~~Simul Rap~~


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Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 20, 2011 - 02:04am PT
Simul Rap or Simul Rappel.

We have been spotted and queried about simul rapping so many times that I thought I should post what I know. Here goes…………..

Most of the information one can find on simul rappelling is jaded. Most people are against the idea. What it comes down to is that just as one person cannot screw up while rappelling, neither climber can screw up on a simul rap. My partner and I have almost 4 years of simul rapping experience. We probably average a vertical mile per year of simul rapping. It cuts down rap time by about 45%. On multi pitch climbs, we deem it necessary. But you have to have a good partner who literally won’t let you down. It also gets both climbers looking for the next set of rap anchors, really important at night. Simul rapping is not for beginners, and even experts should know each other well, as trust is implicit. If you think the other guy might just freak out under pressure, solo rap. Don’t ever goad or chide someone into simul rapping. The most important thing about simul rapping is to know when NOT to do it.


Use only bombproof anchors. Period. If you rap off a leaver sling, then leave TWO!! If the tat is already there, check it carefully, all of it, then back it up. Never trust bleached tat. Some wall rats have more than two legs. Remember that you can’t check that the ropes will pull down for sure until both of you are at the bottom. If you are rapping off slings on a knob, put 2 biners on the two slings if you think there is any chance that the rope might not pull after you are down. I buy $3 biners on sale just to leave them if necessary. I have only ever left one pair. When climbing long unfamiliar adventure routes, I always carry up to 6 lengths of 5/8” webbing as leaver slings, plus a pair or more of OmPac rap rings. If there is any chance an anchor could fail, like a chicken head or a thread, back it up big-time, have the fat guy rap first, jerk test it from the ground, then remove the backup piece, and the skinny guy raps. Know when NOT to simul rap. More about bail rings and leaver biners later.

Both climbers inspect their own AND each other’s gear and setup, as well as the rap anchor. I carry a short double box end wrench to tighten bolts. You would be surprised how many bolts are loose, like, most of them. Both climbers need to inspect the knot as well. Make sure the knot is well dressed with lots of tail. It is going to carry double the weight. This thread is not about knots, but never use a figure eight knot tied EDK style.

Use an autoblock knot with a locking biner on the brake hand side!! It will save both of you if one goes out of control. Put the autoblock on a leg loop, and use a double horsetail to extend the rap device above your harness about 6-10 inches. This keeps your autoblock from jamming into the rap device if you lift your leg, which would drop you. Some climbers hook the autoblock to the belay loop of the harness. I find that causes the autoblock to press against the horsetail, jamming my brake hand. Connecting the autoblock to the leg loop allows my hand to be in the normal brake position effortlessly. I normally rap larger ropes with my GriGri, which bypasses this problem. Always rap with an autoblock if using an ATC. I believe some fatal simul rap experiences may have occurred because one guy unweighted, dropped the other guy, who let go of the rope to grab some impossible hold, then just continued to drop out of control. I also believe many solo rap fatalities may have been caused by a lack of an autoblock, but there is never anyone to ask, it is usually just assumed that the climber simply rapped off the end of the rope. I have never read in any ANAM that the fallen rappeller had an autoblock. Each climber has to be safe for two people.

BOTH climbers ALWAYS remain tied into the anchor until you test your system by weighting it simultaneously. Make sure your autoblock works and does not slip, but will move when you need it to move. Make sure your Gri is not upside down. The time to check all this is BEFORE you unclip from the anchor. Each different diameter rope will be gripped differently by the autoblock. And a single rope will require more wraps than two ropes. We usually carry a 7.8mm Monster rope for rapping, tagging and hauling. Takes a bit of experience to get used to the spaghetti diameter, and a GriGri will NOT work on this. The BD ATC guide is rated for these small diameters and works fine, but the corresponding autoblock cord must be 5.5 or 5mm, 6mm will not grab!!!

Both climbers have to weight the rope simultaneously. Pick one guy to say “ready?”, then count to three, and on three, both climbers weight the rope. Same goes for the end of rap, if one climber arrives first, he MUST remain suspended until the other gets down. At the bottom, one guy says the “ready?” question, then counts to three, unweighting on three. It is important that the same guy who says “ready?” also does the countdown. You must have established communication patterns that never vary.

