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Posted: 11/20/2012 4:21:28 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 4:46:26 PM EST by qualityhardware]
So I am going to sign up for an adventure race that requires rappelling skills: http://soarhighlands.org/

For my fire / paramedic training, I've done some ropes courses and rappelled down the fire tower solo and also with a mock PT in a Stokes basket. All the gear was provided by the Fire Academy, so I just got the basic rundown, strapped in and descended down the tower. Loved every second of it, BTW.

Since then, I've gotten to use those skills since, like, never. So I need to get some gear and start training for the adventure race. I'm in NC and we have great places for rappelling and my connections in EMS/Fire might get some time on the tower if I can score it. My partner is a serious dude with some major experience in HSLD activities, so he has agreed to teach me rappelling if I teach him mountain biking. Net-net is I will not be trying to do this stuff on my own, but with a mentor that has BTDT.

At the race, you get a three-hour penalty if you need help from staff on the ropes, so knowing what the hell you are doing will definitely come into play. I hope to start the race knowing what the hell I am doing.

These are gear requirements for rappelling in the race:
  • Figure Eight (preferred) or other approved descending device
  • Locking carabineer
  • Harness
  • Rappelling Gloves
  • Climbing helmet All participants are required to wear a climbing helmet (UIAA,CE) while on ropes of any type. You cannot use your climbing helmet for biking.
I have three Omega Pacific ISO locking carabiners and six Omega Pacific ISO Oval Carabiners. I know for training, I will need to get some ropes as well as the required gear listed above.

Saw this for rope: http://www.rei.com/product/793079/bluewater-assaultline-static-rope-716-x-120

What else will I need for gear for training and what do any of you guys that have rappelled a lot recommend? Any books to read and low-speed training activities I can do solo are welcomed.

Thanks.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:24:10 PM EST
are you required to set up your own ropes or are the ropes at a designated spot already set up? you mentioned buying rope but its not on your list.


Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:29:37 PM EST
I don't think we have to set up our own ropes, but can't confirm yet. Sent a note to the organizers with that exact question. I'm 99% sure they will have stuff set up already, since it isn't on the list.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:44:32 PM EST
bluewater gear is the best or at least my favorite, other than that your on the right track.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:50:47 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:58:08 PM EST
Thanks guys. Looking into it. Appreciate the references.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:00:15 PM EST
just remember what rappelling is all about.

clip in and fall, somewhat controlled.

so you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on the gear.

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:07:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 5:11:59 PM EST by Rokchukrslave]
You can have a 12ft rope to tie a Swiss Seat with unless an actual harness is required. That way you would have a 12ft rope in case you needed it for something else.

CMI rescue 8 with ears or similar.

"Rappelling" by Tom Martin is a good book.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:12:12 PM EST

Originally Posted By NapeSticksToKids:
just remember what rappelling is all about.

clip in and fall, somewhat controlled.

so you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on the gear.


You, sir, are reading my mind. With this race, I'll mountain bike 32.5 miles, run 12.5 miles, and canoe 5 miles. Rappelling may be 100ft. I don't want to have junk gear, but stuff good enough to get through that portion and on to whatever the next level of suffering will be.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:13:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By Rokchukrslave:
You can have a 12ft rope to tie a Swiss Seat with unless an actual harness is required. That way you would have a 12ft rope in case you needed it for something else.

CMI rescue 8 with ears or similar.

"Rappelling" by Tom Martin is a good book.


i was going to mention a swiss seat as well, but entry level basic harnesses are pretty damn cheap so its a toss up.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:42:06 PM EST

Originally Posted By NapeSticksToKids:
Originally Posted By Rokchukrslave:
You can have a 12ft rope to tie a Swiss Seat with unless an actual harness is required. That way you would have a 12ft rope in case you needed it for something else.

CMI rescue 8 with ears or similar.

"Rappelling" by Tom Martin is a good book.


i was going to mention a swiss seat as well, but entry level basic harnesses are pretty damn cheap so its a toss up.
Tied one the other day with 5/8" manila rope and tested it out on a slack line with some carabiners. Scared the piss out of me. Once I get some 21st century static line, I'll try that and see how it feels. I like the idea, but to that end, harnesses are pretty reasonably priced, too.

Here's a pic of the rappelling section of the race. It's got my attention.



Link Posted: 11/20/2012 7:29:50 PM EST
God that race looks awesome...

I need to find something like it around SW Ohio.

