On Oxalis Adventure tours, there are plenty of thrilling technical activities that involve climbing and traversing with the use of ropes. Needless to say, life-lining forms a very crucial part throughout the process and due to Oxalis’ commitment to safety on tour; you can be rest assured that it is done in the most professional manner.
All the tour guides, safety assistants and guide assistants at Oxalis Adventure undergo thorough safety training and are highly competent with life-lining. All the training is carried out by cave experts from the British Cave Research Association (BCRA).
What is life-lining?
Life-lining is a safety procedure that is done in order to protect a climber from falling or to hold a climber that has fallen. In simple terms, a lifeline is actually the rope you use for climbing during caving. There are various techniques involving lifelines and it’s highly essential for the process to be carried out properly to ensure safety throughout the climb.
As mentioned above, a lifeline is used to protect a climber from falling or to hold a fall. It is the use of friction to hold the weight of a climber that has fallen. A lifeline will be controlled by a belayer who will use a belay device to control the lifeline.
Photo: Ivan van der Veld
Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An
Oxalis uses an auto-locking belay device known as a Gri-Gri. It is also possible to use an Italian hitch or simple friction of a line around a tree in an emergency situation. The lifeline will be secured to the climber by a belt or harness. In an emergency a bowline can be used.
A person who is in suspension must wear a harness. Belts and bowlines are to be used to prevent a fall occurring. If a person is suspended on a belt or a bowline, they must be removed from that position quickly and safely as it is very uncomfortable and can lead to harm. Karabiners are used to connect each part of the system and the preferred standard knot will be the “figure of 8 on the bight”.
Anchors must be unquestionably sound especially if a single anchor is used. Where bolt anchors are used these must be backed up with a second anchor. The use of a share loading lanyard assists.
• The optimum angle between anchors is 90° or less and it must not exceed 120°.
• Visually check and function test all Karabiners before climbing to ensure locked, closed and not cross-loaded.
• Ensure that the belayer is safe and clipped to a secure anchor point with their cowstail. Choose a position so that you can see and always pay attention whilst life lining.
• Ensure the life line has been uncoiled and managed before use, to prevent entanglements.
• Ensure the lifeline is cared for and does not suffer damage from being trodden on.
• Place a stopper knot in the end to ensure the lifeline does not accidentally pull out of the Gri-Gri.
• The climber must always be attached to the lifeline in a place of safety and remain attached until they reach a safe place before removing the lifeline.
Always maintain a tight line, if necessary, tell the climber to slow down. It is important to be aware of the two sides:
• Climber’ side
• Brake side
The Golden rule is never to let go of the brake side of the lifeline or attempt to grip both parts of the line
Whenever lowering with a Gri-Gri, an additional friction Karabiner must be used. The belayer gradually pulls on the release handle, without letting go of the brake side of the rope. The handle can assist in braking, but the descent rate is controlled by the hand gripping the brake side of the rope.
Taking in (Method 1)
1. Pull the climber’s side into the belay device to take up the slack with both hands, always maintain a grip with the brake side hand.
2. When the arm is fully extended maintain grip with the brake hand.
3. Remove the hand from the climber’s side and grip the brake side below the brake hand.
4. Slide the brake hand back to the belay device.
5. Return the climbers hand back to the climber’s side and repeat the process.
Taking in (Method 2)
It is possible to pull the rope through the belay device by simply pulling the line through the belay device with both hands on the brake side.
• Always maintain contact with the brake hand.
• Focus more on pushing the rope into the device rather than pulling it out.
• When using the Gri-Gri, it may be necessary to overcome the locking cam. To achieve this, the climber’s side hand grips the body of the Gri-Gri and uses a thumb to apply sufficient pressure on the cam to allow the life-line to pass through.
Standard words of command are used to ensure that both the climber is safely attached and the belayer is ready to lifeline.
Before each use
• Check that the Gri-Gri has no cracks, deformation, marks, corrosion and check for severe wear.
• Check that the cam and release handle move freely and that the springs are working properly.