I don't always knot the end of the rope. If I am climbing on familiar single pitch rock and I know for sure the rope reaches the ground with plenty to spare, I rarely tie a knot. If I am out with beginners, I always tie a knot, but I usually will not simul rap with them. I often holster (stack) the rope if I feel there is any chance of it getting caught in trees, cracks or knob fields. Or if there is a crowd at the crags. I just butterfly it over a sling clipped between me and the anchor, then reclip the anchor end of the sling to myself. You just let the cord pay out as you descend. Do it right and it feeds out just fine. Simul rap and each guy carries one holster. I got the idea from an Argentinian guy who said they rap with the rope in their jackets cuz of the 50 mph crosswinds where they regularly climb. ALWAYS tie a knot when you holster the rope.

If rapping through loose choss, either stay close together so any dislodged rocks won’t gain much speed, or have one climber rap to a safe position before the other goes through. The reasons for helmets and autoblocks are obvious. If the rock condition is extremely loose, solo rap. Know when NOT to simul rap.

Use good judgment about rope pulling issues. There have been a number of times when I will stop at the first rap station, my partner will go on to the second, we tie in and then unweight simultaneously. Then I pull rope to be sure it will get past all the obstacles, and rap again. A certain rap pitch on the Arches comes to mind.

I have read about tying the two climbers together. But if either one looses it, you are both going to fall, unless you are double rope rapping through rings and the knot catches, which means the correct guy has to fall first. Being tied together presents more problems than it cures. Jerking each other around, the tie getting caught in a rap device, flipping your partner over, catching on knobs, etc…. We never tie together. But if I needed to simul rap with a beginner, I would rap through rings, use a backed up fattie double fisherman instead of my normal EDK, take the rope that was protected by the knot jammed in the rings for myself, and tie in to the other climber. That way if the beginner lost control, we would suddenly be spider rapping on a single rope. I would also back up my Gri with an autoblock. But if it was a total freaked out noob, I would double rope spider rap. Know when NOT to simul rap.

The best part:

There is the situation where both climbers reach the end of rope, and hopefully knots, but neither one is down. Oooopps. Always carry enough slings to jug back up, and an ATC with an autoblock, or a GriGri, is part of that system. But if you are rapping through rings or leaver biners, NOT SLINGS, there is an escape available that a solo rapper would not be able to do. One climber can climb up, lowering the other one down. If on a double rope rappel, obviously the guy on the knotted side must go down, and the top guy must clip to the lowered guy’s rope, cuz he has to have that rope to pull later. One goes up, the other goes down. Then the top guy can set an anchor or the bottom guy can top rope him up to an anchor, the top guy can then pull rope and rap again. If you see the situation coming, one guy can stop and tie in at an anchor, clip the other rope and lower the other climber. If free hanging, the top guy can jug the rope until he reaches an anchor point, tie in, and he is already set up to lower the bottom guy safely. Tie in short every 15-20 feet while jugging. All normal precautions about top roping apply: deal with any sharp edges, and NEVER lower with a rope through a sling. Beat that, Batman!~

Read Craig Leubben’s treatise on simil rapping:

The user formerly known as stzzo

Social climber
May 20, 2011 - 05:02am PT
Thanks for the tips.

Some climbers hook the autoblock to the belay loop of the harness.

Really? I can't imagine this working well.

What is a horsetail? Extension?

I have read about tying the two climbers together. But if either one looses it, you are both going to fall

Even if you both have autoblock backups?

Even without being tied together, other things being equal - wouldn't you both fall if either one loses it?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 20, 2011 - 05:22am PT
Can you give me an example of when you have simulrapped at night and it was "really important" for finding the next anchor? I.e. you don't think the first person would have found it.

On what routes are you doing this 5000' of simulrapping per year? Royal Arches rappel route?

You state it cuts down time by about 45%. Can you share your data on times which you used to calculate this?
Can you state your time on the Royal Arches rappel route by simulrapping, and by "solo" (sequential) rapping?
(or supply another example if you don't have a time for this route)

Several of your comments on techniques not specific to simulrapping (such as stacking the rope in a sling to prevent hangup below you) were good.
I also liked you coverage of "know when NOT to simulrap".

Finally, here is a puzzle for you. Say you have a team of 3 rapping a route with rings/chains. Would you:
1. send one person down "solo" first, then 2 people simul.
2. send two people down simul first, then one person "solo".
3. bring a 3rd rope, so that all 3 could rap "simul".

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
May 20, 2011 - 08:25am PT
Sorry but I don't buy it.One person can rap a pitch in the time it takes to add that extra sling or tighten some bolts.You are carrying three dollar biners and extra webbing to do this?

