How to Abseil Without Going Crazy

Lots of people don't like heights and abseiling (the practice of scaling a vertical surface) can be a very daunting task. If you don't like heights, but have to go abseiling for one reason or another then


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    Remember, the rope is always there and you cannot fall.
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    You can stop whenever you want, just hold on to the rope and stop to breathe.
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    If you are worried about letting go of the rope, just remember the rope at the top is either tied or being held onto by a strong person. You will be fine.
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    When going backwards off the wall, do it in your own time. Even if people are telling you to hurry up or you are in a race, just say no.
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    When at the bottom, stop for a minute and decide if you want to do it again. Clear your head.


  • Don't get forced into doing it.
  • Make sure you empty your bladder before going- the harness can ride up a little!
  • Have fun and stay relaxed!


  • Don't abseil if you are drunk.

However, if you ARE drunk and HAVE to abseil:

  • Attach your harness to the rope with a Klemheist Prusik knot. Do not use a French Prusik even if you are used to using one when sober, because it can release accidentally.
  • Carry a long spare Prusik loop so you can attach another Klemheist above the abseil device, for use as a foot-loop, in case the abseil device jams or larks-foots, or something tangles up. Always tighten the harness Klemheist before you use the foot-loop, in case you slip.
  • Body-lock the descent rope before you start abseiling, which isn't a bad idea even if you are sober. To body-lock the rope:
    • Pass the rope backwards between your legs and grab it with your non-dominant hand. Hold it in front of you with your forearm level.
    • Pull the rope tight, clench it with your buttocks, and draw two metres of rope through your non-dominant hand towards your body.
    • Reach OVER your non-dominant hand and grab the loop with your dominant hand.
    • Rotate the loop 180 degrees anti-clockwise if you are right-handed, or clockwise if you are left-handed.
    • Pull the loop over your head and let it drop down around your upper body, coming to rest on your non-dominant forearm. Extricate your dominant hand from the loop.
    • Lift the loop from your forearm onto your shoulder. It should cross the front of your body and loop round your dominant side, passing across your lower back to your non-dominant hand. Tighten it all up.
    • Abseil by stretching your non-dominant arm out to the side, sliding it along the rope. Then grip the rope and retract your arm to release rope to the abseil device.

Things You'll Need

  • A Helmet
  • Abseiling gear
  • A strong person
  • Relaxation!

Article Info

Categories: Climbing