by Brad

April 2, 2021

How Does Rappelling Work

Rappelling is a dangerous yet thrilling part of climbing. But how does rappelling work? It involves climbers swiftly zipping towards the ground without a partner.

Don’t attempt it if you’re a beginner though as you continue learning, you will need this vital skill. It is essential to learn to rappel appropriately because this is when a significant share of climbing accidents occurs. 

But, what really is rappelling? It is the process of lowering yourself to the ground using a rope and several other equipment pieces in a controlled way.

To achieve this, it is necessary to link yourself to the rope in a specific way that builds friction to reduce your lowering speed. This lets you lower yourself in a precise manner, guaranteeing your safety when descending. 

Well, here’s how to go about it:

Man Rappelling Works

1) Double-check Your Equipment 

As a climber, you simply require several additions to the necessary gear to rappel. Here is what you need to start rappelling:

  • An anchor that should be connected to the harness using a girth hitch via the tie-in positions;
  • A belay device that you`re supposed to make sure is approved for rappelling. Try all figure-8 or tubular-design gadgets;
  • A cord of up to 3 feet that is about 5 mm thick for the rappel tool’s auto-block hitch. Tie a double knot on the cord inside a loop;
  • If you are looking to rappel multiple times, don`t forget to carry your gloves.

2) Fix the Ropes 

At the route’s top, set the rope up for safety. Fasten a quickdraw to a safe point at the top and fasten your rope inside the draw. On the anchor system, clip a loop on the same point as the quickdraw using a locking carabiner

Place another loop in the anchor mechanism, eliminating the system’s slack to another reliable point at the top of the route. Clear the top anchor and then rack it. 

Utilizing a clove hitch, tie the slack off, and fasten it to the belay loop to stop a misstep from causing the rope to drop you unexpectedly. Untie the belay device and push the rope through both the bottom links of the two chains. Read our detailed guide on how to rappel with a belay device.

Fixing the ropes for rappelling

Set up a stopper knot in the rope’s end to close the rappelling system. There is supposed to be a stopper knot on the ground end of the rope, and together these two knots can stop the climber from rappelling off both rope ends.

Push the rope till it reaches the clove hitch, and continue pushing it till the center mark hits the rappel`s top. 

3) Establish the Rappel 

You are supposed to be clipped in your anchor system and untied from your rope for this step. Utilize a locking carabiner to fasten the rappel gadget onto the belay loop. Then pull a few feet of both ropes. 

Set up two little bights in every strand of rope and feed them through the rappel’s device openings. Fasten the carabiner via the gadget and both rope strands, and lock the carabiner. 

Pull the brake strands via the rappel tool as much as possible. Check everything and launch an auto-block by covering the cord’s loop around the two rope strands beneath the belay mechanism. This will prevent you from falling in case you mishandle the rope.

4) Start Descending 

Now, it’s time to start descending towards the ground. Completely sit in the harness with your legs straight, and your hips positioned at a 900 angle. Start pushing out from the wall. Focus on the setting and keep your feet flexible. 

How to rappel down

Finally, check everything once more, and if everything is okay, begin descending. Have one arm on the brake strands and untie any tether linking to your anchor. Keep the other arm on the auto-block, on the other rope’s brake side. 

Utilize your lower arm to push the rope up via the belay equipment as the top arm motions the auto-block down the rope to avoid tightening. Next to the anchor, disconnect the belay device. 


So, there it is, how to go about rappelling! That’s our comprehensive guide to rappelling from start to finish. 

While rappelling might be dangerous, rappelling is a thrilling sport as well. However, be careful of the external factors that can harm you if you do not take the correct safety measures. 

Enjoy it but remember to be careful!

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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