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TOPIC: SRT Blake's Hitch descent...

SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131287

  • HooT
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Was half way up a tall (115') white pine climbing SRT near my cabin not long ago and realized that I had left my binoculars in my pack and wanted to get them because the view from the top is amazing. (Especially in winter...) So I quickly debated my options, and realized that I had a choice that I hadn't read about or seen anywhere. It was one of those \"Duh!\" moments when something seemed so obvious, like looking all over for the salt when it's right in front of you the whole time at dinner. I tied a traditional DRT Blake's hitch using my 13mm Safety Blue split-tail around my climbing line, proceeded to disconnect my ascenders, and squeezed my hitch to descend in a nice and controlled manner just like I would if I had been climbing DRT the whole time. It was awesome. I realized I could switch over to a descent during a SRT climb at any point with no big fuss. And it made me laugh, because it brought to mind so many experiences and stories of super involved techniques of how to switch over from ascent to descent in SRT mode, some of them pretty hairy in certain situations.

So the big question is... has anyone else done this? I find it very hard to believe that I have somehow stumbled upon a new technique, especially one so simple and straight-forward. But I haven't been able to find a description of this, so I have to ask!

Lots of Love,
Eric
So many Trees... So little Time!
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131288

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I saw a technique where you tie a split tail (blakes or B-53 hitch) to your SRT line BETWEEN your ascenders. Your bottom ascender acts like a tender for the hitch on the way up. When you want to come down, stand in your foot stirrup, unclip the top ascender, load and settle into the hitch, then unclip the bottom ascender, and you are on the way down. As a bonus, the split tail acts as a self-belay on the way up, in case something goes wrong.

This system works fine in theory, but I think I'd much rather use a traditional decender for long SRT decents. (That's the rescuer/rock climber in me. As I get better at tree techniques, I'm sure I'll feel more comfortable)
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131290

I always have a Blake's hitch tied above my top ascender as a back up in case I do something stupid like unclipping the ascender from the rope by mistake while faffing around (unlikely but a remote possibility). The ascender butts up against the Blake's hitch and advances it with very little friction anyway. You could use this to descend on, but obviously check the hitch is tight before detaching the ascender and ascend VERY slowly so the rope doesn't overheat.

I personally use a Sticht (belay) plate to descend (which is more complicated to switch to when half way up a rope though)

How was snowboarding Eric? I only managed to get 1 day of boarding done in Scotland before high winds closed the lifts!

Michael
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131294

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I'm glad it worked for you but I think you may have got lucky, you tried an SRT descent technique at height without first testing it closer to the ground or if at height with a backup. I've heard several climbing experts say that a friction hitch just doesn't work well for SRT descent. The way it was explained to me was that in DRT climbing the hitch is only holding one of two legs of the rope so it behaves very nicely going down on this load distributed system, can be started and stopped with fine control gradations. Supposedly on a single rope it can be very touchy, with a tendency to bind and when you get it going a tendency to go too fast and get into a hitch/rope surface melting situation which causes a cascading acceleration/melting effect (don't know if this is theoretical or has actually happened). Another problem is that there is no brake hand available with 2:1 mechanical advantage on the running end the way there is with DRT.

You managed to make it work against conventional wisdom, good stuff. Probably not a good technique for a novice to try when there are proven and safe options. Switchover to a rappel device should be simple, straightforward and redundantly safe, if there is anything risky about it then the climber should take a hard look at what they're doing during switchover.

I'm curious to hear what diameter and type of rope you used for the SRT line and also urge you to try it close to the ground and see if you can find out what the performance limits are, does it it tend to run free if you pull a little too hard on the hitch? Is this technique used regularly in any other high angle disciplines? I don't have a copy of 'On Rope, maybe there's some info there to check out. I'd consider this experimental until more testing is done and/or there is additional verification of safety.

How about putting an ATC below the hitch to give you additional friction control?
-moss
Last Edit: 10 years 9 months ago by moss. Reason: cleaned up the syntax!
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... not likely! 10 years 9 months ago #131296

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In the few times I have tried using a knot to descend on an SRT set up it locks up to the point that you are mostly fighting the knot in order to get down. Any rappel device including a munter hitch on a binner works better than a B52.
Your personal experience will be different for every climber and mileage will vary........ and all that jazz!

:cheer:
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131305

I've not done a blake's on a an srt and wouldn't think to mainly due to the dangers of the loading on a single line. A blake's in a DRT setup only has to hold 50% of your body weight, but that same hitch on an SRT has to hold 100% of your body weight. You would definitely risk a ground fall if the hitch failed and I think it would not be a fail-safe set up; even though the set up worked this time it couldn't be counted upon to work every time. The risks are the hitch could open up and result in a ground fall or the \"hot spot\" could melt through on the hitch and result in a ground fall.

