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Thread: Use of a confidence rope

  1. #1
    Mini Goon
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    I'm looking for some advice here. Soon I'll be heading up to climb An Teallach with a friend and most guide books I've read mention that when scrambling over the more exposed parts of the ridge then to 'rope-up' would be a good idea.

    I've never used a rope for scrambling before and would welcome all advice on what to use and techniques on how to use it. I'm aware of 'confidence rope' and assume that's the sort of thing to use but, as I said, I've never used one!

    I'm aware I'm asking for alot of information here - which may well be impossible to get over in a few lines - but anything will help.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Ultra King Jules aka  Bat Girl's Avatar
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    OK I think its more than impossible to get over in a few lines, a 3000 word essay wont do it.

    You may well get some sdvice but I really believe that the only way to learn rope work is to learn be going out with some one who knows what they are doing and has the patience and ability to get that information across to you.
    This may mean paying for a scrambling course and I can recomend an instructor if you want one.

    It may mean going out with more experienced friends if you know the right people.Take into account that a mistake may be fatal, and sometimes has been.

    You can buy books and you can listen to what people here have to say but its not the same.
    The written word is a great tool to build on and re enforce the basic skills but you need to go out and do and be shown to really understand.


  3. #3
    Initiate Professor Pat. Pending's Avatar
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    I've done the An Teallach traverse and was a bit disappointed with it. From memory (10 years ago) all difficulties can be bypassed on an easy traverse path, which kind of removed away any real danger or excitement for me.

    Jules is correct that there is no point in having a safety rope if the person managing the rope has no idea what the techniques are or practiced them. It then potentially becomes a 'one off, all off' scenario, which is possibly more dangerous than moving unroped. Also, An Teallach is a big day out, so you don't want to be wasting time.

    I wouldn't like to encourage you to rash deeds, because everyone has a different head for heights, but I think all the really difficult bits can be avoided.

    The descent might have been steep, I can't remember, but thinking about the terrain there, it's possible. If your roped up to someone who falls, then you are probably going with them, unless you are competent at managing someone on your rope.

    One of the key things to rope management is always keeping the rope taught, so a slip only ever is a slip and never a fall. If you have slack line in the rope, then a slip will potentially develop into a fall, which you will probably not stop.

  4. #4
    ‹bermensch AlisonS's Avatar
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    "Confidence roping" is a technique that is used in situations where one person is very experienced and confident on the terrain and the other is very inexperienced, scared, tired or ill. The experienced person will hold the rope very short and tight so that if the inexperienced one stumbles they can be held so it will not become a fall. It's a technique that may be appropriate on certain types of steep ground, but it is not what people usually mean when they suggest roping up on a scramble.

    On a scramble it's essential that if one person falls the other is not pulled off with them, so in using a rope it's important to position yourselves in such a way that the rope will stop you both falling any significant distance. This might entail setting up belays, placing protection or using the friction of natural rock features. All this takes experience and judgement and a big committing route is not the best place to learn. I agree with Jules' suggestion that if possible you should find someone who can literally show you the ropes. If that's not possible and you do decide to do the route, I suggest you treat any tricky bits on the route as minature rock climbs and set up bombproof anchors and belay one another and keep each pitch to just a few moves. Then take the rope off again to move together without anchors.

  5. #5
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    If you do the traverse sticking entirely to the skyline, it is fairly exposed in some places, but there are no real 'climbing' difficulties except for the chimney descent (going south)/ascent (going north) at the south end of the scrambly bit. The chimney is at most 'Moderate' in rock-climbing terms. As the others have said, on the exposed ridge, a rope might merely add to the danger if you're not sure what you're doing with it.

    Whether you might want one on the chimney is up to how confident you feel - but it's only one short pitch, so you could carry a rope to safeguard one another up/down that without wasting very much time. Make sure you set up proper belays, though. Of course, the first person (going north) and the last person (going south) will still have to negociate the pitch without a top rope.

    That said - the whole scramble can be by-passed along an easy path on the west side, as Paul said - although I can't imagine why anyone would want to do An Teallach this way. It takes away most of the reasons for doing the mountain (other than just bagging the peaks, of course).

  6. #6
    Mini Goon
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    Thanks alot people - plenty to think about. I don't think we'll bother with a rope this time since my partner has no more skill with one than I do. I think we'll be fine with the actuall scrambling moves and the exposure shouldn't be a problem, both of us having really enjoyed the Aonach Eagach last summer.

    Next priority - go on a training course!

