How To Rappel
Knowing how to rappel will help you in sports ranging from rock climbing to tree ascent to caving, not to mention its usefulness to people with a military career. Though rappelling has a low margin for error, the skills involved are not hard to master. Follow these steps to rappel safely.
- Stand well back from your jumping off point while preparing to rappel. Wear a climbing helmet and gloves while rappelling.
- Put on a quality, certified rappelling or climbing harness. If you don't know how to wear one properly, get an expert to check you out.
Loop your rope around a stationary point such as a pole, tree or rope anchor.
- Fold one loose end of rope over itself into a "bight". Slip that bight through a hole in your belay device. Fold over the other loose end, inserting its bight into the second hole in your belay device.
- Slip the loops of both ends of rope, as well as the handle of your belay device, through a locking carabiner hooked to the front of your climbing harness. Lock the carabiner in place before beginning your belay.
Pull the rope through your belay device until the rope between you and the anchor is no longer slack.
- Grip the rope between yourself and the anchor with your weak hand. Use your strong hand to grip the rope on the loose end, about six to twelve inches from the belay device. As you rappel, your strong hand is called the "brake hand".
- Pay out the rope to give you slack by walking backwards away from the anchor as the rope passes through your belay device. Note that as you move your brake hand towards the other rope, it becomes easier to walk backwards.
- Throw excess rope off the edge of your jumping off point. Call out a warning to anybody standing below. Abort your rappel if you notice that the rope doesn't reach ground level with measure to spare.
- Pull your brake hand away from your off hand until it's between 90 and 180 degrees from your navel. Lean backwards and let the rope and harness take your weight.
- Begin your belay by placing one foot on the face of the surface you plan to descend. Pay out rope by allowing it to pass through your gloved brake hand. Your body weight should be sufficient to keep the rope moving.
- Hold on to the rope at all times. Speed your rappel by moving your brake hand closer to your off hand. Brake your rappel by moving your brake hand farther from your off hand.
- Rappelling is potentially dangerous and should only be attempted after professional instruction and supervised practice.