UKC

/ Sport rope not long enough, how to escape?

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.
Grahame N - on 12 Apr 2018

While following the discussion on sport route lengths in guidebooks, it got me thinking about how I would deal with this situation:

Lets assume I've climbed an overhanging sport route and am being lowered back to the ground. Unfortunately the rope is not quite long enough but thankfully there is a knot in the end of the rope. I'm dangling in mid air about 10ft off the deck and the knot is hard against my mates belay plate.

Whats the best way to escape from this situation?

teh_mark on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Some variety of get back to the nearest bolt above you (you've clipped to the strand running through the quickdraws so you're not hanging in space, right? And you've taken your prusiks, right!?), clip to the bolt, be taken off belay, pull the rope down to you and ab off. Or lower off from the lower bolt. Or, if it really is 10' and the landing is good, and you've got good holds to start from, just jump? Or if it's easy climbing, downclimb.

Or at least that's how I'd go about it.

john arran - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

The usual method , after a lead ascent, would be for your belayer to ascend (or get pulled up) as far up the route as necessary, clip into a bolt on the route, then they can pull the rope and figure out how best to get down from just a couple of bolts or so up the route.

If you've been top-roping and the rope isn't clipped into anything, then how did the leader get down?! In any case you'll need your belayer to either gain some height or to extend the rope using slings or someone else's rope.

Post edited at 17:29
Grahame N - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

No, I've not clipped the the strand running through the quickdraws. I am hanging vertically from the chain and about 30ft out from the rock (its a steep route!).

GrahamD - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

As above, then.  Your weight will help the belayer to dog up to whichever bolt they have to reach.  They clip to the bolt, you untie and they abseil or are lowered from where they are.  Lessons learnt.  Go for a beer.

Neil Williams - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

I like John's idea - get the belayer to climb up about 10' and clip to a bolt to unweight the rope, lowering you to the ground by doing so, you untie, then they pull the rope and ab off the bolt.

Post edited at 17:34
teh_mark on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

And then for your next holiday, assuming you have 'normal' length ropes and don't want to buy a stupidly long single for sport, take an extra half to go with your single and ab off instead of lowering. Voila!

Grahame N - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

>  - get the belayer to climb up about 10' and clip to a bolt to unweight the rope, lowering you to the ground by doing so, you untie, then they pull the rope and ab off the bolt.

Okay, but what if the belayer cannot climb up to the bolt (he has a broken leg in a stookie!).

As John Arran says above - the rope would have to be extended at the belayers end. Possibly by tying a prussic to the rope just above the belay plate and attaching a long sling or another rope to this, then untying the stopper knot jammed against the belay plate, and then lowering me on the sling or new rope. Might work, if the prussic does not slip on the tensioned rope?

Chris Craggs - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Not overhang, but the rope was deffo too short:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=308907

Chris

deepsoup - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

> Might work, if the prussic does not slip on the tensioned rope?

Traditionally it would be a French Prusik which will slip when you want it to - it's exactly analogous to abseiling past a knot. 

Back everything up with a clove hitch or a loop clipped in just far enough below the knot to re-establish the belay device while the transfer takes place, or if you want to be clever tie a loop into the knot joining the ropes and use that.  (Ask a caver.)

If the spare rope is borrowed from someone else at the crag though - and therefore comes complete with a spare belay device and spare belayer, there's no need to make it that complicated.  Just tie rope B to the end of rope A, belayer B takes over on the other side of the knot and belayer A unclips and allows their belay device to go up with the rope and the knot.

Only works if the height up to the first bolt is enough to get the climber down, obvs.  But tbh, I don't think the chances of bumping even an overhand knot through the first quickdraw are that great anyway.  Maybe it would work, but if it gets stuck you are proper stuck.

