The Masters


Jeff Ward - IFMGA/AMGA Guide

Jeff Ward is an IFMGA-licensed and AMGA-certified Alpine, Ski and Rock Guide. He grew up in the Northwest and is co-owner of North Cascades Mountain Guides (www.ncmountainguides.com) based in Mazama. Ward is a lead instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association and serves on their technical committee.



Martin Volken - IFMGA Guide

Martin Volken is the founder and owner of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA. He is a certified IFMGA Swiss Mountain Guide and guides over 120 days per year in North America and Europe as a ski, rock and alpine guide. Volken has pioneered several steep ski descents, ski traverses, alpine and rock routes in the Washington Cascades. He has been a member of the AMGA examiner team since 2000 and has authored and co-authored three books on ski touring and ski mountaineering.

Got a question about climbing? Submit your question in the Ask the Master forum and either Jeff Ward or Martin Volken will supply the answer.

AMGA GUIDES' TIPS
Rappelling: Throwing Ropes
Rappelling: Throwing Ropes
 


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Rapping off two ropes

30-Nov-2016 04:56 PM

dazman

dazman
Posts: 1

Two questions about rapping on two ropes. Is it safe to rap off a tag line that's significantly narrower than the lead line. For instance, a 5 or 6mm tag line with a 9.8mm lead line?

Additionally, what is the best knot to join these two? I have heard an EDK with 12 inches on both ends as well as a double figure eight with a double fisherman's as follow ups on both ends. 

Thanks for the response!

  Reply

11-Dec-2016 10:22 AM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 46

I prefer to use the "jammed knot" technique when using a skinny rappel line.  The lead line is threaded through the anchor and an overhand knot is tied in the end.  This knot gets clipped back to the load strand so it essentially fixes the rope.  The skinny rope is then tied to the end of the lead line (I usually use a flat overhand), or clipped to the overhand knot.  You then rappel the lead line as a single strand and pull on the skinny line for retrieval.  

Make sure you play with this on the ground to fully understand the system.  If you don't fully understand this system please seek professional instruction.  

  Reply

20-Feb-2017 03:28 PM

Mitch

Mitch
Posts: 2

I'd like to bring up rappelling with two diameter ropes. (9.5mm dynamic and a 7.0mm static tag line). For efficiencies sake, is it safe to begin feeding the 7.0mm tag line through the anchor while pulling the rope down from previous anchor, and then executing the next rappel with the 7.0mm rope through the anchors instead of the 9.5mm dynamic line?

  Reply

20-Feb-2017 03:29 PM

Mitch

Mitch
Posts: 2

Thanks for the feedback. Is it unsafe to have the thinner rope running through the anchors?

  Reply

27-Feb-2017 09:03 AM

Graham

Graham
Posts: 1

Is the system you're suggesting here essentially the same one you illustrated in your earlier article on rappelling on a rope with a core shot? http://www.rockandice.com/master-class-climbing-tips/how-to-rappel-with-a-core-shot-rope

  Reply

27-Feb-2017 04:33 PM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 46

Mitch,

One of the potential problems of feeding the skinny line through the anchor to speed up the process on multi-pitch rappels is that the ropes are then more likely to migrate during the rappel.  Since the fatter rope will have more friction in the device it can have the tendency to pull the knot down during the rappel creating uneven ends.  This usually only happens on steeper rappels with little rope-to-rock friction but can happen in a variety of scenarios. 

The other benefit of threading the fat rope and rappelling off a "jammed knot" (described above) is that you are not having to rely on the strength of the skinny cord, which could be damaged by a sharp edge or rockfall during the rappel.  

Hope this info helps.

Jeff

  Reply

07-Mar-2017 07:19 AM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 46

Graham,

Yes, pretty much the same system as described in that article.  

  Reply

12-Apr-2017 04:19 PM

Scott

Scott
Posts: 1

Understanding this is more of an advanced topic for experts.  What are your thoughts on rappelling with 3 climbers and two ropes think big long ice/snow/mixed alpine routes like Peru, Canada, Alaska etc where you may be looking at 10-30 raps down.  You could potentially save 100-300 minutes doing double rappels if you save 10 minutes per. 

Options: 

#1 - Standard single raps pretty straightforward -- most time consuming. 

#2 - Simul rappelling has some advantages and also it's disadvantages.

#3 - What about fixing the two ropes allowing 2 people to rap down on each strand together and then the last person sets up/re-rigs for a standard two rope rap?



  Reply

27-Apr-2017 09:17 AM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 46

Scott,

Out of your three options your last option is probably the most efficient and gives you the most options.  There are a few things to consider when having people rappel at the same time.  The most important consideration is the strength of the anchor.  Of course, your rappel anchor should be strong enough to hold two people even if you are only rappelling one at a time, but I have definitely been on some anchors in places like Peru where I was happy I was the only one weighting the anchor.  The time spent beefing up alpine anchors to make sure you have enough margin for sending two people down at the same time might negate the time saved.  

If it's easy to add a backup to the anchor, like on an ice climb, then the minimal time you spend beefing up the anchor for two people might be worth it.  You can also get a good test of the main anchor before you remove the backup.  Once you've backed up the anchor (if needed) and threaded the ropes you can fix the ropes by putting the third climber's rappel device on both ropes.  This essentially fixes the ropes for the first two people on rappel and gets the third person ready at the same time.  If the third person is using an extension to rappel they can start rappelling as soon as the other two people unweight the rope.  

Other considerations when rappelling at the same time are making sure you have enough friction in your rappel device.  Steep rappels on a single line with skinny ropes, heavy packs and/or frozen ropes can be quite difficult to control.  Make sure you have played around with these combinations in a more controlled environment before experimenting high in the mountains.  Loose rock and ice is another consideration.  You are likely to be right on top of each other during the descent so extra care is needed.  Kicking a block or a large ice dagger onto your buddy will definitely slow you down.  

Often it just makes more sense to go one at a time, but if the terrain and conditions allow there are ways to speed things up.  Just make sure you don't cut any critical corners when trying to go faster, and remember to knot the ends of your rope.  If you are worried about the knots getting stuck, just clip the knot to your harness.  You don't want to turn your party of 3 into a party of 2 prematurely.  

Jeff

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