Simul Rappelling Technique: How to Do It Safely

Simul-rappelling technique

Let us learn about one advanced and quite challenging rappelling method, called the simul rappelling technique. Over the years, the lives of so many rappellers have been taken by it. It is not meant for any faint-hearted people, not at all for novices. 

Still, It is used in extreme circumstances like the absence of anchor locations. For instance, it is used when you rappel on the fin or spire’s opposite sides. Such sites can be seen commonly in South Dakota over the Black Hill area.

It is to inform you here that I’m not encouraging you to use the simul rappelling method. It will help if you don’t attempt any similar unsafe procedures. But I believe that just learning about it is not going to hurt you in any way.

You will learn everything about this simul rappelling technique. You will also learn how to use such a method safely. You will even know when you are not supposed to use it.

About Simul Rappelling

Simul rappelling also known as simultaneous rappelling is one of the seven main types of rappelling. In this technique, two persons descend using a single rope simultaneously. Perhaps it can be quickly imagined that it involves a lot of risks. 

Hence, the climbers have to be doubly careful when using this technique to rappel. There is no scope for any mistakes while trying this procedure. Even a small mistake could be hazardous. Several accidents can vouch for this fact.

Simul-Rappelling Technique How to Do It Safely

Besides the absence of anchors, there are other scenarios too. You can try this procedure during a severe storm. It will help you suddenly retreat. Still, you won’t see many applications of this technique. But there is no risk in learning about how to practice simul rappelling. Perhaps someday, you might have to use it in an emergency.

How Do We Do Simul Rappelling Correctly

In Simul rappelling, the same setup is used just like a usual rappel. It implies that you will clip your equipment into a rope. Then you will release it to get a descent that is under control.

But you won’t put both strings into your device. You will take one strand. Simultaneously, the second string will be handled by your partner. Both of you rappel together but in separate lines only.

It is to reiterate that simul rappel is an innovative procedure. It should be tried only by skilled rappelers. Let us see the key points you need to consider while using this technique:

  • 1) Ensure talking with your rappel partner in a loud and clear voice. It will be ideal if you both rappel at similar speeds. Also, know what the second person is doing at that time.
  • 2) Ideally, you need to have the same weight as the other person simul rappelling with you. It is an essential point. Mostly, the heavier person descends faster. While going down, it could pull the string from the anchor. 
  • 3) If your weight is more than the other person, you must do rappelling on the rope that pulls the anchor knot. Try to stay a little lower than your lighter partner. Both of you should be linked by a dual sling.
  • 4) Ensure to put knots at the rope ends. Two partners offset each other’s weight. If one of the partners falls, the other partner also falls. Hence, always secure your knot at the rope ends unless they touch the ground.
  • 5) There is one more important thing. Both of you should add weight and reduce weight on the string simultaneously. If any of the climbers weight the rope instead of counterbalancing the partner’s weight, he will fall. 
  • 6) Before unclipping, watch out for your partner to ensure that he weights the rope. The slack should be pulled through your device and locked off. Ensure that the string holds both the climbers.
  • 7) The rope should be unweighted simultaneously at the next anchor. Tie yourself to the following anchor before you unclip the string.
  • 8) It will be best if you use assisted braking devices or a Klemheist hitch. Please refer to the list of belay devices here.

Things You Must Avoid During Simul Rappelling

You are advised not to use simul rappelling if the topography is too challenging. For example, the ground may be loose. It implies that you may accidentally throw rocks or debris onto the other climber.

Sharp edges can also be dangerous for the string used in the simul rappel. It can be more perilous because the same strand now holds the weight of two persons.

Simul-rappelling technique

Try to stay closer to each other during the process of simul rappelling. At any point, you should not be vertically apart by more than fifteen feet. In this manner, you can have easy communication with the other climber. Moreover, the risk of falling rocks is potentially lower.

Ensure that you make the anchor correctly. The anchor used should be of good quality. After all, it holds the weight of 2 persons instead of one. If at any point you get a feeling that the anchor does not have enough strength to keep both of you, you should not try to rappel from it.

You can not depend on webbing for anchors of rappelling. In some cases, a rappel ring or metal may perform better. The webbing stress is amplified while using this technique.

The pressure is more as compared to traditional rappel running or cave rappelling. The webbing can be severed with regular movements. The friction and heat generated are higher because the rope, as well as the anchor, now supports two persons.

Reasons to avoid Simul-Rappelling

This technique is used rarely by climbers. But they practice it to gain some time. But remember that we have many other alternatives available.

Those options are harmless and save time too. Moreover, if you are more efficient in your gear set-up, you can get down faster. In this manner, you can save more time.

Simul rappelling technique

For example, if you shed a few kilos of your weight, you become quick and agile. You can also try to use only those gears that can be retrieved quickly. Let us go through the key points why I don’t suggest using the simul rappel technique.

You can try out another popular rappelling technique – the Australian Rappel or waterfall rappelling.

There is an essential risk inherent in simul rappelling. You can say that here are some of the things that can go wrong.

  • 1) An inexperienced climber rappels slowly on one rope. It is due to lesser friction on one strand, which gives uneasiness to the climber. It means that you are increasing the risk by performing it slowly. 
  • 2) Both rappelers reach the following rappel point simultaneously. But one of them is required to wait for the other. In the meantime, the other climber tries to manage the anchor. If one of them rappels without using simul technique and readies the point correctly, the second saves enough time. Hence it implies that the simul-rappelling becomes obsolete in this situation.
  • 3) If one of the two persons starts to unweight, the slack generated can lead to slipping of rope through the anchor. Consequently, the second person may fall suddenly. Such a situation can lead to a big accident. 
  • 4) If both rappelers don’t carry a brake stand for backup, the risk is magnified. In such a situation, if any of them lose control for any reason, it may lead to an accident. It happens when the rope slides through the device and the anchor.

For further reading, we recommend our guide on how to simul-climb and should you attempt it? I hope you enjoy it.