Ropetek and Rock Exotica step up?


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And make a formal submission to the ITCC rules committee regarding safe use of the HitchHiker and Unicender in competitions.

I'll be sending a quick note off to both but just wondering if this has been done, decided not to do, or just a general waste of my time, like stacking BBs in the wind.


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I think it would great if both companies did this but they really have no incentive to do so especially from a time and money standpoint. The ISA just needs to pull its veritable head out of its ass. Companies shouldn't have to jump through a million hoops so their device can be used in comps. If a device is shown to be safe, it should be allowed.

no incentive?

I am afraid I would have to disagree with you on that one, it is called doing your due diligence as a manufacturing company. You are providing end users with information regarding the intended use, limitations, correct configuration and compatibility and potential misconfigurations. The majority of manufacturers seem to be able to take this – not massively high – hurdle. These questions are all we have ever requested to be supplied with answers to in order allow equipment into the comps, so as to be able, in case of a problem, to be able to prove that we were basing our calls on the manufacturer's information.

This is not about the comps. It's about due diligence.




New Member
Maybe if the rules committee would be proactive and contact manufacturers with regards to specifics required regarding devices that have a proven track record in the field. Just a thought. I always thought the instructions with the Unicender were very clear for a skilled at height operator.
It's not up to committees to explain to manufacturers what a process of due diligence is, surly? I would assume these are competences these organizations bring with then in view of the fact that people trust their lives to their kit?!
Not trying to be funny, but how do you think I typed the post? I have nothing to add. I that wasn't clear, it will have to wait until such a point in time as we meet face to face and can have a chat.


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Due diligence means different things to different people in different countries. I do think it would be helpful to outline what the ITCC opinion of due diligence is. What standard? The United States has a very different view of due diligence than the European countries.
The thing that is frustrating to many climbers is that no due diligence has been done on the majority of climbing systems currently grandfathered into the itcc and are accepted without any question or review.


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"You are providing end users with information regarding the intended use, limitations, correct configuration and compatibility and potential misconfigurations."
- seems a pretty straightforward standard for all markets. Within this generality, one could be basic or comprehensive yet still fulfill the need.

RE: grandfathering
- I cant speak to how, where, who the itcc determined traditional systems had documented "intended use, limitations, correct configuration & compatibility and potential misconfigurations", seems the comment is biased toward an American source, but if the itcc accepted basic due diligence for traditional systems from other markets, then they are possibly covered by Ontario. The Ministry of Labour refused to accept the 'gradfathering' approach and required due diligence be employed (as defined by intended use, limitations, correct configuration & compatibility and potential misconfigurations goal). A lot of good people worked hard to research and test a number of systems to prove and set a baseline in our province. May not be super comprehensive but does initiate a documented analysis of intended use, etc. Appendix D.pdf 04_Climbing Trees.pdf

I can now more easily relate to the management perspective (risk & due diligence) than the practitioner perspective (innovation and novelty). I used to be heavy on the later, but now dont have the time to keep abreast, but am heavily obligated to manage the former having a number of staff for which i am responsible. So unfortunately SRT is not permitted. Some staff have expressed enthusiasm to embrace the latest innovations, and I have expressed a willingness to adopt - IF that staff member(s) draft a policy, develop a training module and create a competency evaluation process, under which, they will be evaluated and other potential innovators who also wish to adopt.

So far - no effort to draft any documentation.


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Wow, that sounds like a huge pain in the ass. I would totally just find another company or if I didn't really care I would just climb the way I was told.
Cant you get the educational materials from the TCIA? or are you going to rely on your production climbers to submit that work.
Why do you find SRT to be a different category than traditional methods? Or why do they require a different set of rules or training? They both involve a single rope. Having a 2:1 mechanical advantage does not change the margins of safety enough to be meaningful in anyway. Do you have different requirements for climbers of different weights? Is a 120 lbs climber expected to climb the same way as a climber who is 240?
I don't get that mentality really I guess.
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"Wow, that sounds like a huge pain in the ass. I would totally just find another company or if I didn't really care I would just climb the way I was told "
- Each team member’s prerogative to leave, though I would regret the loss, the company must continue for the benefit of all stakeholders
- WSIB audit, MoL Audit/inspection, CRA audit, Lawsuit, Fine, Litigation, whatever; staff shrug it off and go home, I hold the bag. Therefore; my prerogative to permit SRT - violation subject to discipline.

