What Rope To Use While Rappelling

Choosing the appropriate rope for rappelling might be challenging. It is actually a very common problem, so we conducted research and summarised the findings throughout this article.

What Rope To Use While Rappelling

While the kind of rope you use may vary depending on the activity, for basic rappels, lightweight static ropes with a minimum diameter of 7.7mm are excellent.

When choosing a rappelling rope, the most critical aspect to consider is the diameter of the rope.

You can rappel on ropes as thin as 5-6mm with the correct ability and practice. This is a difficult task that often necessitates the use of specialized equipment, friction-adding carabiners, or robust backup knots.

As a result, we would not advocate rappelling from a rope smaller than 7mm in diameter. Ropes with a diameter of 8-11mm perform better and are more likely to be compatible with your rappel equipment.

Additionally, there is the distinction between static and dynamic ropes, which I will discuss in greater detail below.

What Different Kinds Of Rappelling Are There?

In a standard rappel, you descend a vertical or almost vertical surface with your back to the ground and your feet against the wall.

Standard rappels, as the name indicates, are the most common kind of rappel. Additionally, they are the first rappel technique that the majority of people learn, and are the easiest in many aspects.

This is not to mean that you should ignore them; standard rappels account for the majority of climbing accidents.

In a standard rappel, you descend a vertical or almost vertical surface with your back to the ground and your feet against the wall.

Your belay device will be fastened to your pelvis through a harness and will act as a friction device as you fall.

This kind of rappel is extremely popular in simple situations needing descent. For example, if you’ve just finished a sport route and want to descend to the ground, you’re likely to do a traditional rappel.

Additionally, it is advantageous for beginners who are just getting started with rappelling. You can easily control your fall speed without having to concern yourself with some of the more complex tactics described in the other kinds.

If this is your first-time rock climbing or any other similar sport such as canyoneering or caving, we highly encourage you to practice a standard rappel.

The essential question to ask is why you are rappelling. There are several different scenarios, and each would need the use of a unique rope to complete the work at hand.

There are an almost endless number of situations in which a rappel may be necessary, but I’ll try to summarise a few of the more common ones below

What Rope To Use While Rappelling

Rappelling Off Of A Climb

In this scenario, you very certainly will be using the same rope that you used for climbing. Never climb without a high-quality, dynamic rope with a minimum diameter of 10mm.

What Rope To Use While Rappelling

Rappelling Recreationally

If you’re going out of your way to rappel — for example, if you’re going on a rappelling tour — a dynamic rope is unlikely to be necessary.

Static ropes are less costly and provide the same function; ensure that yours has a minimum diameter of 7.7mm.

What Rope To Use While Rappelling

Mountaineering

Mountaineering is a high-risk activity. While you’re likely to utilize the rope only for rappelling, there may be moments when you need to secure a climb.

As a consequence, either a single 10mm dynamic rope or a pair of 7.7mm dynamic twin-ropes is the best arrangement.

As A Back-Up

When scrambling or free-soloing (with God’s guidance), it’s a good idea to have a backup rope in case you go out of your depth.

You want a lightweight, compact rope. As a consequence, we recommend a 6mm static rope. As a precaution, practice rappelling down this first!

As previously said, there are a number of conditions in which you will want a rope for rappelling, and the rope you choose will depend on those circumstances.

Bring a dynamic rope with you if you want to use it for anything other than rappelling. If you are certain you will just be rappelling, static ropes will suffice.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Ropes You Can Use?

What Rope To Use While Rappelling

Static And Dynamic Ropes

When choosing a rope, it is vital to understand the difference between a static and a dynamic rope.

The major difference between dynamic and static ropes is that dynamic ropes are made up of interwoven fibers that expand when loaded, while static ropes do not.

This permits dynamic ropes to stretch briefly, lessening the force of a fall. Thus, dynamic ropes are required for climbing because they allow you to safely absorb the shock of a fall without suffering whiplash or other injuries.

Static ropes lack this flexibility. This considerably reduces their use as a landing surface, notwithstanding their other utility.

