Kamikaze/Sheepshank Knot

9:53 p.m. on September 17, 2008 (EDT)
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82 forum posts

Just out of curiousity... on Man vs. Wild, Ireland, he used a know he called a "kamikaze" but ive found to actually be a "sheepshank", to rap down a cliffside. so just wondering, has anyone used this? Im not planning on trying it (so please, no comments on why i shouldnt try it, haha) but i think itd be a good skill to have on hand if ever in a survival situation. AND, does anyone have step by step pictures of how to make one? (again, im not trying it...)

11:38 p.m. on September 17, 2008 (EDT)
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98 forum posts

Here's a sheepshank tying link:


Can't imagine how they used this for rappelling. Note that the supplied link recommends never to use it...

9:16 a.m. on September 18, 2008 (EDT)
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82 forum posts

that is the most awesome sight ever! haha, thanks. Ya even Bear said its a super dangerous knot to use. I guess the Kamikaze part comes in, because he cuts the top loop before he raps, then when he got to the bottom he shook the rope the untie it and get his length of rope back. I just did it agains a pole here in our shop, pretty simple, and actually worked like he showed. And that doesnt count as 'trying' it out haha. Im not going to hang off of one i should have said.

12:12 p.m. on September 18, 2008 (EDT)
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There are a number of "knots" that can be used for a 1-way rappel - that is, you are in a situation where the rope available is too short for a double-rope rappel that can be pulled down. The cut sheepshank is one of these. Canyoneers have a whole repertoire of such "knots". There are safer alternatives, all of which require carrying some extra items (such as a reepschnuur, tag line, several other names, but basically a cord that is too thin to rappel on itself, but can be used to pull the upper end of the rope down). Some people have been known to carry a couple hundred feet of 5 or 6 mm line and rappel on that (or even parachute cord, which is 500 pound test). Big problem with thin cord is that it cuts and abrades easily, plus the strength is enough lower that your safety margin in case of sudden loads is pretty small.

Like other emergency skills, knowledge and experience with such emergency techniques is a good thing to have in your bag of tricks. BUT ... you also should be familiar with the limitations of such techniques and reserve them for desperate situations.

In the same way, you should know (and practice) such skills as escaping the belay, passing knots, raising and lowering an injured or unconscious leader or second, improvised anchors (without having cams, chocks, bolts, or pitons), and so on. If you ice climb of travel on glaciers, do you know how to build and use bollards? Books like Leuben's and Long's climbing anchors and the various self-rescue books are great for learning the techniques, along with the canyoneering books for retrievable rappels. But these do not substitute for instruction by an experienced mentor and practice practice practice.

June 20, 2018
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