Knots in the end of a rappel


Original Post
Brian Paden · May 24, 2016 · Goleta CA · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 30
So I usually don't put knots in the end of the rope for a rappel (yer gonna die, I know) because Im worried about forgetting them and then having the rope get stuck up in the rap rings. But I was thinking, why not tie the two ends together so that can't happen. I don't recall ever seeing anyone do this. Is there a reason not to?

Em Cos · May 24, 2016 · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 0
If the rope ends are tied together, they can't move freely and let any twists in your rope work out while you rap down it. So you may end up with kinky rope ends. That's definitely preferable to rapping off the end of your rope, and probably preferable to forgetting a knot and having your rope hung up at the anchor. Though both of those issues can be easily prevented if you pay attention. I say have at it.

If there's another reason, I can't think of it...

khammer · May 24, 2016 · Kinda All Over · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10
Tying the ends together won't allow twists to get out of the rope, when you remove your belay device these twists may move up the ropes toward the anchor making pulling the ropes hard or impossible. Just my personal experience.

mbk · May 24, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Bearbreeder don't care (for it)

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · May 24, 2016 · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 0
You're thinking too much about it. In 20 years of climbing, I've pulled a rope with a knot in it once. It was on a 30ft route.

Don't make yourself less safe because you think you might forget something that won't kill you.

The exception I can think of is if there is a feature well below the next anchor that might get the rope stuck beneath you. I've seen this potential rapping off the Cynical Pinnacle and a few other spots that I can't think of off hand.

Bryan Ferguson · May 24, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 565
Have you considered blocker knots with the addition of a carabiner, attaching the strands, that sits on the blocker knots allowing them to twirl out the kinks but preventing the possibility (likelihood?) of one-day pulling the knots into the anchor? There are serious implications to the question of whether to knot the ends. Knotted ends are far more likely to get stuck. At the local sport crag that might just be an inconvenience. On a remote desert tower lacking cell phone service? This, like many of these discussions, presents a distraction from what really matters - being present in the moment, paying attention, being engaged, understanding the seriousness of what you are doing, and instead, suggests that a set of practices, always deployed, makes this safe. I think this patently untrue - surviving the day is the measure of safety. Go climbing but always remember it is not safe to dangle yourself hundreds of feet off the ground from a skinny rope. Or is it?

Ted Pinson · May 24, 2016 · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 40
Don't worry: it's not like anyone's ever died from forgetting to tie stopper knots while rappelling...

Seriously, the #1 cause of fatal accidents is also ridiculously preventable. Tie the freaking stopper knots.

ScoJo · May 24, 2016 · Boulder, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 10
I've never forgotten to untie the knots when I've pulled the rope through. I think it would be pretty hard to forget. Better to be safe

20 kN · May 25, 2016 · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
Ted Pinson wrote:Don't worry: it's not like anyone's ever died from forgetting to tie stopper knots while rappelling... Seriously, the #1 cause of fatal accidents is also ridiculously preventable. Tie the freaking stopper knots.
Except the stopper knot is not the preventable part. People dont typically directly die because they dont tie stopper knots, they die because they are not paying attention, they have no situational awareness, and/ or they are complacent. IMO, learning a bit of situational awareness would go much further than just tying stopper knots can calling it good enough.

I cant count how many times I've seen people rapping while looking up at the route, just blissfully going down the rope, 500' off the ground, with no clue as to how much rope they have left. Yes, a stopper knot would save them if their complacency catches up to them, but the correct solution is not to be complacent in the first place! If you want to be extra safe, do both, pay attention and tie stopper knots.

William Thiry · May 25, 2016 · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0
Bryan Ferguson wrote:Have you considered blocker knots with the addition of a carabiner, attaching the strands, that sits on the blocker knots allowing them to twirl out the kinks but preventing the possibility (likelihood?) of one-day pulling the knots into the anchor? There are serious implications to the question of whether to knot the ends. Knotted ends are far more likely to get stuck. At the local sport crag that might just be an inconvenience. On a remote desert tower lacking cell phone service? This, like many of these discussions, presents a distraction from what really matters - being present in the moment, paying attention, being engaged, understanding the seriousness of what you are doing, and instead, suggests that a set of practices, always deployed, makes this safe. I think this patently untrue - surviving the day is the measure of safety. Go climbing but always remember it is not safe to dangle yourself hundreds of feet off the ground from a skinny rope. Or is it?
Hey Brian. Bryan sums it up pretty well here. The most important habit in climbing is to always pay attention - be mindful - of everything you do. Be mindful to tie stopper knots when appropriate, and be mindful to untie them before pulling the rope. Make mindfullness your unwavering overriding habit and the other habits fall into better perspective. Your question is a good one and in general tying the rope ends together makes it more difficult to unsnag a tangled rope on rappel and will more likely kink your rope.

