Addressing hitch binding with the Rope Wrench on descent

TimBr

Well-Known Member
I used 8mm and 10mm cordage but never had a win win. On 1/2" rope it was easy but I think when you get down to the 11 or so mm ropes, they're way more finikey
Thanks for this comment, Steve. The idea that it might just be the size of the rope alone that could help solve the issue had never occurred to me.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
A few people mentioned in Reg's awesome Rope Wrench tribute thread that they were having issues with the hitch binding on descent. This thread is for brainstorming on that problem.

No one person's setup is "the only way" but let's hear what hitch/cord/configuration is working flawlessly for you.

It's worth noting that any hitch in any setup will progressively tighten for any period of time when a climber's weight is 100% on the system. Before a long descent it is helpful to redress the coils slightly looser.

Hitch cord maintenance is essential to keep it performing consistently over its life. A few years ago Todd Bremer showed me an excellent procedure to remove caked/burned polyester from the hitch cord's cover. Place the cord horizontal against the trunk of a tree with firm and moderate texture bark (think red oak/pin oak/black oak, etc.). Roll the cord up and down with both hands flat against the trunk. Move the cord from one side to the other as you roll it. Repeat until the cord is completely supple and shows very little to no burn/melted buildup. If the cord is in really bad shape it will take a bit more effort to clean it up.
-AJ
Moss, or AJ, or Andrew, correct? Thanks so much for starting this thread, I greatly appreciate it. I just wish it could be "stickied", as I'm afraid it will be rapidly buried. I'm just glad I've been lurking on the Buzz a bit more intently for the last few days, and managed to see this thread going by.

To me, this is such a critical issue with regard to how well a system performs, that it deserves to be kept near the top of the threads list for this section of the forum, to allow others to freely add their ideas to the mix.

Thanks for the tips about loosening up the hitch prior to descent, which I think I've read from you before, and especially for passing along the lesson on how to maintain or "fix" a glazed section of hitch cord.

I have a section of glazed Beeline that I might be able to salvage, now that I know the technique.

Thanks again, for all of the above.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
I believe the original posters in Reg's thread were talking about straight down descent. For bombing a swing hitch functionality (no binding) is even more critical, needs to be just right. Walking down a trunk takes some percentage weight off the hitch depending on lean and other variables and is less a problem for the hitch. So overall I think we're talking about 100% climber weight (or greater in a dynamic swing situation) on the rope, no leg support from the tree.
-AJ
This is exactly what I meant by my post in the other thread.

Thanks.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
If the hitch is being operated by pressing down on the top coil alone, that essentially pushes slack further down into the hitch, making it bind tighter at the top.

Two of the best things a climber can do to prevent hitch bind-up is to;
1)Use a brake hand below the hip to modulate friction, and/or...
2)Grab the hitch by as many coils your mitt can muster, given the amount of heat you're willing to feel, etc.

This is why I appreciate the Michoacan when it's tied well. Lots of nicely wrapped coils to hold, and when you use one or both technique, the tension stays far more even throughout the coils due to your hand sort of holding everything in place.

Try it. Observe, Grasshopper. IT WORKS!
Oceans, (Master), thanks so much for this post. The next time I get a chance to climb, I'll try to remember to try this technique, and see if it helps to solve the problem. I generally climb DSRT, so my second hand is tied up on my second system, and not available for use as a "brake" hand.

Grasping all of the hitch coils and trying to hold them together so that the hitch cord doesn't tighten up like a boa constrictor just never occurred to me. This may end up being a game changer for me, with regard to my level of satisfaction with the Rope Wrench in particular, and hitch climbing in general. All I need now is a supplier of gloves that have high heat resistance, to allow me to grab onto all of those coils with gusto.

Also, I don't know if I've ever come across a good illustration or series of photographs of the Michoacan climbing hitch. Any links to such a web page, or photographs, would be greatly appreciated.

The hitch I currently use is the Knut hitch. I like it for the way it crosses at the bottom, which in my mind causes it to work with almost no setback. (Or is it sitback? I can never remember.)

Thanks again for your invaluable advice.

Tim
 
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moss

Well-Known Member
... I generally climb DSRT, so my second hand is tied up on my second system, and not available for use as a "brake" hand.
Hmmm.... For the purposes of discussing hitch binding, best to be binary about it (look at one system at a time). When releasing the hitch with 100% of your weight on a single line you'll always want your braking hand in play. For more advanced climber scenarios like dynamic swings it's going to be one-handed, no brake hand. Brake hand is definitely balancing load and taking some percentage pressure off the hitch and as Oceans mentioned lets the hitch run smoother.
-AJ
 

WaitakKauri

Well-Known Member
There's a doc here on the buzz that show the michoacan

http://www.treebuzz.com/pdf/Apr07-cc.pdf

I find the xt works best for me for non binding while still catching reliably. Weight 185'/80kg plus gear on Yale 11mm explore/safari using 10mm beeline or ocean with 4 wraps, x braid plus 1 (any more and it's too long). Only a few climbs on the ocean, but loving it.

edit:autocorrect
 
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TimBr

Well-Known Member
When releasing the hitch with 100% of your weight on a single line you'll always want your braking hand in play.
Brake hand is definitely balancing load and taking some percentage pressure off the hitch and as Oceans mentioned lets the hitch run smoother.
Thanks for this tip, moss! When a climber like you tells me "always", I get that you are telling me something critically important. Taking the brake hand to the limit, I guess the idea would be to let the brake hand take all of your weight, while at the same time attempting to loosen up the wraps on the hitch cord to allow one to bomb out of a tree with a hitch that allows one to drop freely, but in a controlled fashion.

