If you are looking to get better at sport climbing, rappelling is one skill you have to master. You must have heard that rappelling can be pretty hard to learn, and this is likely sending chills down your spine.
This information can be discouraging, especially if it comes from someone you look up to in sport climbing. You need to put this fear behind you and focus on taking a reality check on how hard is rappelling?
The Rappelling Reality Check
How easy or hard learning how to rappel for you depends on your approach to learning the skill. As you know, everyone has their strengths and shortcomings, and these usually influence our process of learning new things.
The reality is, that learning how to rappel, just like any other new thing, can be challenging the first few days. But as you keep practicing more, you are bound to get better. As you learn this new skill, it’s vital that you have the right teacher with you.
A good teacher puts safety first and understands that learning takes time. This can be your sport climbing expert friend or a commercial trainer. You should not get anyone who pushes you to make risky moves when you feel you are not ready.
Is rappelling physically demanding?
Many extreme sports require some level of physical fitness, and sport climbing is no exception. Thus, you will have to be physically fit to some extent, but this doesn’t mean athlete-level fitness. There are some exercise tests that you can do to check if you are ready to start your rappelling training.
The proper posture to maintain while rappelling is like that of leaning back on a backless bench. Sit on a backless bench and lean back so that your spine is at a moderately acute angle to the bench.
If you can hold this posture for about two minutes, you are good. You will also need to have some good grasp on your hands as they are the ones that will be holding the ropes as your rappel. You only need sufficient strength to hold the rappelling rope, not counterbalance your body weight.
Who is the best fit to train you – a friend or commercial trainer?
Rappelling is not rocket science; it’s just a skill that anyone can get good at. It’s likely that someday, you will also be good enough to consider teaching someone else the skill.
As you consider starting your rappel training, you might be in a dilemma when it comes to picking the best trainer. So, should you let your experienced friend train you or get a commercial trainer?
Firstly, it will likely be more convenient to let your friend train you as they know you better. Moreover, they will probably teach you for free. Keep in mind that before you settle on having your friend train you, you have to see and gauge their skill level when they are rappelling.
You should have more than one encounter with the prospective trainer friend when they are rappelling. Don’t just pick them based on hearsay.
On the other hand, a commercial rappelling trainer has more experience rappelling. Their experience also extends to expertise teaching newbies how to rappel. Thus, you are likely to master the skill faster if you choose a commercial trainer.
The commercial trainer also understands all the nitty-gritty of rappelling, and they can share this will you to help you stay safe even in a challenging situation. The biggest downside of this is that hiring a commercial rappelling trainer can be expensive.
Rappelling Pro Tips
- You are better off harnessing gravity rather than fighting it. Consider gravity as your friend and let your rappelling equipment work in corporation with it. This means that you won’t be using any significant arm strength.
- Consider taking classes to learn to rappel.
- Trust your rappel system because it works. As a newbie, understanding the mechanics of how the rappel system works might be challenging. This will likely make you fearful, and it’s at such times that you could make a mistake. You should know that your rappel system will work fine and there is nothing to fear.
- Check the equipment before you start rappelling. Make sure that it fits your snuggly and that it’s in perfect condition. You can check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use your belay device correctly.
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