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Thread: On Rappel

  1. #1
    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    Default On Rappel

    In my LARRO class we got to rappel using the 8 plate and brake bar. Anyways, while doing the rappelling we covered using an ascender to unjam the descender device which was useful, but all the while I could not help but wonder about fall protection.

    For low angle fall protection may not be as big an issue but for steeper angles, and one slip of the braking hand can spell disaster for the rescuer. Why were fall protection not discussed, wouldn't a prusik from your harness to above the 8 plate serve as an adequate fall protection device or does this cause other safety issues. What are if any, are fall protection methods/devices for rappel?

    While we are discussing rescue 8's or 8 plates as I heard em called, I have read that the 8 plate has fallen out of favor by the rescue community.
    In my LARRO a few weeks ago, the instructor mentioned that the 8 plate usage had made a full circle.
    It was once the friction device of choice, but was later replaced by the brake bar (due to more friction control), and it remained this way for awhile, but recently the 8 plate has reemerged as the friction device of choice, at least in California. One method we were shown was to add a carabiner below the 8 plate and route running end of the rope through the carabiner to add more friction.

    Look forward to you input

    Thanks
    Mike


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    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Mike,

    The standard for most rope rescue is two points of contact. In Low Angle, defined as something you can walk up or down on with minimal difficulty, the ground is your 1st point of contact and the rope system your 2nd. In LARRO, Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations, I am sure this is the principle that is taught.

    When you work yourself into a High Angle class they will teach both points of contact with rope systems. To some this means a main line and a belay line. The main line may be hooked to you and lowered using a Decent Control Device (DCD), or rappelled on using a DCD hooked to you. The belay is managed from either top, bottom or self belay.

    Top belay is when you have a rescuer manning a DCD at the top, feeding into the system as you decend or tensioning the system as you ascend. Bottom belays are done with a static rope (tied off on the top to an anchor) that runs though your DCD. When you experience an uncontrolled decent event the bottom belayer tensions the rope and slows/stops your decent.

    Using a prussick as you discribed attached to you and the rope above your DCD in a rappel is Self Belay. In low angle, though it is not needed, it would be easy to unload the friction device once loaded. In high angle, if you load the friction belay device, you will need to ascend to unload it. Ascending and self rescue is a Rope II skill.

    An 8 plate or Rescue 8 have fallen out of popularity with many lately for several reasons. The Rescue 8 is not rated for a two person load, sure the kN MBS will be strong enough, but adding the friction needed to convert from a one person to a two person load is easier with a Brake Bar Rack. Also swithcing over from an acent to a decent requires you to take the Rescue 8 off your point of attachment to thread it into the rope, pain in the butt if you drop it and have to down climb on your ascenders to reach the bottom. They are another tool in the hardware bag and Rope Techs should be familure and comfortable with their use. I don't know about Cali, but most people here are on racks now. I still like the 8 plate for the progress capture when stringing the high line and it is a great rappel device, just has limitations.
    Last edited by FiremanLyman; 10-20-2012 at 07:46 PM.
    ~Drew
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    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Around here, all training, whether it be low or high angle, uses a main and a belay line. There is really no reason not to.

    As far as the popularity of the eight plate vs the rack, in a true rescue situation you will more than likely be lowered by the raise/lower team. This allows the rescuer to deal with everything else going on down rope and let someone else worry about controlling the descent. In this situation you should always use a rack (or DCD rated for two person load) for all of the reasons Drew already stated.
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    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Curious as to the use of two lines in low angle. Not being critical, just curious as I have never done that.
    ~Drew
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    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    Curious as to the use of two lines in low angle. Not being critical, just curious as I have never done that.
    Redundancy is all I can think of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Around here, all training, whether it be low or high angle, uses a main and a belay line. There is really no reason not to.

    As far as the popularity of the eight plate vs the rack, in a true rescue situation you will more than likely be lowered by the raise/lower team. This allows the rescuer to deal with everything else going on down rope and let someone else worry about controlling the descent. In this situation you should always use a rack (or DCD rated for two person load) for all of the reasons Drew already stated.
    True, in most cases, the rescuer will be lowered by a team, but there are situations where a rappel might be used such as when multiple rescuers must quickly lowered, or perhaps a time critical patient.

    In the case of lowering, we were taught both brake bar and 8 plate, our instructors had us use the 8 plate most of the time. We lowered 4 big guys with a stokes basket and had no problem with friction using the 8.

