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Discussion Starter #1
What are people's thoughts and experiences with rappelling with a 3/8" throw rope?

I am considering using my 3/8 rope more for steep portages this year and for better camera angles and opportunities when on the river. I do not pack a climbing rope and I'm curious what people have put their throw rope through in a season.

I feel like the throw rope is static rope and not ideal for rappels, what do people think about short rappels and using the rope for accessing hard to reach areas of the creek?

I feel like a lot of people take honest risks with throw ropes all the time I know climbing law says you should use dynamic rope for rappelling, what are people doing with their ropes and what kind of ropes are you using?

I understand some people pack a full on climbing rope, I'm interested in other ideas as well.
 

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Most throw bag lines are totally suitable for rappelling. In climbing and canyoneering, it is totally acceptable to rap on static line. Static vs. dynamic does not matter for rappelling because you are not shock loading the system if you are doing things right. Lead climbing is what requires dynamic line. Also, 3/8ths is roughly 9mm, which is pretty standard for climbing and will work with any rappel device.

However, keep in mind that the more you use a throwbag for non emergency situations, the more wear it receives, which could affect its breaking strength in high force situations such as pins and z drags.
 

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What climbing rule says you can only rap on dynamic ropes? Been climbing 10 years and I've never heard that. Keep in mind the durability of the sheath that protects the core. How much abuse will it go thru regularly rubbing on cliff edges/rocks/trees when loaded with a big guy? Also you said for pics...are yo going to ascend the rope? Will you have a 100lb boat/gear plus your body weight?
 

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Misspellingintothefuture!
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Hmm. Haven't looked at the spec's for various throw ropes lately, but thinking the official answer would be no, at least partly because that is not the ropes intended use. In reality, a throw bag probly would hold you, at least if there was no shock loading the system, there might not be a very comforting safety margin though.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all throw ropes are created equal, what material and construction makes a big diference in the ropes strength. And as already stated, what condition it is in makes a big differance, life on the river is not always the greatest for the life of a rope, sand getting in to it eats it up, and the bag does not always keep out all the U.V.'s for instance.

I have definately used my throw bag as a safety rope for my self in a few instances, but an actual section of climbing rope may be a bit safer.

If you were to use throw bag rope, comparing the strength rating to climbing rope intended for that purpose would be a good idea, also you would want kearn and mantle rope, and taking care of it like a climbing rope would be wise also.

If you get a piece of climbing rope, static should be fine as long as you won't be taking much of a fall on it (taking more then a minimal fall on static can damage internal organs). We used to use blue water 2 for most thing's on the challenge course and it was great for that, it is made for caving and is meant for that type of rough, damp, enviroment, so should be a good choice for the river.

Actual climbing rope is probly the safer idea.

Don't consider myself the final authority on ropes, but hope this helps.
And no winning darwin award's! ;)
 

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Statis is better for rappelling as it often reduces abrasion.

But "throw rope" is a generic term so you will want to specify materials. Many materials are horrible for rappelling as they melt at extremely low temperatures, including those generated by friction devices on longer rappels. The core material and construction is also of critical importance.

What does well in water and saturation isn't necessarily great for dry rappels. For example, polypropylene as a core can be great (canyoneering rope for example) but is a poor choice for a sheath like we see in many throw ropes.

Phillip
 

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Phillip is correct. The problem is not whether the rope is static vs dynamic. Static rope is generally preferred over dynamic rope for rappelling-only applications where fall-shock is extremely unlikely (vs. compbined rappelling/climbing where you need dynamic for the climbing part). For example in the canyoning/canyoneering/search & rescue/fireman world, static rope is the standard.

Width also isn't an issue. 8mm/9mm is also standard in canyoning.

The problem with using throw rope to rappel on is that the rope is probably not built nor intended to be rappelled on nor tested for that application, and you can have all sorts of issues. One of the most likely would be sheath slippage or bunching. This happens when you rappel on a rope and the friction of the rappel pulls the sheath past the core leaving your rope with some serious foreskin problems. This can not only ruin your rope it can make it dangerous to rappel on since a bunched up sheath may not be able to pass through your rappel device, leaving you stuck mid-cliff as if you hit a knot. Another problem would be whether the sheath is built to withstand friction, heat and abrasion that happen in rappelling.

