Back up Hitches for Rappeling
Every rappel needs to be backed up!
Classic prusik hitch. The best gripping hitch by far. Advantage: very safe, good grip on the rope Disadvantage: tends to grip very strong – requires muscle strength to release.
Easy to apply friction hitch that combines that grips the rope nicely. Make sure to apply enough wraps as grip can be compromised with less wraps (at least 3 wraps recommended)
To back up your rappel, a variety of hitches can be hitched to the “brake ropes”. A back-up has the purpose to stop your rope from feeding through the rappel device in the event of letting go the brake ropes (voluntary or involuntary). Back-ups are not only beneficial for your personal safety, they also allow you to work “hands free” (no hand on brake ropes) while cleaning a route or locating anchors for the next rappel. Most common back up hitches are: “Prusik-hitch”, “Klemheist” or “Auto-block”
How to tie an auto-block friction hitch. Use at least 5mm thick climbing rope that is tied into a loop. A nice and neatly tied overhand knot is sufficient to keep the loop together (no double-fisherman’s required)
Rappel on a single rope with friction hitch back-up clipped to leg loop. A more comfortable version is to extend your rappel device with a sling and then clip a friction hitch back-up to your belay loop