UKC

/ Throwing Fully Coiled Ropes Off Crags

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Jul 2018

Myself and my climbing partner out in this great weather, at a shady crag, yesterday. We were about to start a route (just tying in etc) when we here a shout of ‘rope below’ from the top of the crag so we wait for a moment, watching for the ends of an abseil rope, then ‘thunk’, a fully coiled and tied rope lands about 5ft from me (no sign where it came from as the top of the crag isn’t visible from where we are standing) A short delay and another rope lands next to it.

The crag is a 20-30m tall at this point. The guy chucking the rope down almost certainly couldn’t see the area was clear or could but threw anyway (worse?). I reckon a rope hitting someone from that height could be quite serious. I challenged the guy when he came down and he took the view that he’d done nothing wrong and that shouting below was all that was needed. He further added that the fact the rope hadn’t hit us ‘proved’ that what he did was OK.

I told him I thought otherwise. Thoughts please.

1
d_b on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Only one thought: "What a dangerous numpty."

[edit] Not you.

Post edited at 10:52
Sir Chasm - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I think his ropes would have ended up somewhere else, gorse bush, nettle patch, sea, delete as applicable.

Otis - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

If someone can see with with absolute certainty from the top of the crag that the landing area is clear then lobbing ropes down doesn't bother me too much.

The fact the ropes landed such a small distance from you suggests the thrower didn't have a good enough view to guarantee it was safe (time taken to walk 5feet vs. time taken for rope to drop the crag probably aren't too different).

Bad decision by the tosser at the top of the crag (sorry-couldn't help it!).

 

steveriley - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Poor form. I had one gearing up last week: "Rope below" shouted just as the rope left their hands ...not terribly useful!

jon on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to steveriley:

> Poor form. I had one gearing up last week: "Rope below" shouted just as the rope left their hands ...not terribly useful!

Is this a new thing? I've never heard of this happening before. Question is why - once it's coiled it hardly takes anymore effort to carry it down.

summo on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I presume you threw the ropes into deep under growth then return later in the evening? ;) 

profitofdoom on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Thoughts please.

The tosser who chucked the rope down was an idiot in my opinion, for not being sure there was no-one below. But what I do not get is why did they not just carry the ropes down?? I'm just wondering, not asking you

krikoman - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Obviously lazy AND stupid.

Surely they risked damaging their ropes throwing them off coiled up.

Like people have said they might have been difficult to find, in my opinion.

 

Michael Hood - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Aw, bum throw landing in those nettles. Mind you don't get stung

Michael Hood - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

With respect to a whole rope...

I always thought "rope below" was a just in case when you could see where you were chucking down to. If you could see people then it's to stop them inadvertently walking into the path of the thrown rope. If you can't see people then it's a just in case you've missed (seeing) them.

But, if you can't see where you're chucking down to, then you're being a bit of a numpty; who knows where your rope will end up?

With respect to chucking down ends for abbing...

The same applies except that the not being able to see is much more common. You should leave a gap (for a response) between calling and chucking.

All obvious really once you think about it. As with many things, the problem is we get into patterns of behaviour rather than thinking.

jpicksley - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to steveriley:

I've seen that a few times. Rank stupidity. But then there is a lot of that around in the climbing community, just as there is in life in general. Hope you're well, mate!

DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to profitofdoom:

> The tosser who chucked the rope down was an idiot in my opinion, for not being sure there was no-one below. But what I do not get is why did they not just carry the ropes down?? I'm just wondering, not asking you

Presumably to save carrying them but I was always taught not to throw a coiled rope (regardless of safety concerns) due to the possibility of damaging the rope.

1
elsewhere on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Helmets are specified for 100 Joules and a 3kg rope dropping 20m is 600 Joules.

If helmets only go up to 100J I doubt necks go up to 600J.

You had a very lucky escape and so did the tosser.

Alkis - on 09 Jul 2018

I have done it before, out of laziness, but only where I have complete view of everything and I am absolutely certain that there's no-one anywhere near the landing zone.

Throwing down a 5kg mass from 20m without checking the landing zone is moronic.

