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need rappel advice
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By Jason Krug
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 21, 2011
Rappelling down.  Valeries book area.  Promised land

I am a newbie. Seems like every time I set up a toprope, get fixed in with an ATC device, with a back-up autoblock, and rappel off the top I start having problems with my rope getting twisted. The rope often overlaps on my device. What are some techniques to get a clean rappel in without the rope twisting


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By Josh Kornish
Sep 21, 2011
The Roach

I'm not sure I understand exactly what is happening...

If you are rapping on a brand new rope and did not uncoil it correctly many times the rope will be extremely "kinky". If this is the case it may just take time for your rope to work out the kinks


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 21, 2011
smiley face

It is a pita when the the device and hitch are almost next to each other. One thing you could try is cow-tailing your rap device by using some type of sling/cord extension off of your harness. This does offer you a little bit more room to untwist the rope.


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Sep 21, 2011
Me scaring years off my mom's life

You might be having problems getting clipped in right. Are you clipping in while looking out over the rappel and then turning around to rappel? If your rope is consistently getting wrapped over itself that might be the problem. Try clipping in while facing the same way that you're going to rappel so that you can't screw it up. Once you get familiar with how the device and rope should look then you can start clipping in and turning around. And if, as it sounds, you're just doing some single-pitch practice rappels, you may want to reconsider using an autoblock. Easy raps are where you ought to get comfortable with your technique, friction, and speed. Save the autoblock for sketchy situations.


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By Jason Krug
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 21, 2011
Rappelling down.  Valeries book area.  Promised land

It is a new rope. I followed a couple of guidebooks on how to uncoil and care for the rope when you first get it to try to minimize kinking but I am a noob and this is my first rope...so it is hard to say if my execution was right . AH the pita affect. I usually set my autoblock close to my device so this also may be affecting it. I will try changing the proximity of my hitch next time at the crag. Thanks for the advice much appreciated!


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By Jason Krug
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 21, 2011
Rappelling down.  Valeries book area.  Promised land

Austin, thanks for the tip. Now that Im thinking about it I often am not facing the direction im rapping off when I am setting up. Thanks for the advice on not using a autoblock for single pitches. I guess as a beginner I feel I should take every precaution I can to backup myself.


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By Evan1984
Sep 21, 2011

Hey Jason,

The cow tail advice will probably solve your problem.

I will say that I have to strongly disagree with not using an auto-blok backup on single pitches. The auto block is NOT to keep you from rapping off your tails (that's what stopper knots are for...you are tying stopper knots, correct?). They are to stop your descent in the event that you cannot control your brake hand (KO'd by rock, seizure, waving at the cute girl, untangling the mess you made tossing the rope, etc)

Every rap I do is backed up. The back up is not part of your problem. Stick with backing up everything and you will be safer and in good habit for the bigger tuff.

Evan


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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Sep 21, 2011
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater Cliffs in Adirondack Park NY.

I'm going to respectfully disagree with Austin. When you're first getting used to things is a good time to learn good habits like using an autoblock. There are other situations besides the sketchy ones where an autoblock or another form of backup are a simple safety precaution. If you want to get used to going faster or work on your technique then grab a buddy and have them give you a firemans belay so you don't crater into the dirt when you burn your hand and let go of the rope.

As for the rope twisting. If you're rappelling multiple times the rope will start to get more and more twisted. The rope being new may excacerbate that problem. You may have to flake it or pull it back and forth through the anchor a few times to get rid of some of the twists. I also run my pointer finger on my bottom hand between the strands while rappelling to help keep the ropes a little separate.


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By Jason Krug
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 21, 2011
Rappelling down.  Valeries book area.  Promised land

Thanks Evan. Yep always a stopper knot. Not sure If I fully understand this cow tail technique. Guess I can ask around. Its better if I see it done to get it right.


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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Sep 21, 2011
25' drop...wheeeeee!

