Rappelling Rope Technique

Rappelling Rope Technique
Rappelling is the second fastest way to get down a cliff. The fastest is falling. Rappelling uses the friction of the rope through a friction-device (a descender) to slow and control descent. There are a number of techniques you should master.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Equipment

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rope Friction device or Figure eight Harness Helmet Karabiner Glove (for rap jumping)
  • Rope
  • Friction device or Figure eight
  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Karabiner
  • Glove (for rap jumping)
Step 1
Ensure your harness is properly fastened, the descender is attached securely and the rope is tied off.
Step 2
Thread the rope around the descender correctly. Make sure you do this right. Different descenders have different actions on ropes: Know your gear.
Step 3
Wear a helmet.

Techniques

Step 1
Attached to the descender, back up toward the cliff edge. As you approach the drop, lean back against the rope. The rope should be taught.
Step 2
Standing at the edge of the cliff lean out over it, against the rope. Lock off the rope with your leading hand. Lower yourself over the drop with your feet firmly planted before you, threading the rope to position yourself. You should be about 45 degrees to the vertical, leaning well over the drop.
Step 3
Begin walking down the cliff with regular steps, backwards, locking off the rope after each step with your leading hand. Always keep a good contact on the rope. Never let go.
Step 4
As you get more comfortable, you can increase your descent speed.

Jumping Descent

Step 1
Consider the jump technique on vertical slopes or man-made walls for a faster descent.
Step 2
Once over the drop, with your weight live on the rope, continue to lower yourself so that your body and legs are at a 45 degree angle with the cliff. Walk down a few steps to clear the edge.
Step 3
Bend your knees, so you compress into the slope, and straighten them quickly to jump away from the slope.
Step 4
Swing outward and let the rope run through the friction-device. You will begin to fall.
Step 5
Lock off the rope gently to slow your descent, and to bring your body back to contact with the cliff.
Step 6
Repeat until you are down.

Rap Jumping

Step 1
Get down slopes at a run or glide by rap jumping. Rap jumping is difficult and takes time and practice to master. Always use a buddy, at the bottom of the slope, to break the rope if something goes wrong.
Step 2
Attach your friction device to the rear of your harness. Thread the rope through correctly. Don your glove. You are now facing the slope.
Step 3
Keep the rope in your leading hand at about shoulder height and away from the body.
Step 4
Run at the slope allowing the rope to move freely through your hand.
Step 5
Leap off the cliff at speed. The rope will whiz through the friction device. You will approach freefall speed.
Step 6
Slow yourself by gently squeezing your thumb across the rope. The rope is extended, so minimal movements will engage the friction device. As you slow, you will be brought back to contact with the slope.
Step 7
Either continue running down the vertical, and leap out while releasing the rope tension, or walk slowly down to the bottom.

Tips & Warnings

 
When descending more-than-vertical slopes, always lock off the rope using both hands. Move your dominant hand down the rope while you lock it off with the other, then let the rope flow and repeat. Never loose hand contact with the rope. A buddy at the bottom of the slope can act as a brake by pulling on the rope below you if he sees you in trouble. Rap jumping is used by the British Special Air Services to descend from helicopters. Training and skill allows them to use their less-dominant hand to control the rope. They can then dive out fast, fire their weapon and continue to run off the rope upon landing. With skill, a much greater amount of control over a rope descent can be performed by rap jumping.
 
When descending more-than-vertical slopes, always lock off the rope using both hands. Move your dominant hand down the rope while you lock it off with the other, then let the rope flow and repeat.
 
Never loose hand contact with the rope.
 
A buddy at the bottom of the slope can act as a brake by pulling on the rope below you if he sees you in trouble.
 
Rap jumping is used by the British Special Air Services to descend from helicopters. Training and skill allows them to use their less-dominant hand to control the rope. They can then dive out fast, fire their weapon and continue to run off the rope upon landing. With skill, a much greater amount of control over a rope descent can be performed by rap jumping.
 
Never repel alone, unless you are experienced. A wrong move could be fatal.

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 also writes for multiple websites.

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