"Cant you get the educational materials from the TCIA?"
- Our Policies and procedures are our own, produced from other sources yet litmus tested against our obligations, regulatory standards, guidelines etc. TCIA’s or Bartlett’s (same?) SRT policy manual may partially apply, yet my regulators require those components not up to standard are removed/modified. Many hours required to ensure adherence to local standards.
- Our P&P are branded, spiral bound and issued to each worker. We don’t employ a binder, which ends up looking like a scrapbook, rainbow of standards and policies from other sources

"or are you going to rely on your production climbers to submit that work."
- Yep – typed or even hand written for admin team to digitally published; I work from 6am to 6pm, once the kids are in bed, I’m back at the office from 9pm till whenever, occasionally 1am. Add 8-12hrs to develop an SRT policy?
- I am not an SRT Luddite. As previously stated, I am willing to permit the system, but collaboration is required by our proponents to produce the policy framework as required by my regulators.

"Why do you find SRT to be a different category than traditional methods?"
- Similar reason to why each truck has owner’s manual for every chainsaw, blower, hedge trimmer, stump grinder, chipper we have in the fleet. Different machine – different standards.

"Or why do they require a different set of rules or training? They both involve a single rope. Having a 2:1 mechanical advantage does not change the margins of safety enough to be meaningful in anyway."
- DDRT and SRT require differing components, procedures and practices. Silly question really. If a bagfull of SRT goodies can be thrown at the competent DDRT worker, no questions, no comments, no guidance, and develop aptitude and competence on their own with absolutely zero risk – I’ll go out on Monday and buy all interested staff the gear, because as your point maintains current training is sufficient.

"Do you have different requirements for climbers of different weights? Is a 120 lbs climber expected to climb the same way as a climber who is 240?"
- No, the regulators have minimal demand for developing this. However there are some circumstances where build/weight is discussed i.e. tower operations. Seems the argument is getting petty here.

"I don't get that mentality really I guess."
- How many do you employ? What is your level of liability/risk? Do you have a training matrix for your staff? A checklist of training domains? Competency evaluations for each domain? Do you have a competencies matrix which is used to determine ability to fill a job role? (i.e. Apprentice, Technician, Supervisor)
- Things were easier and freer when it was me plus 2. Professional, but still ‘cowboyish’ due to a lack of refined & disciplined documentation
- One great step towards recognition by the market that we are a professional trade is the disciplined documentation of roles, responsibilities, competencies, policies, procedures and unacceptable practices (sounds like “providing end users with information regarding the intended use, limitations, correct configuration and compatibility and potential misconfigurations.”)


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Thanks for the thorough and respectful answer mangoes. I only have two employees. It is a different environment. My newest employee I have trained true DRT meaning using two ropes at all times which to me seems the safest way to go and if you look at the safety record of industrial rope access it is the way to go as far as safety. I myself use two ropes the majority of the time as well. My other climber I am slowly converting to DRT but he is comfortable srt either of the 1:1 variety or of the 2:1 variety and I don't require him to climb with two ropes as he is quite competent with one.
If I had a large company with a lot of new employees I would require two ropes at all times as company policy.


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As for your company and 1:1 vs 2:1 SRT climbing. I would submit that since your employees are probably paid by the hour, it makes no difference to them if the job takes longer because they are using outdated techniques. Therefore they are not going to ever write the policy for you. I suggest It would behoove the company from a production and economical standpoint to have them have the option of 1:1 SRT and to train them in its meaning. 10th grade physics basics goes a long way.


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Thought of a good analogy. You have a motorcycle and you get on the freeway going 60 mph. From a safety perspective is there any difference if your in 2cnd gear or fourth? No but one is considerably harder on your engine and transmission.

You add a couple of wheels though and your margin of safety goes up. If you are worried about safety, get a car.