To keep any twists in the rope from making their way to your BRD try putting one strand of the rope on each side of your brake-hand-side leg (right for me). This way your leg separates the strands so the left always feeds cleanly into the left slot and vice versa.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Sep 21, 2011
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

The only time I don't use an autoblock is when I have agreed with the first person down to give me a firemans. +1 to extending rappel.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Sep 21, 2011

Get in the habit of using the autoblock. If you get hit on the head by a rock, swarmed by bees, or have a heart attack, the autoblock will keep you from sliding all the way down to your grisly death! They're easy to use. Some people think they're not cool, or unnecessary. They're only necessary when something unexpected happens! Can you predict that?


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By Steve0
From DC
Sep 21, 2011
Forest fires seen from the top of the Grand. I think they were in the Bridger Teton NF, end of August, 2011.

I got on a fresh rope this summer and didn't have any problems with twisting. My setup is fairly standard, shoulder length sling (24") girth hitched to my belay loop, ATC attached and rope fed through, the device ends up about eye level if not higher. Then about a 24" prussik that is about waist level. As you mentioned before, you have your two pieces quite close together, I think that may be your problem.

Here's a nice piece petzl put out on multi-pitch, it's a nice refresher. A bit beyond half way down there's a section called "preparing for rappelling" that's similar to what I'm using, but my ATC is using the full length of the sling.

www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/news/events-0/2009/06/19/petzl-roct>>>

A bit winded for a response but maybe it'll help.


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 21, 2011
smiley face

I know, right; the first thing I think about when having a heart attack is not to look bad while decking.


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Sep 21, 2011
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Jason - what everyone else says it right. Safety first - always. (Then teamwork - Arrested Development? Anyone?) My question is for all you dedicated autoblock users out there. Do you really use them on every rap? If you're rapping off a single pitch at your local crag do you use one? I got into canyoneering and climbing at about the same time and using autoblocks in canyons just isn't feasible. 5 people using an autoblock on every rap would make things run dangerously slow. I think I carried that mentality over into climbing and therefore never use autoblocks even though the it wouldn't be as much of a hassle while climbing. I've just always emphasized proper friction (extra biners, leg loop redirects, etc.), knowing various ways to lock off, and wearing helmets to avoid death by rocks and I considered autoblocks to be substitutes for good technique and education. The majority of posts I see on the subject, however, seem to suggest that most climbers prefer using autoblocks. (Although I almost never see them used at the places I climb) Am I just way off? Are autoblocks more necessary than I always imagined? I'm not deriding anyone's technique or practice - just honestly curious.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Sep 21, 2011
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

Austin Baird wrote:
JDo you really use them on every rap? If you're rapping off a single pitch at your local crag do you use one?

Cragging I request a firemans from my partners. If I'm first down in other situations, always autoblock. Takes me ~10 seconds, I keep a biner on my leg loop.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Sep 21, 2011

Austin Baird wrote:
I considered autoblocks to be substitutes for good technique and education.


Sometimes, I don't wear a helmet when I'm TR'ing, if I'm confident there won't be any rockfall or dropped gear above me (the rockfall is difficult to predict!).

But I look at using an autoblock like I do wearing a helmet. Not as a substitute for good technique, but as a safety device. I've never been hit in the head by a rock, or taken a fall where I hit my head, but I still wear a helmet, just in case the unexpected happens. Same thing with an autoblock - I've never had it save my life, but it might someday. Takes me up to 30 seconds to attach it to my leg loop and put three wraps on the rope. Merely an insurance policy against the unexpected.

Each person chooses how much backup and safety they want to incorporate into their climbing. Helmets and autoblocks are no-brainers for me, but I wouldn't presume to tell someone else what to do. Except in the mountains (more loose rock), where I want my partner to wear a helmet. His skull fracture could affect me! (dead partner, no belayer, etc.)


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By Yarp
Sep 21, 2011

Rather than posting on the internet asking about proper rappel technique perhaps your time would be better spent finding someone to climb with? Perhaps this other, hopefully more skilled, partner will clue you into the proper use of a rope and a belay/ rappel device.

