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Twin Rope Compound Systems

Canyon Rope Systems

Twin Rope Compound Systems

Episode 4 of 10

This is a free course featuring Brent Roth about different ways to set up rappels through a canyon. This considers ease of rigging, abrasion, ease of rescue and how efficient it is to move people through the canyon.

Our courses are A-Z content in blog format, glued together with an overarching blog we call a textbook. A blog format is easy to read, easy to update, and easy to translate. Be sure to begin at the TEXTBOOK and at the end of each episode we'll point you to the next.

Twin rope systems is when both strands are usable but this falls into 2 main categories - ISOLATED and COMPOUND. This 4th episode discusses the COMPOUND options which also, stay with me here, falls into the static and releasable options like the previous episode did. Let's "dive" into it.

Twin Rope Compound Systems

Two strands; each capable of rappelling from the anchor.

- Compound -

This is when each strand can be operated independently of the other regardless of the load. It can be built using both ends of the same rope or two independent ropes.

Static - Once the rope is weighted it cannot be adjusted.

  • When is this used? - Emergency rope access, increased efficiency in group progression

  • When should you not use this? - In considerable flow, Hydraulic or difficult swimming disconnect, when an exact rope length is desired

Examples - Any combination of two static systems, Stone knot or Butterfly knot with each end of a rope or two ropes.

Retrieval - Convert to a Single Blocked or Double rope system

Releasable - Each strand can be lowered when either rope strand is weighted. This can be achieved with devices on the load strand or using a blocking method at the anchor. One strand should be passed through the anchor ring/link to save time in retrieving.

  • When is this used? When rappel efficiency is desired inflows.

  • When should you not use this? It takes time to rig and requires access to two ends of rope unless you have a proficient way of rigging this system (ie double-stacked rope bag).

Examples - Any combination of two releasable systems.

Retrieval - Since there are two strands running down the pitch, convert the one strand passing through the anchor ring/link to a blocked system. Load your rappel device to the rappel strand of the blocked system and lock it off. Connect the other strand with the remaining rope to the pull side of the blocked strand.


  1. You MUST have a clear pull on the rope retrieval for the rope bag!

  2. Load your rappel device FIRST!! The weight of the remaining rope may cause the rope to “self retrieve” down the pitch.

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Twin Rope Compound Systems Rating

Static System

Ease of Rigging - Better

This system is as easy as two independent single static systems. If one of the Single Static systems is rigged as a block, there is no need to change the rigging on that strand for the last person to rappel. Because two systems are being rigged, it can take more time to build and de-rig. Once I have people moving on the first strand I will rig a second to move people through faster.

✅Little or no hardware

✅Easy to identify

✅Easy to learn

✅It does not have to be re-rigged to retrieve

Fast to rig

Rigged for Rescue - Good

Since two strands are rigged, there is an immediate option for a Direct Rescue. Due to having only one option of rescue available and the high-risk nature of a Direct Rescue, this is not the best system for rescue.

Easy to self-rescue

Easy to ascend

No additional rigging is required for rescue