Used for life lining with semi-static ropes: 8.5-11 mm diameter:
• The cam and the frame of the Gri-Gri must be able to rotate freely at all times. The Gri-Gri must be free to rotate around the karabiner.
• Any blockage or constraint of the device, or of the cam, negates the braking action on the rope.
When a climber falls, the Gri-Gri pivots on the karabiner, the rope becomes taut and the cam pinches the rope, applying a braking force to it. By holding the brake side of the rope, the brake hand helps engage the cam, so it is important to always hold the brake side of the rope.
GRI-GRI function test
A function test must be carried out before each use to ensure correct rope installation and to verify that the GRIGRI is functioning properly.
Before using the Gri-Gri, you must know the proper belaying techniques. Take up slack regularly always holding the brake side of the rope. In this position, the Gri-Gri’s braking action on the rope is not optimal therefore always hold the brake side of the rope.
Triggering the anti-panic mechanism
The Gri-Gri + has an anti-panic handle. If the belayer pulls too hard on the handle, the anti-panic mechanism triggers. By holding the brake side of the rope, the brake hand helps engage the cam to stop the descent. To continue the descent, release the handle completely, and resume lowering normally.
Life-lining on Oxalis Adventure Tours
You will find life-lining practiced on the following jungle and cave tours of Oxalis:
Oxalis Adventure Tours Activities
ONE DAY TOURS
If you are seeking a taste of the caves and really don’t have enough time then we recommend a one-day cave and jungle trek. We currently have three tour options for you to select, each with a slightly different style and suitability.
• Phong Nha National Park 1-Day: Our family adventure in the Phong Nha offers a great taste of untouched jungle and impressive wild caves. It is the easiest level of adventure but there is still 5km of trekking and 2km of caving, and optional swimming during warmer weather into one cave. It’s suitable for kids from 12 and above with good fitness, and so this makes for a great day for everyone! It costs VND 1,650,000 per person (USD 72).
• Tu Lan Experience – 1 Day: This is one of our original one-day tours and still one of the best adventures in Vietnam. This one-day tour includes rock scrambling, 50m swimming through a wild river-cave, and up to 9 km of trekking through the lush jungles. You will also strap yourself in for a 15m descent down a ladder. It costs VND 1,800,000 (USD 78) per person.
• Hang Tien Discovery – 1 Day: This one-day tour is perfect for trekking enthusiasts eager to see the largest cave of Tu Lan but without time for the two-day experience. Hang Tien is a dry cave so no swimming required, but still includes up to 4km of trekking through mostly flat jungle and about 500m exploring this incredible cave that will no doubt impress with its grandeur. It costs VND 2,000,000 per person (USD 87).
TWO DAY TOURS
Our most popular cave adventures start from two-days providing an immersive jungle and caving adventure, each targeting a slightly different kind of adventure-seeker, or perfect for those who want to combine a couple of tours to see different caves and areas on one trip to Phong Nha.
• Tu Lan Cave Encounter – 2 Days: Our most popular tour exploring the famous jungle area of Tu Lan. On this overnight camping excursion, you will trek through a number of different dry caves, swim up to 500m through a couple of river caves, witness outstanding cascading waterfalls underground as featured in National Geographic, and spend the night at our jungle camp beside a gorgeous waterfall. It includes 12km of trekking and 3km of caving in total and is for those with a good adventurous spirit. It costs VND 5,500,000 per person (USD 239).
• Hang En Cave Adventure – 2 Days: For two days, this is our best-value-for-money tour that includes one of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes you will see in this lifetime. This cave is considered the second largest cave in Vietnam and third largest in the World, and it also makes up one night of the original five-day Son Doong Cave Expedition being so close to the largest cave in the world. It includes visiting Ban Doong Ethnic Village, located in the jungle, and a magnificent campsite on a sandy beach inside the cave. It includes 22km of jungle trekking at times quite rocky, multiple knee-deep river crossings, and elevation change of 400m (the ‘hill’ you won’t forget), and 4km of caving. This is a level 3 adventure on a scale of 1 to 6. It costs VND 7,600,000 per person (USD 330).
