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Jammed Blake's Hitch Last Night in the Woods: Serious issue needs advice

Orion

New Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
8
Hi SH,

Need some help on this one. Almost had a 911 in the woods last night for the first time in over 50 yrs of hunting. Hitch jammed on the way down and if it weren't for a nearby tree that I could grab onto and unload/redress the Blake's hitch, I might have had to get some help. It seemed like a very right knot; I am still new to DRT but a saddle hunter since 2005. Really thought that the knot was tied correctly, so let's look at other pieces of the puzzle:

-DRT with a tending tie to standing line; no mechanical ascender
- Rope is 10mm Sterling SafetyPro : used about 40 times for successful DRT ascends/descends; rope condition seems fine though surface is a bit shiny
-Weather was cool and dry
-Assent seemed a little bit harder than normal but attributed it to lots of friction from wide white oak tree crotch
-Knot jammed almost as soon as I got down several feet from tie-in point; going back up and redressing not did not seem to work until much further down.

Here's my thinking:
1. Lots of friction in the tree crotch meant slower/more difficult slide for rope which meant more downward weight on Blake's hitch causing the jam

2. The tending line-- after the line from saddle exits the Blake's hitch, tied at the end into a poachers knot with a carabiner in it, which then hooks into an Alpine butterfly loop, which then pulls the knot up instead of manually sliding it up-- may have been pulling up at the same time I was trying to pull down. I'm going to test this theory this afternoon.

3. The knot was just wrong and I'll test that again this afternoon.

4. Sterling rope was a specific recommendation from a climbing gym with several hundred members; it may be that this is just the wrong rope.

Everyone's thoughts are most welcome; let's keep this to serious advice as there are more hunting trips in the near future and I need to be responsible for not just myself but for others' time in the woods as well.

Thanks all; please let me know what you think.

Orion
 

dlist777

Well-Known Member
SH Member
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May 21, 2019
Messages
594
I don't know anything about DRT or SRT, but I keep a foot loop in my pouch on my saddle so if ever I find myself hanging from a tether, I can use my lineman's belt, loop it around the tree, add in foot loop to the prussic and step into it to take pressure of the tether to inch my way down. Based on your description, it sounds like something similar would have come in handy for you as well.
 

Vtbow

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SH Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Messages
4,152
Not sure what your exact problem was, but when doing this kind of rope work, you should at the very least have an extra prussic cord and know how to self-rescue/escape your setup to quickly resolve an issue like this. Even better is a quick texas prussic setup, or half-texas setup.

Knowledge of z-drags and a correct process capture setup setup allows one to slinghot from a rappelling setup to an ascension setup in a matter of seconds.
 

Orion

New Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
8
Thanks everyone. Absolutely self rescue techniques I need to know cold; however I'm really trying to solve the Blakes hitch issue for the moment. The tree was also just too big, I couldn't get my regular lineman's belt around it. I didn't even put the pull up line back in the tree when I left...
 

mattsteg

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SH Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
1,566
Hitches can and will lock up if loaded enough. I guess I just sorta see this as something that you need to plan for and expect, and carry the (minimal) necessary extra equipment to deal with it.

In my limited experience with a Blake's hitch (not in DRT, and only with one rope combo) It gradually tightened up and needed to be periodically redressed.
 

loujo61

Active Member
SH Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
108
You could take a bite of line through a figure 8 below the Blake's hitch that way you can tend the friction hitch looser on the descent.
 

Orion

New Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
8
Hi SH!
Ok, so this is great. I have been out in the yard and this seems to be exactly the issue--too tight a connection with the tender. I had tried a Dyneema prusik earlier, but liked the Alpine butterfly because it stayed put. So maybe both--butterfly on the way up, prusik connection (lower than butterfly) on decent. Also, I was in a really big tree, and these always seem to create issues. Not that it can't be solved just more to do. I also did not have a screw-in step that I typically carry (was in public land) but now I will always. That said, I will learn more per Vtbow's great comment.
Thanks all,
Orion
 

ThereWillBeSpuds

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2019
Messages
285
In that situation I would have attached a Prussic above the hitch (possibly tied around both of the lines in drt, idk?), attached a climbing sling to it, unweighted the blakes and inched it down. Then just inchworm down the line.

