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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
There are three main pieces of equipment a beginner needs to buy if they want to safely take up rappelling (Abseiling).
1. Harness - there are many different types of harnesses on the market. For beginners a simple canyoneering type harness is adequate for basic rappels.
The harness attaches your body to the rope with the help of a carabiner and a device.
Virtually all harnesses go around the person's waist via a waistbelt and has two leg loops. The hareness is secured with a buckle that the thin part of the waistbelt is threaded through.
You can get a basic harness for around $60.
2. Belay Device - there are many different types of belay devices on the market. All of them are safe. It's a matter of preference.
A belay device creates friction on the rope and helps control the rate of descent during a rappel.
More advanced devices allows a person to easily "tie off" during the descent to manage the rope or handle other problems. Normally, a beginner would never have to do this. Tieing off is stopping the rappel during the rappel (the person is free hanging and their hands are free) so they can attend to the rope etc.
There are so many different type of rappel devices it would be difficult to cover all of them and new ones are coming on the market regularly.
Three popular devices are: ATC - ATS - Pirana
You can learn more about these in this video
You can get a rappel device for under $40.
3. Carabiners. There are many different types of carabiners on the market.
It's highly recommended to have a locking or self locking carabiner.
Carabiners, or biner for short, connects the harness to belay device via the belay loop and helps connect the rope.
Carabiners have multiple uses, such as being part of an anchor system.
You must get a rock climbing type of carabiner, not carabiners used to hook keys onto pants etc. Those carabiners are not strong enough for rappelling.
You can get a carabiner for under $30.
Note: Some carabiners are too large to fit into the hole of rappel devices.
That's all you need for basic rappels. Of course, you can get more equipment for advance rappels.
The number one rule is: Know how to use your equipment perfectly. Not hooking up your equipment correctly can lead to your death!
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV