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Knots in the end of a rappel
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May 24, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: rubicon
So I usually don't put knots in the end of the rope for a rappel (yer gonna die, I know) because Im worried about forgetting them and then having the rope get stuck up in the rap rings. But I was thinking, why not tie the two ends together so that can't happen. I don't recall ever seeing anyone do this. Is there a reason not to? Brian Paden
From Goleta CA
Joined Apr 6, 2010
75 points
May 24, 2016
If the rope ends are tied together, they can't move freely and let any twists in your rope work out while you rap down it. So you may end up with kinky rope ends. That's definitely preferable to rapping off the end of your rope, and probably preferable to forgetting a knot and having your rope hung up at the anchor. Though both of those issues can be easily prevented if you pay attention. I say have at it.

If there's another reason, I can't think of it...
Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 21, 2010
11 points
May 24, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on the summit of Cerro Escuela on the Northern ...
Tying the ends together won't allow twists to get out of the rope, when you remove your belay device these twists may move up the ropes toward the anchor making pulling the ropes hard or impossible. Just my personal experience. khammer
From Kinda All Over
Joined Mar 9, 2013
21 points
May 24, 2016
Bearbreeder don't care (for it) mbk
Joined Jul 3, 2013
0 points
May 24, 2016
You're thinking too much about it. In 20 years of climbing, I've pulled a rope with a knot in it once. It was on a 30ft route.

Don't make yourself less safe because you think you might forget something that won't kill you.

The exception I can think of is if there is a feature well below the next anchor that might get the rope stuck beneath you. I've seen this potential rapping off the Cynical Pinnacle and a few other spots that I can't think of off hand.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
May 24, 2016
Have you considered blocker knots with the addition of a carabiner, attaching the strands, that sits on the blocker knots allowing them to twirl out the kinks but preventing the possibility (likelihood?) of one-day pulling the knots into the anchor? There are serious implications to the question of whether to knot the ends. Knotted ends are far more likely to get stuck. At the local sport crag that might just be an inconvenience. On a remote desert tower lacking cell phone service? This, like many of these discussions, presents a distraction from what really matters - being present in the moment, paying attention, being engaged, understanding the seriousness of what you are doing, and instead, suggests that a set of practices, always deployed, makes this safe. I think this patently untrue - surviving the day is the measure of safety. Go climbing but always remember it is not safe to dangle yourself hundreds of feet off the ground from a skinny rope. Or is it? Spinner
Joined Apr 16, 2008
819 points
May 24, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying 2nd (or was it 3rd? 4th?) on Turk's Head ...
Don't worry: it's not like anyone's ever died from forgetting to tie stopper knots while rappelling...

Seriously, the #1 cause of fatal accidents is also ridiculously preventable. Tie the freaking stopper knots.
Ted Pinson
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 11, 2014
178 points
May 24, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: animal world
I've never forgotten to untie the knots when I've pulled the rope through. I think it would be pretty hard to forget. Better to be safe ScoJo
From Boulder, CO
Joined Jun 12, 2014
31 points
Administrator
May 25, 2016
Ted Pinson wrote:
Don't worry: it's not like anyone's ever died from forgetting to tie stopper knots while rappelling... Seriously, the #1 cause of fatal accidents is also ridiculously preventable. Tie the freaking stopper knots.

Except the stopper knot is not the preventable part. People dont typically directly die because they dont tie stopper knots, they die because they are not paying attention, they have no situational awareness, and/ or they are complacent. IMO, learning a bit of situational awareness would go much further than just tying stopper knots can calling it good enough.

I cant count how many times I've seen people rapping while looking up at the route, just blissfully going down the rope, 500' off the ground, with no clue as to how much rope they have left. Yes, a stopper knot would save them if their complacency catches up to them, but the correct solution is not to be complacent in the first place! If you want to be extra safe, do both, pay attention and tie stopper knots.
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
1,219 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Standing atop Mt. Wilson at Red Rocks after comple...
Bryan Ferguson wrote:
Have you considered blocker knots with the addition of a carabiner, attaching the strands, that sits on the blocker knots allowing them to twirl out the kinks but preventing the possibility (likelihood?) of one-day pulling the knots into the anchor? There are serious implications to the question of whether to knot the ends. Knotted ends are far more likely to get stuck. At the local sport crag that might just be an inconvenience. On a remote desert tower lacking cell phone service? This, like many of these discussions, presents a distraction from what really matters - being present in the moment, paying attention, being engaged, understanding the seriousness of what you are doing, and instead, suggests that a set of practices, always deployed, makes this safe. I think this patently untrue - surviving the day is the measure of safety. Go climbing but always remember it is not safe to dangle yourself hundreds of feet off the ground from a skinny rope. Or is it?


