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Learn How To Rappel | Sports And Outdoors Tips

How to Rappel

Talking about rappelling, it is a technique which rock climbers use while descending from mountains. By allowing them to make a controlled slide from a cliff with the help of a fixed rope, rappelling makes sure that what (or more pertinently “who”) has gone up could come down with ease!

If the preceding argument has led to believe that rappelling – or rock climbing is easy, ask a climber to wake you from slumber. From navigating the length of the route, to the wind direction, and weather conditions, rappelling could be described as one of the most difficult sports in the world.

How to Rappel

Also, thanks to the dizzying heights which rock climbers conquer, they cannot afford to make a mistake during rappelling as it could be fatal.

So, the question arises that if it is so dangerous, why most people want to know how to rappel? The answer lies in its benefits for both mind and body.

Since it is one part of rock climbing – the other is going up, remember, rappelling is both physically and mentally demanding. Consequently, the benefits are myriad. For, in addition to combining strength and cardio in a single workout, rappelling tones and strengthens muscles.

Find the preceding example intriguing? Want to get a sharp brain, smart body, and better grip. Let’s learn how to rappel.


Step # 1: Things You’ll need

Most people think that all they need for rappelling is a rope, harness, and an anchor. However, as the aforementioned list would show, rappelling requires a plethora of things. Make sure that you miss NONE of these.

  • Rope
  • Harness
  • ​Gloves
  • ​Helmet
  • ​Anchor
  • ​Carabiners
  • ​Safety device
  • ​Rappel device

Step # 2: Choosing a Rope

In selecting a rope for rappelling, it is essential that you select one which has the correct length and material. While going for the correct length is easy, it’s the material of construction of rope which confuses climbers. Hence, we’ll concentrate our attention to the MOC.

If you visit a shop, you would know that ropes for rappelling come in two categories: static and dynamic. If you ask us, we would recommend dynamic rope. For, if you want to arrest a fall, a dynamic rope is the go-to rope. Moreover, in addition to helping you in rappelling, it a dynamic rope also helps in climbing.

Finally, also pay close attention to the diameter of the rope. In contrast to the common opinion, going for the thickest rope isn’t recommended. Why? A thicker rope, on contact with the rocks, will cause more friction. Hence, your time for descent will increase. Thus, better go for a rope ranging from 10-11mm in diameter.

Step 3: Fit the harness

Before fitting the harness, lay it on the ground to make sure there are no twists in the waist belt or the leg loops. Next, step into the harness in a way that one foot is in one leg loop and vice versa. At this time, step through the waist belt. Next, until the harness is above your hips, keep pulling it up.

For tightening the waist loop, pull on the straps. This step is important as miss it and your harness might come loose while rappelling. To make sure that your harness has properly tied itself, pull it down.

If it comes below your hips, tighten it again. Finally, in the same manner in which you’ve tightened the waist loops, tighten the leg loops as well. Congrats, you’ve fit a harness!

Step 4: Safety measures

First of all, wear a helmet. For, when you would be rappelling, a helmet would save your head from falling objects. Next, wear the gloves as it will save your hands from the heat which will be generated by friction on the rope.

Step 5: Attaching rope to the anchor

While it seems easy, attaching a rope to the anchor is one of the most crucial steps for your safety. Hence, make sure that you’ve tied the rope tightly to the anchor.

Step 6: Rappel device

If you don’t want to come down from the hill in a controlled manner, a rappel device is necessary. By slowing you down, it makes sure that you reach your destination safely. A rappel device is dependent on the length of rappelling as well as whether the rope is in contact with the wall or not. For, if the rope is not in contact with the wall, the speed of descent will be greater than when it is in contact with it.

Generally, most climbers prefer aluminum rappel device. In addition to its light weight, an aluminum rappel device quickly shrugs off heat which is generated by friction. Hence, if you don’t have any personal preference in case of a rappel device, go for an aluminum one.

Step 7: Backing up the Rappel device

Backing up the rappel device is important – and could be lifesaving, if you lose your grip during rappelling. Many persons who rappel entrust their safety to a person who is standing on the ground with one end of the rope in his hand.

To do this, add a “prussic rope” to the harness with the help of another carabiner. After winding it around the rappel rope, one end of this rope should be on the guide hand – your dominant hand.

When you feel that your grip is loosening during descent, just pull this hand in the backward direction. It would either slow down or completely stop your descent.

Step 8: How to Rappel – Finally!

The final part of rappelling, as you might guess, is stepping down. For most people – especially those who have never encountered dizzying heights, this is the most horrifying. However, provided that you’ve achieved the preceding steps with aplomb, this step shouldn’t be a problem.

As for the tips, your legs should be perpendicular to the wall. Your torso should be inclined slightly. While rappelling, turn your head sideways to look for obstructions. Always maintain a steady pace and never go to fast. Finally, when you have reached the ground, pull the ropes out of the rappelling device. In order to retrieve the rope, just untie the knots.

Final Verdict

As you might have deduced from the preceding instructions, learning how to rappel isn’t easy. However, provided that you follow the instructions carefully, rappelling shouldn’t be a problem. Lastly, remember that making sure you’re safe is solely your responsibility. Thus, make sure that you’ve backups at hand should anything go wrong.

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