If the run up to the first bolt isn't enough and the climb is beyond the belayer, another option would be to prusik up the rope instead of climbing the route to whichever bolt is high enough then lower from there.  Unless the belayer is *way* heavier than the climber their weight on the other end will be enough.

deepsoup - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I like John's idea

Me too.  It's almost as if he has vast experience and knows what he's on about isn't it?  ;-)

 

Neil Williams - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

> Okay, but what if the belayer cannot climb up to the bolt (he has a broken leg in a stookie!).

I wouldn't be belaying with a broken leg, nor would I be belayed by someone with a broken leg.

Grahame N - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

> If the spare rope is borrowed from someone else at the crag though - and therefore comes complete with a spare belay device and spare belayer, there's no need to make it that complicated.  Just tie rope B to the end of rope A, belayer B takes over on the other side of the knot and belayer A unclips and allows their belay device to go up with the rope and the knot.

Of course, simple! This is likely to be the easiest solution, assuming the climber is not too high off the ground.  Lesson to learn though is not to tie the stopper knot in the end of the rope too near the end - leave enough to tie it to a 2nd rope, or better still make the stopper knot a figure-of-eight so it can be easily attached to a 2nd rope.

jon on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Except it will jam up against the first bolt.

teh_mark on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

Shh, don't tell my climbing partners that!

Grahame N - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to jon:

> Except it will jam up against the first bolt.

Yes, would only work if the climber is not too high off the ground.

Chris Craggs - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to jon:

> Except it will jam up against the first bolt.


He was only 10' off the ground, by the time the knot jams he will be close enough to cut the rope

Chris

Lord_ash2000 - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

It would depend on the exact situation, but when faced with similar I just get the belayer to start climbing up the route until I'm on the floor, then they can ab off from the first draw.

If none of that was an option then chuck up a spare sling or prusik to the climber and they can ascend the rope until they can reach a draw and pull the rope through from there and get lowered from that point. 

jon on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

The usual trick here is to foresee this and once the leader gets to the belay he clips in and pulls his rope through until it clears the second or third bolt (or enough so this doesn't happen) then lets it back down again. The second then lowers him down normally. We often do this and have a short 15 - 20m length of rope to attach to the end, and a second belay device.

 

Alternatively Whymper Cragg's method would work OK...

Jonathan Lagoe - UKC - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Or have the mid point of the rope marked and avoid this in the first place

oldie - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

> the rope would have to be extended at the belayers end. Possibly by tying a prussic to the rope just above the belay plate and attaching a long sling or another rope to this, then untying the stopper knot jammed against the belay plate, and then lowering me on the sling or new rope. <

 

I'm probably missing something here but wouldn't it  be difficult to untie the stopper knot when it is still under tension and jammed hard against the plate?

 It might be possible to place a prusik and get the weight off the plate by standing in that. Alternatively I suppose having put the prusik above the plate one could cut the rope below it.

 Incidentally what would be the best way of lowering using an added long sling?....one would have a freed belay plate but I don't know how this would function with a sling.

 

> Might work, if the prussic does not slip on the tensioned rope? <

 

New stopper knot just below prussik, or knot on bight just below it to which a long sling/rope is attached?

Flavio on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I wouldn't be belaying with a broken leg, nor would I be belayed by someone with a broken leg.

What? Why would you let such small details get in the way of a great day out or route?

https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=297100

jkarran - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

It depends. It's possible to contrive a scenario where there isn't much possible by way of self rescue but you have to get creative to eliminate all options. That said, once the rope is loaded the belayer with a low bolt clipped has little freedom to move to reach additional kit and with the knot jammed against the device they're quite stuck.

The simplest as many have said is for the belayer to go up a bit then sort out their rather simpler mess with the climber on the ground.

If that isn't an easy option then asking other climbers or passers by for help accessing kit or pulling the climber into the rock is next on the list.

In the real world fishing the climber bask into the rock with a clip stick or with a piece of clothing or quickdraw chain is sometimes possible. That or swing them to higher ground or a tree.

