Instructions for Rappelling

Instructions for Rappelling
Rappelling uses ropes and friction devices to help you descend a dangerous cliff slowly and safely. But even with all the equipment and safety measures taken, rappelling can still be dangerous, particularly if you are unfamiliar with rock climbing and the complexities of the equipment you are using. Many television shows and cartoons display rappeling as a fast, fun way to cover a lot of ground quickly, but it should be done with caution and care.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Helmet
  • Rope friction device (for braking)
  • Harness
  • Carabiner
  • Climbing gloves (optional)
Step 1
Make sure the rope is securely anchored to a tree, boulder or other inanimate object that will be able to support your weight. Attach the rope securely to the harness, and make sure the descender is situated on the rope so that it can close on it securely to serve as a brake. You might also consider tying a backup rope to a second anchor in the event your first one breaks or comes loose. The rope will then double back through the descender and be positioned in front of you so that you can easily apply friction to slow yourself down.
Step 2
Use a figure-8 knot to tie the carabiner to the anchor or anchors. This knot is used because it will apply the least amount of stress to the rope, reducing the odds of breakage.
Step 3
Situate the rope so that when you begin your descent it won't go over any sharp areas that could wear away or cut the rope.
Step 4
Keep the rope taut with both hands as you stand near the cliff's edge and lean back over it. Keep your feet flat on the ground as you lean back at a 45-degree angle, hanging over the cliff.
Step 5
Start taking steps down the side of the cliff, keeping one hand on the rope at all times.
Step 6
Bend your knees to draw your body close to the cliff wall, and then push out quickly to initiate a jump. Let the rope run through your friction device, and then slowly apply pressure to slow yourself. You should do this gradually as you swing closer to the wall. Be sure not to apply pressure too quickly, or you will hit the wall too hard for comfort and put more pressure on the rope and anchor at the top of the cliff.
Step 7
Repeat the jumping process all the way down the cliff wall.

Tips & Warnings

Do not rappel on your own unless you are an experienced mountain climber.
Never let go of the rope while rappelling.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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