Wave Action Rescue Method

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
I very much appreciate all the comments, but let's consider the following scenario when a climber is being spotted from the ground, after announcing "On Rappel", at which point the climber begins a descent and accidentally lets go of their breaking hand. Certain devices will lock up and stop a fall, but some don't and some could fail. In this instance a spotter sees this and rather than helplessly watch the climber fall to his or her death, begins waving the rope and thereby creates ripples of friction in the rope, slowing the fall and possibly rescuing the climber. .... if this saves even one life, than I don't mind the sarcasm. I challenge anyone to disprove this theory and notify Cornell Tree Climbing Institute of your findings.

 
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Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
Around '93-'94 I was at the Minnesota TCC watching the footlock event. This is during the days when the climbers used just a friction hitch loop to self-belay themselves. No belayer. The spot where the climber would start/finish was located on a bit of a knob, the ground sloped away on two sides with a small elevation change. A climber had just gone up and was rapelling down on their hitch/loop. ONe of the techs was standing next to the rope. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the climber slide...then make an exclamation as they slipped. Instantly the tech grabbed the rope and sorta dove away from the landing spot.He only made one step and pulled the rope along. It was just enough to make the slipping hitch jam. The climber had his legs curled up when he came to a stop. The tech let the rope go slack and the climber's butt was about 18" off the ground.

I was sitting about 15' away. That video in my head is as clear as day to me.

In the time it took for the climber's hitch to slide and then jam there would have NEVER been enough time to shake the rope.

Of these two options I would NEVER recommend rope whipping. It would be too slow and not as effective. Dangerous.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
I very much appreciate all the comments, but let's consider the following scenario when a climber is being spotted from the ground, after announcing "On Rappel", at which point the climber begins a descent and accidentally lets go of their breaking hand. Certain devices will lock up and stop a fall, but some don't and some could fail. In this instance a spotter sees this and rather than helplessly watch the climber fall to his or her death, begins waving the rope and thereby creates ripples of friction in the rope, slowing the fall and possibly rescuing the climber. .... if this saves even one life, than I don't mind the sarcasm. I challenge anyone to disprove this theory and notify Cornell Tree Climbing Institute of your findings.


Certainly this is not the situation that Normer Adams found himself in, he climbs solo to rescue cats, there was no belayer available. As far as work climbers go that's been covered already, ground workers don't belay their climbers.

It's difficult to create rescue/response standards across high angle disciplines, the gear, techniques, and goals are so different. When people ask me if tree tree climbing is the same as rock climbing I say "No, there are big differences". Generally speaking very little of the gear and technique is common to both with the exception of helmets, auto-locking carabiners, and a handful of possible devices like F8's etc.

What I do say to describe the major difference between rock and tree climbing is that rock climbers plan on falling onto dynamic systems, they are climbing the rock, the rope is there to catch them. Tree climbers are climbing work positioning, the rope is there to hold position not catch them. Tree climbers are self belaying, they constantly take out slack while on rope.

Operating from that premise tree climbers do not fall, if they do they've made an error of gear configuration or judgement. Tom Dunlap first introduced me to the "whistle-test" concept. Anytime a tree climber is on rope they should be able to go hands-free and not fall. That is the definition of self belay.

I think this is a big reason why technical tree climbers are skeptical of a rescue technique like putting a wiggle in a rope to stop an out-of-control descent. It is a proposed solution to a scenario that should not exist in a self-belayed tree climber reality. In Normer's case it is pretty clear and agreed upon that there was operator error. For that fall to happen two double locking slic pins had to disengage, meaning they were not engaged in the first place. There is no solution to this except prevention, ie: inspection of the system when getting on rope.
-AJ
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
Just before the trade show at the ITCC in Salt Lake City, 1997, was closing I crossed paths with Peter Jenkins. Peter told me that he had a concern about a safety issue for the Sunday intro climbs that he hosted with Tree Climbers International. ON alternate Sundays his crew would setup a lot of doubled rope systems in a tree. Climbers would use a foot loop to ascend. They were instructed never to put their hand above the hitch. They were told that at some time everyone would stop ascending or climbing and prepare for descent.

