March 28, 2022

How to Rappel with a Carabiner? A Step-by-Step Guide

by Jullie

Table of Contents

If you lose your rappelling device or don’t feel like bringing one because you’re on a lengthy alpine climb with only a small rappel, the relatively old-school approach of a carabiner brake can provide a smooth descent using gear that you already have.

Before you dismiss the rappel with a carabiner as a throwback technique from the Freedom of the Hills version 2.0, when harnesses were built from braided blackberry vines, and Mount St. Helens was a genuine mountain, hear me out. Rappelling with a carabiner is simple to implement and requires three lockers.

How Do I Rappel with a Carabiner?

Rappelling using a rappelling carabiner can be done in the two ways listed below.

  1. The carabiner brake method: This approach necessitates 4-6 carabiners. You can do this with either a single or double strand of rope.
  2. The hunter hitch method: Necessitates the use of one or two carabiners. You can do it with either a single or double strand of rope.

Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages. Rappelling (if you are a beginner, read what does rappelling means) without even belay equipment is usually done with a carabiner brake.

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However, rappelling with a carabiner is more difficult to set up than the munter hitch. Also, it would help if you had extra carabiners. It is beneficial to become familiar with both ways.

How to Rappel with a Carabiner

How to Rappel with a Single Strand and Double Strand of Rope?

Rappeling using twin ropes is more usual than belaying, which involves the climber tied to a single rope strand. A two-stranded rope provides more friction than a single-stranded rope.

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Remember, a twin rope must be used as a pair and never on its own.

It will allow you to regulate your rappel without having to apply a lot of force. The single and double-strand ropes will be established on the anchor as explained below.

How to Rappel with Double Strand of Rope?

The appearance of double ropes can be misleading. It doesn’t relate to two different ropes. You will pass one rope via the anchor point and to its middle.

It would help if you now had two rope ends on either end of the anchor point, and the two points are useful in rappelling.

What are the advantages of using a double strand of rope? 

To release the rope off the anchor after the rappel, tug on one end of a rope.

What are the disadvantages of using a double strand of rope? 

Since you can tug the rope via the anchor point, ensure the strands on both sides remain equal. Suppose one end of the rope is longer than the other; you may only be able to pull on one strand, causing the whole rope to slip out of the anchor.

How to Rappel with a Single Strand of Rope?

Isn’t it terrifying to have your rope slide out during the rappel? As a result, some climbers may prefer rappelling with just one rope.

You’ll tie one side to the anchor point if you’re utilizing a single rope. You will use that single strand to rappel.

What are the advantages of using a single strand of rope? 

The rope would not slip out because you will connect it to the anchor point.

What are the disadvantages of using a single strand of rope? 

After the rappel, you will not be able to get back the rope after rappelling.

How to Rappel Using the Carabiner Brake Method?

You can use the 4-6 carabiners in the carabiner brake technique. Depending on your setup, the number of carabiners you’ll need for rappelling will vary. In the step-by-step guide below, we’ll go through everything in greater detail.

With oval carabiners, the carabiner brake method works well. With oval carabiners, the carabiner brake method works well.

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It’ll be simpler to put up, and the descent will be more comfortable. Ensure the offset D-shaped or pear-shaped carabiners are oriented the right way if you’re using them. Go to our guide explaining all types of carabiners for climbing and rappelling.

Step By Step Guide 

Prepare your rope

Knot one rope end to the anchor point if rappelling with one strand. Put the rope via the anchor point if you’re rappelling with two ropes. Ensure each side has an equal length of rope.

Begin by securing one locking carabiner or two non-locking carabiners to the belay loop of your harness.

  • If you’re using two non-locking carabiners, ensure their gates are on opposing sides. If both gates are opened, they must form an X. The gates shouldn’t be placed in a straight line. 
  • Ensure the broader edges of offset D-shaped or pear-shaped carabiners face the other way from you while using them.

Then, hook in two more carabiners (s) into the initial set of carabiners. You’ll need two carabiners for this. It makes no difference whether they are non-locking or locking.

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  • Ensure every carabiner’s gates are on different sides once more. When both gates are opened, they must form an X. The gates must not be placed in a straight line.
  • Please make sure the broader edges of offset D-shaped or pear-shaped carabiners are facing away from you while using them.

Orient yourself so that you are facing the anchor point. Pass a bight of rope through the second carabiners, working your way up from the bottom of the carabiners to you.

Take one more carabiner with you. It makes no difference whether it’s a locking carabiner or a non-locking. Clip this carabiner under the bight of rope across the second set of carabiners.

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  • Ensure that the gate is pointing down and away from the rope bight. The rope should travel across the backbone of the carabiner rather than through the gate.
  • It’s possible to be unable to attach offset D-shaped or pear-shaped carabiners.

Instead, attach this to the rope bight further away from you. Then connect it to the rope strand that runs from the anchor point.

Next, it would help to slide down the carabiner towards the second carabiner set. It should be able to glide over the second set with ease.

