How to Practice Rappelling

Rappelling is a basic maneuver used to descend through all types of walls, walls and vertical surfaces, such as those that can be found when mountaineering, caving and in all kinds of rescue actions in steep territory, with unevenness and slopes. Height, both in natural terrain and in those created by human beings, such as in cities, factories, warehouses, etc.

Basically, a harness, a rope and a piece called a descended are used, together with other auxiliary equipment, which, handled with dexterity, skill and experience, allow to overcome any precipice or similar with relative ease. The equipment may vary depending on the field to which the maneuver is applied, whatever it is of the aforementioned or others, such as the military.

The objective is to descend from a high place that we have reached by different means, whether it is in a mountaineering climb, a vertical hole that opens when exploring an underground cave, a burned-out high-rise building that has been reached in a helicopter and then go down to an apartment to rescue some neighbors. These are situations in which you cannot go down on foot, climbing down as they say in this world. But keep in mind that it is preferable to carry out a safe rappel in any case to a descent on foot, but it is better to carefully dismount a precarious rappel. We show you some indications on how to practice rappelling.

What do you need to practice rappelling?

  • strings
  • cords
  • carabineers
  • descend
  • safety rope
  • harness
  • Gloves
  • Helmet

Instructions to practice rappelling

  1. The team. The equipment needed for rappelling may vary depending on the type of vertical surface being worked on and the height to be tackled. What is essential is a harness with which to support the body, a descended with which the rope is looped and braked at will, a rope, a safety rope and a carabineer or metal ring with insurance, In addition to resistant gloves so as not to injure your hands and a helmet to resist hitting rocks that may fall, hitting the wall or possible falls to the ground.
  2. The maneuver. The rappelling technique is based on the person fixing several anchors in the area from which they are going to drop. A rope will pass through these anchorages, which in turn will hook with carabineers and safety lines to the harnesses that hold your body. The rope must pass through a metal piece, the descended, which serves to block the rope as it goes down, little by little, while “walking” vertically along the wall through which it is descending. There are both individual and collective systems and ropes for several people to descend simultaneously.
  3. The anchor. There should be several anchor points on the stone, or failing that, if there is only one anchor point, make it very sturdy, like a tree, a column, or something heavy. The rope can be protected with various materials and coatings so that it does not get cut or worn, such as cords or tubular tapes, always applying the principle of redundancy, something basic in rappelling, which means that more is better, that is, nailing several cords.
  4. The descended. The descent system, the part called the descended that is applied to the descent rope, must be appropriate for the wall to be descended, as there are different models, such as the shunt, and different forms of knots, such as the prussic knot, or the matched. For long abseils there are other systems, with a lever, self-locking… On the other hand, if the rope is wet or semi-frozen, it could cause the hand that grabs it to slip; causing a risk that can be significant.
  5. The harness. This is a key item in the safety of those who abseil. It is made up of wide ribbons that hold and surround the trunk and its strongest point is the ventral ring. However, due to being subjected to the greatest wear, it is also one of the most exposed to failure. To avoid this, the descended and the self-locking system must be connected to different places on the harness, but the self-locking device can only be attached to the belly part of the harness.
  6. The rope. Once the descent has been completed, it is a matter of recovering the rope, so it will not be possible to tie it to the anchor. If it is done, everything will be safer, but the rope will not be recoverable. For added security, it is always a good idea to use two ropes. Try to ensure that the rope does not rub against sharp edges that can erode or cut it. If you pass through a place where this friction is unavoidable, you must try to place a specific protector, or a blanket or some garment under the rope. And it is essential to review the equipment before going out to abseil, or after having done so, and discard a rope with cuts or friction. The use of gloves is also very important to avoid burning and injury to the hands, something essential for rappelling safely.
  7. The backpack. If a heavy backpack is being carried, it should not be carried on the back, as it will throw the athlete off balance, pushing them backwards, forcing them to exert more force and tension to stay in position. It is better to let it hang from the harness with a strap or cord, below the groin.

Tips for rappelling

  • Rappelling is an activity with a high risk of serious accidents and deaths, even for the most experienced athletes. You should not try to learn by yourself, alone, but from the hand of the teaching of an experienced teacher.
  • This sport should never be practiced alone, but in the company of others, if possible, with more practice than one. If an accident occurs, it will be more feasible to survive it.
  • The principle of redundancy is basic in the practice of abseiling. That is, two ropes are better than one, two or three anchor points than one. Everything is safer if it is plural, and it is essential to redound in all the elements that provide security.

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