ATC in rope rescue?

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ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » Apr 28, 2010 8:55 am

For some time, I´ve been trying the ATC (that tool used in climbing with high stretch ropes) for belaying in both, lowering and raising systems. I´ve been using only 11mm, low stretch (not static, EZ bend) ropes. The testing has been just in controlled situations, not rescue, with a 200lb rescue randy manikin (releasing the lowering rope and catching the falling load with the system belay, 1-2ft slack), then, lowering the load with the ATC. Until now, I have not found any problems, the belay system works fine, but since my testing is not formal, I do not know if it is a recommended practice. Anyone have more info, opinions, about this practice in rope rescue?

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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Apr 28, 2010 2:19 pm

I'm sure plenty of people on this board will have info/opinions about this, so just stay tuned.

In the meantime, it is my impression that the ATC would be okay for lowering a one-person load as you have tested. I don't think I would use an ATC for what NCRC considers a "rescue load" (about 600 pounds) This would include patient, litter, and litter attendant.

As far as a belay, the ATC can certainly be used in the way that you are, but it does not pass what NCRC calls "the whistle test", meaning that you could not let go of it and expect it to catch the load on its own. Most of the NCRC standards are based on a full rescue with plenty of gear and help. For small-party rescue, I think the ATC would have some applications, but you could do the same things with any rappel device, including a munter hitch.

We'll see what others have to say...
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » Apr 28, 2010 4:16 pm

jaa45993 wrote:In the meantime, it is my impression that the ATC would be okay for lowering a one-person load as you have tested. I don't think I would use an ATC for what NCRC considers a "rescue load" (about 600 pounds) This would include patient, litter, and litter attendant. As far as a belay, the ATC can certainly be used in the way that you are, but it does not pass what NCRC calls "the whistle test", meaning that you could not let go of it and expect it to catch the load on its own. Most of the NCRC standards are based on a full rescue with plenty of gear and help. For small-party rescue, I think the ATC would have some applications, but you could do the same things with any rappel device, including a munter hitch.


Yes, there was no problem lowering the 200lb load, and no problem catching that falling load with the ATC. You give me an idea, I´ll try with 3 manikins (600lb) to see how it works :tonguecheek: . The 600lb rescue load is a reference to NFPA standard (General use: 600lb (2 firefighters using SCBA)) or it is a NCRC own standard? And you are right, the ATC doesn´t pass the “whistle test”, nor münter hitch. My way to pass this test is using a tandem prusik or a 540° (I do not suggest the use of any mechanical ascender or any mechanical rope grab for that job).
And yes, there are better ways to belay, I am just wondering if the ATC could be just another option to belay a one person load.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby NZcaver » Apr 28, 2010 5:19 pm

sherppa wrote:And yes, there are better ways to belay, I am just wondering if the ATC could be just another option to belay a one person load.

I don't see why not. Belaying a single person is what the ATC was designed for, albeit primarily on dynamic rope rather than static/low stretch. It puts a tight bend in the rope, but then so does a Munter hitch. And a Munter twists the rope too.

For what it's worth, I hear cave rescue folks in the UK like using the Petzl GriGri to belay single person loads on static ropes (and possibly 2 person loads occasionally, but I'm not sure). That's another example of a climbing device being used for a *slightly* different purpose than its intended design, and of course that one also (theoretically) passes the whistle-blow test. Just be sure to "clean" the rope with your gloved hand as it feeds through the GriGri to avoid jamming a sharp chunk of debris into the belay device. This caused an accident once by slicing into a climbing rope.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby cavedoc » Apr 28, 2010 7:39 pm

I don't think there' s any doubt it can handle a single person load. It does it all the time. I'm assuming you're not letting any type of fall factor happen with static rope. For cave rescue I would be leary of it because of the dirty ropes you'd end up using. I've seen a gritty rope groove a figure-8. Using the thinner metal of an ATC with gritty rope would scare me.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby Stridergdm » Apr 28, 2010 7:49 pm

cavedoc wrote:I don't think there' s any doubt it can handle a single person load. It does it all the time. I'm assuming you're not letting any type of fall factor happen with static rope. For cave rescue I would be leary of it because of the dirty ropes you'd end up using. I've seen a gritty rope groove a figure-8. Using the thinner metal of an ATC with gritty rope would scare me.