Martin Haworth on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

I can't comment on the technical numbers but I can't believe a coiled rope is going to have an impact force 600% of a helmet rating? I can't see a coiled rope breaking a helmet or someone's neck. Having said that I'm not volunteering to test it out as it would certainly hurt.

It's obviously a quiet Monday if this is the worst behaviour you are all getting wound up about.

36
nutme - on 09 Jul 2018

Dangerous and nothing was stopping people at the bottom from stealing the rope. I had my shoes nicked from the base of the climb. It was few pitches face with rappel descent and climbers are always visible, so.. rope - bingo!

Stuart en Écosse - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Shame you weren't about to leave, otherwise a response of "Thanks very much," would have been appropriate. 

DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Otis:

> If someone can see with with absolute certainty from the top of the crag that the landing area is clear then lobbing ropes down doesn't bother me too much.

> The fact the ropes landed such a small distance from you suggests the thrower didn't have a good enough view to guarantee it was safe (time taken to walk 5feet vs. time taken for rope to drop the crag probably aren't too different).

> Bad decision by the tosser at the top of the crag (sorry-couldn't help it!).

That's pretty much what I thought about it.

GarethSL on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> ...a fully coiled and tied rope lands about 5ft from me...

Sounds like it was "abandoned"

andrew ogilvie - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

I have a suspicion that if your post was on Wikipedia it would be marked "citation needed". Force not energy  is the bad guy in collisions doubtlessly explaining why deep water soloing more attractive than "spiky rocks" soloing

elsewhere on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to andrew ogilvie:

Alternatively it's about energy management - making sure the energy goes into the rope, crushing the helmet or into the sea rather than into reshaping your body. 

Luke90 on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to jon:

I've been known to do it if I've screwed up the length of the ends so badly that tying the rope on my back is a pain and I know I'll want my hands for the descent.

Even then, I'd only chuck it if the crag was reasonably short (so I didn't damage my rope) and I could clearly see a large empty area around the landing (so as not to be the dangerous eejit in OP's story).

captain paranoia - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Martin Haworth:

> I can't believe a coiled rope is going to have an impact force 600% of a helmet rating

You want to volunteer for empirical testing...?

1
Mick Ward - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to jon:

> Is this a new thing? I've never heard of this happening before. Question is why - once it's coiled it hardly takes anymore effort to carry it down.


It happened to me at Horseshoe Quarry, in the Peak, in the 1990s. It's a couple of minutes to walk down. The guy didn't say/shout anything, just lobbed the coiled rope off without looking. It just missed me.

Mick

jon on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Mick Ward:

A letter to High, Mick

chiroshi on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Martin Haworth:

A helmet is designed to take an impact of energy around 100 Joules, and the head not to experience an acceleration of >250g, which is a number that the UIAA, amongst others have decided will not cause too much damage. (This is a contentious issue and is probably not good enough in a lot of situations). 

This is tested by fixing a 5.5kg weight in the shape of an average human head into the helmet and dropping it onto a flat metal plate from approximately 2m high. Dropping a 5.5kg weight from 20m is obviously going to have a much larger impact energy and is likely to have significant life-changing implications for the receiver. If you don’t believe me, go throw a coiled rope from the top of your house / appartment window onto and put an old helmet underneath it.

 

TL;DR Rope dropped from crag can kill. 

(Disclaimer: I may have got the numbers from the standards mixed with bike stamdards, but they are all in the same ball-park.) 

1
andrew ogilvie - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

Quite so but the energy management you refer to would be understood in terms of its distribution over space (dE/dx hence force) or time (dE/dt hence power) : in each of the cases you present the energy in fairly comparable instances is constant. 

A helmet of mass 0.5 kg achieves kinetic energy of 100J if it travels at 20m/s, it achieves a gravitational potential energy of 100J when moved 20m vertically , or a change in internal energy of 100J with a change of temperature of approximately 0.2C yet none of these circumstances represent a limit on the usefulness of the helmet. 

Without wishing to be rude I think your statement about the energy rating for a helmet is mistaken or misremembered, hence my request for a proper citation which would demonstrate to other users of the forum that the statement is either authoritative or not. My own cursory research found that the UIAA standard requires a helmet to limit force transferred to 8000N presumably under standard test procedures.

