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Test Report: How Hard Can You Pull?

How Hard Can You Pull? Walking down a canyon, you come to a drop. There is a piece of webbing coming out of the sand. You’re tired, hungry, can smell the beer waiting for you in the truck. You don’t really feel like digging out that deadman and seeing what the webbing is tied to or looks like. So you give a really strong tug on the webbing… good enough. You rap off into the twilight and are soon drinking fine malt beverages. Is pulling...

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The FiddleStick – An Advanced Anchor Tool for Canyoneering

The FiddleStick is an advanced canyoneering anchor tool. It is a new approach to retrievable anchoring, opening up a wider range of possible anchors, and making it possible to descend more canyons while leaving nothing behind (aka “ghosting”). As an ADVANCED anchor tool, it requires skill, practice and understanding to use safely. Even when used properly, it has the possibility of failing, resulting in severe injury or death, or being stranded in a canyon with your ropes hopelessly stuck. The FiddleStick retrievable anchor system has...

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How to Rappel with the Black Diamond ATC

The Black Diamond ATC is a simple, versatile tool for belaying and rappelling. The original ATC works well with rock climbing ropes 10mm and larger, while the Black Diamond ATC-XP better handles the smaller ropes used for ice climbing and canyoneering. This Tech Tip is about using the ATC-XP. Design History I worked for Black Diamond in 1990-1991 when the ATC was developed and had a small role in its evolution. My buddy Chuck Brainerd designed it as a variation on the Chouinard Micro-Belay Plates,...

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Petzl Pirana – A Canyoneer’s Rappelling Tool

Pirana Basics The Petzl Pirana is a Figure Eight based rappel device made specifically for canyoneering. It has several friction settings, so the correct friction for the rope/canyoneer/situation can usually be found with little hassle. It is quick to put on the rope, and quick to take off. For Class-C canyoneering, such as in Ouray, CO, the Pirana performs well in waterfalls, because it tolerates of twists in the rope and of debris tangled in the rope. If you have to do rescue stuff, it...

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How to Rig a 2-Ring Retrievable Anchor

“Retrievable Anchors” are those where the webbing used to form an anchor is retrieved, leaving nothing behind. There are several good reasons for doing this including: leaving no trash behind in the canyon is elegant in places where the anchor sling is visible to hikers, removing it is generally a good idea to decrease the visual impact – and in many places is good to avoid the potential wrath of land managers a retrievable anchor may be a good way to conserve anchor materials Of...

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Locking Off a Figure Eight Rappelling Device

One advantage of a Figure of Eight rappel device is that it can be locked off on the rope, a useful trick for some circumstances. It makes it so that the device can be used as an ascender. A few caveats – it only works with flat faced Figure Eights like the Petzl and SMC, and it only works with some ropes. Please, please, please, practice this at home before trying it in the field. When locked off, the Eight is somewhat iffy, so only...

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Knots for Webbing and Anchors: The Overhand on a Bight

OVERHAND ON A BIGHT The other “most-useful” knot in webbing is another overhand-type, the Overhand on a Bight. This is tied in webbing just as it is in rope. [A]. Take a BIGHT and make a loop with it.                 [B]. Insert the end of the bight into the loop. [C]. Tighten. Uses: Makes a strong end of webbing. - Can tie the bight with a ring in the bight, for the working end of a rap anchor....

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How to Tie a Water Knot and Build a Webbing Anchor

Before learning how to tie a Water Knot, Dear Reader, it may help to read Simple Canyoneering Knots. As a prelude to Water Knot instruction, a bit of mountain wisdom from Edward Whymper is appropriate: “There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell, and with these in mind I say, climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may...

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Figure Eight on a Bight & Variations

FIGURE EIGHT ON A BIGHT Among the most useful of knots for canyoneering, the Figure of Eight on a Bight produces a strong loop for clipping into … something… anything! This can be used for securing a canyoneer near an anchor; for fixing a rope for rappelling; for lowering a pack on another line, etc. While it is shown here NEAR the end of the rope, it can be made anywhere in the rope by just taking a bight, and starting to tie… [A]. Take...

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The Swiss Seat – A simple webbing harness for canyoneering

Sometimes it is a good idea to tie a harness from a length of webbing. Canyons in North Wash often only have one or two rappels, so a temporary webbing harness works well there. Sometimes your partner will goof up and forget his harness – good to have a backup plan other than running six miles back to the car. Other times you might need to come up with harnesses for a bunch of kids or something. A Swiss Seat harness can be a good...