How to Repel without a Harness

How to Repel without a Harness
Repelling is the second fastest way down a cliff, after free falling. Typically friction devices (such as a figure eight), attached to a harness, are used to feed the rope and slow descent. However, it is possible to repel without a harness, without a friction device, with only a rope. This is how it was done in the early days of mountaineering. It is recommended only in an emergency, on vertical, or near vertical slopes. When attempting this, always use a safety rope. This is very dangerous, so be careful. You don't want to take the fastest way down!

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Repelling without a Harness

Things You’ll Need:
  • Thick shirt or jacket Thick pants Rope
  • Thick shirt or jacket
  • Thick pants
  • Rope
Step 1
Stand over the rope, with your back toward the descent. The end in front of you should be tied off appropriately to a safe anchor.
Step 2
Reach down and grab the rope, leading the loose part up across your back over your right shoulder, if you're right handed, your left shoulder, if you're left handed. Then, bring it down in a diagonal across your breast into your weaker hand.
Step 3
Using your leading hand, grasp the rope between your legs, and lean back into the rope. Turning your shoulder into the rope slightly will help keep it taught.
Step 4
Feed the rope from your trailing hand, holding the arm out to your side. Move slowly, stepping into the slope. Always keep one hand on the rope. As you move your leading hand, feeding the rope between your legs, make sure you feel the rope taught around your torso. Be careful, you can easily get rope burns.
Step 5
The rope should be tightest around the underside of your thigh. You will feel the torsion across your back. As you lead the rope and begin your descent be careful not to let the rope slip under a knee. Always keep a firm hold by locking off the rope with your trailing hand. Use the friction of your body to hold your weight while you move your leading hand down the rope.
Step 6
Go slowly! This is a very dangerous descent. Make sure your safety rope is secure.

Tips & Warnings

 
Use a fairly thin climbing rope. The synthetic sheaf is more slick, and will move easier. Keep you body about 45 degrees to the slope. Do not lean back too far, as this can cause the rope to jump under a knee, or from off the shoulder. Take small steps, move the rope rhythmically. Take your time. This can be a good way to get down steep, but not vertical slopes to retrieve a fallen backpack, for example.
 
Use a fairly thin climbing rope. The synthetic sheaf is more slick, and will move easier.
 
Keep you body about 45 degrees to the slope. Do not lean back too far, as this can cause the rope to jump under a knee, or from off the shoulder.
 
Take small steps, move the rope rhythmically.
 
Take your time.
 
This can be a good way to get down steep, but not vertical slopes to retrieve a fallen backpack, for example.
 
Except in cases of dire emergency, do not attempt without a safety rope! Make sure your clothes protect you from rope burns. Dress appropriately, and always have a friend to help belay you down the slope.
 
Except in cases of dire emergency, do not attempt without a safety rope!
 
Make sure your clothes protect you from rope burns. Dress appropriately, and always have a friend to help belay you down the slope.

Article Written By Benjamin Williams

Ben Williams is an award-winning reporter and freelance writer based out of Colorado. He has written for conglomerates of newspapers and magazines, supplying news, features, editorial and opinion. While running an Energy Services and Consulting firm, he now writes for multiple websites including the news site, Examiner.com.

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