Double Rope Rappels?


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Trad climber
Orem, Utah
Nov 3, 2012 - 09:00pm PT
Simul-rapping with gri-gri's is a very bad idea. The inside of the gri-gri gets very hot very quickly. It is steel inside which does not conduct heat away quickly. There is also not a good thermal path to the outside walls of the gri-gri. Lowering a heavy person quickly through steel chain links can also melt your rope. I have been there when rope sheaths have been melted through in both of the above scenarios.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 3, 2012 - 09:27pm PT
Tell you what, Guy, if you do make it down this way, I'll give you a guided tour of the best local crags.

All I ask for is a toprope on anything hard, as I haven't been climbing much for a couple years.

I hope to be at Nooblandia, that's right, tomorrow, possibly even simulrapping.

Eagle Peak
Eagle Peak
Credit: The Warbler
Captain...or Skully

Nov 3, 2012 - 09:49pm PT
Noo-Blandia? ;-)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 3, 2012 - 10:40pm PT
Simul rap only when there is no other option, never to save time.

Nov 3, 2012 - 11:32pm PT
I don't do it often but it is a good technique to have in the quiver.
If u went to Potrero & didn't u probably could have done a lot more climbing and a lot less descending in the dark.

Tie the ends of the rope together.
Use a Grigri/backup.
Pay attention, sigh-moe-rapping doesn't kill people, mistakes do.
Sometimes time is safety.
Pretty much every situation in climbing is circumstantial, a blanket statement saying "simul rapping is dangerous" is just ridiculous.
Setting up a toprope is inherently more dangerous IMO.
It's not usually techniques that are dangerous but often how they are executed.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Nov 3, 2012 - 11:45pm PT
Pay attention, sigh-moe-rapping doesn't kill people, mistakes do.

Sure, but the problem seems to be the high consequences of small mistakes on an otherwise unfamiliar procedure.

Tying the rope ends together is a grand idea. So is attaching yourself to your partner and both using some sort of autolocking backup (whether it be gri-gri, friction knot below, friction knot above ...).

Unless you take some measures, the "mistake" that kills people (perhaps both) can be a minor lapse of attention while doing something unfamiliar trying to save time.

It's always a personal choice...

I can fly down a single-person-rap when I want to -- I learned to rap before I learned to climb. If both partners do that, it's just a quicker version of something they're already familiar with. There's no additional risk of doing something that they do only once-in-a-while which requires a whole different set of safety measures for mitigating the risk.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 4, 2012 - 12:50am PT
Here's some guesses about speed savings for multiple 150 foot rappels.

Each person raps separately:

Threading device: Each person takes 10 secs = 20 secs

Pace: 5 ft/sec, (brisk walking pace, about 3.4 mph) each person takes 30 secs = 60 secs

Getting off rappel: each person takes 5 secs = 10 secs

Total time: 90 secs.

Simul rap:

Threading device: Each person takes 10 secs = 10 secs.

Pace 3 ft/sec (because of extra caution, slow walking pace, about 2 mph): each person takes 50 secs = 50 secs.

Getting off rappel: each person takes 5 secs = 5 secs.

Total time: 65 secs. Time saved: 25 secs per rappel. Let's call it half a minute.

So over twenty rappels, you save ten minutes. If the simul-rappers don't slow down as I suggested, they could save fifteen minutes instead of ten.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2012 - 01:02am PT
man, I'm totally amazed this is still a point of contention as it seems very clear that most people are against it on principle.

Something about trusting your life to your partner and all the other bits seem to give people the heebeegeebees.

Which I can understand.

Every time a partner lowers me off the top of TR, I feel the same way...I mean, what if a rock hits them in the head and I go plummeting? My life is in their hands...

I figured this thread would have died by post 25 at least...


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 4, 2012 - 01:08am PT
ok rgold

what if the probability of a FU on each rap for one person is, say P,

the probability that you FU on a single rap is P
the probability that either you or your partner FU is 2P

you have twice the chance of being involved in an FU... if the probability remains the same.

In all likelihood, the probability of an individual FU is actually greater, in my opinion, on a simul-rap since: 1) it is not a commonly used technique, 2) single rope raps are also unusual and have to be treated somewhat differently (use two 'biners instead of one...) 3) you have to do something very different at the end of the rap than you usually do (that is, not unweight the rope before your partner does).

