Is there a specific method which would help one with an injured (say, broken) arm to rappel down a rock?

It is very much possible that one may hurt his / her arm for some or the other stupid / major mistakes, and then need to get down one his / her own with having to rappel down a rock.

What are the do's and dont's of such a scenario?

  • Why would you be climbing on your own? How did you get to where you would be without someone belaying you? If your not climbing, it would make much better sense (and be less dangerous) to simply walk down
    – user2766
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 12:31
  • 1
    Try rappelling with a freshly severed arm.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


This is an example of a general topic called self-rescue. There are textbooks on the subject: Reference request: books on self-rescue while climbing .

The simplest situation would be where the arm was injured before you started the rappel (as opposed to getting hurt while doing the rappel), and the person with the injury doesn't feel confident about being able to rap safely with the uninjured arm. In that situation, I think the easiest solution would be to have your climbing partner lower you using his belay device for friction. This would be just like lowering someone off of a sport climb, but the belayer would be above rather than below the person being lowered.

As an alternative, the injured person might feel safe enough to rap off with one arm if there was a solid safety backup to the rappel setup, e.g., a Prusik backup: Backup prusik for Abseiling: Where does it go? . One concern would be that when things go wrong in a rap, the solution is often to ascend the rope with a friction hitch or a mechanical ascender -- but a person with a broken arm might not be able to do this.

  • How exactly would you manage a prusik backup with an injured arm? I think a Klemheist would be a much better backup.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 0:01
  • @StrongBad A french prusik below the brake is definitely manageble with one hand.
    – Guran
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 11:38
  • @Guran I think there might be some confusion about terminology. I tend to think of a prusik going above the device and a Klemheist as going below. I think a french prusik goes below. My, badly worded, point was that with one hand the backup needs to be below and not above.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 11:56
  • @StrongBad Agreed. (I do recognise the perpetual confusion about friction hitches...)
    – Guran
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 12:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.