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How To: Make a 2-Ring Retrievable Rappel Anchor

Leaving rappel slings behind gets unsightly - and costly - but this simple technique lets you take it all with you. (Caution: Carry extra slings and quick-links in case you snag irretrievably.)
Photos by Jennifer Howe / Model: Julie Trevelyan
  • You'll need: A rappel rope (pink). A lighter 'pull cord' the same length (boot lace nylon to 6mm diameter). A 10-20-foot loop of rope or webbing, tied with a water knot (red). Two steel screw links called Quick links in 3/8ths or half-inch diameter.
  • 2) Attach the two quick links to the rope/webbing loop and twist their screw gates closed.
  • 3) Put the loop around a stout tree, boulder or jammed log. Make sure the area is free of rope- and link-snagging obstacles.
  • 4) Thread the rappel rope (pink)¬†through both quick links. Tie the free ends together.
  • 5) Coil the rappel rope and toss it off the cliff like a normal rappel.
  • 6) Attach the lighter pull cord to one quick link and close the gate, or tie the pull cord directly to one strand of the (red) anchor loop.
  • 7) Coil and throw the pull cord, keeping it well separated from the rappel rope.
  • 8) Rappel normally, while avoiding the pull cord.
  • 9) Retrieve the rappel rope normally, by untying the bottom knot and pulleying one end all the way free through the quick-links.
  • 10) Retrieve the pull cord, sling loop and quick links. Watch out so the heavy links don't smack you. Proceed to your next rappel.
You'll need: A rappel rope (pink). A lighter 'pull cord' the same length (boot lace nylon to 6mm diameter). A 10-20-foot loop of rope or webbing, tied with a water knot (red). Two steel screw links called Quick links in 3/8ths or half-inch diameter.
Image 1 of 10

You'll need: A rappel rope (pink). A lighter 'pull cord' the same length (boot lace nylon to 6mm diameter). A 10-20-foot loop of rope or webbing, tied with a water knot (red). Two steel screw links called Quick links in 3/8ths or half-inch diameter.


Page 1 | 2

What am I missing? Why not just loop the rope around the anchor and not use the sling at all? Is it to prevent wear on the rope?
— Sean

I've always been told that you should have more than one anchor. I guess in that case you could use multiple retrieve cords or wrap one through all the anchors.
— Earle

As described, this doesn't provide redundancy at the anchor which is something one should always strive for. The suggestion to achieve this by using multiple anchor slings is a good one. Another problem is they show the pull line attached to the quick link under the rap line (pic 6), so when you pull the rap line, it will rub on top of the retrieval line causing considerable wear as well as making the pull harder. Better to attach the pull line directly to the anchor material. The 3/8 or 1/2 quick links are overkill and more suitable to permanent bolted installations, 5/16 is sufficient.
— Anonymous

Sean - The sling saves the rope from damage, and it is common for something to get hung up, in which case it's much cheaper to leave a sling behind than a rope. I have to question the safety of this technique though. When your carabiner or other gear takes a significant fall, companies recommend retiring them since undetectable hairline fractures can develop.
— Calvin

With this system you have twice the chance of rope snag. Plus you carry extra rope, though 6 mil., but still ... weight. I think the two maillons rapide (quick links?) will easy get stuck. What to do? How to retrieve that rope withe the maillons rapide? In a hurry you will cut the the pull cord. I think it's safer to leave some tat on the hill, instead of retrieving it by climbing up if possible
— RR

Please help me to understand - the instructions provide for one webbing loop, but image 2 appeaers to show two loops knotted together to form the anchor.
— Newbie

Why not use welded steel rings instead of quick links to save weight and money? Just thread the sling loop through the rings before tying the water knot. Also, be sure the water knot is next to the ring with the retreival cord to avoid snagging on the anchor.
— Jim

My only issue with this setup is that it isn't redundant. Will it work? sure. Is it safe? Only as long as your cord/webbing doesn't break or your anchor doesn't fail. If either one happens you'll have a few seconds to think about how hard the ground really is before you hit it.
— Cameron

reply newbie: the cord is in "basket" mode, other words in a horse shoe shape (bight on each end with speed links at the bight) and looped around a horn, chicken head, tree etc. but in reality just put rope around secure anchor tie knot in ends of rope (DO NOT TIE THE ROPES TOGETHER, BUT INDEPENDENTLY) abseil, untie knots, keep good thoughts and pull
— joe

RR- mallion/mallion rapide/quick link are all the same thing. I agree with you carrying 6mm cord is a lot of extra weight, a 4mm is fine for this. Newbie - upon close inspection of pic 2, they appear to be using a single retraced ring band (aka water knot) to form one loop, doesn't seem like the best knot choice for cord. Jim- Agreed, something lighter than 3/8 quick links should be used. Good idea on positioning the knot to the pulled side. I'm guessing that whoever wrote the article doesn't go places with a long hike and isn't concerned about weight. The technique will work in some places, but others you will lose the anchor and pull cord. It's a good thing to have in your bag of tricks (modified for redundancy and weight reduction), but don't plan on always using it.
— zeric


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