new figure of 8 on the bite a bit lower then the first and clip this into your anchor instead. This way a different bit of your rope gets worn each time you adjust it.
Also never forget the golden rule; always put a knot the end of the rope so you cant ab off the end.
Some Cheyne Wears or that area ish have some ab offs according to guide.
> Also never forget the golden rule; always put a knot the end of the rope so you cant ab off the end. <
Usually a good idea but IMHO its pointless if you're Absolutely Certain your rope will reach the bottom (as in many Swanage abseils). The knot can make it more likely for the rope to get stuck before it reaches the bottom, and you can't always see all the way down from the top.
Another golden rule: don't abseil past a jammed or caught rope, always sort it out on your way down as it may be impossible from below and you could even be stranded in midair. Also try to prevent the end going in the sea as it frequently gets stuck between rocks underwater (might be even more likely with a knot).
Know how to prusik with the gear you're carrying.
Where are you planning to climb?
Thanks for all the Responses. I have done loads of sport climbing down Portland and Swanage, wanted to start moving to some trad as its only an hour from me. But never been to a crag where abseil is needed. mostly done trad stanage way. Thanks for all the help
> Usually a good idea but IMHO its pointless if you're Absolutely Certain your rope will reach the bottom (as in many Swanage abseils). The knot can make it more likely for the rope to get stuck before it reaches the bottom, and you can't always see all the way down from the top.
I disagree, you should never throw more rope down than you need - particular at sea cliffs. The rope can so easily be swept under a rock and jammed even if it doesn't have a knot in the end. Carefully lower down the free end while clipped in means that you can judge how much rope to let out . Keep a knot in the end always just in case you get that wrong.
> If new to abseiling in, I'd recommend starting at Subluminal and Lighthouse Cliff. Fairly short ab on to a fairly large ledge, well clear of the sea in all but the roughest of seas.
In addition, the most common abseil at Subluminal is down a straightforward climb out.
Guess who discovered this a few years ago when he abbed down with a friend, and realised that he'd left his climbing ropes at the top?
> I disagree, you should never throw more rope down than you need - particular at sea cliffs. The rope can so easily be swept under a rock and jammed even if it doesn't have a knot in the end. Carefully lower down the free end while clipped in means that you can judge how much rope to let out . Keep a knot in the end always just in case you get that wrong. <
I don't think we're so far apart. I did say "Absolutely Certain your rope will reach the bottom", I hope I didn't imply that an unknotted rope won't get stuck under water. Every situation is different: many abs end on boulders etc and not the sea. One ab might start over easy angled ledges and then go over overhangs....hard to tell if the rope has reached the ground and difficult to lower the free end down. Obviously one can pay out rope while one abs but possibly the OP won't want extra complications at first.
An easy option if abbing down some of the higher cliffs might be to use someone else's preplaced rope while toproped on own ab rope, once at base top person ties rope to anchor so that it will be there for escape etc if other rope has been removed.
Apologies if already mentioned but other tips are:
Give the posts a wiggle before using, some of them have been there a while....
Always clove hitch onto the stakes, preferably with slings and then attach the abrope to these. I know of at least one accident at Swanage where somebody took a fall after accidentally lifting an ab rope off the top of a stake where it was simply looped over it and not tied on.
I am a fan of carrying my ab rope in a separate dedicated bag with the rope pre flaked into it, which I clip onto my harness when abbing into any seacliff climbs.
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