I'm with cavedoc on this one. For a single person load, I cna't see any particular issues per se. My concern would be the wear on the metal with a very dirty rope.

I've seen 8s after just 100' of rope or so that were scary.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » Apr 28, 2010 8:38 pm

cavedoc wrote:I don't think there' s any doubt it can handle a single person load. It does it all the time. I'm assuming you're not letting any type of fall factor happen with static rope. For cave rescue I would be leary of it because of the dirty ropes you'd end up using. I've seen a gritty rope groove a figure-8. Using the thinner metal of an ATC with gritty rope would scare me.

In tests, I try to catch the fall with a little slack on the rope; there were fall factors no greater than 0.1 or sometimes, perhaps 0.2. I use only low stretch, non static ropes. I mean, just nylon because you know, polyester has more static properties than nylon. And yes, I know in my own, mud could be a problem with this device. Let me show you a pic of my U-rack after 3-4 trips to Resumidero del Borbollon (217mt deep first inside pit) in San Luis Potosi.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby cavedoc » Apr 29, 2010 1:09 am

sherppa wrote: Let me show you a pic of my U-rack after 3-4 trips to Resumidero del Borbollon (217mt deep first inside pit) in San Luis Potosi.
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Yes, imagine that much volume of metal abraded off of an ATC. :yikes:
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby NZcaver » Apr 29, 2010 1:27 am

Time to switch to stainless bars, perhaps..? :big grin:
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » Apr 29, 2010 8:41 am

NZcaver wrote:Time to switch to stainless bars, perhaps..? :big grin:

hehe, yea, I did. That pic has more than 10 years. Since then, the U-rack is in the horror museum :big grin:

Image :yikes:

Anyway, It is not my intention to use the ATC as a descender device for caving, because I am pretty sure it will not survive the abuse of caving: abrasion and heat.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby underdog » May 5, 2010 11:19 am

A black diamond guide or Petzl reverso could be used in an auto block mode that would prove an additional level of safety. Not sure they are reccomended for static ropes .. will have to look.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » May 6, 2010 9:41 am

underdog wrote:A black diamond guide or Petzl reverso could be used in an auto block mode that would prove an additional level of safety. Not sure they are reccomended for static ropes .. will have to look.

I guess there is no problem to use it just with single rope. But as you said, will have to look :))
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby underdog » May 6, 2010 4:51 pm

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/up ... cesWEB.pdf

http://www.petzl.com/files/all/technica ... 75000F.pdf

No metnion of static vs dynamic ropes in either. One has to appreciate the details and pictures in the Petzl techinical notices. Neither are really speific about using the devices for ascent, but it can be done.
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby sherppa » May 6, 2010 6:12 pm

underdog wrote:http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/uploads/black-diamond/files/MM5853_F_Belay_devicesWEB.pdf
http://www.petzl.com/files/all/technica ... 75000F.pdf
No metnion of static vs dynamic ropes in either.

Yes, it does. In the Reverso technical notice they mention: "Ropes - For use with EN 892 dynamic half ropes (2 x 1/2 ropes), twin ropes, or single rope." The EN 892 is for Dynamic Mountaineering Ropes. Anyway, all the ATC´s are made to work with dynamics ropes, but still works fine with some not bulky low stretch ones (9.5-11mm) like the EZ bend or even petzl ropes aswell. In some of my "tests" it was not easy belaying with Max Wear or Pit Rope.
I got to try :big grin:
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Re: ATC in rope rescue?

Postby underdog » May 7, 2010 11:31 am

hmm, my glancing didn't catch that. I use my guide in the climbing gym where the ropes are quite low stretch all the time, of course the fall factor is low, and it is not in high friction mode. Love it for multipitch climbing routes with a group of three, where two can follow at the same time. I wouldn't see an immediate issue with using them in auto block mode with low strech ropes as long as the fall factor is low. No lead climbs in the high friction/autobloc mode though. Good luck.
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