Rappelling on an abalakov - Petzl Norway

Rappelling on an abalakov


  • Carefully read the Instructions for Use used in this technical advice before consulting the advice itself. You must have already read and understood the information in the Instructions for Use to be able to understand this supplementary information.
  • Mastering these techniques requires specific training. Work with a professional to confirm your ability to perform these techniques safely and independently before attempting them unsupervised.
  • We provide examples of techniques related to your activity. There may be others that we do not describe here.

At the end of an ice climb, there are several descent options: walking, rappelling on fixed anchors or rappelling on abalakovs. It is the latter that is described here.

1. Creating an abalakov

To create an abalakov, you will need a 7 mm minimum diameter cord, an abalakov hook such as the MULTIHOOK, a knife and a long (21 cm for example) ice screw. Remember that you will also need some practice and skill before getting it right.

Making the first hole.

1. Cleaning the surface and making the first hole.

Making the second hole

2. Making the second hole

To create a 60° angle, make the second hole at a distance approximately equal to the length of the screw. You will then get an equilateral triangle and thus an approximate 60° angle.

Pull the cord through the other hole with the MULTIHOOK.

3. You can clean out the hole with the MULTIHOOK before threading the cord. Pull the cord through the other hole with the MULTIHOOK.

Tying the loop with a double fisherman knot

4. Tying the loop with a double fisherman knot. Cut any surplus cord.

Don't make your loops too short.

Don't make your loops too short.

The strength of the abalakov depends greatly on ice quality and on the way it is made (distance between holes, angle...). Beware of existing abalakovs, as they may have hidden damage and turn out to be dangerous if reused.

2. Rappelling

Run the rappelling rope directly through the loop. To secure the first person's descent, the abalakov can be combined with another ice screw. Be careful to connect this back-up screw to the rappel rope, not just to the abalakov sling.

Run the rappelling rope directly through the loop

To link up the rappels more quickly without needing to leave gear behind, you can opt to thread the rappel rope directly through the holes of the abalakov.

Watch for the rope possibly freezing in the abalakov; before descending, always ensure that the rope slides properly through the abalakov.

Direct rope thread solution

When descending, take care to attach your ice axes securely to the harness.

Attach your ice axes for the descent