Saved from a stupid mistake by a backup prussic

#1
I am an amateur climber and have been rescuing cats for about 4.5 years. I do SRT ascent with the Bulldog Bone, and have a backup thimble prussic above the BDB which is connected to a second bridge on my Treemotion via a long webbing loop. I saw the dual bridge setup on these forums, and liked the idea of redundancy. That backup prussic saved me the other day from an uncontrolled descent of about 40 feet.

The cat I had to rescue was at about 50 feet up a large diameter pine tree. My tie-in point was a little under the cat, on the opposite side of the tree (the cat was skittish, so tried to hide from it during ascent). When I reached the tie-in point, I had to pull myself up a little bit and scoot over a large limb to get to the other side of the tree where the cat was. I bagged the cat, and hung the bag off my harness on a tech cord that is a couple of feet long. Coming back, I had to scoot back over the large limb, and for no reason at all, I was in a bit of a rush. I threw all of the gear that was hanging on the wrong side of the limb on the correct side, and this included the bag containing the cat. My rope was a little slack when I was sitting on the large limb, and I decided just to slide off and let the BDB catch me. I expected a drop of a foot or so, but dropped more like 3 feet (at least). I then noticed that I was hanging from my backup prussic and not the BDB.

I looked more closely, and noticed the tech cord of my cat bag had gone OVER THE TOP of the BDB, with the weight of the cat causing the BDB to completely collapse. If I had not had the backup prussic, I would have had an uncontrolled descent down to the base.

Stupid. Welp, I won't make that mistake again. And I have been tempted to disconnect my backup prussic a few times, and I won't do that.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#2
You do not need the prussic. You need to manage your slack and when moving through the canopy keep your multiscender with visual contact. Glad you are ok. Climbing is about vigilance and having spatial awareness.....You let your guard down and it nearly became costly...if you need a prussic using the BDB...you might consider using a bombproof wrench or HH2 etc.
 
#5
I did something similar when I first started climbing with the zigzag. I was used to using my climbing line to hold webbing slings and biners while i reset and moved them around. First time i did it with the zigzag it collapsed the links and sent me for a ride until my lanyard caught me.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
#6
glad you're OK...thanks for sharing the story

YOu learned a big lesson

Diligence


the protocol I developed was to not let things...anything...enter a hemisphere in front of me. Hip to hip and head to about my knees...then out about an arm's length. The center of this hemisphere is My Precious...My Hitch/bridge Nothing was allowed to to accidentally touch them.

Anything that happened in the hemisphere was done very deliberately and planned.

I'm sure you won't have this ever happen again.
 

39Buick

Active Member
#7
Thank you for sharing. I am in the mindset of some of the others that have posted above. Your spatial awareness that @swingdude mentions and @Tom Dunlap mentions his protocol.
In a split second of mental lapse or a poor decision it could be over! So glad you are safe, you are very fortunate!!
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#8
Thanks for posting. Always have a TIP or redirect above where you are working ( cat rescues ) if possible and use your lanyard always. You are not a working climber so not talking about working a spar out on hooks. Stay safe and have a think about what we are saying.
 
#9
Thanks for replies. I posted it because I was stupid, and wanted to share. Obviously, I am not always spatially aware, or always follow the exact same protocol at every instant in the tree. I am human, and got in a rush like humans do. My backup saved me from a human mistake that I made because I am human, not a robot. That is the lesson that I learned and I am going to keep my backup.

Yes, generally if am I above my tie-in when exiting, I use a secondary lanyard to lower myself until my main rope catches me. This drop was only a foot, and I was in a 'cowboy-ish' mood after successfully rescuing the cat (which was tough, had to do a limb walk, then food-on-a-stick bribe). So, I was overly confident, full of myself and got taught a lesson.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
#10
Sounds like a great rescue - good work! For me, the different elements from working arborists are that 1.) you were not lanyarded in while reloading your system after going above your TIP. That's something I usually avoid. I think you weren't lanyarded in because 2.) your "work" had the potential to move, unlike most of the work done by professionals, so it made sense to not lanyard in prior to securing the cat. I would spend some time thinking about that since the ANSI standard is 2 points of attachment during work, but probably does not consider moving work.

