EVER taken a fall?

Discuss vertical caving, equipment, & techniques. Also visit the NSS Vertical Section.

Moderator: Tim White

Ever taken a fall on your caving gear? (poll modified, you can change your vote)

Yes. A FF1 or greater
1
5%
Yes. FF .5 to 1
5
23%
Yes. Minor little slips.
8
36%
No
8
36%
 
Total votes : 22

EVER taken a fall?

Postby Rick Brinkman » Nov 25, 2008 10:36 am

With the numerous threads debating what is the best cowstail, I got to wondering who here has actually taken a fall in their caving gear. When I was into rock climbing, I fell all the time. It's part of the 'fun' and the equipment is designed for it. But personally, I have never fallen in my caving gear.
I guess I'm wondering if all the discussion and testing over a dynamic cow's tails is a moot point...because a fall on the cow's tails just doesn't happen very often. :huh:


So, who has taken a fall, either "in cave" or on purpose during practice setting? What were the circumstances and how did your body and equipment take it?
Last edited by Rick Brinkman on Nov 25, 2008 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Caves are rare and precious things. Cavers...even more so. Treat each accordingly.
NSS#42385(not current...give me a reason to change...(Sept 2010))
http://www.CoffeeCreekGear.com
User avatar
Rick Brinkman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 6:54 pm
Location: Coffee Creek, MT
Name: mt_vertcaver
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Montana-Independent
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ek » Nov 25, 2008 11:34 am

I've taken a couple minor falls onto my cowstails while passing traverse lines. My body, my PPE, and the rigging was perfectly fine. They were small enough that I didn't find it necessary to replace the cowstails, or anything like that.

I will admit that I have been in situations where I was, shall we say, pushing the limits of my cowstails. Situations where I needed to get up high enough to do something that, if I had fallen, I would have taken a fall of higher than factor-1 onto my cowstails. When in those situations, I've been happy to know that my cowstails are tied from dynamic single rope.

I disagree with the notion that because something is uncommon, we needn't worry about it. Taking a factor-2 fall when rock climbing (and yes, I understand that this is in many ways different from taking a factor-2 fall onto a cowstail) is very uncommon, but I've never heard anybody say that we should loosen our standards for climbing ropes because we don't need to worry about it.
Eliah Kagan
NSS 57892
Syracuse University Outing Club

Fund vital White Nose Syndrome research--donate to the NSS and select the WNS Rapid Response Fund.
Facebook users can also donate here.
User avatar
ek
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Apr 3, 2007 2:45 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
Name: Eliah Kagan
NSS #: 57892
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Nov 25, 2008 11:54 am

ek wrote:I disagree with the notion that because something is uncommon, we needn't worry about it.


Hear, hear. It's uncommon to load a rack backward and start a rappel, too, and a "have you ever rappeled with your rack loaded backward?" poll would strongly suggest that it never happens... because those who have managed to do it are most likely no longer with us. It's also uncommon for rope to break, so why pad it? It's uncommon for mechanical ascenders to fail, so why insist on using two at all times? I'm sure we could come up with a dozen more examples.

In regard to cow's tails, why would anyone use anything other than dynamic rope? It's the safest, cheapest option. Continuing to use a static cow's tail or spelegyca because one doesn't think it likely to shock load a cow's tail seems like a pretty silly way to try and save $8 on a short length of dynamic rope.
"Although it pains me to say it, in this case Jeff is right. Plan accordingly." --Andy Armstrong
User avatar
Jeff Bartlett
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 948
Joined: Jun 29, 2007 12:19 am
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Name: Jeff Bartlett
NSS #: 59325
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Tennessee Cave Survey
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ian mckenzie » Nov 25, 2008 12:03 pm

ek wrote:I disagree with the notion that because something is uncommon, we needn't worry about it. Taking a factor-2 fall when rock climbing is very uncommon,


Difference is that sport climbing systems are solely designed for taking falls, they have no other purpose, while SRT systems including cowstails are solely designed for ascending rope. I don't think anyone really meant that we 'need not worry about it', I think the more valid point is to recognize that SRT should not be pushed into FF1 or greater situations, you should be using a dynamic fall-protection system for that. I do think that dynamic vs static cowstails are the least important element in an accidental test of their fall resiliency, as most of the shock would be absorbed by the body, harness slack, etc. but that does not negate the argument for dynamic cowstails. Personally I use static line for mine, because I don't think it makes a significant difference, but I still 'worry about it' by not using them for fall factor protection.

I do hope that ff1 falls on SRT are much more rare than ff2 falls on sport climbing equipment.
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ian mckenzie » Nov 25, 2008 12:18 pm

But to answer the original question :tonguecheek: in almost thirty years of caving under alpine conditions I have never fallen hard on my cowstails, other than what could be described as a short tug. I have had incidents where I have 'fallen' onto my ascending gear, a couple of weeks ago I had a rock bridge collapse beneath me while on rope, 'fell' maybe a metre or two onto the 15 metres of rope on a double anchor above me and never even noticed it.
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby Tim White » Nov 25, 2008 12:48 pm

There is one thing that we should not forget when thinking of Fall Factor test in a lab vs. Fall Factors in the real world. Lab testing has the load falling in free space.

