How To Abseil Down A Building
Abseiling down a building can be a lot of fun and, if done correctly, is perfectly safe. There are a few things to think about before you commit to abseiling down any building's wall and we'll cover them below.
Choosing The Location
When choosing the building of which to abseil down from, you must first think about anchor points. It's important to find a roof which has sufficient places to attach your rope to, but you must also consider how the anchor points will position your rope. Try to avoid windows, over hanging frames, piping or anything else which might impede your descent.
Creating Anchor Points
An anchor is a solid point on the building to connect your rope to. If you're using your own rope that is well looked after, you can be confident that it will support you while you're abseiling down a building. However, as a general rule, it's always best to have more than one anchor point for each line (rope) used on any abseil, as you can't always be overly confident with the places you're tied to.
Some good anchor points can include access ladders, large piping, masonry supports, or pillars. Once you've found your perfect fix locations, tie climbing slings or short ropes around to make easy connection to your main rope. Tying a long enough rope or climbing sling around a pillar can be the best anchor point possible when abseiling down buildings. But even with such a good anchor, it's good practice to also have two other anchors, just in case. While you're abseiling, it's possible for your rope or slings to move around and if attached to abrasive points they can easily wear and become weak under strain.
Tying Your Rope
There are many different ways to tie your rope to your anchor point. The easiest and safest way is to use a figure-eight knot as well as a strangle knot to tie the standing end of your line. A figure-eight knot creates the loop at the end of the rope that allows you to easily connect the line using double carabiners. When connecting your rope to your anchor points, it's always good practice to use double carabiners for extra safety and positioning them facing opposite directions so as to not unscrew each other.
If you're a beginner, it's probably best to start with a better regulating belay that has increased restriction over the speed in which your rope passes through. Something like a Petzl Verso is good for novices. Once you're somewhat more experienced, you may have more fun using a good figure-eight instead, such as Rock Empire's. We've already put together a list of the basic kit needed to abseil down a building.
Safety While Abseiling
Safety should always be your priority. Although much safer than a jumping off a cliff face, abseiling down buildings can be dangerous/risky. Always, consider using a Prusik knot when abseiling, this inexpensive feature can be a lifesaver should you happen to let go of the rope. Prusik knots can be made for just a couple of pounds using a short piece of 6mm rope.
Additionally, you will definitely need some sort of rope protector to prevent the rope from cutting against the sharp edge of the wall as it bends 90 degrees over the ledge. We often tie high-visibility vests to the rope and position them between the rope and the corner of the building's ledge. This is a cheap safety feature that will help protect your rope from shearing. If you don't have one already you can buy a basic high-visibility vest for just £1.59.
Finally, never abseil on your own. After all, who will film you?