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Carabiner Brake Rappel

Clink, Ting, Boing... "Dude, I Dropped my ATC!". Just the other day I watched the look of horror on the face of a climber as his brand new silver DMM Bug went whizzing down a 150m cliff and disappeared into shrubbery below. How to abseil after you've dropped your descending device? Try rigging a carabiner brake rappel. Just follow these steps:
Step 1 (Click To Enlarge)Step 2 (Click To Enlarge)Step 3 (Click To Enlarge)
Step 4 (Click To Enlarge)Step 5 (Click To Enlarge)Step 6 (Click To Enlarge)
Step 1: Two carabiners are placed atop each other with opposed and reversed gates. Steps 3 to 5: The rope should run across the spines of the horizontally placed carabiners, but the gates should be reversed. To increase friction, add a third horizontal carabiner. Step 6: Clip the rig to your harness, preferably with a locking carabiner, and you're away. 

Note, oval carabiners work best, however you can also use D shaped carabiners (as pictured).

Alternative Method 
The exact same Carabiner Brake, except this time we've used a slightly faster method of forming it. Follow these steps:

Step1 (Click To Enlarge)Step 2 (Click To Enlarge)Step 3 (Click To Enlarge)
Step 4 (Click To Enlarge)Step 5 (Click To Enlarge)Step 6 (Click To Enlarge)

Step 1: Clip two carabiners, gates reversed and opposed, to the harness. Step 2: Feed the slack rope through the two carabiners forming a loop. Step 3: Clip a horizontally placed carabiner, spine up as pictured. Step 4: Place another horizontal carabiner, this time with the gate reversed (but not opposed), so the spine is also up. Step 5: Pull the whole mess tight. Step 6: Continue pulling tight, allowing the horizontally placed carabiners to slide over the vertically placed ones, and there you have it, the Carabiner brake rappel.

An alternative to the Carabiner Brake Rappel shown above, would be to rap with the good old rope twisting Munter Hitch, which could also be used to belay.


Further Reading:
Getting Down Without A Rappel Device - Climbing skills article from outdoors.
Carabiner Brake Rappel
- Illustration from Climbing Magazine's web site.
I Dropped My Belay Device - From Dawn's FAQ on the TradGirl web site.
Carabiner's As Brake Bars - From Dr. Gary D Storrick's web site.

Improvised Carabiner Brakes - A PFD Document From Rescue Dynamics.


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