If the climber hasn't gone far past the lip of the overhang then going up it is an option using whatever is available, slingdraws, shoe laces etc. It's brutal but it is also possible to do it without kit by leaning back, stepping on the rope just above the knot you're hanging from and rocking up while you work your hands up the rope, you then drop back to the sitting position while the belayer yanks in a few inches of unloaded slack. Repeat. It does work but it's a horrible process.

If rescue isn't going to be coming the last ditch option is to take the fall assuming it's survivable, ideally halved between belayer and leader by the belayer jumping if they can't reach the rock to climb. That's assuming both face similar landings, if one is over nettles that changes things! Cut the loaded rope with a shoelace, sling or rock or have the (floorbound) belayer flip and wriggle out of their harness. Much higher risk: the climber can loosen their waist belt then wriggle out of the harness, lower themselves to full stretch saving a good 7-8ft of drop, more if there's chain of slings, quickdraws and clothing to batman down. Still, going feet first with a good few feet of fall saved could be worth the risk. If you've got slings going back up the rope is probably a better plan!

The best solution is to recognise the problem long before it becomes one!

jk

Post edited at 12:42
Howard J - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Tie them off and go to the pub.

trouserburp - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Howard J:

If you have a clipstick and they're only 10ft up you might be able to bounce them about a bit like a pinata

Neil Williams - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Flavio:

> What? Why would you let such small details get in the way of a great day out or route?

Because it's not unlikely that an unexpected fall or other movement would cause the belayer to move or whack into something, causing intense pain, further injury and making things worse?

Neil Williams - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> If rescue isn't going to be coming the last ditch option is to take the fall assuming it's survivable, ideally halved between belayer and leader by the belayer jumping if they can't reach the rock to climb. That's assuming both face similar landings, if one is over nettles that changes things! Cut the loaded rope with a shoelace, sling or rock or have the (floorbound) belayer flip and wriggle out of their harness. Much higher risk: the climber can loosen their waist belt then wriggle out of the harness, lower themselves to full stretch saving a good 7-8ft of drop, more if there's chain of slings, quickdraws and clothing to batman down. Still, going feet first with a good few feet of fall saved could be worth the risk. If you've got slings going back up the rope is probably a better plan!

If it actually is ten foot, both the climber and belayer going to full stretch would be enough unless they're both very short.

Grahame N - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to jkarran:

Thanks jk and everyone else who gave a sensible suggestion. I think I should now be able to deal with this scenario.

Except if - the climber is hanging 30ft above the ground and 40ft away from the rock, he doesn't have any prussiks (or shoelaces), the belayer cannot climb up, there is nobody else around with a spare rope, the first bolt is low - and their phone is out of reach!

jkarran - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

If the belayer is in a fit state to whip in slack when it becomes available and the climber has adequate flexibility they can ascend very slowly without Prussiks with the step up on the rope then fall back to breifly free slack technique. Most sport climbers wear a chalk bag, the belt or drawstring is potentially all you need to ascend a rope, take a wrap of rope around the foot in place of the second Prussik for the step up phase. An alpine clutch is another possibility for speeding up a long single Prussik ascent if you have quickdraws on useless dogbones. Also there is several foot of core available in the stopper knot at the climber's end, accessing it may be possible with some thought.

There are usually still some options even when you're seemingly out of options, they just get progressively harder slower and or riskier

jk

teh_mark on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

With my serious head on (ha) as someone who's currently experiencing firsthand the joys of a broken leg, at seven weeks on and being partially weight bearing I'd be more than happy belaying. I'd have been more than happy belaying earlier on if I hadn't been limited to standing on one leg; it turns out that a break (with internal fixation) isn't as fragile as I always expected it to be.

Flavio on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

Neil is correct, but then we might as well be at home watching TV and not do any climbing in the first place! 

