Securing the first rappeller - Petzl Canada

Securing the first rappeller


  • Read the technical notice before viewing the following techniques.
  • It is important to fully understand the information provided in the technical notice before using this complementary information
  • Mastering these techniques requires training.
  • Consult a professional before attempting to perform these techniques on your own.

When rappelling in a waterfall, it is important to correctly set the rope length in order to: 

- Avoid having to remove the descender, thus enabling a quick exit from turbulence in the landing pool

- Avoid getting tangled in the end of the rope

The rope end should be set about 1 m above the landing pool.


When installing the rappel, there are two possible scenarios:

- the base of the waterfall is visible from the top of the rappel, so it is easy to set up the rope from the top on the first try

- the base of the waterfall is not visible; setting the rope length is done when the leader descends, using a releasable system

Correct and incorrect rope length settings for a rappel

1. The rappel is set up with a rope length of about 1/4 to 1/3 less than what is required to reach the bottom.

A releasable system is put in place, for example a tied off Munter - mule knot.

Setting up a releasable system

2. The leader descends. When he sees the base of the waterfall, he stops and instructs his partner to lower him using whistle signals.

Establish a whistle code depending on noise levels and/or distance.

The leader descends and communicates with his teammate

3. Once the rope length is set, the leader advises his partner with one or two short whistles. The partner re-ties the Munter - mule knot.

Correctly setting the rope length


4. The leader continues the descent. The rope is set for the rest of the team.