WATCH: Rock Climber Rappels 2,650-Feet Off El Capitan in Yosemite
Climbers from all over the world travel to Yosemite National Park every year to climb the sheer rock faces of Half Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Glacier Point. Once they get to the top, they need to come back down. In case you’re wondering how they do it, this video will shed some insight.
Climbing to extraordinary heights in Yosemite has to be planned with detailed logistics. For many people who complete a climb to the top of the rock face, they will simply use trails to hike down. For routes that don’t have that option, a rappel device is needed to come all the way back down to the valley floor.
Here’s what that rappel looks like from 2,650 feet above the ground:
what the creator of the video says about the rappel:
In this video we had 1 rope rigged, 3000 feet long, from the diving board on the nose of El Capitan. This style of rappelling/rigging is called Single Rope Technique, or SRT. This is how cavers explore vertical caves in the USA for the most part, which is not the same as European techniques with multiple rebelays. We use a long rack, which is a variable friction device, so we can have less friction at the top of the rappel so we can move. The rope weight at the lip is approximately 210 pounds and even more when the wind is blowing. This means the rope is like steel cable and will not bend. The closer you get to the ground the less the rope weighs, which is why I went from 5 bars after passing the 8:1 haul line anchor, to 7 bars by time I hit the ground. We use the same rappel devices caving although usually it is a 14 inch J frame rack (this is a 24 inch rack) or a 4 bar mini rack. No other rappel device will work with this kind of rope weight. While caving these rappel racks allow us to rappel in stiff pit rope that is caked with clay and mud and still be able to rappel safely and smoothly.