Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Setup Z-Drag System

Z-Drags can come in handy, especially while creeking here in the mid-Willamette Valley where most of our runs are centered around boulder gardens. I've made it a habit of bringing my pin kit on pretty much every run, as it always seems that you need it when you don't have one with you. As many of my friends will tell you , I love gear, and this only encouraged me to put together a quick-setup pin kit. Here is what I came up with:

1- Spectra Throw Rope
1- Anchor Sling (webbing)
1- Standard Pulley
1- Braking Pulley (Petzl Mini Traxion)
1- Ultralight Ascender (Petzl Tibloc)
4- Carbineers (preferably locking)
2- Prusik Loops (for backup)
1- Yates Rescue Clip (with paddle blade attachment)

A quick disclaimer: Both the Petzl Mini Traxion and Tibloc use "teeth" to stop the rope from sliding in one direction. That said, if used incorrectly they can damage your rope. My understanding is that the teeth really only grab the sheath of the rope. I realize that opinions vary on this subject. Furthermore, these devices are meant for climbing, so I can't imagine that they would compromise the rope if used properly; however, you should always inspect it before and after each use. I always carry two ropes, so this really isn't much of an issue for me.

It should be noted that a side benefit of the Mini Traxion and Tibloc is that they can be used as ascenders to climb a rope; this could also come in quite handy during a rescue situation.

OK, on to the setup...

This is just like setting up a standard Z-Drag anchor to a tree or rock with a sling. Instead of using a standard pulley at the anchor, use the Mini Traxion which will eliminate the need for a prusik, since it has a built-in brake. As a side note, this device can also be used as a standard pulley, by disengaging the brake. Another nice feature about the Mini Traxion is that the side plate swivels out of the way, allowing you to attach it mid-rope.

The anchor point. Sling, carbineer, and braking pulley.

Teeth engaged (braking pulley)

Teeth disengaged (standard pulley)

Mini Traxion swivels open for attachment mid-rope

After your anchor is set (with the brake pulley), hook the next bend in the line back to the rope with the Tibloc, carabineer, and standard pulley combo. Basically, you're just replacing the traveling prusik with the Tibloc.

Setting up the traveling pulley

Tibloc locked in with a carbineer
(locking bineer preferred, non-locking shown)

The traveling pulley setup

The traveling pulley setup (zoomed out)

That's basically it: you have your 3:1 mechanical advantage and you're ready to pull your buddies' boat out of the jam he got it in!

The quick setup Z-Drag in action (sort of)...

This makes for an amazingly fast setup which is super easy to readjust. I have had to use it twice now and it works perfectly!

1 comment:

  1. I've been using the Mini Traxion for years, i've also just got the Blue Water Ropes Rescue-8 belay that i keep in my jacket now. I'm going to have to check out the Tibloc. I keep extra rope in my pin kit that i use for rapelling or z-drags. something i dont mind messing up or leaving behind. I also carry webbing and a bunch of p-cord.

    Great tips on the breakdown paddle too!