Descending devices (also called belay/rappel devices) are designed to create friction on the rope during a rappel, so that the descent can be easily controlled. They are not required in double rope descents as the friction is provided by the knot. If you are single rope climbing though it is a necessary piece of gear. The simplest and most readily available is the figure eight although the number and variety of descending devices is truly astonishing. The figure eight is shown below in the most common of the three ways it can be rigged.
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