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Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by emt1581, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. emt1581

    emt1581 Curious Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    Penn's Woods
    Very rarely am I more than 2 or 3 stories off the ground. However, whether it is 3 stories or 30, I'd rather have a shot at escaping than burn/suffocate/freeze/etc. Should the need arise, it'd be nice to have the option to rappel out/down.

    How does someone get started with that skill? Are there rigs made for beginners to give someone the ability to rappel with little or no skill?

    I'm thinking something like a harness, ropes, and maybe some handles that attach to the rope to automatically control the speed of decent.

    I don't know maybe I'm off on what technology can do.

    Please share your thoughts on the subject.


  2. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    Freeze? What kind of scenario are you envisioning for THAT?

  3. emt1581

    emt1581 Curious Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    Penn's Woods
    All that would have to happen is a power outage and the exits blocked in winter. I suppose I could start a fire but that'd trip the sprinkler system and I'd be cold and wet....anyway....not probable but possible... about rappelling?

  4. pipedreams

    pipedreams Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    S. E. Iowa
    You need to get a bit of training rather than killing yourself. I would suggest you first learn how to just use a rope and learn all the basics including how to rappel with just a rope in case you don't have all the fancy hardware. With each piece of hardware you add the chances of a failure due to human failure or mechanical failure. Good equipment is not cheap but you can't afford to go cheap when your life is hanging in the balance. There is some excellent equipment out there but you need to be knowledgeable of each and every piece of your equipment. Practicing with a overhead belay is good idea before trying it alone.

    Keep in mind you are going to have to lug around a good chunk of 10mm rope if you plan on coming out of a multistory building.
  5. yellowhand


    Feb 1, 2012
    A figure 8 decender, 150 feel of rapelling rope, one seat harness, one shoulder/back harness, locking steel biners, and a book on knots and how to lock in.
    Tie off to a telephone pole, and rig up and lock in.
    Then practice controlling your self as you walk backwards away from the pole.
    When you learn to break yourself, and also tie off, you will need a book to learn that, get a step ladder and tie off as high as possible on the telephone pole and then rig up, as high off the ground as possible, about three feet, and swing out and away and hang there for a while. Przactice tying off, and allow yourself to decend a foot or two, stop, and do it all over again, and again and again.
    Locate a steep decline, about ten feet, like a dirt road cut and tie off and learn to desend that.
    Learn to walk, then learn to run...
    Have fun.
  6. pipedreams

    pipedreams Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    S. E. Iowa
    I don't want to discourage you but you are going to have to lug around a good sized bag of equipment. The figure 8 already mentioned and several locking steel biners are ideal. Keep in mind besides a harness you will need a variety of slings to be able to set up an secure anchor to rappel from. Also you might have a overhanging ledge on a building where you go over the edge into open space where you have nothing to put your feet on.

    If your serious about this go somewhere and learn how to do it right and have a lot of fun learning.
  7. Sgt. Rambo

    Sgt. Rambo

    Apr 1, 2003
    South Jersey
    The seat you tie is the seat you ride!!! Anyone remember that?? Did my rappelling at Paris Island.. wasn't the greatest experience.

    If you worked in a high rise I could see maybe keeping the stuff in your office but outside of that...
  8. pipedreams

    pipedreams Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    S. E. Iowa
    My point exactly you are going to have to lug around a good sized bag of equipment.
  9. Chindo18Z


    Apr 17, 2010
    Rappelling looks neat, can be loads of fun, and is of rare utility unless you are:

    1. Infiltrating from a hovering helicopter
    2. Climbing (rock, ice, or structure...normally as part of an equipped party)
    3. Conducting a top-down surprise assault on a structure

    However, there is one practical use in a field/tactical/SHTF a pre-prepared escape...of which I have used two varieties:

    1. A pre-installed rappel lane for egress down a cliff face or structural wall. You need to be well-practiced and have had the luxury of time for pre-planning, rehearsal, and installation. This is a highly unlikely situation to find yourself in except as part of a specifically pre-planned mission. You need a good amount of heavy gear (ropes and protection) and to be already wearing a harness.

