Have you ever rappelled off a climb and had a cluster of a mess at each rap station? Have you ever been wrapped up in your partners tether or so close to them that it made it hard to manage the next rappel? With a few quick and simple techniques you can make your rappels safer, more efficient, and maybe even fun!
Let’s assume you are going to descend a multiple rappel rap route that has two bolts at each station. Before you even get to the first station set this system up:
Step 1. Take a cordelette and double it (so you have two big circles). Grab the middle point of those circles so you now have four strands of cord in your hand. The cord should form a big upside down U shape with one hand grasping the middle of the cord.
Step 2. Tie an overhand or figure eight knot on both sides of your hand holding the middle of the cord. You should have about ten inches of space from one knot to the other.
Step 3. The middle of the cord is the “master point” or the spot that you will clip into. The two free ends will receive a carabineer that goes through two strands of cord and gets clipped into the bolts of the anchor.
Step 4. You can clip yourself into two strands of the master point and your partner can clip into the other two strands.
Congratulations! You have just set up a self equalizing, safe, efficient, organized rappel anchor that you can use at any rap station.
This system is known as the “quad” anchor, and is mostly used for a super strong top rope set up but works equally as well for rappelling. Here is why:
It is self equalizing, even if the bolts are at different lengths at each station, as you clip in with this it will automatically equalize and be ready to go.
You and your partner have two strands of cord to clip into or a left and right, keeping everything clean and organized.
Additional Tips: Have each person set this up so on the way down you leap frog the cords and the system is the same at each station.
As you rig the whole system keep the knot that holds your cord together out of the way or at one end of the free strands that gets clipped to the bolts.
Instead of using the quad described above you can use a sliding X type of anchor made of slings or similar.
As with any new technique practice on the ground and make sure you understand the system before you go sport rappelling off the Nose of El Cap!
Basic “Quad” with overhand knots.
Quad with figure 8’s to make it shorter with Mr. Green and Mr. Blue clipped into the two strands on the left and right.