Both people arranging autoblocks takes time,when one would suffice with a firemen's for normal raps.What happens at an anchor where someone is already at the stance?

I've seen so many people playing at fast climbing these last ten years,who don't even begin to have their sh#t dialed.People who are saving seven grams on slings you can't knot,and wear out faster,I presume so they can lug five locking biners and two belay devices,'cause that's what I see. Not saying this applies to the OP, just an observation.

Just stopping for some reason,at a ledge, maybe to sort some snarl,or pick the line out of a bush is complicated greatly by simuling.No one can unweight the lines.Twice the load on the anchors.No test pull as the OP mentions.

Better to have regular rappels dialed,and a sense of teamwork.Thread the pull line,get a clip in ready for #2.


Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2011 - 08:40am PT
Happy to: We have simuled off that glorious chosspile of the Valley, Washington Column. Been up there twice trying to find the Great Chimney on the Direct Route. Bivied on Helper Monkey Ledge the first time, ignorantly believing some other ST wall rats who declared it "OK bivy for two", then left their cheesy wine bottle and empty can of food. Mucci left his Parducci. The second time up we were rapping skipping anchors cuz we had two ropes and mo' o less knew the layout. The last rap pitch goes through a lotta filth and we spread out a bit, buddy found the last anchor on one of the few patches of bald rock, I had missed it in the dark. This thread now becomes a forlorn plea for beta about how to get from Lunch Ledge to the Great Chimney. WTF Fat Man Chimney? Roper sez: go left. Mucci sez: go up. WTF?? Whadever, it was lotsa fun.

As to the 5000 ft, I said "we probably average a vertical mile per year." That is a total guesstimate based on the ideal that we get out about 35-45 days worth on a good year, climb 600-1600 feet per day, and rap about half of the climbs we do. So 30 days in a bad year times 600 feet on a shitty day is 18,000 feet. Divided by 3 is still over a mile. I was being Cherokee conservative at a mile.

The 45% thing is just to incorporate the butt scratching time. I figured that if I said 50%, someone would tweet out something to slow us down. My partner carries a watch and records everything, but I live off Indian Time and always carry a headlamp. I am never trying to set records, I just try to be efficient and always come back with my ass above my ankles. Epic, schmepic, I don't feel like I got a good day unless my headlamp is on when I get back.

We climb at Shuteye Ridge a lot. Afternoon Nap on the Big Sleep is 1000 ft. Done Walk on the Wild Side and Right On on Saddle Rock at J Tree. Gotta be 1000 feet between them, a solid day. Found one anchor bolt at the summit lifted out of the rock 1/2" until I stomped on it and tightened it with my weinie wrench. Had to do the stop half way thing while partner finished in order to avoid a rope snag. Simul rapped off pitch 7 of the Arches in a surprise southern sh#t storm. Jeez, we just like to rap, saves bringing approach shoes and generally takes less time than a walk off. Can't tell you how many times we have rapped Discovery Wall at Pinnacles. Easy way to set up a Tr. I love Bye Bye Fly By, but I don't want to roll up my gonads and lead that 5.9RRRRRRRRRRRRR. We just rap a lot and think nothing about simul rapping, cuz we have it dialed.

As to the puzzle: Usually when we have a group of three, one is a beginner. Safety is more important than time. Usually one pro goes solo, fireman's the noob, then the other pro slides down. The one weekend I can think of when we did multi pitch with three pros is when a local rope rocket lead Serenity Crack for us. He soloed down first cuz he had the rap stations dialed. We simuled after him. Guess we did the Grack the same way. And Y Crack. Options 1 and 2 are kinda like counting eggs in a carton. But if the two guys simuled first, you have the four eyes looking for an anchor and they would have the seesaw option if the pitch turned out to be more than a rope length. If the pair had to seesaw, the third could bring the ropes back to halfway, then rap to where the top guy stopped. Then simul the last pitch with him.

I don't understand the third option, bringing a third rope. If it takes two rope for two guys, wouldn't it take two more ropes for the third? Else how would you pull the third rope?

Stzzo: Horsetail is also called a cow's tail, and is an extension. Use two single slings doubled. Or use a double, but tie an overhand for redundancy. Yeah, clipping the belay loop with an autoblock is ugly.

