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Abseiling – How to Get Started

Step No. 1 – Get your head thinking – Do it!

rappelling down cliff face

Abseiling is a sport. You can make it your next hobby.

Your excitement and interest level still have your eyes glued to this article because maybe you feel the need to try out abseiling.

Make it a point to go all-in and do this. People of all ages, skills, and abilities are capable of getting amazing benefits from abseiling. You can too. While you may not be at the level you noticed from the best of the best, everything happens in time.

Your skill level will increase so start at the beginning so you learn the way you are comfortable, how you want to learn, and with who you want to learn from. Gaining a new interest or hobby is All-About-What-You-Want.

Step No. 2 – Up Your vocabulary and term knowledge

Know basic rock climbing/abseiling terms the following guides will use. Lindsay Walsh with Mpora, created an amazing list of Definitions/Essential Terms and the Cool of the Wild created 63 terms is a great resource. You should use both sources to start.

Other words you may not know and can be geographic lingo: lower off, ab/bed off, offset, knots, tie your block, rope the block, sling and krab, friction of the rope, sling and carabiner, the brown stuff, and landward side.

This way you know what the guides, techniques, and climbers all show and tell you. YOU will know what THEY are talking about and YOU will know what YOU are talking about when YOU ask THEM questions. Got it?

Step No. 3 – Watch many videos to SEE what abseiling looks like

You could read all day about how to do something and understand – but according to the Oklahoma State research on the Cone of Experience, individuals will learn 50% more if they use both sight and sound. They learn 80-90% more if they hear, see, and do so watch and listen to everything about abseiling then do it.

Learn about the methods, rappels via Ascension, knots, techniques, storage via Storefront, and everything you think you need. The “abseiling POV” web search shows first-person experiences that are not for the weak and may cause motion sickness. As for the best time, the Pegasus notes to the best time to abseil in the summer or spring and early in the morning.  

Abseiling Guides:

men in middle of rock face

1. Beginner’s Guide from Mpora, is a beginner read into the sport. The videos and the techniques are helpful with large color images. Abseiling Techniques is another great article. Specwar also shares these techniques.

2. Abseiling Complete Beginner’s Guide from Much Better Adventures explains a deeper base knowledge.

3. How to Abseil is a VDiff article taken from the book, Traditional (Trad) Climbing Basics sold at Amazon, for a kindle or paperback. The skill level jumps to learning about the safety of using the anchors, tying knots, and abseiling in a step-by-step process.

4. Moja Gear offers the 25 Best Rock-climbing Books with US and UK prices for Amazon here

Step No. 4 – Start exercising like abseilers

Have you ever watched obstacle course or military competition programs like American Gladiators, Ninja Warrior, The Titan Games, Ultimate Beastmaster, Fear Factor (heights), Wipeout, and Splatoon?

The performers have upper body strength to raise and lower themselves, fit through unimaginable spaces, and use ropes and pulleys to manage their way to the success of a finish line.

No, you don’t need to look like them but even with cardio being great, your arms and legs need something special.

Train those arms and thigh to work and stretch differently to limit the muscle strains, cramps, and injuries.

Rock climbers bend and sway their bodies, soldiers are in top body condition, individuals with wheelchairs have upper body strength, and everyone else like us need to learn to use our muscles to our weight and balance.

Why the exercises? Most likely you will be climbing up something to abseil down it. The best learning strategy is to learn the entire workout and strengthen your core. Abseiling is controlling the vertical descent so you control the pace and direction your body descends.

Exercise Guides:

A newbie guide is The Rock Climbing Gym exercises from Mpora and has hilarious visuals.

For men: Men’s Journal has an ultimate workout involves rock climbing and conditioning the body and mind to achieve results.

For women: Women’s Health has a complete guide to build strength includes simple arm and leg strength training techniques.

Step No. 5 – Know how much abseiling will cost

Every hobby has costs and they range in time, effort, and price as currency. The level of the activity, interest, destination (U.K., U.S., Australia, etc.) will determine the price. Soccer, football, tennis, and motocross are all sports with costs for a variety of these reasons.

