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onrockandice


Jun 23, 2011, 1:15 PM
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Rappel or Walk-Off
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So I just finished reading the A & I thread that I come visit every month or two just to make sure I'm not listed and I read something that checked my shorts in a hitch.

Why do people say, "Walk-off is better than rap?" when rap is the one that kills you and walk is something you've done since you were 1 year old?

I know that military and law enforcement drill, drill and drill again for worst case scenario. I rap from anchors every time I climb and I accept the risks. I have established a sort of mental script that has watched over me well. I always tie the ends of the rope together for instance...

Anywho...

What's your take? Do the safest thing you can?

Practice the lethal thing so that you are ready for it when and if the time comes you *have* to use it?

NOTE: I'm not looking for a holy war on which method is better. Instead I'm wondering what approach you as an individual values more? I always have trained for worse case when I climb (Don't be pedantic here. I've not listed my whole rap routine and if I did I'm certainly not going to say it's fool-proof as frankly I write in the presence of many whom I'm not even worthy to belay much less argue fine points with.)

So if given the choice do you rappel (to stay in practice) or do you walk (because it's safer)?


sspssp


Jun 23, 2011, 1:22 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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If the walk off is relatively straight forward, then you are less likely to be "trapped" say by a stuck rope. I would rather get caught in the rain somewhere where I can hike instead of shivering at a belay.

But if the rap is easier/safer than I would rather do that. Some slab "walk offs" become nightmares when slick. Plenty of climbers have bit it from falling while "walking" off.

After 20 years of climbing, I'm not out to "practice" either one, but I guess I could see this if you are new to the sport.


(This post was edited by sspssp on Jun 23, 2011, 1:23 PM)


jt512


Jun 23, 2011, 1:27 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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onrockandice wrote:
So I just finished reading the A & I thread that I come visit every month or two just to make sure I'm not listed and I read something that checked my shorts in a hitch.

Why do people say, "Walk-off is better than rap?" when rap is the one that kills you and walk is something you've done since you were 1 year old?

I know that military and law enforcement drill, drill and drill again for worst case scenario. I rap from anchors every time I climb and I accept the risks. I have established a sort of mental script that has watched over me well. I always tie the ends of the rope together for instance...

Anywho...

What's your take? Do the safest thing you can?

Practice the lethal thing so that you are ready for it when and if the time comes you *have* to use it?

NOTE: I'm not looking for a holy war on which method is better. Instead I'm wondering what approach you as an individual values more? I always have trained for worse case when I climb (Don't be pedantic here. I've not listed my whole rap routine and if I did I'm certainly not going to say it's fool-proof as frankly I write in the presence of many whom I'm not even worthy to belay much less argue fine points with.)

So if given the choice do you rappel (to stay in practice) or do you walk (because it's safer)?

The problem is that what you are referring to as "practice" isn't "practice" in the sense of practice in controlled situations; it's performance, and hence carries 100% of the risk of the activity. That risk outweighs the practice value on just about every rappel. In other words, most times when you rappel, the risk of doing so outweighs the "practice" benefit. This assumes that you are already proficient in rappelling. If not, then, yes, by all means practice until you are, because, as you imply, someday you may have to rappel under harsh circumstances, and your chances of not killing yourself when that time comes will be greater if you're proficient.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Jun 23, 2011, 1:29 PM)


bearbreeder


Jun 23, 2011, 1:55 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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depends on how tricky the walk off is ...

generally though out here its safer to walk off ... if you screw up and trip, you probably dont die except for certain exposed sections ...

if you screw up on rappel however ...

SPLAT !!!

and we wont even talk about things like stuck ropes, missing the anchors on multiple raps, getting stuck, etc ...

Tongue


nkane


Jun 23, 2011, 2:01 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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Another thing I take into account is whether the walk-off is an erosion-prone trail. One wants to lessen one's impact when possible...


rangerrob


Jun 23, 2011, 2:01 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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How about increased wear on the rope from repeatedly rapping off instead of lowering off, especially in hotter climates when fast rappels create a lot of heat. I'm all for the walk off assuming it is safe.


healyje


Jun 23, 2011, 2:22 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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I dunno, I think being really proficient in rappelling means you've gotten to the point of realizing it's an activity where you are 100% dependent on gear for your movement, understand the consequences of things going bad are significant, and have arrived at the opinion that it's an activity to be avoided anytime there are better options.


jt512


Jun 23, 2011, 2:29 PM
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Re: [rangerrob] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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rangerrob wrote:
How about increased wear on the rope from repeatedly rapping off instead of lowering off . . .

Well, aside from the fact that that is irrelevant to the question of rapping vs walking off, I doubt that it's true; since, when you lower, the force on your rope as it moves over the top anchor would be something like triple the force on your rope as it moves through the belay/rappel device while rappelling.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Jun 23, 2011, 2:31 PM)


potreroed


Jun 23, 2011, 3:32 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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In general, I would prefer to walk off but I do most of my climbing in the Potrero Chico where there are NO walk-offs. Every pitch you climb must be rappelled.


rtwilli4


Jun 23, 2011, 4:17 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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You should just do whatever makes the most sense. Like Jay said, you aren't "practicing" anything when you're out in the mountains... you're performing. And if you screw up, you are going to die. There is absolutely no reason to put your life in any more risk than it already is.