    2. The other far more practical use is to conduct a hasty body rappel on moderately steep slopes in order to outdistance pursuers. Appropriate for say a 30-60 degree avalanche slope, scree field, mud embankment, or forested hillside. Imagine a wooded hillside, at night, with uneven footing, dead fall underfoot, protruding boulders or rocks, brush, and broken branches. You are at the top of the hill (perhaps functioning as a member of a Listening Post / Observation Post).

    As the threat gets close, you evacuate your position, simply using a 120-150 foot length of light climbing rope (7 or 8mm) or 1" tubular nylon (tape), horseshoeing a bight around a tree, with both tails extending down slope. Wrap the line under your armpits and behind your upper back and begin walking/ lightly jumping down slope. The hill supports most of your body weight as you "run" downhill (facing sideways), using the line as a support to stay upright and avoid twisting your ankle or falling. To brake or slow your descent, simply cross your downhill hand (holding the downhill line) back across your chest. Gloves of some sort are advised to prevent rope burns to your palms.


    Note: The guy in this photo is standing on a pretty steep slope for a hasty rappel. You would not want to use this technique for the cliff face in the background.

    When you get to the end (not travelling too fast!), you simply pull one side of the line and rapidly retrieve the entire rope from above you, then run it around the next convenient anchor point (like a tree)...and start the process over. Rinse and repeat until you get to flat ground. If you have no trees or rock points to use, you can still pre-install an anchor point or dead man at each run out of your line. You'll just have to leave a bit of nylon and a carabiner behind as you flee and set it all up well in advance of need. For use in the dark, you can mark the end a rope with a small Chemlite duct taped to the tip of a running end. Cover most of the Chemlite, but ensure that you can still see some light as you approach the end of the rappel line. You'll just need a glimmer of marking light for your safety...not the whole damn light stick advertising your location.

    One advantage provided by this technique is that you can rapidly descend a slope and gain many minutes outdistancing a pursuer. You get down a 200 yard, steep, muddy, pitch black slope in just a few minutes. The people behind you have to pick their way down the same slope for a half hour or so...hopefully breaking an ankle or falling. :cool:

    If you combine (knot together) your 120' length with a buddy's can create a full 120' length for descent...allowing your folks to move that 200 yards straight line downhill movement in just three pitches. Rucksacks, packs, weapons or other equipment can be worn while doing this, although you may have to run the line under the ruck or reverse mount a light pack on your chest while descending. Avoid having nylon (rucksack or rifle sling) to nylon (descent rope) contact during rapid movement, as this will cause minor melting of nylon due to friction. Go as slow as necessary to ensure you don't inadvertently lose critical gear. Practice this a time or three on a nice sunny day (with gear) to get the hang of it.

    The other advantage is that the method is not equipment intensive. You do not need carabiners (snap links), climbing harnesses, or even a weighty full-bore 11mm climbing rope.

    120 feet of folded OD 1" nylon webbing packs into a really compact & lightweight space...and can be used for countless other purposes. 12' lengths can be lopped off to make tied Swiss Seat rappel harnesses. It can be used for weapon slings, shelter cordage, hoisted food caches (bears), safety lines, building climbing aids, safety line for water crossings, animal leads, rucksack strap repair, seat belts, tow straps (for carts, snow sleds, or poncho rafts), and 1000 other purposes limited only by your imagination and need. a lightweight means for conducting rapid and repeated hasty body really shines.

    Self taught rappelling down vertical faces is fraught with danger. It's a good way to get messed up...permanently. Best to learn from someone that knows how. I'd try contacting your local BSA and see if some Eagle Scout wouldn't be willing to run you through the process.

    Rappelling is rappelling. There isn't really a lick of difference between beginner or expert equipment...merely familiarity with technique and potential risk . Self taught, you wont realize what the potential problems are until you unknowingly tie a granny knot, feed your clothing or fingers into a descent device, tie a fatal hookup, friction saw your handgun holster, accidentally cut through your rappel line with a belted knife, or use an inappropriate anchor point/system that fails. It's akin to teaching yourself to drive a car, use a chainsaw, re-load ammo, or snow ski. Deceptively simple in appearance, but little room for error. And a good way to die or cripple yourself if you don't actually know what you are doing.

