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The Figure 8, also known as an 8 ring, is one of the simplest rappel devices, and has been around for a long time. I use a Figure 8 primarily for canyoneering, because I like it better than an ATC in certain situations. See Also: Tips for Safer Rappelling. Simplicity — Figure 8 rappel devices are very simple to set up, and there is little room for error.

Figure 8 Basic

The rope just has to come through the top of the 8 and around the neck. The ease of use, especially the set up, makes them somewhat popular among mountaineers read: Rock Climbing vs. The other price advantage is that the rope only wraps around and wears out the Figure Eight. When using an ATC, the rope runs through both the tuber and the carabiner, slowly wearing through both metals.

Versatility — A Figure 8 is extremely versatile. Rappelling with a narrow half rope? Both strands of an 11mm rope? Pretty much any combination of ropes will fit through a Figure 8. This makes a retrievable rappel possible without having to double up the rope. Passability — With a Figure 8, it is very unlikely that mud or moss will freeze you up when canyoneering, as is known to happen with tubular belay devices sometimes. The large opening in the 8 ring, as well as the smooth flow of the rappel and decreased friction allow mucky ropes and even small knots to pass through without presenting a problem.

Quick Release — In swift water canyons, or when rappelling into deep water, a figure 8 device rappel can be rigged so that there is no risk of dropping hardware into the water.

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A few different fatalities have occurred due to something called cross loading. This can happen when the force of the 8 ring breaks through the sleeve of the locking carabiner. The force is applied to the pins, and can make them pop out. When the smaller hole of the 8 is clipped through the carabiner, occasionally the bends in the carabiner or the locking sleeve itself get caught in the 8. As pressure is applied, it turns the 8 ring into a lever and the force can pop the gate open outwards is called cross loading, while inwards is called inward loading. A locking carabiner is generally designed to stand a force of up to 45kN; however, the gate holds roughly a third of that.

When the Figure Eight becomes a lever it amplifies the cross gate force and can bust the biner. Again, this is very rare; however, it has happened a few times. It can be avoided by adjusting the carabiner in the 8 ring as you load the system, and ensuring the carabiner and 8 are not jammed near the gate. Nowadays, there are simply better devices out there that are specifically designed for the rigors of climbing!

Get yourself an ATC or a Grigri. If you do forget your regular belay device, feel free to use an 8 ring- just know how to set it up correctly. You need to use a chord or sling to keep the 8 from flying up the rope. More information and details about how to belay with an 8 ring below-. Lower Friction — A Figure 8 device puts less friction on the rope than a regular ATC, or other devices- whether good or bad.

This is important to keep in mind when rappelling with beginners. Modern ropes are made of stronger, thinner material, which creates less friction on the 8 ring and makes you zip down the rappel. Rope Twist — One downside of rappelling with a Figure 8 is that it introduces a lot of twist into the system. This can be avoided by rigging the rappel sport style instructions down below. I mostly ignore them, because I like using a Figure 8 for certain things because if its features, as discussed above.

That being said, if you really care what other people think, buy something flashier. A Figure 8 is a great conversation starter, and a good way to make friends with some of the older crowd at the crag! As mentioned above, one of the biggest advantages to rappelling with a Figure 8 device is its versatility. With a little modification, you can increase or decrease friction, stop completely, and even disconnect from the rope without unlocking the carabiner!

These variations will be very beneficial when rappelling with people of different sizes, and when rappelling in different conditions.


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Whenever possible, tie in and test out the system before stepping over the ledge, just in case you need to adjust the friction. Eight rings come in several different sizes, and with a few different features. Small Figure eights create more friction.

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Large ones have less friction and are a lot faster. These can be used to easily lock off and tie off a rappel.

The biggest advantage to a Rescue 8 is that you can adjust the friction level mid-rappel by adding an extra wrap around the horns. A couple of companies have created variations of the Figure 8 device with different features.

A few examples include the Kong Oka, and the Petzl Pirana. We went into detail about the setup for the regular rappel at the beginning of this article. The rope loops around the neck of the 8 ring. This is the standard level of friction, with no variations. Rigging this way significantly decreases the amount of friction, and actually eliminates the rope twisting problem mentioned above. The only difference between this and a regular rappel is that instead of looping the rope around the neck of the 8 ring, you just come through the big hole and clip it down into the carabiner.

In some instances, you may want to actually increase the friction on the 8 ring. This may be the case if you are trying to add more control into the system, such as when performing rescue work. You can also use this set up for heavier people who may need more friction to keep from zipping down the line out of control. To rig a rappel with extra friction, pinch a bight of rope through the large hole of the 8, and then loop around and thread it through the large hole a second time can repeat a third time if needed and then around the neck.

Multiple loops will heat up the device a lot quicker, but will really increase the friction for heavier loads.

Essential Knots: Figure-8 on a Bight

One very important use when canyoning and caving into swift water class C canyons is to present a quick release from the rope without the added risk of drowning while stuck on the rope or of dropping hardware in the water. When you are wearing gloves and are shivering from the cold water and adrenaline, it can be very easy to fumble with your Figure 8 device or carabiner and lose it forever to the canyon gods. While using an ATC during a waterfall rappel into a swimmer this past summer, I accidentally dropped my ATC while treading water and trying to disconnect.

I made a mental note of my exact location, and then handed my backpack and shoes off to another member of the party. I spent several minutes diving down and feeling around with my toes for the device. Fortunately, I ended up finding it about 15 feet down, wedged in between some rocks in the mud on the bottom. A Figure 8 device can easily be locked off while rappelling by moving the rope in your brake hand across your body so it crosses the uphill rope. Recomendar Twitter. Playlists relacionadas.

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