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Rappel or walk off?
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jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 11:12 AM
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Rappel or walk off?
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My husband and I always rappel back down after climbing any route if possible. To us, walking off seems much harder in most situations and if you are careful and set up properly, to rappel seems even safer in some situations. I know some people are anti rappel and would always walk off if possible because of the number of accidents during rappeling, but not us. Some people like to rappel and think it is fun, some people hate it, some people think only n00bs think it is fun, etc. I would like to know everyone's thoughts on this.
Question: Do you walk off or rappel down after a route?


Oldfatrad


Aug 16, 2012, 11:17 AM
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jd,

I's always safer to walk off, why add the risk?????



TheTool


potreroed


Aug 16, 2012, 11:24 AM
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Re: [Oldfatrad] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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You guys need to come climbing in the Potrero Chico. The are no walk-offs--you must rappel every pitch you climb.


hyhuu


Aug 16, 2012, 11:25 AM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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There are rapel stations then there are fixed anchors. Yes, sometimes they are both but just don't confuse betwen the two.

I'm assumming that we are talking about multipitch climbing.


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Re: [hyhuu] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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hyhuu wrote:
There are rapel stations then there are fixed anchors. Yes, sometimes they are both but just don't confuse betwen the two.

I'm assumming that we are talking about multipitch climbing.

For the most part, yes, multipitch


marc801


Aug 16, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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jdensign5 wrote:
My husband and I always rappel back down after climbing any route if possible. To us, walking off seems much harder in most situations and if you are careful and set up properly, to rappel seems even safer in some situations. I know some people are anti rappel and would always walk off if possible because of the number of accidents during rappeling, but not us. Some people like to rappel and think it is fun, some people hate it, some people think only n00bs think it is fun, etc. I would like to know everyone's thoughts on this.
Question: Do you walk off or rappel down after a route?
Depends heavily on the area, the nature of the route(s), the nature of the walk-off and if you're doing single or multi-pitch climbs. There are no absolute answers that apply to every situation. It may come as a surprise to some, but some areas don't have fixed anchors on every pitch nor a plethora of established rap routes. Spend 2 weeks in Yosemite and you'll see how quickly your "rappel every time" approach goes out the window, assuming you don't want to leave half your rack on every route you do.

In general I tend to try and avoid rappelling since frequently it's faster, easier, and usually safer to walk off from anything more than a single pitch route.


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 11:33 AM
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Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

I's always safer to walk off, why add the risk?????



TheTool
Stats aside, from my personal experience, every time I have rappel'd there have been no problems at all, not even close. But walking off, I cannot tell you how many times I have had my feet slip right out from under me on that chossy rocky dirt, scares the crap outta me to walk off in lots of situations.


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 11:37 AM
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In reply to:
It may come as a surprise to some, but some areas don't have fixed anchors on every pitch nor a plethora of established rap routes.

I meant we rappel when ever possible. There are times that we can't because of no anchors or natural protection to rappel from and still be able to retreive our rope and not leave behind any gear.


Oldfatrad


Aug 16, 2012, 11:38 AM
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jd,

While there have been instances of climbers incurring injury or death on walk offs, the statistic is miniscule when compared to rap accidents.

Maybe an investment in approach shoes or more practice will give you more walk off confidence.


TheTool


marc801


Aug 16, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

While there have been instances of climbers incurring injury or death on walk offs, the statistic is miniscule when compared to rap accidents.

Maybe an investment in approach shoes or more practice will give you more walk off confidence.
A lot of new or inexperienced climbers either forget or don't realize that climbing outdoors requires a whole other set of skills best described as mountain sense. Learning how to travel safely in mountainous terrain without slipping off of dirty, chossy ledges and not raining down a ton of rocks on those below are parts of that skill set.


hyhuu


Aug 16, 2012, 12:15 PM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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jdensign5 wrote:
Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

I's always safer to walk off, why add the risk?????



