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How Physically Demanding Is Rappelling?

Inquiring minds often call the Rappel Maui offices wanting to know if the day-long rappelling tour is physically hard or challenging.  They want to know if they need to pVal down 50 ftossess a certain physique, or if a lot of strength or physical conditioning is required.   Read on to get these and other answers, or call the Rappel Maui offices at 808.270.1500 for personalized information.

Come As You Are
Most active and healthy people are perfectly prepped for a Rappel Maui tour. You don’t have to bring “the gun show to town.” You don’t have to get “pumped up.”  You will not need an “xtreme” sports drink that “gives you wings.”  (You don’t need wings; you’ve got ropes.)  You will find that the most useful body parts during a rappel are you ears and brain. First you’ll need to listen to your guides’ instructions, then you’ll need to process and apply the information. And then you’ll need a keen willingness to have fun while taking a few steps away from your comfort zone.

Gravity Is Your Friend
Since you’ll be making 3 or more descents down a rock cliff (as opposed to rock climbing), your rappelling equipment will be working in cooperation with gravity to take the brunt of the work.  No significant amount of arm strength is necessary; just some moderate arm movements to slow or stop downward movement, and grasping/loosening a rope with your dominant hand.  You can use your non-dominant hand to steady or position yourself around rocks or trees, hold the front of your harness or rope, or throw a shaka out during a photo opp. Some overall coordination is required, and where looking graceful is concerned, your mileage may vary. (You can delete those pictures later.)

Getting The Hang Of It (All Puns Intended)
You’ll sit back into your harness, like a chair (that’s hovering over a waterfall pool), and position your feet on the surface in front of you so that you can take one backwards step at a time. You’ll use the equipment to lower yourself down the surface as much or as little at a time as you like.  If you’re taking one of the dry rappels, you’ll end your journey by simply putting your feet down on the ground, un-clipping your harness from the rope, and cheering on the next person.  If you’re rappelling one of the waterfalls, you’ll lower yourself into the water, unclip your harness from the rope, and swim or dog paddle on. You don’t need to be a great swimmer to make it across the pond. If you don’t swim, ask for a personal flotation device so that you can float over to the shallow end. If you need a little encouragement, or an assist, the guide in the water with you can provide you with the right amount of swimmer’s mojo.  If you’re a multi-tasker, you’ll also be taking in the spectacular surroundings of the jungle, streams, waterfall and wildlife, and realizing that you have the makings of a truly unique story and memories that will go unequaled once you return to your non-waterfall-hovering chairs at home and work.

Getting Physical
What happens after you’ve done all that descending?  In this case, what goes down, must go back up.  There are no elevators in the jungle (unless you’re on the Jurassic Park set), and thus comes the most physical part of the tour.  You’ll take what we refer to as “The Stairmaster,” a length of paths and series of steps cut into the earthen forest trails leading back to the top of the ridge. There’s no hurry; you can take your time, stop, rest, and hold on to the ropes, branches and roots that are there to help you steady and pull yourself along.  The trail is green, cool, shady and fragrant, and alive with the sounds of nature. Keep your heart pumping–or not. Get out your camera, or just take in the view. It’s totally up to you during this equivalent of about four flights of stairs.
Call us to ask your specific questions about what it’s like to walk down a tropical waterfall in a rainforest on Maui. Spoiler alert: It’s not horrible.