on rappel


Rappelling or Abseiling is the skill of descending down a rope. It is actually a simple process, but is fraught with many hazards, some statistics state that about 25% of climbing deaths occur during rappelling, most commonly due to failing anchors or abseiling beyond the end of the rope.

At its core, rappelling is the act of using some sort of friction device or hitch to play out your rope in controlled fashion, under load, so that you can safely descend.

Rappelling is not rocket science, but you have to know what you are doing. The rope has to be properly anchored, you have to be properly attached to the rope and the device you are using to rappel with needs to be properly attached to YOU.

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2 thoughts on “on rappel”

  1. I think the statistic refers to a period in the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was a surge in rapelling accidents in American climbing.

    There are several factors that make rapelling a particularly dangerous phase of climbing that aren’t usually present in tactical contexts. In climbing, rapelling is used to descend after completing a climb, or when a retreat is forced by weather, darkness, injury, or the like. It’s easy to see that the factors that force a retreat also make errors more likely. In the case of the descending climber who has completed his climb, fatigue and the psychological ‘high’ from getting to the top both make errors likely.

    It’s important to recognize that in any context a failure or error is likely to end badly for the guy who is hanging off the rope.

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