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ATC Contingency Anchor


The ATC Contingency Anchor is a rigging option that is very versatile. To rig the ATC Contingency Anchor:

  1. Feed the rope through the anchor point until both ends reach the ground.
  2. Connect the ATC to both strands as if you were setting up to rappel double strand. 
  3. Use a canyon quickdraw to connect the ATC to the anchor. The quickdraw should connect to the webbing and not to the quick link (otherwise it may pinch the rope and prevent the rope from sliding through the quick link during the lower. Note that the picture shows a carabiner connecting to the quick link - this is not recommended.
  4. The rappellers should rappel single strand if you are wanting a contingency rig (i.e. the ability to lower a stuck rappeller). Rappelling double strand is OK too, but this removes the ability to lower a stuck rappeller. 
  5. The last man down removes the quickdraw that connects the ATC to the anchor webbing, attaches the ATC to his harness, and rappels down double strand using the ATC.

Note that if you use the ATC Contingency Method, you can rappel on either strand (i.e. it isolates strands) and both strands have contingency. This speeds up large groups because the second person can be hooking up while the first person is still rappelling. It also gives each person the option to rappel single or double strand. 

The ATC Contingency Anchor is very straight forward to convert to a lower, but it is much easier with two people. To convert the ATC Contingency Anchor to a lower (if the rappeller gets stuck on rappel):

  1. Pull the brake line up to the top of the cliff.  
  2. The first person holds the brake line while the second person pulls the entire non-rappel-side of the rope through the ATC.
  3. The first person gradually feeds rope through the ATCuntil the stuck rappeller reaches the bottom. 

Note that steps 2 and 3 can be done simultaneously as long as the first person doesn't let rope out faster than the second person can pull rope through the Totem.


CAUTION: Because the ATC Contingency Anchor method is relying on friction through the ATC, which is not locked off, there is the potential for the rope to creep through the ATC, or even slide uncontrollably through the ATC. Small ropes, heavy rappellers, or not-smooth rappellers, may all cause this method to fail. Please test your combination of gear in a safe environment before taking this method into the field. Additionally, it is crucial to have a belayer (either at the top or the bottom) hold the non-rappel strand in case it starts to slip through the ATC.