September 7, 2021

How to Use Rappel Racks: a Step-by-Step Guide

by Bernice

Climbing rocks, hills, or mountains is a certain level of fitness and determination. The one thing that keeps the climbers going is the aspiration to reach the top pitch.

But getting back down is every bit as important as reaching the top. For you to be a well-rounded climber, you need to have great rappelling skills.

One way you can ensure that you are safe when coming down from a climb is by using rappel racks. These racks are mainly used to add friction and ensure that you have a more controlled descent.

They also keep the rope cool so that it does not burn or get damaged when descending and enable you to climb down like a pro. Let’s see how to use rappel racks.

Table of Contents

What Are Rappel Racks?

The rappel racks are a U-shaped frame that gets attached to the rappeller’s harness. It then snaps the multiple bars that pivot from the other side of the frame. Though the design used in making these racks is simple, the product is sturdy to ensure that it holds on to its weight.

The rappel rack is mainly used by climbers when they are coming down from a hill or mountain. The device offers consistent control even when the rope gets extremely wet, muddy, or dirty.

Since there are no moving parts in the gear, do not worry about mud clogging the device. Thus, it is possible to use it on a dirty or muddy rope and still give you the needed service.

The rappel rack will give you additional friction points during your descent, even if the conditions are muddy and adverse. Thus, this will help reduce the possibility of losing control when climbing down and injuring yourself.

At the same time, when you move too fast when descending, the friction on the rope may cause the heat of a fire, thus causing the rope to break.

What Are Rappelling Racks Used For?

Climbers use the rappel devices for their mechanical ability to break devices used to control the speed of the rope when rappelling.

The device enables you to descend the rope by sliding down. The rappel will give you the friction and control that you need to protect you from falling. 

The rappelling racks are among the vital pieces when you are rappelling down. In addition, this enables you to control the speed you want to go.

How to Use Rappel Racks: a Step-by-Step Guide 

To use the rappel rack, you will need to attach it to your harness along with a locking carabiner. When you attach the rappel rack, then you can feed through the device at your preferred pace. Thus, it will ensure you maintain the control required during descent.

But before you start using the rappelling rack, you need to double-check everything to make sure that each part is working as required.

First, you now need to tie a stopper knot at the end of the ropes and anchor it in three points. This is vital as it will help ensure that the rappel is safe in all the possible ways.

If you are not careful with the rappel racks, the product will not offer you the control you need. Therefore, you might still lose control when descending. That is why you need to learn the step-to-step guide on how to use rappel racks.

PETZL Rappel Rack Descender

  • The number of bars engaged on the rope may be adjusted at any time to obtain the desired amount of friction.
  • Good distribution of friction and heat helps preserve the rope.
  • Does not twist the rope.
  • For use on a single ropes (9 to 13 mm) or double ropes (8 to 11 mm).
  • Weight 16.6 oz (470g).
  • Step one: Use a locking carabiner, attach it to your climbing harness, and then connect it to the teardrop found at the bottom of the rappel rack. Once you complete the attachment, lock the carabiner and ensure that the carabiner’s gate is facing your body.
  • Step two: Secure the rappel rack by opening all adjustable bars on the rappel rack. The rack should be facing out in their locking positions and not in.
  • Step three: Now start attaching the rappel rope to the rack by running it over the 1st bar. The location of the bar is at the top of the rack.
  • Step four: Once the first bar gets attached, the next step is to take the 2nd bar and slide it up while running the rappel under it. Once properly installed, lock the 2nd bar. 
  • Step five: In the same way you attached the 2nd bar, use the formula to attach the 3rd, 4th, and 5th bar. Again, ensure that you securely lock each bar after attaching it. 
  • Step six: Once you have completed the attachment, you need to tighten the rope. You can do this by using your brake hand to ensure that the rope is tight enough.
  • Step seven: Make sure that each part is well connected and properly locked. You need to double-check before you start using the rope so that you can be sure that everything is set as required,
  • Step eight: Now that everything is in position, you can start descending.

Do Not Rush to Use the Rappelling Racks

Using the rappelling racks might sound easy in theory, but practically they can be hectic. That is why you should not be rash using the product. You need to practice rappelling rigging and learn the best way to rappel the rack. 

Note that if the rappel rack gets rigged backward, there is a high chance that the rope will slip, and you might fall.

That is why you need to test the rope before you start descending. Testing it is vital as it will help ensure that the rope will not slip out and that it is also rigged correctly.

How to Control the Rappelling Racks

The racks’ design makes it possible for you to remove them when you are descending. This will help to reduce friction and increase the speed you use to get down.

But, you should not adjust the bars unless you have the ability and the experience needed to adjust your descent. 

Removing the bar requires you to pull the rope using the brake hand. This will help in stopping the descent and will allow movement of the other bar. It is also possible for you to add the bar instead if you need more friction if the rope becomes wet.

PETZL Rappel Rack Descender

  • The number of bars engaged on the rope may be adjusted at any time to obtain the desired amount of friction.
  • Good distribution of friction and heat helps preserve the rope.
  • Does not twist the rope.
  • For use on a single ropes (9 to 13 mm) or double ropes (8 to 11 mm).
  • Weight 16.6 oz (470g).

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Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by Roger

About the author


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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