Hiking/Backpacking/Camping/Mountain Climbing



I am watching a show on TV and they are showing men rappelling down a mountain.  They did not show how the "thing" at the top of the mountain is inserted and how they get it down when they are at the bottom of the mountain (if they do get it down).

How do they know that the "thing" that holds them as they rappel down the mountain will hold?  What is it?  How do they insert it and get it to hold?  How do they get it down when they reach the bottom (if they do)?

Thank you

The "thing" you are describing is the anchor.  There are various kinds of anchors and various structures that can serve as the anchor.  

On popular climbing routes, a ring is driven into the rock at the summit (and sometimes cemented in place) and the repelling rope is threaded through the ring -- obviously this damages the rock and, in my view, the experience.

In a natural environment, some rigid structure is used for the anchor.  This can be a tree or a rock outcropping.  Obviously, the structure needs to be very secure -- enough to told the person rappelling.  Webbing is used around the structure to form the anchor, locking carabiners (D-shaped devices with a clip) are used to serve where the rappelling rope is placed, and the rappelling rope is threaded through the carabiner.

The safest way to rappel is to be tied to the rope on one end, thread the rope through the anchor, and toss the rope to the bottom to have a person belay (hold the rope and serve as a brake in case of a fall) at the bottom.  Another way to rappel is to self-belay by tying into the rope, thread it through the anchor, and hold the other side of the rope while threading it up and climbing down.

Once the person is down from the mountain, the rope can be pulled through the anchor and down to the landing spot.  If there is no one left at the top of the route to dismantle the anchor, the anchor is left behind.

Hope this helps.  Here is a link to a discussion on anchors:


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Roy Wallen


I spend time and effort in hiking and climbing activities, including learning new methods and locations.


Working in the application of technology to medical products. Experience includes 20+ years in product marketing and strategic planning, of which 8 years was in Europe providing strategic and tactical support to European and Asian markets and 3 years in managing distribution channels outside North America. Since 1973, a hiking and climbing enthusiast with a wide range of hiking and climbing experience in the eastern US and Europe.Since 1970, a Christian who takes his faith seriously. BS in Electrical Engineering with a concentration on biomedical applications; graduate work in engineering and business; Greek language study; fluent in English (native) and German. New England 4000-footer Club, numerous hikes and climbs (Appalachias; German, Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Alps; US desert southwest).

See directionalhealthcare.com for professional background, including publications.

Undergraduate training in engineering and graduate training in engineering, business, and theology.

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