I’m sure that a real world fall in a cave could occur in free space without any contact or rubbing of the cave, but how likely is that?

Along with the tightening of the knot, adjusting of the attachments, movement of the body, etc. the severity of the fall is directly related to the rubbing to which is it subjected and the effects of the contact between the person and the surroundings.

So we may obtain different factors for the same height in the real world.
Be safe,
Tim White 26949 RL FE

Southeastern Region Coordinator - NCRC
Editor, Nylon Highway
Senior Technical Manager - Over the Edge, Inc.
User avatar
Tim White
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 846
Joined: Sep 8, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Suwanee, GA
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ek » Nov 25, 2008 12:58 pm

ian mckenzie wrote:
ek wrote:I disagree with the notion that because something is uncommon, we needn't worry about it. Taking a factor-2 fall when rock climbing is very uncommon,

Difference is that sport climbing systems are solely designed for taking falls, they have no other purpose, while SRT systems including cowstails are solely designed for ascending rope.

This is simply untrue. Cowstails are for negotiating traverse lines as well as for ascending rope. In fact (and while I don't think this is good practice), many cavers use a piece of static accessory cord to attach their upper ascender in a frog system, and leave the cowstails for negotiating traverse lines, passing rebelays, and other maneuvers. The most serious fall onto a cowstail not involving incorrect practices would be, as I believe fuzzy-hair-man pointed out in an earlier post, when passing a rebelay on ascent (if the rebelay above it fails right before you unclip your cowstail from the rebelay anchor below, this could result in a near factor 2 fall onto the cowstail). But the most common falls onto a cowstail would be while negotiating traverse lines. I think it would be a mistake to disregard that use of cowstails.

ian mckenzie wrote:I have had incidents where I have 'fallen' onto my ascending gear, a couple of weeks ago I had a rock bridge collapse beneath me while on rope, 'fell' maybe a metre or two onto the 15 metres of rope on a double anchor above me and never even noticed it.

The rope almost certainly was able to absorb most of the energy of the fall, being as it is that that's a fall of factor 0.067. At least with a frog system, your cowstails would rarely come into play, because your weight would be on your Croll when you fell. I suppose that if the fall was (much) more serious and the Croll tore down the sheath of the rope, weighting the long cowstail, then the dynamicity of the long cowstail would come into play secondarily...but it's really the rope that's important here.
Eliah Kagan
NSS 57892
Syracuse University Outing Club

Fund vital White Nose Syndrome research--donate to the NSS and select the WNS Rapid Response Fund.
Facebook users can also donate here.
User avatar
ek
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Apr 3, 2007 2:45 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
Name: Eliah Kagan
NSS #: 57892
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ian mckenzie » Nov 25, 2008 1:30 pm

ek wrote:This is simply untrue. Cowstails are for negotiating traverse lines as well as for ascending rope.


Good point on using cowstails for traverses, thanks for bringing it up. But cowstails are still not intended for lead-climbing type falls. It would be hard to imagine a clean ff2 while traversing, unless you were above the traverse line. But OK, it could happen, but the vector forces on a static horizontal traverse line would pop your anchors long before your static cowstail would snap, methinks. Maybe a belay rope would be in order if even ff1 is anticipated - now you're not only on SRT, but on a dynamic fall system.

ek wrote:The most serious fall onto a cowstail not involving incorrect practices would be, as I believe fuzzy-hair-man pointed out in an earlier post, when passing a rebelay on ascent (if the rebelay above it fails right before you unclip your cowstail from the rebelay anchor below, this could result in a near factor 2 fall onto the cowstail).


So you've forgotten to unclip your cowstail from the rebelay as soon as it's untensioned, and then your main anchor fails - well, what if your main anchor fails after you've unclipped?

We are getting well off topic here.
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby Rick Brinkman » Nov 25, 2008 1:54 pm

A lot of good points. I didn't think about a traverse line, because I've never used one.

However, Ian is right...things are going off topic a bit.

So, I put the question as a poll.
Caves are rare and precious things. Cavers...even more so. Treat each accordingly.
NSS#42385(not current...give me a reason to change...(Sept 2010))
http://www.CoffeeCreekGear.com
User avatar
Rick Brinkman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 6:54 pm
Location: Coffee Creek, MT
Name: mt_vertcaver
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Montana-Independent
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ek » Nov 25, 2008 2:13 pm

I answered yes in the poll...but only the small falls that I talked about.

