Abseiling > The Carabiner Brake – How To Abseil Without a Device

This article about The Carabiner Brake is part of the e-book - The Trad Climber's Guide To Problem Solving.

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Dropping your belay device at the top of a ten-pitch abseil descent isn't recommended. But if you do, knowing how to use the carabiner brake will change your descent from epic to easy (You can use a munter hitch to abseil, but it tends to kink the rope and causes abrasion to the sheath).

You Will Need:
- 1 screwgate
- 4 snapgate carabiners.

Full size oval or D-shaped carabiners provide the smoothest descent, but almost any carabiner can be used. Really small or sharp-spined carabiners should only be used as a last resort.

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How To Set Up The Carabiner Brake

Step 1
Clip a screwgate to your belay loop and fasten it. Then clip two snapgates to the screwgate, making sure the gates are facing opposite directions and they are opposed.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


Step 2
Push a bight of both ropes through the snapgate carabiners.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


Step 3
Clip another snapgate around the ropes and also through the loop as shown.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


Step 4
Clip a second snapgate next to this, with the gates on the same side, but facing opposite ways.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


Step 5
Pull down on the rope until the carabiners align over each other.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


Step 6
Make sure the rope runs over the spines (not the gates) of the outer carabiners.

You can now add a prusik and abseil as you would with an ATC.

As always, remember to check the system before you detach from the anchor.

Carabiner brake abseil rappel no belay device


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