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How to pass a knot when abseiling / rappelling and lowering - Climbing how to with a rescue slant...

So you've got a damaged rope, or you've joined two for a loooooong abseil and have got a knot in your rope, how do you lower or abseil past it? Watch the video and find out!
Even more than most videos, these are set pieces that may well need some shuffling around to fit the particular situation.
Please do fire away with any questions...
Kit in this video:
Beal Joker rope
ATC Guide
DMM Phantom
DMM 8mm slings
Shot on a Sony A6500
With a cheapy microphone
On a Joby tripod
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Tehnika: Spuštanje niz dvostruko uže - Abseil

Demonstracija prikazuje tehniku spuštanja niz dvostruko uže korištenjem spravice za osiguravanje.

Ovaj video služi za pripremu polaznika ljetne alpinističke škole za terensku nastavu.

Piano Song For Goodnight Doxent Zsigmond (
Licensed to the public under

Cool Intro MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Abseiling with a broken rope

Instructional video from a real example:
What to do when a rope is broken while rappelling


Today I will show you how I managed a pretty delicate situation:
A broken rope when abseiling in the night already.

This is something that can happen to anybody and having the technical knowledge as well as cold blood are important to find a solution without taking unnecessary risks.

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This happened in the 2020 winter when I was climbing Supercouloir. A beautiful mixed climbing route in Mont Blanc du Tacul.
You can check the video of this route in my playlist.

After getting to the top, half way through the rappels, I realized that the rope was damaged.

As you can imagine, this was a tricky situation. Not only because I was hanging at the edge of the broken rope, but because we had still 300 meters more of rappels to do.

There were also other factors making it even more dangerous like the cold, the darkness or the wind which was making it impossible to communicate with my partner. Furthermore, we were at high altitude, around 4K and tired after a long climbing day.

The reason why the rope was damaged like that is unknown, but it was probably because we stepped on it with the crampons. The investigation report from the manufacturer concluded that it was cut with something very sharp like a knife.

But anyway, what to do in that situation?

One important thing to notice is that I had the prussik on. Thanks to it, I could release both hands off the rappel line, hang on the prussik and deal with the situation.

Takeaway: always put the prussik!

The first thing that crossed my mind was to make a knot around the damaged area.
There are multiple possible knots for this situation. Just any knot that won't run and leaving enough slack. Overhand, figure 8, alpine butterfly...

Then, I would need to find a way to pass the belay plate to the other side of the knot.
A common approach is to use a double prussik system. This is the same concept used in crevasse rescue to pass a knot on the rope.

Passing the the belay plate to the other side of the knot is a lot of work, specially with gloves and in that windy environment. I have tried in a safe environment and I would prefer not to have to do it up there.

This approach that seems obvious, would only work 50% of the times.
Yes, that's right, only half of the times!

It depends on which is the rope to pull.
Let's see with a diagram what I mean:

If I did the knot and continue the rappel, when I try to pull the ropes from the bottom, the knot wouldn't pass through the top anchor; it gets blocked! In fact, both ropes get blocked.
We needed to pull the ropes to continue the rappels.

It could happen that the damaged rope was the rope to pull. In that case this approach would work.
Although, with all the stress of the situation it is easy to forget which is the rope to pull and I wouldn't be willing to take my chances.

Takeaway: always mark somehow which is the rope to pull. Like for example, clipping a carabiner to it.

In case of doubt, the safest would be to prussik up the ropes to get to the upper anchor.
Once there, make a knot around the damage as mentioned earlier.
This is not easy either. To prussik up double ropes with gloves in a wet environment is pretty hard. Tbocks, microtraxions and these kind of tools do not work with double ropes as they are too thin. They seem to work, but they are not certified for skinny ropes and it could lead to a fatal accident.

Takeaway: carry with you, in your harness enough gear to build a self rescue system.

When we reach an anchor and we manage to pull both ropes, for the subsequent rappels, we can use the good rope only as rappel line and use the damaged rope as pull rope.
To make sure the knot doesn't pass through the anchor, we block it using a carabiner.

This would have been the safest option.

Although, I took a different approach:

I observed the rope and I realized the sheath was damaged, but the core was intact.
The core offers 80% of the strength of the rope while the sheath only the 20% extra.
I thought that to do the remaining rappels, the rope was strong enough.

I continued that rappel until I met my partner at the next anchor. We observed the rope carefully, we discussed the various options and we decided to keep going like that.

To help strengthen he damaged area, it is advisable to cover it with some duck tape.

Take away: bring always some duck tape with you.

This can happen to anyone. It is a good to practice regularly the standard technical skills like crevasse rescue, prussik up a rope or to pass a knot through the belay plate in case you are caught in a delicate situation like this one and you can find a way out safely and smoothly.

Have fun in the mountains and be safe!




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For more information, click


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Eric Hanson makes the move to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia, where he's hooking up with Mark from Blue Mountains Guides for a day of abseiling and rappelling in the Blue Mountains.

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Rock Climbing: How to Rappel

More accidents happen on rappel than any other part of climbing, so always take your time, make sure your systems are redundant and practice the steps before you head to the cliff. In this video, we show you how to set up a rappel extension, how to thread the rope through your rappel device, how to back up the rappel with a friction hitch and how to rappel down the wall.

To learn more, view our:
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Shop REI’s selection of climbing gear at

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Visit our website or call us on 01479 861256

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Trad climbing on sea cliffs is a very rewarding and adventurous activity. However, the dynamic nature of the coastal environment means additional challenges.

Tide and sea conditions can mean that the difficulty of a given route can change from day to day. Rock quality may be variable, fixed equipment unreliable and accessing or escaping from a climb can be significantly more complex than at an inland crag.

This series of films aims to raise awareness of some of the skills and techniques required to manage risk in these exciting, yet unforgiving, venues. We hope that you'll be inspired for your own coastal adventures!

Sea-cliff climbing essentials: a series of short films produced exclusively for BMC TV in association with AMI (the Association of Mountaineering Instructors).

Sea-cliff climbing playlist:

Edited and produced by James Mann


We're the BMC. Climb walls, rock, hills, ice or mountains? Join us.

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Brace yourself for the Ultimate in Adventure! Step over the edge this weekend with an “Introductory Abseil” from $89pp. You’ll never be bored again with this adrenaline rush over the edge in the beautiful Shoalhaven!

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Visit our website or call us on 01479 861256

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Please do fire away with any questions...
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(Discount code: JBMOUNTAIN10 )

Piano Rock Instrumental by Hyde - Free Instrumentals |
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How To Set Up An Abseil | Climbing Daily Ep.1545

Get some DMM rigging gear:

Trevor Massiah is an expert in rope safety and runs a coaching and climbing company Rock and Sun. During a DMM sponsored weekend we received some rope and rigging tips from Trevor. Today we look at how to rig an abseil.

Rock and Sun:

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Abseiling is an essential skills for all climbers. Here we cover the basics. Check out our playlists for more info

Trad climbing skills playlist:

Multi-pitch playlist:

Sea-cliff climbing skills playlist:

If in doubt, go on a course or hire an instructor.


We're the BMC. Climb walls, rocks, hills, ice or mountains? Join us.



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