    Thanks again,
    Craig

  7. #7
    Initiate Professor Pat. Pending's Avatar
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    If you've done the Aonach Eagach in reasonable style and time, then you will have no problems with An Teallach. It is a very long day out as I remember, we walked in on an evening and camped in the Corrie directly below all the peaks, then did the traverse the next day. I remember thinking at the time that anyone who did the whole thing in a day would have my respect.

    We did it with someone who had no head for heights at all, he was happy walking along the path whilst we stuck to the ridge.

  8. #8
    Initiate Professor Pat. Pending's Avatar
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    I suggest you treat any tricky bits on the route as minature rock climbs and set up bombproof anchors and belay one another and keep each pitch to just a few moves. Then take the rope off again to move together without anchors.

    Although Alison is quite correct in one respect, I don't think she appreciates how long an An Teallach traverse will take. If you start messing around and pitch climbing sections then you will be walking back to the car in the dark. This is a very long day out, you want to keep the momentum going all the time, not messing around.

  9. #9
    Mini Goon
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    Paul - you've cheered me up no end! Thanks for that mate. Only thing I'm not sure of now is the point you raised, the time factor. We're only going up for one night and the early plan was to get there and do the climb on day one so that we could have a beer and relax. Now I'm thinking the way you approached it is a better idea - I think after a day as long as this will be I'd be on my back after a couple anyway!

    Thanks

  10. #10
    Ultra King BigDug's Avatar
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    I'm not saying Paul is wrong, but I can't remember it taking THAT long to do the ridge.

    As mentioned above, if a bit of it looks too gnarly to do without ropes you can easily bypass it.

    It's a great ridge, possibly even better than the AE.

    You'll have a blast, I'm sure


  11. #11
    ‹bermensch AlisonS's Avatar
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    Paul, I have done the ridge. As I recall there were only a few sections where some people may choose to use a rope and these were only a few moves long as one would expect on a graded scramble.

  12. #12
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    The only 'dodgy' bit is the scramble onto the start of Corrag Buidhe. It is a 'moderate' i think, but quite exposed. If you manage that bit ok, the rest is easier. IMO, east to west is easier as you would have to abseil/downclimb the other way.
    As for time, i managed a night in the Dundonnell afterwards and we weren't pushing that hard.

  13. #13
    Initiate Professor Pat. Pending's Avatar
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    I admit that it was a long time ago, when I was young and less experienced, maybe my first big remote scottish experience, but we did the Liathach traverse the same week. I only remember that I had a strong recollection of thinking that it would be a very long day out if done in one big push. I've done big approaches in recent years and I still consider An Teallach a big day out. However, this was in the days when I had old heavy 1970/1980s kit and, of course, we were carrying old camping gear up to the corrie. I guess I have done longer days out since then on similar traverses. I would still have reservations about recommending carrying rope and protection and using it and still getting back in reasonable time.

    I'm surprised that oot n' about considers it possibly better than AE. I did AE a few years ago in feb in thick ice and would consider it much better than the An Teallach traverse if only because there is no easy path to blob out on, Although I didn't really think that the AE traverse lived up to it's reputation. Having heard storys of regular benightments, we set off at 8am and were back at the Clachaig by 2.30pm. We carried full climbing/mountaineering kit and never really used it, just used crampons and an ice axe.

  14. #14
    ‹bermensch AlisonS's Avatar
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    Paul; I think you may have misunderstood and probably I expressed myself ambiguously. I'm trying to avoid doing an entire scrambling ropework session in theory as I don't think that's practical or wise.
    I'm not suggesting a full weight rope and rack. A short rope, perhaps 30 metres or so at whatever weight the team are personally comfortable with plus a few slings and nuts should be fine. That's what a lot of people carry as a matter of course anyway.

    But I do agree that a rope in the hands of someone who may use it unsafely is worse than no rope at all.

  15. #15
    Mini Goon
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    Mike fae Dundee. Can you clarify which way you think is best please, I thought the ridge ran more north/southish. Do you mean climbing Sail Liath first or the other way around?

  16. #16
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    Hi Craig.
    I didn't have a map handy and guessed the east/west bit.
    I was meaning from Sail Liath via the Corriehallie/Shenavall path. If you do it this way the hardest part is climbed rather than downclimbed.
    Most replies here seem to be from experienced people who are used to scrambling. If you're not used to exposure the traverse of the pinnacles can be daunting. Don't underestimate the risk as there have been quite a few accidents here.
    It's a great day out, so have fun.

  17. #17
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