Rappelling or abseiling

Rappelling or abseiling is a mountaineering term used for the technique of descending a steep face with a climbing rope. A person on rappel uses friction or mechanical breaking devices to control the descent. Rappelling is an effective method of getting an operator or small force down from an elevated area. The technique can be used effectively as an approach and entry method during Close Quarter Battle (CQB) missions when time and surprise are of the essence. Equipment is simply the individual's operating gear, the rappel lines, and Swiss seat harness, carabineers and rope gloves. Helmets and goggles can be used for protection. A rope bag can be used to conceal the rope during the rappel.

There are six different ways to rappel:

  • Hasty Rappel. This is the simplest and most basic type of rappel. All that is needed to conduct this rappel is a pair of gloves for each rappeller and a rope. Its primary advantage is that it is easy and quick to prepare. It isn't suitable for vertical slopes, and its main disadvantage is the inability of a safety to slow the descent of a soldier who has lost control of the rappel. In the hasty rappel, the rope runs across the rappeller's back and takes one turn around each arm. The rappeller can brake by bringing the brake hand across the chest.
  • Body Rappel. This is also a simple rappel, conducted with minimal equipment -- again, only a pair of gloves and a rope. In the body rappel, the rope passes between the rappeller's legs, around one hip, and diagonally across the chest. After running over the shoulder, the rope runs along the arm to the brake hand. This rappel offers significantly more stability than the hasty rappel. As with the hasty rappel, its main disadvantage is the lack of a safety to assist in arresting an out-of-control descent. This technique can also be uncomfortable on vertical or long descents.
  • Seat-shoulder rappel. This technique is essentially a greatly improved version of the body rappel; it is more comfortable, more stable, and safer. It is faster than the body rappel, and is a good choice for rappellers carrying packs. The rope passes through the rappeller's snaplink, which is attached to a Swiss Seat. As in the body rappel, the rope then passes over one shoulder, then along the opposite arm to the brake hand.
  • Seat-hip rappel. This is the basic military rappelling technique. It provides a fast, controlled descent, and permits a safety to assist in arresting a fast or out-of-control rappel. After tying the rappel seat, the rappeller attaches a snaplink as shown. Through this snaplink run the rappel ropes, which provide the friction necessary to control the rappel. To descend, the rappeller throws the brake hand back and out at an approximately forty-five degree angle, bounding out from the rappelling surface. To brake, the rappeller brings the brake hand back around the hip, passing the rope behind the body and across the small of the back.
  • Australian rappel. This technique allows a rapid descent, leaving one of the rappeller's hands free for carrying a weapon or other object. It doesn't require a rappel seat (Swiss Seat). It's conducted using a sling rope tied around the waist, with the rappeller descending face down. To brake, the rappeller brings the rope diagonally across the chest.
  • Inverted Rappel.

A specific form of military rappelling is airborne rappelling.


Since rappelling is an mountaineering technique it is probably as old as rope. Therefore is the development hard to research.

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