Double Rope Rappels?


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Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 1, 2012 - 05:20pm PT
I know this has been discussed before, but it's been a bit, and there's a different mix of taco heads, so I'd love to take the pulse on this subject.

Double rope Raps. I might be using the wrong phrase, but I'm talking about when two people rap down on single strands at the same time. If I should be using a different phrase, please let me know!

Recently, I found out that a partner, who has been climbing longer than I've been able to eat with a spoon, has never done a double rope rappel. This kinda blew my mind, because I've done more than 5 and it's weird to think that lil newb me has collected experiences that my partner hasn't.

I think that it's definitely not appropriate for every rap, or even most raps. It's definitely not safer. It's faster, but not by much...maybe a third faster?

However, when it's the right kind of rap it can be a LOT of FUN...and JUST enough faster to beat the ticking clock.

I'd never compromise safety for fun, especially as raps are inherently freaky. However, when the safety factor allows for some fun, I'm always exceedingly tempted...and on occasion, even give in to temptation.

So... thoughts?



Edit: SIMUL RAP!!! I knew I had it wrong, sorry head is stupid...ha, so who wants to climb with a stupid climber? HAHAHA! Now if I can just figure out how to change the title...

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:23pm PT
Unnecessary risk..but what the hell so is climbing. If you and a partner can do it safely why not if you feel like it. Done it a few times but not much point to it really.

It has however been a part of a recent tragic accident in Canada I beleive.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:28pm PT
Canmore fatal simul-rappelling accident:

Not worth the risk in my view, so I never do it.

Has been discussed often, as it is a potential risk-return tradeoff.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:29pm PT
I've never done it (maybe once? not sure), and can't really see a use case where the time matters that much. Maybe in a burgeoning storm with rising risk of avalanche or something. But just to avoid rain or darkness or snow flakes, it wouldn't be worth it to me.

If I saw someone else doing it, it wouldn't bother me and I wouldn't comment on it. If my partner asked, I might be receptive depending on the quality of the rap anchors and ropes and presence/absence of sharp edges.

Trad climber
SeKi, California
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:29pm PT
Rapping double, even though its alittle faster, is totally not happening for me! Rapping anytime is fricking dangerous when you have to rely on an anchor with your body weight.

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:30pm PT
my pulse just quickened.

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:30pm PT

I've never once simul rappelled, have never seen it done or had it suggested by a partner, and I've bailed off with lightning blasting all around me, in blizzards, at night, and a variety of other terrifying scenarios. I doubt it would save that much time because of all the extra double checking and general unease doing non-standard stuff in deteriorating conditions.

Trying some new trick while things are going south is just asking for the reaper.


Trad climber
Nevada City, CA
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
Only when the girl is really cute.....

Nov 1, 2012 - 05:46pm PT
Guess you guys have never been to El would be there for days going down those rigs one at a time...or any of the Austrian 20+ pitch bolted everything there is a time and place...
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 1, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
It's useful on new terrain because it allows you to discuss anchor location options with your partner. Also fun on new terrain to share the first preview with your partner. I only do it off of two big stainless bolts, or some other absolutely bomber anchor, and with a trustworthy partner.


Nov 1, 2012 - 06:03pm PT
Generally more dangerous, however, not having a partner rap down from above a very loose, chossy slope while you are down there waiting for them and praying that the blocks keep missing you can have some cachet and appeal.

It gets you down faster as well, thinking of the 14 double rope raps off the apron as the sun sets kind of thing. Some of the danger can be mitigated if you quickly clip yer daisy or a sling to your partner.

I've done it a few handfuls of Kevin says, solid gear and partner is a prerequisite:-)

Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2012 - 06:05pm PT
Warbler, you are the first person to include the word 'fun' in your response...

guess it's too scary to really be fun?

Been a long while since I've done one, and have no idea when I'd be able to do another.

But I won't forget the times I did, with the setting sun silhouetting my buddy, us making comments about rock features, the climb, and discussing if we should shift the ends of the rope (already hitting the ground) to the flat boulder to the right, or the big ledge with the last sun hitting it.



Trad climber
the middle of CA
Nov 1, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
The best is when you're right next to your partner and try to tickle (or punch) them into letting go. It'a called rope tickles, fun game...

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:07pm PT
did it once. it's a novelty rappel. I won't do it again except to show off that I can do a novelty act
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:17pm PT
If you're bailing off a lightening storm, I'd vote for using failsafe methods that you normally use. The last thing I'd do in an emergency is try a shortcut technique to save time. It would probably just result in an accident instead. Go slow, concentrate, remain calm, recheck everything one more time. If it's fun to do, then I guess go ahead and have fun, but I don't think it's a great idea to do this in an emergency.

Yosemite Valley, CA
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:29pm PT
I've done it plenty of times, mostly when I'm trying to get out of people's way. Like say you and another party topout a cliff at the same time, and the routes share a common rap line. If we're going first, we'll simul the first couple raps just to get some space between us so we're not holding up the other party.

It also saves time when you're looking at a lot of raps, especially if you're a party of 3. With a party of 3, you can do it so two simul and one raps normal and it's no more dangerous than everyone rapping individually but only takes as long as a normal party of 2.

And as someone already mentioned it's also a useful trick if you're descending loose terrain (though you still have to pull the ropes which is generally more likely to knock off sh#t than your partner rapping above you). I've actually never done it for that purpose.

It's sort of like simulclimbing. It's not something you want to always do, but it has it's place and it's time for a party that knows what they're doing. And yeah, bailing in an electrical storm isn't the ideal situation to be trying it out for the first time. It's also best with thicker ropes, rapping on a single 8.2 is pretty sketch (not because the rope would cut, but because of the reduced friction with your belay device).
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:36pm PT
Preview?? The shame! damn.....

At least somebody noticed that

It IS fun, lady S, leaping and bounding side by side down an untouched palete of stone, sharing the experience of touching things that have never felt a human hand...

A fine last experience before plummeting into the void

Jim Henson's Basement
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:37pm PT
To clarify:

Double rope rappel = one person rappelling on two full-length ropes tied together.
(next anchors or the ground is farther than 30 meters away so you need 2 ropes).

Simul-rap = two people rappelling at the same time on two ends of the same rappel rope(s).

Simul-rapping is faster but definitely adds a lot more risk to what is already a risky part of climbing. I give it a pass unless extenuating circumstances call for it.

I've only ever done it once out of desperation. It was the only way to get off some stupid obsure dummy dome out in Wonderland that had no descent. We sort of had to tension and rap off opposite sides of the formation since it was basically just round on top with no features. SKEERD!!!

Gym climber
Nov 1, 2012 - 07:41pm PT
Guess you guys have never been to El Potrero...

Well actually...

Before going to EPC, a buddy told us "you gotta simul-rap!" My partner and I did one rap that way, then said "fug it," and did normal raps for the rest of our trip. I suppose it could save time, but the risk:reward is a little too great for my blood.

Once the first goes down and gets the ropes to the belay, it only takes a couple of minutes for the second to rap the pitch. 20 pitches going up is at most 10 going down. So, you can save maybe 1/2 an hour, if you're slick, by simul-rapping a 20 pitch route? Nahh...

Nov 1, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
I've done it a bunch canyoneering... never climbing.

Generally pointless. Sometimes fun.
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