Edited to remove predictive text 

Post edited at 17:29
C Witter on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

It's happened to me too - once, when a friend was leading the delicate, unprotected start of a climb, some idiot from Preston MC shouted from directly above "rope below!" I shouted up to him that we were below and not to throw the rope. "Where?" he shouted back. "Underneath you!" I was pretty annoyed. He moved 5m right and threw the rope down... for no reason other than to save carrying it down...

Other times I've had it shouted above me whilst leading, though in this case it was throwing the tails of the rope down to abseil. Fortunately I've never been hit, but having a rope uncoiling onto you whilst you try to balance, some distance from your gear... it's not appealing.

It reminds me of people overtaking me on blind bends, whilst I'm cycling... people feel entitled to do something, so they do it despite the obvious danger it might cause to others. Personally, I think some people are so slow witted that, coming upon an obstacle, they can't actually use their brains to think clearly through the consequences of their chosen course of action, reject it, and then decide upon an alternate course of action. So they just shrug and do whatever had first occurred to them.

1
andrew ogilvie - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to chiroshi:

Thank you that adds useful detail.

chiroshi on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to andrew ogilvie:

I’m on mobile at the moment but can update with numbers from the standard when at my computer tomorrow. I can’t share the whole thing due to copyright reasons but can give a few details. 

Another issue is that a rope is unlikely to hit you directly with it’s centre of mass in line with your centre of mass, causing a rotating force on the neck and hence heighting the risk of injury. I don’t think we’ll see MIPS in many climbing helmets anytime soon, unless of course this rope tossing trend catches on...

Post edited at 17:42
galpinos on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to chiroshi:

UIAA 106 involves dropping:

  • a 5kg* hemispherical weight onto the top of a helmet on a headform from 2m
  • a 5kg* hemispherical weight onto the font, side and back of a helmet on a headform from 0.5m
  • Force transferred to the headform in all cases above to be less than or equal to 8kN (EN 12492: 2012 states less than or equal to 10kN)
  • It also includes penetration (two shapes of striker I believe), chin strap and slippage tests.

*For reference, a 60m half rope weighs approx 2.9kg.

 

galpinos on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to chiroshi:

> I don’t think we’ll see MIPS in many climbing helmets anytime soon, unless of course this rope tossing trend catches on...

I still a bit skeptical when it come to MIPS, especially when the dominant force is radial, not tangential, which it would be in this case.

Pay Attention - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Chucking a heavy object over the edge without regard to the safety of anyone below seems recklessly stupid.

Thank god for UKC as a forum for informed debate.

Thank god for those who've actually calculated the forces involved.

Stupidity has been defined.

elsewhere on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to andrew ogilvie:

A citation of ukc is good enough for ukc!

https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/climbing/helmets/helmets_-_everything_you_need_to_know-1116

The 100J is in the top impact test.

Overall you are more right than I am in that to protect the neck the force is not supposed to exceed 10kN. However we don't know how a helmet/skull/neck reacts to a top impact from something other than a test object so I've stuck with energy.

In the case of a semi-squishy object like a coiled rope with much more energy rather than a rigid test object you really don't know what the force on the neck will be.

It might be a lot less because so much of the energy is is the loose coils rather than the densely wrapped section.

The force on the neck might be bigger than that because the helmet distortion/destruction is reduced when the impact is spread over more of the helmet rather than concentrated into the tip of a rigid test object. Less risk of penetration - greater risk of neck damage.

If the energy absorption is by crumpling a volume of polystyrene over a large area and short distance the helmet may be more rigid than expected increasing the force on the neck. If the energy absorption is by the shell distorting and cradle stretching that might be less of an issue.

Basically, can't estimate force but you can estimate energy and conclude risk of injury or worse looks bad can when energy looks big (whole rope) or comparable (tightly bound section) compared to energy in the test.

  

 

 

Post edited at 18:12
Martin Haworth on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

You want to read my post? I did say I wouldn't volunteer.

