Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"It Depends"

In Canyoneering there are arguments that will just never die.  I guess this is the same in any other sport probably.  I mean how long are we going to be talking about Tom Brady's deflated Balls?  Well, I guess that's not an argument, if they were they were.  But, lets leave that for the campfire discussion.

Canyoneers get set in their ways and as a training school we like to help them get set in those ways early on.  We seek the opportunities to help train future explorers to be safe and rig their rope systems responsibly.  After a few years they hopefully gain enough experience and understanding to start making some decisions on the subject matter on their own.  One of the most hotly debated concepts is the subject of Single Strand Rope Rappel or Double Strand Rope Rappel - Often times abbreviated as SRT vs. DRT (Single/Double Rope Technique).

Photo from Climbing Magazine: Unbelayvable Article
The Art Project
This topic came up last week on a Canyoneering forum discussion and I used it as a Q&A topic for our Facebook page this week.  Just last evening while surfing Twitter I came across an article posted by Climbing Magazine poking fun at an anchor rigging set up that a climber stumbled across:
http://www.climbing.com/news/unbelayvable-the-art-project-anchor/  What was common in all these discussions about rope technique in canyoneering is the usual "It Depends."

For new Canyoneers we teach a single rope technique set up in what is called a contingency anchor format.  Climbers look at us and with one eye brow raised they go - Huh?  Why?  Why not just set it up Double Strand and be done with it.  No fuss, no muss.  Well, that's all well and good for a climber who understands putting a rope through a point and rappelling down to the next point, but in Canyoneering "It Depends."

Learning to lower a stuck rappeller on an SRT
contingency Anchor
Teaching a "Newb" to single rope a contingency anchor offers them the opportunity to better self rescue or buddy rescue if the need arises.  Without going into a long discourse on the how the setup works, it allows one to better ascend the rope, or have a partner lower them down from on top, or quickly convert to a haul and raise them up.  In a double rope scenario, all this can be accomplished as well, but through much longer processes and equipment usage.  

In Canyoneering, not all of our rappels are straight down.  Some wind around a corridor in the canyon, some squeeze through/over/or under pinch points, some land in pools of water where you may be swimming, or just wading, may not know til you get there.  Some are through waterfalls pounding on your head and back pack and forcing you to the ground.  "It all Depends."

Aaron dropping over an 80' rappel SRT on
contingency setup
Setting up a double rope rappel can complicate some of these situations with rope retrieval, or with plain old safety.  Halving a rope and dropping it into a pool of water could complicate the disconnect from the rappel if you are swimming at the same time.  40'-50' of rope being kicked underneath you while treading water can cause entanglement or complicate trying to disconnect as well as dropping your rappel device completely.  Single strand can alleviate some of these issues.

There are many many arguments for each side of the coin DRT vs. SRT or is it SRT vs. DRT???  "It Depends."  Once a Canyoneer gets some training under their belt, and some understanding of canyon dynamics, I hope you go out practice and understand the fundamentals more and you will be able to then decide on each and every drop, is it going to be an SRT or a DRT drop?

Oh, and that anchor in Climbing Magazine - it is called a Joker setup.  The pic shows two different setups used to rappel 2-4 people simultaneously.  If it were me, I would have equalized the setup off the two bolts instead of using each one independently, but Hey, they are a guide company, they must know what they are doing right?

Join us for Canyoneering chatter on Twitter: @North_Wash use #CanyonChat

No comments:

Post a Comment