In an ideal situation, rappelling is a calculated, well-secured activity that comes at the end of a successful climb. Such a situation should not only be safe, it should be fun. But sometimes, rappelling isn’t just the final ride at the end of a day of climbing. Sometimes, it’s a survival strategy necessary to help you get out of a tricky situation. Knowing how to rappel when all you have is a rope is a vital skill for those who explore the backcountry, or for any climber who might end up at the top of a cliff without an established route down. With a strong rope and a sturdy anchor, rappelling on the fly can be readily accomplished. Sometimes referred to as the “expedient rappel,” here’s how to do it.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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