Thread: Self belaying

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    Default Self belaying

    Although the norm for all rescue companies is to have a belay system that depends on another person to operate from above or below, how many of you have the "climber"/ "rescuer" belay them self (via, ASAP or other device)? Doing so cutting down on setup time and cleaning up the whole system by not having to work always in tandem with a second system during lowers and raises.

    NFPA does not state that this can't be done due to still having a second point of attachment, but yet it seems that schools are not picking up on teaching this. Any thoughts?

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    No not really, but interesting topic. I have used a prussick on the rappel line as a belay... problem being that if you are in an uncontrolled decent you'll probably panic, grab onto the prussick hitch and mind it open.

    In SRT work, if you are not going to the bottom, we can tie in short on the line. Keeps you from hitting the ground if you experience an uncontrolled decent.
    ~Drew
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    If you can get your hands on an ASAP you will find it to be a much better way. I would hate trying to belay myself with a prussick due to its nature of binding down so hard and its aggressive nature to a line in this mannor. I would love to get with Mike D and put a side by side comparison on of the traditional way of 1006 rescue, and a more streamlined approch (all while staying within current safety standards). I truely believe that by combining different styles of climbing yet keeping it simple, rescue at height/ on rope can be made easyer and safer.

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    Dylan -

    Cudos on bringing up the ASAP; not really an SRT device, but and excellent self-belay device non the less. I have used one for about 2 years now. It works great for self-belay as well as a safety for instuctors who need to be tied off, but want to have flexibility in movement. I have found this piece of equipment hasn't quite hit the mainstream of typical Urban Rescue Squads...I can't speak for the mountain guys.

    Jeff

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    The ASAP is a great device and rated for a two person load when used with an Absorbica lanyard. As a firefighter we stick with traditional belay, but as a SPRAT rope access technician we utilize devices like the ASAP on a daily basis and often rig that line through a DCD so if someone locks up on it after a mainline failure you can either continue to lower / raise them or transfer the load onto a new mainline - all depending on the hazards.

    Some great info on the ASAP, called the ASAP Experience - a pretty new document on it's use.
    http://www.petzl.com/files/all/produ...PE-ASAP-EN.pdf

    Also some good drop test videos out there:
    http://www.irata.org/irata_technicians.htm

    As far as NFPA goes, remember it is a manufacturing standard, not a use standard. The 2012 edition of 1983 does cover belay devices, which it never did previously. I would guess that it is because there are more devices out there like the ASAP.

    Steve

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    Self belays are an interesting topic.

    Take a look at the linked video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T4FT2SHFLo) for a rappel gone wrong.

    The rotten rappel technique and a host of other issues were at work, but the subject had an autoblock self belay rigged on his harness that failed to catch. A lot of discussion occurred in several other forums around properly rigging autoblocks (and similar) self belays.

    In the mountain rescue world a range of minimal equipment (i.e., knot based) self belay techniques are used including prussics, autoblocks, kleimheists, and bachmanns. The ASAP is very nice but is another piece of (expensive) hardware that has to be carried in on a potentially long approach. Note - the rappel where the accident in the video occurred is several miles, 2,000 feet of elev. gain, and 2 waterfalls in to this particular canyon. Had a rescue been required it would not have been trivial.

    The prussik rigged above the rappel device seems to be preferred less since when it does bind you've got your full weight hanging from it making it harder to release. The autoblock or kleimheist rigged off a leg loop on the harness works very well and is easy to release if loaded since the majority of the weight is still on the rappel device.

    Extending your rappel device away from the harness helps give you more working room between the self belay and rappel device and reduces the risk of the self belay "self tending" on the device.

    We rarely use a traditional 2nd rope as a belay if people are rappelling any significant distance since it is sometimes difficult to keep the belay rope from wrapping around the rappel line and stopping the rappel. We'll switch to a lowering set-up controlled from above most of the time if we're going with 2 ropes.

    The bottom/fireman's belay is a very good option most times.

    Like any of these techniques know how to rig it properly, test it, and manage its use is crucial.