Anyway, I thought static line wasn't suitable for rappelling? Maybe someone can clear that up, but I read something about static line quite some time ago when I was looking for a rope myself.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 7:36:03 PM EST
He's talking about rope to make a harness out of.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 7:37:24 PM EST
Also webbing is more comfy for a Swiss seat than rope is.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 8:42:03 PM EST
Id avoid a swiss seat, if you like your balls that is. Even after you get good at them it still busts your balls. Harnesses are fucking cheap.
other than a harness all you need is a locking carabiner (i see you have some Omegas, still get a new dedicated biner for your rap) and a rapelling device.
three real options a "figure 8" an "ATC" and rap bar set up. Before the flames start im tossing out a plate, and lumping all the rap/belay devices , such as a grigri in with the ATC.

if you go with a figure 8 which is usually the cheapest pay the few extra bucks for a "rescue" one. it will have little ears on it and look more like an arrow than an eight. The ears prevent the rope from slipping up and locking you in place with a girth hitch. however these are rather sturdy and easy to learn. If you lose control of the slackline in my experience you fall alot faster.

The ATC styles are a little harder to learn but dont jam and can often use the weight of the free rope to auto brake. there are even versions that can auto control your descent or brake if you lose control. I would recommend any from Black Diamond or Petzl

the most complicated is the rapel bar, but if set up properly you could fall asleep because it does all the work. with your admitted level of experience id avoid this.

hope this helps.

btw if you are worried about losing control tying a prussik around the free end to your leg loop can set up an auto stop.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 9:35:19 PM EST
What he ^ said.

You do NOT want to fuck about with tying a swiss seat. It "works" but it's horribly uncomfortable and awkward, get a pre-sewn commercial seat harness. It's a race after all.

Racks are the most versatile devices, but they're heavy, and take a bit more experience to operate well. It's their rope, use the figure 8 and leave the aluminum, but like he mentioned above get the "rescue" 8.

You'll also probably want to have at least one handled ascender on a short tether (separately attached to your main seat harness attachment point) to use as a safety. i.e. something to clip to the line as you approach the lip, while you rig your descending device in.

As far as rope to get to practice with, PMI is top of the line, but most any bluewater, highline etc... (probably 11mm) static rope will do. Note that different brand/model/diameter/condition ropes can have drastically different characteristics. A brand new softer line like bluewater will be a LOT faster than a grody piece of stiff PMI pit rope. And if they're using 9mm or 10mm (doubtful) or even 1/2" rescue line (possible) your experience will vary. You may want to ask them what type/diameter of rope they're using also if they're supplying it so you can get the same to practice with. That way you can minimize any surprises.

You should really get with someone for an afternoon that knows what they're doing as far as rigging also before you try to get on rope. Rappelling is easy, but you screw up something and it can kill you as dead as anything else.

A couple of good links to anything you might need gear wise.

Inner Mountain Outfitters

On Rope 1
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 9:36:30 PM EST
You can pretty much supply yourself with everything you need from REI. There is plenty of gear to choose from and you can go there to test out what fits your needs. They will even let you sit in a harness to see if you like it or not. Black Diamond usually makes pretty good gear. Here are some items that I have that didn't cost too much, and are definitely comfortable and durable to boot.

Harness

Helmet

Belay Device

8 Plates are cool, they just don't give you quite as much friction as the belay device above does. Recreational rappelling ropes are a bit thinner than the 1/2" kernmantles used for Fire as well, so the big CMC 8 plates may not cut it. The one above allows you to easily double strand rappel and to give yourself much more friction and keep yourself safe in the case that you may slip on some algae near a waterfall you are rappelling down. They can also double as a belay device if you want to get into climbing. Remember, too, that recreational climbing does not incorporate a Main Line and a Belay Line like Fire utilizes. There is just the one lifeline you are on and that's it. Oh, by the way, 8 plates are still my favorites, though! I need to get one

You may also want to look into a larger twist gate carabiner that you will be attaching to your belay loop on your harness. They make it much easier to clip in and out of your rappels.

Another very important piece of equipment is your personal anchor. When you approach a rappel, you need to lock yourself into the anchor so that if you slip or fall while you are fumbling around trying to feed the rope through your belay device, you won't tumble to your death. I've slipped and was almost KO'd at the top of a 70 or so footer and my anchor managed to keep me locked in. You can make one by attaching one end of a sling to your belay loop on your harness and attach a carabiner to the other end. Here's an example of a suitable sling for an anchor.

