Here are some things you might like to know…
This is not your typical rock climbing rappel! You will be wearing a full-body industrial harness and using an industrial descender to go down. You can control your speed to a certain extent. Should you go too fast the back-up device will engage.
Getting your weight off the roof and into the harness is the difficult part for most people. You will have an opportunity to practice your technique during training, and an OTE Technician will guide you through these first few steps. Once you’re over the edge, you will have a radio to communicate with your OTE Technician, but basically you are on your own. Don’t forget to stop and take in the view!
It will take between 5 to 15 minutes to get to the bottom. Rappelling can take more effort than some people expect, and you may find that your hands or arms get tired. You can stop to rest or switch hands if you need a break.
If you keep your feet on the concrete/glass, it is easy to maintain the correct position. You won’t spin around or drift into the building. If you push off with your feet, you can bounce outwards. The further out you bounce, the more likely you are to lock your backup device. On some buildings you will not be able to touch the building. You can maintain the correct position by sitting up in your harness as if you were sitting in a swing. An Over the Edge staff member at the bottom of the rope will help keep you from spinning. Once you’re within 20’ of the ground, your landing will be assisted by the Over the Edge staff.
Training begins in the Staging area, where participants get into their gear and issued the equipment they will need to rappel. We adjust harnesses and other equipment to fit each individual and teach the participants about the correct way to wear their gear.
In the Training Area, we train participants how to use the descender and back-up device. The descender we use is a 'Petzl I'd'. We discuss how to properly operate the I'd and the effect of friction and weight on the rope. We use a 'Petzl ASAP' as our back up device. We discuss what causes the back-up device to engage and how to signal that the device has engaged. Once the signal is given we show people how to correctly release the ASAP. After demonstration, each participant is given the chance to put their hands on the ASAP and practice unlocking it. We also connect people to the ropes and allow them to sit in their harness. This helps them to better anticipate the feel of being on the main rappel. We discuss and practice good rappelling position, where to keep your feet and where to keep your hands. This is sometimes referred to as the "L" position, feet against the building and level with your hips. We also discuss the use of the radios that participants wear. These are mainly used for the participant to listen for reminders about unlocking the ASAP in the event that it becomes locked. Participants may use the radios, but generally do not. Training takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Once training is complete, our participants head over to the Main Rappel.
Our Ropes Staff will assist them while getting attached to the ropes. Then their gear and equipment will get a final check by a certified Over the Edge Technician to ensure that everything is correctly positioned prior to committing to the mainline. Once the final safety check is complete, the participant is assisted with getting up and over the parapet wall and the rappel begins.
There are eyes on our participants at all times, from the Ropes Staff assisting at the top to put people on rope to our Ropes Staff below, who provide a fireman's belay during the rappel and assist people with getting off rope at the bottom. In the event that a rappeller is unable to complete the rappel on their own, due to fright, fatigue, or whatever, we have the ability to lower the ropes from the top. This also allows us to facilitate rappels for people who may not have the strength or ability to work the descent device.
The time it takes to rappel is unique to each participant, however, we've estimated that a building of 200' takes from 10-15 minutes from the time someone gets clipped into the ropes until they are assisted off rope at the bottom. A few people take to rappelling like a fish to water and complete their rappel in much less time than that estimate, but a rappel may take much longer as some people need coaxing and support all the way to the bottom.
You’re going to be walking down the side of a building so wear good shoes. Well-fitting sneakers, light hiking boots, or other soft soled shoes are recommended. No sandals, slip-on shoes, slippers, flip flops, high heels, or steel toed boots will be allowed.
Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Athletic pants, tights and jeans are suitable. The harness goes around your legs, waist, and shoulders, so it is best to avoid anything too bulky. Shirts should be comfortable and without draw cords. Long hair should be tied back. You will be required to leave droppable items like keys and cell phones, or jewelry that can get caught on things, with a staff member on-site. You will be given a pair of leather gloves and a helmet when you arrive.
Many people choose to wear costumes for their rappel. All costumes will need to meet the same standards as listed above. Capes will have to be approved by the Site Safety Supervisor for the main rappel. If you have a question about what alterations your costume will need, please email pictures of your costume prior to the event so our staff can check it out!
Sorry, no phones, cameras, etc. on the roof. Helmet cams that operate hands-free are permitted if you have one and want to bring it. You must supply the mounting system. Go-Pro cameras are approved; all other will require preapproval. NOTHING GOES OVER THE EDGE WITHOUT OTE’S APPROVAL.
The most common complaint from participants after rappelling is that their forearm got sore during the descent. The new device used alleviates much of the difficulty experienced in the past. Proper techniques like switching arms and the new device make a lot of difference.
Go rock climbing at a local climbing gym! Not only does rock climbing strengthen your forearms, but also it allows you to hang in a harness. Although the harnesses we use are different. you will still get the idea of what muscles it takes to stay up-right.
Get psyched! Tell your friends. You’re one of a few special people who will be doing the rappel!
Unfortunately, the roof is a restricted access area. Friends and family will not be allowed up to the roof top. Often the Non-Profit Partner will have an event photographer taking pictures from the roof, ensuring that each participant gets a picture of himself or herself going Over the Edge.
We look forward to meeting you!