Sometimes when I'm climbing with two lines, and one is trying to bind up a bit, I'll use my feet in a foot lock type of configuration on the lower end of the rope in order to try to introduce some friction in that fashion. Usually by this time, however, I'm doing it because the hitch is already too tight, and I'm trying to keep it from getting worse. I guess at that point the best thing to do is to stop descending, and to attempt to take all of the weight off of the hitch in some way, and to then loosen up all of the wraps before starting down again. It's just that this stuff is usually happening right at the end of a long day of climbing, when maybe I've stayed up a bit too long, and I'm faced with a setting sun. I guess I need to practice this skill of unloading the hitch to adjust or loosen it, until I can do it quickly and feel that it is no bother.

Even better, and where I hope I end up, is to practice the techniques that you and oceans have advised me to try, and to get the hitch to behave beautifully without the need to stop and "fix" a misbehaving hitch.

Thanks again for all of your help.

Tim
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Tim, if you want to redress your hitch while on rope and can't get your feet on the tree, simply stand up on your rope with a footlock or foot ascender and take your weight off the hitch. Use your strongest arm in addition to your foot power to "hang" on the rope (the rock climber's rest position) and redress the hitch (loosen the coils) with your free hand.
-AJ
 

WaitakKauri

Well-Known Member
I second (or is it 3rd or 4th by now) using a hand sized grip on the wraps. I used to two-finger the top wrap, but that isn't sufficient when the hitch has been fully weighted and maybe the RW hasn't fully engaged. The more top wraps the easier it is to do this whilst keeping glove from catching into the hitch.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
Tim, if you want to redress your hitch while on rope and can't get your feet on the tree, simply stand up on your rope with a footlock or foot ascender and take your weight off the hitch. Use your strongest arm in addition to your foot power to "hang" on the rope (the rock climber's rest position) and redress the hitch (loosen the coils) with your free hand.
-AJ
Thanks for this post, moss. First time I've heard about the "rock climber's rest position"; thanks for the detailed description, and the mention of the use of the strong-arm side to accomplish it. Much appreciated.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
There's a doc here on the buzz that show the michoacan

http://www.treebuzz.com/pdf/Apr07-cc.pdf

I find the xt works best for me for non binding while still catching reliably. Weight 185'/80kg plus gear on Yale 11mm explore/safari using 10mm beeline or ocean with 4 wraps, x braid plus 1 (any more and it's too long). Only a few climbs on the ocean, but loving it.

edit:autocorrect
WaitakKauri, thanks so much for this post! I appreciate you going to the trouble of finding that document. I've got it saved on my handheld computer now. Now I just have to remember it's there when the time comes.

Thanks also for your recommendation of the "XT" hitch. I'll have to make a point of trying that hitch out sometime in the future, also.

Thanks again for your contributions.

Tim
 

treebing

Well-Known Member
its an art form and there thousands of variables that go into play. This is true for doubled line climbing and SRT climbing with a hitch. Even with a blakes or a taught line there are ways to set and dress it that alter performance. Wether it is humid or dry, how used the rope and cord are. Its all about feel and micro adjustments constantly searching for perfection. I feel hitches are a bit like snow flakes in that no two are the same.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
I use 6 wraps on a VT.....which might be a little tight for some when advancing or slack tending....but at least the configuration is always correct and decents are very smooth and predictable.

Couple years now I've used samson velocity climb line. 10mm ocean works great as a hitch cord, when it's new and supple....but it doesn't stay new for long. Tennex was probably the best for me, but I don't think you can buy it for that purpose anymore.....perhaps because of its low heat resistance. I weigh about 155.....not sure if that makes a difference.
I just thought I'd bump this thread, adding a big "Thank you." to Reg for sharing his setup with us.

The thing that stands out about this post to me, after re-reading through this thread a second time, is that Reg says about his setup that "descents are very smooth and predictable." Now to me, that is really saying something, because it seems like every time I watch one of Reg's videos, the tree he's in seems to be about 140 feet tall, or so.

So if Reg is able to descend almost twice as far as I normally have to, and his hitch does not bind up on him, but rather acts "smooth and predictable" for all of 140 feet, it means that he is definitely doing something (or a lot of things) right. I just thought I'd point this detail out. I will have to try this combo out, sometime.

Thanks for taking the time to post your setup in such detail, Reg.

