I was with my daughter and we had just climbed a nice 5.4 climb. She had been lead climbing before, but not much and not recently. We topped out and were rapping off. I let her go first and she had a tether all setup on her harness to clip the anchor. I went over the procedure before she left.

Clip into the anchor first, then get off rappel.

She rappelled down and got off the rope before clipping in. I asked her if she was clipped in and she said, no.

My heart dropped and I yelled down to clip in! There were trees between her and the prospects of falling, but not many. I should have set her up to rappel above me, then I should have rappelled down, then let her rap down after I got off the rope. That way, I would have been there when she arrived.


The lesson I learned

When rappelling with an inexperienced climber, put them on rappel, then rap down yourself so that you are there when they get to the rap station. Also, rappel with a cow’s tail and prusik for backup security.


Now to you

This a Climber Confessional: an honest recounting of a climbing experience you’re less than proud of but have learned a valuable lesson from.

Have your own story to share? Submit yours here.

Want more climbing content? Get our awesome climbing newsletter, delivered weekly.


Explore more