Saturday, 7 September 2013

Technical day at Lyon Equipment

LYON CPD Day 6 Sept 13 from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Yesterday I visited Lyon Equipment's new HQ at Tebay for a days CPD organised through AMI. The Association has professionalised itself a lot over the last year or so and a level of CPD is now a requirement for all members. Personally, despite a busy life with work, children and play I don't find such courses onerous- what's not to like about learning more and getting better at your job?
The day was run by Mark Davies who was relaxed but knowledgeable and had attracted a large crowd of 15 MIs from a wide range of backgrounds such as Tim and Andy who both guide a lot in the Greater Ranges, lecturers from HE and FE courses, independent freelancers and others responsible for kit and running their own activities. 

We began with a myth busting session which tackled some popular misconceptions and answered some recent questions that have been flying around the web. There was much discussion based around the spurious interpretation of Legislation by those in positions of authority often based on a poor or just plain incorrect understanding of it. A useful session for those of us wanting to provide good quality Technical Advice.

 Deet damage to helmet
Next up, the fun bit. We went to the test rig to break some stuff. First off we took some identical slings looking a the difference that burns, abrasion, cuts and knots make. The mechanism of failure was often as important as the strength of the kit and although most of this was a refresher for me it was interesting and fun to see things in practice.
Damaged nylon sling
One snippet was interesting: although I often here people questioning the ability to get good equalisation of multiple anchors with a sling the test results seemed to show that when loading a sling across an overhand knot even when the 2 loops created weren't perfectly equalised the overall strength if the system was huge. Before failure occurred slippage through the knot allowed sharing of the force by both 'arms' of the belay.
I provided 2 samples of a 20 year old half rope to test. One had been left as tat at 1100m on Ben Nevis for about 8 months (including a winter) whilst the other stayed in my kit store. The discolouration/bleaching was obvious on the 'outdoor' sample. The 'indoor' sample broke at 8.6kn whilst the 'outdoor' sample went at a similar 8kn. However the creaking as the knots slipped on the latter made Mark suspicious that its exposure had caused it to become more brittle and lose a lot of its shock absorbing properties. It's not just the strength we are interested in if the kit could take a shock load. Its interesting to note that when rope is left as tat the sheath probably protects the core from weathering and UV whereas tape is open to more uniform exposure. As ever if you have any doubts, replace it with your own- you can always buy another sling/piece of cord.
 My 2 samples of rope

 After testing
Alloy and Steel Krabs were also destroyed showing common methods of failure, useful if consider how or where to mark gear.
 Alloy krab showing typical failure
 A session at the ropes demo board similar to the session I saw at Glenmore Lodge was a good reminder of why low impact force ropes can be a good thing and the power if the pulley effect.
 The Rope Forces Board
I also got to handle some samples of the Beal Gully Unicore 7.3mm ropes- now that's thin!
 Thin ropes!
Finally we looked at tensioned lines, often used for recreation and by Mountain Rescue Teams. The importance of not over tightening the lines and the use of different load limiters was discussed. 
Overall some really useful reminders and a couple of new wee gems of information for me during an excellent and interesting day with great hospitality from Lyon and Mark.

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