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Storrick – Ledbury Jug Handles

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Front View Rear View

Technical Details

I made the parts for my Storrick – Ledbury Jug Handles and Amy Skowronski welded them for me in 2021.

The Jug Handle is 167 mm. tall, 45 mm. wide, 23 mm. thick, and weighs 251 g.

Each ascender is made from 5/16" (7.9 mm.) 1018 carbon steel rod, 1/8" (3.2 mm.) mild steel plate, and a rubber hand grip cut from 5/16" I.D. fuel hose. The top of the ascender is folded so that it will slip over 1/8" (3.2 mm.) steel cable, but not slide down past a crimp on the cable. The guard at the bottom helps keep the cable from fraying one’s slings.


G. A. Ledbury designed these to climb a 3/16" (4.8 mm) steel cable with crimps spaced at 10-12 inch (250-300 mm.) intervals. He published the idea in the Bowline Caving and Climbing Club Journal. It was reprinted in Descent #18, from where I took the images below.

I made mine to climb 1/8" (3.2 mm.) cable, a size commonly used in cable ladders, at least in the U.S.A.

I made the parts to assemble a pair, and Amy Skowronski graciously but reluctantly agreed to do the welding for me. Her reaction was, in her words, "Jeezus Gary, I mean, I will, but Jesus who came up with this shit?"

My reaction was milder than Amy’s:

This is one of the scariest and most ridiculous ideas that I've ever seen.

These are not rope ascenders, these are ascenders to climb a steel cable that has crimps on it every foot or so. Think cable and crimps like you see on cable ladders. Think how often cable ladders used to break. Think: you will need a belay to climb with this. Think of the potential for mangled bodies, dead cavers, and a return to uncrowded pits.

The idea of properly testing these fills me with dread, bringing out that tiny remaining bit of common sense called cowardice.

The drawing answers the question, "how it is supposed to be used?," but does not answer the related question, "when it is supposed to be used?" The answer to the "when" question is "when someone wants to die a painful death."

I don't like Ledbury’s suggested rigging, since there is no rest position and nothing but arm strength to keep one from falling backward. My first thought would be to use Thrun’s System #13 (one with chest and foot slings, the other with seat and foot slings), but it will be tiring.

Needless to say, these ascenders never became popular.

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