    We too were taught to use a belay line with a main line. From my manual, the belay/safety line is used in event of main line failure.

    I attached a few photo's from my manual to illustrate both 8 plate and brake bar, also the belay line configuration.

    As always Drew, great input. I am still formulating questions in response to your thread. I prefer well thought out questions rather than a quick response.

    thanks

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    This is a rather slippery slope...pun intended!

    One reason for using an 8-plate in low angle is because there may not be very much friction in the system. The 8-plate will make it easier on a lower and rappel. Versus using a brake bar rack where you literally would only be able to rig 1 or 2 bars. Using prussiks ahead of the descent device on a lower is a pretty common practice. If you are using SRT, make sure the rope and prussik are made for each other. Another good technique is taken from the climbing world; tie the cord below the 8-plate (it may be connected to your rear waist ring or a positioning ring). Less friction, easier to control and easier to unlock. Because urban gear is usually pretied, try a short prussik and attach it to a daisy chain runner to easily adjust its length.

    I agree with Drew in that, depending on the angle, no belay is really needed. In a low angle environment there simply is lower demand on the rope system and a seperate line can overcomplicate things. Once your around 45 degrees, I start thinking about a belay as you'll most likely need multiple rescuers to handle the basket, thus placing more demand on your system and anchors. There is a formula to calculae the amount of stress on a system based on angle and mass. I could never remember it so I just worked it all out and make a chart to reference. While the math usually over extimates the demands on the system it's a good place to start.

    I can see in Cali a resurgence of the 8-plate as canyoneering is really starting to make a mark in rope rescue. The technique Mike described is often referred to vertaco mode. The Rock Exotica totum is a nice device and popular amoung the canyoneering crowd. It is essentially an 8-plate with a few extra holes to rig the device in a variety of friction modes. As I mentioned in my post about acceptance to change, the totem is very innovative.

    Again, a nod to Drew. I agree that the 8-plate really has limited use in high-angle rope rescue anymore. It is a great quick access device and can be used for a couple other austere situations, but really isn't the best at any one thing. Drew made a comment about the 8-plates rating that I wanted to clarify...There are 8-plates rated 1983 G. I think the major point Drew was trying to make is that there simply isn't enough variable friction in an 8-plate to make it usefull when tasked with adding a load during use.(for example a pick-off). Of course you can double wrap, but then the rappel becomes more difficult.

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    Be very careful when using a self-belay with a prusik. For it to catch you and keep you from falling to your death you have to perform an unnatural act. While falling rapidly down the rope you have to TURN LOOSE of the prusik so it will grab. This can be impossible to do when you are panicking.

    Mike Dunn

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    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsqman View Post
    Be very careful when using a self-belay with a prusik. For it to catch you and keep you from falling to your death you have to perform an unnatural act. While falling rapidly down the rope you have to TURN LOOSE of the prusik so it will grab. This can be impossible to do when you are panicking.

    Mike Dunn
    That is a good point. I suppose training would help with that reflex.

    Here is an image I found on my CMC app using a biner to add friction.

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    I will be heading back up to Riverside in November for a CSRT refresher course, I will see how rope techniques differ with LARRO and post a note. Great input everyone.
    Last edited by MichaelXYZ; 10-24-2012 at 07:04 AM.

  10. #10
    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    Mike,

    An 8 plate or Rescue 8 have fallen out of popularity with many lately for several reasons. The Rescue 8 is not rated for a two person load, sure the kN MBS will be strong enough, but adding the friction needed to convert from a one person to a two person load is easier with a Brake Bar Rack. Also swithcing over from an acent to a decent requires you to take the Rescue 8 off your point of attachment to thread it into the rope, pain in the butt if you drop it and have to down climb on your ascenders to reach the bottom. They are another tool in the hardware bag and Rope Techs should be familure and comfortable with their use. I don't know about Cali, but most people here are on racks now. I still like the 8 plate for the progress capture when stringing the high line and it is a great rappel device, just has limitations.
    When you posted this I remembered one of my books addressing this concern. Well I finally found it in my CMC Rope Rescue manual. Attached is an image that shows a way to prevent dropping the 8.

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    Los Padres SAR team member Tom Easop introduced this method, if 8 is dropped, it will stay attached to line.

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    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Interesting that someone thought this through enough to come up with a method. A little disturbing that this idea or method warrented a figure in a book. Kudos for finding it.