Yup, you are both gonna fall if either looses it on a single rope. Know when NOT to simul rap. On a double rope through rap rings, the experienced guy takes the side that is protected by the knot jamming the rings and ties to the noob, then nobody dies if the noob screws up. But there is going to be a lot of panic and racket followed by bruises and swearing. I normally use an EDK, well dressed and with 1 foot tails, but I wrote that one would use a fat double fisherman with a backup for such an occasion. None of this applies if you are rapping off of natural pro.

You're still going to fall rapping solo if you loose it. I don't think anybody can stop a screaming rope on body weight without burning railroad tracks in their brake hand. Wish someone made a Gri type device for two ropes. I tried for a while, then gave up.

I was taught to rap when Mickey and Minnie were kids. We used a Goofy prussic above the Daffy figure eight as a backup. Many things became obvious: If you locked up the prussic, you had to unweight it to unlock it, which could be a project. If the rope slipped through the rap device, there was no way the prussic had time to lock up before the rope went through it too. An autoblock on the brake side required far less rope grab to stop you than a prussic above you. Always use an autoblock. Remember what Papa Murphy taught you: Sh#t Happens.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
May 20, 2011 - 11:28am PT
Problem for me is, ahem, folks forget.

Had a friend forget that another friend was simul rapping. He got off the rope prior to her really setting her weight on it. Ramp start to steep pourover. He didn't feel her weight and forgot they'd talked about simul rappelling. Unclipped and walked away. She was chatting with someone at the anchor. Leaned back...whoosh. The guy at the anchor managed to jam his hand onto the rope as it was whizzing through the anchor, slowing her rate of descent down but burning his hands fairly badly. Saved her arse.

So, fast forward to recently. I'm on an anchor, rappelling against a knot block on a Gri Gri. My partner wants to rap down, and, rigs his rope to do so. I suggest he just go off the other side of the rope since I outweigh him by a fair amount. Well...guess who forgets? I decide, since I'm on a Gri Gri, to climb up a bit...he drops a couple feet and launches a draw he's re-clipping to his harness into space. We're up a fair ways. I kinda laughed it off...but...yikes.

Makes me think I don't need to simul rappel much.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 20, 2011 - 12:12pm PT
An excellent description of all the procedures and precautions. Even so, note that the Craig Luebben reference characterizes simul rapping as "super dangerous."

I do think it is faster. A few years ago I was rapping in the conventional way just after a party that was simul-rapping. We were totally efficient in what we did, but after a few raps, the simul party was out of sight below (and no, they hadn't rapped off the ends of their lines).

The extra speed has to be balanced against the extra danger. Rapping, as we all know, is already one of the more dangerous things climbers do, since there is very little tolerance for mistakes. Simul-rapping adds additional ways to mess up and on those grounds alone deserves careful consideration before being chosen. The additional complexities and opportunities for error means that simul-rapping unavoidably ups the odds of an accident, and one has to decide that the increased risk, which requires all kinds of increased vigilance, is worth the time savings.

Sometimes the answer is yes, but for me simul-rapping is a special technique for unusual situations rather than an everyday thing. For a few rappels on a relatively small crag? Never. It makes no sense to add any risk when time isn't critical. With beginners? Never. Too many complexities.

On long routes with daylight fading and a fatigued party, one has to try to be clear-headed about whether slowing everything down isn't actually the best idea, once you know you're coming home by headlamp light anyway. If weather is moving in, if the possibility of avoiding a descent in the dark has real advantages, or if there is some other pressing reason to hurry, then simul-rapping might well be the best option.

When you've been climbing as long as I have (54 years), one of the things you learn is that sooner or later, all your experience notwithstanding, you can still make the kind of basic mistakes one thinks of as noob errors. Sadly, climbing accident reports are full of examples of this. Of course experienced climbers are not supposed to make basic errors, climbing well is all about controlling the risks. But it can happen anyway, and your best hope is that either you are lucky, which we often are, or else you have enough redundancy in your practices to make single errors less critical.

From this perspective, making a regular practice of something with increased screw-up potential just doesn't seem like a good bet to me, but everyone makes their own choices in this business and then lives with the consequences.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
May 20, 2011 - 12:22pm PT
I've never done it but I've not done the sort of tower climbing where its utility might be truly useful, either.


Gym climber
May 20, 2011 - 12:22pm PT
Finally, here is a puzzle for you. Say you have a team of 3 rapping a route with rings/chains. Would you:
1. send one person down "solo" first, then 2 people simul.
2. send two people down simul first, then one person "solo".
3. bring a 3rd rope, so that all 3 could rap "simul".