TheTool
Stats aside, from my personal experience, every time I have rappel'd there have been no problems at all, not even close. But walking off, I cannot tell you how many times I have had my feet slip right out from under me on that chossy rocky dirt, scares the crap outta me to walk off in lots of situations.

You shoudn't think that way. All it takes is 1 mistake and the thread would be about you instead of from you. The consequence of mistakes from walking vs rapelling are vastly different. I'm not saying you shouldn't rap off. When doing it properly rapelling can be safe but history shows that even the experienced ones can get distracted or lost focus when rapelling.


Kartessa


Aug 16, 2012, 12:22 PM
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jdensign5 wrote:
Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

I's always safer to walk off, why add the risk?????



TheTool
Stats aside, from my personal experience, every time I have rappel'd there have been no problems at all, not even close. But walking off, I cannot tell you how many times I have had my feet slip right out from under me on that chossy rocky dirt, scares the crap outta me to walk off in lots of situations.

Quoted. Because it's frikkin hilarious!


marc801


Aug 16, 2012, 12:51 PM
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Kartessa wrote:
Quoted. Because it's frikkin hilarious!
And it may have future use as an epitaph.


Kartessa


Aug 16, 2012, 12:53 PM
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marc801 wrote:
Kartessa wrote:
Quoted. Because it's frikkin hilarious!
And it may have future use as an epitaph.

Kinda like "Yeah, I still smoke... it's not like I've got lung cancer yet, but if I quit I might gain weight"


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Re: [Oldfatrad] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

While there have been instances of climbers incurring injury or death on walk offs, the statistic is miniscule when compared to rap accidents.

Maybe an investment in approach shoes or more practice will give you more walk off confidence.


TheTool
I have approach shoes, they work great on solid rock, but not on dirt or gravel on top of rock


Kartessa


Aug 16, 2012, 1:04 PM
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jdensign5 wrote:
Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

While there have been instances of climbers incurring injury or death on walk offs, the statistic is miniscule when compared to rap accidents.

Maybe an investment in approach shoes or more practice will give you more walk off confidence.


TheTool
I have approach shoes, they work great on solid rock, but not on dirt or gravel on top of rock

You'd be fucked out here. Everything has rocks/dirt at the base and on the top.

Half the routes are full of dirt/gravel too


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 3:37 PM
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In reply to:

You'd be fucked out here. Everything has rocks/dirt at the base and on the top.

Half the routes are full of dirt/gravel too

Same here, that is why I like to just rappel down, I feel safer, even though that may just be a figment of my imagination.


marc801


Aug 16, 2012, 3:42 PM
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jdensign5 wrote:
Same here, that is why I like to just rappel down, I feel safer, even though that may just be a figment of my imagination.
It is.
Learn how to walk on the moveable stuff.


jdensign5


Aug 16, 2012, 3:52 PM
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I guess what I don't understand is the fact the rockclimbing in general is a risk. We take risks every day when we are out there. Every time I set up an anchor or place a piece of protection, or set a top rope or belay my husband, I need to pay close attention to what I am doing and double check my knots, set up, etc. Really, there is no room for error, I have to get it right because our life depends on it.

What is so different about doing a rappel? When I set that up, I make sure everything is right as well, even more so because I am putting my full weight on the rope all the way down. I also have a backup knot if something should happen to me, it will catch me.

I am also cautious because of everyone's uneasiness about the safety of rappell which I can only conclude that because most people are rappeling at the end of the route when they are tired, etc., they make mistakes. What I am most surprised about is all these climbers are doing such a risky sport yet refuse to rappel down. I believe all these experienced climbers have good reason to be extra cautious but I can't believe that so many avoid rappel altogether.
What am I missing that is so dangerous? Excluding making a mistake by the climber setting the rappel up, because lots of injury and death can happen because of human error (ie setting a top rope up wrong) but that doesn't stop these same people from top roping, why does it stop them from rappelling?


