Backing up a Rappel Part 2: Setting up an Autoblock

As outlined in the first “Backing up a Rappel” post, Rappeling is a decievingly dangerous aspect of climbing, with rappeling accidents causing  disproportionate deaths in not only new, but experienced climbers.

One of the main ways to backup the rappel from the climber side is a friction knot. There are different ways to do this but this video from Peak Mountain guides shows one of the current best  known ways to hook up a friction knot rappel backup.

This is NOT a rappel lesson and there is no way that you should be doing a rappel without qualified instruction from a professional. This article and the video included are supplements, not replacements for qualified training.

Important notes about this method

As always, even with an autoblock backup you still need to practice basic rappelling safety:

  • Tie stopper knots (a double fisherman is the standard) in the end of the rope so you cannot rappel off them.
  • Check that both ends of the rope reach the ground! Do a visual inspection and have a partner on the ground confirm it.
  • Test your rappel system by weighting it with your body weight(or even more by jerking around) before you trust your life to it.

We recommend even if you use an autoblock backup to have a belayer on the ground give you a fireman’s belay.

Once learned, Autoblocks are simple to setup, but if you still find them a hassle, some newer belay devices such as the Mammut Smart Alpine and Climbing Technology’s Alpine Up offer built in rappel backups which can make rappelling safer yet easier. These are not always foolproof so read the instructions carefully and supplement with a fireman’s belay.

Disclaimer:  If you had trouble understanding this post or the terminology used, chances are you shouldn’t be rappelling. Please  find qualified instruction from your local rock climbing gym or guide.

Climbing is dangerous. You are responsible for your own safety. Please get advice and practice climbing techniques with professional guides or experienced, trustworthy climbers before trusting your life to something you read off the internet.

Source: Chockstone “Backing up an Abseil” ,  Traditional Mountaineering -”How do I Self-belay my rappels?”

Backing up a Rappel Part 1: Fireman’s Belay

This climbing season, over 4 climbing deaths in North America have been recorded due to rappelling accidents

Each of these cases could have almost certainly been prevented if some basic safety precautions were taken in regards to rappelling:

  • Tie stopper knots (a double fisherman is the standard) in the end of the rope so you cannot rappel off them.
  • Check that both ends of the rope reach the ground! Do a visual inspection and have a partner on the ground confirm it.
  • Test your rappel system by weighting it with your body weight(or even more by jerking around) before you trust your life to it.
  • Backup your rappel

One of the simplest methods of backing up the rappel is the fireman’s belay, which ideally should be combined with another method built into the rappel system, such as an autoblock.

Fireman’s Belay

 

The Fireman’s belay, seen here illustrated by Zion Mountain School, is a simple way of backing up a rappel off of a single pitch sport route.

The Procedure

(This is NOT a climbing or rappel lesson and there is no way that you should be doing a rappel without qualified instruction from a professional. This article  is meant to supplement, not replace qualified training.)

  • A 2nd climber stays on the ground monitoring the rappeling climber while holding both strands of the rope the climber is rappelling off of.
  • If the rappeller loses control of the rappel, the climber on the ground can pull on the strands, halting the fall of the climber.  It is essential for the belayer on the ground to pay close attention to the descending climber.
  • The belayer on the ground should be holding the rope loosely so that the rappel is not slowed down, but there shouldnt be much slack in the system because they need to be able to quickly pull the strands tight to halt the rappelling climber’s descent.

The benefits of the fireman’s belay are its simplicity and it requiring no additional equipment. It also is a check that both ends of the rappel rope reach the ground, since the belayer on the ground needs to hold both strands of rope in his hand. For these reasons, it’s a method we think should be used whenever possible.

The fireman’s belay is effective but is not foolproof – it should be used in conjunction with other safe rappelling practices.

Disclaimer: If you had trouble understanding this post or the terminology used, chances are you shouldn’t be rappelling. Please  find qualified instruction from your local rock climbing gym or guide.

Climbing is dangerous. You are responsible for your own safety. Please get advice and practice climbing techniques with professional guides or experienced, trustworthy climbers before trusting your life to something you read off the internet.

Source: Chockstone “Backing up an Abseil” 

Pulley Injuries – Rest? or … Climb?

Now you’ve done it — you pulled too many crimpers, hit the fingerboard too hard, or pulled too hard on the mono and now you’ve tweaked your way to a tendon injury. What now?

Conventional climbing wisdom is that you should rest until you’re 100% Recovered. This is actually not correct – recent research and anecdotal evidence from climbers in the field indicate that once the intial major healing period is over, a form of active recovery promotes much better recovery than completely layoff.

Read the Full Article at Dave Macleod’s Blog

Dave Macleod is an established UK Climber and Climbing Coach well respected in the community. He runs a well known climbing blog.

Slopers – How To Guide

Slopers! From the big Red Blobs at the former LZS to the new Sun Sloper at Xinyi Bouldering gym, these big round holds confound many new climbers and even quite a few veterans.

 

In this oldie but goodie, Steven Jeffrey shows us the secrets to Sloped Climbing:

 

Source: Picture – Xinyi Bouldering Gym, Video – ClimbX Media

Sport Climbing Basics – Clipping

Just getting into sport climbing and having trouble nailing the clip?

Mick Pearson from KAF Adventures shows his method and reminds us about some safety aspects of clipping.

This video is intended as a supplement and not a substitute for in-person training from a professional.

Disclaimer: Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity and you are responsible for your own safety.