Ask the Master: Rappelling Overhanging Roofs and Traverses

By Jeff Ward (AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide) | December 22nd, 2016


The following scenarios assume that you are rappelling down a multipitch climb where there is no other way to get down besides rappelling. It is also assumed you are still several pitches off the ground.

Situation 1: You rappel over a large roof and can’t reach the wall and anchor to set up the next rappel. What is the best way to reach the chains?

Situation 2: At least one pitch in the climb is a traverse, but rappelling brings you straight down, not diagonally down. What is the best way to get to the next set of chains without swinging out of control?



Jeff Ward.
Jeff Ward.

Often on overhanging or traversing rappels, the first person down can place gear on the way down to redirect the rappel ropes. This can help you reach the anchors without exposing yourself to the big swing.

Once the first person reaches the anchor they fix the rope to that anchor with a little bit of slack so the next person can pull himself or herself into the anchor. That person cleans the directionals on their way down.

—Jeff Ward




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