I generally do whatever I think is going to be the most straight forward. If I'm rapping the route (or a route I've done before, or a well known straight line of rap anchors) then I'll probably rap down. Even in the dark, I feel 100% safe as long as I have a headlamp (always do) and my partner is OK with rapping.

I usually try to do what the locals do because that will generally be the easiest line to follow. If I'm in an obscure area that is not well travelled, I just play it by ear.

I don't like to rap when I'm super tired/hungry/thirsty. I also don't like to rap if my partner would rather walk. And sometimes I just don't feel like looking for anchors and replacing old tat.

But in my experience the rap versus walk off decision usually needs to be made at some point during the climbing. Many times there is a high point on the route where you can rap from, and once you pass that point you are committed to the top.

If that's not the case then just do what the locals do.


donald949


Jun 23, 2011, 4:38 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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It depends.
Cragging 1/2 pitches with bolt anchors, rap almost exclusively. No bolt anchors, walk off exclusively as that means there is a decent walk off.
Multi, depends on the walk off. One spot I like the walk off is epic, and rapping is cake, I rap. Other areas where the walk off straight forward, I walk.
But when I rap, I consider it part of climbing, and I keep my head in the game.


Colinhoglund


Jun 23, 2011, 7:15 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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Whichever is least likely to get me killed Wink.

But seriously though, I'll do whichever is most strait forward and has the lower anticipated risk. Sometimes you don't get a choice, but generally I'll take a strait forward rap over a convoluted walk or vs versa.


dagibbs


Jun 23, 2011, 7:33 PM
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Re: [potreroed] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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potreroed wrote:
In general, I would prefer to walk off but I do most of my climbing in the Potrero Chico where there are NO walk-offs. Every pitch you climb must be rappelled.

What? You mean you don't want to walk-off down "Monster Truck Ride" or "Scariest Ride in the Park"? :)


(This post was edited by dagibbs on Jun 23, 2011, 7:33 PM)


Partner rgold


Jun 23, 2011, 8:04 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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The situation in the Gunks shows that almost all climbers will choose convenience over a safer alternative. There has been almost a complete conversion, from almost everyone walking back from every climb to almost no one walking back from any climb.

This in the face of repeated accidents, many to experienced climbers, accidents that happen in spite of rappel safety techniques that were unknown in the walk-back days.

People say rappelling is risky, but it is clear from their choices that, in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary, they believe the risks are ones they can successfully avoid.


(This post was edited by rgold on Jun 23, 2011, 9:58 PM)


tory_c89


Jun 23, 2011, 8:07 PM
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Re: [dagibbs] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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I always rap off because it is the most fun. Also I am lazy and rapping off means that I do not have to carry all my gear around everything to get to the walk off position. Does really not come into mind what part is "safer". If you ever get a rope stuck its not like you can walk back to the top to get it unstuck anyway. Usually we have multiple ropes when we go a place.


jacques


Jun 23, 2011, 8:12 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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onrockandice wrote:
Why do people say, "Walk-off is better than rap?" when rap is the one that kills you and walk is something you've done since you were 1 year old?

I know that military and law enforcement drill, drill and drill again for worst case scenario. I rap from anchors every time I climb and I accept the risks. I have established a sort of mental script that has watched over me well.

For me, it is better to walk-off because it is the time that I took to appreciate the climb I have done. as I walk-off, I am not under stress like when I rap and I can think at the route I have climbed. It is also more friendly as you can talk to your partner. Trad limbing is not a competition, it could b e different for sport climber.

Other reason is that there is some party under and sometime the rope can dislodge rock or fall on a leader. There also some times that the rope stock in the cliff and where you have to climb under a thunderstorm to try to take it down.

For me, rap is for emergency and when I am stuck in a cliff, I can not top out or I or my partner are injure...rap is all what we have. Where should we train?



So, it is not for my safety that I prefer to rap.


skiclimb


Jun 23, 2011, 11:24 PM
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Re: [onrockandice] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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Walkoff...

Arches


rtwilli4


Jun 24, 2011, 5:26 AM
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tory_c89 wrote:
I always rap off because it is the most fun. Also I am lazy and rapping off means that I do not have to carry all my gear around everything to get to the walk off position. Does really not come into mind what part is "safer". If you ever get a rope stuck its not like you can walk back to the top to get it unstuck anyway. Usually we have multiple ropes when we go a place.

The problem with getting the rope stuck is about not being able to pull it down to do the next rap. You are then stuck on the wall and need a rescue.


olderic


Jun 24, 2011, 7:38 AM
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Re: [rgold] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
The situation in the Gunks shows that almost all climbers will choose convenience over a safer alternative. There has been almost a complete conversion, from almost everyone walking back from every climb to almost no one walking back from any climb.

