Types Of Rappels

During military mountaineering operations, many types of rappels may be used. The following paragraphs describe some these rappels.

a. Hasty Rappel (Figure 7-4). The hasty rappel is used only on moderate pitches. Its main advantage is that it is easier and faster than other methods. Gloves are worn to prevent rope burns.

(1) Facing slightly sideways to the anchor, the rappeller places the ropes horizontally across his back. The hand nearest to the anchor is his guide hand, and the other is the brake hand.

(2) To stop, the rappeller brings his brake hand across in front of his body locking the rope. At the same time, he turns to face up toward the anchor point.

Figure Climbing
Figure 7-4. Hasty rappel.

b. Body Rappel (Figure 7-5). The rappeller faces the anchor point and straddles the rope. He then pulls the rope from behind, and runs it around either hip, diagonally across the chest, and back over the opposite shoulder. From there, the rope runs to the brake hand, which is on the same side of the hip that the rope crosses (for example, the right hip to the left shoulder to the right hand). The rappeller leads with the brake hand down and faces slightly sideways. The foot corresponding to the brake hand precedes the guide hand at all times. The rappeller keeps the guide hand on the rope above him to guide himself--not to brake himself. He must lean out at a sharp angle to the rock. He keeps his legs spread well apart and relatively straight for lateral stability, and his back straight to reduce friction. The BDU collar is turned up to prevent rope burns on the neck. Gloves are worn, and other clothing may be used to pad the shoulders and buttocks. To brake, the rappeller leans back and faces directly toward the rock area so his feet are horizontal to the ground.

Figure 7-5. Body rappel.

Notes: 1. Hasty rappels and body rappels are not used on pitches that have overhangs; feet must maintain surface contact. 2. Hasty rappels and body rappels are not belayed from below.

c. Seat-Hip Rappel (Figure 7-6). The seat rappel differs from the body rappel in that the friction is absorbed by a carabiner that is inserted in a sling rope seat and fastened to the rappeller. This method provides a faster and more frictional descent than other methods. Gloves can be worn to prevent rope burns.

Figure 7-6. Seat-hip rappel.

(1) An alternate technique is to insert two carabiners opposite and opposed. Then insert a locking carabiner into the two carabiners with opening gate on brake hand side. Then run the rope through the single carabiner. This helps to keep the rappel rope away from the harness.

(2) To hook up for the seat-hip method, stand to one side of the rope. If using a right-hand brake, stand to the left of the rappel rope facing the anchor; if using a left-hand brake, stand to the right of the rappel rope. Place the rappel rope(s) into the locking carabiner; slack is taken between the locking carabiner and anchor point and wrapped around the shaft of the locking carabiner and placed into the gate so that a round turn is made around the shaft of the locking carabiner (Figure 7-7, page 7-12). Any remaining slack is pulled toward the uphill anchor point. If a single rope is used, repeat this process to place two round turns around the shaft of the locking carabiner. Face the anchor point and descend using the upper hand as the guide and the lower hand as the brake. This method has minimal friction, and is fast and safe. However, care is taken that the rope is hooked correctly into the carabiner to avoid the gate being opened by the rope. Loose clothing or equipment around the waist may be accidentally pulled into the locking carabiner and lock (stop) the rappel. For this reason, the rappeller must tuck in his shirt and keep his equipment out of the way during his descent.

Figure 7-7. Proper hookup using carabiner wrap.

d. Figure-Eight Descender. The figure-eight descender puts less kinks in the rope, and it can be used with one or two ropes (Figure 7-8).

(1) To use the figure-eight descender, pass a bight through the large eye and then over the small eye onto the neck. Place the small eye into a locking carabiner. To reduce the amount of friction on the figure-eight, place the original bight into the carabiner and not around the neck of the descender. (Less friction requires more braking force from the rappeller.)

(2) The guide hand goes on the rope that is running from the anchor. The brake hand goes on the slack rope. The brake is applied by moving the brake hand to the rear or downward.

Figure 7-8. Figure-eight descender.

d. Other Devices. Many different types of devices are similar in design and operation to the basic plate. These include slots or plates and tubers. Most of these devices can accommodate two ropes not greater than 7/16 of an inch in size. Follow manufacturer's directions for using these devices for rappelling.

e. Extending the Rappel Device. The rappel device can be extended using either a piece of webbing or cordage to move the device away from the body and the harness, preventing accidental damage (Figure 7-9, page 7-14). It also allows for easier self-belay.

f. Self-Belay Techniques. A friction knot can be used as a belay for a rappeller (Figure 7-9, page 7-14). The knot acts as the brake hand when the rappeller must work or negotiate an obstacle requiring the use of both hands. The knot acts as a belay if the rappeller loses control of the rope.

Figure 7-9. Extended hookup with self-belay.

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