Rappelling for Dummies
In the wise words of Sir Isaac Newton, “What goes up must come down.” Once you make it up to the top of the perilous cliff ledge, you will have to find a way down eventually. While there may be trails down the mountain or cliff, you can’t always rely on that. Rappelling provides a safe way to get down the mountain in one piece.
If there is not safety in rappelling, then it is just considered skydiving. Regardless of whether it is a single pitch or multi-pitch route. Always make sure that your equipment is in good shape. If the ropes have too much wear they won’t have structural integrity.
Climbing up, you should have already had the ropes anchored to a suitable surface together ensuring your safety. If you have not, we recommend attaching to a tree, secure to a steady rock, cams, pitons, or bolts. Then secure your ropes using either a Double Figure 8, Fisherman’s Knot, or a Square Fisherman’s Knot.
Thread your rope right through the middle to ensure an additional level of stability and equal tension on both sides of the ropes.
Once your ropes are set up through the rappel anchors,be clipped in to your anchor with a different anchor tether while also having a backup. Then clip the rappel device to your belay loop without locking it in yet. Then create some slack.
Double check and make sure that all your clips are properly connected. With the slack you have, create 2 bights in each stand pushing them between the openings in your device. Move the braking side to whichever side of your body is your dominant hand. Then lock in your belay loop.
Let Down the Ropes
Keep your hands 6 inches away from the breaking teeth so your hands and fingers do not get caught in the system. Nobody wants to lose a finger.
It is better to ease into the pace than the other way around. As you work your way down and get more comfortable, then you can begin to adjust to a quicker pace while you’re still in control.
Once you let the ropes down into the canyon, work your way down the canyon. Try to sit near a 90 degree angle against the wall as you so you have the leverage to push yourself out from the wall thus letting you down. Depending on how long the descent is, you may encounter several anchors. Clip yourself into these before unclipping the biner and ropes to lower yourself down. After adjusting, clip yourself back in again pulling it away from the ropes.
- Watch out for protruding rocks, ledges, branches or anything else that might protrude out.
- If someone is below, they can assist you with a fireman belay for additional safety measures.
- If you have a heavy back pack, do not leave it on your shoulders. Instead clip it through the belay loop while it hangs between your legs. Just know the the additional weight of pack will influence your thrust down the cliff as well as change how you sway from side to side.
- Add knots at the end of the rope as a safety measure for a last resort.