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  • Overview of Vertical Devices by Dr. Gary D. Storrick When we put this kit together, there was no shortage of devices to choose from for our descender. The Rock Exotica Mini 8 showed up early as a possibility because of its size, weight and flexibility, you can read more about it here: Rock Exotica Mini 8 Descender Instructions.If you want to see what else is out there, Dr Gary D. Storrick's Vertical Devices is excellent. Over a period of 40 years, he has collected and tested over 1400 devices.  If you want to check out devices new and old from all over the world, this is a great place to start.Dr. Storrick points out this is a hobby, not a business for him, andI hope ...
    Posted Feb 13, 2014, 10:13 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Myths Debunked #4: Old Rope is Dangerous Despite years of conventional wisdom to the contrary, ropes age from use, not from sitting on a shelf.  The article below by Pit Schubert summarizes 17 years of European data. In that time, no accidents were the result of rope age, but due to falls on sharp rocks, and exposure to sulfuric acid.  He reports that ropes of 15, 25 and even 30 years old  "broke in tests accordance with the standard; they still held at least one drop; this means they will not break in practice, unless loaded over a sharp edge, in which case they may break".At the time of this article (March 2000), Pit Schubert was the President of the UIAA Safety Commission, the German ...
    Posted Jul 12, 2016, 3:58 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Myths Debunked 3: Walking on a Rope Damages It According to the folks at On Rope 1, "Not unless you are wearing ice crampons or razor blades.  There is even recent discussion that claims crampons in snow just pass through the rope fibers and cause no harm to the rope."They go on to report:"Jim Kovach, in an exhaustive 8 month study in Ohio, and reported to/by ITRS (International Technical Rescue Symposium) including using rope as a doormat for months, and then driving over the same rope while it lay on beds of broken chards of bricks and a glazier's pile of broken glass. Then the rope was pull tested! Although the kernmantle showed minor signs of wear, in testing no loss of strength was seen ...
    Posted Jan 25, 2015, 11:27 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Climbing Glove and Belay Glove Buying Advice Here's a handy overview on climbing gloves from Outdoor Gear Lab.  Pretty good explanation of what's out there, and what to look for.  They note:"There are a literally hundreds of gloves you can use for climbing. To narrow down your selection, the first thing to ask yourself is what you are most likely to use them for. There are three main activities below and any glove that excels in one application will not do as well in others. "See their full posting at:  http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Climbing-Glove-Reviews/buying-adviceIt includes an informative video, we've linked to it from YouTube below:The Outdoor Gear Lab page shows some of the options off to ...
    Posted Feb 4, 2014, 12:05 AM by Ken Buscho
  • Myths Debunked 2: Don't Daisy Chain Your Webbing Myth: You should not store your webbing in a daisy chain, it fatigues the webbing and will cause it to fail.(Example from Cave Forums, 1/2011: http://www.forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11244)False as stated, caused most likely by someone not understanding that there are 2 types of daisy chains in the climbing world, and then making a story fit the "fact".The top picture is of webbing that has been daisy chained for storage.  The knot used here is also called the chain sinnet, or the monkey braid; check it out at Animated Knots as tied in rope.  This is a safe knot to use in storing webbing, see the email abstracts at ...
    Posted Feb 4, 2016, 3:37 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Myths Debunked 1: Discard a Dropped Carabiner For as long as I can remember, there was a rumor that dropping carabiners was bad for them; it generated hairline cracks, and was a deathtrap waiting to happen.  Not.Fortunately for all of us, there are folks out there who are have the credentials and are willing to take the time to actually research and test these things.  What follows is an excerpt from Geir Hundal's excellent site "The Climbing Mythbusters" (http://www.geir.com/mythbuster.html)The picture on the left shows what it really takes to destroy hardware. And, as they say on TV, don't try this at home.  Read and enjoy.From: The Climbing Mythbusters  (http://www.geir.com/mythbuster.html)Myth 1: Carabiners ...
    Posted Feb 13, 2014, 9:47 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Rope Care and Cleaning While the specifics of rope care vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, here are some general guidelines:Inspect every inch of your rope before and after each use. Pay close attention to any nicks, cuts abrasions, or any area where the rope feels "mushy", or has a flat core.Keep your rope as clean as possible, dirt and grit can work its way into the fibers and accelerate wear.  When working with a rope in camp, put it on a tarp to help keep it clean.Sunshine and UV are not your rope's friend. Store them in the shade, out of direct sunlight whenever possible.  Bluewater Rope mentions that they incorporate UV inhibitors into their rope, but they degrade ...
    Posted Jan 25, 2015, 11:47 PM by Ken Buscho
  • Sit-Stand (Texas Kick) Rope Climbing System There are many ways to climb a rope, but this is one of the most basic.  Watch the video below to see how it looks. This is from a series on tree climbing from Cornell University, and there are lots of arborist tricks that we can use in SAR. Watch the method at the beginning to see what it looks like.  They are using some standard hardware that we won't be using, our system looks like what you see starting at about 4:30 with carabiners and prusiks.  The system you see here is brute force, with no mechanical advantage.  With our hardware, we can convert this into a 2:1 or 3:1 system, and make ...
    Posted Feb 13, 2014, 9:50 PM by Ken Buscho
Showing posts 1 - 8 of 19. View more »

