Just a little Abseiling

12:16 a.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Though kinda the opposite of climbing, as it were, this seemed like the most logical place for these videos. 

My friend Jesse and I went on one of our excursions down another section of the Cumberland Escarpment today. Many of our outings are canyoneering runs, but this time we decided to cross the ravine and do a long rappel from an exposed buttress. We could see there was a 10-20ft wide shelf about half way down, so we knew we could rig a second drop if needed from there. 

This first video was taken at the top as we were setting the rope and pull-down system. 

About 40 feet into the first drop I stopped and locked off my descender so I could get a video from the wall. The first section of the wall down to the shelf turned out to be about 135ft. about 20ft shy of the shelf, the pull down line ran out, so I had to lock off again and retrieve some webbing from my pack to add onto the line. 

Once we mad it to the mid point, we determined that we needed to rig a second anchor point, so we pulled down the rope and moved over about 40ft to set off of a nice solid oak. At this point the sun is westering, and we take extra caution as we work in the exposed location. 

The final stretch turned out to be 120ft; we were thrown of in our estimation by another ledge about 40ft from the actual base of the cliff. But we knew we had plenty of length to get us all the way down, so the conservative guess wasn't an issue. 

Certainly, this wasn't as challenging as scaling the face from the bottom, but exploring these places and making a few long raps sure is a lot of fun! 

9:27 a.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Nicely done!

I'd be intersted to see how you rigged your retrievable rap.

10:07 a.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks Sage :)

It was a lot of fun. We're going to go back to the same cliff band again next weekend, if the weather permits. 

Presently, I am not at liberty to disclose the release system, as someone else designed it, and it is still under development. Hopefully it will be submitted for controlled testing soon, so it may be available to share sometime in the not too distant future.


11:19 a.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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WOW...What total FUN!

1:29 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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1:31 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Nice, love the video as well. shows how gorgous the area is.

2:13 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks guys, I am looking forward to doing the route again, now that we have it scoped out we can enjoy the ride a little more :)

8:46 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Those are awesome vids Gonz!

9:19 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks Jake, while were out there I was lamenting that we didn't have a GoPro instead of the crappy camera on my android phone :)

3:32 a.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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I was wondering about that release system; is ir possible to accidentally trigger the release?

There are ways to set up a rappel point that permits retrieval of the sling and bineers the dynamic rope runs through.  They don't require special equipment, other than a thin nylon line.  This technique doesn't work for all situations, however, and cannot retrieve a wedge or other rock anchors.  I personally avoid these gimmicks, feeling the potential for trouble outweighs the cost of leaving a sling behind. 

10:08 a.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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A very good question and valid concern, Ed. Safety is the name of the game for us; I definitely wouldn't be on that line if I had any doubts about the rigging. 

This system uses a release cord, a length of webbing, and a rap ring. The pull down leaves nothing behind, not even a sling. The release requires a notable amount of force, but also has an upper threshold. Meaning, an errant pull, even a hard one, will not cause release, yet it cannot become accidentally locked as to make retrieval impossible.  However, if someone were to become entangled in the retrieval cord, or used it to support their body weight, it could cause it to release, but that is true of other systems as well.

Of course, it is only suitable for certain conditions and locations. And until it has undergone much more testing, it is not going to be published at all. So at the very least, it will only remove two of us from the gene pool ;)

Is there a online reference for the configuration you mention?

10:39 a.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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It does make me laugh that you guys were so keen-eyed as to notice the rigging was unusual :)

8:27 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Ah...I'm late to the party.

Gonzan, I don't have time to watch tonight but I will watch the videos tomorrow night.

I want to try and guess exactly where you were, no spoilers!

7:01 a.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Gonzan, by chance, was your friend that designed this system in the Navy? We had an operator on one of our teams that spread a method that sounds almost identical to this for our use in mountain warfare in Afghanistan.

9:46 a.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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He was a medic in the military, but not the Navy, and served a couple tours in the Middle East. Though he is out of the military, he is considering accepting security positions that have been offered. 

7:09 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Cool Gonzan so you climb too huh?

How windy was it that day? I hope the weather cooperates for another trip!

Okay my guess from what I could see in the video is:

South-ish side of Signal Mountain and North of Williams Island?

If I am wrong just give me a clue and let me try again if you don't care.

8:19 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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It is in that general area, yes. 

8:28 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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I did a little light climbing and bouldering years ago, but I couldn't call myself a climber. I'm not anywhere near in shape enough to do much at all, currently. 

It was breezy, but not too bad. 

2:32 p.m. on January 28, 2012 (EST)
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Lean back and use your legs

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