@Steve Connally Steve may know about TIPs and scrabbling around stuff towards animals.

@guymayor may know if the ANSI standard was designed to account for moving work objects.

I echo the others who say that it is nuts to sling heavyish stuff across that area. I think you will never do it again.
 

yoyoman

Well-Known Member
#11
I am an amateur climber and have been rescuing cats for about 4.5 years. I do SRT ascent with the Bulldog Bone, and have a backup thimble prussic above the BDB which is connected to a second bridge on my Treemotion via a long webbing loop. I saw the dual bridge setup on these forums, and liked the idea of redundancy. That backup prussic saved me the other day from an uncontrolled descent of about 40 feet.

The cat I had to rescue was at about 50 feet up a large diameter pine tree. My tie-in point was a little under the cat, on the opposite side of the tree (the cat was skittish, so tried to hide from it during ascent). When I reached the tie-in point, I had to pull myself up a little bit and scoot over a large limb to get to the other side of the tree where the cat was. I bagged the cat, and hung the bag off my harness on a tech cord that is a couple of feet long. Coming back, I had to scoot back over the large limb, and for no reason at all, I was in a bit of a rush. I threw all of the gear that was hanging on the wrong side of the limb on the correct side, and this included the bag containing the cat. My rope was a little slack when I was sitting on the large limb, and I decided just to slide off and let the BDB catch me. I expected a drop of a foot or so, but dropped more like 3 feet (at least). I then noticed that I was hanging from my backup prussic and not the BDB.

I looked more closely, and noticed the tech cord of my cat bag had gone OVER THE TOP of the BDB, with the weight of the cat causing the BDB to completely collapse. If I had not had the backup prussic, I would have had an uncontrolled descent down to the base.

Stupid. Welp, I won't make that mistake again. And I have been tempted to disconnect my backup prussic a few times, and I won't do that.
One of the risks of what I call big top multiscenders. Can happen from something as simple as a lanyard snap, limb or rope sliding down on it.
Glad you are ok.
 

yoyoman

Well-Known Member
#12
Just another point to make, in a true fall everything becomes weightless including the cat in the bag. So as I've mentioned before, this is where the spring in a device or some form of engagement is important. Had this played out something might have engaged and stopped your descent. "Might have", is not much fun though. Another case is that thimble prusik sits on top of the big top without engagement and takes you for a ride. There is no need to backup safe gear and may just add to clutter and confusion.
 

CanadianStan

Well-Known Member
#13
Honestly for what it’s worth ... this an operator failure.

I know you realize this is a mistake but you also seem to think you did nothing wrong ... I’m not saying you should stop climbing or anything, I think it’s great that you’re here and you posted about it

1) You didn’t lanyard in while re-weighting and dropping into another climbing system
2) you had a piece of rope crossing your multiscender device, which is a clear misuse of the device. Poor rope management.

Someone else here mentioned using a ropewrench ... if you feel the need to backup your mechanical multiscender, this says to me that you don’t feel it’s safe. If you don’t think it’s safe on its own, why use it? A rope wrench setup is bulletproof, cannot collapse, and ultimately includes your “hitch backup” (which you trust) as a primary work positioning tool
 
#14
Honestly for what it’s worth ... this an operator failure.

I know you realize this is a mistake but you also seem to think you did nothing wrong ... I’m not saying you should stop climbing or anything, I think it’s great that you’re here and you posted about it
Did I ever say it wasn't? I think that I clearly said, "I made a mistake." How else do you want me to say it? What I am thinking that I did no wrong in was using a thimble hitch backup. Clearly, in this case, I was correct in that, for me. Maybe not for others -- but for me -- it saved me from a screwup. Yes, the screwup was EASILY preventable. I get that. Most screwups are.