RockClimbing Central Costs: per hour/per session/per day/per skill

  • Learn about the sport (time and cost with books/videos)
  • Physical/mental training (indoor/outdoor) Mental control over the fear of falling.
  • Buy the equipment and clothing/shoes or rentals
  • Health costs if overextend body or unsafe. You will get bumps and bruises.
  • Travel to the destinations (gas, airfare, train, walk) to rock wall, mountains, and training sites).
  • Specialization skill (hiking, rock climbing, abseiling) individual or as a package
  • Trainers (level and duration needed)
  • Outdoor/Adventure (Outdoor Discoveries) individual/group packages of 6 or less or 7 or more
  • Travel and abseil with your gear at your leisure
  • Cost of recuperation (R and R)

Step No. 6 – Know how many hours for proficiency 

All sports require training to some level of ability for a training course. Abseiling has three proficiency levels starting with the basics at Level 1, then Level 2 as an intermediate, and Level 3 for experts.

Each level varies in training hours from the U.K with abseiling to the U.S. with rappelling. 

An orientation averages 3 hours, Level 1 ranges 7-10 hours, Level 2 ranges 8-16 hours, and Level 3 ranges up from that with specializations. Programs vary on these training hours.

Step No. 7 – Where to become proficient

man rappelling hanging by a rope

The companies that offer prophecies are plentiful. Trust your instincts and do your homework when choosing the best option to get your abseiling training. Numerous companies across the world including the U.S. offer basic to highly skilled certifications depending on what you want, need, and are willing to pay for to be elite.

Abseiling skill jobs with the military, tactical units, rock climbers, and rope access technicians/specialists, all offer continual training, accelerated programs, and higher certifications.

Wait to be hired by companies needing these skills to really get your skills boosted.

Whether you want to learn at an indoor rock wall gym, a mountaineering adventure company, or with tactical/job-related companies, the options are abundant. It was easier to find a job company or tactical training program for abseiling in more places in the U.K. and U.S. 

Most people do not want to travel 1000 or more miles to train so take my information as a guide to start with and find some place local.

Innotrek offers 1 and 2 level proficiency abseiling programs. I would highly recommend a multiple level system from the same company for consistency.

IRATA in the UK offers a complete 3 system of Rope Access Training.

For more adept proficiency skills, individuals can do multiple abseils.

Step No. 8 – Get your equipment

abseiling down building

Equipment will include everything you need to abseil safely.

Whether you want your own gear or rent it at the destination or training facilities, the quantity and level of quality you will need are your first priorities. Brand name does not always equal quality.

Your safety is more important than buying the cheapest and untested gear for sale.

Bypass the broken, chipped, and tethered items for extra strength, multiple layers, and tougher metals. A huge bit of advice if you read about Steve Truglia (stuntman and ex UKSF) is to properly store your gear so it does not get damaged.      

Step No. 9 – Where to abseil

Beautiful destinations:

Mpora created a list of 10 of the World’s Best Drops for abseiling. The list is not a travel website like Awe, Manawa, and 100% Pure New Zealand (below) are.

If fact, it is a checklist of possible destinations you can research for travel and abseiling adventure packages.

Mountain Skills Climbing Guides offer rappels in the Gunks, Adirondacks, and Delaware Water Gap in the U.S. with 12 rock climbing programs. The 2-hour sunset rappel into the Gunks sounds amazing. The 200 feet free hang over the Hudson Valley sound spooky at the sun disappears.

The trip starts at 5pm to gear, lift, and rappel you. Evening abseiling is one of the key points here.

U.K. abseiling adventures are offered on the How Stean Gorge site for gorges and waterfalls in Yorkshire.

The abseiling experiences offer 4 choices to abseil from: caving, rock climbing, gorge walking/ghyll scrambling, and canyoning. Either way, the four descent choices list 45 feet for the bridge and 3 hours for rock climbing. This is a destination booking site.

Awe 365.com offers your next abseiling travel package in the lovely U.K. The Sussex abseiling experience is a 2-hour trip and challenge the abseiler off a 30-foot tower with highly skilled instructors.

The price per person is listed for East Grinstead, England, Europe, United Kingdom, West Sussex. Lunch is not included but if you bought those Stasher bags in my equipment recommendations above, then you have food.

Manawa website offers Abseiling: all destinations here. You can search the six top choices, or all of them from around the world.

Each destination provides you with an abundance of choices to customize your abseiling experience. Prices per person are included. Check the abseiling box first!

100% Pure New Zealand offers abseiling/rappelling travel packages here and is a complete tour guide of information

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