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What goes up will eventually come down. But when descending from the top of a wall, a cliff some or other steep grade, a carefully controlled decline is advisable. Most climbing accidents happen on the way down, not on the way up.

Rappelling, the technique of sliding down a rope, allows climbers to make safe descents from precipitous heights, but it can be a hazardous activity.  No text or website can substitute for on-site instruction, but there are some basic concepts that can be learned beforehand.

"Proper rappelling technique can save your life. The correct equipment, body position, and rope handling will keep you in control -- making every rappel just a simple slide down the rope," write S. Peter Lewis and Dan Cauthorn in Climbing: From Gym to Crag.

The first rule for rappelling, whether it's down a rock face or the side of a building, is to take your time.

Carefully check out your harness and hardware. When rappelling, you'll be at the  mercy of your equipment.

Check  to make sure the rope you're descending on reaches the ground and that your anchors are secure. Knot the ends and belay your partner.

Rappel as smoothly as you can, walking down the wall. Avoid bounding or bouncing as much as possible.

Separate the two strands of rope to minimize kinking while descending. If you're careful not to tangle the ropes during descent, retrieving them will be easier.  Once you're down, pull the rope down from the side that's closest to the wall, reducing the chances of the rope getting jammed by the sling.

Safer Rappelling on Multipitch Climbs
Descending from a climb requires knowledge, skill and experience.  Prepare yourself with's system for checking rappel rigs, steps for setting up rappels for normal and extended rappel devices, and tips on situations to avoid.  Click here.

Home Climbing Gyms
Home Climbing Gyms:
How to Build and Use 
How to Rappel
How to Rappel!  
Rock Climbing Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide
Rock Climbing Anchors
Rock Climbing
Rock Climbing
Knots and Ropes for Climbers
Knots & Ropes for Climbers 
Knots for Climbers
Knots for Climbers
Climbing Self Rescue
Climbing Self Rescue

Rappeling Down a Cliff
Rappeling down a cliff at Yosemite.

Climbing: From Gym to Crag  by S. Peter Lewis & Dan Cauthorn

Climbers who learn their techniques at indoor climbing gyms are not necessarily prepared to rock climb outdoors. 

"The outdoor environment is virtually uncontrolled, all risks are possible, and a climber can spend a lifetime learning the safety systems and still not know it all," caution S. Peter Lewis and Dan Cauthorn, authors of this guide for indoor climbers who want to make the progression to climbing real rock.

Structured to be used by climbers at different skill levels, instructions include a "Key Transition Exercises" that identify outdoor climbing techniques that are not found indoors or are done differently on rock. These are techniques that can be mastered on the ground prior to testing them on the cliffs: 

>Belay from an anchor using CATCH principles.

>Clean a top-rope and be lower down, or rappel down

>Use natural anchor points to create a secure top-rope belay anchor

>Construct belay anchors using traditional protection

>Top-belay options and their applications

>Safe rappelling methods

>Getting down two pitches fast

>How to escape the belay in an emergency

Rock Climbing
Rock Climbing  
Mastering Basic Skills
 by Craig Luebben
Black Diamond ATC Guide Belay Device
ATC Guide Belay Device
This device does it all.  When belaying from above, its guide mode lets the belayer bring up one or two seconding climbers. For lowering, it has a small secondary hole that can be girth hitched for more leverage to release the device.

Rock Climber Rappelling
Rock Climber Rappelling

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