• Hang Tien Endeavor – 2 Days: A two-day trek into the jungle to see the largest dry cave of the Tu Lan area, exploring 5.5km of this truly stunning cave, with a variety of karst formations. This 13km trek is suitable for those not too keen on cave swimming or too many hills, but still up for an adventure. This is a level 4 adventure between 1 and 6, with 6 being the most challenging. It costs VND 6,500,000 per person (USD 283).
• Hang Va Expedition – 2 Days: A technically challenging, but equally rewarding two-day caving adventure in the heart of Phong Nha National Park. This tour takes you deep into the jungle to one of the most spectacular river-caves, with formations not seen anywhere else in the world! It involves rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave, to reach the rarest tower cone formations. This involves quite a lot of technical work due to safety, but is not overly difficult, it includes 10km of trekking and 3 km of caving. This is a level 4 adventure, with 6 being the highest. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).
Now, if you really want to increase the adventure and soak up the wild jungle of Vietnam, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area, we highly recommend a three-day caving tour of our Tu Lan or Hang Tien.
• Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer – 3 Days: This tour incorporates the very best of Tu Lan with two different jungle campsites besides stunning waterfalls, 3km of cave exploring through a number of caves, 1km of cave swimming and visiting some additional areas not included on our shorter experiences. Our three-day tour is very popular and tends to be booked out so get in quick to enjoy this thrilling jungle adventure. It includes 17 km of jungle trekking and with quite a bit of swimming you will need to have a good level of fitness. It is not for the faint-hearted, but still only considered level 3 adventure level compared to level 4 of the Hang Tien 3-day tour. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).
• Hang Tien Exploration – 3 Days: This three-day tour stands out for combining a taste of Tu Lan with some river cave swimming, before crossing a mountain range to reach the valley for Hang Tien – the most astounding dry caves in the region, where you will enjoy trekking, bouldering over various rocky terrains to witnessing breathtaking patterned calcite walls & ceilings of Hang Tien. It’s challenging and definitely more suited to adventure enthusiasts who have trekking experience and prefer more challenging routes. It includes a total of 22km of trekking, 6.5 km of caving and an elevation change of 150m over one particular hillside. You will get wet, you will be challenged, but you will not be disappointed. Hang Tien is located adjacent to the Tu Lan area so you will enjoy the best of both worlds – a level 4 adventure out of 6 adventure levels. It costs VND 8,500,000 per person (USD 370).
FOUR & FIVE-DAY TOURS
For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Vietnam, and thriving for the real grand expedition of the world, you should opt for these 4-day journeys to explore the entire cave system of Tu Lan and the largest cave on Earth
• Tu Lan Expedition – 4 Days: You will also explore all of the extraordinary caves in Tu Lan, including Kim Cave and Secret Cave that boasts phenomenal natural falls and karst formations inside these two unbelievable river caves. Complete a trek through Hang Tien Cave – famed for its vastness and magnificent formations. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. This is a perfect alternative expedition for those who are unable to do Son Doong Expedition, still it’s challenging and not recommended for those without experience. It includes an additional night at Chay Lap Farmstay before the tour to ensure you are well rested and ready to depart early the following day. Level 5 on our 6 adventure levels. It includes 30km of jungle trekking, 5 km of caving, about 800m swimming through caves and one abseil in a cave in the pitch black – highly adventurous! It costs VND 15,000,000 per person (USD 652).
• Son Doong Expedition – 4 Days: By now you would have seen some pictures of Son Doong Cave, and even they don’t do it justice. The record-breaking Son Doong Cave is hands-down one of the most stunning places on this planet Earth. The expedition is tough, but not too difficult so long as you have a strong resolve to achieve. It is surely one of the newest wonders of the world. Son Doong is not just another cave tour – it is life-changing to say the least. It includes 25km of trekking, 9 km caving including rope climbs, and the 90m ascent of the Great Wall of Vietnam using a ladder, elevation change of 400m and many river crossings inside and outside the cave. Level 6 on our adventure levels. It costs VND 69,800,000 per person (USD 3000).
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? Visit our FAQs section where we have a lot of answers for your questions and concerns. https://oxalis.com.vn/faq-general/
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