Peter had a few climbers stop, then grab their hitch to slip down the rope. One climber had slid down without control. Fortunately the hitch jammed while they were in free air.

Peter and I had talked about the SRT investigating that I was doing and my involvement with the chapter TCC and ITCC. He wondered if there was a protocol that could be adapted to add a layer of safety -to his event. He could never have enough volunteers to belay the tail of every climber. He knew that there were always some over-achievers who would grab the hitch and descend on their own before getting complete instructions.

Something that I'd read in On Rope or one of the other rock climbing books that I'd read came to mind. Big wall climbers had a practice called 'tying off short' where they would tie a jam knot under themselves in case their ascenders slipped.

My suggestion to Peter was to have the climbers tie slip knots every so often. Fifteen feet apart seemed like a good distance.

Before our chat I'd never heard nor read of anyone tying jam knots on the ascent rope. The technique sure wasn't my invention. After our conversation Peter developed a protocol for tying off short at TCI. It became SOP since then. The protocol has made its way into many other climbing training programs too since then.

These two stories are shared to provide some time-line or historical events to the discussion.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Aha, I've been wanting to visit and compare technique and just hang out in the trees with them.

I wonder what the context/scenario is where they recommend the "wave" fall rescue technique? They teach a lot of student/research climbers, I gather there is someone with a hand on the tail of the rope when students are making their first descent.
-AJ
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI
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
That's the video I have. Not horrible advise tying a stopper knot every so often. Or just one knot ten feet up your ascent so you don't hit the ground in the event of failure. I am sure everybody here can tie and untie a slip knot is less than a second.
 

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
Aha, I've been wanting to visit and compare technique and just hang out in the trees with them.

I wonder what the context/scenario is where they recommend the "wave" fall rescue technique? They teach a lot of student/research climbers, I gather there is someone with a hand on the tail of the rope when students are making their first descent.
-AJ
For further context, the "rescue wave" for lack of another convenient way to describe this method was explained by Cornell's facilators, Dave and Mark, durring our 2015 Sierra Redwood climbing expedition. In that context, us students were doing descents, at times, in excess of 200 feet, using ATC descending devices.

Since that time, I was taught the slip-knot method. I no longer use that method every 15 or so feet, but I do usually have a stopper knot on my SRT rope's tail, above the ground.
 
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climbstihl

Well-Known Member
Location
Germany
For further context, the "rescue wave" for lack of another convenient way to describe this method was explained by Cornell's facilators, Dave and Mark, durring our 2015 Sierra Redwood climbing expedition. In that context, us students were doing descents, at times, in excess of 200 feet, using ATC descending devices.

Since that time, I was taught the slip-knot method. I no longer use that method every 15 or so feet, but I do usually have a stopper knot on my SRT rope's tail, a few feet above the ground.
If using ATC style devices, or anything that the rope doesn't travel through in a straight line, the best course of action is to put weight on the tail, that will stop someone. On a multicender however, that will not do anything.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
For further context, the "rescue wave" for lack of another convenient way to describe this method was explained by Cornell's facilators, Dave and Mark, durring our 2015 Sierra Redwood climbing expedition. In that context, us students were doing descents, at times, in excess of 200 feet, using ATC descending devices.

Since that time, I was taught the slip-knot method. I no longer use that method every 15 or so feet, but I do usually have a stopper knot on my SRT rope's tail, a few feet above the ground.

That makes sense. I think the ATC usage refelects Dave and Mark's alpine/rock or caving background. ATC's are not a great choice for rappeling out of trees. This is another "cultural divide" in the tree climbing world, forest research climbers have tended to use alpine or caver technique to get in and out of trees. That's changing but there are still many research climbers jugging up lines with handled ascenders and rappeling with ATC's or F8's.

