Goto Chockstone Home

  Tech Tips

      Sponsored By

Chockstone Photography
Australian Landscape Photography by Michael Boniwell
Australian Landscape Prints

Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
Abseiling tips, tricks, habits and advice 29-May-2014 At 9:58:45 PM stuart h
I post pretty rarely and generally just to answer questions about alpine climbing. Further, I think rock climbing is really a pretty safe activity (I think alpine climbing is safe enough although probably not the healthiest hobby you could take up) but some of the comments in this discussion and the linked thread are disturbing enough to make me type.

In simple terms, people who die abseiling are commonly killed 1 of 3 ways:

1) not connecting to the abseil
2) rappelling off the end of the rope(s)
3) anchor failure

The next source of death is probably:
4) getting stuck on the abseil (exposure)

The various options for autoblock backups are convenient for organising rope management issues and would usually probably hold you in place if you let go of the rope for some reason. My understanding is that research has indicated that they are not effective at avoiding rappelling off the ends of the rope.

About a dozen deaths are reported each year in "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" from causes 1 & 2. Interestingly they are overwhelmingly cragging accidents rather than occurring in serious alpine contexts (where a range of complicating factors can be in play & where you are often doing multiple long rappels). No doubt similar accident rates occur in Europe.

I am unaware of deaths (no doubt some have occurred) from people losing control on an abseil and experiencing an uncontrolled (but otherwise properly connected) slide to the end of the rope/ground (it would be nicer to be on two strands rather than one the day you test this out).

The overwhelming majority of abseiling deaths would be prevented if people 1) load their abseil system before detaching from the anchor &2) have knots in the end of the ropes, (I don't bother if I can see them both on the ground) & most importantly, 3) do 1&2 every time.

An autoblock can be a very useful part of an abseil system; however, in the discussion of what is likely to keep you alive / save your life while abseiling in a steep multi-pitch environment, they are well down my list.

Everyone says that they will exercise care and not abseil off the ends of their ropes. Several people have posted it here. There are times when the complications of terrain and conditions mean that I choose not to knot rope ends, but this is very, very rare (and would probably be better addressed by lowering). It remains a fact, however, that a significant number of climbers die each year abseiling off the ends of their ropes.

As a child I had to mow the lawn. One day I went to do it in bare feet. My father stopped me and told me I had to put my boots on. I said I didn't need to because I wasn't going to mow over my own feet. He said, "Well, that's alright then, because that ward full of blokes in PANCH hospital, they all planned to do it."

This is the most valuable lesson I ever received.

Take Care (but don't waste time doing it)


There are 86 replies to this topic.


Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search
Chockstone Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | Landscape Photos Australia

Please read the full disclaimer before using any information contained on these pages.

Australian Panoramic | Australian Coast | Australian Mountains | Australian Countryside | Australian Waterfalls | Australian Lakes | Australian Cities | Australian Macro | Australian Wildlife
Landscape Photo | Landscape Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Fine Art Photography | Wilderness Photography | Nature Photo | Australian Landscape Photo | Stock Photography Australia | Landscape Photos | Panoramic Photos | Panoramic Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | High Country Mountain Huts | Mothers Day Gifts | Gifts for Mothers Day | Mothers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Mothers Day | Wedding Gift Ideas | Christmas Gift Ideas | Fathers Day Gifts | Gifts for Fathers Day | Fathers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Fathers Day | Landscape Prints | Landscape Poster | Limited Edition Prints | Panoramic Photo | Buy Posters | Poster Prints