Someone else here mentioned using a ropewrench ... if you feel the need to backup your mechanical multiscender, this says to me that you don’t feel it’s safe. If you don’t think it’s safe on its own, why use it? A rope wrench setup is bulletproof, cannot collapse, and ultimately includes your “hitch backup” (which you trust) as a primary work positioning tool
I am not sure what is wrong with redundancy. That thimble hitch is bomb proof, it is not going to slide down the rope. My previous setup (which I still use on wet days) is a HH, and I also used the thimble hitch backup with that. I started using the thimble hitch backup when I saw some people here using dual bridges. I put the second bridge on, and then wondered how I could use it. I also saw a post on here a long time ago where a guy fell because his bridge broke (yes, he could have prevented that by careful inspection, but he didn't). So, if I have this other bridge sitting there, then I might as well backup my bridge by connecting to it a thimble prussic. I also just feel safer having two attachments to the main rope.

I quit using the HH because I got tired of fussing with the hitch. It worked fine. The BDB is much easier on/off the rope. I have a HH2 on my Captain's hook, and I like there (I use Mumford's modified hitch on that). I have never used a Rope wrench, I am sure it works great, but I don't need it - that is equivalent to the HH in my mind.

I guess if I really wanted to be safe, I would do like the SPRAT folks and have a second main rope in the tree in case the tie-in point breaks. I have seen all of the arguments here for/against that. That is one risk that I am willing to manage without a backup. If I ever fall because my tie-in breaks, then that will be proved to be a wrong decision.

Summary: I made a mistake, operator error, screwup. It could have easily been prevented by being more careful in the tree. My backup thimble prussic saved me. I like a mechanical descender, have used a HH before. I like the idea of redundancy, I am not going to be convinced to drop the thimble prussic. I am not trying to convince others to use my setup. I am only reporting what happened.
 
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yoyoman

Well-Known Member
#15
Did I ever say it wasn't? I think that I clearly said, "I made a mistake." How else do you want me to say it? What I am thinking that I did no wrong in was using a thimble hitch backup. Clearly, in this case, I was correct in that, for me. Maybe not for others -- but for me -- it saved me from a screwup. Yes, the screwup was EASILY preventable. I get that. Most screwups are.



I am not sure what is wrong with redundancy. That thimble hitch is bomb proof, it is not going to slide down the rope. My previous setup (which I still use on wet days) is a HH, and I also used the thimble hitch backup with that. I started using the thimble hitch backup when I saw some people here using dual bridges. I put the second bridge on, and then wondered how I could use it. I also saw a post on here a long time ago where a guy fell because his bridge broke (yes, he could have prevented that by careful inspection, but he didn't). So, if I have this other bridge sitting there, then I might as well backup my bridge by connecting to it a thimble prussic. I also just feel safer having two attachments to the main rope.

I quit using the HH because I got tired of fussing with the hitch. It worked fine. The BDB is much easier on/off the rope. I have a HH2 on my Captain's hook, and I like there (I use Mumford's modified hitch on that). I have never used a Rope wrench, I am sure it works great, but I don't need it - that is equivalent to the HH in my mind.

I guess if I really wanted to be safe, I would do like the SPRAT folks and have a second main rope in the tree in case the tie-in point breaks. I have seen all of the arguments here for/against that. That is one risk that I am willing to manage without a backup. If I ever fall because my tie-in breaks, then that will be proved to be a wrong decision.

