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How to: Basic Rappelling, Lesson 1

How to: Basic Rappelling, Lesson 1

Author: Ryan Roberts

The objective of this lesson is to give students an overview of a basic rappel on an ATC. Students are to complete this lesson before coming to our outdoor "lab" lesson. They are also encouraged to bring this lesson with them on their mobile devices to refresh themselves during their hands on lesson. 

By the end of this lesson, the student should be able to identify and properly set up an ATC on a dynamic rope, and demonstrate good rappel setup techniques. The student will demonstrate these skills in our hands on outdoor lab. 

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Different Types of Rappels

There are many different types of rappelling that Outdoor Leadership Majors should know. They can be used in many different situations, both for fun, and for emergency use. In this first lesson, we will cover some of the very basic gear used in a dynamic rope double rappel (the most common type of rappel). 

Use and Limitations of the ATC

The "ATC" device is the most common belay/rappel device in the world. It is made to be used with dynamic ropes only on either a single or double rope rappel. It requires the use of a locking carabiner to attach to the person using it. ALWAYS USE A LOCKING CARABINER AND MAKE SURE IT IS LOCKED BEFORE BEGINNING YOUR RAPPEL. This device also allows the user to pick which hand they prefer to use for their braking hand. ATC's are very lightweight and are the primary choice for rock climbers in most situations, however, because of their size and weight, they cannot handle, and should not be used on I really long rappels. Some users prefer to wear gloves when handling their ATC during a rappel, due to the very high heat generated by the friction of the rope running through the device. It is recommended that during a longer rappel, the user have an ATC auto-block setup on their rappel rope. Remember, on any rappel, it is strongly encouraged to always tie a "stopper-knot" on the end of your rope. (Auto-blocks and stopper-knots will be demonstrated in class.)

Different Belay Devices

Watch closely the first section of this video on "ATC's."

How to Rappel on an ATC