Rappel station

If the rappel station is composed of fixed protection points, that is, protection permanently placed in the rock, it is necessary to examine it carefully prior to loading, in order to determine whether the metal parts are rusty, the slings worn through or stretched out, etc. In case you have any doubts about the quality of the rappelling station it is good, if possible, to improve it with your own protection elements. A fixed rappelling station is most often a so-called rappelling ring, which is a solid piece of protection, usually a glued or mortared piton placed into a hole drilled in the rock, equipped at the end with a ring where the rope is threaded. However, other forms exist as well, for example a so-called pigtail, or chain fastened to the rock using bolts. Sometimes it can also be merely a common rock piton which has a metal ring in its loop. In the mountains a rappel station can also be formed by several different protection points close to each other, which are often “wildly” connected with multiple runners, into one of which you can place the rope you are rappelling down. Sometimes the trunk of a tree can also serve as a rappel station.

The metal rings of a rappel station through which the rope is threaded must not have any sharp edges, or bend the rope at a sharp angle. The radius of bending the rope should not be smaller than 5 mm. Sharp edges and bends in the rope can destroy it.

If the rappel station is formed with a sling, it must be pulled down slowly after rappelling! Friction between the rope and the sling can result in heating which can melt the rappelling sling. Anyone who then uses it for rappelling would be at risk of reducing the breaking strength of the rappelling sling.

Sometimes a person ends up in a situation when she must rappel from some protection placed in the rock which is not intended for this purpose, e.g. a chock with a metal wire loop, a bolt with a plate made of thin metal, a rock piton without a ring, etc. In such cases a carabiner must be placed into this protection which will remain there and which the climber will lose, or a sling can be similarly left there. If a climber would rather not lose any mountaineering equipment (either for financial or aesthetic reasons regarding the environment), there are several ways to rappel and then have the option of cleaning the rappel station.

Rappelling with a tripled rope

With this method the sling, ideally flat webbing, must be narrow enough to be threaded through the loop of a protection point without any difficulty (e.g. the eye of a bolt, rock piton, etc.), but at the same time it must have a high enough level of breaking strength in order to safely withstand the weight of a person with reserve. After rappelling the parts of the rope you have rappelled down are pulled down first, then the last section of rope connected to the sling is pulled down. With a pull it will slide out of the ring of the belay station. However, with this method it is only possible to rappel along a third of the length of the rope, therefore, if you have a 50 m rope, for example, then you can rappel in this manner only approx. 16 m.

Tripled rope.

Tripled rope.

Rappelling with an accessory cord

A method similar to the one indicated above, but instead of a third section of the rope leading up to the rappelling sling an accessory cord is used, which the climber pulls on in order to pull the rappelling sling down as well.

Rappelling with an accessory cord.

Rappelling with an accessory cord.

Rappelling on one strand of rope

A situation may occur in which it is necessary to rappel only on one strand of rope, but not on rope anchored at its end, which is permanently fixed to the anchor point. In other words, for it to be possible to rappel along one strand, but at the same time for it to be possible after finishing rappelling to pull the rope down for further use. Typically this can apply to users of rappel (belay) devices which are constructed for use on one strand of rope, e.g. semi-automatic belay devices such as the Grigri, Cinch, Click-up and more.

Another reason can be damage to the rope, for example. If during the course of a climb a damaged spot appears somewhere in the rope (e.g. the weave has begun to wear through) and you have to rappel along this rope, you can use this method of constructing a rappel station. You rappel along the healthy half of the rope, and you can use the damaged part only to pull the rope down.

This can be accomplished in the following manner. Thread the rope in the usual way through the ring of the rappelling station, but on one strand a runner is tied, equipped with a locking carabiner, where the second strand of rope is thread through this carabiner. You must rappel along the strand which is threaded through the carabiner! This strand of rope creates a closed loop together with the carabiner, which encircles the ring of the rappel station and therefore grips it. Meanwhile the second strand of rope hangs freely downward and serves for pulling the rope down after rappelling is finished. Be careful during execution not to accidentally switch the strands of the rope!

Rappelling station for rappelling on one strand of rope. Rappelling must be carried out on the strand of rope which is threaded through the carabiner (on the right in the figure, indicated with a green arrow); the second strand of rope is only used for pulling the rope down after rappelling is finished (on the left in the figure, indicated with a blue arrow).

Rappelling station for rappelling on one strand of rope. Rappelling must be carried out on the strand of rope which is threaded through the carabiner (on the right in the figure, indicated with a green arrow); the second strand of rope is only used for pulling the rope down after rappelling is finished (on the left in the figure, indicated with a blue arrow).

If you tie the runner with the carabiner in the middle of the rope using this method, you will once again have roughly half the length of the rope for rappelling, as with the typical method of rappelling. Therefore, if you have a 50 meter rope, you can even rappel on a strand of rope only 25 metres long.

More in e-book.

Title Part 3Mountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-09-3

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

For example U.S. store – link

Another countries – look on the page Download

See layout.

Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 3 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-14-7

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.