Preventing Rope Tangles During Rappels

Hello All, 

Sometimes you find yourself having to make rappels on slabby and/or vegetated terrain.  Trying to throw out the rope under these circumstances results in lots of time wasted untangling the rope when the first person comes down.

To prevent this situation, I like to stack my rope ends in either one or two bags.  These bags, which can be rope bags, stuff sacks, or even a small climbing backpack, are clipped to my harness on the either the right or left side depending upon if you are right-handed or left handed.  As you rappel the rope will feed out of the bag, but will not be tangled by the terrain.

It is important to stuff the rope so that it freely feeds out, but this is rarely a problem.  This situation also works well in blocky terrain where you do not want the rope to be caught in the wrong area if you tossed the rope end.  Just remember to always knot the end of the rope with a stopper knot and be aware of how much rope is left in the bag when making unknown rappels.

Mark Fletcher 

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