2:1 vs 1:1 SRT climbing is simply gear changing with no difference in safety margin.
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Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Great analogy!

This is the reason that the ANSI Z133 committee has chosen to not separate one climbing system from another. Whatever choice is made they all have to meet the same criteria.


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If i was driving a company truck and my boss told me to never use third or fourth gear I would do it. I would either go very slow or red line the rpms all day. Right? I would certainly give my opinion about it but I would just do what was asked of me or leave. I certainly would not write a disertation on the physics of gears and ratios.
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The hitchhiker is a hitch based system. All the hitch hiker needs to be is strong as well made and it certainly is that. Paul has done his due diligence several times over. It is not his responsibility to explain to competent climbers the intricacies of tying hitches. I see no persuasive argument that Paul has not done due diligence. Hitches have been used safely on single lines as well as doubled single lines for centuries. Some things should be grandfathered into our collective knowledge. Paul also happens to be an extremely competent arborist and truly does know volumes about hitches and ropes and the combos that work for him, he coincidentally would be an excellent person to talk to.

The unicender has in its instructions that it shouldn't be used without a backup and I personally don't believe they are going to go out of their way to say that it doesn't really need to be used with a backup, as to me that's just sound advice. They have that written on all of their gear instructions and they have some of the best gear in the world. I would use their stuff all day on a single line as do thousands of climbers around the world.

Petzl basically consented and wrote a disclaimer to their instructions and said that
"if you cowboys want to go ahead and climb on a single line and that is your industry standard, who are we to stop you?" It is possible that rock exotica might be convinced to do the same.

the story I see with the rope wrench is that ISC went out of their way, to do lots of testing on the swabish knot which is a good knot to teach a Manufacturing techie and easy to remember. There has been lots of testing done on hitches already available. So due to the response from their customers they basically educated themselves on how one hitch responds to one rope. Im not saying that is a bad thing. Its great, the more they know the better. This data was sent to the ITCC. They also sent the data to me and it looked like something I might expect for a well tied swabish. I havent met anyone else that has read the test results. It was great for the sake of ISC and their understanding of our trade and I think a good investment on their part.

But honestly we all still know way more about ropes and hitches than the lab techs at ISC ever will. I love them to death but I would never ask them advice ever on how to tie good friction hitches. Ask them about aluminum alloys and they can give you volumes of data. Whatever due dilegence was done I am very thankfull. There may have been some steak dinners, some drinking and a round of golf in there somewhere as well...


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Mangoes I was reading the arborist work practices and I saw nothing in their requiring the use of 2:1 SRT although there is restrictions to which hitches can be used. All the pictures use 2:1 SRT examples. I did notice something along the lines of two anchor points MUST be used at all times unless it is hazardous and only one line can be employed. I have hardly ever seen hazards in treework that would prevent the use of two lines. That would be all on page 18. There is also a complete section on footlocking which is very common 1:1 hitch based SRT ascent method employed in our industry for a long time


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Mark, I am curious as to what documentation was provided to allow the use of the DMM Ultra O carabiner in TCC events?

Is there documentation for each variety of hitch cord used in every ITCC event?

What questions do we ask about figure 8 descenders and how have the individual manufacturers vetted these devices/models individually to the ITCC, TAC and ISA?

What about the use of steel rings in friction savers? Who documents that those rings were designed to have rope running through them as opposed to a carabiner clipped to them?

Why is a system that involves a moving rope allowed with no vetting process, or at the very least on site, subjective decision? Its confusing considering climbing systems involving a non-moving or stationary rope are all binary, knee jerk reactions?

What is the difference between a climbing system on a single line and climber that is connected with a Teufelberger CE lanyard in the accepted single line deployment mode? Can I climb on 2, 200' CE lanyards without rope wrenches? What is the difference between a CELanyard and a CEClimb other than the additional floating prusik?

A climbing system is a climbing system. There a million variables that make it work and easily make it not work at all. We should work on developing criteria and process that allows us to evaluate things on the spot, at face value. That way we can make fair and relevant decisions in real time.