Rapelling with new people


Original Post
grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

Going climbing with a new climber up an easy multi pitch (tachycardia in maple canyon). For rappelling I typically have the new person go first so that they do not have to hook up the ATC or I will simo-rappell with them. The problem is if they go first and run in to obstacles they are helpless.

What do you guys do?

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

If they have never rappelled you should set them up on rappel and than go down first so you can fireman belay them from below.

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195

I agree with ViperScale. They're likely to be nervous either way, but if you're below them, you can prevent a disaster. You're helpless above.

BoulderCharles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 25

Your other option is to lower the climber so they don't have to worry about rapping (https://www.climbing.com/skills/the-lsd-lower-how-to-lower-in-guide-mode/). This even allows you to lower someone a full rope length with only one rope.

You can also use this technique to lower them on one strand while letting them rap a second strand (you'll need a bit of extra rope but, in general, you can fix one half of the rope for rapping and use the other half to lower). This gives them the opportunity to rap while keeping them backed up. This is what I typically do with new climbers when all raps end at good ledges (and I'm not worried about them screwing up the transition).

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

The new climber should not go down first. Pre-rig the newer climber on an extension and give a fireman's belay. 

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

So you guys put them on rapell at the belay, and then put your self on the rope below them?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15
grog m aka Greg McKee wrote:

So you guys put them on rapell at the belay, and then put your self on the rope below them?

Correct, but rig them up on an extension so it is more comfortable for them, i.e., they don't get yanked around by you rappelling.

Turner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

A stacked rappell, instructor belayed rappell, or a lower could be a good option. Better yet, have them learn and practice before they need to do it for reals.

Spencer Parkin · · Bountiful · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

I've been on a lot of guided outings, and the guide always rapped first, then I came second.  They gave me the fireman's belay and took care of the transition work if getting off took multiple raps.  Note that you can rig your partner's rappel for them before you go down, and you can even take them off the anchor so that they're ready to rappel just before you go down as long as you keep the rope weighted, even once you're down.  That is, transition from your rappel immediately into a locked-off fireman's belay.  Sometimes this is useful if the anchor is far away from the edge and you need them to wait near the edge, not near the anchor.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

Interesting. Some anchors this would be quite annoying but I can see it working well for most situations. Thank you 

Scott · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

pre rig 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
grog m aka Greg McKee wrote:

So you guys put them on rapell at the belay, and then put your self on the rope below them?

Yep, then all they have to do is unclip their anchor locker and start the rappel. You don't want someone new to miss the next anchors, deal with knotted ropes, etc. 

Tyler Froelich · · Provo, Utah · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

I really like simul rappelling.  I haven't tried it with a new climber, but it seems pretty appealing to me.

Assuming both climbers have an autoblock in place, what are the cons for simul-rappelling with a new climber?  I see the pros as being:

  • you don't send them down first, alone, into the unknown
  • you don't leave them up top, alone, hoping they understood your instructions correctly
  • you can constantly observe what they're doing to give corrections or affirmations as needed (especially helpful to nervous climbers)
  • you can teach them stuff on the way down, like how to deal with rope tangles, what they should be watching for/aware of
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Tyler Froelich wrote:

I really like simul rappelling.  I haven't tried it with a new climber, but it seems pretty appealing to me.

Assuming both climbers have an autoblock in place, what are the cons for simul-rappelling with a new climber?  I see the pros as being:

  • you don't send them down first, alone, into the unknown
  • you don't leave them up top, alone, hoping they understood your instructions correctly
  • you can constantly observe what they're doing to give corrections or affirmations as needed (especially helpful to nervous climbers)
  • you can teach them stuff on the way down, like how to deal with rope tangles, what they should be watching for/aware of

I think the big con to having someone new to rappelling do a simul-rappel is death. Every year there are stories of people dying or getting seriously injured because they do this with someone that it obviously new to rappelling. I think most of the potential issues can be mitigated, but I really don't think it's a good idea for someone new. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15
Tyler Froelich wrote:

I really like simul rappelling.  I haven't tried it with a new climber, but it seems pretty appealing to me.