4. Simulrap, but two people are on one of the lines, just like rapping with a pig (OK I've rapped with a pig, but I think there is some way to do it).

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 20, 2011 - 12:24pm PT
I ain't gonna do it unless it is a dire need situation.

To make that sort of thing standard practice? Not on my watch.

I have a good friend who was a guide for many years and swears by the EDK, but with me he respectfully avoids it, because of my own sense of what's right and my mental comfort.

But what do I know, I've only been climbing 36 years, and only have a hundred or so walls under my belt.

State of Mine
May 20, 2011 - 12:33pm PT
i have only done it in the needles of south dakota where there werenot too many other viable options. tricouni nail..
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
May 20, 2011 - 01:33pm PT
On descents off formations with no fixed anchors or any anchors at the top, I've rappelled off against a partner's weight before, but, I don't like the simul thing. I want them on the ground with me locked off, then I go.

Have done that a number of times. Works great. As long as the rope doesn't roll off... Yikes!
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
May 20, 2011 - 01:35pm PT
Often when you're in a hurry while rappelling, it's time to slow down.

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2011 - 02:09pm PT
hey karma - did i meet you at sugarloaf a couple of weeks ago? you and your climbing partner simul rapped dominion in awesome form and i asked you about it. at any rate, thanks for the tips. i've always wanted to simul rapping and now i have some tips to work with.

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2011 - 11:31pm PT
Addressing option 4: Not be a good option to rap with two people on one cord and one on the other. If you HAD to, then be sure it is a double rope rap and the duo is protected by the fatty knot through the rap rings. But it would seem very sketchy to have double the weight on one side. Triple the load on the anchor too. Recipe for a final ride.

Understand that this was not posted in an effort to convince others to simul rap. In fact I stress multiple times about knowing when NOT to simul rap. Very little info exists on this topic, and the point was to give pointers for anyone who had already decided to try so some measure of safety could be gleaned from my experience. I have been asked about our technique at least a dozen times.

I appreciate the constructive comments.

Trad climber
Back in the Gunks for the winter
May 21, 2011 - 12:52am PT
I have done a bit of counterbalance rappelling (Needles SD) instead of having to simul, since going of some of the towers means that you are going off opposite sides of the tower and are unable to see/communicate ideally. I like having my partner on the ground so I can confirm that they are set and ready before I employ them as my anchor.

In a simul rap scenario, one thought I had, in regard to making sure that one person does not go zinging up (and the other subsequently down) is that after unclipping from the anchor, (the lighter person would unclip first if there is a weight disparity) your daisy/PAS, etc would get clipped into your partner, ensuring that you would stay relatively close to eachother.


Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
May 21, 2011 - 01:25am PT
Some good info.

Mucci left his Parducci

Retrieved that bottle that my partner left unkown to me in spring of 09, 3rd time up the route.

The fact that you were unable to summit after multiple tries on that route, with a topo, leads me to believe you have no business offering advice on how to speed up rappels.

Many people have used my topo to aid them in a general direction up on the direct route. You are obviously not capable of finishing a moderate route with moderate routefinding.

Take your spew about "Afternoon Nap" and WOTWS and shove it.

Sounds like you just broke into the 5.7's, good luck with that simul rapping.


Edited a few choice words...


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 21, 2011 - 02:48am PT
I am always amazed at people who want to take a simple idea and make it complex. One of the tricks to staying alive in the sport of climbing is to make thing as simple as possible so you have less chance of screwing up.

One only has to look at the example last year of the death descending Sons/Serenity by two people trying to use two different and complex descending techniques. Keep it simple; stay alive.

Trad climber
Mountain View
May 21, 2011 - 10:52am PT
Well said Bruce. Ive climbed long enough to know that while their may
be faster ways to do things, they are often at a compromise. When it comes
to that, I never compromise.

Trad climber
On the road again!
May 21, 2011 - 11:08am PT
In 2006, we (Dave Goldstein and I) simul-rapped Time Wave Zero in Portrero Chico, which is a 23-pitch sport climb with bolted anchors spaced at 100-foot intervals. The anchors were fairly new, and good - we inspected them on the way up. We previously practiced simul-rapping together on other multi-pitch climbs at Portrero chico.
However, I did not repeat the climb and rappel it again by a different method to compare times! :-) Nor do I know the time it took, as both Dave's and my watches ironically broke and neither of us had a working watch on the route.
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