    Reminds me of "Dumby-Cording" things in the military. I was at one point in training that our hats were dumby-corded to our BDU blouse, pistol dumb-corded to the belt, and canteens dumby-corded to our LCE (...of course you couldn't drink out of them anyways, had to be full at all times).

    Guess what I am saying is the method might be helpful, but to a professional rescuer we just try not to drop the gear.
    ~Drew
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    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  12. #12
    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FiremanLyman
    Also swithcing over from an acent to a decent requires you to take the Rescue 8 off your point of attachment to thread it into the rope, pain in the butt if you drop it
    Guess what I am saying is the method might be helpful, but to a professional rescuer we just try not to drop the gear.
    In that case, your first issue with the rescue 8 should be moot, not to be snarky.

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    Forum Member MichaelXYZ's Avatar
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    I guess this image is the typical self belay method.

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    I also found this self belay method for technical rescue.

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    Petzl I'Ds sure are nice...

    Michael, you refer to the Prusik used in conjunction with the 8-ring as being a belay. Just keep in mind that the Prusik isn't a true belay because the only thing that it is "backing up" is the control aspect of the rappel. The Prusik isn't backing up anything above you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    Petzl I'Ds sure are nice...

    Michael, you refer to the Prusik used in conjunction with the 8-ring as being a belay. Just keep in mind that the Prusik isn't a true belay because the only thing that it is "backing up" is the control aspect of the rappel. The Prusik isn't backing up anything above you.
    Absolutely true Eric. Also be aware that the prusik, generally being more flexible that the host rope it is wrapped on can melt through on a speedy descent. A separate belay line would be my preferred method rather than a self-belay.

    Mike Dunn

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsqman View Post
    Absolutely true Eric. Also be aware that the prusik, generally being more flexible that the host rope it is wrapped on can melt through on a speedy descent. A separate belay line would be my preferred method rather than a self-belay.

    Mike Dunn
    Petzl ASAP on separately anchored belay rope for a reassuring self-belay...

    This is what we're teaching in Ropes That Rescue courses as a first choice, aside from 2nd person belaying. Prusiks also work fine, but the method of tending it along has to be specific, and requires a higher degree of training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    Petzl I'Ds sure are nice...

    Michael, you refer to the Prusik used in conjunction with the 8-ring as being a belay. Just keep in mind that the Prusik isn't a true belay because the only thing that it is "backing up" is the control aspect of the rappel. The Prusik isn't backing up anything above you.
    Eric,
    I know from watching RTR videos you guys use the I'D quite a bit. A buddy of mine from the Philly FD was doing a 240' decent with the G-Rated I'D - 11mm rope. About half way down for a time period of aprox 3 seconds he saw smoke from the I'D. Once on the ground he stated the I'D was hot to the touch. Have you ever experienced or saw that? My initial thought was he had the running end of the rope pinned down over the top of the I'D causing heat from friction.
    What do you think?
    Mike
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    Mike, you may want to have your buddy double check his compatibility. The G-Rated (Red) ID is for 11.5 to 13 mm rope. I would really only use it for 1/2". Using it with 11mm can result in an ultra-fast and even uncontrolled descent.
    Even though its a decade old, there are still a bunch of people out there using the ID without having a solid knowledge base for its use. If you want to use 11mm rope, get the ID S. Problem seems to be people either want to use 11mm line but still want a G rated device and/or people are afraid of the safety gate on the ID S. All of this can be fixed with a solid review of the manufacturer's literature. Sorry, seen this too much before not to address it!.

    http://www.petzl.com/files/all/techn...o/D20L-IDL.pdf

    Collin

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    Thanks for the info Collin. I passed it along....He did in fact use 11mm rope. Spot on, god call.
    Mike
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    Hey Mike,

    Not sure what videos you're referring to. RTR isn't in the biz of making them. Perhaps it was Lance's videos from Rescue Response Gear?

    Anyway, my suspicion regarding your buddy seeing smoke is... it likely wasn't smoke. It was most likely steam. As in from moisture cooking off of a hot descent device. If the rope has a bit of moisture on it, or if in a humid environment, a long enough rappel (think about the squeegee effect on the rope by the I'D) can generate enough moisture on the I'D to produce visible steam if it gets heated up enough, particularly on a rappel that long.

    Not sure what you mean about "pinned down over the top of the I'D". The device has a rolled metal flange across which the rope is designed to run. It will certainly be hot to the touch quickly in descent.

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