Rappeling Safety
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Safety

Rappelling: How Safe Is This?

There are no statistical or professional studies on rappelling in this environment, but the serious risks are minimal. This is a rugged outdoor activity in a natural environment, however. So you may get scraped or bruised, as most adventurers in the wild outdoors do. Avoiding all the common hazards associated with canyoneering is part of what makes a rappelling tour safer than a day at the beach. Of course we use top-notch equipment, follow proven safety protocols and train guests on the basics of precautions. The activity is not for everyone, so we encourage you to speak with an agent if you have questions like, "How safe is rappelling?" or even, "What do I wear to this activity?" You also might find many of the posts in the blog helpful if you're wondering "How scary is this?" or "How physically demanding is this?"

Learn more about how Rappel Maui is committed to your health and safety with special COVID-19 procedures and precautions. 

Safety and equipment are top priorities. They Have To Be.

When breaking down the question, "How safe is rappelling?" we start with gear. Our equipment is the best — rated and specifically designed for the rigors of this sport. It's monitored constantly and retired regularly. All gear meets or exceeds industry standards for strength and durability. Our ropes, for instance, are rated to 6000 pounds. Our carabiners to 5000 pounds. It's easy to ensure that all gear remains in top condition because, as you might guess, your guides use it every day. All participants wear a helmet throughout the tour, even when swimming. And all participants wear a flotation jacket, regardless of swimming ability. All guides are rigorously trained in CPR/First Aid, advanced canyoneering and wilderness rescue.

Excited Maui Rappelling Trio

A Step-by-Step Intro to Canyoneering and Rapelling Equipment with Q & A:

Equipment

Gear up like a pro: canyoneering backpack, helmet, harness, locking carabiners, safety lanyard (cowstail), rappelling device. Your harness fits waist sizes from 22 to 48 inches—step in it, cinch it tight, learn to lock the carabiners and discover how the rappelling device slows you down or stops your descent.


Clothing

You wear your own clothes or swimwear (shorts or quick-drying pants; no bikinis, please), but you hike, swim and rappel in our water shoes. The rubber boot protects your toes while the felt sole gets better traction than regular shoes on wet rocks.


Practice Run

Hike out with your guides to the top of the ridge to do a practice run on the 60-foot dry, jungle drop. It’s an easy place to learn techniques and gain confidence.


How Strong Are The Ropes I’m Sliding Down?

They are top-rated for commercial and rescue use and can handle thousands of pounds. We inspect them twice each day, and we retire ropes after 100 hours of use or as soon as they show visible wear.


What Is The Rope Tied To?

We use three anchors, not one, and the rope is attached to all three. It’s a redundant system with each anchor sharing the load. Most anchors are bolts embedded in rock. If one anchor lets loose (which is unheard of), then the rope is still attached to two other anchors.


How Can I Keep Safe?

Trust your guides, listen to their instruction and follow their lead.

How Do I Slow Down Or Stop During Descent?

Your dominant hand controls the rope as it moves through the rappel device. You “let up” to descend and you cinch the rope in the device to stop yourself. It’s intuitive, and we also teach you well.


What If I Slip Or Fall?

You can catch yourself with your rope and your braking skills, and your guides are also “on it.” One guide watches you from the top, while the other guide stands below with a hand loosely holding your rope. If you slip, the bottom guide does a “fireman’s belay” by tightening your rope from below, effectively braking you in place until you get your footing.


Can You Get Me Down If I Freeze Up?

It’s rare to have a client we cannot talk down. But, yes, we can either lower you down or pull you back up. We have two guides with their eyes on you at all times.


What If I’m Not A Good Swimmer?

You wear a pfd —personal flotation device. It’s a life jacket vest that keeps you afloat.


What About High Water Or Flash Floods?

We don't rappel waterfalls in high water. Ever. Instead, we do three jungle drops, of 60, 100 and 115 feet. Your guides keenly watch the weather and the water, both on the internet beforehand and on site.