You may have seen it in video games, in sports, or even just someone you know who has led you to this guide – but rappelling in one of those actives that brings an excellent level of excitement and achievement to those who do it.
Today, we take a look into the world of Rappelling and find out what you need to do, to become a rappel pro.
Let’s jump into our beginner guide for beginner rappelers.
What is Rappelling?
Rappelling, in short, is a way of lowering yourself down on a long piece of rope in a controlled manner as not to hurt yourself or anyone around you.
Doing so allows you to descend some of the world’s natural wonders in a safe and quite frankly cool manner.
Rappelling is often put up against some other ways of lowering yourself down a terrain, including being dropped (by someone else) and or down climbing (where you free-climb down a terrain), which are considered dangerous to some extent.
Most commonly used in mountaineering, it originally was a technique that some alpinists used to lower themselves that they didn’t down to free-climb down.
Rappelling is now considered one of the fastest and safest ways to decent a terrain from this discovery.
Rappelling Fundamentals – How to Rappel
Learning to rappel can often be a somewhat scary or exhilarating experience.
Rappelling can be tied into several steps, and to summarize;
- A rappelling rope hangs over the terrain and creates a path to the bottom of it.
- The rappel device attaches to the rope and allows you to control the descent speed and direction (in some cases).
- You and the harness are connected to the said rappel device and can begin to lower yourself.
For some more advanced techniques, we suggest following these instructions:
- Attach the rappelling rope to the anchors, pre-positioned and or installed by yourself.
- Ensure that your harness is secured on you and well-fit.
- Attach the rappelling device onto the rope, once on the anchors.
- Attach your harness to the rappelling device and ensure a reliable connection.
- Take hold of the rappelling rope and increase it to maximum friction, at which point the rope should not pass through the rappelling device.
- Re-adjust the rope (slowly) so there is less friction enabling you to move at a comfortable pace down the rope, and finish your rappel.
What do you need for Rappelling?
When learning and actually trying to rappel, you do need to be prepared, and there are some specific pieces of equipment that you will need to buy in order to start rappelling down the sides of mountains.
A quick note to mention with equipment is that these pieces of equipment may be the only thing stopping you from descending a lot faster than what you wanted to.
Do not cut back on equipment price; get the best equipment or ones from reputable brands.
This is quite a broad search for what you need, but you will need to use a rappelling rope (a specific type of rope made from holding your body weight whilst allowing other pieces of equipment to connect to it).
This type of rope is usually 8-12mm wide, and is made from very high-strength rope that will help you stay connected during your rappel.
One note you should make for yourself is where you plan to be climbing/Rappelling, as rope for these activities don’t always like wet conditions.
If you plan to use your rope in caves or otherwise wet/damp places, we recommend using a dry-treated rope that will allow your rope to last longer and be more assertive in harsh circumstances.
Arguably another significant part of Rappelling is a harness.
Choosing the correct tackle to rappel in is crucial for both safety and comfort.
Not only do you need a safe and durable harness, but you would also want to choose one that you can sit in comfortably.
When you’re looking around for a harness, we recommend that you spend a little more money than the cheaper harnesses, as you do want premium when it comes to a harness.
This would also mean you get a harness that isn’t as lightweight.
You should also consider your clothing when buying a harness to make sure that it will fit when the time comes for you to use it.
A Rappelling Device
A rappelling device (belay) is a small, usually metal hook that takes the rappelling rope into it to stop or go and usually allows you to control the speed you descend.
Finding the perfect rappelling device Is critical to your Rappelling, as you don’t want to have a scare.
Something to note with rappelling devices is that you can get many different types that function to different standards, however for the most part, any belay device that can stop you from falling will be enough.
If you have an excellent budget, you may want to get a rappelling device that uses auto-braking and friction-based mid-rappel.
Investing in the correct and ideal rappelling device can make the whole experience safer and more enjoyable.
Some other equipment you may want to consider are a helmet, adequate and durable clothing, paracords, spare carabiners, a knife, a backpack, and maybe a PAS (Personal Anchoring System).
Carrying all this equipment with you will prepare you for any situation you get yourself into, should it take a bad turn!
What is Rappelling Used for?
Rappelling, as we’ve already mentioned, Rappelling is essentially lowering yourself on a terrain.
Rappelling can be used in many different places and scenarios. Many people use rappelling as a fun activity, but there is a wide range of places you can expect to see people rappelling.
Mountaineering is one of those, which involves people climbing big rock faces or mountains, to lower themselves down at a specific point by use of Rappelling.
Mountaineering, however, does not typically have many anchor points to rappel, so can be dangerous if not completed by someone who has rappelled before.
Canyoneering and Caving are two similar scenarios that you would expect people to rappel in to. With caves, many people rappel into caves and canyoneering if a section of path or route is too steep to climb up or down.
Be careful you have enough resources to get out again!
Learning to Rappel
It should be said that learning to rappel can only be done when it’s literally hands-on experience.
Learning to rappel shouldn’t’ be done straight away in a risky site, such as off a cliff and or mountain.
There are many places and many instructors that you can utilize at leisure centers around the country that will give you a good amount of experience and build up confidence in your ability to rappel.
Using the above guide, we hope that the information is sufficient to get you started with rappelling down some of the world’s most fabulous natural creations.
All in all, Rappelling can be a fun activity and can provide essential life skills all at the same time.
Hopefully, this beginner’s guide has helped you figure out what you need to start this fun activity.