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Vertical harness set-up
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backcountry6



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Logan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:33 pm    Post subject: Vertical harness set-up Reply with quote

Ok,

I'd like to hear everyone's personal set-up for vertical caves. Harness system, ascenders, the works. Give reasons why you like what you use and what you would recommend. I'm looking to change my vert set-up (right now it consists of a climbing harness, Homemade chest harness made from webbing, with croll and petzl ascender) and would like to hear what everyone else is doing.
Any advice would be great.

Thanks,

Aaron
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Deafnss



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 61
Location: Provo/Orem Utah

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine is relatively simple. Depending upon the cave and it's depth(s) I will just use a black diamond bod harness attached by a steel triangle mallion and use either an 8, bobbin (Petzl Simple) or my rack (again... depending upon the depth).
I have a frog system and a double bungee rig which once more depends upon the depth/height (?) of the drop I have to climb. If it's more than 150' then I'll go for the double bungee, otherwise I'll stick to the frog that I have. For caves with multiple pitches like Neilsens then I'll bring both and use which -ever is suitable.
Some would say I'm carrying too much gear, but not really. With the use of screw-links I'm able to switch from frog to double or back again depending upon which drop I'm about to climb. I'm capable of doing knot crossings and rebelays with both systems easily so it doesn't even factor in my decision on which to use.
I climbed out of the Neilsen's entrance drop (315') with a frog, right behind Peter Hartley... I vowed that I would not do that again. But that's just me. Very Happy
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jonjasper



Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 54
Location: St. George, UT

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:14 pm    Post subject: Ascending systems Reply with quote

Frogs systems are the most dependable, all-purpose ascending systems. The US is the last country to embrace it, and in the US, it is fastly going to the way of the dinosaur.

To make the system more efficient, try a lower attach point harness (ie Caving harness), find the longest comfort length for the foot straps, and get a small decending device.

For a caving harness, the Petzl Fractio is cool but way expensive ($90) and a bit heavy. Petzl does make a cheapier, lighter Superavanti ($75). However, since I go through about a harness a year I purchase Guanzo Guano Gear's harness ($50).

The other advantage to these harnesses is the ability to use D mallions. These allow great strength without no side loading problems. I usually keep both ascenders, the descenders, and my cowtail attached at all times.

I think Petzl cams are the only way to go. I would, however, stay away from Petzl Basic. Stay with Petzl Crolls. They look the same, but for some reason, the Basic doesn't work well in caving. Leave them on the store shelves for the climbers.

However, I strongly recommend stainless steel mallion, which is hard to find without special order. Aluminum is too soft. The thread can strip too easily making it impossible to get on or off. Even with stainless steel oil and clean regularly. I also use screwlinks not biners for the ascenders. No biners for things that you don't want to easily open.

Properly set up foot loops can make I huge difference. If you don't do deep caves the difference between a cavign harness and a climbing harness wouldn't be recongized, but badly lengthed foot loops suck on any length drop. As a general rule, standing with both feet in the loops the handle ascender should be a few inches above the waist croll. However in practice your steps should be able to reach your full arm's length.

The safety to the foot loop needs to be loose and long. The hope is you would never need it. I also have seen many people think the cowtail is supposed to be use as the safety line for the handle ascender. Both end of the cowtail should be free for passing knots, passing bolts, traversing, clipping safety lines to drops, and maybe carrying your pack in those shortier, easy drops.

I have also heard many complains about premade cowtails. Tie you own to match your length preferences. The reason for two ends it to have 2 lengths - one long and one short. As you get better and more advanced you will appriecate why.

Short decenders make advanced maneuvers easy. The two popular choices are Petzl Simple or a BMS microrack with only one hyperbar. I personally like the microrack, with a close second to the Simple. I am amazed that the Shurtz's use stainless steel 8s with ears for Main Drain. If you go this route under you need the rescue ears so you can tie off. If you do deep caves normal 8s will completely eat through the soft aluminum. Eights also can occassionally pass knots. Bad if you are doing exploration. I personnally would keep away from eights unless you are dealing with easy vertical and beginners. It can be the easiest to teach, but it is also the easiest to seriously mess up with.

When you go vertical caving, remember to dangle your pack. With a frog get the pack off of you. It is bad, very bad. Hanging the pack from your main attachment (mallion) on your harness. The length should be enough to not interfere with your climbing. I have carried up to 80 lbs this way. It sucked but impossible any other way.

Chest harnesses have many variations. I personnally took up the easiest of solutions adapted from Andy Howe. I just have a straight loop that I throw over my head and one shoulder. For me it works great without the hassle most everyone goes through putting them on.

The neatest cheat to Frog systems is Petzl's Pantin footcam. An extra cam to help create a stronger stroke, helps hold the rope on starts, and gets you pass bolts by adding an extra step. Damn cool, but you need long trips to really understand.

Anyway, the last thing test your gear before you test yourself. Too many people take their new gear on cave trip without first testing it. Get the gear on a climbing wall, a cliff, and a beginner pit before going to deep caves. If new, go with experienced vertical cavers, they have learned what not to do.

So more than enough. Hopefully, this was helpful to you. Many folks waste a lot of money and pain guessing.
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backcountry6



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Logan

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info!
Have you ever used a full body harness like a workers harness for caving? I like the looks of the frog system. Can you keep it on while crawling through the cave? Also, have you ever used one of those chest rollers/bars?


-aaron
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jonjasper



Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 54
Location: St. George, UT

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:23 pm    Post subject: FULL BODY HARNESS Reply with quote

Full body harnesses are an OSHA thing. If you are getting paid to cave, maybe then look into it. They are made it keep you from breaking you back from long static falls. If you are worrying about long falls breaking your back, don't. In most caving situations the cams would snap the rope in a long fall. Besides these things are mostly steel - extremely heavy probably twice the weight of my entire vertical setup.