In usual risk analysis, the risk of not simul-rapping has to be higher than the risk of simul-rapping for it to make any sense.

I've done it, late (a bad time since you're rushing... and it was my first time), to clean routes and because we had to move the rap station by a pendulum over to a horn, where you couldn't get the ropes back to the second (in retrospect we probably could have done that differently!).

Part of the tool kit, but it there would have to be a really good reason to do it.. to overcome the increased risk.

In my opinion...

and 20 raps... geeze, can't we just walk down?
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Nov 4, 2012 - 01:11am PT
Something about trusting your life to your partner and all the other bits seem to give people the heebeegeebees.

I don't think it's the trusting your life to the partner that gives people the heebegeebies. Anyone who climbs with a human belayer would be silly to say they're not trusting their life to their partner.

Seems to me the bit that gives people the heebegeebies is the thought that the time savings are small enough that less-risky alternatives are a viable option.

If I simul-rapped, it'd be for fun...

I figured this thread would have died by post 25 at least...

Some folks like to analyze & discuss things...

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 4, 2012 - 01:18am PT
LS, it isn't about trust or lack of trust partner at all. Simul-rapping is more complicated and presents more ways for something to go wrong. In addition, when something does go wrong, it is more likely to kill both climbers. So, RyanD notwithstanding, there is an objective sense in which it is more dangerous than ordinary rappelling---the probability of a failure times the expected number of fatalities is just plain higher, and there is nothing anyone can say or do to change that. (See Ed's comment above as well, posted while I was typing this.)

Which doesn't mean there might not be reasons to choose simul-rapping anyway. Climbers make choices of objectively riskier procedures all the time, usually because they feel that the additional risks are more than offset by the extra speed their choices confer, but also because they are confident that they can control the extra risk factors.

The history of rappelling and lowering accidents suggests that confidence might be illusory, however, and my guesstimates above suggest the time savings from simul-rapping are likely to be pretty insignificant.

That still leaves some situations that might call for simul-rapping, like the absence of anchors at the top of a pinnacle, and if you want to do it for fun in casual circumstances, the heightened sense of caution and lack of stress would be in your favor.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2012 - 01:29am PT
Damned if I don't love it when you guys all tell me I'm wrong...

hee hee

dunno if it's the way you say it, but it makes me smile!




Nov 4, 2012 - 01:54am PT
Great points as usual RGold & Ed. Having both dabbled with Simon rapping I can see how u guys formed your opinions & they bring some good thoughts to consider. The one point I don't entirely agree upon is the speed argument. It is close to twice as fast if done efficiently by a competent party who is confident with the technique & has done it before(remember we'd be silly to pop the simul rap cherry in a storm or epic situation). Another factor to consider is that when simul rapping, if u are competent, there is 2 people & 2 sets of eyes to dbl check the system, mistakes should be easily noticed, especially if dbl checks are done (read: competent). I think many who do not approve of this technique have never used it, that seems pretty obvious from the replies by many here so I can't really accept your opinions as being anything close to valuable on the topic. I can attest to the efficiency & time savings having rapped a route one at a time & having simul rapped the same route on a different occasion. It is faster, quite a bit faster. I'm not saying that we should all sumo rap on every single rap we do but I'm glad I have the confidence to use this technique in the right situation.

Next time your at the crag or gym build an anchor 6' off the ground & try for yourself.

Edit- Ed in places like Potrero sometimes 20 single rope raps off bolted stations is the only way! I'll usually takes the walk offs any chance I can since I think any type of rappel is best avoided if possible:-)

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 4, 2012 - 10:42am PT
Craig Leubben, in his book on rappelling, calls simul-rapping "super-dangerous."

An experienced voice on simul-rapping is that of Will Gadd, who had a long post about rappelling on his blog with a lot of comments (full disclosure---I was one of the responders). A relevant quote is

Donít simul-rap and otherwise get tricky on your raps until youíve really, really figured your systems out, and even then simul-rapping doesnít generally speed things up much...I did a lot of simul-rapping over the years but have pretty much given up on it in the last decade, itís open to problems unless so many control measures are put in that it becomes very slow. Very, very rarely is simul-rapping justified by expediency...