Good luck, man!
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 10:52:49 PM EST
Is this gear something that you're carrying through the course... so that weight/bulk needs to be minimized? "Climbing" harnesses aren't good for rappel really, but are vastly lighter and smaller. A rescue type harness is much better for rappelling but bulkier and a little heavier.

I detest figure 8's with a passion, but one will get you to the bottom of the hill.

#1 rule of rappel - LEAN BACK. Be perpendicular with the rock face. If you try to stay vertical like most noobs do, you'll end up smacking your face into the rock.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 9:06:49 AM EST
No Swiss seat for me I would spend the money on a harness.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:45:54 PM EST
Bunch of Nancy's in here. I only suggest a Swiss Seat because the rope might be able to be used or helpful in some other event. A harness is just a harness and that's all. He'll be under load for a whole 10 seconds.
If a 12' rope or webbing won't help elsewhere then by all means get a harness.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:48:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By Rokchukrslave:
Bunch of Nancy's in here. I only suggest a Swiss Seat because the rope might be able to be used or helpful in some other event. A harness is just a harness and that's all. He'll be under load for a whole 10 seconds.
If a 12' rope or webbing won't help elsewhere then by all means get a harness.


yep.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:25:22 PM EST
Fuck it, go Aussie!
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 10:22:09 AM EST
Originally Posted By NapeSticksToKids:
Originally Posted By Rokchukrslave:
Bunch of Nancy's in here. I only suggest a Swiss Seat because the rope might be able to be used or helpful in some other event. A harness is just a harness and that's all. He'll be under load for a whole 10 seconds.
If a 12' rope or webbing won't help elsewhere then by all means get a harness.


yep.


I prefer a swiss seat over a harness. Anyone in the DFW area need help with rappelling, knots, techniques, etc. Im here for one more week before moving to God's Country, and will teach for free. Air Assault and Rappelmaster here.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 5:14:55 PM EST
Get the harness. Any inexpensive one will do, or buy a nice one and use it on a regular basis. Climbing is a great way to build strength, especially in less commonly worked muscles.

Why anyone would choose a swiss seat over a harness if given the opportunity with no compelling reason makes no sense to me. Then again I spend up to 12 hours a day working at heights so my requirements are generally more geared to comfort and utility than desire to save the space. A modern harness isn't going to weight any more than the 12 feet of rope you'll be carrying to construct your swiss seat anyway, and going to take up the same amount of space when crammed in your ruck anyway.
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 5:38:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/22/2012 5:39:40 PM EST by nf9648]
Originally Posted By JohnnyC:
Get the harness. Any inexpensive one will do, or buy a nice one and use it on a regular basis. Climbing is a great way to build strength, especially in less commonly worked muscles.

Why anyone would choose a swiss seat over a harness if given the opportunity with no compelling reason makes no sense to me. Then again I spend up to 12 hours a day working at heights so my requirements are generally more geared to comfort and utility than desire to save the space. A modern harness isn't going to weight any more than the 12 feet of rope you'll be carrying to construct your swiss seat anyway, and going to take up the same amount of space when crammed in your ruck anyway.


A 16 ft section of rope is more versatile than a harness with only one purpose. The three different harnesses I have had issued to me sat in my gear bag because they were difficult to adjust and took longer than a swiss seat to put on properly. As far as comfort I cant tell the difference. A week long class in a swiss seat or harness in full gear will wear on you either way.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 5:43:37 PM EST
Get a harness. They're faster to put on when they're staged correctly, they're safer, and they're more comfortable. In a competition, under stress, in a hurry, and likely without anyone checking your work is no time for a novice climber to be tying a swiss seat. You can pick up a decent harness for $50.




Link Posted: 11/22/2012 7:54:17 PM EST
Originally Posted By nf9648:
Originally Posted By JohnnyC:
Get the harness. Any inexpensive one will do, or buy a nice one and use it on a regular basis. Climbing is a great way to build strength, especially in less commonly worked muscles.

Why anyone would choose a swiss seat over a harness if given the opportunity with no compelling reason makes no sense to me. Then again I spend up to 12 hours a day working at heights so my requirements are generally more geared to comfort and utility than desire to save the space. A modern harness isn't going to weight any more than the 12 feet of rope you'll be carrying to construct your swiss seat anyway, and going to take up the same amount of space when crammed in your ruck anyway.


A 16 ft section of rope is more versatile than a harness with only one purpose. The three different harnesses I have had issued to me sat in my gear bag because they were difficult to adjust and took longer than a swiss seat to put on properly. As far as comfort I cant tell the difference. A week long class in a swiss seat or harness in full gear will wear on you either way.

