This article is part of the book - Trad Climbing Basics.
Extending your belay device before abseiling can be useful in certain situations.
- You can use a prusik with less chance of it getting sucked into your belay device.
- Your prusik will be centred, making it easier to use than if you attach it to a leg loop.
- You can transition from abseiling to ascending easily – useful if you abseil too far on a multi-pitch descent.
- Takes longer to set up.
Best Situation to Use This Method
If you don't know where the next abseil anchor is on a tricky multi-pitch descent.
Extending your Belay Device with a 60cm Sling
Simply girth hitch a 60cm sling through the hard points of your harness (the same points that your belay loop goes through) and clip your belay device to this sling instead of your belay loop.
It's much better to use more durable, thicker nylon slings than thin Spectra/Dyneema for extending your belay device.
You could also girth hitch the sling through your belay loop.
Extending your Belay Device with a 120cm Sling
Alternatively, you can use a 120cm sling in a similar way.
Feed the sling through the hard points of your harness, tie an overhand knot in it and then clip both ends of the sling to your belay device.
How To Transition From Abseiling To Ascending
It is possible to ascend the rope with the following setup. This is a useful trick if you have abseiled too far down a steep face and need to go up a short distance in order to reach the next abseil anchor.
First, make sure you are using your autoblocking belay device in the Guide Mode orientation. You'll need to do this before leaving the anchor.
Fasten a prusik knot (klemheist works well) around both ropes above your belay device with a long piece of 5mm or 6mm cord. This will be your foot loop. If you don’t have a long piece of cord, just use a short one and attach a sling to it.
Step into the foot-loop and stand up, taking the weight off your belay device. Make sure to keep hold of both brake ropes as you do this.
Connect your belay loop to the auto-block hole on your belay device with a screwgate. Sit your weight onto your now auto-blocked belay device.
Slide the top prusik up the rope and stand in the foot loop again to take the weight off your belay device.
Pull the slack rope through your belay device and weight it again. Repeat as necessary.