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TOPIC: Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing

Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 2 years 1 month ago #137630

  • chiutai
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I happened to see the video in about how to use an F8 as an ascending tool which inspired me to use the ATC for the same purpose. However, the F8 should be used as an ascender with great care as the rope may become unset and the technique will no longer function.

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ATC ascender set_up

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F8 in sit_mode

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F8 in descend_mode

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F8 in ascend_mode when used in conjunction with A&D ascender
Last Edit: 2 years 1 month ago by chiutai.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137695

  • BrianF
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I know it has been a couple of months, but I'm trying to ease into climbing and not just go out and throw tons of money at it until I know what I need and like. I've been doing a lot of playing around with a figure 8. There are a number of different ways to use one. Pretty fun and versatile hunk of metal. At $10 for a basic 8 it saved me from having to buy a more expensive belay device right now.

I don't use it to ascend, still using prusiks and a homemade foot loop. However the locking sit/descend mode seems to work really well, especially if you want to stop regularly on a descent. It would be really useful for someone that needs to work or play at various levels.

Plus you don't need to unclip it to use it this way. You can have it hanging from the main attachment point on an ascent, and then just slip the rooe through the hole and twist it over the end when you want to go down. Very quick and easy to transition from up to down this way. It is saving me from having to buy some fancy multi-component RADS system right away.

However, using the 8 by clipping to the big hoop does seem to create a lot of wear where the carabiner and figure 8 touch. I was originally using a nice pear shaped belay/munter biner, but it was clearly taking some abuse. I swtiched to some steel carabiners that should hold up better, and I can replace them and the 8 when they get too beat up.

Yea, in this day and age of ATC and GriGri devices, the 8 doesn't seem to be talked about much, but I really like some of the things you can do with one.
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by BrianF.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137718

  • moss
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Ah yes, Sam Johnson made that video, he's a dedicated minimalist. In technical best practices for tree climbing any device used for descent should be a "hands off stop". It's called the whistle test, someone randomly blows a whistle, you take your hands off your rope or device, what happens next? If you don't fall to the ground it's all good. F8 is a cool tool but it fails the whistle test in tree climbing, with an auto-block it does meet the test.

A very safe and minimalist ascent/descent system is simply a rated hitch cord on single rope. You can ascend on it all day. For descent put an ATC or F8 above the hitch on a tether (better) or below the hitch, hitch provides the no hands stop if your belay hand comes off the rope accidentally. That's provided the hitch is configured properly, nothing is perfect, it's all about the details.

Safety note, not good to chain up carabiners as shown in your photo. To much opportunity to cross load gates or create other weird carabiner interactions if you slack the system while you're climbing on limbs.
-AJ
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by moss.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137720

  • Greenluck
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You may want to check out this classic video. It shows some interesting and creative uses of the Figure 8 in connection with a hitch and other hardware.

The whistle test is a good standard to apply when climbing trees (especially for beginners) but it's really up to you to determine your personal risk level that you can tolerate. Risk tolerance is not universal.

A lot of trusted rock climbing gear does not pass the whistle test yet is perfectly acceptable for rock applications that are at much greater altitudes. Condemning rock gear as unacceptable for recreation tree gear can limit your horizons. Is it necessary to apply arborist work positioning rules to recreational tree climbing? Decide for yourself. Don't tell anyone but I've been using screw gate biners for years with no ill effects.

I agree with Moss about avoiding the biner chaining pictured above. Using a swivel, a soft tether or a ring could help to get the alignment you are probably using the extra biner to achieve. Even a quick link would be a little better then biner on biner action but that's just my opinion on risk tolerance.
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by Greenluck.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137722

  • BrianF
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It makes sense to think about backups and autostops in climbing. For example, I often leave a short loop clipped to my leg strap if I am planning to rappel. From there takes 15 seconds to slap an auto block knot around the rope when setting up to descend. Plus it allows me to stop and hold on the way down.

However, having started to climb on rocks and indoors, I'm realizing that you also have to trust your body. I mean compared to hanging from a nub by your finger tips, being able to wrap a fist around a nicely sized branch feels almost as secure as a lanyard. Do I really need backups to backups to backups in a tree, when I can trust my safety to a solid hand hold on a rock face?

If somebody blew a whsitle and you let go...

Wait, time out. Why the hell am I letting go of everything? I told my hand to stay locked to that branch/rope/hand hold. If I tell my hand to hold something I expect it to do exactly what I tell it. The minute my body parts start doing their own thing is the minute I need to give up climbing forever.

From a recreational perspective I just don't see the whistle scenario as realistic. I'm actively climbing, and using my body. I don't expet some kind of epileptic fit to suddenly force me to let go of everything.

To me so much about tree climbing comes from an arborist mindset. When you are working in a tree you are supposed focus on safety at all costs. You are supposed to have multiple points of attachment so that if you get tired and slip the company you work for doesn't have to deal with OSHA, medical costs, and lawsuits. You are also carrying and using saws a lot of the time. The author of The Tree Climbing Companion took a fall because he cut his own line with a saw.

