Speeding up rappels for large groups


Source: AMGA Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides

Contributed by: Marty Comiskey ( martycomiskey@yahoo.com)

Best useful for:   Top rope     Trad    x        Mountaineering     x

                            Sport           Ice                Other (list)

Description: This tip can be utilized to speed up the time it takes for a party of 3 (or more) to rappel.It can also be used to allow you to safely backup a rappel with a belay/lower.

This tip requires you to have total confidence in your rappel anchor as it will be stressed with the weight of two people rappeling rather than one (not an especially demanding requirement as most of us will rappel off of "trade routes" with established strong rappel anchors, but it is something you should be aware of.)

I came across this tip (in the knot section) in the AMGA Technical Handbook and it utilizes a "slippery figure 8" knot tied at the rappel anchor. Using this knot/biner combination basically turns a double rope used for a rappel into two fixed single ropes.

In a party of three (or 5), if pressed for time because of approaching darkness or bad weather, the first two people could rappel at the same time, each on a separate fixed line. After the 1st. and 2nd. persons arrive at end of rappel, the third person would remove the biner, pull the slippery 8 free and do a "normal" double rope rappel.

You could also use this "tip" in the event you wanted to back up a "newbie" on rappel with a belay/lower because they were nervous and needed some reassurance. The "newbie" would rappel on one of the fixed lines; the other fixed line would be tied into their harness and then connected to your belay device so that while they were rappeling you could keep them on belay.

This is not something you would use all the time, but potentially it could be a time saver or a safety technique worth knowing.


©2020 PATC-MS | The Mountaineering Section of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club | All Rights Reserved.