Tie Knots In Your Rappel Ropes to Avoid Disaster

A beautiful illustration of death and dismemberment waiting to happen. Photo: Nick Wilkes

Whilst descending the North Guardian Angel Saturday evening, Calvin and I found our 100′ rope just a bit short to reach the most comfortable landings along the way. It wasn’t much of a problem, but highlighted the importance of tying knots in the ends of our rappel lines. Even when the terrain is not vertical, sliding off the end of your rappel ropes can be extremely dangerous, often fatal. In many places on the North Guardian, an unprotected slip could lead to 50 to 500-foot tumble… not good for your health.

On the last of three rappels, we staged this shot as a grand coupling of beautiful landscape and tragic technical foolishness. Can you imagine seeing this scene in real life? Watching someone rapidly descending a 50-degree slope with only 18 inches of line left? I would probably crap my pants. So while we took the picture in jest, I wanted to share it to highlight the serious message underlying it. ALWAYS tie knots in the ends of your rappel lines, or at the very least, make a very conscience and aware decision not to.

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About Nick

Nick Wilkes found ZAC in 1996, working first as an outfitter, then a guide, then as webmaster. An ardent adventure enthusiast, Nick's recent exploits involve laying down roots in Wisconsin, chasing his kids around the house, working as a Madison, WI photographer and growing his Wisconsin climbing business. Connect with Nick on Facebook, Google+, or directly via email.
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