Static ropes are great for hauling gear or rappelling—activities that do not involve the application of dynamic force to the rope. Additionally, static ropes are less costly to obtain, making them a more cost-effective alternative if you’re on a tight budget.

Single, Half, And Twin Ropes

You may come across the words mentioned above when doing a search for different types of ropes. They are more applicable to climbing and belaying, however, I will summarise their meaning below:

Single ropes are the most often seen kind of climbing rope. A single length of rope is trailed behind you and fastened to each piece of protective equipment. Typically between 9 and 11mm thick, this material is fairly safe to rappel from.

Half ropes are used for wandering climbs or hard trad routes that need less protection than a bomber.

Each rope is secured to a single piece of protective equipment. Additionally, the ropes are smaller—typically 8.1mm in diameter rather than 10.

For novice climbers, twin ropes are perhaps the most demanding route. This method necessitates carrying two lengths of rope and clipping one to each piece of protection. Often, the ropes will be thinner, roughly 7.7mm in diameter.

While they may first seem to confound, all you really need to know about ropes (for rappelling applications) is their width.

As I already said, anything greater than 7.7mm is completely safe for static or dynamic rappelling. Carrying twin or double ropes allows you to double the length of a rappel.

Thin Rope

As mentioned earlier, some scenarios, such as emergency rescues, may necessitate rappelling from a rope with a diameter smaller than 7.7mm.

If you want to do so, you must use adequate techniques to avoid the rope falling out of the rappel gear. Numerous safety recommendations include the following:

Select the appropriate belay device. One of the primary reasons we prefer an ATC over a gri-gri is its adaptability. If the rope you’re using is too thin to be used with a gri-gri, you’re out of luck.

Whether you utilize an ATC or another device, there are many techniques for increasing the friction in your system.

Tie a backup knot. This is a very effective means of securing your safety. Secure your rope below your braking hand with a prussik or a similar auto-locking knot to prevent it from slipping if you lose grip.

By increasing the number of carabiners in your system, you may increase friction. The more times your rope loops around a carabiner, the slower it seems to go through the system, allowing you to have more control over your rappel.

Wrap your hands or your whole body in a hand or body wrap. The concept is identical to that of carabiners, except that you generate friction with your own body rather than via the use of equipment.

To maximize your control, wrap the rope around your hand or waist before passing it through your rappel gear.

Please keep in mind that this list is not complete and rappelling from a 5mm rope is not suggested. Rather than that, it’s a few suggestions for improving your safety if you ever find yourself rappelling on a small length of cable.

Final Thoughts

Rappelling’s several variations are advantageous in a number of situations and should be used only after they have been practiced and taught in a safe environment.

Perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment you’ll acquire is your rope. You’re going to be dangling your life from it, so make an educated decision.

When discussing ropes, the most important factor to remember is that you should never buy used ones. This is because, if you are unfamiliar with a rope’s history, determining if it has been injured in the past may be rather difficult.

Ropes are made with a strong inner core enclosed in a protective sheath. While this sheath is required, it makes a visual inspection of the rope more difficult,

since you will not know if there are any weak points in the core that might result in rope failure later.

The diameter of the rope is crucial since your whole existence will be suspended from this one piece of equipment.

When something is vital to your safety, you want to ensure that you leave a large margin of error in case anything goes wrong.

Thus, although you may certainly rappel safely on ropes with a diameter of 5mm or less—after all, rappelling is mostly a static activity—you can choose for a larger rope for the added security and peace of mind it provides.

Additionally, small ropes make rappelling more difficult to control. The thinner the rope, the more easily it will flow through your rappel gear, resulting in a faster descent.

This may be useful if the climber is skilled and knows how to control his or her momentum, but it can also inject unnecessary risk into an otherwise safe activity.

A 7.7mm static rope is ideal for pure rappelling. It offers the best balance of functionality, weight, and price of any of your other options.

However, depending on the activity, your choice of rope may change, so always bring the right equipment and be safe!

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Kevin Macey
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