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May 19 2014


Abseiling is an activity that involves a controlled descent down rock face using a rope

Farshad Farivar says that climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. Rope access technicians also use this as a method to access difficult-to-reach areas from above for various industrial applications like maintenance, construction, inspection and welding. It is also called rappelling. Rescue teams are also known for using this method as a way to access injured or stranded victims.

While exploring the history of this activity Farshad Farivar discovers that the origin of the abseil is attributed to Jean Charlet-Stratton, 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 Frederic Folliguet, whom he hired. During that ascent, Charlet perfected the abseil.
Farshad Farivar says that proper equipment’s which are used for abseiling like, Ropes for Climbers often simply use their climbing ropes for abseiling, Anchors for abseiling 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, 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, a climbing harness is often used around the waist to secure the descender. He advises that helmets may be worn to protect the head from bumps and falling rocks. Gloves protect hands from the rope and from hits with the wall. Boots or other sturdy footwear with good grips may be worn. Knee-pads are popular in some applications for the protection of joints during crawls or hits.
Farshad Farivar says that there are different styles of doing this activity, like Australian rappel which Involves descending facing down, Tandem or spider rappelling Involves two climbers descending on the same belay device, Simul rappelling includes two separate rappellers on the two strands of the rope running through the anchors, Counterbalance rappelling is used typically by a leader to reach an injured second. Releasable abseil is used by some guides with inexperienced abseilers. Classical is generally more dangerous and used only in emergencies when no other option is available.
Abseiling is an activity that 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, 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, Access to wildfires, Confined spaces access such as investigating ballast tanks and other areas of ships, Farshad Farivar also mentions that rescue applications such as accessing injured people or accident sites and extracting the casualty using abseiling techniques.

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