If rappelling was really going to be part of my regular game, I would consider buying some static canyoneering rope and cutting it to the length of my throw bag -- but there's a big caution with that-- unlike throw rope, most canyoning rope, albeit water resistant and non-absorbant, doesn't float or only floats for a few seconds. Sporting a non-floating throw rope seems like a really bad idea. The Sterling C-IV is the only one I've seen that is made for canyoneering purposes but branded to "float pretty well" Sterling Canyon C-IV Rope - 9mm | Backcountry.com I haven't tested it to know whether its floatation is similar to a throw bag rope.
 

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I've made fairly substantial rappels on 6mm accessory cord. It works, but be ready to apply some friction-increasing techniques. Truthfully, it's not the most comforting thing ever, but if you're prepared for it, and it's your best option, then it will work.

Bluewater 6mm cord is rated at ~1900lbf.

Some of the Spectra and Dyneema throwbags might be tempting, but they have a comparatively low melting point. Really, if you're serious about doing some real rope work, get a chunk of 8mm static line, and keep in in the back of your boat with some other tools- couple biners, rap device, slings, etc. You can keep it small.

At around 3 lb for 30m of something like the Bluewater Canyon rope plus some other hardware, I'd say it's worth me not having to worry about melting my throw rope or something like that. You could make full 100' rappels with a system like this, using the throw rope as a pull-cord.

But if I were in a position where I needed to rap on my throw rope, yeah, I'd do it.
 

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Hell no to the polyester rope, maybe in an emergency for the dyneema. The fact that you didn't ask about the two different types tells me you should learn more about the materials and properties of the equipment before committing your life to it.

In my opinion you need a separate rap line, purchased for - and maintained for - that purpose.
 

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As a boater and and climber, been putting up new multi-pitch climbing routes for more than 20 years and boating more than 20 years, get yo self some 9mm dry canyoneering static line for your boating throw line and rap line. Don't rap on a standard throw rope unless its an emergency and you don't have anything else. Static line is preferable for strict rappeling applications over dynamic line for a host of reason and also better for boating applications.
 

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Randaddy- I think you mean Polypropylene. Most standard throw bags are polypro because it floats. Polyester doesn't float, and is comparable to nylon in strength and melting point. Polyester doesn't stretch as much as nylon, typically (depends somewhat on the weave). Polypropylene has a much lower strength and melting point (~250F) than either nylon or polyester (each ~500F). Dyneema and Spectra have a greater tensile strength:weight ratio than even steel, but have a fairly low melting point (~300F, with critical strength loss at ~150F). The ropes I linked to above have a Dyneema core, with a Technora or Technora/Polyester blended sheath. Technora is incredibly heat resistant compared even to nylon (nylon melts at ~500 deg F, Technora doesn't melt, but chars at at over 900.)

Anyway, it's a mouthful. Needless to say, it's important to know what tool you're using for any job. A rope is not a rope is not a rope.
 

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Yeah, avid climber and boater here. The ropes are plenty strong....but still not the right tool.
Throw bag rope varies a lot. The cheaper polypro rope I see commonly doesn't feel that abrasion resistant enough to set up a video shot and hang on. After using one to haul 4 boats up a cliff on an unexpected portage it was really hammered. I had to retire it after fairly light use. The sheath also tend to be a fairly loose weave prone to snagging and bunching. Spectra and dyneema melt way too easily for my comfort. If you lose control for a second and descend rapidly you could melt through your rope.

Get a real rope- static is actually best for your application.

AND get some training. It isn't as simple as tying it to a tree and jumping over the edge- most of the time. Know your knots, understand force vectors and figure out equalized multi point anchor systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I would like to thank everyone for contributing to this topic.

I would also like to be the first to admit, I do not know much about rope.

I have been practicing my knots and learning to work with rope more. I find myself using my throw rope more for wood and boats and after the fact moments more than need safety in a rapid or live bait etc...

I have learned great deals about what makes a rope a rope now. I have some thinking to do.

I always use a spectra rope in a throwbag, It is my minimum. I had not considered all the above mentioned points that were made, and i need to think more about the intended applications.