Here is an interesting comment about speed from a Time Wave Zero climber

We do not simultaneously rappel anymore . Since this climb we have compared the time it takes us to rappel one at a time verses simultaneous rappelling. We actually rappel significantly faster rappelling one at a time than we do simu rapping and it is a hell of a lot safer.

The reason simul-rapping doesn't speed things up as much as people think is that the actual descending from one anchor to the next is a relatively small part of the rappelling process. Most of the time is spent at the anchors, in untanging snarls, and in freeing hangups, and these time elements are the same regardless of the rappel method. Even halving the actual descending times won't make that much difference in the total descent time, because you are halving a relatively small fraction of the total time expenditure. My guesstimates earlier suggest this as do the quotes above.

Of course, if a simul-rapping party gets down fifteen minutes ahead of a conventional party, they think they've gone a lot faster, but the time savings are really pretty minimal.

On the other side or the coin, here is one of the better arguments for simul-rapping I've seen, but note that the claims are for communication, not speed.

IMO, in less than optimal conditions -- windy, rainy, cold, dehydrated, injured-but-conscious partner -- or any other time when communication is imperative and yet not a foregone conclusion, keeping the partners together has substantial value...I think simulrapping may actually be safer than solo.

I can think one time in which my wife and I were rapping from Chrimson Chrysalis in RR, a notorious rope eater. I won't get into the details how, unless you really want me to, but I managed to get the rope stuck about thirty feet under me. I was at the anchor below, she was at the one above and I was unable to give her slack to hook up her device. I was also unable to communicate with her due to high winds and drizzle. And we couldn't see each other. The weather was obviously in a downward spiral and it took me some time to get down to free the rope. The whole time I had trouble concentrating -- all I could think of was my wife alone and confused, not knowing what was happening and unable to get down to me to find out. It was one of the most terrifying moments in my climbing life. Had we been simulrapping to eliminate the communication problem from the get go, we would have avoided a lot of terror. Luckily, neither us compunded the situation by committing further errors.

And here's a previous Supertopo thread on simul-rapping in which the OP claims a 45% time reduction (which I don't believe, but I could be wrong too).
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 4, 2012 - 10:51am PT
Pretty funny, when LS and I talked about this recently (at an unfamiliar rap station where I couldn't see the ground) I mentioned that most of the climbers I knew would not endorse or do much simul-rapping, I also added:

"rgold does a good job at detailing all the ways to get the chop" or words to that effect.

Didn't I, LS? :-)

I get no heebeejeebees when certain partners lower me off routes - absolute trust, proven.


Social climber
Nov 4, 2012 - 11:05am PT
There may well be
Other techniques/skills to become more proficient and efficient with
Thus negating
The 'need' to simul-rap
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 4, 2012 - 11:23am PT
Is there a thread about ropes getting stuck? That's always a good rock climbing story.

Nov 4, 2012 - 11:14pm PT
Oh GOD no!

I feel a Locker graphic coming on.

Trad climber
Nov 5, 2012 - 10:36am PT
"IMO, in less than optimal conditions -- windy, rainy, cold, dehydrated, injured-but-conscious partner"

These may be the times simul-rapping is most dangerous. When you're cold, injured, rushed, panicked, and not thinking too clearly.

"I managed to get the rope stuck about thirty feet under me. I was at the anchor below, she was at the one above and I was unable to give her slack to hook up her device. I was also unable to communicate with her due to high winds and drizzle."

Simul-rapping isn't the solution to this problem. In very windy conditions the rope ends should be clipped to the harness. Additionly the rope may be belayed out by the partner above or you can just take all the rope with you. This would prevent getting the rope stuck, esp. on a "a notorious rope eater".

Trad climber
Nov 5, 2012 - 10:55am PT
Believe it or not, I know something about rope systems, and such, and can think for myself having taken in input from others. Thus I have always done. Appreciate your advice.

Actually, it was a joke. Obviously not a very effective one.

I don't have any strong opinions on simos one way or the other.

Aside from my commitment to phonetic spelling. heh

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