  • When rappelling using static ropes 10-11 mm wide, this will probably suffice. You may require adding another carabiner if you’re rappelling with a high load or over a high or overhanging portion or using narrower ropes with much less friction. The carabiner will be attached to the third carabiner in the same spot.

Ensure the two carabiners’ gates are on different sides. If both gates are opened, they must form an X. The gates shouldn’t be placed in a straight line.

  • To compress the ropes via the carabiners, pull them on opposing ends.
  • Ensure the two strands of a double rope aren’t twisted when utilizing them.

You’re all set to rappel

Ensure you properly install the carabiners. With a double or single rope strand, the carabiner brake technique is the same.

What are the advantages of using the carabiner brake method? 

Carabiner brakes work similarly as the belay device does. It is completely secure and safe. During the rappel, the ropes would not tangle.

What are the disadvantages of using the carabiner brake method? 

As you’ve seen, it’s not easy to set up carabiners for this approach. You should perform this often to ensure that you understand what to do if you require to use it.

How to Rappel Using the Munter Hitch Method? 

The crossing hitch, or Italian hitch, is another name for the munter hitch.

The munter hitch is similar to the munter hitch for rappelling and belaying. If you don’t even have sufficient carabiners to install the carabiner brake approach, you can utilize the munter hitch method.

One can only use one locking carabiner or two non-locking carabiners in the hunter hitch method.

On two ropes, some hikers find that the munter hitch causes too much resistance for rappeling.

However, while rappeling with large packs or steep or overhanging areas, the extra friction might be beneficial. It would help if you experimented to see which one works best for you in various scenarios.

Step By Step Guide 

Prepare your rope

Knot one end of your rope to an anchor point if rappelling with one strand. Pass the rope via the anchor point if you’re rappelling with two ropes. Ensure each side has an equal length of rope. 

Begin by securing one locking carabiner or two non-locking carabiners to the belay loop of your harness.

If you’re using two non-locking carabiners, ensure their gates are on opposing sides. If you open both gates, they must form an X. It would help if you did not place the gates in a straight line.

Ensure the broader edges of offset D-shaped or pear-shaped carabiners are facing away from you while using them.

Tie the munter hitch

With both arms crossed, grasp the rope straight next to you. Ensure that both of your arms are facing downward.

Unclench your hands and make fists with your fists facing one another, such as doing a fist bump. Bring your hands’ two loops together. Using a carabiner, secure the loops.

Make sure the rope flows across the carabiner’s spine, not the gate. You can be sure you’ve tied the appropriate knot by tugging the rope back and forth.

You must be able to tug the rope back and forth using both ends easily. You will flip over the loop in the carabiner by pulling the rope on either side.

You’re all set to rappel!

What are the advantages of using the munter hitch method?

The munter hitch is far more straightforward to assemble than the carabiner brake approach. For this, you’ll need one locking carabiner or two non-locking carabiners. It is completely safe and secure.

What are the disadvantages of using the munter hitch method? 

In rappelling, the ropes may become twisted.

How Do You Anchor a Single Rope Rappel? 

Use the steps below to anchor a single rope rappel.

  • Rappel via the anchors with the rappel rope.
  • Please attach it to the tagline with a suitable rappelling knot and locking mechanism to stabilize it.
  • Attach yourself to the rappelling rope with a clip.
  • After you’ve finished your rappel, unclip yourself.
  • At the foot of the rappel line, undo the backup loop.

Take a look at the tagline. The rappel rope will be drawn up and via the anchor, slipping down and collecting it.

How Do You Descend a Rope with a Carabiner?

By turning the carabiners so that the small sides are together, one can add additional friction. It is a good spot to employ a locker draw to lengthen your rappel significantly.

If you lack three locking carabiners, use two standard carabiners on the bottom, opposite, and connected to the belay loop.

When you detach your rope, like with other carabiner brake rappels, it’s quite possible to drop a carabiner since at least one among them isn’t attached, in that case, the upper one with an orange sleeve. So keep an eye on it while you disassemble it.

You can perform this with two carabiners rather than three if you’re incredibly short on equipment.

The purpose of the third carabiner is to keep the rope from rubbing against your rappel or harness extension. Keep a watchful check on the rope once you utilize only two carabiners.

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Safety caution 1: There’s a small potential that the rope will unscrew a carabiner lock, so be cautious. To reduce the possibilities of this occurring, you’re using two auto-locking carabiners. Note that this isn’t a standard procedure but rather an emergency rappel.

Safety caution 2: To use this method will likely result in less resistance than using a piece of standard rappel equipment. Perhaps a lot less. It depends on many factors such as the rope diameter, your weight, and if the rope is crusty and old or new and slippery. Always have a third-hand autoblock, and mittens are also a good idea. 

Because of the reduced friction, this method is generally best used in less than steep terrain. Before attempting it in the actual world, try it in a controlled area such as a staircase to get an idea of how fast you can rap.

The carabiner brake doesn’t need a rappel extender, but it’s excellent training to use one, so you’re displaying it.

Also, as previously said, utilizing a third-party/autoblock backup is generally a good idea, although it isn’t shown here for clarity’s sake.

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About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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