When rappelling, or “abseiling”, it’s essential to make sure you are equipped with the right gear. Professional heli-ski guide Dale Marcoux, who has over 20 years of experience, breaks down the necessary gear needed for a successful rappelling session.
The first piece of gear you need is a rappelling rope. This is your lifeline that keeps you secure when scaling a slope. Ropes come in four different types: single, half, twin and static. Half ropes are usually recommended for mountaineering.
Rappel devices are small, metal holders that are tied to the rope and eventually the harness. You’ll want to make sure that they are strong enough to hold your weight so don’t settle for a subpar rappelling device
Carabiners are strong, metal clips that attach your harness to the rappel device. It’s important to find a quality carabiner that holds your weight and is, in fact, designed specifically for rappelling. No ordinary carabiner will do.
Slings, or rappel extensions, are devices that you attach from one rappelling device to another to offer more security. They also double as handles that can be used when rappelling downwards. In order to do so, you need to make sure they are tied tight with a good knot.
A cordelette is essentially a longer and thicker sling. Some people tend to forgo cordelettes because they take up a lot of space and can get annoying if the loose ends flop around in your face. However, it never hurts to have too much support.
A harness is what keeps you clipped to the rappel device via the carabiner. You wear it like you would wear pants – by stepping through the leg holes and fastening it to your waist. In order for it to work properly, it needs to be snug, yet comfortable. Like all the other items on this list, it’s important to have one that’s durable enough to support your weight.
It’s best to dress in layers since you can always take one off if you’re too warm or put one on if you’re too cold. It’s important to be comfortable, but practical. Discover the different layers we recommend you take with you when partaking in a winter sport or activity like ski rappelling.
Ensuring that you have the right equipment, apparel and gear is just one step in the ski rappelling planning process. Preparation is key, so be sure to learn the other vital planning steps in our Ski Rappelling Safety: Process guide.