Rappel, the extreme sport that entails a controlled descent on a cliff or wall by sliding down a fixed rope usually with a belay device, is an outdoor recreation that mainly attracts those seeking thrill and adrenaline rush while bonding with nature regularly in places not easily accessible. It is an activity performed by a variety of adventurers as it typically plays a major role in recreations such as canyoneering and rock climbing. However, rappel aficionados may also just hike a short path that leads to a wall (sometimes a waterfall) and start doing what they love.
Francisco “Ché” Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican who has over 30 years of experience rappelling and is a professional rope access technician, shared with us why performing this extreme adventure at natural areas is so special. You may read the interview below to learn what this rappel lover and expert values from his experiences.
The Interview—Francisco “Ché” Rodríguez’s Introspection about Rappel:
1) What motivates you to explore nature through rappel?
“You reach spots that are not commonly seen. One person told me once that we have the best view because we are always at altitude. [When you are rappelling] you view life in a different perspective. You learn to appreciate life more. It gives you the sensation that you have control over your life in your hands, and that you can apply that daily … that you can have control over everything. You appreciate more what you see and feel.
The sensation of being calm while at natural areas is not the same as when you are in the city… you sense an incredible relaxation. I love rappelling. I sense that I am more alive. When you are at a height of 200-300 feet, everything changes. Control over your whole life is on the rope and your hands. You feel awesome adrenaline.” (translation ours)
2) What catches your attention about nature when you are rappelling?
“It depends on the area visited. For example, if you are rappelling on a waterfall wall, you have the chance of looking at waterdrops falling on space, and you see nature from the top. You feel a sensation as if you were flying, and everything looks very beautiful. Also, you feel a different sensation in the lungs in view of the air you are breathing. The air you breath when you are rappelling in canyon area differs from the one when you are on a dry wall. You can feel a fresher air in a canyon surrounded by hills and green than on a dry wall.” (translation ours)
3) What is a memorable rappel experience you had in Puerto Rico?
“It happened the first time I rappelled at night… I was in Barranquitas. It was very cold. I made a stop halfway on a waterfall wall and when I looked upward, I saw a “river made of stars” between the walls that were on the sides. For a second, I felt awe. I thought: Does this exist? I could not document it, but I enjoyed it.” (translation ours)
Do you want to see images showing Francisco rappelling? Check out the amazing pictures in this article’s photo gallery. You will notice nature’s grandeur as seen from the top and while descending rocks in beautiful spots on Puerto Rico’s countryside and southern region.