How To Rappel Down A Rope

Do you want to learn how to rappel down a rope? Rappelling is the safest way to go down to a lower spot after a climb or into a cave or canyon. Equipment makes the maneuver easier and safer, but you can rappel with or without tools.

The things you will need to rappel down a rope are:

  • A rope, long enough to get to a lower safe platform.
  • A harness.
  • A belay device, such as an ATC or a belay plate or stitch plate.
  • A safe anchor at the top.

To belay down a rope, you have to:

  1. Put a rappel ring at the top of the wall, clipped to the anchor.
  2. With your harness on, clip a locking carabiner to both front loops of your harness. Read the harness manufacturer´s instructions thoroughly.
  3. Make the rope go through the belay device and the carabiner attached to you harness.
  4. Test the anchor by sitting on your harness. Check for twists on the rope and the rappel ring at the anchor.
  5. Choose your descent line, one that has to look clear and straight below the anchor, leading to a safe flat.
  6. Make the rope go half way trough the rappel ring at the anchor. The middle point of the rope must be right at the anchor.
  7. Let both rope coils fall down the cliff by your chosen descent line.
  8. Check that your harness, carabiner and rappel device are placed correctly.
  9. Walk backwards slowly towards the cliff, keeping some tension on the rope to prevent it from getting stuck in bushes or rocks.
  10. With the downward rope to your strong hand´s side, put your weak hand in front of you and around the upward rope. This will help you stay stable and with your head straight upward.
  11. Your strong hand must stay towards your back, making the rope form an acute angle as it goes through the belay device. The wider the angle, the faster the rope will run through the belay device.
  12. Let yourself go down at a controlled speed, and stay straight in front of the wall, balancing yourself with your weak hand and your feet against the wall.
  13. The more you practice, the easier it will be to go down faster and break right on time, controlling your speed more accurately.

Remember that all mountain activities involve risks that can be lowered by staying focused and always double-checking your equipment.

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