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I've been told that a Figure-of-8 descender cannot be used for SRT (single-rope technique) because the descender must be able to be removed from the rope, without being removed from the harness. Why is this the case? If you remove it from the rope without removing it from the harness (eg. with a 'Stop' or a rack), you are no longer connected to the rope via the descender. If you remove it from the harness, before removing it from the rope (eg. with a figure-of-8), you are still no longer connected to the rope via the descender?

Am I missing something, or have I completely misunderstood this, because this doesn't seem to make sense to me.

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I may be wrong, but is this a caving question? Should we add the "caving" tag? – DavidR Jul 15 '13 at 19:43
@DavidR There isn't a caving tag, and I don't have enough rep on this site to create it. – jdp407 Jul 19 '13 at 13:29
Climbers have used figure 8's for single rope rappels for years before atc's and other devices became popular, its not dangerous, but not ideal given the options available. Biggest problem is rope twist, if you are worried about dropping it you can rig a small tie loop with a small (keychain) biner and 4 mil cord – crasic Jul 19 '13 at 22:32
There is now a Caving Tag and I have added it to this Question – Paul Lydon May 21 '14 at 11:32
up vote 4 down vote accepted

First, if you remove the descender from the harness, you can accidently drop it down (this really happens sometimes).

Second, you have one more connection, which you need to control. This can increase the risk, if you are tired and/or do a lot of descents in a row.

Third, and the most important, figure 8 twists and tangles the rope like hell. It is not a problem when you need to descent 100 meters in the mountains, but it's much worse when you are descending 500 meters in a cave.

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Thanks very much! – jdp407 Jul 12 '13 at 15:04

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