That’s the Word for It: Abseil


Abseil is a mountaineering term and refers to a technique used by climbers, mountaineers, cavers, canyoners, search and rescue and rope access technicians to descend cliffs or slopes when they are too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. In the US, rappelling is the term used.

Here is the use of this sporty word in literature:

“You can never stay angry too long in the bush though. At least, that’s what I think. It’s not that it’s soothing or restful, because it’s not. What it does for me is get inside my body, inside my blood, and take me over. I don’t know that I can describe it any better than that. It takes me over and I become part of it and it becomes part of me and I’m not very important, or at least no more important than a tree or a rock or a spider abseiling down a long thread of cobweb. As I wandered around, on that hot afternoon, I didn’t notice anything too amazing or beautiful or mindbogglingly spectacular. I can’t actually remember noticing anything out of the ordinary: just the grey-green rocks and the olive-green leaves and the reddish soil with its teeming ants. The tattered ribbons of paperbark, the crackly dry cicada shell, the smooth furrow left in the dust by a passing snake. That’s all there ever is really, most of the time. No rainforest with tropical butterflies, no palm trees or Californian redwoods, no leopards or iguanas or panda bears.

Just the bush.”
― John Marsden, Darkness, Be My Friend

“We always used to use a reef knot with a half hitch either side. The more you pull on it, the tighter it gets. If he’d abseiled over High Rock then there is no way that knot could or should have come undone.’ ‘Exactly,”
― Damien Boyd, As The Crow Flies

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: