First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

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JosiahSpurr
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First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by JosiahSpurr » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:34 pm

Several years into it, I am continuing to explore routes to Mt. Langley from Owens Valley. Lately, I have been considering bringing a harness because having my feet leave the ground could be worthwhile. In particular, returning from Langley, it would be nice to rappel ("abseil" "abseiling") down the cliff at the bottom of the ridge that runs East from the summit (instead of making a right to the top of the chute and descending past the ice/snow field which is usually there most of the year).

I searched here, ( Board index / OUTDOOR GEAR & FOOD / Outdoor Gear Topix ) but, didn't find a thread about harness, belt, swami or rappel.

I have a brand-name rock climbing harness, but, it's single purpose and can't be used for other reasons. Also, it says "DANGER" on the buckle.....!

Has anyone seen this technique? If not, it is called the "Spurr harness." ( See photo attached under this description ) :

EQUIPMENT-
. (1.) twenty-four feet of one-inch webbing with a water knot at the ends ;
. (2.) short sewn sling (say, 10 inches long) ;
. (3.) medium sewn sling (say, 22 inches long) ;
. (4.) three locking carabiners (preference for Mammut with the sleeve that has to be pulled down then rotated to release) ;
. (5.) long sling (say, 40 inches, for chest harness, with a quick link).

SPURR HARNESS:
. (A.) Make a belt with short sling in front, medium length sling in back, and two locking carabiners connecting them near the hips ;

. (B.) Fold the twenty-four feet of webbing twice, so there are four loops (bites) at each end ;

. (C.) Grab the middle, twist / rotate TWICE (360 degrees), and insert feet through the loops (gather four loops / bytes at each end to make a hole, then insert foot) ;

. (D.) Raise the left side of the left leg loop up, and clip into locking carabiner, then raise the right side of the right leg loop, and lock into carabiner ;

. (E.) Attach a rappel device:

. (option 1, lower attachment point:)
. Attach a rappel device to the short sling with the carabiner fully around both strands of the sling ; or,

. (option 2, higher attachment point:)
. Attach a medium length sling to both hip carabiners, and attach a third carabiner in the middle of the sling with a rappel device ;

. (F.) Make a butterfly by crossing medium length sling, put both arms through loops, and connect two loops in front with a quick link, the rappel rope goes between the chest and the quick link. ***

That's it. It's super fast to get out of it. And fast to get into. And the pieces can be used for other purposes, such as, cutting the twenty-four foot sling into shorter slings.

Feedback. Please! I spoke with the salesman at Elevation (Lone Pine, CA), and he deemed it trustworthy. He added, the gates of the hip locking carabiners should be facing down with the gate on the top.

Happy trails! ( my photos: josiah piwigo )
spurr_harness_2-2020-10oct-20.jpg
P.S. I copied and pasted the text from 27 pages of thread indexes for this forum, and ran this search, for "belt", "harn", "swami" and "rap," using this GNU Emacs Lisp:

(defun topix (search-string) ""
(if (setq x (get-buffer "*Occur*")) (kill-buffer x))
(if (setq x (get-buffer "*Messages*")) (kill-buffer x))
(with-temp-buffer (insert-file-contents-literally "~/highsierratopix--forum--gear--As-Of-2020-10oct-20.txt" nil)
(occur search-string)
(progn (erase-buffer) (if (setq x (get-buffer "*Messages*")) (insert-buffer x))
(insert "\n"))
(progn (goto-char (point-max)) (if (setq x (get-buffer "*Occur*")) (insert-buffer x))
(insert "\n"))
(buffer-string)))

(progn (insert (topix "belt")) (insert (topix "harn")) (insert (topix "swami")) (insert (topix "rap")) (insert (topix "studlycapsify")) (insert (topix "spurrharness")))

;;; 4 matches for "belt" in buffer: *temp*
;;; 1065:Vintage Sequoia Cone Belts
;;; 1263:Ban the Hip Belt
;;; 3226:Altering belt straps on an Osprey Atmos
;;; 4398:Better Hip Belt Buckle System?
;;;
;;; Searched 1 buffer; no matches for "harn"
;;;
;;; Searched 1 buffer; no matches for "swami"
;;;
;;; 8 matches for "rap" in buffer: *temp*
;;; 871:six moon design skyscraper
;;; 959:Dolida sun/bug hat with detachable neck drape
;;; 2838:replacing the straps on my Leki trekking poles
;;; 3226:Altering belt straps on an Osprey Atmos
;;; 4284:Trying to like my Traptent..Any users of them here??
;;; 4596:Lightweight strap pocket?
;;; 4782:National Geographic rep discusses GPS at REI store
;;; 4786:National Geographic Maps To Launch National Trails Database
;;;
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Last edited by JosiahSpurr on Wed Nov 11, 2020 4:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.








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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by bobby49 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:58 am

You could make it much easier on yourself and tie a Swiss Seat. It requires about 15 feet of strong flat 1" nylon web strap and one locking carabiner.

It is not the fanciest method in the world, but it is constructed quickly out of a minimum of ordinary materials. You have to know how to tie some ordinary knots.

About fifty years ago, there was an Army rappelling school, and I was the knot tying instructor. I had to train about forty guys per day on how to tie their Swiss Seat. Basically, the Swiss Seat was all that we had.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:19 am

The actual rappel device is just as important as the harness. I also used the tied "Swiss Seat" for years before commercial harnesses were available. But I would get a good commercial rappel devise instead of using carabiners. I have been out of technical climbing for several years so am not current on what is now available. Unless you are doing really long overhanging rappels or caving, a light weight simple devise used in climbing is sufficient. You will also need to build an anchor and have at least one glove to protect your hand.

You did not say how experienced you are at setting up an anchor or rappel technique. If not, get some training. Rappel is one of the more dangerous parts of alpine climbing. In complex terrain, sometimes just pulling down the rope is tricky as it can easily get snagged and if you could alternatively safely down-climb, it actually may be easier and safer. You need to judge the negatives (carrying all that gear) versus the time or effort you think you will save with a rappel. Personally, I avoid rappels unless absolutely necessary.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:40 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:19 am
it actually may be easier and safer
And often also sometimes faster. Setting up an anchor and fussing about with the rope & harness takes a lot of time. Daisy's preaching the gospel here, best to listen.

Rappels give me the willies, trusting your life to the rope & gear. Gimme a down climb/walk off any day.
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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by JosiahSpurr » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:20 am

bobby49 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:58 am
Basically, the Swiss Seat was all that we had.
Thank you. I hadn't heard of Swiss Seat. I like how it avoids the crotch area.

So, I discovered "Sling Rappels" in Ruth & John Mendenhall's book, "Beginners Guide to Rock and Mountain Climbing" (1975, Stackpole Books).

It uses the same, basic method of a sling twisted into a figure-eight to make two leg loops. Here it is, from pages 55, 57-58:

"SLING RAPPELS. On long or steep rappels, most climbers modify the body rappel [The Dülfersitz] to reduce body friction. One popular technique is the sling rappel. Before getting into your rappel, tuck in all loose clothing and long hair that could otherwise get caught in the rope.

"A sling five or six feet in circumference is twisted once, forming a figure eight with the knot at one side. Place each foot in one loop of the figure eight, and holding it in the center where the two sides cross, pull it up to your crotch (Figure III-8). The sling should be of the right size so the portion where the two sides cross comes a few inches above the crotch. Holding the crossed portion in front of you, put three carabiners over it side by side (safer than one, and easier on the rope).

"Pass the double rappel rope through the three carabiners (Figure III-8), and turn the middle one so the gates face in altering directions. From the carabiners (instead of from the hip as in the body rappel), the rope goes over one shoulder and is grasped below in the opposite hand, as shown in Figure III-8. Rappelling then proceeds exactly as in the body rappel. Additional padding may be required at the shoulder if you are lightly dressed. In this type of rappel, if two ropes of unequal lengths must be tied together, remember that it is necessary to stop on a ledge when you reach the knot (or before) to pass it by the carabiner." [END.]

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by JosiahSpurr » Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:32 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:19 am
The actual rappel device is just as important as the harness. [...]

You did not say how experienced you are at setting up an anchor or rappel technique. If not, get some training. Rappel is one of the more dangerous parts of alpine climbing. In complex terrain, sometimes just pulling down the rope is tricky as it can easily get snagged and if you could alternatively safely down-climb, it actually may be easier and safer. You need to judge the negatives (carrying all that gear) versus the time or effort you think you will save with a rappel. Personally, I avoid rappels unless absolutely necessary.
I have a few training sessions. Should have been more specific. Here's what I have in mind, getting down the Center Basin side of University Pass:

by ksenn » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:34 pm
"The south side of Uni pass is a straight shot. Aim for the narrow-ish chute. There's one large boulder in the chute to hop off delicately as it's steep and loose in your landing zone. Besides that it's straight down."

