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Dual rope raps getting tangled


Original Post
Brian morin · · Simi Valley, CA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 10

I've only done a handful of dual rope rappels, and on two separate occasions the two ropes tangled together in a terrible awful mess that took 30-min for the first man down to untangle.

I've never had this experience rapping off a single 60m rope, assumably because the ends are shorter with less rope to tangle.

Is there a trick to avoiding this with dual rope raps other than throwing both ends further apart?

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5

I've always tossed each rope separately and a bit a way from each other, but not much. There can be tangles sometimes, but in my experience it has had more to do with the extra length on each strand than the two ropes tangling together. That's probably because I throw them separately to start with. 

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

Some belay devices have the habit of twisting the rope strands together into an ungodly mess below. The solution is to change the device. A bit of concentration on how you feed the strands into the device also helps sometimes.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

It is true; some belay devices are worse than others.  But also some ropes seem to be worse than others.  On top of these things, I think there are other contributing factors.  One is what happens when the ropes can't hang free.  In this case they have no way to untwist.  Slabs are one place this happens, but I think the most frequent situation is that the ropes end up piled on a ledge (or the ground).  If you can see tangles starting to happen in such cases, you can sometimes stop and pull up the ropes and shake them out.  The trick is to do this long before you rap right down to the tangle and fully compact it when it has nowhere to go.  

A second possibility is that your ropes are already twisted from ordinary use and rappelling just "strips" the twists down towards the ends.  Periodically letting ropes hang free to let them untwist can help.   I also do something that not everyone will go for, but I think it significantly reduces kinking.  Unless the terrain forbids it, we don't have the second tie in until the first pitch has been lead and the ropes have been pulled up.  This gives the ropes the maximum opportunity to untwist before the twists are "locked in" by the second's tie-in .

I get that this method has drawbacks.  The second's tie-in can't be checked by the leader, for example.  (I don't care about this at all, but those who insist on partner checks won't like it.)  A much worse possibility is that the leader pulls the ropes up the pitch and the second can't tie in at all.  The second has to pay some attention in order to keep this from occurring.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

only thing I will add is this.... keep your rope from getting twisted. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 499
rgold wrote:

A second possibility is that your ropes are already twisted from ordinary use and rappelling just "strips" the twists down towards the ends.  Periodically letting ropes hang free to let them untwist can help.   I also do something that not everyone will go for, but I think it significantly reduces kinking.  Unless the terrain forbids it, we don't have the second tie in until the first pitch has been lead and the ropes have been pulled up.  This gives the ropes the maximum opportunity to untwist before the twists are "locked in" by the second's tie-in .

I get that this method has drawbacks.  The second's tie-in can't be checked by the leader, for example.  (I don't care about this at all, but those who insist on partner checks won't like it.)  A much worse possibility is that the leader pulls the ropes up the pitch and the second can't tie in at all.  The second has to pay some attention in order to keep this from occurring.

I'm of the school of thought that it's easier to just deal with any tangles or hangups on the way down as you encounter them. This works pretty well for me, but I also use an assisted braking belay/rappel device and can quickly and easily go hands free to deal with tangles. Additionally, I usually keep my thumb between the two strands on my brake hand so I can easily feel if the two strands are wrapped around each other and fix it immediately.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,749
Brian morin wrote:

I've only done a handful of dual rope rappels, and on two separate occasions the two ropes tangled together in a terrible awful mess that took 30-min for the first man down to untangle.

I've never had this experience rapping off a single 60m rope, assumably because the ends are shorter with less rope to tangle.

Is there a trick to avoiding this with dual rope raps other than throwing both ends further apart?

Takes longer- arguably a bit more preparation, and also a slower descent sometimes, but saddlebagging works.  I do it on slab almost every time I rap.  I tried it because I was having that same problem.  It works.  But like any other method, it has positives and negatives.

Ira O · · Hardwick, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 61

Firstly, i throw the ropes separately... with each rope, i hold about 1/3 of the rope, my partner the other 1/3,  the final 1/3 going back to the anchor. Throw the middle of the ropefirst, the end of the rope a millisecond after. Repeat with rope 2, keeping them 10 feet apart.  Works pretty good. 

On lower angled terrain where the ropes are more apt to tangle, I lower my partner, then rappel.  Have the ropes tied together, ready for rapping but instead, have your partner tie in to both ropes, , then lower them down off your harness with a redirect. They get down to whatever they are going , get secure, ropes are down, not a kink or anything, ready for you to rap and repeat. 

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

This probably has alot more to do with the ropes than anything else. I duel rope rappel all the time and never have the issue and toss both ropes at the same time. Depending on how you store the rope can sometimes make it twist up alot too.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

 I think it’s called low angle rappel or something. Coil both ropes in separate piles at the rap anchor. The first person rappels while the second feels the rope down. Works great 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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