Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rope Management - Rule #2

This is the second post in a series on rope management strategies.  You can read the first one here.



Rule #2:  If it’s a mess now, it will be a mess later.  (So fix it!)

This rule exists to save time, even though a superficial examination may initially seem to indicate otherwise.  At some point, the nice stack of rope that you’ve been working with or the well-organized anchor you’ve constructed will become a mess.  While it may seem faster to just try to muddle through, the best option is to stop action, re-flake the rope, and re-organize.  All it takes is one experience hanging out at a terrible stance fighting the pump on the lead as your belay attempts to disentangle the Christmas lights-style knotted pile of rope to become a believer in this rule.  So, if the stack is untidy or the ropes are twisted, fix them first, then climb on.

The corollary to this rule is about preventing messes in the first place:  order your anchor like the world that’s tied to it.  If you wish to keep your ropes running free and clear, avoiding twists and tangles at the anchor, the best advice is simply to keep everything clipped to your anchor in the same order (left-to-right or top-to-bottom) as the things (usually people) that are clipped to it.

For example, suppose Tom, Dick, and Harry are multipitch climbing together on two ropes.  Tom is leading with both ropes, Dick is tied to one rope and climbs first, and Harry is tied to the other rope and climbs second (1).  Starting with the first pitch, if Dick is standing on the ground to the left of Harry, then Dick’s rope should be tied in to the left of Tom’s belay loop.  Similarly, Harry’s rope would be tied in on the right side of Tom’s belay loop.
 

When Tom reaches the anchor, let’s assume that the next pitch goes up and left.  Tom should tie his clove hitch into the masterpoint (2), position himself to the left of the anchor, and clip his plaquette to the right of his clove hitch (since Dick and Harry are effectively on climber’s right at this point).  Dick should climb first.  When he arrives at the anchor, he should tie his clove hitch onto the master point anywhere to the right of Tom (3).  Harry will climb second and tie his clove hitch as the rightmost component of the masterpoint (4).  Once the plaquette is removed, the climbers will be in order from left to right with Tom on the left, Dick in the middle, and Harry on the right (5).  If everything was done correctly, there will be no tangles and Tom will be free to go up and left.


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