From: ( http://highsierratopix.com/community/vi ... ity#p98361 )

I did hop, and, it was scary, no injuries, but, it would have been safer to be attached to a rope getting down the boulder (a.k.a., "down climbing/ friction climbing with rope assist" or something like that). So, I'm looking for the bare minimum of equipment to get down something that, without the equipment, would risk landing on one's feet, ankles, knees and legs with a considerable amount of force. Even if it's just 10 or 15 or 20 feet down. I've heard how dangerous rappelling can be. Perhaps a better term would be, like, "down climbing with occasional use of a rope"? Ty.
Last edited by JosiahSpurr on Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by bobby49 » Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:31 pm

I was in the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea. We had a beginner rappelling class set up for infantry soldiers, and I was an assistant instructor. During one entire summer, we were training 50-75 men per day, and that was on one steep slope and one 110' vertical drop. During that summer, we had a total of two injuries. One injury was a man who did not follow instructions and got a dislocated shoulder out of it. The other injury was the head instructor ( ! ) who did the 110' drop with minimal braking until he hit the ground. He did not break any bones, but he could not walk for a couple of weeks. My point is that rappelling does not have to be dangerous. It does require a minimum of equipment and a great deal of common sense.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:45 pm

Climbing vs. Army training- in mountaineering you have to set an anchor, sometimes in less than ideal rock conditions. Another danger is getting the rope stuck if you are depending on it for a second rappel. In a gully with loose rock, you could knock down rocks while pulling the rope. I am a big proponent of wearing a helmet in mountaineering. I have even worn a helmet on 3rd class un-roped climbs.

Some of the sport climbing harnesses today are quite light weight and a lot more comfortable than a Swiss Seat. They do cost some $$.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by JosiahSpurr » Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:38 pm

Yup, I agree with bobby, "My point is that rappelling does not have to be dangerous." Back when I operated a city bus in the large Metro system in Los Angeles Co. (fifteen years), my attitude or theory was that ALL bus accidents are preventable. And they ALL are, beginning with the intuition that one should "call in sick" on a day when driving a bus would be dangerous due to one's inner disposition (i.e., "hangover" ... "rotten mood" ... "sick of my job" ... ).

On the other hand:
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:45 pm
[...] Another danger is [.....]
Those dangers, in mountains far from civilization, do seem unavoidable, making the rappel process a relatively high-risk activity compared to other things.

But not as high-risk as some might believe due to first impressions. I was just reading "Accident & Recovery Report--Evolution Traverse" (in forum "Peak Bagging / Rock Climbing / Bouldering"). Now, that's a classic example of what I mean. The author writes: "I attached the rope to the old, weathered fixed cordelette with no backup. Why? I don't know!"

He understood redundancy. (I was just reading Royal Robbin's autobiography, in the first volume he describes a solo adventure when he was lacking both experience and knowledge, and admits he hadn't heard of redundancy that early in his career).

Yet, simultaneously (from the perspective of the reader), the author explains exactly why: "Physically, I never felt great on this trip, but I mention mental fatigue because what happened later that afternoon after a few more hours of traversing the ridge was unexpected and makes no sense."

Which is odd. First, the accident was caused by physical limitations and mental fatigue. Then, it all "makes no sense." Yet, it makes sense, because the accident can be directly attributed to the physical/mental factors, because the climber knew everything there is to know, and had enough experience. There's a contradiction going on.

The first impression is confusion, because the write-up contradicts itself. In wanting to avoid confusion, the reader may jump to the conclusion that rappelling is dangerous. (The reader may quickly conclude, "He had enough experience and knowledge, so, it must have been the rappelling.")

But, in my opinion (see above... "hangover" ... "rotten mood"), he pushed himself beyond his limit when the safe decision would have been to ABORT the ridge traverse or chill out. Which he himself says. He writes:

. "I also got a reminder to sit my ass down, chill out for a bit, refuel, and communicate about how each group member is feeling if I get any vibe that I'm not thinking clearly at critical moments. Any use of gear requires increased focus and clear communication; being vigilant is key as hours add up and fatigue sets in."

But, individuals have an incentive to "keep up" with the team. In civilization, individuals have a tendency to "follow the herd." The author knew exactly what (not) to do, but, what needed to (not) happen, didn't happen. The author writes, "I got a reminder." A reminder! Lack of knowledge or awareness wasn't the problem. Then, what DID cause the climber to continue in a physical/mental condition that was unsafe for "any use of gear"?

We don't know for sure what individual factors were involved, yet, this group factor is relevant:

"Nimble Toshi explored downclimbs that the rest of us rappelled. Besides being a bold, free soloing downclimber, Toshi was under pressure to finish in three days and it was becoming quickly apparent that we did not have the proper timing, pack weights, and acclimatization to achieve that."