Post edited at 18:30
3
Michael Hood - on 09 Jul 2018

In reply to...:

Let's say the rope weighs 3kg.

Would you rather be hit on the (helmeted) head by a rope chucked off from 20m, or by a 3kg stone chucked off from 20m.

I think I'll go with the rope. Even more so if sans helmet.

12
summo on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Would you rather be hit on the (helmeted) head by a rope chucked off from 20m, or by a 3kg stone chucked off from 20m.

Hit me with either through reckless stupidity and I'd advise not coming down to the bottom of the crag. 

2
Sean Kelly - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I actually just stopped someone last week from doing this very thing. Apart from the rope either hitting or causing a climber to be knocked off a climb, it won't do the rope any good. The only way to lower a rope is uncoiled as you would for an abseil. But even this could dislodge stones etc. always best to carry it down and it upsets nobody. Crag etiquette really unlike the numpty who set up at least 4 top-ropes on Haytor the other day with a school/youth group and most of the time they were not in used. Pissed me off proper. After waiting an hour I gave up and walked away.

Robert Durran - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to C Witter:

> Some idiot from Preston MC shouted from directly above "rope below!" I shouted up to him that we were below and not to throw the rope. "Where?" he shouted back. "Underneath you!" I was pretty annoyed. He moved 5m right and threw the rope down... for no reason other than to save carrying it down...

Why were you annoyed? Sounds like a reasonable exchange which should have been fine for all concerned.

 

 

1
Mick Ward - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to jon:

> A letter to High, Mick


Banned, mate.

T'was always thus.

Mick

Michael Hood - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Let's say the rope weighs 3kg.

> Would you rather be hit on the (helmeted) head by a rope chucked off from 20m, or by a 3kg stone chucked off from 20m.

> I think I'll go with the rope. Even more so if sans helmet.

For once I'm a bit intrigued about the dislikes, are 3 people saying they'd rather be hit on the head by the 3kg stone? Or what?

captain paranoia - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

You probably got dislikes because it's a stupid question.

Would you rather I punched you in the face or hit you in the face with a hammer?

Or neither?

1
flour - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Reminds me of the time my partner and I requested a rope from friends who had just finished the 1st pitch of a route on Idwal slabs so that we could catch up with them. Only to be surprised by a fully coiled rope landing at our feet. We had no leading gear... so ended up soloing!

Wiley Coyote2 - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Happened to me about 30 years ago. I was soloing and someone threw a coiled rope down which ended up between me and the rock. Luckily I managed to hold on and put the rope on an inaccessible ledge. After I finished the route and walked down he asked me how it go stuck there. "That's where it landed, mate." "Can you go and get it back for me?" "What?  So you can have another go at knocking me off? No way"

Problem solved

teh_mark on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Funny you should start a thread on this - I was about to myself. It seems to be reasonably common practice at the Popular end of Stanage, judging by the last couple of times I've climbed there. Scared the crap out of my partner once, he was mid-route, heard the thunk and thought someone had fallen off the top of the crag.

I think it's stupid, personally.

Wiley Coyote2 - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Just as a matter of interest; how does throwing a coiled rope off a crag damage it? Genuine question. I would have thought  something designed to take falls and be dragged over thousands of feet of  rough granite and gritstone would be pretty robust.

 

1
C Witter on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Hm... Because, based on his tone of voice, he wasn't expecting anyone to say "don't throw it" and had almost let go when I shouted, then wanted to throw it anyway, expecting us to move to show him where we were, and finally, because there was no need to throw it down, risking hitting someone. Finally, because I was "belaying" a friend who was above a nasty drop with no gear in yet (no gear to be had), trying to concentrate, whilst this buffoonery was going on above. I've thrown ropes off short crags where I can see the floor and when there's no-one around apart from my partner, but it's not something appropriate to do when there are lots of other teams around.

Misha - on 10 Jul 2018

It really doesn’t matter what the force or energy is. It’s pretty clear that a 3kg+ rope dropped on someone’s head (not necessarily wearing a helmet) from any meaningful height (5m, never mind 20m) isn’t going to do that person any good. A popular crag like Stanage could also have children or dogs at the bottom.