Nick Goldsmith · May 25, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
I have had the wind blow the knotted ends off to the side where they go stuck and created their own dangerous situation.

Fortuna Wolf · May 25, 2016 · Durham, NC · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0
I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me.

curt86iroc · May 25, 2016 · Golden, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 3
Fortuna Wolf wrote:I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me.
depending on the device you are descending with, an autoblock above your device may actually be the preferred method. for example, its much easier to lock off a rescue 8 with an autoblock above as opposed to below, as the 8 tends to rotate.

Ted Pinson · May 25, 2016 · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 40
An autoblock should be standard.

20: I agree. However, almost every accident has occurred in situations where the climbers' mental state is compromised; long raps at end of day when exhausted, retreating from a storm, etc. It's here where building good, consistent habits saves lives. If you ALWAYS tie knots at the ends and/or autoblocks, you'll do it when you're exhausted, panicked, etc and might save you from careless mistakes that should have been caught by situational awareness.

I suppose an analog would be the rap vs lower argument for cleaning sport climbs, which I've come around on thanks to this forum. Yes, rappelling is theoretically just as safe (if not, arguably, safer) than being lowered, but there are many sport climbs that can't be cleaned on rappel due to the overhang; therefore, we're better off always lowering and keeping the cleaning system consistent, as we're less likely to make mistakes when we're at our worst. It only takes one mistake...

john strand · May 25, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
What kind of rap device are you using ? A plate or tube device will cause barely a kink in the rope, so tying the ends together works fine. I have done this thousands of times.

auto blocks are a waste of time IMO

Fortuna Wolf · May 25, 2016 · Durham, NC · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0
My autoblock saved me Sunday when I forgot to tuck my hair into my shirt and it got sucked into my ATC.
<-noob

Rick Blair · May 25, 2016 · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 163
john strand wrote: auto blocks are a waste of time IMO
Nice thread bait.

Gunkiemike · May 25, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,850
Fortuna Wolf wrote:I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me.
I'll save Rgold the trouble of addressing this. When tested, an autoblock ABOVE the device was useless in catching the climber in the event that rope ends slip through the device. In the test (Rich have have a link to the original source), the test climbers KNEW they were going to rap off the ends, but even so they were unable to deploy the autoblock effectively. Why? Because riding a high autoblock down means it's either in your upper hand or being pushed down below that hand. In the event the rope ends snap through the device, the climber must LET GO with that hand if the knot is to engage. And this is after their brake hand has just come off the rope. You think you'd not go full-on death grip with that other hand? End result: autoblock rides right off the ends as well.

DesertRat · May 25, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 168
I tied the rope ends together while rappelling for the first 20 years I was climbing (I still do frequently). I don't recall having more issues with twisting.

Kris Holub · May 25, 2016 · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 15
While the possibility of forgetting to untie your knot can be problematic, rapping off the end of your rope has far more severe and immediate consequences.

Best practice is to make tying stopper knots and untying them part of your SOP. Try rapping once with ends tied together and you'll learn never to do it again as you curse yourself untangling the ends.

Ryan Marsters · May 25, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 698
In practice, I tend to:

-Frequently use knots (separate strands) in back-to-back, rope-stretching multi-rappel descents that are steep and clean, or single rope-stretcher raps.

-Rarely use knots in alpine (except when above), where wind and choss can catch the knot, making it difficult for the leader to pull up the rope and re-position it if needed.

-Rarely use knots in canyoneering, and especially class C canyoneering as the knots can get caught on something or in a hydraulic.

Depending on situation, most issues can be avoided by saddlebagging rope, using rope bags, setting up rap by pulling both ends through to guarantee the middle, never rap below a tangle of rope, and paying attention to the ends while rapping. I tend to go first too to work out the kinks and set the line.

Nick Goldsmith wrote:I have had the wind blow the knotted ends off to the side where they go stuck and created their own dangerous situation.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply