It’s possible that you’ll need to perform a tagline rappel while rappelling but most of you don’t know what is rappelling with a tag line. So today in this article we are going to talk about Rappelling with a Tagline.
So, what do you mean by Rappelling with a tagline or tagline rappel? Tagline rappels are rappels in which you attach a thin secondary rope to your primary rappel line. This thin roper lets you pull the rappel line down once you’re finished. Tag lines make it possible to rappel with a single-strand rope while still retrieving the rope.
A tagline rappel has some benefits as well as some downsides. Accordingly, one of the benefits of a tagline rappel is that it eliminates the worry over losing your rope when descending on a single-strand rappel. It can be more difficult to perform tagline rappels, and if done incorrectly, they can make the rappel more dangerous. Furthermore, it means you need to bring more gear.
What is a Tagline, and when should I use one?
To begin with, let’s talk a little more about exactly what a tagline rappel is. A thin secondary cord is attached to the rappelling line, allowing you to pull it down after you have completed the descent. Because it is a specific setup, be sure to follow all of the directions carefully!
One thing you should always remember is that the tagline should never be weighted. Most taglines are made of thin cords (less than 4mm wide), so they cannot withstand your body weight. Instead, you perform the single-strand rappel as you normally would by using the rappel line. The tagline should never be placed near your rappel device.
This is done by using a feature called blocking, which works as follows:
- The rappel line must be threaded through whatever anchor system you are using.
- The rappel line and tag line are then tied together into a knot. The knot should be wide enough to fit around the rappel rings comfortably.
- Pull the rappel line so that the knot presses against the anchor and prevents the rope from passing through.
- By knotting the rope into this manner, the rope is prevented from slipping through the anchor, keeping you safely connected to it so that you can rappel.
The above technique allows you to set up a single-strand rappel in a way that lets your retrieve your rope and when you reach the bottom, you simply pull on the tag line that will in turn pull the rappel rope up through the anchors and then back down to you, where you can retrieve it.
Now as we have said earlier, settling up a rappel in this way can be quite dangerous. For instance, blocking can be really dangerous because if the knot fails, your whole setup is going to come apart and you will likely make a bad exit from whatever cliff face you were rappelling down. Also, there is a risk that the knot will become stuck in the anchor, which would leave you stranded without a rope, which is why tagline rappels require you to be careful.
You should only use tagline rappels when a double-strand setup is not possible, and this means that you cannot reach the next set of rappel anchors or the ground with a double-strand set up, so you are left with no choice but to use single-strand rappels. This is most likely to happen on a multi-pitch climb when you stack rappels on top of each other. You might use a tagline in the following situations:
- In Canyoneering, if your rope isn’t long enough, you may have trouble getting down certain sections
- An emergency scenario in which you need to bail off of a mountain and descend a long stretch of cliff
- Unless you know how to tagline rappel, you won’t want to use your rope to descend from a single-pitch sport climb if you’ve somehow climbed something longer than the rope can allow you to be lowered.
How to Set Up a Tagline
So now that we’ve covered the basics of a tagline rappel, let’s talk more about how to set it up. For setting up a tag line the most important thing that is required is equipment. The list of equipment which you require to set up a tagline are as follows:
- A rappelling rope
- A device to lower yourself with
- An anchor
- A thin piece of rope that will act as your tagline for rappelling
- Spare carabiners that can help you out with your blocking
Following our discussion of the equipment required to set up tagline rappel, let’s look at how to set one up.
- Attach your PAS to the rappel anchors.
- If you are using a rope, make sure it is secured to you somehow
- Through the anchors of the rappel, thread one end of rope
- Your tagline should be connected to the rappel rope using a knot (see below for more information on knots).
- Set up a carabiner if desired for an even more reliable blocking mechanism
- Attach the rappel line to your rappel device
- Weigh the rappel line slowly. As you do this, you should pay close attention to your blocking mechanism. It should not appear that it will pass through the anchor as long as it rests against it. You should not see any movement in the knot as you weight the line more.
- Hook a carabiner onto your harness and then attach your tagline to it. If you do this, you will be able to keep the line close to you as you rappel.
- Don’t forget your regular safety precautions (backups, stopper knots, etc.).
- When you are ready, perform your rappel as normal
- Next, secure yourself to the next set of anchors
- Attach the tagline to your harness with a knot or carabiner
- Remove the stopper knot
- You should pull the tagline downwards. In this way, the rappel line will be drawn up, where it will pass through the anchor before dropping back down.
There we have the step by step guide about how to set up a tag line.
Check out this video to, know how to set up a tag line rappel:
Best Knots for a Tagline
You’re tying two ropes of different diameters together for a tagline rappel, so that is really a great concern. Because of this, it can be somewhat difficult to create a knot that will not roll on itself. In order to prevent this, you need to only use knots designed specifically to prevent this.
The flat overhand knot or Patagonia knot has gotten a lot of credits over the years. Do you know that it even has a nickname, known as European Death Knot? Don’t worry about the name; this is an effective tagline rappelling knot that will perform perfectly, if you tie it correctly, work great.
To tie a Flat Overhand Knot, all you have to do is hold the two ropes together, create a loop, and then pull the short side through the loop so that it forms an overhand knot and then finally pull to tighten it.
You should be aware of some things while you are tying this knot. First, you want to make sure that your tail is at least 30cm (1ft) behind the knot. Additionally, you can make a second overhand knot directly behind the first one to minimize chances of the rope slipping out.
Gibbs knots are recommended by American rope manufacturer Sterling Ropes for tagline rappelling. This knot has an extra pass-through similar to the flat overhand knot, which serves to make both the knot thicker and stronger by reducing the chance it will pass through the anchor.
Pulling this knot against an edge will cause it to flip over to its flat side. In this way, it will sit better against the rock and will be less likely to get snagged.
Figure 8 Follow Through
For rock climbers who want to attempt a tagline rappel, the figure 8 follow-through is more difficult to tie but has certain advantages for the climbers who are willing to tag line rappel.
The first thing you’ll notice is it’s a familiar knot to tie, since you use the same one when you climb a rope. When you tie it in infrequent conditions, you can trust it and it becomes harder to mess up. Additionally, it is incredibly secure, which is a good thing considering it is going to be your life you are trusting with.
If you’re using the figure 8 follow through for tagline rappelling, you won’t have any problems using ropes of different diameters since it is proven to work. It would only be necessary to ensure that your figure-8 knot is large enough that it cannot pass through the rappel rings. If you’re concerned about the knot coming undone, you can also tie a second figure 8, which should provide double the protection.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do you rappel with a tagline?
To know in detail how to rappel with a tagline check out this video, check out quickly to know about it in detail, and to know more give this article a quick read it has everything in detail.
What kind of rope do you use for a tagline?
The rope used for a tagline is pull cords, also known as rap lines.
What is a tagline for climbing?
Tag lines are lightweight and are used to make long, full-length rappels by doubling them up with single ropes. Technical climbers may benefit from the proper Tag Line setup, but it is only advisable for experienced climbers who are properly trained and have adequate safety knowledge.
What is a canyoneering rope?
Canyoneering rope is designed to withstand the rigors of canyoneering. This type of rope are powered by 100% polyester for durability and non-absorption, our static rope has a tight sheath that resists cutting and abrasion, and the polyester core and sheath combine to make a nice handling, very static rappelling rope.
What is the purpose of a tagline in Rigging?
A tagline is an attached rope to a load used during rigging to control how a suspended load is swung and/or rotated.