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    MtnRsq, Great video as an example. The only thing that I am aiming for a little diffrent on this is having the backup on a second line. Not to say that most likely in your case and other backcountry rescuers cases a second line is an option (like you said). In the video the climber was using the auto block under his ATC. I have found in the past with doing this at any good amount of height (long descent), that unless you stop every so often for the main reason of locking off the auto block it will open it's self to a point that it will not cath when a fall happens. Case in point, this poor guy. It's the same thing with arborist climbing as well ( just in reverse). If the arborist that is climbing doesnt apply weight to his/her hitch along the ascent it will start to open it's self more then you would want causing the danger of it not catching during a sudden fall. A thousand ways to skin a cat right, but like you said knowing how what you have rigged works and acts in the way you are using it is what is key.

    I agree that the ASAP is alot of cash ( im a Shunt fan myself) and I am not to sure how it will act when on a muddy line. But I have seen it (me on the line) work without any problem for a sizeable descent.

    P.S thanks for the video link! I have been having the local S.W.A.T team use a French wrap for an autoblock and although they have had no issue to date with it, I have had it in the back of my mind that this is a bad idea due to them not being able to see if the autoblock is opened to much. That video proves my point. Changes will be made on my end for sure now.

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    Rescuedylan - You are correct about managing any knot type self belay. It is not as simple as tie it and go without thinking any more. Tending it is part of the deal.

    For most moderate rappels (~300 ft. or less) we find that testing the auto block and confirming it is catching before starting results in a block that will remain functional w/out too much trouble. Some people like to use webbing for their block but I find it opens up more easily for my liking.

    Being able to visualize the self belay is a big plus. The Bachmann above the rappel device helps with this and is easier to break loose than a prussik if loaded.

    Good discussion.

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    • Self-belay is yet another tool one can have in the tool box. To not have it in the box is to be more limited in scope regarding your options on a call, especially when you've limited human resources.

    • Different statements were made regarding where to attach the self-belay device. If on the same rope you're hanging on, it's still SRT.

    • Independent belay is the ideal for training. For the rescue, maybe, maybe not...

    • I still use a Shunt for my own rope access work, but your department should weigh any decisions about using Shunts for independent self-belay for rescue teams against the negative statements made by Petzl this year about it- http://www.petzl.com/en/pro/news-pro...se-petzl-shunt Note also, though, user comments at article end... Petzl's statements were based on IRATA's statements- http://irata.org/safety_notices/Safe...0incidents.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    Self-belay is yet another tool one can have in the tool box. To not have it in the box is to be more limited in scope regarding your options on a call, especially when you've limited human resources.

    Different statements were made regarding where to attach the self-belay device. If on the same rope you're hanging on, it's still SRT.

    Independent belay is the ideal for training. For the rescue, maybe, maybe not...

    I still use a Shunt for my own rope access work, but your department should weigh any decisions about using Shunts for independent self-belay for rescue teams against the negative statements made by Petzl this year about it- http://www.petzl.com/en/pro/news-pro...se-petzl-shunt Note also, though, user comments at article end... Petzl's statements were based on IRATA's statements- http://irata.org/safety_notices/Safe...0incidents.pdf
    And Shunts don't work on them 1/2" NFPA ropes either!

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    Quote Originally Posted by earlypowernut View Post
    And Shunts don't work on them 1/2" NFPA ropes either!
    Well you can shove a 1/2" rope into one, but the results sure ain't pretty with dynamic impact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    Well you can shove a 1/2" rope into one, but the results sure ain't pretty with dynamic impact.
    You can say that again! We did a drop test earlier this year. 320 lbs, factor 1 fall of about 18" and the Shunt shredded the rope and the load cratered. Very ugly!
    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruckFF View Post
    You can say that again! We did a drop test earlier this year. 320 lbs, factor 1 fall of about 18" and the Shunt shredded the rope and the load cratered. Very ugly!
    Dave.
    Seems like an interesting test. I'm curious if you were surprised by the results of it.

    Petzl's website says it is designed for up to 11mm rope and is not to be shock loaded. Were you trying to recreate a worst case scenario for a less than informed user?
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    Interesting choice of words.... less than informed user.
    We were trying to convince a group of folks, that was using the Shunt in that way, that it was not a good idea (and as you pointed out, way outside the manufacturers recommendation).
    I think they saw the light and were converted.

    Dave

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    I guess seeing the load hit the ground will convert a person; a visual demo like that beats words any day.

    Less than informed: It's hard to call somebody stupid if you've never met them. Ignorant is probably a more apt descriptor. But that just sounds like somebody trying to pick a fight when using words like that. While not a PC guy generally, I was just trying to be civil.
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