Archive for October 15th, 2010

Hang Loose

on October 15, 2010 in Misc 6 Comments »

In my last entry I said I’d write this time around about swimming, as in my lack of doing it this year.  But I’m delaying that because today’s hot topic is…


You see, REI is having a sale on a few climbing ropes.  It ends this weekend, along with the 20% off coupon I got in the mail from them.  As you know I recently bought a harness with all the hardware, which is pretty cool.  But without a rope you can’t do much with the dang thing.  Happily between the sale and the coupon my budget can now allow for me to go crazy and buy a FRIGGIN’ ROPE!

Of course this begs the question, what kind of rope and how long should it be?

Since I’m still a rank amateur in the climbing department, I emailed a knowledgeable friend.  Here’s what I asked along with his reply.

ME:  Bear in mind that my climbing equipment will primarily be for urban type Layla stuff rather than real mountain climbing and that I’d have to carry it on my back (when wound up), so it can’t be very heavy and it doesn’t need to be very long.  It also can’t cost much (money is my problem, not Layla’s).  The ropes would be more for going over a cliff to an archeology site below or from a rooftop to a window, etc.  And I should probably get a rope for up to four stories in a building, minimum.  How long would that be? 

AL (as in Alonzo the Crazy):  A story is generally 10 feet, so four stories=40 feet, plus length needed to anchor rope, say around a chimney or halfway across a roof to a solid pipe/railing/etc.  Two anchors are better than one if one fails.

Technique may require using rope doubled up.  For example you slip one end through whatever roof anchor, then tie it off to your harness, and rappel down to the ground by controlling the loose (dangling) end, and then pull the loose end through the roof anchor to retrieve your rope and leave no trace behind, usually a good idea when being pursued.  Not that I would know about such things.

So a four-story building would require 40×2=80 feet + anchor distance +safety margin so around 100 ft minimum.

Rather than buying a descender or ascender right off, practice descending by using the Dulfersitz method, which you should learn anyway.  It’s free since you only need the rope you are using. The rope friction binds and it hurts a little, so wear tough clothes and gloves, but it works well.  The tension (your weight) and rate of descent is controlled by your LOWER ARM, NOT YOUR UPPER.  It will take practice to get the right rhythm, control, slack, slide, repeat.

Don’t rush climbing because there is too much to it.  I climbed for over 10 years and eased into it bit by bit as needed.  And don’t risk any falls yet.  Falls hurt.

ME:   Yes, falls hurt.  Remember that time, dear reader, when I wrote here about falling while trying to climb onto my neighbor’s garage roof?  I now believe that I cracked my elbow bone or something such, because it hurt for weeks and even now gives me a tiny pain when I lean on it a certain way.

I’m living and learning the hard way.