Mountain Project Logo

Reepschnur Rappel Inquiry


Original Post
Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

I just bought 60m of 6mm cord because I am interested in trying this rappel/multi-pitch technique. I have no experience with it. I'm aware of some fatalities and that a backup is a must for consistent results (I'm going to use the alpine butterfly on the rappel line because my research says it doesn't jam like the figure 8 has for some people).

I read that this method isn't good (won't work is the way I interpretted it) on webbing or basically anything except bolts or carabiners. Therefore the author said not good for alpine.

Is this true? What is your experience? Could this reepschnur setup really not work on straight webbing or around a tree, etc? Does anyone have EXPERIENCE using this setup in the alpine environment or at all to say one way or the other?

Is a carabiner (or two) or something equivalent necessary to leave everytime I want to/need to rappel and am not at bolts with the reepschnur?

It seems as though it would work fine under most conditions/setups. I appreciate your time.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 26

For anyone who's wondering: traditionalmountaineering.o… .

This looks like a really good way to get hurt or killed, why do you want to do this?

You would have to use a rappel anchor that would stop the knot from passing from one side of the anchor to the other, so yes, a rappel ring or small carabiner would have to be left at each anchor. Looking at the photo in my link, the climber is using another carabiner as a backup. this would certainly prevent a catastrophic failure, but when the rope is pulled the carabiner is going to fall the length of the rappel, which is generally not good for carabiners. Also, the knots and carabiner used in the backup would be more likely to snag on something on the way down resulting in a stuck rope.

I used to descend off of multi-pitch climbs with my lead rope (11mm) and a 7mm static line of the same length as the lead rope, both threaded through the rappel/belay device. That way if the knot flipped over to the other side of the anchor, I didn't end up free falling to the ground. The 7mm rope was fairly light and easy to carry, but it abraded quickly, got tangled, and was a bit more vulnerable to jamming in cracks, etc., on the way down. I suppose the reepschnur would have the benefit of letting one climb multi-pitch with a gri-gri or similar device, but how big a deal is that?

A rappel setup that "seems as though it would work fine under most conditions" just does not appeal to me.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
mark felber wrote: This looks like a really good way to get hurt or killed, why do you want to do this?
This technique, like many others in climbing, will get you killed if you don't set it up correctly. The reepschnur works fine, but has its limitations. If your rope gets stuck when pulling it, you have less safety margin because you may only have your pull cord to ascend back to the stuck rope.
Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

Your comments makes sense. I appreciate your time and experience.
I've had 8mm doubles get stuck like crazy on rappel in cracks so this 6mm cord will most likely as well.

Any one else with something good, bad or ugly about this rappel method working on anything but bolts or left carabiners?

You think with an alpine butterfly and a locking biner to secure the rappel line (10.2 for me on a single) webbing and or a tree or sling, etc will give me a negative result (injury, psychological scare, damage to any equipment, etc)?

I appreciate your time.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 841

It's pretty much the same technique you would use to rappel with a grigri. I haven't used a separate pull cord, but i've done the grigri rappel a few times. The extra knot bulk will probably make it more likely to get stuck.

Rappelling with a GriGri

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 26

I would expect the alpine butterfly and locking carabiner to get stuck easily on the way down.

Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

Do you think having the rappel device on the rappel line (of course) but securing the 6mm pull cord to the 10.2 rappel line via a friction hitch rappel backup would help, hinder or make no difference?

I would think the constant tension would hold the setup in place well enough to at least mitigate the knot being stuck problem?

Anyone any experience with the reepschnur on anything but bolts or carabiners?

Thank you.

