Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

Rope Bar

Guiding Newsletter

September 2002 - Tech Tip Supplement


Alternate Rappel Methods

This page is a supplement to my September 2002 newsletter, there is more comment and discussion there. Important: This is not meant to replace hands-on instruction, nor to replace the need for hands-on practice.

Most climbers today rely on an ATC or similar device to rappel (and typically to belay as well). There are a few alternate methods worth knowing. I have used both the Carabiner Brake method and the Dulfersitz in practice, although I've only needed the latter method once. Sometimes in a group there may not be a sufficient number of rappel devices, or somebody may drop or otherwise lose their primary device. Use of a Figure 8 device is also shown here even though this is an established and time-tested device. It has become less common and newer climbers may be unfamiliar with it, and its use in "rappel mode" is mentioned in the Safety Soapbox part of the main newsletter.

Carabiner Brake
Carabiner Brake Carabiner Brake   Start with two carabiners which are oriented in a horizontal plane and have their gate directions opposed.
Carabiner Brake Carabiner Brake Carabiner Brake Add a cross-carabiner for the braking friction. Begin by pulling a bight (loop) of rope up through the horizontal biners.
Carabiner Brake Carabiner Brake   Add more biners for more friction. Either clip the bight and main line and slide the biner back (as above) or "leapfrog" it acros the horizontals.
Carabiner Brake Carabiner Brake   Now you can rappel, after double checking everything and, location permitting, loading it carefully in a safe direction.
Dulfersitz Rappel

No photos yet since I ran off on a climbing and conference trip in a rush. Maybe later.

This involves stepping over the rope with one leg, wrapping it around your hip, up across the opposite shoulder, and back across your back to the brake hand.

If this sounds uncomfortable it is, and it's also unstable and easy to twist out of. Recommended only in emergencies and preferably only on lower angles.

Figure Eight Rappel / Belay
Figure Eight Rappel Figure Eight Rappel Figure Eight Rappel

While this is fine for rappeling there is pretty low friction for a belay and either a different device or a different configuration is recommended.


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