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Reasons for the changes are in italics. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this.

2018 changes

  • Extended Rappel 
    • Harness, Metolius PAS, Sterling HollowBlock (13.5” size), and three locking carabiners (one for end of PAS, one for belay device, one small for autoblock knot). 
    • One locking carabiner on the end of the personal anchor, attaching the climber to the anchor.
    • A second locking carabiner to tie the an autoblock knot around the climbing ropes with the HollowBlock. This carabiner is attached to the belay loop. Use a small carabiner here. Wrap 2 times around both strands of the climbing rope, and clip the other end to the same carabiner.
    • A third locking carabiner with belay device in low-friction mode rappel position attached to the PAS at the first loop.
    • Pass both rope strands through the belay device in the rappel position and lock the carabiner. 
    • Students should be able to use either hand as a brake hand.
    • Setup is the same for rappelling with a Munter hitch EXCEPT you must clip the belay device into the first full independent loop instead of the first sewn loop, otherwise the HollowBlock is close enough to the Munter that it can touch and disengage. (Watch any dangly items, hair, beard, etc.)
    • Auto block is mandatory on all rappels, both with a belay device and Munter.
  • Clip pack to harness during glacier travel
    • In 2017 there were a lot of discussions about the best place to clip the pack on the harness. Because of the wide variation of loop strengths and loop accessibility on climbing and alpine harnesses, the decision was made that the judgment call should be left to the climber. Weigh the loop strength, the danger of the situation, and the accessibility of the various loops (haul, belay, gear).

2015 changes

  • Z-pulley 
    • Will use a prusik for the ratchet instead of Bachmann. Bachmann will no longer be taught nor be on the knots test.
    • A prusik minding pulley will be useful here.
    • The Bachmann worked very well when typical ropes were thicker, but the Bachmann slips on the thinner glacier ropes. A prusik, while it does need a little extra tending even with a prusik minding pulley, will not slip as much.
  • Rappels
    • Autoblock backup will be moved from outside of the buckle of the leg loop to the inside of the buckle. (Photo of this coming soon.)
    • Tying the autoblock in this new location avoids the modern harness' speed buckles from becoming undone.
    • Munter rappel will be backed up with autoblock.
    • All rappels should have a backup.
  • Mule
    • The backup carabiner is no longer necessary.
    • The carabiner is unnecessary as there is already a backup overhand in the system. In addition, adding this carabiner is not a standard that is referenced in any books, diagrams, videos, and other resources. It makes sense to teach to industry standards unless we have a very clear reason for doing it a different way.
    • If a student still includes the backup carabiner when being tested on their knots, this is OK as adding the carabiner is neutral.
  • Escaping the belay
    • As an "extra credit," optional item for students who already know their knots well, we are adding in using the munter-mule-overhand for escaping the belay as opposed to a hard knot (like we usually teach in the basic class). This is not required for the students to learn, but we thought it would be a great bonus to add this since this is the correct way and the method that is taught in the intermediate class.
    • Instructors are encouraged to bring their cordelettes during Si, Knots 1 & 2, and Spire 2 to go over this with any advanced students.
    • Some students are coming in already knowing a lot of knots so this gives them something fresh to work on. Also, this is the correct way to escape the belay and is consistent with what is taught in the intermediate class. 
  • Glacier tie-in
    • Instead of 2 locking carabiners positioned down and out through the tie-in points of the harness, use 2 locking carabiners off of the belay loop (one connected to the figure-8 of the glacier rope and the other connected to the Texas prusik waist loop).
      • Bod-style harnesses with no belay loop will continue with 2 carabiners down and out.
    • Having the 2 biners hang loosely off of the belay loop allows them to move into the right orientation and prevent cross-loading in the event of a fall (and while prusiking).
    • For middle rope team members, the Texas prusik waist loop should be tied on the side toward the middle of the rope. If on an odd-numbered team, the very middle person ties on the downhill side.
    • The prusik should be tied around the strand that the climber will most likely be ascending or be hauled up on, in the event of a fall. For the middle climbers, this would be the side where there are more team members on the rope (i.e. the middle of the rope).
    • Using a figure 8 on a bight knot attached to the harness with a locking carabiner is now acceptable and the preferred way for students/instructors to tie into a glacier rope at any point, middle or end. 
    • This is being done because it is just as safe and provides the added benefit of being much easier to get in, get out, and allow for switching of spots quickly if needed on the rope team.