Rappelling or Rap, as it is called in the United States of America, is a special technique of descending cliffs and hills. This technique is known by different names in different countries. In Europe, you will find people calling this technique abseiling. People in England have shortened abseiling to, “Ab”. No matter what it is called, the technique remains the same everywhere.
The Technique Used in Rappelling
If you are new to cliff climbing, then you will need to understand the basic technique of rappelling. This technique is especially used by cliff climbers to descend down cliffs and mountains in a controlled motion with the help of a fixed rope. The climbing ropes are anchored to the mountains with the aid of artificial anchors, such as bolts, pitons and cams.
You will need to double the rope with respect to the anchors mid point or you could also tie the rope with another climbing rope. Next, you will be required to use a rappel device, which is used to utilize the rope’s friction to control your descent down a cliff or a mountain. The technique is quite difficult to learn and thus, you will need to practice it while climbing small cliffs, before embarking on any big climbing adventure.
Apart from climbing, you will also need to learn some basic techniques like rope management, how to tie knots, how to rig rappel devices, how to construct anchors, how to retrieve ropes, and how to use safety systems. All of these details are essential when rappelling as they will help you to descend the cliffs safely.
In addition, it is vital for every potential climber to plan and gather all the important devices and equipment they need before climbing any cliff or mountain. You can easily find all of these items in specialist climbing stores or on online e-commerce sites. Many sites offer great discounts on climbing equipment and most, if not all of it can be easily purchased via credit card or internet banking.
Some of the most important devices for rappelling are –
- Rappel Devices
- Pulling Ropes
- Autoblock Knots
Knots help you to tie the ropes together. You will need to tie the stopper knots at the terminal of each rappel rope to avoid any kind of rappelling at the rope ends. The autoblock knots ensure you have a safety back-up. Most of the experienced mountain climbers in the world suggest using three anchors for rappelling. You could also use two bomber anchors.
Anchors can be categorized under different sections including nuts, cams, bolts, trees, tied-off boulders or pitons. Most climbers use metal quick links, carabiners and descending rings, which do not break or melt like the nylon made anchors.
Ropes are considered to be the most important piece of equipment in rappelling. During rappelling, you will be required to use more than two ropes, all of which need to be thick. There have been many cases, where thin ropes have been the reason behind cliff climbing accidents.
It is not wise for you to use climbing ropes for rappelling. Climbing ropes have the quality of extensive stretching, which is lacking in fixed ropes. You could use climbing ropes for rappelling however when doing so, you should expect the dynamic ropes to break or tear on the rock edges. If you are embarking on a long adventure in the mountains, then you will need to use fixing ropes for both rappelling and ascending.
Since fixing ropes do not stretch, you will find them very convenient to use. You can either buy a 200 foot long fixing rope, or two 100 feet long fixing ropes. The choice of the length completely depends on your preference and comfort.
Nady is a keen follower of adventure sports. He provides a lot of information about some of the most interesting sports like Texas quail hunting, rappelling, whale watching, and lots more.