Hey Brian. Bryan sums it up pretty well here. The most important habit in climbing is to always pay attention - be mindful - of everything you do. Be mindful to tie stopper knots when appropriate, and be mindful to untie them before pulling the rope. Make mindfullness your unwavering overriding habit and the other habits fall into better perspective. Your question is a good one and in general tying the rope ends together makes it more difficult to unsnag a tangled rope on rappel and will more likely kink your rope.
William Thiry
From Lakewood, CO
Joined Dec 1, 2011
103 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: bouldering
I have had the wind blow the knotted ends off to the side where they go stuck and created their own dangerous situation. Nick Goldsmith
From Pomfret VT
Joined Aug 23, 2009
352 points
May 25, 2016
I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me. Fortuna Wolf
From Durham, NC
Joined Mar 27, 2016
20 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: freshies
Fortuna Wolf wrote:
I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me.


depending on the device you are descending with, an autoblock above your device may actually be the preferred method. for example, its much easier to lock off a rescue 8 with an autoblock above as opposed to below, as the 8 tends to rotate.
curt86iroc
From Golden, CO
Joined Dec 8, 2014
40 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying 2nd (or was it 3rd? 4th?) on Turk's Head ...
An autoblock should be standard.

20: I agree. However, almost every accident has occurred in situations where the climbers' mental state is compromised; long raps at end of day when exhausted, retreating from a storm, etc. It's here where building good, consistent habits saves lives. If you ALWAYS tie knots at the ends and/or autoblocks, you'll do it when you're exhausted, panicked, etc and might save you from careless mistakes that should have been caught by situational awareness.

I suppose an analog would be the rap vs lower argument for cleaning sport climbs, which I've come around on thanks to this forum. Yes, rappelling is theoretically just as safe (if not, arguably, safer) than being lowered, but there are many sport climbs that can't be cleaned on rappel due to the overhang; therefore, we're better off always lowering and keeping the cleaning system consistent, as we're less likely to make mistakes when we're at our worst. It only takes one mistake...
Ted Pinson
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 11, 2014
178 points
May 25, 2016
What kind of rap device are you using ? A plate or tube device will cause barely a kink in the rope, so tying the ends together works fine. I have done this thousands of times.

auto blocks are a waste of time IMO
john strand
From southern colo
Joined May 22, 2008
2,392 points
May 25, 2016
My autoblock saved me Sunday when I forgot to tuck my hair into my shirt and it got sucked into my ATC.
<-noob
Fortuna Wolf
From Durham, NC
Joined Mar 27, 2016
20 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I thi...
john strand wrote:
auto blocks are a waste of time IMO

Nice thread bait.
Rick Blair
From Denver
Joined Oct 16, 2007
376 points
May 25, 2016
Fortuna Wolf wrote:
I know its not standard practice to put an extended autoblock above your rappel device, but it makes me feel better thinking that if the rope ends slip through my hand and I suddenly begin falling the autoblock may still catch me.


I'll save Rgold the trouble of addressing this. When tested, an autoblock ABOVE the device was useless in catching the climber in the event that rope ends slip through the device. In the test (Rich have have a link to the original source), the test climbers KNEW they were going to rap off the ends, but even so they were unable to deploy the autoblock effectively. Why? Because riding a high autoblock down means it's either in your upper hand or being pushed down below that hand. In the event the rope ends snap through the device, the climber must LET GO with that hand if the knot is to engage. And this is after their brake hand has just come off the rope. You think you'd not go full-on death grip with that other hand? End result: autoblock rides right off the ends as well.
Gunkiemike
Joined Jul 29, 2009
2,617 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Yours truly on Treiber's Deception.
I tied the rope ends together while rappelling for the first 20 years I was climbing (I still do frequently). I don't recall having more issues with twisting. DesertRat
Joined Jul 26, 2010
193 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the Ridge Direct Route (Capitol Peak)
While the possibility of forgetting to untie your knot can be problematic, rapping off the end of your rope has far more severe and immediate consequences.