For tropical research climbing (especially) the ability to descend immediately without a switchover to a rappel device is critical when accidental contact with wasp nests or other arboreal hazards occur. Multicenders are the way to go now.
-AJ
 

moss

Well-Known Member
That's the video I have. Not horrible advise tying a stopper knot every so often. Or just one knot ten feet up your ascent so you don't hit the ground in the event of failure. I am sure everybody here can tie and untie a slip knot is less than a second.

It's a great technique for facilitating new climbers but actually a total mess for a working climber, multiple slipknots on the tail of your rope guarantee that your rope will get hung up.

There's no substitute for learning how to climb safely and take responsibility for yourself in a tree.
-AJ
 

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
That makes sense. I think the ATC usage refelects Dave and Mark's alpine/rock or caving background. ATC's are not a great choice for rappeling out of trees. This is another "cultural divide" in the tree climbing world, forest research climbers have tended to use alpine or caver technique to get in and out of trees. That's changing but there are still many research climbers jugging up lines with handled ascenders and rappeling with ATC's or F8's.

For tropical research climbing (especially) the ability to descend immediately without a switchover to a rappel device is critical when accidental contact with wasp nests or other arboreal hazards occur. Multicenders are the way to go now.
-AJ
These are excellent observations and I agree completely with your reasoning. My intention, being a rec climber, was to find the most efficient way to climb, using the same tools as those in the tree care industry. Cornell taught me how to sit-stand my way up a Redwood, with a hand ascender, foot loop and chest croll, combined with a switch-over to an ATC for descent. Subsequently, Tim Kovar taught me the Jenkin's basic DdRT method, but went further in his advanced-basic climbing program, where we eventually were taught to climb SRT using a rope-walking system.

The point here is the basic climbing methods are outdated, by the advent of rope-walking systems, using foot and knee ascenders, together with a multicender. Newcomers into the sport of tree climbing seeking formal instruction are generally unable to jump to the more efficient systems, without first being schooled in the more fundamental and laborious climbing systems.

I suppose Cornell's reasoning may be both financially motivated, using less costly climbing systems, as well as, using systems, similar to Jenkins, that a novice climber could easily and safely adapt to. Fast forward, I've personally gravitated toward the industry standards using a rope-walking system that puts the burden mostly on my legs. I've also come to appreciate and utilize various safety protocols used by climbing instructors, both for tree and rock climbing.
 
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Chris Schultz

Member
Location
Minturn
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.
Dump truck full of cotton candy!! This should be industry standard.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
While pondering the wave I thought...why would it be suggested? Where would it have been used/conceived? How is it better than the pull away from plumb?

Like Moss has said...tree climbing has some unique considerations which has lead to unique solutions.

Here;s what just came to me...just a thought, I have no way of knowing for sure.

In many rock/ice/mountaineering climbing scenarios the belayer is forced by conditions to be immobile and at the end of the climber's rope. Not just for ascent/belay, also for descent/rappel. There's not a lot of space for people to move around. In this case the person can't move so the rope has to. Hence, wave it around. Better than nothing.

During tree climbing scenarios there is rarely a belayer around. Climber self-belays up and down. The other people around have other things to do or have the luxury not to have to be right under the climber. At work, there are always things to do. Billable hours and all. For rec climbs ropes get set and everyone climbs. How many times does anyone spend time within 2-3-4 steps of another climber's rope? If a climber needed a belay it would have to be there within the snap of fingers in order to hope to be successful. Add reaction time and distance to the rope and the climber will be on the ground before a belay, wave or pull, will be effective.

Anyone who has belayed a rappel knows how little load on the rope tail will lock it off. BUT...the reaction time has to be considered.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
So you jump off a cliff face first and trust someone to control your descent? Fuck that.
Yes but you have a hand on the rope to self brake, the bottom belayer is just a safety... sometimes a narcissistic evil safety belayer... run downs you are literally sprinting down the face so when you stop quickly you can bruise kidneys/liver etc...
 

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