Afraid of heights? Well, it's high time you got over it! Because you have no idea what you're missing out on. Introducing rappelling, the single most badass thing you'll ever do in your life. It all involves descending down the face of a cliff using a rope and not pissing your pants as you do it. It's also known as abseiling in other parts of the world, while most veterans call it rapping or abbing. Rappelling can be extremely exciting, but just as dangerous. Therefore, it is essential that you do your homework first before jumping off the edge of a cliff. Consider this your cheat sheet.
As a beginner, you should know that your equipment is your lifeline: literally! Knowing it inside out is not an option. At the heart of everything is the rappel rope. A low-stretch rope is used to reduce bouncing, and most climbers use a doubled single rope to prevent knot failure or jamming. An anchor is used at the top of the cliff to secure the rope and can be made up of any sturdy material or rock feature. However, professionally-made anchors are encouraged to ensure ultimate safety. If you were a boy scout as a kid, then all those years of getting mercilessly teased are about to pay off, because rappelling has a lot to do with knots. The double overhand knot, double fisherman's knot and the square fisherman's knot, all have to be at your fingertips. Other equipment needed include a rappel device, climbing harness, helmet and gloves. All this can be rented if your credit card isn't ready for a bit of cardio.
Abseiling is one of those activities that you really understand when you're out in the field, or in this case, hanging hundreds of feet above jagged terrain. For starters, begin with small heights to master some confidence and acquire the basic skill set required. Indoor climbing walls are a great place to do this. When you have the courage locked down, then you can go out into the big bad world where the real fun lives. The South African Classical Abseil is the most widely used technique, incorporating a double-roped descent to ensure safety and comfort. More experienced rappers can throw in the Australian rappel that involves descending face down, or simul rappeling, which involves two rappellers descending at the same speed while anchored into each other. Sounds fun? Sure is!
Rappelling certainly isn't for the faint-hearted. But it's all about taking that first step down the cliff, then everything comes together. If you're out there and want to really challenge yourself, mentally and physically, have a try at this. You won't be disappointed!