Rapelling, abseiling, canyoning – whichever you call it, it basically is a technique of fast descent from vertical faces with the aid of ropes and specialized rapelling equipment – classic challenge of heights, the fear factorand a powerful accomplishment – not every perceived risk is insurmountable!
Rapelling is the quickest and easiest way to get a taste of mountaineering. Perfect as an introductory adventure , Rapelling also has a psychological application in training programmes in encouraging trust in unfamiliar systems and protocols and following them well to acheive something that seems extremely difficult at first sight. Learning about trust through abseiling helps develop respect for systems and procedures established with the benifit of other highly experienced people and learning to trust and follow instructions accurately when venturing into areas beyond personal experience, and using them to boost our development much faster than if we had to figure it out independently.
What happens in a Rappelling Session?
Rappling is also known as abseiling and originated as a means of a quick and safe descent after a climb. The idea was to slide down a rope with sufficient friction provided as to make the speed of descent controllable. Rapelling is now a full-fledged skill by itself and finds application among various fields where people work on high vertical faces and need a portable means of descent that is also reasonably quick to set-up.
A typical session begins with an introduction of the activity with information about climbing and rappelling equipment like karabiners, descenders, harnesses and rappelling ropes. There is a demonstration of rappelling techniques and anchoring and safety system followed by guided attempts by participants. Rapelling tools and equipment are slightly different from those used for rock climbing, though they are similar. The difference is in equipment that facilitates descent – descenders, ropes designed to pass through descenders efficiently, mittens to prevent rope burn, etc.Rapelling safety focuses not only on arrest of falls, but controlling the speed of descent.
You are attached to a rope via a harness and some hardware that you will come to know as a karabiner and descender. The rope passes through a figure 8 descender. Instruction helps participants learn how to control the friction and slow its movement. Speed of descent can be controlled by simply arresting the movement of the rope, so that it can’t pass through the descender as fast (or not at all, if you need to stop).
Rappelling facilitates an attitude of overcoming challenges
Rappelling or abseiling brings a powerful sense of acomplishment and is a vital resource in bringing about the realization that not every perceived risk is insurmountable.
As a first time experience, it seems rather daunting to stand on the edge of a cliff or a tall building (watching minute cars traveling on roads below) knowing that we will soon be going down with only a rope for safety. But the technique is easy to learn , and the real difficulty only lies in convincing our minds. The technique easily feels ‘natural’ after the first couple of steps and then, the feeling of suspension over the expanse below is awesome.
The tremendous sense of achievement that follows makes this activity perfect for boosting confidence and brings about the realization that not every seemingly difficult objective is actually so, and we may even enjoy it enough to wish for a repeat!