Overview of Vertical Devices by Dr. Gary D. Storrick

posted Feb 13, 2014, 10:13 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 13, 2014, 10:13 PM ]

When we put this kit together, there was no shortage of devices to choose from for our descender. The Rock Exotica Mini 8 showed up early as a possibility because of its size, weight and flexibility, you can read more about it here: Rock Exotica Mini 8 Descender Instructions.

If you want to see what else is out there, Dr Gary D. Storrick's Vertical Devices is excellent. Over a period of 40 years, he has collected and tested over 1400 devices.  If you want to check out devices new and old from all over the world, this is a great place to start.

Dr. Storrick points out this is a hobby, not a business for him, and

I hope that some of the information here is useful to others, but please remember, your needs may be different than mine. I don't run into burning buildings to jump out the windows, I don't play Tarzan of the jungle, and I don't interfere with natural selection. I have no objection to anyone doing these things, but I don't have those forms of experience. If you do any of these, you should form your own opinions.

His parting reminder is:

Remember, natural selection works, and it's forever.

Well worth your time if you want to explore the world of vertical devices.

Myths Debunked #4: Old Rope is Dangerous

posted Feb 13, 2014, 9:40 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 3:58 PM ]

Despite years of conventional wisdom to the contrary, ropes age from use, not from sitting on a shelf.  The article below by Pit Schubert summarizes 17 years of European data. In that time, no accidents were the result of rope age, but due to falls on sharp rocks, and exposure to sulfuric acid.  He reports that ropes of 15, 25 and even 30 years old  "broke in tests accordance with the standard; they still held at least one drop; this means they will not break in practice, unless loaded over a sharp edge, in which case they may break".

At the time of this article (March 2000), Pit Schubert was the President of the UIAA Safety Commission, the German National Delegate, the Technical Director for the German Language, and chief of the Department for Research Safety of the Deutscher Alpenverein DAV (German Alpine Club).  He was one of the first Germans to scale the three classic big North faces of the Alps, the Eiger, Matterhorn and Grand Jorasses, and his climbing career includes almost fifty first ascents in the Alps, as well as several first ascents in Greenland and the Himalayas.







Need more data?  

"According to DuPont, the shelf life of their Nylon T707 (such as Wellington Commercial Cordage used to make CMC Rescue Lifeline) should be indefinite unless altered by excessive exposure to certain chemicals, heat and sunlight."  CMC Rescue Technical Report #1 ROPE LIFE: When to Retire Your Rescue Lifeline





Myths Debunked 3: Walking on a Rope Damages It

posted Feb 13, 2014, 9:40 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Jan 25, 2015, 11:27 PM ]

According to the folks at On Rope 1, "Not unless you are wearing ice crampons or razor blades.  There is even recent discussion that claims crampons in snow just pass through the rope fibers and cause no harm to the rope."

They go on to report:

"Jim Kovach, in an exhaustive 8 month study in Ohio, and reported to/by ITRS (International Technical Rescue Symposium) including using rope as a doormat for months, and then driving over the same rope while it lay on beds of broken chards of bricks and a glazier's pile of broken glass. Then the rope was pull tested! Although the kernmantle showed minor signs of wear, in testing no loss of strength was seen. There is no evidence that stepping on a rope will grind dirt past the kernmantle into the core."