Now, that's significant. "...and it was becoming quickly apparent that we did not..." Very significant. Any, pray tell, what was the exact nature of the "pressure" that Toshi was under to "finish in three days"? One of the most important facts of the entire accident, is, missing..... Was it morally acceptable for Toshi to even put himself on that team to make that traverse ?!?!?

I remember reading about when a team does a traverse on ice/snow with the risk of a fall, in _Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills_ (the "bible" if you will). I was struck by the realization that the book couldn't say whether the appropriate choice is to "rope up," or not "rope up." When roped together, a person who falls can be saved by the rope, or the person falling can drag everyone down. Likewise, and conversely, if the team is unroped, if someone falls they're on their own, but at least there's no risk that the rope may drag everyone else down.

But, that assumes that everyone is equal. But, when planning a trip, it may become apparent that everyone is NOT equal.... which is, by definition, a potential RISK FACTOR:

One team member was way ahead of everyone else in terms of skill level, and, that one team member was "under pressure." That pressure can be transmitted to everyone, due to group dynamics. The lesson I learn from all that, is, don't join a team unless (a.) everyone can make the traverse as a team going with the lowest-common denominator skill level, and (b.) don't join a team unless everyone is committed to taking as much time as is necessary to make the traverse safely. In the bus system, that was know as, "just slow down to be safe and after all it means you'll be earning overtime pay! so enjoy that extra money! (time and a half, most of the time I was working there there were two top-pay levels, $22 and $26, but when I quit the latest contract set the top pay the same for everyone $33, times 1.5 = $49 an hour, which was probably worth it to Metro considering how the carrot was bigger and the accidents fewer, considering how a single accident with a bus can be very $$$$$ expensive.)"

On top of all that, Robert Firestone writes in his book _Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion_ about the extreme end of a continuum where thoughts of suicide exist, in ALL people at one point or other in everyone's life (p.50):

. "In being divided, people have two opposing points of view about themselves, other persons, and events in their interpersonal world. One represents the self system and reflects their real point of view, their natural wants and their desires and needs. The other represents the antiself system and is made up of internalized voices (negative parental introjects) that are antithetical to people's best interests and opposed to the fulfillment of their wants and needs.17 These negative thoughts exist on a continuum that includes mild self-criticisms, thoughts that encourage addictive behavior, thoughts influencing self-destructive behavior, and at the extreme end of the continuum thoughts of suicide."

My friend told me about Alison Hargreaves, who died in 1995 descending from K2. Was it suicidal to say, "I must go," whereupon she began to climb to the top, got there, and died on the way down? Quoting wiki:

"After the incident, Captain Fawad Khan, the Pakistani army officer who was the team's intermediary with the rescue services, claimed that he had urged her not to climb beyond base camp because it would be "suicidal" in the deteriorating weather conditions.[13][14]"

Maybe it was suicidal. But, in the mountains, one can loose one's judgement and become the victim of "pressures." Perhaps a scale is needed for the mountaineer, 1 to 10, so that, ahead of time before heading up into the mountains, there is conscious awareness of the degree to which a mountaineer is under pressure and thus more vulnerable to the risks of mountaineering? Perhaps. No?

Perhaps Alison Hargreaves was travelling into unknown mental territory. Perhaps she was confused. The Captain told her a storm was coming. Just two years previously, she successfully made a descent during a storm in the Alps:

. "The rain increased and my pace started to quicken. As the large spots soaked into the rock, I gained the edge of the traverse and climbed up the last easy pitches. As I crossed to the south side the wind was waiting to greet me; the clouds rolled, the wind roared and spots of rain turned into a torrential downpour. But I was on my way down. All that mattered was to get down safely. As there was no thunder nor lightning, I took my time and descended with caution. The route was just as the German topo showed it, and I weaved my way, down climbing across the face to the final rock band and gully system to the screes below. As the rain turned to hailstones, my pace quickened again and before long I was bouncing light-heartedly past the sodden tourists towards 'Perkins' and my family." (The wiki entry points to http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/.)

Perhaps she was confusing her present with her past. For some reason(s).

Perhaps.

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Re: First harness thread, or, introducing (? the) "Spurr Harness"

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:59 am

That’s a lot of words, but I think I get your point. Sure, all accidents are easy to prevent in theory. It’s also easy in theory to make crap tons of money in the stock market: all you have to do is sell for a higher price than you bought. Executing those easy ideas while you’re in the thick of the sh!t is the hard part.
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