Ascender Safety 101

       Ascending Rappel Ropes 101

       Autoblock Misuse (ATC-Guide)

       Avalanche Safety

       Belay School - Why Dynamic Matters

       Can A Hot Belay Device Melt My Slings?

       Carabiner Off-Axis and Tri/Quad-Axial Loading

       Choosing the Right Carabiner

       Common Belay Screw-ups

       Connecting Two Slings Together

       Daisy Chain Dangers

       Dangers of Rope Worn Carabiners

       Dangers of Worn Lowering Anchors

       Do Ropes Need to Rest Between Falls

       Draws in a Gym

       Extending a Cam Sling

       Fall Factors Explained

       Full Strength Haul Loops

       Gear Doesn't Last Forever—Crampons

       Gear Doesn't Last Forever—Ice Tool Picks

       Gear Doesn't Last Forever—Slings & Draws

       Girth Hitching a Stopper

       How Sketchy Is a Sharp-Edged Carabiner?

       How Strong are Himalayan Fixed Lines?

       How Strong is the Spinner Leash?

       How To Belay, Part 1

       How To Extend a Rappel Device

       Knot Passing 101

       Rappelling - Climbing's Diciest Business

       Re-Slinging Cams

       Rethinking the Double-Loop Bowline

       Retiring Old Ropes

       Sharpie for Marking the Middle of a Rope?

       Sling Strength In Three Anchor Configurations

       Spectra versus Nylon

       Spotting for Bouldering

       Surviving Bad Weather on El Cap

       The Dangers of Modifying Your Gear

       The Dangers of Short Static Falls

       The Electric Harness Acid Test

       The Skinny on Super Light Ropes

       Top Roping is Not So Safe

       To Screamer Or Not To Screamer

       Via Ferrata

       Weakness of Nose-hooked Carabiners

       What is the Safest Rappel Knot?

       Worn Belay Loops and Retiring a Harness

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Climb Safe: Knot Passing 101


Rappelling past a knot that links two ropes end-to-end, need not puzzle you, nor must you learn this seemingly complicated yet vital bit of ropework the hard way. The following five-step method for passing a knot is easy to master, safe and efficient. It does assume that you have two ascenders and are using one on the rope above your rappel device, as a back-up, held with the cam thumbed open by your “guide” hand. (For more on rappel back-ups, see Rock and Ice No. 136.) Though prusiks can substitute for ascenders, they are much harder to operate. 

Since you are most likely to pass knots in a big-wall situation, where ascenders are necessary and standard gear, we’ve used ascenders to demonstrate the five steps. Regardless of whether you use ascenders or prusiks, connect them to your harness by girth-hitching a sling or daisy chain through your belay/rappel loop before you begin the rappel. Clip the sling or daisy to each ascender or prusik with a locking carabiner, or two standard biners with their gates opposed and reversed.

<strong>1.</strong> Transfer weight. Rappel until your brake hand almost touches the knot. Shove your ascender up the rope, letting it engage and take all of your weight. Stopping with your rap device at least a foot above the knot is critical. If you let the knot jam into your device, you will, once you clamp your second ascender on the rope, have to jug up a few strokes to free the device—a hassle. <strong>2.</strong> Double Up. Attach your second ascender on the rope above your first (and now fully weighted) ascender. Keep the slings connecting each ascender to your harness short, so you can easily reach them. A 12-inch sling (or daisy) works well for the bottom ascender; clip a 24-inch sling to the top ascender. If the top sling is too long, the ascender can shoot out of reach—another hassle.























<strong>3.</strong> REMOVE/REINSTALL RAPPEL DEVICE. The rope running through your rappel device should be slack, with all your weight on the bottom ascender, which is backed up by the top ascender. Remove your rappel device from the rope and reinstall it on the rope immediately below the knot. <strong>5.</strong> REMOVE, REINSTALL and RAPPEL. Once your rappel device is weighted and locked off, and both ascenders are unweighted, remove the bottom ascender from the rope and reinstall it on the rope below the knot and above your rappel device. You may need to rappel a foot or so to give the ascender enough “breathing room” for this maneuver. Remove the top ascender, untie the back-up figure-eight, and rappel.





















<strong>4.</strong> TRANSFER WEIGHT. This is the trickiest bit. Weight the top ascender by pushing it up the rope, then down-jug a move or two until your bottom ascender nearly reaches the knot you are trying to pass. To more easily weight and unweight the ascenders, clip a long sling(s) or aider to each ascender and alternate standing in these as you weight/unweight each ascender. (For clarity, we have omitted the runner/aider in these photos.) At this point, you should be able to suck any excess slack through your rappel device and, as you down-jug, to transfer your weight onto the rappel device. If there’s enough slack in the lower rope, tie a back-up figure-8-on-a-bight in the rope about a foot below where you will reattach your rappel device. This “stopper” knot will safeguard against you losing control and plummeting down the rope. 





























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