Accessing an exposed rappel station - Petzl USA
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Accessing an exposed rappel station

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.

Walking on slippery rock can quickly become problematic when approaching a vertical pitch. This is the case when trying to reach a rappel station installed directly above a waterfall. Accessing the station can be tricky and more dangerous than the actual rappel. Trying to reach an exposed station without a belay is not recommended. 

The leader can access the station by self-belaying from an anchor above. Once attached to the station, the rope will act as a fixed traverse line for the rest of the party.

Accessing an exposed rappel station - starting position

Setting up a self-belay system

1. The rope attached to the harness passes through the anchors, then through the PIRANA. The free end of the rope is stored in a bag attached to the harness. The rope should be able to slide without getting damaged. If the anchor is too sharp/aggressive, a quick link will be required.

For rappelling with the rope in a bag, a knot at the end of the rope is essential, as it is impossible to see ahead of time if the rope is long enough for the planned rappel.

 

Detail of setting up a self-belay system

Setting up a fixed traverse line

2. Progress while self-belayed

Access the rappel station with the self-belay system

3. Tether yourself to the station. Tie off the PIRANA if both hands are needed for tethering to the station.

Tether yourself to the station. Tie off the PIRANA

4. Attach the end of the rope that was on the harness to the station. Tighten the fixed line slightly, attach the second rope end with a figure eight knot. The end of the rope stays in the storage bag.

Detail of setting up the fixed line

5. The second can reach the station by moving while tethered to the fixed line. Once the entire party has passed, the rope can be pulled without leaving any equipment on the first anchors.

The second can reach the station by moving while tethered to the fixed line