Field Trip 2: Belay Weight Drop, Escape, Rappel (last updated 1/25/12)

Preparation:   Please read Student Field Trip 2 Info, and review the appropriate sections in Mountaineering:  The Freedom of the Hills 8th Edition.  If you have not already done so this year, review the Standard Techniques and Field Trip Guidelines for Instructors.

Equipment:    Same as students. Also bring a pen or pencil (or two) for marking student grade cards.  You may need to use some of your personal gear at your station, so please be sure that it’s marked for identification.


  • Knots
  • Belay and weight drop
  • Rappel (two stations: one inside, and one outside.  Students must go to both)
Students will stay in groups and be at each station approximately 2 hours.  If student's complete the activity earlier, they should help their fellow students or practice the skills.

Knots Station (inside)

Station Set-up: 

  • Provide approximately 12 ropes
  • Personal Anchor System (PAS) safety: Setup a demonstration cordelette powerpoint anchor connected to three anchor points
  • Safety Line: Setup a rope for use in showing how to use the chest prusik sling for use as a moving "safety line"  

Student Activities

  • Knot Tying:  Students should be able to tie the knots with some prompting or assistance.
  • Personal Anchor System (PAS) safety :  Explain the pros/cons of the 3 point static equalization and ability to clip the PAS into any of the individual strands (e.g., "top shelf".  This is described in p. 173 of MFotH version 8. 
  • Safety Line:  The students will prusik-tie into this line with the chest prusik sling and move down the rope.  

Belay Station with Weight Drop and Escape (Basement)

Station Set-up. There are 6 stations pre-set up in the south basement bay.  Floor bolts for belaying have been pre-drilled; you may need to install the hangars.  To use the weight drop set up, the bay door will need to be opened to provide enough room for belaying and pulling the weight back up to the ceiling after each drop.

Students will perform the following:

  • Set up a belay using a belay device.
  • Practice lowering a weight to get the feel of the forces.
  • Practice rope handling and using correct belay signals.
  • Catch a falling weight using each hand as the braking hand.
  • Execute a fallen climber tie-off and escape with the Mule Knot.  See description and video here.

Rappelling (inside station and outside station)

Station Set-up. Provide 4 ropes at each station (indoor/outdoor). 2 ropes will be used for rappel and 2 others will provide belays at each station for students climbing up to the start of the rappel (there are no walk up routes to the start of the rappel stations).  

General Instructions  

1.  Students will have to top-rope climb to the rappel station.  Students will belay under direct observation of an Instructor. 

2.  Rappeling is the most risky activity that the students will perform in the field trips.  Please enforce the following safety measures:

  • Upon arriving at the rappeling location, require student's to use their safety line from before they announce "off belay" until after you've verified a safe rappel connection (below)
  • It is imperative that you personally verify each student's setup before allowing them to rappel--anchor,rope,rappel method setup, rappeler.  
  • Require a person to attend the bottom of the rappel rope and ready to apply a fireman's belay
  • On all rappels require the students to use the proper rappel signals, “On Rappel” and “Off Rappel.”.
3.  The Munter Hitch is our newly approved backup rappel method, in place of the carabiner brake.  We are asking all instructors to arrive early (7am) so that we can spend 30 minutes to teach this to the instructors.  Before the FT, watch this video.
3.  The carabiner brake rappel has returned to the curriculum in place of the Munter rappel.  Students will learn carabiner brake rappel and not Munter rappel.  (KHT March 20th 2014)

Student Requirements

Outside station (South Climbing Plaza):

  • Tie in and climb to the platform on a top rope.
  • Do two “Back over” rappels. 1 using carabiner brake munter hitch and 1 using a belay device.
  • On one rappel tie off mid-rappel using leg wrap.
  • Wear pack on one rappel.

Inside station :

  • Tie in and climb to the platform on a top rope.
  • Do two “Sit and spin” rappels. 1 using carabiner brake munter hitch and 1 using a rappel device.
  • On one rappel, set up and use the Autoblock.



Expect to finish around 5:00 p.m.  We will attempt to rotate instructors between inside and outside stations midday so expect to be outside for part, but not all, of the fieldtrip.

Please take safety into consideration at every station.  If you have concern about a student’s ability to perform safely, inform your Area Leader. In case of an injury follow the Accident Response Plan.

Be a good example for the students.  They will become tired, and possibly frustrated, so your skills, leadership, encouragement, and enthusiasm will help make their experience more rewarding and enjoyable.  In inclement weather, the tasks become even more challenging, so do your best to help them along and take the conditions into account.

Harness Use

Be sure that the students understand their harness manufacturer’s instructions on how to 1) attach their belay device to the harness and 2) tie the rope into their harness. Make sure the student is aware of the load bearing vs. non-load bearing parts of the harness. Always wear and use their climbing harness according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If their manufacturer says to do it a particular way, then that’s the correct way to do it. If they have a harness has a belay loop then they should use it for belaying and rappelling. They clip their pear-shaped locking carabiner into the belay loop and then set up their belay device or Münter hitch and carabiner brake system on it.  They should tie the rope into their harness in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Attaching their belay device or tying in contrary to the harness manufacturer’s instructions is unsafe and will be graded as such. If they have any questions about how to use their harness, have the student contact one of the field trip leaders.

Thank you for volunteering your time and sharing your enthusiasm for mountaineering!!