Climbing and more importantly rappelling cannot be learned on the inturdwebz. I repeat, you can't learn to rappel by asking questions on online forums. Actually reading online forums will help, however you need to rappel many, many times before you figure it out. Ignore the idiotic discussion regarding rappel back ups. Keep using one until you don't feel you need it then keep it around for the day you do.


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Sep 21, 2011
Mathematical!

I've never used an autoblock while rappelling. Does that put me in the minority? I can understand the added safety it gives, but it's never seemed like a huge deal to me.


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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Sep 22, 2011
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater Cliffs in Adirondack Park NY.

I don't always use autoblocks. If I have a partner sometimes I'll have them give me a fireman's belay. I think that'd be pretty reasonable for canyoneering. Saves lots of time but still adds in that safety component. There are times when I don't use the autoblock, mostly because I forget. That habit formed a long time ago when I used to never use an autoblock because nobody told me what it was.

The thing is, and this goes for most safety things, most of the time you'll be fine. Your harness probably won't explode off you if you forget to double back. The belay loop won't miraculously unravel if you tie into it. Gri-Gri's will catch most of the time with out holding onto it. That one time that the odds are not in your favor though, you'll either remember it for the rest of your life, or you won't...you'll be dead.


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By Strieby
From Provo, UT
Sep 27, 2011

Austin Baird wrote:
I got into canyoneering and climbing at about the same time and using autoblocks in canyons just isn't feasible. 5 people using an autoblock on every rap would make things run dangerously slow.


Austin I would just add that even in canyons they have there place. Often (not always) on uncertain rappels we will send the first guy down on an autoblock and the rest under a fireman's. I know a few people who have lost control in a canyon rappel and I know you do too. They do add to the time but only one rappeler doesn't slow you down much. I never use them when rappelling under running water since they pose more of a threat than a safety feature in that situation. Although, when in a hurry I don't always do this. I use them quite often while climbing since, like a helmet they don't take much extra effort and add greatly to the safety factor.


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By Josh Brown
Sep 27, 2011

I'll chime in here regarding the autoblock and it's importance.
Several years ago a buddy and I were rapping sidways across the top of a slab to get to another rap station. I backed up the "rap" even though we were basically just walking along the slab from left to right. I tripped and wound up taking a 50' pedulum across the slab and over the edge (there was a 40' headwall below the slab) My buddy said all he saw was a puff of chalk after I went over the edge. I was scrapped and a litle bruised but otherwise unharmed because I had backed up my rappel. It's a good habit to get into but to each their own.


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By Brian in SLC
Sep 27, 2011
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Jason Krug wrote:
Seems like every time I set up a toprope, get fixed in with an ATC device, with a back-up autoblock, and rappel off the top I start having problems with my rope getting twisted.


You might look at how the rope enters and exits the ATC. It really needs to flow straight through to not twist the rope.

If you hold the rope at a 90 degree angle from how the rope enters the ATC, it'll twist the rope.

Cheers!


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By LeeAB
Administrator
From ABQ, NM
Oct 7, 2011
Once we landed we headed to Font to find a place to stay for the night before doing a day of wine tasting and heading to Buoux.

dostol wrote:
Hey Jason, I'm a noob too, also learning to use the autoblock.... I find that adding another locking biner in lieu of a sling under the ATC is adequate to extend the device past where the prussic will interfere.


Avoid clipping a biner to another biner when possible. Not that there are situations where it might be appropriate, but this really is not one of them.


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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Oct 7, 2011
Belay

dostol wrote:
Thanks for the caution, and I'm wondering what the rationale is, as I've not read or heard that yet.

This is why:



Two non-locking carabiners only need to twist over each others gate(s) to become unclipped. This is far less likely to happen with a sling, and you should really only clip locking carabiners to other locking carabiners if you have to do it at all.


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Oct 19, 2011
At the matching crux

If using a cowtail to extend your ATC away from your harness, you should really clip your autoblock knot into your belay loop, not into your leg loop. Hanging from a single leg loop is awfully uncomfortable.


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