Wave Action Rescue Method

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
A good friend and very experienced climber shared an incident on FB using the Rope Runner Pro. It appears the bottom two slic pins may not have been fully engaged and while the device worked fine on ascent, on descent the bottom pins came loose and while the "Bird" remained engaged, the climber suffered a 50 foot semi-controlled descent by grabbing the rope with gloved hands to slow him down. Whether, or not, it was caused by user error has not been confirmed. The climber's experience, quick thinking and skill prevented a serious injury and while the climber was shaken from the hard landing, he is OK. However, he's vowed to no longer use the Rope Runner Pro.

The FB thread goes on to discuss the incident in greater detail, but I raised a point, that if a ground person were to grab the tail end of the climbing line and wave it up and down or back and forth while the climber was falling, but still connected to the rope, the resulting ripples going through the rope would both create friction and mitigate the rate of the falling climbers descent. This idea was challenged as being fruitless, dangerous and impractical, which I don't personally agree with.

Please share your views about this suggested wave-action rescue method.
 
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Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo

I don’t think I understand... a ground worker is going to respond and make this happen while the climber is in the middle of a free fall?
From the initial fuckup to the finishing splat, there’s gonna be what 5 seconds?
 

Dan Cobb

Active Member
Location
Hoover
I see it this way. In the incident in question, the climber's left hand was holding the rope below the friction device. A wave in the rope would not affect the friction in the device, as his hand would dampen out the wave. Even with no hand below the device, I'm guessing a wave would have little effect on descent velocity.
 

Cereal_Killer

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
My first though is inline with @Jzack605. It's simple geometry; increase the horizontal angle of attack and the vertical rate of decent decreases proportionally.
Not that a ground guy is gonna have the time to grab the line and run away from the base of the tree, but technically it's a workable option. I think we've all zipped stuff down to our groundie on rope and had them walk away from the tree to slow the items we send down (water bottles, tools I'm done using, ect.). This is the working principal of speedlining.

I have nothing more to add about this incident, the guy waited 5 months before typing it up (so his memory of the incident is degraded) plus he immediately sent the device in question back without trying to recreate the fault (on the ground). Doesn't seem like he's trying to help us all, just bad mouth the device... I would put my money in it being 100% user error. I'm certinally not gonna stop using mine over it.
 

AdkEric

Well-Known Member
Location
Adirondacks

50 feet = 15.24 meters
Assume the climber is 176 lbs for easy math = 80 Kilograms
According to that calculator (which does not factor in friction) time to impact is 1.76 seconds.
Maybe friction might add a couple seconds. Long enough for a groundie to look up and say "oh shit." Probably not long enough for a groundie to look up, say "oh shit," grab the rope and do the wave. Even so, as Dan Cobb said, if 1 hand is on rope below as a brake/control hand, your wave becomes irrelevant.
 

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the responses and the well thought out considerations.

As I see it, for the most part this is an issue of timing and being in the right place at the right time from the ground person's perspective. That said, if a ground person is intentionally spotting a climber who happens to go into an accidental fall, than I'd rather try using this option in the hope of saving someone's life, than do nothing at all except helplessly watch. I also agree that the angle of the rope and frequency of the waves or ripples being generated by the ground person will also effect the outcome. Clearly the more horizontal the angle of the rope, the more friction the waves will generate to further mitigate the fall. Of course, cross-checking gear beforehand and being sure everything is properly installed is critical, as well.
 
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Flying~Squirrel

Active Member
Location
Tacoma
Yeah I mean if he has enough time the groundie could tie a rigging line into a giant net and catch the climber that way. Or maybe if the groundie is in the right place at the right time he could be driving a dump truck full of cotton candy and vroom in just in time to make the save. I'll write TCIA a letter to include all of these in next year's training manuals for what to do when you see someone falling out of a tree.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Would t be better to consider just weighting the rope as a groundy? Just like slowing a fig8 by ground operator putting tension on the rope the device is connected to? Plus weighting the line is an instinctive action that can be done by launching at and hanging ones weight on the Tail of rope...
 