It also seems inherently wrong to throw a coiled rope down even if the area is clear. May be it won’t do the rope any harm but it’s a rope you rely on so why risk damaging it?

2
Ben Sharp - on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> Just as a matter of interest; how does throwing a coiled rope off a crag damage it? Genuine question. I would have thought  something designed to take falls and be dragged over thousands of feet of  rough granite and gritstone would be pretty robust.


I imagine there is potential for abrasion damage because a coiled rope has tight bends in it, if it hits a rocky surface against the bends in the rope the potential for sheath damage will be greater than if it was laid out flat. I once had a rope get damaged running over a flat section of granite because it had a knot in it, almost tore through the sheath after being weighted a couple of times just because of the bend the knot made. You live and learn.

Perhaps a fitting reward for throwing a rope at someone would be for the person it nearly hits to find a nice rough rock to make sure it was unusable in the future. I guess that's just the risk you take when you lob your rope off a cliff instead of carrying it down, bound to get damaged one of these days.

1
DubyaJamesDubya - on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> Just as a matter of interest; how does throwing a coiled rope off a crag damage it? Genuine question. I would have thought  something designed to take falls and be dragged over thousands of feet of  rough granite and gritstone would be pretty robust.

As I understand it you are normally throwing a rope down with only the weight of a single strand to create momentum (a few grams) but when you throw a whole rope off you have 2-3kg of weight (plus acceleration), the force of which needs to be dissipated through the leading coils. A single strand hitting a sharp edge or stone is unlikely to be damaged but a single strand with the weight of the whole rope behind it could well end up with damaged sheath. I might be OK throwing a rope on to grass or a smooth ledge/platform (assuming safety of others allowed) but any sort of gritty area or where the was a danger it could slide over uneven surfaces would be risky.

1
DancingOnRock - on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

He was wrong. End of. You don’t throw anything off the top of a climb. Ever. 

The only exception is a enough coils of rope to reach the ground when setting up a top rope. Even then you shout, wait, and then throw well out from the face. 

Where do these people learn to climb?

2
galpinos on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

> A citation of ukc is good enough for ukc!

> The 100J is in the top impact test.

I don't remember any mention of 100j in UIAA 106, EN 12492: 2012 nor in the article referenced?

 

elsewhere on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to galpinos:

That ukc link has 5kg, 2m hence 100J.

galpinos on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

But the '100j' refers to the input into the test, but we don't know the output. The maximum transmitted force to the headform in the test in 8kN (UIAA). However, for helmet 'X', the transfered force may be 1kN. So increasing the energy of the input to 600j, may still leave us within the 'acceptable' limit of transferred force for that helmet.

Your premise is right, in that this scenario seems harsher than the standard test (and the actions in the OP are downright dangerous*) but the conclusion that 'helmets only go up to 100j' is false as that is the input to the test, but gives us no indication of the output.

* I have thrown a rope down recently when making a mess of the tails but could clearly see the landing, we were the only people at the crag and it felt very wrong!

DancingOnRock - on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to galpinos:

The helmet my protect the skull, the whiplash from the rope will break your neck. 

1
elsewhere on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to galpinos:

'Helmets only go up to 100J' is a fair summary of a specification that uses a 100J test.

A safety device hopefully exceeds the specification but it is sold as meeting the specification rather exceeding it.

10kN × 0.01m is 100J.

To meet the force limit for 100 J test object the helmet must deform or crumple by at least 1cm.

To meet the force limit for 600J test object the helmet must crumple or deform by at least 6cm.

That's penetrating the skull as the surface of the helmet isn't 6cm from the skull. 

Protection against a 600J test object or stone is unlikely.

To absorb greater energy whilst limiting the force requires the greater distance provided by cumbersome and bulkier helmet.

PS 100J/1kN is 0.1m but helmets are not 10cm thick.

Post edited at 13:02
Michael Gordon - on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to DancingOnRock:

I would have thought being hit full bore on the head from a coiled rope being dropped from a fair height could easily knock you out. The helmet will be of use for things that might bounce off it, but not so much something supple like a rope.


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