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Figure 8 Safety Hint from back-in-the-day

Figure 8 Safety Hint from back-in-the-day

Richard Tregoweth - Monday, January 21, 2013

One method for self-rescue from an SRT Ascent system (or while footlocking) requires the use of a Figure 8 descender.

Tree climbers new to SRT Ascent often over look this vital piece of equipment when they set-up their new SRT configuration.

And those that do purchase a Figure 8 for self-rescue may not even be aware of a potential 'safety' issue first noted by cavers back in the early eighties.

When the Figure 8 is incorrectly orientated on the bridge, the connecting line can form a cow hitch (or girth hitch) on the top bar of the Figure 8.

The cow hitch will cinch up tight and bring you to a complete stop on the line. You will not be able to continue descending until you release the knot, typically by lifting your weight with the use of ascenders (this is not ideal if you are in a hurry).

The cow hitch can form when the Figure 8 is turned on the bridge (No.1, 2 and 3 show the correct orientation, No.4 and 5 the cow hitch way - hence one of the reasons for 'wings' on the rescue eight).

The Figure 8 is more likely to cinch up when rolling over a branch rather than descending mid-air but it is possible in this orientation, so best avoided in the first place!

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