Single Rope Systems


Canyon Rope Systems

Single Rope Systems

Episode 2 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.


This episode talks about a single rope system. That is when you can only rappel one strand of your rope. It needs to be set up to be RETRIEVABLE, but you can rig that to be STATIC or RELEASABLE.




Single Rope Systems

One strand for rappelling from the anchor


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

  • When is this used? - Emergency rope access (Direct Rescue), Courtesy Rigging for a jump or down-climb, using more than half of your rope length for rappel, ghosting.

  • When should you not use this? - In considerable flow, hydraulic or difficult swimming disconnect when an exact rope length is desired. When high abrasion points are identified and cannot be avoided.

Examples -

Basic: Figure 8 on a bight clipped to the anchor, knot block, carabiner block

Advanced: Stone knot with a fiddlestick, CEM, macramé knot.


Retrieval - For blocked configurations, simply pull on the strand with the block. For others, you must regain access to the anchor by ascending the rope, climbing, or use a ghosting technique.



Releasable - The person on the rope can be lowered from the anchor. This can be achieved with a friction device or Münter on the rappel strand or using a blocking method on the backside.


  • When is this used? - Rappelling in considerable flow, to set precise rope length, manage abrasion, indirect rescue. This is the most commonly used system in aquatic canyons.

  • When should you not use this? - When the potential of high abrasion cutting a single strand exists.

Examples - F8 block (EMO), Munter (MMO)


Retrieval

For MMO -> convert to knot block or carabiner block

For F8 Block -> Remove backup, pull strand with block




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If you have a bunch of rope in the water, you can get tangled up in it. A releasable system allows you to set a precise rope length just above the water so you are not swimming with your rope. At 1:14 in this video you can see what happens if you do!


 

Single Rope Systems Rating

Static System

Ease of Rigging - Better

This system is one of the easiest to rig. It can be a simple Fo8 clipped to the anchor (direct) or a blocked system. Some systems require extra equipment knowledge, like using a toggle, but are still easy to rig.


✅Little or no hardware

✅Easy to identify

✅Easy to learn

✅Fast to rig

It does not have to be re-rigged to retrieve


Rigged for Rescue - Not really

These systems have no immediate form of rescue without advanced training or extra rigging. This is why caution should be taken when rigging a static single system in a complex environment or traveling with beginners. Self-rescue is easier on a single strand, you potentially have some rope in reserve, and a single strand is easier to ascend so I gave it two stars.


✅Easy to self-rescue

✅Easy to ascend

No additional rigging is required for rescue

Option to lower (Indirect Rescue)

Option to rappel (Direct Rescue)


Efficient - Not completely

One person at a time on rappel is not efficient for moving a group. Depending on the type of system (direct or blocked) the rigging will not have to be changed for retrieval. This saves some time and reduces the opportunities for error, but doesn't equal the time needed to move more than four people.


✅No additional steps are required to retrieve

Two people at a time



Abrasion Protection - None

Since the rope can not be adjusted once it is weighted, there is no way to manage abrasion from the anchor. Other measures must be taken (ie deviation, rope protection, or elimination) to manage rope abrasion.


One moving strand

Two strands for rappel

Two moving strands

Redundancy



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Single Rope Systems Rating

Releasable System

Ease of Rigging - Better

With little training, this system is the go-to for many canyoners. The two most commonly used are based on the Munter Mule Overhand (MMO) or the Figure 8 device. Both can be quickly tied and are easily recognized with some training and practice.


✅Easy to identify

✅Easy to learn

✅Fast to rig

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

Little or no hardware


Rigged for Rescue - Better

Since these systems are releasable, there is an immediate option for an Indirect Rescue by lowering the person on rappel. In a swiftwater (class C) canyon, more training is highly recommended to identify hazards and how to appropriately use a releasable system.


✅Easy to self-rescue

✅Easy to ascend

✅No additional rigging is required for rescue

✅Option to lower (Indirect Rescue)

Option to rappel (Direct Rescue)


Efficient - It depends…

One person at a time on rappel is not efficient for moving a group. Depending on the type of system (direct or blocked) the rigging will not have to be changed for retrieval. This saves some time and reduces the opportunities for error, but doesn't equal the time needed to move more than four people


✅No additional steps are required to retrieve

Two people at a time


Abrasion Protection - Good

Since this system can be lowered, the rope can be allowed to move while a person is on rappel. This moves any abrasion to the rope down while the rope is under tension. This is an effective way to manage multiple moderate abrasion points on a single rappel.


✅One moving strand

Two strands for rappelling

Two moving strands

Redundancy


 

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