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Retreating Off a Route

By Louise Thomas

Here are some simple but effective tips to help you when you're retreating off a route.

Tip One

Never take any short cuts on anchor selection or gear placement . you can always buy some more gear. Your life depends on the quality of the anchor. A big, solid rock spike with a rope or tape sling around it is ideal. Two solidly placed nuts linked together with a sling is also ideal. A single nut or cam device would come way down on my list.

Always check in situ equipment!

Tip Two

Retreating Off a Route

A simple overhand knot is an efficient and effective way to link two ropes together for a retrievable abseil. It is quick to tie and runs smoothly over the rock when you retrieve the ropes.

Retreating Off a Route

Make sure you tie the knot tightly and leave a long tail on each knot (the length of your forearm is a good guideline for tail length).

Warning: The overhand knot should only be used when the two ropes are of the same thickness. Never use the overhand knot to join two ropes of differing diameters, use an alternative knot like a double fisherman.s.

Tip Three

Retreating Off a Route

Always use an .auto block. type knot to protect yourself on an abseil. You can guarantee that one day you will be glad you did.

Tip Four

Retreating Off a Route

If you can.t be absolutely certain that the ends of the rope reach the ground or a safe destination, tie knots in the ends. That will prevent you abbing off the end.

Again, it.s best to leave a forearm.s length of tail to avoid the knot .shaking out..

When abseiling on a windy day the ends of the rope may be blown away from you. In this instance the knots could be a disadvantage as they may become jammed in cracks or behind flakes. This is an occasion when you would not use knots in the end of the ropes.

Tip Five

Retreating Off a Route

If tying knots in the end of the ropes, avoid tying both ends together in a single overhand knot.

Retreating Off a Route

This can result in the ropes becoming tangled and wound around one another as the rope moves while you abseil.

Two seperate knots, as illustrated in 'Tip Four' are less likely to become tangled to the same degree and, should they do so, are always much easier to untangle.


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