Summary: I made a mistake, operator error, screwup. It could have easily been prevented by being more careful in the tree. My backup thimble prussic saved me. I like a mechanical descender, have used a HH before. I like the idea of redundancy, I am not going to be convinced to drop the thimble prussic. I am not trying to convince others to use my setup. I am only reporting what happened.
I appreciate your openness and the discussion is beneficial for all. I have seen people back up the unicender in similar fashion. Perhaps in time you'll find having to use your extra hand to manage that extra knot to be an annoyance and a distraction. I suspect it's a lot like learning to manage a friction hitch, once you find one that you can trust and you can tie it and use it, you trust it, other things around it, just become an annoyance and a bother with no additional safety added.
Once again thanks for the comments and inspiring the conversation.
 
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swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#16
" I am not sure what is wrong with redundancy. That thimble hitch is bomb proof, it is not going to slide down. "

This might be a true statement.
But climbing trees is not like other rope access diciplines. There comes a point you must trust your gear and selected PSPs. It is all about the freedom of movement through the tree. It keeps a climber fluid and efficient. Your setup is highly restricting and keeps one from using the mechanical as intended. I climb trees sometimes that are so dense and move so far away from my PSP that I cannot see it. Rest assured while selecting it I must be 100% sure of its integrity. I am trying to open your mind to trusting your gear and using it responsibly. You have posted it but seem a bit defensive. Arbs are a tough bunch with thick skin. Take what we say as caring responses. Not ridicule. Most of us speak this way because consequences can be dire. I won't molly coddle anyone including my offspring.
 
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#17
" I am not sure what is wrong with redundancy. That thimble hitch is bomb proof, it is not going to slide down. "

This might be a true statement.
But climbing trees is not like other rope access diciplines. There comes a point you must trust your gear and selected PSPs. It is all about the freedom of movement through the tree. It keeps a climber fluid and efficient. Your setup is highly restricting and keeps one from using the mechanical as intended. I climb trees sometimes that are so dense and move so far away from my PSP that I cannot see it. Rest assured while selecting it I must be 100% sure of its integrity. I am trying to open your mind to trusting your gear and using it responsibly. You have posted it but seem a bit defensive. Arbs are a tough bunch with thick skin. Take what we say as caring responses. Not ridicule. Most of us speak this way because consequences can be dire. I won't molly coddle anyone including my offspring.
The thing that I find interesting about the responses is that I described something that I do (the backup prussic) that saved me a trip to the hospital, and the responses say "Eh, you shouldn't be using that -- you just need to Get Good!". Haha -- sorry, I am going to keep using it -- or else I would be in the hospital :). If that is defensive -- I am ignoring the advice of elders -- then so be it. I don't mind (and expected) the responses that say I was stupid to make that mistake, because I was! (I don't expect mollycoddling, hell I am 60 years old). But the responses telling me to drop the one safety feature that kept me from a fall after making a mistake -- Wut? That was unexpected. That is where the defensiveness comes from. I am not an arborist. I don't pretend to be an expert climber. I never post 'tips' on this forum as there is nothing I can contribute (I certainly take away a lot of tips!). I read the "Awakenings" forum the first every time I visit because I want to see the mistakes made, and hope that I can avoid them.

I climb 3-4 times a month max - assuming 4 hours of climbing a month, my total 4.5 year experience is about ~220 hours, which is probably about 3-4 months of professional arborist climbing. So I am still just a newbie climbing-wise. Being realistic, I will never develop the Feng Shui of being One-with-the-Tree-And-Your-Gear to where I won't ever make a mistake. So, respectfully, I will keep my redundancy, even if it limits me in movement, and it is a hassle to push the prussic up the rope when I climb. The cats I rescue don't mind how long it takes for me to reach them.

Thanks.
 
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evo

Well-Known Member
#20
Keep doing what makes/keeps you safe.

However, what others with oh so many fucken years of combined experience is trying to articulate is a back up is something that should never be deployed even if used. The moment your back up engages it turns into your primary. The events that led to the back up saving you need to be looked at and considered. It’s not greatness that keeps us alive doing what we do, it’s knowing what we can get away with and what we cannot. A drop of a foot is flirting dangerously close to our working load limits.
 
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