Still, these are situations where if the traverse lines or anchor (one of the two times I fell when clipped directly into the top anchor) hadn't been there, I would have been seriously injured or killed. I suspect that for the falls I took, I would have been OK even with a Spectra cowstail. But I was certainly glad I had some kind of cowstail to stop my fall.
Eliah Kagan
NSS 57892
Syracuse University Outing Club

Fund vital White Nose Syndrome research--donate to the NSS and select the WNS Rapid Response Fund.
Facebook users can also donate here.
User avatar
ek
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Apr 3, 2007 2:45 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
Name: Eliah Kagan
NSS #: 57892
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Nov 25, 2008 2:51 pm

In 17+ years of vertical I've never fallen on my gear, but I still don't compromise or reduce the safety factor that's needed... because as it been observed ... "you just never know".
Good points were made earlier in the thread and while you may never hear of it... who the hell would want to be the "first to have it happen to them"?
Proper maintenance of all the gear, keeping safety first and fun second, proper procedures in rigging, maneuvering & techniques, and in my experience keeping aware of everything whist on rope. You can still be "Mr. Safety" and still have lots of fun doing whatever kind of caving that you are doing.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


http://ralph.rigidtech.com/albums.php
User avatar
Ralph E. Powers
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2101
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 5:48 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN
NSS #: 37616
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ian mckenzie » Nov 25, 2008 3:43 pm

Rick, I wonder if the Poll needs refinement, otherwise everyone who has ever SRT'd will simply answer Yes. Theoretically you gently fall onto your SRT kit every time you take a step up. I don't consider the "0.067" fall factor I described to be relevant, whereas ek has included his minor slips. Maybe categorize, e.g. 'head-snapping' vs 'oops-darn'...?
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ek » Nov 25, 2008 4:09 pm

You shouldn't consider your factor-0.067 fall relevant to the topic of cowstails, anyway, if I am understanding you correctly....because it was onto your Croll, and not your cowstails.

Similarly, in a frog system anyway, you don't sit down on your cowstails, you sit down on your Croll, so the Croll gets that minor shockload. And when you stand up in your footloop to weight your upper ascender, the tether to your upper ascender is not weighted, so you're not loading your cowstails when advancing either. Even if you do bring your upper ascender to the very extent of its range, tensioning the long cowstail, the amount of tension on it is far smaller at its peak than that which would be applied by a very small child hanging on it statically.

However, your 1 meter fall onto 15 meters of rope certainly was a fall...I doubt you would have wanted to take that fall onto a rope made of Kevlar or Technora (or Spectra...but I've never heard of anybody using Spectra rope for rappelling and ascending).

I have seen many very short falls taken onto semi-static rope, because semi-static rope is often used in caving situations for belaying from above (when there's a climb that some people don't feel comfortable negotiating free).
Eliah Kagan
NSS 57892
Syracuse University Outing Club

Fund vital White Nose Syndrome research--donate to the NSS and select the WNS Rapid Response Fund.
Facebook users can also donate here.
User avatar
ek
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Apr 3, 2007 2:45 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
Name: Eliah Kagan
NSS #: 57892
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ian mckenzie » Nov 25, 2008 5:11 pm

ek wrote:You shouldn't consider your factor-0.067 fall relevant to the topic of cowstails, anyway, if I am understanding you correctly....because it was onto your Croll, and not your cowstails.

...but... the poll is for falls onto caving gear, not cowstails...
ek wrote:However, your 1 meter fall onto 15 meters of rope certainly was a fall...I doubt you would have wanted to take that fall onto a rope made of Kevlar or Technora

I would have been happy to fall onto steel cable at only ff0.067. It was being attached that saved me, not the quality or style of my gear or the rope. I'm sorta 'saved' on every pitch by virtue of simply remaining attached to the rope. Hence my reluctance to include it in the poll; maybe I'm reading too much into the word 'fall', I just think the poll could be more useful if only serious falls were included.
User avatar
ian mckenzie
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Sep 16, 2005 9:40 am
Location: Crowsnest Pass, Canada
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Alberta Speleological Society
  

Re: EVER taken a fall?

Postby ek » Nov 25, 2008 5:41 pm

I don't think you should be happy to fall onto steel cable at any fall factor, because fall factor is only relevant for a material that has more than a certain amount of stretch. (Or to be more precise, given any particular mass being dropped and the knowledge of the magnitude of that mass, fall factor only tells you the peak impact force when the product of the material's elasticity and the fall factor is low enough.)

If the stretch of the rope is insignificant compared to the other shock-absorbing components of the system (like your body), then what matters is the distance of the fall and not the fall factor. Take a factor 0.067 onto steel cable by falling 20 feet onto 300 feet of steel cable, and you'd be in real bad shape. Like falling 20 feet and hitting a rock on the ground shaped like the leg loops and waist strap of your harness, for starters (as then you'd flip over).

If I were put into a situation where I had to either take a factor-2 fall onto a steel cowstail or a factor 0.067 onto a 300 ft length of steel cable, I'd pick the former.
Eliah Kagan
NSS 57892
Syracuse University Outing Club

Fund vital White Nose Syndrome research--donate to the NSS and select the WNS Rapid Response Fund.
Facebook users can also donate here.
User avatar
ek
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Apr 3, 2007 2:45 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
Name: Eliah Kagan
NSS #: 57892
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Syracuse University Outing Club
  

Next

Return to On Rope!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users