This in the face of repeated accidents, many to experienced climbers, accidents that happen in spite of rappel safety techniques that were unknown in the walk-back days.

People say rappelling is risky, but it is clear from their choices that, in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary, they believe the risks are ones they can successfully avoid.

Over simplification of the reasons for the reasons for the behavioral change. Ignoring the concerns about cliff top erosion. Ignoring the installation of anchors primarily (not exclusively) for descent routes. The basic reason the majority rap off in the Gunks now-a-days is simple. Monkey see monkey do. The alpha monkeys changed their behavior back in the 70's in their quest for "more quality" climbing time and the shift away from a "training for the mountains" attitude. Considering your assertion that rapping is statistically more dangerous what do YOU do the majority of the time. Is it different then what you did 30-40 years ago? Why/why not?


Partner cracklover


Jun 24, 2011, 9:49 AM
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rgold wrote:
The situation in the Gunks shows that almost all climbers will choose convenience over a safer alternative. There has been almost a complete conversion, from almost everyone walking back from every climb to almost no one walking back from any climb.

Really? That's hard to believe. Certainly there are areas in the Trapps where I'm sure that's so, but even in the Nears? I pretty much always walk off if I'm doing something within the first 80 routes in the Nears.

GO


Partner rgold


Jun 24, 2011, 9:52 AM
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Re: [olderic] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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olderic wrote:
rgold wrote:
The situation in the Gunks shows that almost all climbers will choose convenience over a safer alternative. There has been almost a complete conversion, from almost everyone walking back from every climb to almost no one walking back from any climb.

This in the face of repeated accidents, many to experienced climbers, accidents that happen in spite of rappel safety techniques that were unknown in the walk-back days.

People say rappelling is risky, but it is clear from their choices that, in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary, they believe the risks are ones they can successfully avoid.

Over simplification of the reasons for the reasons for the behavioral change.

I don't think so, nothing you say supports this claim, and then you go on to a far more egregious oversimplification yourself.

olderic wrote:
Ignoring the concerns about cliff top erosion.

Get real. The number of people who decide not to walk off because of cliff-top erosion is miniscule.

olderic wrote:
Ignoring the installation of anchors primarily (not exclusively) for descent routes.

The rap anchors are an integral part of my observation, not some aspect of the situation I "ignored." It is beyond obvious that people wouldn't be rapping if there weren't anchors in place for it. I said that climbers are making decisions based on convenience, and the existence of rap anchors is what makes rapping convenient.

olderic wrote:
The basic reason the majority rap off in the Gunks now-a-days is simple. Monkey see monkey do.

This from the man who complains about oversimplification!

olderic wrote:
Considering your assertion that rapping is statistically more dangerous...

My assertion, yes. Does anyone challenge this?

olderic wrote:
...what do YOU do the majority of the time. Is it different then what you did 30-40 years ago? Why/why not?

When I said that most climbers choose convenience over a safer alternative, I did not exclude myself. I rap most of the time too. I too believe I can control the dangers, in spite of the evidence to the contrary for experienced climbers. I wasn't holding myself out as some sort of exemplar of rational behavior, just pointing out that convenience trumps safety in the rap vs. walk-off decision for most folks.


robx


Jun 24, 2011, 10:03 AM
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rappel = fun
fun is why I climb.


Partner rgold


Jun 24, 2011, 10:05 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
Really? That's hard to believe. Certainly there are areas in the Trapps where I'm sure that's so...

...which means it isn't at all hard to believe...

cracklover wrote:
...but even in the Nears? I pretty much always walk off if I'm doing something within the first 80 routes in the Nears.

Well, we'd have to do a survey to know for sure about the Nears. I see a lot of folks coming down the Fat City and Alphonse raps, but have no way to know what fraction of the total population is represented.

I too mostly walk back in the Nears. I have never met another party walking back ever, and I very rarely see anyone at the bottom who seems to be doing that. But these are impressions, not facts.

I'd say there's enough rapping going on at the North edge of the Nears, where walking back is very competitive in terms of convenience, to still make my point.


caughtinside


Jun 24, 2011, 10:07 AM
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Convenience is one of the best parts of a rap for sure. Just not having to carry shoes for a descent is huge! If you're talking about 3 pitches or less, a rap is a huge convenience. You no longer need to carry any of the stuff that the n00bs load in those giant packs and labor under on their way to the top.

This does assume a well established rap though, where hangups are unlikely, and any swinging around to get to the next station non-existent. Cragging style rap as opposed to alpine style raps.

Convenience rapping is great. More enjoyable climb because you aren't toting extra crap, and can be faster, resulting in more time to climb.


Partner rgold


Jun 24, 2011, 10:13 AM
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Re: [caughtinside] Rappel or Walk-Off [In reply to]
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Caughtinside, I agree. My only point is that people are willing to incur additional risk in order to enjoy those conveniences.

Perhaps I should add that some people are paying a very steep price for that choice, and a pair of light shoes clipped to their harness and a pleasant walk in the woods might look, in retrospect, like an infinitely better idea...


(This post was edited by rgold on Jun 24, 2011, 10:18 AM)

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