Australian Rappel

Australian Rappelling in the Jungle
Image by airborneshodan via Flickr

Australian rappelling is the technique of descending a fixed rope in a standing position while facing the ground.

This technique is used to give the operator the ability to cover or engage a target below him with a weapon. It’s often used to cover an opening like a window or a patio/landing on a multistory structure as other operators approach the opening from the sides. Having done “Aussies” before, I’ve found that it’s easier to do if your rappel device is attached to your harness with multiple (locking) carabiners or even a stitched loop of webbing. This extends your balance point out a bit and helps prevent tipping forward and possibly falling out of our harness. A chest rig would be a good investment if you plan on doing this.

Braking is done by bringing your rope hand in towards your torso/chest and is released by extending your arm out to your side.

As your entire body weight is facing downwards there is a significant amount of pressure placed on your lower abdomen where your harness rests, and the need to keep your back and neck flexed to maintain position can be taxing. Compared to the ability to “sit in harness” that you have in a normal rappel, the “Aussie” is not a position you will want to stay in for an extended period of time.

In Australia, the technique is not commonly known as “Australian”, or even “rappelling”; instead the term “abseiling” is more commonly used and the technique is referred to as “Geneva” style

Me “back in the day”:


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