Operation Of The Rappel Point

Due to the inherent dangers of rappelling, special care must be taken to ensure a safe and successful descent.

a. Communication. Climbers at the top of a rappel point must be able to communicate with those at the bottom. During a tactical rappel, radios, hand signals, and rope signals are considered. For training situations use the commands shown in Table 7-1.






I am ready to begin rappelling.



I am on belay and you may begin your rappel.



I have completed the rappel, cleared the rappel lane, and am off the rope.



I am off belay.

Table 7-1. Rappel commands.

Table 7-1. Rappel commands.

Notes: 1. In a training environment, the lane number must be understood.

2. In a tactical situation, a series of tugs on the rope may be substituted for the oral commands to maintain noise discipline. The number of tugs used to indicate each command is IAW the unit SOP.

b. Duties and Responsibilities.

(1) Duties of the rappel point commander are as follows:

• Ensures that the anchors are sound and the knots are properly tied.

• Ensures that loose rock and debris are cleared from the loading platform.

• Allows only one man on the loading platform at a time and ensures that the rappel point is run orderly.

• Ensures that each man is properly prepared for the particular rappel: gloves on, sleeves down, helmet with chin strap fastened, gear prepared properly, and rappel seat and knots correct (if required). He also ensures that the rappeller is hooked up to the rope correctly and is aware of the proper braking position.

• Ensures that the proper signals or commands are used.

• Dispatches each man down the rope.

(2) Duties of the first rappeller down are as follows:

• Selects a smooth route, for the rope, that is clear of sharp rocks.

• Conducts a self-belay.

• Clears the route, placing loose rocks far enough back on ledges to be out of the way, which the rope may dislodge.

• Ensures the rope reaches the bottom or is at a place from which additional rappels can be made.

• Ensures that the rope will run freely around the rappel point when pulled from below.

• Clears the rappel lane by straightening all twists and tangles from the ropes.

Belays subsequent rappellers down the rope or monitors subsequent belayers

• Takes charge of personnel as they arrive at the bottom (off-loading platform).

Note: A rappeller is always belayed from the bottom, except for the first man down. The first man belays himself down the rope using a self-belay attached to his rappel seat, which is hooked to the rappel rope with a friction knot. As the first man rappels down the rope, he "walks" the friction knot down with him.

(3) Each rappeller down clears the ropes, and shouts, "Off rappel," (if the tactical situation permits). After the rope is cleared and the rappeller is off rappel, he acts as the belayer for next rappeller.

(4) Soldiers wear gloves for all types of rappels to protect their hands from rope burns.

(5) Rappellers descend in a smooth, controlled manner.

(6) The body forms an L-shape with the feet shoulder-width apart, legs straight, and buttocks parallel to the ground. When carrying equipment or additional weight, a modified L-shape is used with the legs slightly lower than the buttocks to compensate for the additional weight. The rappeller's back is straight. He looks over the brake shoulder. The guide hand is extended on the rope with the elbow extended and locked. The rope slides freely through the guide hand. The guide hand is used to adjust equipment and assist balance during descent. The rappeller grasps the rope firmly with the brake hand and places it in the brake position. Releasing tension on the rope and moving the brake hand regulates the rate of descent. The rappeller never lets go of the ropes with his brake hand until the rappel is complete.

c. Tying Off During the Rappel. It may be necessary to stop during descent. This can be accomplished by passing the rope around the body and placing three or more wraps around the guide-hand-side leg, or by tying off using the appropriate knot for the rappel device.

Continue reading here: Recovery Of The Rappel Point

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