And a question.

What are the dangers of ascending a throw rope? with ascenders and foot loops?

thank you all again, i have learned heaps!!!
 

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My 3/8 nrs throw bag has retrieved 2 deer and an elk hooked up to my warn winch. FWIW. In a bind I'd use it but not unless I had to. Use the proper equipment for the job when you have that option. I like the foreskin description.
 

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As said above, different qualities of a material determine its suitability for a task. While Spectra/Dyneema has good abrasion properties in itself, the weave also contributes. The weave of a throw rope may be different enough to make it less abrasion resistant than your typical climbing rope. That's my experience. Anybody else? I think the main issues are similar to your rappelling question: can you do it? probably yes. Should you use it to ascend on? probably not if you planned on it from the outset. However, if you had to pay special attention to edges the rope may be running over- not just sharp edges either. I've seen climbing rope all grated apart from jugging over a large round bulge. When you're jugging, most people bounce up and down quite a bit. Every cycle is another rub your rope makes across the sandpaper. Be safe, work on using good technique for selecting location of, formulating, and building anchors. This book by John Long could be pretty helpful to you (if it's the book I'm thinking of).
 

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Using a 3/8" throw rope for rappelling and portages

I have climbed a lot of rope. You definitely want static line, because not only is the bounce of a dynamic rope nauseating- but the stretching of the rope over sharp edges and through the teeth of the ascender creates severe wear. You will also want to pay attention to rope diameter compared to ascender sizing when you select a set up, too thin a rope and many ascenders won't work properly. Of course, the light way to ascend is prusiks which also require attention to rope diameter vs. prusik cord diameter.

Beware of overhanging ledges, they can be a bitch (to virtually impossible) to climb back over without proper planning.

Another book suggestion is On Rope, which is a caving book, but has virtually every kind of rope work one can imagine in it. Circus rigging, window cleaning, and some boating stuff. It is in an e format here:

http://caves.org/Pub Contents/On Rope - Part 1 - Secured.pdf


Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
 

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Climbdenali, i agree, the typical looser weave of a throw rope would be less abrasion resistant, one reason i can think of is that more sand and grit is let into the rope, which is just like tiny knives cutting it apart from the inside each time it moves, and even getting to the kearn, where most strength comes from.

Some great info being contributed on this thread, i have learned a lot to!
 

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Ultimately I think its too much to ask a river throw rope to serve as a rappel and ascending line. They just are designed to be a primary "lifeline" for vertical technical rope work.

Many throw ropes are "kermantle" in design but that is really a generic catch all for any rope with a sheath and core in this case. When doing vertical rope work like you describe the sheath is of upmost importance and its a weaker spot for throw ropes. Most of these ropes are designed to be strong enough (core-wise) for emergency procedures like live-bait rescues, tossing to swimmers, etc but not thoroughly vetted for mechanical advantages for wraps, etc that expose rope to huge forces. To be honest I am not even sure what testing and governing agencies exist for river ropes as I haven't seen them listed anywhere.

On the other hand, static rope tested and certified is well vetted and designed for the forces and abuses of vertical work. As others have pointed out, the sheath is critical in many of these applications; the material and weave being the principal features of concern. Canyoneers and cavers seem to be the best overlap in application to your questions as traditional climbing ropes are more balanced towards the dynamic side.

Ultimately I would encourage you NOT to risk using a throw rope for the applications you have expressed. When it comes to protecting your life a specifically designed tool is the way to go. I would highly recommend visiting a brick and mortar shop to educate yourself on technical ropes before using them in the backcountry. Knowing their design and limitations is critical to proper use.

Phillip
 

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As others have suggested, you would want to use a dedicated static caving, canyoneering line if you are doing full on raps and ascending. I have used throw ropes lots for lowering raising boats and assisting decents ascents. I wouldn't want to trust a throw rope with my life except in an emergency and all other options are exhausted.

But don't believe me, my throw rope is small dia spectra and I would count on a munter (which I absolutely can tie) with a bener for raps and belaying since I don't carry a rap device. I have never tried it to see how much heat is generated. Probably Sketch.
 
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