Perhaps equally interesting: 

"In other testing done by CMC out of California, rope were immersed in various substances for long periods of time and then tested. Some of these included paint, tar, sap, gasoline, oil and vomit. Most of the test items, including gasoline and oil, did not cause strength problems (although an oily rope is tough to use, it did not weaken the rope). Acidic materials, like vomit and animal urine, can cause a 30 percent or more strength reduction."

So the bottom line:  It's more dangerous to have your packaged patient puke on your rope, or for a SAR Dog to lift a leg on your rope than for you to walk on it.

Climbing Glove and Belay Glove Buying Advice

posted Feb 3, 2014, 11:51 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 4, 2014, 12:05 AM ]

Here's a handy overview on climbing gloves from Outdoor Gear Lab.  Pretty good explanation of what's out there, and what to look for.  They note:

"There are a literally hundreds of gloves you can use for climbing. To narrow down your selection, the first thing to ask yourself is what you are most likely to use them for. There are three main activities below and any glove that excels in one application will not do as well in others. "

See their full posting at: 

It includes an informative video, we've linked to it from YouTube below:

Climbing Glove and Rappel Glove Buying Advice


The Outdoor Gear Lab page shows some of the options off to the right in their ad area.  You should be able to find reasonable options at your local hardware store. As an example, Ace Hardware has a variety 
of "High Performance Gloves" that are goatskin for around $20, here's an online example:

OSH and Home Depot and other stores have similar styles, of course.


Myths Debunked 2: Don't Daisy Chain Your Webbing

posted Mar 6, 2013, 1:08 AM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 4, 2016, 3:37 PM ]


Myth: You should not store your webbing in a daisy chain, it fatigues the webbing and will cause it to fail.

(Example from Cave Forums, 1/2011http://www.forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11244)

False as stated, caused most likely by someone not understanding that there are 2 types of daisy chains in the climbing world, and then making a story fit the "fact".

The top picture is of webbing that has been daisy chained for storage.  The knot used here is also called the chain sinnet, or the monkey braid; check it out at Animated Knots as tied in rope.  This is a safe knot to use in storing webbing, see the email abstracts at the end of this from webbing wholesalers and manufacturers for details.

The yellow thing on the right is also called a daisy chain, it gets used in lead climbing for self-belay and other uses.  There are ways to use this wrong, to hook into the loops the wrong way.  When you do that, and take hard fall, you can split the stitching and be hooked to nothing, which is a bad thing.  For more on this, see Myth 5 at http://www.geir.com/mythbuster.html.  There's also more with the video below that illustrates what happens with a bad hook-up:

Daisy Chain Failure



Summary:  There are ways to use a daisy chain and die, but storing your webbing that way is not one of them.


Side note: There is another device used in climbing that's similar in appearance to a daisy chain called an Etrier (Fr: Stirrup) that is designed to be used as a ladder.  Notice that the loops come out from opposite sides, and are foot-sized, as opposed to the Daisy Chain, which are sized for carabiners.








Background:
During a training not that long ago, a Cal-ESAR member was storing webbing in a daisy chain.  A person watching this commented that this was not a good thing to do, per the rumor cited above.  The member, being new to all this, was concerned and repeated the rumor to others, and that's how this got started locally.  I was suspicious that this was an urban (rock?) legend in the making.  Rather than relying on my intuition or opinion, I sent e-mail off to several webbing vendors and manufacturers to get their professional opinions.  Portions of their responses are reproduced below.  Feel free to reach your own opinions, I'm reporting data here...

Ken


From CMC Rescue, Feb 25, 2013
Thanks for the email. Daisy Chaining the webbing is just fine for storage. Knowing the webbings age, history of use and routine inspections would be the best way to determine when to retire your equipment.

Best regards,
Jason

From Black Diamond, Feb 25, 2013
Hi Ken, thanks for the email, personally, I have never heard that this would be a bad way to store webbing, and I cannot for the life of me think of how this would affect the webbing in a detrimental way (only that it always helps to not have a rats nest next time you dig it out).

From Pigeon Mountain Industries, Feb 28,2013

Good Morning Mr. Buscho,

 

I have never heard of any issues regarding the daisy chaining of webbing, (our cave team, myself, and everyone I know keeps their webbing daisy chained). However, I have forwarded your question to my Technical Manager in our Denver office to take a look at, and once I hear back from him, I will relay that information to you.

