Not Climbing : Shiny Things

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Do you remember when you first saw an LED?

Ok, I don’t remember seeing any LED for the first time, it would have been in a watch or calculator in the 1970s, slightly obscured by a screen that cut it’s brilliance. But I do remember seeing the component on it’s own for the first time when I was about 14, at school. Was immensely lucky to have a teacher who was into amateur electronics. It would have been red, 3mm, and the colour blew my mind.

My mind had been blown in a similar way a few years before. My cousin Nick had a phase when he was into fishing. A shop in Bakewell sold the gear. They had spinner lures that were reflective in that interference kind of iridescence that you see here and there in nature. And in CDs (that time has gone too).

With these things I understand the lure of jewelry (though I’ve rarely seen anything that comes close to the fishing lure).

Small objects of desire… But form and function play a role as well as the glitter.

On those points, this thing has beauty :

It’s a Mora wood carving knife, maybe this model. The design is as close to perfection as you can get (and only about €30). The blade is laminated, a layer of hard steel between layers of softer, so it takes a razor edge without being fragile.

But the reason for me thinking this blogworthy is what I got from the courier this morning, a new carabiner (and a few other bits).

I have seen rock climbing gear before, in a past life. But I only needed some myself a few months ago. A little roof job and some tree work.

Yea gods, this stuff is wonderful.

The setup I ended up using for getting up and down a rope (not climbing) looks like this:

On a single climbing rope, hand ascender with (paracord, Purcell Prusik) footloop, plus a sling down to harness. Grigri belay device attached to harness and rope. The loose end of the rope from the Grigri goes up through the pulley.

To ascend, take weight on the footloop/ascender, stand up. Pull rope down through the pulley through the Grigri. Sit in harness, repeat.

Ok, you are only using one leg compared to some rope-walking setups, but it’s still really low-effort and uses less gear than many of those. Pulling the rope down is very comfortable (virtually no tension), all you’re doing in effect is walking up a step on the foot loop.

To descend, just disengage the hand ascender, abseil down on the Grigri.

Ever so secure (assuming you trust your rope & anchor).

Even though a lot of people seem prepared to rock solo on a Grigri, personally I don’t think it’s remotely worth the risk of it not engaging. With this setup, say the footloop breaks, Grigri doesn’t engage, you still have a sling through the hand ascender.

Thing is, I’ve been attempting a bit of tree work. That pulley was bought for hefting branches, not shifting me around. I got another, and I have a couple of progress capture devices, but wasn’t getting a decent pulley setup.

So I just bought another pulley, HMS carabiner (and Dyneema sling to replace the nylon one I was using for backup in that ^^).

I can now use the old HMS carabiner with a pair of pulleys when needed, got a belay one with a clip for the Grigri or whatever.

These things are such pleasing objects!

I suppose I should give the brands for gear-heads. Cruel porn without.

An important word about buying stuff : there is a lot of knock-off gear available on Amazon etc. Don’t trust it. I have bought some rope that way, but only for moving wood, not myself. For carabiners etc, you must get stuff from reputable sources, if you want to live a little longer. And check the certification, ratings, RTFM.

From the top :

  • Hand ascender : Kong Lift (Italy)
  • Oval carabiner – didn’t need to be locking, but oval yes, that’s what I have : Kong (Italy)
  • Pulleys – Climbing Technology Orbiter M (Italy)
  • Small carabiner for the sling at bottom of ascender – did need to be locking, is a fallback safety : Kong (Italy)
  • Tiny quicklink/maillon for foot loop (stainless steel, 25kN!), CAMP (Italy)
  • Generic 550lb paracord for foot loop (China?)
  • Grigri, Petzl (France)
  • Big shiny orange HMS carabiner – Climbing Technology (Italy)
  • Gorgeous new HMS carabiner, Core Belay Lock, CAMP (Italy)

The Italian bias is not mine, but is funny to me, given where I live. I suppose France has the other side of the Alps. I’m from the Peak District, so I would favour Wild Country, if they were less pricey.

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