Best practice is to make tying stopper knots and untying them part of your SOP. Try rapping once with ends tied together and you'll learn never to do it again as you curse yourself untangling the ends.
Kris Holub
From Boulder, Colorado
Joined Jan 7, 2011
75 points
May 25, 2016
In practice, I tend to:

-Frequently use knots (separate strands) in back-to-back, rope-stretching multi-rappel descents that are steep and clean, or single rope-stretcher raps.

-Rarely use knots in alpine (except when above), where wind and choss can catch the knot, making it difficult for the leader to pull up the rope and re-position it if needed.

-Rarely use knots in canyoneering, and especially class C canyoneering as the knots can get caught on something or in a hydraulic.

Depending on situation, most issues can be avoided by saddlebagging rope, using rope bags, setting up rap by pulling both ends through to guarantee the middle, never rap below a tangle of rope, and paying attention to the ends while rapping. I tend to go first too to work out the kinks and set the line.

Nick Goldsmith wrote:
I have had the wind blow the knotted ends off to the side where they go stuck and created their own dangerous situation.
Ryan Marsters
Joined Jan 21, 2011
492 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Birds and Beards
Tie knots and if you're worried about forgetting the knot when pulling the rope, just put a biner on the lower anchor you're at and run the free end of the rope you're pulling through that biner. The rope will be in front of you and you'd have to be purposefully negligent to miss the knot passing in front of your face (and likely getting caught for at least a second on the biner) even if the knot goes a few feet above the anchor, you can reach up to get it or use a sling on the anchor to step up and reach it. kevin deweese
From Oakland, Ca
Joined Jan 14, 2007
304 points
May 25, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
We've been around the block on this one, for example

mountainproject.com/v/tying-th...

Although some people have had success in some situations tying both ropes together (usually on very steep or overhanging terrain), I think the weight of experienced opinion is against this option because of the amount of kinking that can occur. If tying both ropes together works for you 19 times and on the 20th time you have to prussik the ropes because they have become so twisted they won't pull, you'll probably never tie both ropes together again.

There are scores of solutions to the problem, the most obvious of which to pay attention to what the hell you are doing fer chissakes and untie the damn stopper knots before you pull the rope. The forgetful can clip a quickdraw from a harness point to the strand whose knot has to be untied as a reminder.

Of the various work-arounds for attention deficits, one of the most efficient ones is to have the second person in the rap sequence install their device before the first person raps, and only tie a stopper knot in the pull rope. The installed device keeps the ropes from sliding around the anchor if one strand is weighted, and that device is easily backed up with an overhand on a bight in the strand that will become the brake strand for the second rappeller.

The drawback of this system is that the first person down can't test whether the ropes pull properly. With pre-installed rappel stations, this is less of a concern than it would be if the party is creating its own rap anchors.
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
544 points
May 25, 2016
DesertRat wrote:
I tied the rope ends together while rappelling for the first 20 years I was climbing (I still do frequently). I don't recall having more issues with twisting.


Me either,,they will twist if you use a figure 8,,,there's a quick solution to that.
john strand
From southern colo
Joined May 22, 2008
2,392 points
May 25, 2016
Nick Goldsmith wrote:
I have had the wind blow the knotted ends off to the side where they go stuck and created their own dangerous situation.


Saddlebag when it's windy, or when you go through lower angle/blocky terrain. It might seem like it takes time when you first set it up, but in those situations I've found it always saves time in the end.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
May 25, 2016
Question for the experienced - I've seen many notices of, even very experienced, climbers rapping off ends of their ropes, with, usually, deadly consequences. Then it is usually suggested to knot ends, with the experienced admonishing of the deadly dangers of stuck ropes.
So, does anyone know of anyone who died due to their knotted ropes getting stuck?
amarius
Joined Feb 23, 2012
23 points


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