 

I hope this will help, and in the meantime if you have any other questions please let me know.

 

Thank you and have a great and safe day.

 

 

Peter



Later the same day:

Good Morning Ken,

 

I apologize for the delay in getting back with you on this, and I appreciate your patience. As I mentioned in your previous email, I have never heard of any problems with daisy-chaining and I forwarded your question on to my Technical person in Colorado to get his opinion.

 

In his words:  “Never heard of anything bad, only good things. By daisy-chaining it keeps it tangle free and in a more reasonable length where the chances of it getting dirty or tangled are minimized.”

 

Until your email, I have never heard of any problems with this method of storing your webbing. As you say, I wonder if this might be an issue of semantics and the climbers are referring to something completely different. Certainly if there were a problem, we would have heard of it before now, as almost everyone I have ever encountered stores their webbing this way.

 

I hope this information is helpful, and if you have any other questions or if there is anything else you need, please let me know.

 

Thank you for checking with us and have a great and safe day.

 

 

Peter


From Blue Water Ropes, Feb 28, 2013

Ken,

I see no reason whatsoever to not use daisy chaining as a storage method. I believe they misunderstood. Daisy chaining web will not affect the strength. It will keep it from becoming a tangled mess. Accidentally clipping into a daisy chained section of web is a possibility but only with an unfamiliar partner or group. Those cases always demand a higher level of mother goose syndrome anyway. Please let me know if you have any more questions , conncenrs or input.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us!

                                                                                                            

Best Regards,

 

Scott 


From Mammut, USA, Feb 27, 2013

Hi Ken,

If you daisy chain the webbing for storage, it would not cause any strength loss unless it was tied very tight. 

In theory, even though a knot will have less strength, once the knot is untied, (especially a relatively loose knot) the item with return to it’s original strength.

 

In this matter, the storage conditions are probably more important than whether it is balled up or daisy chained.

 

Being stored in a cool, dry dark place away from any possible chemical or fumes is very important.

 

Please let me know if you need any further assistance.

Best regards,

 

J.P.



Myths Debunked 1: Discard a Dropped Carabiner

posted Mar 5, 2013, 11:55 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 13, 2014, 9:47 PM ]

For as long as I can remember, there was a rumor that dropping carabiners was bad for them; it generated hairline cracks, and was a deathtrap waiting to happen.  Not.

Fortunately for all of us, there are folks out there who are have the credentials and are willing to take the time to actually research and test these things.  What follows is an excerpt from Geir Hundal's excellent site "The Climbing Mythbusters" (http://www.geir.com/mythbuster.html)
The picture on the left shows what it really takes to destroy hardware. And, as they say on TV, don't try this at home.  Read and enjoy.

From: The Climbing Mythbusters  (http://www.geir.com/mythbuster.html)

Myth 1: Carabiners are fragile  

Myth:  "Carabiners are susceptible to hair-line fractures if they are dropped. These fractures cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can drastically weaken a carabiner. So NEVER DROP YOUR CARABINER. If you do, it is best to discard it immediately and replace it with a new one."  (source: http://www.cbcnsw.org.au/docs/AbseilGuidelines.pdf)

Reality:  This is not true of modern carabiners.  First, the "grain" of the aluminum runs parallel to the stock, not perpendicular, so undetectable hairline fractures spontaneously causing carabiner failure just isn't true. Steve Nagode, a quality assurance engineer with REI, conducted an experiment in which carabiners were dropped six times from a distance of 10 meters onto a concrete floor.  The breaking strength of the carabiners was then determined with a 50-kN load cell.  The results:  no reduction in strength was observed when comparing the dropped carabiners with carabiners that had not been dropped.  

Black Diamond's website says this:  "It's best to inspect dropped gear for dings and significant trauma. If only light scratching is visible and gate action is still good, there is a good chance it is fit for usage."

Here's a more colorful test, this time done with a Petzl Reverso:  I call this "Reverso VS .357 Magnum". Shooting a small object with a snubnose .357 from a safe distance is tricky, but yields thrilling results.  This is akin to throwing the Reverso into a rock surface at 67m/s*, which would require dropping it 240m (790 feet).  And these calculations omit air resistance, which limits the terminal velocity of the Reverso free-falling to around 35m/s (the terminal velocity of a baseball).  In actuality, the piece of gear would not reach 68m/s even falling this far.  The Reverso bent various ways, but it took 5 direct hits before it actually broke.  This seems to indicate that a single, short drop for a piece of hardware does little to no damage.  