    You can however, teach yourself to conduct a hasty rappel on a moderate slope. At worst, you lose your footing or balance and fall over onto the ground (while still hanging on the rope). Maybe you roll down the hill a little.

    If you absolutely have to teach yourself...

    And heed the baby-step advice yellowhand offered.

    If the snow is up to above your doorway, you can just jump. :cool:

    For high-rise emergency evac (like from a fire)...there are steel cable (nylon melts!) mechanical devices you can purchase (although this one is Kevlar):

    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  10. mac66

    mac66 Huge Member Millennium Member

    Oct 28, 1999
    Blue Planet
    Find a place that teaches climbing. Some REI stores have climbing walls. Some Lifetime Fitness clubs have climbing walls. There are others like outdoor adventure places.

    I learned to climb and repel in the Boy Scouts as an adult leader. They had a 40+ foot tower. You climb up the wall on one side, repel down the other. One of the funnest things I've ever done.
  11. emt1581

    emt1581 Curious Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    Penn's Woods
    That is awesome!! I mean it'd suck big time if the mechanism inside failed (stopped or released) but that's great!!!

    I do think some rope, harness, etc. would be the way to go as that device looks big and heavy.


  12. UneasyRider

    UneasyRider C.D.B.

    Dec 1, 2005
    I no that one person mentioned it already but if you go with rope wear really good gloves. If you need to get down and there is rope you will get down.
  13. BR549

    BR549 Thread Killer

    Jan 18, 2008
    Good advice already.

    I use Black Diamond ATC for descent instead of figure 8.

    If your equipment will get banged around, buy stainless steel instead of aluminum.

    Black Diamond Alpine Bod is a lightweight easy to use harness.

    Learn how to tie a harness out of rope/webbing.

    Learn quick/efficient/effective anchor ties.

    Gloves should be leather.

    Peztl Ascender.

    There are specialty lines for fire, water, etc.

    BE CAREFUL and do not practice alone or without an experienced person to belay you.
  14. calgunner223


    Aug 30, 2011
    Keep in-mind, although rappelling is "easy", most mountaineering accidents happen on the way down.

    Most ropes, for climbing, are 50-70 meters. You can get one off a spool of any length - but won't be practical to carry.

    If you rap off a 30 floor building, where are you going to build your second anchor? Most ropes wont reach the bottom.

    And, tie a knot at the end of your rope so you don't just zip off for the most horrendous 3 seconds of your life.

    Just my 2cents and probably not worth that.
  15. pipedreams

    pipedreams Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    S. E. Iowa

    Written like someone who knows. Crazy unexpected things can happens so a good knife and a couple prussic loops to extract yourself are worth while, and don't drop your knife.
  16. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    I've literally made hundreds of rappells using nothing more than a rope, a single caribeaner and a simple sling seat made out of about 9 feet of rope. This is how we did it in the military and its safe, easy and uncomplicated. You can buy figure 8s and descenders and locking beaners and sewn harnesses all you want. The bottom line is your rope, the rope anchor, and the single friction device that controls your descent are all that keeps you from flying through space. Everything else is just another item that can fail and the more complicated you make it the more chance you have of failure.

    Keep it simple. Learn good technique. Use quality components. You can have the best harnesses, ropes, beaners, descenders etc that money can buy but if you are sloppy, careless and have poor technique you can still kill yourself. This isn't about buying yourself a better margin of safety. Its about learning proper technique--tying good knots, choosing a solid anchor, proper rigging of the friction descender (caribeaner, figure eight--whatever) , recognizing less obvious problems like loose clothing, untucked shirts etc can get caught and fed through the friction device and leave you hanging up there like a dope on a rope.

    Any decent rock climbing class will teach you how to safely rappell
  17. Akita

    Akita gone

    Jul 22, 2002
    Dont listen to the naysayers (even if they are correct).
    Find a course (check local colleges and yuppie sports stores like REI for leads) and learn how to do it property. It is a BLAST. Especially your first Australian Rapel- mind over instinct, that.

    You will be a stronger person by learning this new skill.
  18. I believe you are a first responder. What are the odds that some basic rope skills would come in handy on a rescue? When I did Firefighter 1, we had to learn some knots that come in handy.

    Perhaps you can check with your local training facility and see if your Dept can run a course.