Rappelling is the technique of descending down a rope at a controlled rate of speed. Rappelling is employed when an obstacle, such as a cliff, cannot be safely downclimbed.
The method of rappelling depends on several factors including:
The experience of the group.
The type and length of rope.
The height of the obstacle.
Whether or not you need to be able to pull the rope from the bottom.
The following sections will help you know which type of rappel setup to use.
Regardless of the type of rappel or which rappel device you will be using, the rappelling process is essentially the same. The basic steps for rappelling are as follows:
Stand near the anchor, facing the anchor, with the rope going past you on your right side (Instructions here are for right-handed people).
Take the rope and thread it through your rappel device. See the rappel devices section for instructions on how to thread each specific rappel device.
Attach your rappel device to your harness.
Ensure that you have a rappelling belay and that the belayer is paying attention.
Grab the braking end (the end below your rappel device) of the rope in your right hand and NEVER LET GO until you reach the bottom. The safest and most comfortable location for your right hand is down against your right hip.
With your left hand, loosely grab the rope above the rappel device. Your left hand is used for balance and should not be used to slow your descent.
Slowly walk backward toward the edge of the cliff, feeding rope through your rappel device as you go.
Once you get to the top edge of the cliff, plant your feet and lean backward over the edge.
Once your body reaches an angle of 30-70 degrees backward, depending on the anchor angle and the layout of the cliff face, start walking backward down the cliff, feeding rope through your rappel device as you go.
When you reach the bottom of the cliff, keep feeding rope through your rappel device so you have some slack to remove your rappel device from the rope.