Cleaning on Lower

Since rappelling is one of the leading causes of serious climbing accidents, lowering is becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate way of cleaning single pitch sport climbs.

However with increasing acceptance also comes responsibility for climbers to know how to lower properly to preserve fixed hardware as well as for their own safety.

The following is a simple guide to lowering off the chains at Long Dong. Because of issues with seaside corrosion, fixed anchors here use sets of 4 to 6 marine grade stainless steel quicklinks. While there are no rappel rings, the quicklinks are large enough to do lower offs easily and safely.


  • Make sure your belayer knows you are going to lower so they will keep you ON BELAY the whole time
  • Lowering off should only be done on anchors with chains. If the anchors are just bolts, rappelling is the only accepted method of cleaning
  • You will need a locking carabiner
  • If you don’t understand the terms used in this article, you should NOT be doing this

The Procedure

Step 1 – At the Anchors, Clip In Direct

clip in

At the anchors, clip one quickdraw normally and clip the other one to your belay loop so you’re in direct. You are now both in direct and on belay.

Step 2 – Pull 1m of rope

pull slack

Verify that you are in direct securely and then ask for SLACK!  Pull about 1m (leg length) of rope out. This should be from the side closest to your tie-in knot.

Step 3 – Thread the links

thread bight

Thread a bight of rope through the quicklinks using the slack you just pulled. It’s best that this bight should go through the lower links for the rope to run smoothly. This mean you may have to move your quickdraws up a link.

Step 4 – Overhand or Figure 8


Make an overhand  on a bight or figure 8 on a bight. Try to keep the knot fairly small as this will help you check your systems later.

Step 5 – Clip the Knot and LOCK IT!

clip bight

Clip that knot with a locking carabiner to your belay loop and LOCK IT.  This effectively replaces your tie in knot, which is now redundant.

Step 6 – Untie and Pull it Through

pull thread

Untie your tie-in knot and pull it through.

Step 7 – Check systems(Take)


Visually check you are in direct and on belay, and then ask for a take to weight the belay and verify that everything is good.

Step 8 – Lower and Clean

Lower when you feel confident everything is good to go.

Important Notes

  • Using a PAS or a sling to go in direct is a great alternative to using the quickdraw
  • Keeping the knot smaller and using something longer to go in direct helps you verify your belay at the end.
  • Make sure you and your belayer are in sync on what you will do at the anchors
  • It doesn’t hurt to bring a personal anchoring device and a rappelling device just in case the anchors don’t have chains or you have a miscommunication with your belayer


Disclaimer: This article is intended as an introduction to cleaning on lower for experienced climbers who know how to clean on rappel. Online climbing information is no substitute for professional climbing instruction. TaiwanRocks holds no claim to the accuracy of this article.


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