Rappelling Research Papers
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Rappelling has not traditionally been a sport in itself, but it is a way of getting down from a high place in rock climbing or mountain climbing or when military or fire personnel need to descend from a tall building. “Rappelling is the process of sliding down a stationary rope, [and] applying some kind of friction on the rope to check speed and control the descent” . The ‘check’ is usually a mechanical brake device when it is not the human body itself. And, as Long writes, “‘Abseil’ (European), ‘rappel’ (American), ‘roping down’—call it what you want, it all involves using friction to descend a rope”. Mellor in his newest book American Rock, reports that rappelling as a sport is becoming increasingly popular, and nowhere as popular as it is in the South; he accounts for this by the huge influence of the military.
Most writers maintain that knowing how to rappel is absolutely essential for any climber, and even though it is not frequently used (many climbers arrange to walk down the other side, or climb down after an ascent), it would be foolish to make any ascent, anywhere, without knowing how to get back down by rappelling. In addition, writers Lewis and Cauthorn caution all climbers to know how to set a belay, which is a way of protecting a climber by controlling the rope, so that the rope will hold the climber in case of a fall.
Even though climbers cannot often choose the route of a rappel in case of an emergency, there are ideal routes and knowing what they are can help novice climbers be on the lookout. The best rappel route is very steep and featureless (without outcroppings, bushes, crags, loose rocks, etc.) except for the requisite stances and anchor places at 100- to 150-foot intervals. The steeper climbs have fewer opportunities for the rope to hang up and it is easier for the climbers to visually assess the terrain on the ascent.
There are two major types of rappelling:
- The body rappel
- The carabineer brake rappel
The only equipment needed in the body rappel is a good rappelling rope and an anchor of some kind (discussed later in paper). The rope runs between the legs from the front, back around the right hip, then diagonally across the chest and then over the left shoulder where the braking holds it hand. With this configuration, a climber can control her rate of descent. One drawback, however, is the friction between the rope and the climber’s body and therefore, it is not the rappel method of choice by experienced climbers.