(This post was edited by jdensign5 on Aug 16, 2012, 3:53 PM)


csproul


Aug 16, 2012, 4:18 PM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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It's not that it so much more dangerous per se, it is the consequences and fact that you are 100% reliant on the entire system. While climbing, there is usually (not always) a chain of things that need to go wrong before things are really bad. For example, when climbing first off you need to fall, then maybe you have gear pull, and there still needs to be something to hit before something catches you. So probably a few things have gone wrong in order for you to be injured. As long as you haven't hit the ground or a ledge or something like it, the consequences of an average lead fall should not be too bad unless something has gone wrong. And lots of climbers get away with mistakes because they never test the system at the wrong time.

Now, contrast that with rappelling. Pretty much one thing goes wrong and you fall all the way to the ground. Don't get both strands threaded? Rap off the end or ends? Anchor failure? Pretty much any of these things happen and you're hitting the ground. Compound that with the fact that while rappelling, you are often tired, cold, and hungry and think that the danger is over, so you have let your guard down.

So it depends on the walk off. I definitely take safety and convenience into consideration. Which is is SAFELY going to get me to the ground or next climb the quickest?


Guran


Aug 17, 2012, 3:09 AM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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Now, to be honest there are certainly walk-offs where a slip might be catastrophic. Even walk-offs where a party might want to rope up for part of the descent.

But to your question. I believe climbing is about risk management, not risk taking.
As a climber I accept that there is a certain risk involved in a certain route. (including approach and descent). However, I strive to minimize that risk, once accepted. That goes regardless of route and climbing style.
Trad might be more risky than sport (gross generalization, but bear with me). However, when I choose to climb trad I do my best to stay as safe as possible.
Let's say I want to solo. Definitely dangerous and risky. But if I do I won't pick a route at my limit during a hailstorm.
etc.

Same thing for the descent. Unless the means has a value per se I choose the most efficient and least risky method at my disposal. Should I, hypothetically, climb the Frendo spur I'd definitely use the lift down.

Now you'll definitely find yourself in situations where either rapping or walk-offs is not an option. Therefore make sure that you master both. There is technique to walk-offs as well.


byran


Aug 17, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Re: [Oldfatrad] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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Oldfatrad wrote:
jd,

I's always safer to walk off, why add the risk?????



TheTool
That's absurd. Some raps are sketch, some walk-offs are sketch. Typically taking the "established" descent route, whether it's rap or walk-off, is the best choice. Otherwise you weigh several factors such as speed, danger, and comfort, and choose the best descent. Yeah, walking down the Falls trail is the safest way to get off El Cap, but who wants to do an 8 mile slog because they're afraid of a few raps?

And if it's been a long day and it's dark out I know I'd much rather face rapping the route I just came up than doing a hairy class 3 walk-off for the first time with wobbly legs.


Oldfatrad


Aug 17, 2012, 2:50 PM
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Re: [byran] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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byran,

My intial statement may have been a bit too broad. You've added darkness and exhaustion into the equation. Hmmmm, North Dome Gully, Falls Trail or RA rap route, it depends on the individual. The OP seemed to discussing daylight raps at the local crag, WALK OFF.


TheTool


kf8mo


Aug 17, 2012, 6:12 PM
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There does seem to be quite a bias among climbers that rappelling is risky, and yes, I've seen the stats about rapping accidents. OTOH, the canyoneers, cavers, and commercial/industrial ropeworkers do it all the time and don't seem to have the problems we climbers do. Seems to me that if we could rap as reliably as they do, it'd often be a better choice than a sketchy walkoff. So what's the difference between how climbers rap off and how cavers and canyoneers do it?


sungam


Aug 18, 2012, 4:51 AM
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Re: [jdensign5] Rappel or walk off? [In reply to]
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Well rapping can be much faster, or it can be a pain in the ass. Or it can be just plain rude.

So really whichever is fastest and most convenient at the time. But even if the walk off is an extra 5-10 minutes and there are bolted anchors I'm not going to rap if someone is on the route.

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