Double Rope Rappels?


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scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
Nov 2, 2012 - 11:41am PT
If you're going down opposite sides of a pillar or needle or blob,
you can reduce communication issues by descending one at a time.
first climber can either be lowered or rappel on a sufficient length of rope,
using other climber as anchor.
On the ground, he will be the anchor while the second climber rappels.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Nov 2, 2012 - 11:43am PT
One person at a time rappel so there's someone to clean up the mess, call rescue, run in circles scream and shout, etc.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:06pm PT
Crazy story, Bryan. What was your partner's ropeburn like?

Mountain climber
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:22pm PT
Rapping a snow bollard in the Palisades was the scariest thing I've ever done & only did it because we had no choice.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:30pm PT
In an emergency, if I thought it would help, I'd do it, as a matter of course, it's too dangerous.

Trad climber
Green Honda Element
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:55pm PT
I simul rap all the time! If you are on a solid anchor (like 2 shiny beefy bolts) and both partners are totally tuned into what's going on, I feel its totally safe. I also feel that it is significantly faster than rapping one at a time. Its a good idea for both partners to have an auto-locking device or one of those little prussics around the leg loop. Always tie knots in the end of your line. With a good partner, it is so convenient and fast.
It goes something like this:
1. Always feed the thicker rope through the anchors.
2. I prefer to always use the same side every time (if Im on the skinny rope I am on the skinny rope every time. This minimizes confusion as to who can unweight first.)
3. Both partners rig devices and check each other.
4. Ready? Ready. 3, 2, 1, weight.
5. Rapping. Skinny rope person slightly ahead of thick rope (remember, thick rope is threaded)
6. Skinny rope person reaches anchor and tethers in. (skinny rope guy can unweight without effecting the guy on the thick rope because of the knot.)
7. Thick rope guy arrives at anchor and tethers in.
8. Working together to set up the next rap begins as soon as both people are tethered.
9. Repeat many, many, times.

Maybe slightly more confusing the very first time you do it but it is SO FAST. And I really think it is safe, the added benefit of being in communication the whole time is awesome. I only do this with partners I know well and trust, typically I only climb with partners I know well and trust.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:55pm PT
I've done it a few times, mostly to get off a spire that didn't have a top anchor. And, only with a partner I really really trust.

Had some friends have a close call when one was chattin' at a rap anchor, and, the other took off, got to the bottom, and removed the rope from his rappel device. Top person leaned back and plummetted. Guy at the anchor stopped the fall, but, with serious rope burns to his hand.

There was a recent accident here in Big Cottonwoood, just a couple weeks back, where some guys simul rapped and one lost control of the rappel. Lucky they weren't hurt worse, but, one ended up in the ER fairly busted up.

Even on longer routes, where I've had to do 15 in a row, we didn't simul rap. Usually on fairly skinny twins, too, and, with any tangles...its a cluster enough solo on the ropes.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 2, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
All that said? I'll do a simulrap with you LS, as I told you I would :-)

We will have fun, laugh at each other and take some great pictures. Hah!

And I won't let go of the rope, either.

I've done, like many here have many times over, done some utterly sickening rappels, slinging cow pie quality blobs and anchoring with gossamer and spit. More times than a father should admit, I was last down and pulled all but one piece so there would be enough sh#t to get us to the bottom.

I don't like it. But I've done it.

Dashing in front of a fast moving train in an emergency is one thing. Doing so for fun, another thing entirely.

Hmmm, I've hopped trains for fun too. Hypocrisy is not my hobgoblin however.


Nov 2, 2012 - 01:39pm PT
I never did what is decribed, but rapped with someone on my back. On vertical terrain it's easier because the carried person's weight is taken over by the rope, but it's tough on less than vertical. This was during an improvised rescue drill, and I know it's not what the topic is about. Just couldn't help it.

Trad climber
Nov 2, 2012 - 01:53pm PT
I'll do a simulrap with you LS

how to put this delicately?

well, the one simo i did that really terrified me was with someone who was about half my body weight.


Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 2, 2012 - 02:05pm PT
Heh, I was gonna let this thread go off the first page, but y'alls keep bringing it back, heh!

All the simul raps I've done, my partner has considerably outweighed me...So it's not impossible, it was just very important to me...and one of my partners...that we stayed side by side. Part of the pre-requisite.

That being said, I'm a heavy pudgy kinda girl, so don't just assume that you guys all outweigh climbers like myself!


weight is a factor, but it's not a big deal as it's cracked up to be...especially for a heavyweight like myself!


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 2, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
Thanks klk. 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.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 2, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
Yeah Kerwin. In case of major weight difference, the heavier person should rappel on the strand that is blocked from moving by the knot. Or, if the rappel is on a single rope rather than a knotted pair, the rigging used for rappelling with a tag line should be used to keep the heavier person from pulling rope through the anchor.

Note, however, that in the case of knotted-together ropes, this interferes with the efficient threading of the rappel when doing multiple rappels. Ralphy's procedure has the same efficiency deficit. This diminishes the overall speed effect, which is the primary reason to simul-rap.

Another possibility for major weight differences is to link the two climbers with a long sling.

It seems that the biggest danger in rappelling generally comes from complacency born of the routine nature of the activity. Make simul-rapping routine rather than occasional and you add its additional danger points to the inattention risk pool. At least as a special-use activity, you'll be more scared, as you should be...

Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 2, 2012 - 02:18pm PT
Cheers rgold for such clear and easily understood clarification of the factors involved.

It's wonderful

and this might make me a geek, but it makes me smile!

And...I'll say, if I ever do a simul-rap again, I won't forget my camera ;)!

or I'll just have Dingus handle the camera, since we all know it never really leaves his hand...hee hee! Either way, goal achieved...

Stay safe so you can enjoy the beer at the bottom folks!


the Fet

Nov 2, 2012 - 03:35pm PT
Isn't simul-rapping mandatory on some routes in the Needles of South Dakota?

I haven't been there for years, but there were some route that you had to just drape the rope over the top of a spire and carefully simul-rap. That's the way real hard men do it, not you pussy Americans of today.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 2, 2012 - 04:18pm PT
Yeah, we rapped off a bunch of pinnacles that way BITD. The goal was to leave everything as pristine as possible, so no ugly slings on top and no bolted rappel anchors if it could possibly be avoided. Those who followed were either "softer men" or lacked the imagination or interest to figure out how people had been getting down without leaving anything.

That said, simul-rapping was not ideal, because afterwards you still had to drag a rope over the top of the pinnacle, and given the highly abrasive Needles rock, your ropes wouldn't last long at all. So we started bringing some extra ropes, which we left on the ground during the climb, and then employed as follows:

One person would rap to the ground, if necessary using the other person as an anchor. A second rope was then pulled up, a loop tied in it with rap rings installed, and the other end of this second rope was anchored on the ground by the climber already down. The second climber threaded a rappel rope through the rings, rapped off the other side of the pinnacle, and pulled their rope. The anchor rope could then be pulled over the top of the pinnacle, there being just a short piece with the loop hanging down the opposite side.

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Nov 2, 2012 - 05:28pm PT
JMO, but why add one more risk to the already risky business of climbing?

It seems to me, more climbers are killed, being in a rush and trying to
save time.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 2, 2012 - 05:52pm PT
Kevin.... I agree 100% on both counts.

Bottom line for me is, whatever it takes to make great route.

Hope to get down to SD this winter/spring, friends tell me its all good.

And to answer to OP.....

Only time I simu rap is when there is no anchor, you go down one side I go the other.... Rob Raker style.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Nov 2, 2012 - 06:00pm PT
Bunch of madatory, anchorless rappels at Pinnacles.

You may or may not be in earshot of your partner.

This technique is going to be in the next outdoor climbing class...


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.
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