You're not wearing the right harness
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 8:51:44 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/22/2012 8:53:48 PM EST by JohnnyC]
Originally Posted By nf9648:
Originally Posted By JohnnyC:
Get the harness. Any inexpensive one will do, or buy a nice one and use it on a regular basis. Climbing is a great way to build strength, especially in less commonly worked muscles.

Why anyone would choose a swiss seat over a harness if given the opportunity with no compelling reason makes no sense to me. Then again I spend up to 12 hours a day working at heights so my requirements are generally more geared to comfort and utility than desire to save the space. A modern harness isn't going to weight any more than the 12 feet of rope you'll be carrying to construct your swiss seat anyway, and going to take up the same amount of space when crammed in your ruck anyway.


A 16 ft section of rope is more versatile than a harness with only one purpose. The three different harnesses I have had issued to me sat in my gear bag because they were difficult to adjust and took longer than a swiss seat to put on properly. As far as comfort I cant tell the difference. A week long class in a swiss seat or harness in full gear will wear on you either way.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


I can guarantee you that spending 12 hours a day in a swiss seat vs. a harness will make you FAR FAR FAR less effective at whatever you're doing, it's simple physiology. Not to mention far less effective at doing anything else on-rope BUT rappelling. And sure, rope is versatile, if you need that and absolutely cannot afford the extra space in your ruck for a harness on top of the rope, which in his case sounds like he doesn't. If you can't see the effectiveness of a harness over a swiss seat, you're poorly versed in using a harness. If all you've ever done is be a rappelmaster I guarantee you're far less equipped to deal with actual on-rope techniques than the civilian rope access/work-at-heights industry.

I can be in my harness, on-rope, in a far safer condition, in probably 20 seconds. Hell, I'll even rig a rappel rack too and still be at the bottom of the rope before you get half your swiss seat tied.

Remember, everything you've learned in the Army as far as working with rope is taught with the idea that it will be employed by the lowest common denominator. There's no need to deal with the institutional dumbing down that goes on, and for good cause, when dealing with that. It's prevalent throughout the military, and well recognized. Why would you ever recommend that to someone who is not constrained by it?
Link Posted: 11/22/2012 9:33:17 PM EST
Originally Posted By JohnnyC:
Originally Posted By nf9648:
Originally Posted By JohnnyC:
Get the harness. Any inexpensive one will do, or buy a nice one and use it on a regular basis. Climbing is a great way to build strength, especially in less commonly worked muscles.

Why anyone would choose a swiss seat over a harness if given the opportunity with no compelling reason makes no sense to me. Then again I spend up to 12 hours a day working at heights so my requirements are generally more geared to comfort and utility than desire to save the space. A modern harness isn't going to weight any more than the 12 feet of rope you'll be carrying to construct your swiss seat anyway, and going to take up the same amount of space when crammed in your ruck anyway.


A 16 ft section of rope is more versatile than a harness with only one purpose. The three different harnesses I have had issued to me sat in my gear bag because they were difficult to adjust and took longer than a swiss seat to put on properly. As far as comfort I cant tell the difference. A week long class in a swiss seat or harness in full gear will wear on you either way.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


I can guarantee you that spending 12 hours a day in a swiss seat vs. a harness will make you FAR FAR FAR less effective at whatever you're doing, it's simple physiology. Not to mention far less effective at doing anything else on-rope BUT rappelling. And sure, rope is versatile, if you need that and absolutely cannot afford the extra space in your ruck for a harness on top of the rope, which in his case sounds like he doesn't. If you can't see the effectiveness of a harness over a swiss seat, you're poorly versed in using a harness. If all you've ever done is be a rappelmaster I guarantee you're far less equipped to deal with actual on-rope techniques than the civilian rope access/work-at-heights industry.

I can be in my harness, on-rope, in a far safer condition, in probably 20 seconds. Hell, I'll even rig a rappel rack too and still be at the bottom of the rope before you get half your swiss seat tied.

Remember, everything you've learned in the Army as far as working with rope is taught with the idea that it will be employed by the lowest common denominator. There's no need to deal with the institutional dumbing down that goes on, and for good cause, when dealing with that. It's prevalent throughout the military, and well recognized. Why would you ever recommend that to someone who is not constrained by it?


We'll have to agree to disagree. Your purposes are far different than mine, as well as the OP's who is participating in a race, not swinging in the breeze for a 12 hour shift. I instruct tactical rappelling for a federal agency, personally I think it would be great to be able to pick your brain on my rappel tower if given a chance.

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