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Suggestions for Getting Started Rappelling

Hey i live in mo on the kansas side and really want to start rappelling and maybe climbing but mainly rope rappelling and not sure where to go I want to start out small any tips suggestions. I have most of the gear needed but if anyone has advice to be greatly appreciated.

8 Replies

1. Register to take an introduction to climbing class at REI, taught by qualified instructors.

2. Find future climbing buddies that are taking, or have taken the same class, whereas you will have been equally trained, about safety, best practices and equipment.

3. By following #1 & #2, the life you save may be your own. Most climbing fatalities occur during the descend, after a climb. 


I am skeptical about rappelling as an activity to be undertaken for its own sake.  Superficially spectacular, but with all sorts of hidden hazards.   Doing mountain rescue, I have participated in several body recoveries involving rappelling.  There was also a live recovery, when an individual attempted at 500 foot descent with a 250 foot rope, single strand, anchored at the top.

Learn about technical climbing from the ground up.  Rapping is just one of the techniques possessed by  a well rounded, competent mountaineer.  It is definitely a useful skill, even more useful when combined with other mountain techniques.

I am now in my mid 80's, and my technical climbing days are pretty much in my past, but I still rap occasionally, not for fun and jollies, but to recover fossils exposed on sea cliffs in the Channel Islands (US).  Obviously, one can rap with very modest ability, provided there is solid technical background.

Hint  It is vital that your anchor point is totally solid and reliable.  Everything depends on that.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

One final thought.  I would modify Marc_OV_AZ's comments by preferring that one of your companions, in addition to the formal training given by the REI class or equivalent, should also be highly experienced in actual situations.....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I know Florida and Illinois are technically the flattest states, but I am sure it would be a challenge to find a good spot on the Kansas side of Missouri too!  River valley areas are probably the best bet aside from indoor gyms.  I concur with Marc that you should take qualified instructor led courses as a starter, then see if local areas have excursions you can participate in.  Friends of mine who still qualified to guide during the day offer rappelling for groups or individuals at reasonable prices.  This way you know the setup is good as opposed to a group blog post somewhere less reputable which could get you into hazardous situations.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Rappelling was one of my favorite activities as a teenager but it soon led me into climbing and sooner than later rappelling became nothing more than a way to get down from a summit or top of a climb after climbing. The only exception was rappelling nearly 800 feet single strand off the New River Bridge in WV on Bridge Day 1989, an October day with snow flurries.

aka "Boonerelli"

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Rappelling can be fun and exciting on its own!  One great thrill ride!  Many folks absolutely start out (in the big broad world of climbing and mountaineering) via just rappelling.

When I was in ROTC at Texas A&M (whoop! shout out) we learned to rappel from local fire-hose towers, I guess it was for confidence building purposes (who knows, who cares?), but it was scary as all get out and one great thrill ride!

After jump school, and on to Ft Bragg, there were rappelling towers all over the place, we went rappelling all the time, it was great fun and great team building. (and believe me, after jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, rappelling is a step down on the thrill-O-meter)

That naturally led to getting my own 'real climbing ropes' and equipment and heading out to popular North Carolina climbing places, looking for higher, more thrilling, rappel places, such as Hanging Rock State Park and Stone Mountain (not to be confused with Stone Mountain, Ga).

But, as fate would have it, those places were inhabited by 'rock climbers'!

It was like the storm clouds parted and the sun shone a big bright light and a voice from above spoke in a deep voice "here is the real fun you seekith"

So, with that epiphany, and some real rock climbing lessons (on the Army's dime in Alaska), rappelling slipped into the background as a 'sub-set' to climbing.

So, have fun, don't kill yourself and WARNING: Rappelling, like backpacking, can be a 'gateway drug to the real 'Big Show': Mountaineering.

older model rappelling tower at Ft Braggolder model rappelling tower at Ft Bragg


REI Member Since 1979

If you really want lengthy rappels, get into caving.  A fair number of cave trips start off with lengthy rappels. The longest I have done was 503 feet, straight down.  There is a pit in Mexico, Sotano des Golandrinas (pit of the Swallows) which is 1000 feet to the bottom.

Of course, you have to climb back up.  Whenever you rap, carry and know how to use, ascent gear.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi, I have been Canyoneering for a number of years. I guess you would call that rappelling. I have read some of the comments and I think that there is some good information there. Rappelling is one of the most fun things I have done. I live in Utah and only 3 hours away from 5 national parks all with great canyons to rappel down into. There are some beginner canyons with the longest rappel being only about 30ft. I would suggest taking a guided tour through a few canyons. Then if you find yourself wanting more. Sign up for a training course. I would make sure the course is ACA(American Canyoneering Association) Approved. Also have rappel device that you can add fiction on the fly is extremely important. Many people dies by losing control over their rappel. The biggest cause of death in rappelling is rappelling off the end of your rope. So make sure your rope is long enough. Now I don't know much about Kansas or where there is a spot you can go, but if your ever come to Utah I would be happy to take you through a nice little slot canyon. I just took a group through Keyhole in Zion and they had a blast. Its the perfect beginner canyon. Good luck to you in your adventures of rappelling.