which rope to pull

Original Post
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165

climbing has an article about pulling the rope when you rappel. here:


they say that its best (if using two ropes, one being a static line) to feed the lead line through the anchor and pull the static line. that way, the thicker lead rope with knot has a chance to stick in the anchor if something went wrong.

this seems like a bad method to me. i always do the exact opposite. you pull the lead line, that way if the knot gets stuck at least you have some amount of lead line to start leading back up to the knot to get it unstuck.

is this what other people do too?

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

don't use static line.... ever.

but then again Climbing Mag is never wrong.

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

Right..I'd forget whatever Climbing says.

it doesn't matter which rope, i find a thicker (lead) line a bit easier to pull but also if your doing multiple rappels, you can alternate the pull rope.

feed the rope your pulling through the next anchor as you pull it (or have your partner do it)

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

I agree with John that its faster to alternate threads and easier to pull the thicker rope. But if you are using a typical slot device to rap with and have 2 strands of quite different diameters then the rap device is going to generate most of the friction with the thicker strand and tent to pull it down while letting the thinner strand run up IF you don't have something blocking creep at the anchor. The Climbing mag setup with the knot on the thin side serves to block that potential creep.

John will come back with "knot the ends" I know

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

Why ? hardly anyone does

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165

i get what you guys are saying, but in a situation where you need one of your lines to be a static line (big wall), it only makes sense to pull the lead line.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

Jake.... a static line?? yes-- makes for easy hauling, good for jugging up and rapping too.

But if you drop your bag... your gona die.

I don't go near walls any more but I have some very experienced friends who tell me... those are pipe.

sonvclimbing · · bolder city · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 25

My newb sweetheart and i are first ascenting. I have my trusty dynam 10.2 and smaller diameter static tag line (for the drill)(just in case its needed). I am sending my newb sweetheart down a 1 pitch full length rap that has death slope at the end. the ropes are the same length. Would you use the mag method or no?


George Perkins · · The Dungeon, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 3,115

My thought would be: When you pull the ropes, a thin-diameter (6mm as suggested in the article) static pull cord is more likely to get stuck (snagged behind flakes, stuck in cracks, or tangled in bushes) compared to a thicker diameter rope. For this reason, I'd want the thin rope to be the rope you pull, rather than the rope that flies through the anchors. It also seems slightly preferable to have the thicker burlier rope through the anchor (I'd rather have the thick rope get damaged vs. the thin one).

I've found if there are going to be more than a couple of 2-rope rappels, using the thin trail line is likely to be a pain in the butt sooner or later. I'd rather have a 8mm dynamic twin/half rope as my 2nd line, alternate at each station, and be able to lead back up on it if needed.

I'm curious to hear the "right" answer. Thanks for starting this conversation. Some other links I found related to this:
Rock-and-Ice says thread the skinny rope (pulling the thick)
Will Gadd says thread the thick rope (and pull the skinny rope)
A blog from AMGA guide Eric Whewell says thread the thick rope (pulling the skinny rope) if your thin rope is a 6mm cord

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

it is really rare (maybe never) that i would bring a static as my second rope on a multi-pitch route (ie non hauling wall route). a lot of times i will bring a really skinny dynamic 2nd rope for the raps. if there is even the slightest chance of a snag, i would always pull my lead line for the reason you mention - if you don't have a lead line you are royally f____.

if the rope pulls are obviously clean, then i will usually alternate ropes in the order that they naturally lay out.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

People still climb with two ropes? Weird.

Paul Zander · · Neuchatel, CH · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 702

In my mind...

Advantages to pulling the lead line:
- Gives you something to lead on if your rope gets stuck.
- Easier to pull if there is a lot of drag

Advantages to pulling the static line:
- you can rap on the lead line with a biner block.
- If you're sure your know won't go through the anchors, then you don't have to worry about friction differences when rapelling on ropes of different diameters.

I would generally switch sides for efficiency when doing multiple rappels, but circumstances may dictate a specific side.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310
John Wilder wrote:People still climb with two ropes? Weird.
Well john, call me weird... you get into the back country all sorts of stuff can happen.

two thin 60 can let you do a lot of climbing...

And I do know of many climbs that require you to use TWO.

but to each his own
Colin Garceau · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 10

I use a single 120m rope only.
It's a trend in Europe.

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860
John Wilder wrote:People still climb with two ropes? Weird.
Its really popular in the East where all the rad alpine climbing is.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply