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 Rappeling

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PostSubject: Rappeling   Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:25 am

Abseiling
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A time-lapse panorama of a rock climber rappelling off a climb.
Australian rappel demonstrated at a dam in Norway
Pararescueman rappels from a helicopter during training exercise in Iraq.

Abseiling (German: abseilen, "to rope down"), rappelling in American English,[1] is the controlled descent down a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. Abseiling is used chiefly in British English, as well as in Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Contents
[hide]

1 Slang terms
2 History
3 Equipment
4 Application
5 Styles/techniques
6 Safety and ecological issues
7 See also
8 References and footnotes
9 External links

Slang terms

Slang terms for the technique include: rapping or rap jumping (American slang), deepelling (Canadian slang), abbing (British slang for "abseiling"), jumping, roping down, roping, seiling, snapling (Israeli slang), rappling (Hindi slang). The term rappel / rappelling is derived from the French language: French, recall, return, rappel, from Old French, recall, from rapeler, to recall: re-, re- + apeler, to summon.
[edit] History

The origin of the abseil is attributed[2] to Jean Estéril Charlet, a Chamonix guide who lived from 1840–1925. Charlet originally devised the technique of the abseil method of roping down during a failed solo attempt of Petit Dru in 1876. After many attempts, some of them solo, he managed to reach the summit of the Petit Dru in 1879 in the company of two other Chamonix guides, Prosper Payot and Frédéric Folliguet, whom he hired (a rather paradoxical move for a guide). During that ascent, Charlet perfected the abseil.


Equipment

Ropes: Climbers often simply use their climbing ropes for rappelling. For many other applications, low-stretch rope (typically ~2% stretch when under the load of a typical bodyweight) called static rope is used to reduce bouncing and to allow easier ascending of the rope.
Anchors for rappelling are sometimes made with trees or boulders, using webbing and cordellete, or also with rock climbing equipment, such as nuts, hexes and spring loaded camming devices.[3] Some climbing areas have fixed anchors for rappelling.
A descender or rappel device is a friction device or friction hitch that allows rope to be paid out in a controlled fashion, under load, with a minimal effort by the person controlling it. The speed at which the rappeller descends is controlled by applying greater or lesser force on the rope below the device or altering the angle at which the rope exits the device. Descenders can be task-designed or improvised from other equipment. Mechanical descenders include braking bars, the figure eight, the abseil rack, the "bobbin" (and its self-locking variant the "stop"), the gold tail, and the "sky genie" used by some window-washers and wildfire firefighters. Some improvised descenders include the Munter hitch, a carabiner wrap, the basic crossed-carabiner brake and the piton bar brake (sometimes called the carabiner and piton). There is an older, more uncomfortable, method of wrapping the rope around one's body for friction instead of using a descender, as in the Dulfersitz or Geneva methods used by climbers in the 1960s.
A climbing harness is often used around the waist to secure the descender. A comfortable climbing harness is important for descents that may take many hours.
A prusik, Klemheist knot, or Bachmann knot may be used as safety back-up, also called a "third hand," and is used as a back-up in the case of the rappeller losing control of the rappel.
Helmets are worn to protect the head from bumps and falling rocks. A light source may be mounted on the helmet in order to keep the hands free in unlit areas.
Gloves protect hands from the rope and from hits with the wall. They are mainly used by recreational abseilers, industrial access practitioners, adventure racers and military as opposed to climbers or mountaineers. In fact, they can increase the risk of accident by becoming caught in the descender in certain situations.[citation needed]
Boots or other sturdy footwear with good grips.
Knee-pads (and sometimes elbow-pads) are popular in some applications for the protection of joints during crawls or hits.

Application

Abseiling is used in a number of applications, including:

Climbing, for returning to the base of a climb or to a point where one can try a new route.
Recreational abseiling.
Canyoning, where jumping waterfalls or cliffs may be too dangerous.
Caving and speleology, where underground pitches are accessed using this method (Single Rope Technique).
Adventure racing, where events often include abseiling and other rope work.
Industrial/Commercial applications, where abseiling techniques are used to access parts of structures or buildings so as to perform maintenance, cleaning or construction, e.g. steeplejacking, window cleaning, etc.)
Access to wildfires.
Confined spaces access, such as investigating ballast tanks and other areas of ships.
Rescue applications, such as accessing injured people or accident sites (vehicle or aircraft) and extracting the casualty using abseiling techniques.
(Military) Tactical heliborne insertion of troops and special forces into the battlefield close to the objective when proper landing zones are not available. More commonly used in urban warfare scenarios and is increasingly replaced by fast-roping. Typical examples include: insertion into urban environments, boarding (attack) of sea-going vessels and insertion of forces to seize and secure a landing zone in enemy territory (airhead assault).

Styles/techniques

Australian rappel — Involves descending facing down.
Tandem or Spider Rappelling — Involves two climbers descending on the same belay device. This is done in some rescue situations when one of the climbers is incapacitated, or the descent needs to be done quickly. The set up is similar to a regular rappelling set up with the first climber is girth hitched off a sling into the descender on the carabiner, and has an auto block from belay loop of the harness to the rope as a backup. The second rappeller is also girth hitched into the belay device on the carabiner and also anchored into the main rappeller's harness as a back-up.
Simul Rappelling — Two separate rappellers on the two strands of the rope running through the anchors. Rappellers need to descend at the same speed as each other and should be anchored into each other to avoid the other getting ahead and causing problems.
Counter Balance Rappelling — Used typically by a leader to reach an injured second. Idea is to rappel off on one strand of rope, using the incapacitated second's weight on the other strand of the rope to counterbalance.
Another rappelling method, used by some guides to lower their clients or by inexperienced climbers is by setting up a rope by anchoring it with a munter hitch and locking off the non-rappelling strand of the rope. The client descends on the non-locked strand of the rope. If the client gets into trouble, the guide unlocks the other strand and lowers the client or the rappeller. Useful, when it is an inexperienced rappeller or when the rappeller gets into trouble, by getting a piece of clothing or hair entangled in the descender.
Non-Mechanical methods — are dangerous and used only in emergencies, when no other option is available. They involve descending without aid of mechanical devices, by wrapping the rope around the body, and were used before harnesses and hardware were in common usage.

Safety and ecological issues

Abseiling can be dangerous, and presents risks, especially to unsupervised or inexperienced abseilers. According to German mountaineer Pit Schubert, about 25% of climbing deaths occur during rappelling, most commonly due to failing anchors. Another frequent cause of accidents is abseiling beyond the end of the rope.[4]

Abseiling is prohibited or discouraged in some areas, due to the potential for environmental damage and/or conflict with climbers heading upwards, or the danger to people on the ground.

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