Setting up a rappel during a ski descent - Petzl Netherlands
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Setting up a rappel during a ski descent

On a ski descent, a non-skiable section may require rappelling. It is often necessary to improvise an anchor using natural features.

Warnings

  • 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.

In this video, Vivian Bruchez and Jonathan "Doud’s" Charlet, two mountain guides, demonstrate their method. Techniques can vary depending on the situation: accessing the anchor on foot or on skis, vertical or sloping rappel, arrival at a snow slope or rock anchor... It's essential to recognize when to transition from a skiing phase, by definition solo and unroped, to a roped phase, where normal mountaineering precautions apply: e.g. checking anchor quality, staying attached to the anchor during rope maneuvers, using a rappel backup...

Review of the knots used in this video:

Installing a cord sling on a rock horn: double fisherman's knot.

Double fisherman's knot 1/10.
Double fisherman's knot 2/10.
Double fisherman's knot 3/10.
Double fisherman's knot 4/10.
Double fisherman's knot 5/10.
Double fisherman's knot 6/10.
Double fisherman's knot 7/10.
Double fisherman's knot 8/10.
Double fisherman's knot 9/10.
Double fisherman's knot 10/10.

In the video, the skiers decided against tying a knot in the end of the rope. However, this is a basic precaution for many rappel situations, to help avoid rappelling off the end of the rope. But like all precautions, its value must be weighed in context: in this case, a knot at the end of the rope would increase the risk of getting the rope stuck in the blocks and cracks lining the couloir, exposing one of the skiers to a greater risk in order to go free the rope. The skiers therefore chose the technique that allowed them to best manage the two risks.

Rope-end knot 1/4.
Rope-end knot 2/4.
Rope-end knot 3/4.
Rope-end knot 4/4.

Rappelling with an Autoblock backup

Rappelling with an Autoblock backup.

Tying a Munter hitch

Tying a Munter hitch 1/6.
Tying a Munter hitch 2/6.
Tying a Munter hitch 3/6.
Tying a Munter hitch 4/6.
Tying a Munter hitch 5/6.
Tying a Munter hitch 6/6.

Tying an Autoblock

Tying an Autoblock 1/5.
Tying an Autoblock 2/5.
Tying an Autoblock 3/5.
Tying an Autoblock 4/5.
Tying an Autoblock 5/5.