Assuming both climbers have an autoblock in place, what are the cons for simul-rappelling with a new climber?  I see the pros as being:

  • you don't send them down first, alone, into the unknown
  • you don't leave them up top, alone, hoping they understood your instructions correctly
  • you can constantly observe what they're doing to give corrections or affirmations as needed (especially helpful to nervous climbers)
  • you can teach them stuff on the way down, like how to deal with rope tangles, what they should be watching for/aware of

No.

Ryan Maitland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 10

Step 1: Make sure the ends of the rope are knotted

Step 2: Attach new person to rope via extension and belay device (w/ autoblock backup if warranted), showing them the steps and rationale along the way

Step 3: Attach yourself to rope via whatever way you want, but below new person as you'll go first

Step 4: Clearly explain the next sequence of events to newbie until they're completely comfortable*

Step 5: Rappel and provide fireman's belay from below

Step 6: Profit

*I prefer to have them detach their personal tether before I rappel so they don't have to mess around at all with the anchor or rappel setup after I'm gone, which could be disasterous

Or just lower them.

But for the love of god, do not simul-rappel like Tyler suggests above.

Billcoe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 630
grog m aka Greg McKee wrote:

Going climbing with a new climber up an easy multi pitch (tachycardia in maple canyon). For rappelling I typically have the new person go first so that they do not have to hook up the ATC or I will simo-rappell with them. The problem is if they go first and run in to obstacles they are helpless.

What do you guys do?

I wouldn't climb with them. I differentiate teaching vs climbing and I don't climb with new people any more.  2 years experience or less, generally not interested, I'll go solo. Anyway, that's what I do. You asked. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

No perfect solution. If you go first and give them a fireman's back-up, you are helpless if they get their hair/clothing sucked into the device.  Having them go first with a separate belay line, if they get something caught AND if you tied a RELEASABLE KNOT on the rap line (of course only guides do this routinely), you simply pop that rope loose and lower them the rest of the way or get back onto the rap line once the hair/clothing is cleared.

physnchips · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0
Turner wrote:

A stacked rappell, instructor belayed rappell, or a lower could be a good option. Better yet, have them learn and practice before they need to do it for reals.

Yep, any rescue or guide class will always tell you the best rescue technique is prevention (i.e. have them practice and learn rappel before they do it for real). If your buddy knows what they are doing then no potential rescue is needed (whether above or below). Just have them learn rappel as almost anything (tree, mailbox, stair rail etc.) can be used to set up a practice rappel. Btw, you can rescue if you're above and the person below runs into trouble just as you can from below (not sure why some folks are saying you can't do anything). Here's an article/video someone else posted at one point about an extended rappel (good set-up IMO).

https://www.mountaineers.org/learn/how-to/extended-rappel-and-updated-belay-techniques

If they really don't know how to rappel at all, have never done it, heard of it, and don't want to learn then lowering is the sure bet (there's the slight benefit or demise, depending on how you look at it, that you can lower beyond the halfway point of the rope). Set up a redirect and an autoblock for comfort and safety if you do lower.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865
physnchips wrote:

YBtw, you can rescue if you're above and the person below runs into trouble just as you can from below (not sure why some folks are saying you can't do anything). Here's an article/video someone else posted at one point about an extended rappel (good set-up IMO).

https://www.mountaineers.org/learn/how-to/extended-rappel-and-updated-belay-techniques

Well, poor Buffy is going to be pretty unhappy as you're faffing around tried to help her out from the bottom while she's hanging up there with her nipple ring stuck in her ATC.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Tyler Froelich wrote:

I really like simul rappelling.  I haven't tried it with a new climber, but it seems pretty appealing to me.

Assuming both climbers have an autoblock in place, what are the cons for simul-rappelling with a new climber?  

  • Yur both gunna die.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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