Tim
 

ClimbHy

Member
Tim, if you don't mind me asking; Specifically what rope/ hitch cord and configuration are you having issue with? Do you have a picture of your set up? One thing that you may already do and has maybe been mentioned before is just before releasing your hitch take some weight off with your belay hand. It may only amount to 30-40 lbs off the system but makes for a more controlled release.
 

oceans

Well-Known Member
With the Rope Wrench engaged, the brake hand can keep the climber from descending at all, even with the hitch completely collapsed. True control comes from learning the balance of pressure between brake and hitch hand.
 

Reg

Well-Known Member
I just thought I'd bump this thread, adding a big "Thank you." to Reg for sharing his setup with us.

The thing that stands out about this post to me, after re-reading through this thread a second time, is that Reg says about his setup that "descents are very smooth and predictable." Now to me, that is really saying something, because it seems like every time I watch one of Reg's videos, the tree he's in seems to be about 140 feet tall, or so.

So if Reg is able to descend almost twice as far as I normally have to, and his hitch does not bind up on him, but rather acts "smooth and predictable" for all of 140 feet, it means that he is definitely doing something (or a lot of things) right. I just thought I'd point this detail out. I will have to try this combo out, sometime.

Thanks for taking the time to post your setup in such detail, Reg.

Tim
Not definite yet, but there's a good chance we have a 200+ft Doug fir to cut out the big deadwood sometime in the next month....so I'm more than happy to take up the gopro and show you how well it works.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
Tim, if you don't mind me asking; Specifically what rope/ hitch cord and configuration are you having issue with? Do you have a picture of your set up? One thing that you may already do and has maybe been mentioned before is just before releasing your hitch take some weight off with your belay hand. It may only amount to 30-40 lbs off the system but makes for a more controlled release.
Hey, ClimbHy! Thanks for taking the time to respond to this thread. I don't have a current photo of my Rope Wrench setup. I'd say at this point, I'm pretty sure it is operator factor and not my hitch cord/rope combination that is the issue. I use my Rope Wrench on a Mammut rope that I think is 10.5mm in diameter, if I recall correctly. My hitch cord is most likely to be 10mm Beeline, but I also use 9.5 mm Epicord sometimes, I'd say. I use the Knut hitch.

Ok, so I think some folks have mentioned the importance of the use of the belay hand before, (most likely oceans), to help control the friction seen by the hitch, but you may be the first person to advocate for its fairly heavy use just prior to putting weight onto the hitch. This entire thread is pure gold, to me, and you've just given me one more nugget of it. This stuff may all seem really obvious to the more experienced climbers on this forum, but I'll be honest and tell you that it had not occurred to me to try to unweight the hitch even as I'm about to put weight into it. I can see how this could be hugely helpful to me.

I climb alone, and everything I know about climbing is from you folks and others on the web who freely share their knowledge. So there are some things that a guy might learn by watching for five seconds, or being told about it by the guy climbing next to him, that I simply miss out on until a conversation like this one takes place. So, ClimbHy, thanks for "foot stomping" this piece of information, and making sure that it found its way to me. I intend to try to remember all of the tips being given to me in this thread, in order to try them all out the next time I have a chance to climb. It might still be a little while before I can, because of the circumstances of my life at the moment. The weather is about to take a major turn for the better soon, though, so I'm hoping it won't be too far off for me.

I am fairly certain that all of the great advice contained in this thread will make a world of difference to me with regard to my hitch's performance the next time that I climb. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge, and welcome to the TreeBuzz forum.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
With the Rope Wrench engaged, the brake hand can keep the climber from descending at all, even with the hitch completely collapsed. True control comes from learning the balance of pressure between brake and hitch hand.
Oceans, thanks for this. I truly am the grasshopper, and you are my Master Poe.

"True control comes from learning the balance of pressure between brake and hitch hand."

This statement sounds very Zen-like. Very Master Poe-like.
It is one more example of the invaluable advice you are providing me with in this thread, and I thank you. I promise you, your teaching is not wasted.

Thanks again.

Tim
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
Not definite yet, but there's a good chance we have a 200+ft Doug fir to cut out the big deadwood sometime in the next month....so I'm more than happy to take up the gopro and show you how well it works.
Wow, Reg, a 200 footer! Just amazing! I don't think I've ever even seen a tree close to that height, as of yet. Kind of tough for me to wrap my mind around it, really.

I would love to see any footage you manage to take of that climb, and I'm sure most of the rest of the folks on this forum would also. I especially look forward to watching closely to see how you manage hitch function.

What the heck do you do for a climbing rope in a situation like that? I know they sell rope in 600 foot reels; is that what it takes to climb those monsters?

Do you need to use a telescope just to check to see that you've got an adequate primary suspension point? (Anchor point, tie-in point, etc.)

A base tie would require over 400 feet of rope. Maybe you've already discussed this stuff elsewhere; if so, I apologize. I don't mean to make you keep repeating yourself.

I look forward to seeing any video you choose to share with us. Thank you for your time.

Tim
 
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