However, full body harnesses are commonly used for small kids. It will keep them upright when you pull them up drops. Also these harnesses keep kids from falling out when they do turn upside down. Kids harnesses just don't fit the same way adult harnesses do.

I have never seen chest rollers in Frog Systems. For one, most people would want to pull their handle ascender down past it. It would badly get in the way. For rope walking they're great. They just need to be on very tight. Now with a Pantine this may be a great solution for Ralph who says he carries around a Frog and a Rope Walker. Instead he could carry a Chest Roller and a Pantine. I still think using chest rollers with Frog system would not work. The places you would want to use it, you really shouldn't hassle with it.
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jonjasper



Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 54
Location: St. George, UT

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:41 pm    Post subject: Modified Frog Systems Reply with quote

Peter once took me that Frog Systems around the world are proven and those who try to modify them usually come back to the similiar setup. So if you are new get a cavae harness, petzl ascenders, and have someone help you tie and piece together the rest.

However, the one new thing that may change this is this new Petzl Pantine. The Pantine was original made for climbing trees, not caving. Froggers love adding these things in. You can change in Frog System into a Walk Roper if you have a slope to keep your feet from flying out or have incredible upper arm strength.

I do think adjusting the harness so the scoll runs higher and having a chest harness that can be greatly tighten will help. Then the scoll (as the roller) should help keep you in line with the rope to walk it. People have also tried using rubber cuffs to hold the upper ascender and use a hand over hand motion to walk the rope. These things work but aren't perfect. But they can really impress your frogging friends when you have the speed record for getting up Pinkl Lime Pit. In real deep caves, you would find yourself conserving your energy in the normal frogging motion with an occassional rope walking when you hit the high-angle slopes.
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Deafnss



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 61
Location: Provo/Orem Utah

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon has made some very good points about the versitility of the frog system. One of my favorite ones is that even if you sprain/break a lower (or even a upper) limb you can still climb (alibet painfully) back out on your own if necessary, ideally you shouldn't have to but in a cold wet cave or a freezing cave like Jim Pecks this would be a better option than waiting for rescue to come haul you out.
True I do carry both but not all the time. Like I said it depends on the cave. If it's Spanish Moss or Red Barron or Upper or some others along that range then it's only the frog that I'll be carrying (and a self-rescue device).
But for the deep and multi-pitched ones i.e. Neilsens, Main Drain, Monte Carlo and so on... then having one to choose over the other is (IMO) a good deal.
While frogging however I do not have the chest roller attached to the rope and in-so-far haven't found it to be a hindrance in climbing... even getting over lips. But then I may not have it on all the time... i.e. Neilsens... only two places that I would prefer the ropewalker and that is Fantasy and the Entrance drop. The rest would go to the frog system and the chest harness goes right in to my pack until the next long drop. Some say it's more work but I just smile and shrug and keep going on. Hasn't bothered me yet.

I'd like to hear from the others on this who are reading... if you're reading you can be typing... Very Happy C'mon... what cha got?
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deb



Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say for long, straight ascents the rope walker system is the most efficient by far. The chest rollers work well, but make sure that you get one that's easy to unclip. They can get jammed on lips, which isn't fun.
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Deafnss



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 61
Location: Provo/Orem Utah

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

deb wrote:
I'd say for long, straight ascents the rope walker system is the most efficient by far. The chest rollers work well, but make sure that you get one that's easy to unclip. They can get jammed on lips, which isn't fun.

True, provided you can find those drops aren't rigged european style using multi-re-belay points. There's an ever increasing trend to do it this way.
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deb



Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think candlelight would be the example of the most ideal cave for rope walker system ... if you want an idea of the type of cave it's ideal for - 90 feet straight up.
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Deafnss



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 61
Location: Provo/Orem Utah

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

deb wrote:
I think candlelight would be the example of the most ideal cave for rope walker system ... if you want an idea of the type of cave it's ideal for - 90 feet straight up.

Umm try 220 from the bottom of the shaft... Monte Carlo entrance pit is a place I prefer the ropewaker, as well as Neilsen's entrance shaft and Boomrang's entrance as well. Some parts in Poligamy warrant use too.
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jonjasper



Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 54
Location: St. George, UT

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:03 pm    Post subject: Speed Reply with quote

Brandon Kowallis actually was able to climb 100 ft in 58 seconds at the NSS vertical contest. He was climbing with a Frog plus a Pantine. He was second place in his age group. Not an impressive speed compared to the Ropewalkers he was racing. However he did stir a decent amount of attention for those who were paying attention to the fact that he probably had the fastest time ever on Frog system.

By the way Candlelight to the drift entrance is about 90 ft. Can you imagine climbing Candlelight on a Frog in less than a minute?
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deb



Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow. Go Brandon!!! I can't imagine climbing 100 feet that fast, even before I'm worn out from several hours of caving.

Rolling Eyes
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deb



Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deafnss wrote:
deb wrote:
I think candlelight would be the example of the most ideal cave for rope walker system ... if you want an idea of the type of cave it's ideal for - 90 feet straight up.

Umm try 220 from the bottom of the shaft... Monte Carlo entrance pit is a place I prefer the ropewaker, as well as Neilsen's entrance shaft and Boomrang's entrance as well. Some parts in Poligamy warrant use too.


why repel 220 feet when the caving's at 90?
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clitchford



Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the frog system. It is very versatile, and you can even rope walk with it if you have the petzl pantine
My personal favorite is the frog system made by Petzl. It is what I learned vertical with, and I have been extremely happy with it. Plus, Peter H. uses it, and he is very experienced has been caving in the deepest caves in the world.
It consists of the fractio harness, the croll, ascension, etc. Jon has described it well.
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