Hands free during rappel


Original Post
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 15

I'm sure this has been covered ad nauseum, but...

I was rapping down a very overhanging sport route the other day to put draws on it. And I had to swing like crazy to get to the rock so I could clip the rap line in. I was using an ATC and wrapping 3 winds around my right leg before letting go to use 2 hands.

This sucked balls:

  • I'm white, so the coordination of keeping my swing going while wrapping the rope around my leg was very challenging
  • The wraps of rope around my leg meant I had to keep my right leg up: if I dropped it, the rope would unwind and I would start to descend
  • Sometimes I had to hang for a while and after a few times my leg would go numb from the tight rope around my thigh

Soo... Looking for a better method. Ideas are (1) Auto-block, (2) Grigri 2, and... I'm out of ideas.

Is it safe to rap on a grigri and just let go?
BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 770

Simple solution: lower, don't rappel on overhanging sport routes. Other solution is getting a stick clip.

Maynard · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 3

Why don't you just hang the draws while climbing?

Garrett Harper · · Birmingham, AL · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5

Have your belayer brake for you by pulling down hard on both sides of the rope, aka Fireman's Belay

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

You can use a grigri, just make sure that you tie a backup knot. Or an auto block.
When fixing cliffs for rebolting, I'll often go up one route, traverse over, and go down another to fix lines and use directionals to keep the ropes in line. In this case, I'll have a stick clip with me, which makes hanging the draws easy, since I don't have to swing into the wall to hang the draw.

I would second the above, though, rappelling and hanging draws sucks. Better to lead if at all possible.

Kyle Harding · · East Troy, WI · Joined May 2014 · Points: 285

What does you being white have to do with your lack of coordination?

John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 15

I'm solo, so I can't lower, or do fireman's, or lead, or anything else that requires a partner.

I'm TRing the route with micro-traxions after I fix the rope.

I have tried dropping the rope without clipping the draws, but the crux is down low, so if I fall, I can't get back on the route and have to start over.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,010

I use a Megajul, the Gri could get pinched and unlock.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
John RB wrote:I'm solo, so I can't lower, or do fireman's, or lead, or anything else that requires a partner. I'm TRing the route with micro-traxions after I fix the rope. I have tried dropping the rope without clipping the draws, but the crux is down low, so if I fall, I can't get back on the route and have to start over.
Fwiw, I lead on rope solo with a stick clip to fix cliffs when I rebolt. It's generally easier and faster than rappelling to hang directionals. I can generally get up a route and have the line fixed in less than 5 minutes once I leave the ground.

If you have super easy top access, just fix the line, rappel with a grigri and use a stick clip (clip the brake side of the rope to the draw you're hanging and keep the other side with you to tram in), as this method will also work fine, although it can take longer if the route is really overhanging.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

Use a grigri. It's probably best to tie in overhand on a bight in the brake strand before going hands free, but you probably wouldn't die otherwise.

John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 15

Fwiw, I lead on rope solo with a stick clip to fix cliffs when I rebolt. It's generally easier and faster than rappelling to hang directionals. I can generally get up a route and have the line fixed in less than 5 minutes once I leave the ground.

John, can you explain how you do this? I have a stick clip... how do you self-belay?

The route itself is very hard for me, so free-climbing (while hauling a stick clip and other gear) is probably not practical.

If you have super easy top access, just fix the line, rappel with a grigri and use a stick clip (clip the brake side of the rope to the draw you're hanging and keep the other side with you to tram in), as this method will also work fine, although it can take longer if the route is really overhanging.
I don't understand: you clip the brake side to the draw you're about to hang? I'm rapping a single fixed line. How does this work?!

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40
John RB wrote: The wraps of rope around my leg meant I had to keep my right leg up: if I dropped it, the rope would unwind and I would start to descend
The cure for this, after wrapping, is to drop a loop of rope over your head so that the rope runs up from the wraps over the opposite shoulder and then down. Or, if that bothers your shoulder, you can just run the rope coming off the last wrap up through a carabiner somewhere on your harness. The point is to get the hanging rope weight to pull up on the wraps, not down.

But leg wraps are just for brief stops. If you are hanging for a while, they'll make your leg go numb, as you noticed. The other advice offered on the thread is what you should consider.
nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 204
rgold wrote: The cure for this, after wrapping, is to drop a loop of rope over your head so that the rope runs up from the wraps over the opposite shoulder and then down. Or, if that bothers your shoulder, you can just run the rope coming off the last wrap up through a carabiner somewhere on your harness. The point is to get the hanging rope weight to pull up on the wraps, not down. But leg wraps are just for brief stops. If you are hanging for a while, they'll make your leg go numb, as you noticed. The other advice offered on the thread is what you should consider.
Wow thank you
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

Self belay on a grigri on lead. If you don't know how to do this, poke around a bit, it's not too hard to sort out since you're not free climbing.

Yes, you clip the draw to the brake side, keep your hand on the rope below the draw, reach out and clip the draw to the bolt, then pull yourself in. Clip direct to the top carabiner, then unclip the rope from the brake, and reclip above your grigri. Super easy once you figure it out.

If you're going to do this, get a super clip. A hose clamp or a squid won't work very well at all for this method.

B-Mkll Mackall · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 1,466

A backed-up or doubled prussik or autoblock backup off a leg loop works really well. Look into it. I'm a photographer and use this technique more than the standard ascender etc. rig.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

just use a grigri for christ sake, you guys are making things way to complicated.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282

If you're going to be teaching yourself rope soloing (which I'd say is something to be approached with caution in general), consider getting on a very straightforward route (ie, not your overhanging swinging project) and practicing it with some kind of backup toprope belay method.

Brian Matusiewicz · · Bridgewater · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

I've gotta second the prusik or autoblok. In reality, especially since you're going solo, you should have some sort of back up when you rappel anyway.

If you're concerned about going hands free with a grigri, they actually outline the proper way to tie off the brake side through the locking carabiner. It involves passing a bite through the locking carabiner, then another bite through that, and clipping it with a carabiner.

Brian Matusiewicz · · Bridgewater · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 0

Like most people who bolt routes I just use a Grigri as well. I´d guess I´ve rapped 50,000m on one and the nearest I get to backing it up is a leg wrap of the rope.

Roamin' Buffalo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

MEGAJUL.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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