If you lose your abseiling device on the multi-pitch tour, you should know this alpine hack. We introduce you to a technique with half-mast toss. It offers more safety and, thanks to a trick, hardly ever squirms.

By Gebi Bendler – published for the first time in the trade journal bergundsteig

If the descender falls down on a multi-pitch route, you can resort to the masthead to rappel. However, this leads to extreme crab formation. The twisted ropes can then only be pulled off with difficulty.

Two makeshift abseiling device alternatives are the carabiner cross and the Iten brake. Both methods work. However, they harbor the safety risk of losing the braking effect if the carabiners are completely relieved and twisted. The Iten brake can fall apart at all. For this reason, it is essential to always use a friction hitch to protect yourself from a fall.

Safe technology without a crane

Here is a technique with half mast toss. It offers more security and, thanks to a trick, hardly ever squirms:


And this is how it works:

  • Hook the half-mast fall safety device (HMS) into the lowering carabiner, lift up the lower rope and guide it through in front of the rope (A).
  • Only now attach the abseil carabiner directly to the harness (B), secure the carabiner (C).
  • Attach the self-belay friction hitch above the HMS (D). A good friction knot is important, we recommend the FB knot (Franz Bachmann knot).

The abseil carabiner must be hooked directly into the harness. It doesn't work with a sling in between. Alternatively you can the HMS first hang in the rope ring and then take the brake rope over your head to the other side.

Our Conclusion

In direct comparison to the carabiner cross and Iten brake, this technique is the safest and is used by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) recommended for course operation. Text and illustrations from the 6th edition of the SAC’s “Mountain Sports Summer” training manual, which will be published in 2022.

About the author

Gebhard (Gebi) Bendler is an Austrian journalist, historian, mountain and ski guide and passionate climber. And of course since 2020 editor-in-chief of the magazine bergundwandern.

About the magazine bergundstieg

Bergundstieg is an international magazine for safety and risk in mountain sports and illuminates the topics of equipment, mountain rescue, rope technology, accident and avalanche knowledge. Bergundstieg is published by the Alpine Associations of Austria (PES), Germany (DAV), South Tyrol (AVS) and Switzerland (customer care).

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Credits: Cover picture Mans Gullgren, Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), Simon Schoepf

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