Rapelling Rope: 5 Tips

Whether you desire to Rappel for sport or as a means to descend down the side of a cliff or mountain, reading through 'Rappelling Rope: 5 Tips' is a must. Although most people know rappelling only for its use in safely allowing a climber to descend a cliff side, it serves many purposes; from climbing as a hobby, to search and rescue performed by the U.S. Coast Guard or Fire Departments. Rappelling is also often referred to as abseiling, abbing, rapping, roping down, seiling, or rap jumping.

  1. Rappelling Rope: Thoroughly inspect the rope for any frayed areas or abrasions. These can compromise the integrity of the rope, and in turn have a dangerous outcome for the climber. The life span on a rappelling rope is based on use, handling, cleaning and care of the rope. Using a rope for sport rappelling will, in most cases, wear it down faster than for just descending. It's up to the user to decide when its time to replace their rappelling rope.
  2. Harness: It is important that the climber use a harness which provides not only safety, but comfort as well. A descent can take from minutes to hours, so it is recommended to have a harness which you are comfortable in. Three types of common harnesses include: the Sit Harness, Chest Harness, and Full-Body Harness.
  3. Walk, Don't Jump: When descending down a cliff side, walk down the cliff. Jumping causes unnecessary strain on your anchors which can prove dangerous. Walking down the cliff at a steady strain is a much safer and effective method for any climber. If you are rappelling from a point that provides no area to rest your feet, it is recommended to keep both hands on the breaking side of your rappelling device, and at a slow and steady pace, feed the rope through.
  4. Safety Back-up: A safety back-up consists of multiple knotting techniques which are sometimes referred to as a "third hand".  Some methods used as safety back-ups consist of the prusik loop, klemheist knot, and bachmann knot. These forms of safety back-ups provide friction hitches or knots that will grip and seize the rope if you were to lose control of the rappel.
  5. Safety Gear: Helmets, Gloves, and Boots are at the top of the list. Most times while rappelling, rocks and pebbles will come falling down so it is important that you wear a helmet. Rappelling is extremely hands-on, so wearing gloves has many benefits. Since you will be touching rope, rocks, and metals your hands can easily get scrapes, cuts, or calluses. By wearing gloves, you greatly decrease the chance of harming your hands while rock-climbing. It is not recommended to wear sneakers or dress shoes while rock-climbing. A comfortable pair of boots with a good grip is recommended.
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