Nine of us drove to the upper trailhead for Larison Rock on a cool June Sunday morning. We hiked the half mile to the top of Larison Rock and set up three ropes for practicing some more advanced rappel techniques. We started with a discussion of how to properly set up for rappelling with one or two ropes, and several practical hints to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of rope tangles when throwing the rope over a cliff.
Then the fun started. We practiced the use of autoblock knots for self-belay while rappelling. This is particularly useful if the rappeller needs to use his/her hands for freeing the rope or if one wants to take pictures while rappelling. We tried the autoblock with a conventional rappel device on both double rope and single rope rappels, and on a double alpine rope (8.8mm). People were convinced by the end of the day that this greatly improves the safety of rappelling and is very little trouble to set up.
We also worked through some 'what if' scenarios. What if you dropped your rappel device? What could you do to get down safely? We practiced the carabiner brake rappel and Munter hitch rappel and proved to ourselves that we could get ourselves down safely. John also demonstrated the Dulfersitz technique, which doesn't even require a harness.... though we agreed that this would be our last choice in most situations.
Another 'what if' scenario... what if your rope became damaged and you had to tie off part of it - how would you rappel past the knot? We did a dry run practice of how to do this, and just two participants decided to try this for real while rappelling off the overhanging section of Larison Rock. The rest of us offered coaching and some heckling from below.
There were other rappel problems we talked through, but didn't have a chance to practice. What if your rope got stuck when you were trying to pull it? How would you get it free? Is it possible to safely climb back to free it?
Finally, we did a demonstration of how to do a 2-person rappel if it became necessary to assist an injured climber.
It turned out to be a really fun and interesting day.Members: Sue Sullivan, Steve Still, Brian Hamilton, Sean Breslin, Shellie Robertson, David Morris, Richard Lemon, John Mowat.
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