----------

* 67 meters/second =149 miles/hour or 220 feet/sec (Ken)




Rope Care and Cleaning

posted Mar 5, 2013, 11:37 PM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Jan 25, 2015, 11:47 PM ]



While the specifics of rope care vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, here are some general guidelines:
  • Inspect every inch of your rope before and after each use. Pay close attention to any nicks, cuts abrasions, or any area where the rope feels "mushy", or has a flat core.
  • Keep your rope as clean as possible, dirt and grit can work its way into the fibers and accelerate wear.  When working with a rope in camp, put it on a tarp to help keep it clean.
  • Sunshine and UV are not your rope's friend. Store them in the shade, out of direct
    sunlight whenever possible.  Bluewater Rope mentions that they incorporate UV inhibitors into their rope, but they degrade with time.
  • Keep your rope away from strong chemicals, such as battery acid and bleach.
  • Only mark your rope using "approved" markers; this usually means normal Sharpies, which are alcohol-based, are bad.  Most vendors seem to be happy with laundry markers, with Rub-A-Dub brand being recommended.  Here's the quote from the Bluewater Rope FAQ:
    • "Marking pens are fine to use on ropes as long as they are water based laundry markers. Years ago solvent based markers were the norm. Some of the solvents used in these old pens could reduce the strength of the sheath strands marked. These days most pens are water based so this is not as much of an issue as in years passed. We recommend a Sharpie "rub a dub" laundry marking pen." 
  • Wash your rope per published guidelines.  Also from Bluewater:
  • "Mild soap and cool to lukewarm water. A bathtub or large pail works well to allow complete submersion. Place rope in soapy water and agitate to remove dirt particles. Rinse well in several baths of clean water. It is extremely important to remove all soap residue. Leftover soap residue will attract dirt like a magnet. After rinsing, loosely coil your rope and air dry in the shade. Never use cleaners with bleach or bleach substitutes. Remember- it a soap is harmful to your skin then it is harmful to your rope!"
  • For really dirty rope, you can get a Dobi Rope Brush,
    pictured above, o
    r similar devices from CMI and other vendors that hook onto a garden hose, or build your own.
  • You can also daisy chain or loosely coil your rope, put in a laundry bag, and put it in your washing machine on a gentle cycle.  Details here.  

Sit-Stand (Texas Kick) Rope Climbing System

posted Mar 2, 2013, 1:53 AM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 13, 2014, 9:50 PM ]

There are many ways to climb a rope, but this is one of the most basic.  Watch the video below to see how it looks. This is from a series on tree climbing from Cornell University, and there are lots of arborist tricks that we can use in SAR. Watch the method at the beginning to see what it looks like.  They are using some standard hardware that we won't be using, our system looks like what you 

Sit-Stand/Texas Kick Rope Climbing

see starting at about 4:30 with carabiners and prusiks.  The system you see here is brute force, with no mechanical advantage.  With our hardware, we can convert this into a 2:1 or 3:1 system, and make the climb easier.


Prusik-Minding Micro Pulley

posted Mar 2, 2013, 1:18 AM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 2, 2014, 8:17 PM ]

SMC CRX Pulley


The included pulley is the SMC CRX ("Crevasse Rescue") and is one of the smallest, lightest micro pulleys on the market that has good specs and is reasonably priced. It is designed to be an alpine rescue device. It let's you set up 2:1 and 3:1 systems, and it minds prusiks on it's own. Rated at 22kN (4946 lbf). See more on the specs at the SMC product page: http://smcgear.net/cr-rescue-pulley-orange.html






Fastrap II Leg Loops

posted Mar 2, 2013, 1:06 AM by Ken Buscho   [ updated Feb 2, 2014, 8:35 PM ]


The Fastrap II Leg Loops are manufactured by Attack OpGear as an add-on to their line of rigger's belt, but hey, they work just fine with our Yates 
Uniform Rappel Belt.  The loop on the top hooks into the V-hook on the belt, and the leg loops have a quick connect buckle so you can put them on and tighten them down without having to step into them.

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