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Rope stuck, how to escape?

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020

Loosely based on a recent incident I was involved in; how would you deal with being stuck when lowering off a sport route and hanging in space? I had only a single quickdraw and a screw gate on my harness and there were no other climbers at the crag. Fortunately I was eventually able to touch the rock and swing in but I can't see what we could have done to escape without help....any ideas?

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 john arran 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

If you're not able to 'bounce' up, then the best way most likely would be for your belayer to lock you off and start climbing the route, until high enough so you're on the ground, then clip into something and lower or abseil from there.

Edit: Just realised your mention of "rope stuck" may have suggested something different to the rope not being long enough to lower, in which case you'd need to say quite where it's stuck and how.

Post edited at 13:05
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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to john arran:

It stuck with me around 40 feet in the air in something of an odd incident! As I fell off I span around the down rope around 8 times, which put so much friction into the system I couldn't be lowered and seemed unable to "maypole" around the rope to free it!

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 baron 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

> It stuck with me around 40 feet in the air in something of an odd incident! As I fell off I span around the down rope around 8 times, which put so much friction into the system I couldn't be lowered and seemed unable to "maypole" around the rope to free it!

I managed a similar situation at Pot Hole crag while toproping several routes. Due to my incompetence I managed to twist the rope around itself a couple of times and found myself unable to either climb up or be lowered off.

I was that stuck that my partner was able to remove me from her belay device without me going anywhere.

Luckily my partner was able to walk around to the time of the crag and because the routes are very short,  there was enough spare rope to lower some down to me.

I tied on and having untied from the original top rope I was able to untangle the twisted mess.

Had the crag been a high one or the crag top inaccessible there would have been a lot more faffing about possibly involving removing boot laces and prussiking.

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to baron:

Nice to hear that I am not the only one to get stuck this way! I wasn't sure I could prussik up such a twisted rope.....very nearly an epic!

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 springfall2008 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

Why were you stuck?

Could you not climb back up the rope using the screwgate to backup your position?

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 muppetfilter 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

Do you have a chalkbag on a belt and shoelaces ?

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to muppetfilter:

I had both, but I am not sure it would be safe, or even possible, to prussik up two strands of a twisted tope, untie and then unravel it and then re-tie?

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

The rope was twisted around and around itself.

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 muppetfilter 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

if you are lowering off an overhanging sport route then  I assumed you couldnt reach the other side of the rope. If its twisting then you can.

If you can then its relatively easy to pull down on the opposite strand,

Reach the top

Clip in with quickdraw

Pull up a belay plate

Thread the rope double and abseil to freedom

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 Jezz0r 08 Oct 2020
In reply to muppetfilter:

That's not easy if the strands are twisted together. The other day I was amazed by how hard it was to pull an abseil ropes down when there were just a couple of twists between the strands.

I would have thought if it's twisted you could untwist though?

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In reply to Jezz0r:

> I would have thought if it's twisted you could untwist though?

Agreed, it must be a toproping situation, so surely the belayer and climber could have moved around each other?

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In reply to tmawer:

Right at the beginning of my outdoor climbing I did a 'Learn to Lead' course. Towards the end of the week I was trying to lead South Face Direct when rain swept in from the sea. The instructor took over, but even with a tight-rope the third of the group, Hans, was finding the crack on pitch 2 impossible. Hans was from the Dutch police, with a bit of experience, and had prussic knots with him ... he used them on the rope to aid the pitch.

Ever since then I've always carried a pair of prussic loops, even when sport-climbing. I've used them a few times ... they can be used as extra extenders as well as for self-rescue when hanging in space.

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In reply to tmawer:

If the downrope was down to the floor - then

As high as you are able tie a loop into the down rope. Then attach yourself to the down rope  with an Italian hitch and  the screwgate. Pull rope through the hitch to bring yourself up to the loop you created and to place your weight on the down rope and unweight the up rope. Now tie a loop in the climbing rope and connect the two loops with two opposed krabs from the quickdraw. Fully untie and ab down using the Italian hitch. 

Of course that all sounds a lot easier than it would actually be, dangling in the air with tight ropes.

Post edited at 16:45
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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to Nempnett Thrubwell

Brilliant... I think that would work... I wouldn't have thought of that. Did you just come up with that or is it a technique you have read about or been taught? Thanks! 

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to Toerag:

You would definitely have thought so, but the layout of the ground in relation to the crag seemed to make this impossible, perhaps  it's as the route is a slab low down and overhanging high up? Perhaps the easiest solution would have been for the belayer to climb up. self belayed by the click up they were using, until we could swing around the rope enough and then for her to descend and then lower me. 

Post edited at 17:05
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 john arran 08 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

Sounds like you still were able to reach the rope leading down to your belayer. In which case, with enough slack surely you could pass this behind your back to remove one twist ... and repeat until the friction is reduced enough to permit lowering again.

Probably it would feel scary seeing so much slack in the system but in reality it would only need to be a couple of metres at most so not actually dangerous.