I'd suggest don't do this and get a gri-gri or a stop for these set ups.

Sadams
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131313

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Eric,
You know i love to have 10 ways to do the same thing so i can always get out of a jam. I have been using the ATC for descent lately and find it travels up the rope very easily. I hook it up for descent under my SRT gear and every now and then as i ascend i pull the rope below it and it rides up right below. When i want to change over i do a quick leg wrap and unhook SRT and im on my way down. Keep trying new things, but try them LOW.
Climb Safe Dan
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 9 months ago #131318

Moss wrote about the cautions for descending on SRT using a friction hitch.

During my SRT research I've tried many rope-hitch-cord combinations trying to find one that works both for ascent and descent. So far...nothing has worked for both. Almost any hitch will work for ascent. But when it comes time to descend the hitches tend to lock off really hard.

I always have at least one extra HMS biner along in case I need to descend on a hitch. The biner is used to tie a Munter and the hitch then becomes the second attachment point.

Using anything except one of the high temp sheath hitch cords is not a good plan. SRT hitches get VERY hot! One of my tests was the Cheek Test. After a hard or fast descent I would put my cheek up to the hitch to see how hot it had become. In a very short time all hitches got hotter than I was comfortable with.
Strong limbs and single ropes!
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch for ascending 10 years 8 months ago #131344

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Here is a photo of a set up I used while climbing back up a rock face that I had just rappelled down but I was too lazy to walk all the way around to the starting point. I kind of improvised and it work even thou you are actually \"walking \" up the rock and the rope is mostly keeping you in place as you make progress up. This was tied with static rock climbing rope that is not very \"flexible\" to tie knots.
Last Edit: 10 years 8 months ago by oldtimer.
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 7 months ago #131528

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I'd still consider myself a beginner, but I've done a fair amount of climbs (including a professionally guided climb here in the NW up a 230 foot Douglas Fir).

I'm so much a fan of SRT with a RADS / Yo-Yo technique that I've never really attempted to climb DRT. I know the ropes are designed for it, but it seems to me that doing a lot of DRT climbing will wear out a rope faster and is at least a little harmful to the limb the rope is being pulled over.

My advice is lay out for a good Petzel ID or Eddy (I have and have used both). I know they're a bit pricy, but they are very straightforward to use, and offer a lot more security than friction hitches. They are especially good for long descents. When I've descended with friction hitches I've had trouble fine-tuning the knot to be not too loose or not too tight, and in all but short descents you have to really watch the speed and time because the rope will heat up quickly (I've melted cord doing this).

I'm envious of your cabin with big trees around it. I live in a sub-division and have to content myself with begging friends to climb at their house, or climbing the bolts I've rigged on my 25 foot chimney.
Last Edit: 10 years 7 months ago by Holden. Reason: fragmented sentence
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 7 months ago #131534

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Holden wrote:
I'm so much a fan of SRT with a RADS / Yo-Yo technique that I've never really attempted to climb DRT. I know the ropes are designed for it, but it seems to me that doing a lot of DRT climbing will wear out a rope faster and is at least a little harmful to the limb the rope is being pulled over.

We put a sleeve on the rope to protect the branch climbing DRT. SRT is great to get into the tree, especially tall conifers. Once I'm in an area of a conifer where the branches are somewhat close together I switch over to DRT. For climbing in hardwoods DRT seems to be a preferred choice, there's a lot more lateral climbing in the tree and it's quick to re-pitch using the other end of the rope (DRT) as you move about the crown of a hardwood.
-moss
Last Edit: 10 years 7 months ago by moss.
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Re:SRT Blake's Hitch descent... 10 years 7 months ago #131543

Hoot- I'd love to hear more about your descent. Moss has the same question as I: what climbing line are you using, and what line were you using as the split tail?

I think I'm not envisioning what you are talking about right, because what I'm picturing from your explanation makes it sounds like you lucked out big time and were only a slight distance from a scary accident.

I've toyed with the Blakes on SRT and found that I could make it work with 1/2\" vectran double buried on what I think was a 5/4 Blakes (it was a long time ago, so I don't remember for sure). I found that when I changed any one variable, the system would either slide uncontrollably or lock up beyond use.

So did you get to see the nice views through the binocs? And WELCOME TO THE SITE!!!! :woohoo:

love
nick
Would you like a lanyard spliced up, or anything else for that matter??? Give me a call- 323-384-7770 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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