Sent from my SM-A516V using Tapatalk
 

TheTracker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
494
The shiny part on the rope is called glazing where too much friction and heat is taking place and essentially starting to melt the sheath! The issue you're having is it sounds like the rope sheath is bunching up under the friction hitch and causing it to jam, In the tree climbing community we milk the ropes especially before the first climb on it to tighten up the sheath and remove any excess before climbing on it!
 

Brocky

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Sep 27, 2020
Messages
34
Location
de mitten
Maybe I missed it, but what size was the hitch cord? The Blake’s works best when the cord is the same diameter as the line.
 

Brocky

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Sep 27, 2020
Messages
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Location
de mitten
Can't you clip the carabiner from the Prusik below the Blake's hitch on the main line so it can pull the hitch up as you climb?
That is what is done by arborists with something small enough, like a screw link or dog snap, not to slide over the hitch. The more efficient way is a pulley, but it’s noisier.
 

Orion

New Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
8
Hi SH Nation!

I have an update but first want to say thanks for all the contributions. It's actually quite humbling that much of this is entirely new and points to the need for getting up to speed pretty quickly on better rescue techniques. Saturday I went out in the woods and used a piece of Dyneema to put a Prusik below the butterfly hitch that the tending end attached to for ascent. On descent the tending Poacher's knot/carabiner clipped to the Prusik and didn't let the Blake's hitch jam. It works really really well. In fact I could even use the tending end as a break. It was pretty clear that this is been jamming for quite a while and I hadn't really noticed it somehow. All this points to the need for more practice and research. Brocky.. I have a screw link which I can try but I really like the idea of a small pulley, but I am wary of the noise as the NY saddle hunters have pointed out. Maybe wrapping it with tape?

The hunt was great as it turned out. Took a doe from 35 feet up; it's so great to be up and out of sight and have the wind working for you.

Thanks everyone, stay tuned and I'll keep adding to this as events evolve. Stay safe out there,

Orion
 

gcr0003

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Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,983
Location
Heart of Dixie
You could take a bite of line through a figure 8 below the Blake's hitch that way you can tend the friction hitch looser on the descent.
That’s the way I do it! I actually brake the hitch open and control the descent with the figure 8. I use the Blake’s hitch as a autoblock.
 

gcr0003

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,983
Location
Heart of Dixie
Hi SH Nation!

I have an update but first want to say thanks for all the contributions. It's actually quite humbling that much of this is entirely new and points to the need for getting up to speed pretty quickly on better rescue techniques. Saturday I went out in the woods and used a piece of Dyneema to put a Prusik below the butterfly hitch that the tending end attached to for ascent. On descent the tending Poacher's knot/carabiner clipped to the Prusik and didn't let the Blake's hitch jam. It works really really well. In fact I could even use the tending end as a break. It was pretty clear that this is been jamming for quite a while and I hadn't really noticed it somehow. All this points to the need for more practice and research. Brocky.. I have a screw link which I can try but I really like the idea of a small pulley, but I am wary of the noise as the NY saddle hunters have pointed out. Maybe wrapping it with tape?

The hunt was great as it turned out. Took a doe from 35 feet up; it's so great to be up and out of sight and have the wind working for you.

Thanks everyone, stay tuned and I'll keep adding to this as events evolve. Stay safe out there,

Orion
I’m not understanding what you’re doing. Could you take pictures next time? Thanks.
 

Brocky

New Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
34
Location
de mitten
A rope thimble and a little cord works nearly as well as a pulley, the closer it is to the hitch the quicker it reacts.E2DE06A5-9BCB-4B36-AF97-CB1A9B761783.jpeg
Another tender is to use the hitch cord itself, it’s used here on a modification of the Blake’s by putting the tail where the cord enters the hitch, I call it a Tea Kettle Blake’s.
B2E64837-39F7-4DF6-91A0-DAE9325C19CF.jpeg
 
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