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 tmawer 08 Oct 2020
In reply to john arran:

That would work too, though a little worrying! Thanks. 

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In reply to tmawer:

This happened whilst lowering my climbing partner in Spain earlier this year. The rope jammed whilst he was some way out from the rock but, due to the nature of the route, I locked him off, climbed the easier slab underneath the overhang, belayed to a bolt, pulled up the slack and threw him a loop and pulled him in. Had the slab not been there it would have been problematical! 

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In reply to muppetfilter:

I was going to say, James Bond style prusik up on shoe laces, making sure to have a running clove hitch back up to avoid a scary drop. Prusik up to where your end of the rope meets the other rope and then unravel the twists.

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 Michael Gordon 09 Oct 2020
In reply to Misha:

What if your shoes are velcro? A better solution seems to be to just carry prussiks...

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In reply to Misha:

> I was going to say, James Bond style prusik up on shoe laces

I am so glad someone mentioned James Bond! Perhaps fling a piton into a baddie's chest like a throwing knife, while you're at it  

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 nniff 09 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

I think Nempnett Thrubwell has it - but where are the 'escape from the system' advocates when you need them?

Still, getting the rope back would be a bundle of laughs if not accessible from the top, and assuming that 'the path round the side' beloved of tartan-thermos-clutching on-lookers is there.

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 profitofdoom 09 Oct 2020
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> What if your shoes are velcro? A better solution seems to be to just carry prussiks...

Of course, I always carry prussik loops just in case - overhangs on the route or not. And I know how to use them. PS folks, practice prussiking

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In reply to Michael Gordon:

Clearly but the question was what to do if you don't have a prusik.

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In reply to Blue Straggler:

I do that on a regular basis anyway to enforce SD at the crag.

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 henwardian 10 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

Assuming that you were _being_ lowered, that would mean the belayer at the bottom has a slightly slack rope and you are suspended in space. In this case:

Solution 1: If belayer has a gri-gri, they put a sling/prussic/jumar/tibloc on the rope above the gri-gri and use this setup to ascend the rope, when they reach a quickdraw, they basically muck about enough to get it undone. At some point they will reach the sticking point and should be able to unstick the rope with a bit of pulling in the right direction, they then take the tibloc/jumar/sling/prussic off, lower themselves to the ground and then lower you.

Solution 2: The belayer goes to the first bolt, ties you off on the first bolt, lowers themselves back to the ground and then can untie and go off and find a way to rescue you (details on how depend massively on equipment, crag, experience and route but might include:

- abseil from above with another rope.

- throw equipment to you from the ground.

- lower equipment to you from the top of the crag.

- go find someone more experienced to help.

Solution 3: If you are close enough to the belayer, they could tie off their gri-gri/belay device then coil rope and throw it to you. Between you (if the route isn't really steep) you can get you swung into the crag with enough force that after a few swings you can grab a draw or the rope next to the wall. From here again there are a lot of possibilities for what to do next depending on the situation.

Solution 4: Mobile phone, mountain rescue, live the rest of your days in a haze of shame and mockery.

Disclaimer: I didn't read the rest of the thread because I'm feeling lazy right now.

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 ian caton 10 Oct 2020
In reply to Misha:

Chalk bag string must always be a spare prussik. 

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In reply to tmawer:

Sorry, no formal training source, just what I thought up from the gear you said you had. 

Let me know how you get on if you ever practice it. 

Second thoughts suggest clove hitches instead of loops might be easier to achieve.

Post edited at 22:12
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 Snyggapa 11 Oct 2020
In reply to Nempnett Thrubwell: 

> Second thoughts suggest clothes hitches instead of loops might be easier to achieve.

Do you tie that out of a spare jumper?

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In reply to Snyggapa:

Ha, corrected for you, I obviously need sleep.

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 tallsteve 13 Oct 2020
In reply to tmawer:

Assuming you have a nice tight harness ...

  1. Attach your screwgate to your tie-ing in loop
  2. Flip up-side down and wrap your legs around the rope between knee and ankle, crossing your legs will also help with friction here.
  3. Bend your legs in an upside down squat - weirdly your legs are strong enough to lift your weight easily.  Who'd of thought it ... ?
  4. You now have slack near your waist.  Tie an Italian Hitch in the now slack rope on the screw gate and slide the gate up the rope towards your bent knees and taking the slack in, tensioning the hitch as you would with an ab device.
  5. Take a rest in the upright position allowing blood to flow normally for a while, holding the hitch tightly as you do!
  6. Repeat 3 and 4 and take in the slack each time until you are up to a suitable recoverable position.

Guaranteed to make your mate fall about laughing and may get you out of a fix.

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 Michael Gordon 13 Oct 2020
In reply to tallsteve:

> Flip up-side down and wrap your legs around the rope between knee and ankle, crossing your legs will also help with friction here.

> Bend your legs in an upside down squat - weirdly your legs are strong enough to lift your weight easily.  Who'd of thought it ... ?>

Are you saying you've actually managed this? Sounds completely desperate!

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In reply to Michael Gordon:

I'd like to see some video evidence!

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