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Egressing Sea Cliffs

By Mark Reeves


Somewhere above is the rock, below me snapping at my ankles are line after line of charging white horses. I am in space twixt the devil and the deep blue sea."
Sea Cliff climbing has its own unique rewards but also has a seriousness that is only compounded by the fact that many of these places are often only accessible by abseil. So if you find yourself unable to climb out, then you will need to consider taking a few light additions to your rack in the form of prussiks and above all else know how to use them.


Leaving the Abseil Rope in Place

Egressing Sea Cliffs

Your best bet to escape a sea cliff is to re-ascend the abseil rope that you have left in place.
Leaving the abseil rope in place sounds logical but even if you have an intimate knowledge of a sea cliff, you always leave the abseil rope in place. If all else fails you'll need this to prussic out.


Preparing to Ascend the Rope

Egressing Sea Cliffs

Prussiking up a rope is a scary proposition, and it is best to have a practice before you need to use this technique in anger. This can be done on a single pitch crag, a rope tied over a tree branch or in an indoor climbing wall. Some friends have even tied a rope up in the garages to practice.

A. Tie a klemheist prussic on to the abseil rope, and attach this to your belay loop.


Egressing Sea Cliffs

B. Attach another klemheist below the one attached to your waist, this is for your foot.

To start with pump the foot loop down and move the waist prussic up. It is more than likely that you will have to repeat this pump action a few time before the slack is taken out of the system. It also allows you to test that there are enough turns in the prussic to bite. If there aren't then add another twist to the prussic.


Ascending the Rope

Egressing Sea Cliffs

A. When the slack is taken you will have to commit to going up. This time you will have to move the footloop as high as comfortable, it is possible to attain a very high step but too high will effect your efficiency in ascent.


Egressing Sea Cliffs

B. From this position, you need to rock over and try and sit on you foot, it is possible even when free hanging to balance in this position. You will now have taken the weight of the waist prussic, so using you thumb release the tension on the prussic and get ready to stand up.


Egressing Sea Cliffs

C. As you stand up move the waist belt prussic with you and when you have got it as high as you can sit down on it and repeat the process.


Staying Safe

Egressing Sea Cliffs

To make this system safer you can tie a clove hitch in the rope below your footloop and attach this to your belay loop. By rolling the clove hitch up every few moves you will have a back-up should the waist prussic fail.


Ascenders

As well as prussic there are a couple of lightweight ascender on the market that will make your life easier. The petzl Tibloc is the lightest and simplest but very aggressive on ropes. Whilst a wild country Ropeman is slightly heavier but less aggressive on ropes.


Egressing Sea Cliffs

Tibloc


Egressing Sea Cliffs




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