Alex McIntyre · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 485
mark felber wrote:For anyone who's wondering: traditionalmountaineering.o… . This looks like a really good way to get hurt or killed, why do you want to do this? You would have to use a rappel anchor that would stop the knot from passing from one side of the anchor to the other, so yes, a rappel ring or small carabiner would have to be left at each anchor. Looking at the photo in my link, the climber is using another carabiner as a backup. this would certainly prevent a catastrophic failure, but when the rope is pulled the carabiner is going to fall the length of the rappel, which is generally not good for carabiners. Also, the knots and carabiner used in the backup would be more likely to snag on something on the way down resulting in a stuck rope. I used to descend off of multi-pitch climbs with my lead rope (11mm) and a 7mm static line of the same length as the lead rope, both threaded through the rappel/belay device. That way if the knot flipped over to the other side of the anchor, I didn't end up free falling to the ground. The 7mm rope was fairly light and easy to carry, but it abraded quickly, got tangled, and was a bit more vulnerable to jamming in cracks, etc., on the way down. I suppose the reepschnur would have the benefit of letting one climb multi-pitch with a gri-gri or similar device, but how big a deal is that? A rappel setup that "seems as though it would work fine under most conditions" just does not appeal to me.
I use the recommended GriGri rappel method all the time on half of my rope. The carabiner doesn't ever fall- it should arrive at you just as the other side pulls through the anchor and should be within a few feet of you or even in your hand if you are doing this properly. I've never had a rope get stuck with this method (knock on wood). Just because it is somehow foreign to you doesn't make it the devil or any worse of a method. As long as the backup in in place and the rings sufficiently small, there isn't much to go wrong. In the accident linked, the victim both used a knot that was too small and did not tie the backup.
John Ryan · · Poncha Springs, CO · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 170

On my first attempt at the Diamond we made it to Broadway but bailed due to time. My friend had loaned us a small tag line probably 6 mm. Instead of single rope rappelling like we probably should have done we rapped doubles on our 9.9 and the 6. This sucked due to the extreme amount of stretch in the 6 mm line. It was terrifying. We nearly had an epic when my partner missed the rap station and got way off route. He decides to sling a flake as his only pro and calls off rappel 50 feet off the rappel route. We had to rig some bullshit since I refused to put both our weights on that rubberband. Then after I find the next rap station my partner pulls the ropes to his stance 50 feet to the side. We didn't place the knot correctly so as he pulled the rope the 6 mm was shooting upwards FAST. I feel lucky it didn't pull thru the anchors and leave my partner rapping off some flake, or pull thru and fall to the ground.

John Ryan · · Poncha Springs, CO · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 170

On my first attempt at the Diamond we made it to Broadway but bailed due to time. My friend had loaned us a small tag line probably 6 mm. Instead of single rope rappelling like we probably should have done we rapped doubles on our 9.9 and the 6. This sucked due to the extreme amount of stretch in the 6 mm line. It was terrifying. We nearly had an epic when my partner missed the rap station and got way off route. He decides to sling a flake as his only pro and calls off rappel 50 feet off the rappel route. We had to rig some bullshit since I refused to put both our weights on that rubberband. Then after I find the next rap station my partner pulls the ropes to his stance 50 feet to the side. We didn't place the knot correctly so as he pulled the rope the 6 mm was shooting upwards FAST. I feel lucky it didn't pull thru the anchors and leave my partner rapping off some flake, or pull thru and fall to the ground.

MTKirk · · Billings, MT · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 245

The Reepschnur works fine as long as you know it's limitations. Personally after using a few different methods, I've settled on the "Carabiner Block" technique. This is simply a clove hitch on the spine of a carabiner (I use a Petzel Attache screw gate). You do have to have a hard ring for the carabiner to block against, but a 'biner block will work well with many different pieces of hardware (rap ring, chain links, locking carabiners, rapid links). I always carry a couple of rapid links (and sometimes rap rings) with me, they're cheap and useful for many things. I do recommend keeping your small pull line on your harness, saddle bag style, to keep tangles to a minimum. Many times I will saddlebag the rap line as well (rap line right side, pull line left). A really good idea is to extend your rappel device and use an auto-block back up, in case you have to stop and work out tangles. Carabiner dropping IS NOT a problem. It only falls a few feet, if at all. Your carabiners probably take more abuse jangling around on your harness.