Dan Cobb

Active Member
Location
Hoover
Would t be better to consider just weighting the rope as a groundy? Just like slowing a fig8 by ground operator putting tension on the rope the device is connected to? Plus weighting the line is an instinctive action that can be done by launching at and hanging ones weight on the Tail of rope...
Unfortunately, pulling tension on the rope (which is called a bottom belay in my experience), puts the ground person directly under the person experiencing the out of control descent. Bottom belayers have been severely injured by the climber. I have witnessed a caver who rigged all but the top 2 bars of a rappel rack in a suicide rig slow his near free fall from 90 ft by getting a couple leg wraps on the rope. He landed hard, but without injuries other than badly blistered hands (despite 3 layer PMI gloves) and, presumably, leg blisters.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately, pulling tension on the rope (which is called a bottom belay in my experience), puts the ground person directly under the person experiencing the out of control descent. Bottom belayers have been severely injured by the climber. I have witnessed a caver who rigged all but the top 2 bars of a rappel rack in a suicide rig slow his near free fall from 90 ft by getting a couple leg wraps on the rope. He landed hard, but without injuries other than badly blistered hands (despite 3 layer PMI gloves) and, presumably, leg blisters.
I have been injured during Caribbean Run Downs by a$$hole bottom belayers yanking on the rope to suddenly stop me mid run. I wonder if the injuries were from people not committing to the brake action whilst bottom belaying?
 

climbstihl

Well-Known Member
Location
Germany
I have been injured during Caribbean Run Downs by a$$hole bottom belayers yanking on the rope to suddenly stop me mid run. I wonder if the injuries were from people not committing to the brake action whilst bottom belaying?
I don't know what a Caribbean Run Down is, but you have to take into consideration the type of descender used. Say you're coming down on a figure 8, or anything that puts a sharp bend in the rope, you can get yourself to stop with your brake hand (or a bottom belay). The accident in question was with a rope runner, where only the bird was creating friction. You could probably slow someone down a little bit by weighting the tail, but definitely not stop them. And at the speed they'd still be descending at, you're going to get injured if you're hanging on their rope.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI

I don’t think I understand... a ground worker is going to respond and make this happen while the climber is in the middle of a free fall?
From the initial fuckup to the finishing splat, there’s gonna be what 5 seconds?
Groundie had no clue what was happening they were over by the chipper 60' away. Climber is on the ground and groundie asks "you're done already". LOL This reminds me of a tree climbing video I have where the guy ties a slip knot every ten feet on his running end as he goes up the tree.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
I don't know what a Caribbean Run Down is, but you have to take into consideration the type of descender used. Say you're coming down on a figure 8, or anything that puts a sharp bend in the rope, you can get yourself to stop with your brake hand (or a bottom belay). The accident in question was with a rope runner, where only the bird was creating friction. You could probably slow someone down a little bit by weighting the tail, but definitely not stop them. And at the speed they'd still be descending at, you're going to get injured if you're hanging on their rope.
Be interesting exercise how much restriction the bird on its own can apply...

Caribbean run down is abseiling by running forwards down the face you are descending.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Groundie had no clue what was happening they were over by the chipper 60' away. Climber is on the ground and groundie asks "you're done already". LOL This reminds me of a tree climbing video I have where the guy ties a slip knot every ten feet on his running end as he goes up the tree.

Huh, interesting. That's a protocol used by Peter Jenkins/Tree Climbing International for facilitating non-skilled or first-time climbers on recreational climbs. Theory is if the climber accidentally pulls down on their hitch and freezes they'll be stopped from freefall by the first slip knot they hit. The slip knot is set directionally so it can be pulled out by the facilitator on the ground but will lock if hit from above.
-AJ
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Thanks for the responses and the well thought out considerations.

As I see it, for the most part this is an issue of timing and being in the right place at the right time from the ground person's perspective. That said, if a ground person is intentionally spotting a climber who happens to go into an accidental fall, than I'd rather try using this option in the hope of saving someone's life, than do nothing at all except helplessly watch. I also agree that the angle of the rope and frequency of the waves or ripples being generated by the ground person will also effect the outcome. Clearly the more horizontal the angle of the rope, the more friction the waves will generate to further mitigate the fall. Of course, cross-checking gear beforehand and being sure everything is properly installed is critical, as well.
Or you can pull the tail out of the climbers brake hand and speed his fall.

This is silly, and wouldn’t work
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
Huh, interesting. That's a protocol used by Peter Jenkins/Tree Climbing International for facilitating non-skilled or first-time climbers on recreational climbs. Theory is if the climber accidentally pulls down on their hitch and freezes they'll be stopped from freefall by the first slip knot they hit. The slip knot is set directionally so it can be pulled out by the facilitator on the ground but will lock if hit from above.
-AJ
Ask Peter where he got the idea...hehehe...or me.
 

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