The Extension: The concept is simple, extend your belay loop. It can be a pain to have your rappel device of choice on your standard belay loop and have to manage rope. It can be awkward. By essentially extending you belay loop you place your belay device in a position of comfort, increasing control. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to place your friction hitch of choice back up on your belay loop instead of awkwardly placing it on your leg loop (which is not the best safety practice).
Step 1: Take a double length nylon runner and girth hitch it through both of the tie in points of your harness. Just like you would to tie in with a rope. Be sure and aim to have the bar tack toward the top 5 inches of the sling once the hitch is complete so it doesn't interfere with the following step.
Step 2: There are several different ways to do this next step. I like to bring the end back toward my harness and tie an overhand on a bite (see photo.) This is your new "belay loop." It is what you are going to clip your belay device into.
Step 3: Clip a locking carabiner into the loop at the end. This is now your personal anchor you will clip into your anchor discussed in the following section.
Step 4: Before you put yourself on rappel, attach your friction hitch of choice to the rope. I prefer the autoblock, clip it to a locking carabiner on your original belay loop and pull some rope through. The friction hitch will grab the rope and leave you with an unweighted section of rope to put through your device. Tip: If you end up rappelling on two ropes of different color tied together, clip your tether into the rope that needs to be pulled to help you remember. After you are on rappel, of course.
Anchor: Every rappel station in a multiple rappel scenario is different. Some large amount of nylon webbing or accessory cord, or some bolts and chains. You may have a combination of both. Regardless of what the situation may be, at the beginning stages of the descent you need to connect yourself to said anchor to take yourself off or rappel. One thing I witnessed on this particular trip was the individual climbers on rappel clipped into one bolt with some form of a Personal Anchor System or PAS (I also see this a lot with cleaning sport climbs.) Yes, you are secure in some sense but consider this: You are only clipped into a single piece of protection. If it fails, you die. Would you do that on the way up? Probably not. People often think that bolts will never fail. This quite far from true. The danger with bolted protection is there is a significant amount of the bolt inside the rock and you simple can’t judge the status of the metal unless you remove it completely.
Here is what I normally do. If I have pre-tied quad anchor (see below) I will just clip that to the bolted anchors. The quad is nice since there will be eventually be 2 people hanging on the anchor so not pulling on each other can be nice. If I do not have a quad on me I will simply use a double length runner and create a magic x with limiter knots and clip into that. Once the anchor is in place I continue rappelling until the anchor is weighted. Once I am confident there are no issues, I take myself off of rappel.
If anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at Adamskerr@yahoo.com
Be safe. Have fun.