Unsent: Rappelling—The Most Extremest Sport

By Kevin Corrigan ,

Unsent /un-sent/ 1. To have failed so badly on a route you had previously climbed that you negate your redpoint. 2. A humor column.

Calling all Extremerz™:

Picture yourself dangling 40-freaking-feet above the ground. The only thing keeping you from exploding against the earth like a goddamn wet tomato is 11 millimeters of nylon cord. One wrong move, and it’s lights out, buddy. No—I’m not talking about rock climbing. I’m talking about something way more extremer. I’m talking about embracing the void while you plummet to the ground at speeds in excess of three miles an hour. That’s right, I’m talking about the most extremest sport of all: rappelling. Here’s everything you need to know:

[Ed. If you want real rappelling advice, maybe check out Rap Smart: Rappelling Best Practices instead.]

What is rappelling?

Not familiar with rappelling? That makes sense. It’s not really mainstream; it’s way too hardcore. So, allow me to explain: You go to the top of a bigass cliff, wrap a rope around a tree or put it through some bolts that construction people or weirdo rock climbers put there for some reason, and then you ride that slippery serpent to the ground. Holy shit, right? Then you walk back up and do it again, like two or three times, until your crew is over it, and then you go to Wendy’s.

Isn’t that dangerous?

You’re goddamn right it is. If you make the smallest mistake—letting go for just one second, rapping off the lines, forgetting to clip in entirely, or wearing the wrong thickness of gloves—that’s it. There’s no second chances. But we rappellers thrive on the danger. We stare death in the face, and then we flip him double birds and moon him before descending off a cliff at extreme speeds.

If you want to live your life wearing a seatbelt on the couch watching the Big Bang Theory, go right ahead. That’s more rappelling for the rest of us.

The only thing more dangerous than rappelling is living with the regret of not rappelling. #YOLO

Kevin Corrigan

How can I learn to rappel?

Your boy Trevor takes you and everyone from your graduating class out and sends you off a cliff with minimal instruction. Those that survive are certified Extremerz™.

Is rappelling expensive?

So fucking expensive. The minimum cost is $10,000. This covers the rope, harness, rappel device, eight GoPro Hero 6 Blacks, high-capacity high-speed SD cards, and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone. And that doesn't even include the Slim Jims and Monster Energy Drink. You gotta work hard to play hard, or ask your dad for money.

What kind of rope should I buy?

I don’t know, dude—a fucking rope. They sell them at Home Depot or some shit.

Do I need to wear a helmet for safety?

Helmets are for cowards and babies. Are you gonna ask for your mommy’s permission, too? You don’t need to wear a helmet for safety, but you do need it to mount three of your GoPros to capture the extreme action.

How do you get the rope up there?

We walk to the top of the cliff, and if there’s no way to walk up, we go somewhere else.

How can I increase the difficulty once I get really good?

If you can get ahold of two ropes (not easy), you could try the insane, freehanging, full-length double-rope rappel. That’s 200 feet of dangling in space, spinning slowly, completely out of control. As an added challenge, grab those nylon and metal thingies the climbers leave on the cliff—clip enough of ‘em together and you got a sweet leash for your Rotty. And if you get good enough and buy a really long rope, someday you may be ready to tackle the ultimate: rappelling El Capitan. It’s 3,000 feet of intense sports action—that’s roughly 10 minutes of heart-pounding exposure. Or rappelling out of a helicopter. That would be sick.

Wings were meant to fly and cliffs were made to be rappelled. #seeyouontheground #springbreak

Kevin Corrigan

I heard Alex Honnold climbed El Capitan without a rope. Isn’t that more extreme?

Alex Honnold did that because he’s too much of a coward to hang from a rope.

How can I make rappelling more extreme?

Rappelling is as extreme as it gets. The only thing that can get more extreme is you. Try this: Throw on some galaxy-print tights, take off your shirt, crank out some Chainsmokers on the Bluetooth speaker, shotgun a PBR, scream “Yolo,” hit that vape full of world-class mega-dank, and then lower yourself out into space. Keep yelling “Yolo!” and “Woo!” until you’re on the ground.

What if there are rock climbers below me?

Just throw the rope and rap over them.

Read more Unsent. For Kevin's non-humor columns, see Noon Patrol.

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