Lowering full 70m on one rope


Original Post
Robert Hildebrand · · Crompond, NY · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 90

About a month ago, I lowered my friend down two full pitches and used most the length of the 70m rope to do so. This was simply faster to get him down and then I could take care of making two rappels to get to the ground much faster.

Is there any reason I shouldn't lower someone 70m on one rope?

It seemed fine, but it also just seemed to be a long way and ropes start to look pretty thin over that long a distance.

Thanks for your responses.

Eric Roe · · Cheney · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

Make sure to tie a stopper knot on the loose end. Other than that, I don't see a problem.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Sounds fine to me. Your partner is on the ground and can take off her shoes and rest while you do the rappels. No stopper knot required as I would assume you were both still tied in to the ends of the rope, being two pitches up, no? The rope may look thin but it's pretty damn strong--unless you are lowering over some sharp edge along the way.

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

Sounds like an interesting idea. Only to point out potential problems there is the issue of. If your rope gets stuck when pulling it through you will have no help to retrieve it. Eg. Roping up and climbing up to free it (granted you have enough slack). Your partner won't be able to belay you.

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 181

I do what you have described frequently, just make sure you have enough rope to get them to the ground or an anchor station or you might create a bit of a hairy situation.

knudeNoggin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Each time I read of lowering I ask "Why not have the >>climber<< lower herself?!" The point being that in this case there'd be about half the climber's load on each strand, vs. full weight (and lowerer's resistance); there could/should be a belay from below, 2 B Safe, just feeding up slack as needed.

  • kN*
Nicholas Aretz · · Lakewood, Colorado · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

I agree that you could just fix the line and have your friend rap down.

My concern is if you get hurt while rappelling your partner does not have anyway to help. Both people should be able to access the rope for self rescue.

FourT6and2 Haftel · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 5
knudeNoggin wrote:Each time I read of lowering I ask "Why not have the >>climber<< lower herself?!" The point being that in this case there'd be about half the climber's load on each strand, vs. full weight (and lowerer's resistance); there could/should be a belay from below, 2 B Safe, just feeding up slack as needed. *kN*
I'm having a hard time understanding what you're talking about. How does a climber lower themselves down two pitches with one rope? And how is lowering yourself different from just rappelling?
Ronald B · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

If you can see and hear clearly over the whole 70 m I'd say go for it. That way if something happens to your partner along the way they'll be able to communicate clearly with you. But if the visibility is interrupted and/or there are some hard-to-hear-around corners I would avoid the maneuver.

Robert Hildebrand · · Crompond, NY · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 90

Good advice. Thanks.

There was pretty good visibility and I wasn't in any danger since there were other climbers around to help out if need be.

I had just finished belaying my partner up the second pitch, so it was easy to set him up to lower him and prevented the need to throw a rope down for him to rappel or to untie or do any other playing with gear.

But yes, I could have tied off the rope, thrown it down, and had him rappel the full length.

Question: What knot does someone use in that case? Bowline maybe? Figure 8 on a bight?

That is, if I just tie one end of the rope to a tree or some chains and rappel down the rope, what knot do you recommend?

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 181

There are lots of options for 'fixing' a rope. Most people simply opt for a figure 8 on a bight or figure 8 bunny ears.

Please do not count on other parties on the route to come to your rescue, it is neither their responsibility nor obligation.

Lowering a partner on a multipitch is most applicable when you have a novice partner who is not confident rappelling or when descending overhanging terrain which directional's need to be placed in order to get back to the next anchor.

Nicholas Aretz · · Lakewood, Colorado · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

If you have a novice partner there are better ways than lowering IMO.

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 181
Nicholas Aretz wrote:If you have a novice partner there are better ways than lowering IMO.
Care to elaborate? Lowering eliminates most of the possibility of a novice screwing up. Of course you can teach them how to rappel, set them up, extend their rappel, rap down first, give them a fireman's belay, get to the next station and repeat for another rappel. A bit more complicated than simply lowering them all the way to the ground in one shot, of course longer routes have a different set of considerations. One issue that may arise with going down before the novice is that if they freeze up and won't come down then it will be difficult and time consuming to get back to them.
Erik Keever · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 245
knudeNoggin wrote:Each time I read of lowering I ask "Why not have the >>climber<< lower herself?!" The point being that in this case there'd be about half the climber's load on each strand, vs. full weight (and lowerer's resistance); there could/should be a belay from below, 2 B Safe, just feeding up slack as needed. *kN*
What does full vs half bodyweight on a strand of a lead rope matter when it comes to getting down? Even the most terrifyingly thin sport ropes (7.5 now?) can statically hold many times bodyweight.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

I think lowering is pretty underated in multi-pitch context. There are handful of situations where lowering can be really useful. Ones that come to mind:

1 traversing descents, so that they can use their hands to traverse while being belayed

2 Situations where visibility is bad and/or you have no clue where the next rap station is. If you miss the rap station, it is easy to climb back up using both hands while being belayed.

3 Situations where you don't know whether your rope is long enough to rap normally. You can lower your partner till they reach the next station and then use the single line rap technique and tie cord/webbing to the short end till you can reach it from the next station to pull.

climbing coastie · · Wasilla, AK · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 10

Funny this thread poped up today.

I just lowered my partner in a litter along with a tennent all but 5' of a 70m rope down the lower angle section of an ice climb. Didn't think twice about it.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165
FourT6and2 wrote: I'm having a hard time understanding what you're talking about. How does a climber lower themselves down two pitches with one rope? And how is lowering yourself different from just rappelling?
Talking about doing a full single line rappel down. So you tie 1 end to the anchor (or well you are already tied in could technically work) and she would rappel down that single full 70m line.
johnva · · ALEXANDRIA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5

I was told that in lowering someone you should have an autoblock set up on rope.
The view was that in climbing the climber is holding on and is in charge of their fate.
In lowering completely dependent on other party, so if rope gets hot, then autoblock comes in.
So If I bring someone up, and then want to lower, I put the autoblock on and then proceed.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,875
johnva wrote:I was told that in lowering someone you should have an autoblock set up on rope. The view was that in climbing the climber is holding on and is in charge of their fate. In lowering completely dependent on other party, so if rope gets hot, then autoblock comes in. So If I bring someone up, and then want to lower, I put the autoblock on and then proceed.
That is current AMGA practice, as I understand it. A bit at odds with common top-roping practice (where no one slaps an autoblock on once the climber reaches the anchor), but there it is.
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15
Gunkiemike wrote: That is current AMGA practice, as I understand it. A bit at odds with common top-roping practice (where no one slaps an autoblock on once the climber reaches the anchor), but there it is.
The autoblock is meant to be employed for lowering when you are belaying/lowering from the top.
DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 181
Gunkiemike wrote: That is current AMGA practice, as I understand it. A bit at odds with common top-roping practice (where no one slaps an autoblock on once the climber reaches the anchor), but there it is.
No autoblock is necessary when lowering with a grigri which is my preference. It is necessary to redirect however.

I think the reason for the odd AMGA standard is the setup/your position might be more awkward lowering from the top than from the bottom and you may be more likely to have to go hands free and change systems. Just thinking out loud here.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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