5 Things You Need for Abeiling and Rappelling 5 Things You Need for Abeiling and Rappelling

Abseiling and rappelling are both quite a bit of fun exercise and require much less equipment than rock climbing. However, since less protection is provided, you must be make sure you have the right supplies before doing these activities.

1. Harness

Though the same harness can be used for both repelling and climbing, it is important to adjust your clothing. Make sure you are wearing pants that allow you to sit back into the harness without bunching or rubbing on the leg loops.

2. Helmet

When you are doing any kind of rock climbing or repelling, a helmet is essential gear. One small rock can become a major hazard if it hits you in the head. The rock will hit you with not only its force, but the force of gravity pulling it down as well.

3. Static Rope

Dynamic works will work, but static rope bounces less. Static should be used if all you are doing is rappelling, but should never be used for climbing. The rope should be UIAA certified, and check to be sure it isn't abraded, stiff or in any way compromised. Secondly, be sure the rope is long enough for the repel length and then some. People die every year from repelling off the end of their rope.

4. Solid Anchor

The anchor used is the only thing which holds the rappeller up in the air. If the anchor isn't structurally sound, the climber is at great risk. If in doubt, try again or do not repel. There are 3 main ways the anchor can be constructed.

  1. Locking Carabiners and Slings - If you are anchoring to a tree or other large permanent structure at the top of the rappel, at least 4 locking carabiners and at least 6 long slings should be used. All anchors should be taken from two points (or more) and then equalized at an approximately 25 degree angle.
  2. A Bolt - A bolt is ideal because it driven deeply into the rock and placed at the top for the sole reason to provide safe descent of the rock face. Bolts need to be observed to ensure they are still structurally sound and the elements have not degraded the metal.
  3. Rock Climbing Protection - Chocks, hexes and other forms of climbing protection can be used, but are the least preferable since human error can make them unsafe. Be sure ample back ups and multiple pieces of protection are used and check to make sure the line will not "unzipper" as the climber descends.

5. Rappel Device

There are three main forms of repel device which are all effective. Be sure you understand how each works before rappelling.

  • Figure Eight - Figure 8s are the most commonly used repel devices for their ability to offer smooth and steady descents while also being easy to manage. Their main drawback is how much the rope becomes twisted and the time it takes to untwist at the end of the repel.
  • Belay Device - Belay devices require less equipment to be purchased because they are multi-use and tend to twist rope much less than Figure 8s. However, the rope feed is not as smooth.
  • Repel Rack - These are only used for repels of several hundred feet.

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