When you are climbing recreationally the mindset changes significantly. It is pretty unlikely that a saw will cut one of your lines since you aren't carrying a saw. You have no company policies and government standards to adhere to. You aren't under pressure to finish a job.

When climbing recreationally, a part of the process is to use and improve your body. You pay more attention to your capabilities and limitations. You learn where your personal limits are. If you get tired, you take a break or adust your methods.

In my opinion every recreational tree climber should at least try rock climbing. It can teach you a lot about your body and how much you can actually trust it to keep you safe.

Go indoor boulding and climb 12 feet off the floor with no harness. You start to realize that 12 feet is actually high enough to get hurt. But you also realize that your hands don't just spasm and slip. You almost always have time and feel a fall coming. Your arms get tired and you have time to think, "I'm getting tired. I should probably climb down now."

Even a fall is like, "Oh no, I'm starting to slip, I better grab an easy hand hold or else take a controlled jump."

The point is that hands don't just let go and loose control spontaneously. If they did people would be getting carted away from climbing places left and right.

That is why the whistle test really only exists within the realm of employment and rescue climbing. It is legal and financial insurance as much a personal safety.

This is why I feel like I can sometimes do a rappel without an auto block backup. If I tell my hands to hold the rope and never let go, I know that abesent some kind of undiagnosed epilepsy they will easily hole it every time.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I feel like recreational tree climbing is still mostly emulating professional techniques and has not yet fully matured and developed into it's own thing.
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by BrianF.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137724

  • moss
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So, here's another way to look at it. If you're not a free climber on rock, you have a belay. In tree climbing, you don't have a belay, you are your own belay, that's why the whistle test counts in tree climbing. I'm saying these things so new tree climbers know what best practices are and why. Experienced rec climbers may (or may not) go outside of best practices but they know the what and why of it.

Rope and harness rec tree climbing is actually highly evolved as a sport, been going on as a formal practice for at least 30 years. Some rec climbers emulate work climber gear and techniques because that's all they have to model from. I'm a huge advocate for the idea that rec tree climbing is its own practice and is very different from work climbing. Now if you're an experienced work climber you're not going to abandon your ideas when you rec climb. For rec climbers who aren't professional work climbers climbing has very different goals and objectives, it runs the gamut from straight up fun, physical improvement, nature observation, a spiritual practice, community and educational work (tree climbing instructors and facilitators) and on and on. Obviously work and rec climbers have many things in common but there are significant differences.

Anyway I'm not here to argue but I think you have a set of assumptions not entirely accurate.
-AJ
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by moss.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137725

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Here's a small sample of a tree climber version of bouldering, that day it was kind of a ritual event for me, started with a fern and pine needle smudge/smoke bath to ward off mosquitos before I explored a red maple swamp scouting for tall trees. The broken trunk/snag offered a brief free climb. I greatly enjoy free climbing when I find the right challenge and acceptable risk for my abilities.

For free climbing there are 4 major types of arm grabs: armpit (the strongest, good for resting if feet are on something solid), inside crook of the elbow very strong and stable, good for holding position. Crook of the wrist, quite strong, hand grab, the weakest of the 4, very nimble has the most reach and most frequently used but tires relatively quickly compared to the others.

Feet and legs obviously can do a bunch of jams, grabs/friction grabs etc. as well

Best practices for free tree climbing are always 3 points of contact with the tree, if you commit everything to one hold (only one point of contact) you've become extremely vulnerable..



vimeo.com/169405362

-AJ
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by moss.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137726

  • moss
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Reality is experienced rope and saddle tree climbers do a bunch of moves in trees that are based on free climbing body techniques, in that case rope is used as an adjunct not an aid. Never much slack though, tree climbers are not on dynamic ropes, unattended slack quickly becomes the enemy when you're on semi-static or fully static ropes. And then there are the subtle balance moves that aren't so easy to see. When you watch a rope and saddle climber moving fluidly around the crown of a tree there's much more to it than meets the eye. It's a very individualistic activity, there are as many approaches and styles as there are individual tree climbers.
-AJ
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by moss.
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Using ATC or F8 as ascender tool in climbing 1 year 9 months ago #137727

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I've done belayed rock, free rock, bouldering and gym climbing. Besides all the technical differences (from tree climbing) a major physical difference is that on rock there are many more "opportunities" to injure a specific joint. Situations occur where everything can be on one relatively small body part, tendon, small muscle set, joint etc. The mainstream of rec tree climbing is more like arboreal swimming, loads on the body are frequently distributed. The most sustainable rock climbers do the same with only short moves putting everything on a shoulder, wrist, two fingers, whatever. That's the apples and oranges of it as far as I can see. Similarities and differences, but major paradigm differences.
-AJ
Last Edit: 1 year 9 months ago by moss.
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