Filed under: Things I’ve never done that I’ve always wanted to learn how to do.
Also filed under: Things I love about REI #537.
Rappelling. It’s a thing you do if you climb out in the world a lot (which I don’t). It’s a thing they raffle off for fundraisers. It’s a thing that looks kind of fun. It’s a thing I’ve never done. Until Sunday.
Because REI is super rad, learning how to rappel was as easy as signing up on a website and showing up.
Easy, but not simple. There were a lot of steps, mostly centered around teaching us how to not die rappelling carelessly.
How to not die rappelling carelessly, artificial top rope environment edition:
1. Climb up. Tension.
2. Set two anchors. Test them out.
3. Come off belay.
4. Set up the rappel rope. I finally used both holes in my ATC!
5. Make sure the rappel setup works.
6. Set up third hand.
7. Make sure the third hand works. Will it stop you?
8. Unset anchors. Your third hand’s got you!
9. Rappel down.
It’s hard to explain what the rappel should look like, and what the third hand looks like. That’s what internet guides are for. Mostly, I’m documenting what we learned.
How do we set up all those anchors, not lose the rope, and tie a third hand? With knots! And maybe some hitches. And maybe learn about the difference between knots (which can exist on their own) and hitches (which require something else to exist) along the way. I won’t talk about them all here, but…
A knot I’ve never tied before but find super cute: The barrel knot. Great for keeping your rope from flying off at the end! Oh, and did I mention super cute? It’s super cute!
We learned a couple third hand hitches: The autoblock and the prusik. The idea is to make a hitch that allows the rope to slide if you position it so it’s loose, but cinch tight if you let go to stop you from falling. I’d never thought about using ropes in this manner and am all of a sudden finding knots and hitches super interesting. Also, I find the prusik very symmetrically pleasing.
I wish the word symmetric were a palindrome of symmetrical letters.
We also used a bunch of slings, and clipped all sorts of stuff to our harnesses. I say stuff and not gear here because even though it’s gear, it’s only a small and gentle subset of what you’d use for outdoor lead climbing. Still, it was nice to finally use a few of those loops on my harness.
Now I know how rappelling works! And I can say I’ve done my own non-careless setup and lowered myself without dying. :)