Biner Block

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 15,692
The Stoned Master wrote:Any one else with something good, bad or ugly about this rappel method working on anything but bolts or left carabiners?
The friction between the two lines, especially if you're not rappelling on the thin cord, will be very different. Should the ropes slip while through a sling, could cut the sling fairly quickly.

I've used a tag line (6mm) a bunch. I've had the knot pop through a rap ring. I usually rap both cords. Helpful in that case to say the least (I could control the descent by handling either strand with different friction to keep the ropes from sliding).

I think for alpine, doubles/twins are the way to go.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,824
The Stoned Master wrote:I just bought 60m of 6mm cord because I am interested in trying this rappel/multi-pitch technique. I have no experience with it. I'm aware of some fatalities and that a backup is a must for consistent results (I'm going to use the alpine butterfly on the rappel line because my research says it doesn't jam like the figure 8 has for some people). I read that this method isn't good (won't work is the way I interpretted it) on webbing or basically anything except bolts or carabiners. Therefore the author said not good for alpine. Is this true? What is your experience? Could this reepschnur setup really not work on straight webbing or around a tree, etc? Does anyone have EXPERIENCE using this setup in the alpine environment or at all to say one way or the other? Is a carabiner (or two) or something equivalent necessary to leave everytime I want to/need to rappel and am not at bolts with the reepschnur? It seems as though it would work fine under most conditions/setups. I appreciate your time.
Ya I'd never use this technique and probably 'accidentally' drop the 6mm cord on the way up to ensure both our safety.
Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

I'm blown away how many people are at the extremes: have no problem with it and use it to purposely dropping good cord to not have to use it.

Well this is another experience on my path to finding my preferred methods. I'm going to give it a go (on bolts), see how it goes and move on from there.

Worst case if I dont like it is I now have enough cord for the rest of my life! and I've gained the experience of trying this method.

Totally unexpected to get some who loath it though. Thank you all.

MTKirk · · Billings, MT · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 245

If you decide you don't want the cord, I'll buy it from you.

At a steep discount of course!

Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

Noted kirk. I'm going to give it a try at the gunks and seneca and ill let you know. I'm hopeful I can make this work as a faster lighter way than carrying two singles (I dont own doubles but multiple singles). Especially at the gunks or seneca where you can climb many routes in a day.

Kyle Pease · · Flagstaff · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 45

I have been using a 60m x 5mm pull cord this past season. It definitely has its places. I have found that clipping the biner through the rap line usually causes too much friction (long episode of two guys tugging a rope and swearing ensued) and I rely on the biner's size as a backup to a figure 8 jammed on the rings. Remember also that it is significantly harder to pull the rope down (than a double rope rap) as there is essentially no counterbalance mass on the pull cord side.

If you have a longer climb with a descent requiring a rappel or two it saves some energy. I would not consider it for anything outside of that.

Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

I appreciate your post kyle. Thanks man.

Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 730

I used to use a 6mm and it sketched me out, so I quit using it. Now I like the BD 8-something-mm, which you could actually double up and lead on in a pinch.

bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065

the method shown by petzl works fine and is perfectly "safe" ... for joined ropes i put the biner block after the EDK on the rap line side as to prevent the joining knot getting stuck in the chains

in some ways it should be "safer" than rapping down say a 10mm+7mm normally as some people do ... as rapping with different sized cords can cause slippage in the smaller cords and a bit of sawing motion on the rap sling ... a single line rap doesnt have this issue

the flip side is that the knot and biner could get easily stuck .. as can the thin line

it works best for clean raps where there aint to much to get caught on

houston and cosley describe it in their alpine climbing technique book using the alpine butterfly

from the book

as usual there are plenty of people going off about a technique that is demonstrated by petzl and respected source material ....

gotta luv da intrawebs ;)

Kyle Stapp · · Pennsylvania · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 3,550

Good stuff bearbreeder. What's the title of that book? I'm always hunting down new ways. Thank you.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Reepschnur Rappel Inquiry"

Log In to Reply