If you and your partner are keen and drop the grade there is nothing stopping you from doing more than just belaying. You can still climb on second. Learn to jumar, backrope, setup a belay seat and sort the rope mess this will cause. You still have 3 limbs to play with and if you buy knee pads you will get another 2 points of contact! By the time you are off the cast you won't have lost all your strength and your ropework will be perfection.

teh_mark on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Flavio:

No cast thankfully, but the surgeon implored me not to. Though I plan on ignoring him and getting back to seconding and toproping things the instant I do away with the crutches ;)

d_b on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

> Whats the best way to escape from this situation?

I feel the OP should have ended with something like "plz reply quickly!" and "posted from my phone".

 

Andy Hardy on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

> And then for your next holiday, assuming you have 'normal' length ropes and don't want to buy a stupidly long single for sport, take an extra half to go with your single and ab off instead of lowering. Voila!

For your next holiday, you'd probably want a more informative guidebook ;)

Post edited at 20:12
teh_mark on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Andy Hardy:

With route lengths?

Hides.

springfall2008 - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Most likely you swing until you can grab the rope that runs through the quickdraws, clip yourself to it with a spare quickdraw and then climb up until you reach the next clip (with belayer assist if need be). Then abseil from there.

 

oldie - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

Any advice on how to start and continue swinging when one is hanging in middair, please?

I  abseiled in the wrong place in Pembroke and ended up over water a long way from rock. The only way I could start swinging was by continuing down until my feet were in water then getting the swing started by vigorous paddling. As soon as I touched some rock I could kick off and get a good swing so I could reach a ledge. (If I had thought about my predicament early enough I could have started swinging higher up while still in contact with the cliff.)

Bulls Crack - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

How to escape?

 

Complain to Rockfax! 

springfall2008 - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to oldie:

The same way as a child keeps a swing going, with your legs?

 

jon on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

> The same way as a child keeps a swing going, with your legs?


Not 'keeps', 'starts'. Worth trying...

springfall2008 - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to jon:

You can also counter pull the rope

Neil Williams - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to jon:

> Not 'keeps', 'starts'. Worth trying...

You start the same way.

John Stainforth - on 14 Apr 2018
In reply to Grahame N:

Surely, if you screw up like this, the thing to do is swallow your pride and seek help from other climbers, assuming there are others about (which there usually are). Borrow a rope; carefully tie this to the belayer's remaining rope and get a second belayer to lower the climber off on the extended rope. (The first belayer can just unclip from his/her belaying device, leaving it on first the rope, whilst this kerfuffle is going on.)

oldie - on 15 Apr 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

I asked about this "how to start swinging" side issue because I remember being completely unable to start from middair (while abbing). I think usually children start by pushing against the ground or with help from peers or parents. 

Even if one could start swinging I imagine it would be very difficult to regain contact with the rock if dangling far out from a climb. From experience I think it would be impossible to regain the bank on most of those fun rope swings set up from tree branches over water.

jkarran - on 15 Apr 2018
In reply to oldie:

The playground swing technique should work, problem is the swing period is so long and the initial amplitude so low it's very head to get synchronised with it, to tend to just flap about out of time with the swing.

Jk

DubyaJamesDubya - on 19:23 Thu
In reply to John Stainforth:

> Surely, if you screw up like this, the thing to do is swallow your pride and seek help from other climbers, assuming there are others about (which there usually are). Borrow a rope; carefully tie this to the belayer's remaining rope and get a second belayer to lower the climber off on the extended rope. (The first belayer can just unclip from his/her belaying device, leaving it on first the rope, whilst this kerfuffle is going on.)


He suggests that he is above the sea. And he was abbing not being belayed.

L Big Bruva - on 16:44 Fri
In reply to Grahame N:

> I think I should now be able to deal with this scenario.

> Except if -  there is nobody else around with a spare rope

I always, always, always have a 30 ft length of old rope in the bottom of my cragging sack for this exact situation. It's been used on more than one occasion!

 


Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.