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Am I rappelling with my device upside down?


Original Post
Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

It seems like every other video I watch, people have their rappel devices set up differently. I'm mostly wondering why some people rappel with the device fed from the bottom, and the wire retainer thing facing upwards. I've always rappelled with it set up normally, as if I was belaying myself, just with two ropes. So I fed the rope through from the top and clip on the bottom. Am I over thinking this? Help lol. 

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 60

Posting some reference images or videos might help understand what your concern is.

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
Amanda Edwards wrote: the wire retainer thing facing upwards.
No.

 I've always rappelled with it set up normally, as if I was belaying myself, just with two ropes. So I fed the rope through from the top and clip on the bottom. Am I over thinking this? Help lol. 

Yes. 


My guess is that you are seeing some videos where people are rappelling off the harness, and some where they are rappelling on an extension. That is probably 50/50 of users. Neither scenario should involve an ATC upside down.  If you are rappelling off your harness (my preferred method), then wire faces down.
Matt Westlake · · Durham, NC · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 632

I assume you are using a tube style device like a black diamond ATC?

Regarding the above, this sounds odd. I know of no reason why one would place the rap device such that the keeper (wire thing) is facing up, mostly because it's unnecessary. One might change the orientation of the device so that the brake hand side comes out over the teeth end (if your device has teeth, and most do) or the flat side. This will affect the friction / how fast the rope tends to run through the device. With skinnier / slicker / fatter / fuzzier ropes you may need to make adjustments to make your rope go through at a reasonable rate (not too fast or slow), like teeth/no teeth, more or fewer wraps of your backup prussik or autoblock if you use one (I recommend it), or sometimes adding a second or different shape biner to secure your rap device to the rope.

Also, if you are lighter you'll want less friction so you can smoothly rappel - too much jerky movement isn't great. This really only matters on suspect anchors or cases where bouncing a little causes the rope to rub a sharp edge, like the lip of a roof. Note the longer the rappel the less friction you want at the very beginning as the weight of the rope will act like added braking force, although that diminishes rapidly as you approach the bottom end and that weight goes away (knotting your ends is a good idea).

Flipping it might create another variation on friction if the device is narrower or has a sharper lip at the bottom. Probably doesn't hurt anything to flip it, although over time through normal use the belay biner can wear a bit of a groove in the bottom of your device, and if that gets sharp you might be running the rope next to a sharper than normal edge on the device, although I'm really stretching things to imagine that being too problematic.

Is there some kind of crazy redirection of the brake end happening? That's the only scenario where I could somehow see the device being upside down and coming out the normal side of the device and even then that seems unnecessary.  

Glowering · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5

Even with an extension I have the wire facing down. I used to have a belay device (Trango Jaws maybe) where there was too much friction to rappel with it in the regular belaying position so you'd flip it around or upside down (wire facing out); maybe that's why some people do it wire out?

Edit: Matt above has the same idea

Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0
  • I have a screen shot of what I'm referring to and it does have the rappel extended. My phone doesnt agree with mtn project so it won't let me upload it. I extend my rappel with a locking draw because it's easy, but it still orients the device so I load rope from the top. What I'm seeing on some of these videos and photos looks like they are flipping the atc so the retaining wire is up and load rope from the bottom. I'll try and post a picture on my computer later. Btw I'm using the edelrid jul, and I've been setting up my rappels based of manufacturers guidelines other than I flip the brake away from me so I don't engage the braking action of the jul since I use an autoblock.
Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0
climbing.com/.amp/skills/pr…

This site has an illustration where the wire is facing up and it seems like you would have to load from the bottom. 
FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 60

It isn't Amanda, the the illustration of belay device on extension is a normal orientation.

Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

I really think the illustration just has me overthinking things, which is a skill of mine. I just wanted to make sure that I was taught things the correct way! Thanks 

Brett Yost · · Bend, Oregon · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 82

Some older tube style belay devices were designed to allow you to flip the device in order to adjust the amount of friction. See the Lowe Tuber or the Trango Pyramid for example.  So perhaps the example you cite is a climber who liked this feature and simulates it on modern devices where the keeper wire is fixed.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10

My Trango Pyramid can be flipped upside down to provide more friction during a rappel.  Useful for thin ropes.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Amanda Edwards wrote: It seems like every other video I watch, people have their rappel devices set up differently. I'm mostly wondering why some people rappel with the device fed from the bottom, and the wire retainer thing facing upwards. I've always rappelled with it set up normally, as if I was belaying myself, just with two ropes. So I fed the rope through from the top and clip on the bottom. Am I over thinking this? Help lol. 

It sounds like you are doing it the same way as the picture except for the extension.  Hard to tell without a picture.  I’d guess the belay device looks different because the one in the picture is loaded and maybe the one on your harness isnt.  Also with extension you are looking at the belay device from a different angle (more from the side) and through your belay loops its more from above.  Try setting up your belay device extended and see if it looks wrong/different still

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Amanda Edwards wrote: I really think the illustration just has me overthinking things, which is a skill of mine. I just wanted to make sure that I was taught things the correct way! Thanks 

Amanda, 

Do you climb with any experienced climbers that can answer this question in person? Really, I have no idea what you're talking about when you say "the wire is facing up."
Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10
FrankPS wrote:

Amanda, 

Do you climb with any experienced climbers that can answer this question in person? Really, I have no idea what you're talking about when you say "the wire is facing up."

If you turn an ATC upside down, the wire "keeper" will be facing up.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Buck Rio wrote:

If you turn an ATC upside down, the wire "keeper" will be facing up.

Thanks, Buck, That really solved it. :)

Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

Im thinking that It's more about whether the brake strands come out away from you or towards you. I do it the way edelrid says to do it which is brake strand coming towards me, the opposite of belaying which the brake comes out away from you. 

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10
Amanda Edwards wrote: Im thinking that It's more about whether the brake strands come out away from you or towards you. I do it the way edelrid says to do it which is brake strand coming towards me, the opposite of belaying which the brake comes out away from you. 

When you are using a sling or PAS to extend a rappel, it doesn't really matter what "side" the brake strand is coming out of, since the rope is free to swivel into the natural orientation. But if you are rapping off of your belay loop, I always have the brake strand oriented farthest from my body (down) either between my legs or off to the right.

Amanda Edwards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

Ill bring it up to my gym coach at the next lead class. I was just wondering if anyone else finds this a little confusing. 

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Amanda Edwards wrote: Im thinking that It's more about whether the brake strands come out away from you or towards you. I do it the way edelrid says to do it which is brake strand coming towards me, the opposite of belaying which the brake comes out away from you. 

Think of it this way.  The brake strands should be coming out the bottom of the belay device and pointing straight down (brake down) The strands going to the anchor should be ,coming out the top of the belay device or pointing straight up.

If you have thr belay device direct to your belay loop this will be obvious. Esoecially when weighted.  If you extend then the sling will give the belay device freedom to twist around and face you.  This will be more noticeable if you attach a friction hitch to your belay loop above the belay device biner (its better below by the way).  
Where does edelrid say the brake strand should come towards you?  I’ve never heard or seen this in any book or gear manual.  
rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Here is a picture I just found for the Gigajul belay device.  It clearly shows the brake strands going away from the climber.  
Note:  there are 2 diff orientations of the belay device shown but the brake strands always orient away from the climber
Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Amanda Edwards wrote: climbing.com/.amp/skills/pr…

This site has an illustration where the wire is facing up and it seems like you would have to load from the bottom. 

The wire is facing down.  Clip it as normal for rappelling.  The only thing you need to consider, as was mentioned, is whether you want the rope running over the grippy edge or the smooth edge.  I normally rappel with the rope running over the smooth edge, as I'm quite light (64 kilos).  BTW, when belaying from above using an ATC, you do need to consider the orientation in my opinion as the brake hand may be above the device...

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Beginning Climbers
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