Fallen Hiker – Using Rope

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Material – Nylon/Dacron (polyester)
Diameter – ¼ to 3/8 inch / 6 to 9 mm
Type – braided/kern mantel/tape (5/16 inch or more)

Strength should be 2,000 lbs (9 KN) or more. (FYI: 1 KN = approx. 225 lbs); working strength is 1/5th of the maximum strength
Length 20 feet or more (30 feet of 5/16″ web would weigh approx 9 oz)

DO NOT use cotton clothesline, polypropylene (slick, often yellow), fuzzy rope.
Cotton, hemp, sisal, jute, manila, polypropylene, polyethylene are much weaker than either Nylon or Dacron.
Fuzzy rope is usually made of short fibers which break much easier.

DO NOT use “super” fiber ropes such as Kevlar, Spectra, Dyneema, Technora, etc. These
are much stronger than Nylon, but tend to not hold knots well, and break fibers when
flexed too often. Wonderful stuff, but it has too many potential difficulties for a basic user.

DO use climb-rated ropes.

Safety Rope Use (Safety Line, “Pro”(tection))
This is the most frequent use of a rope.
Tie the rope around an anchor (tree, etc) using a girth hitch, rewoven figure-eight,
bowline, etc.
Toss rope down to use as an aid for climbing up.
Wrap rope around forearm and grasp with hand to increase friction and reduce slippage.

Tossing the rope (heaving)
To avoid snags and tangles, start at one end, pile the rope loosely on the ground by
running it through your hand untangling as you go.
To toss, do not coil the rope. This will cause a spiral tangle.

Form large zigzag loops back and forth (Z-folds) in the throwing hand.
When you have enough rope in hand, toss it straight out away from you so it falls out and down to the target. The rope will fall without tangles or snarls
Be sure to anchor or hold onto the other end of the rope.

Knots   (see Fallen Hiker Knots handout – pdf )
Rule: easy to tie, does its job, easy to untie. Better to know one knot well.

Overhand knot – the basic knot – can jam under load.
Figure-Eight knot – overhand knot with a twist. – Easier to untie. Overhand around a rope
Fisherman’s Knot – the “gold standard” to join ropes / even for different diameter ropes. Reliable, strong, can’t slip – similar to wrist-to-wrist grip Tie each rope with an overhand around the other rope and pull tight
Double Fisherman’s Knot – tie with overhand wrapped twice.
Girth Hitch – simple hitch around an object
Munter Hitch – high friction knot for belaying
Bowline Knot – is hard to remember for casual users. Better to use a rewoven FigureEight Knot.
No Square Knot – it can fail if the tail is pulled or caught.

Join two ropes with a Double Fisherman’s Knot.
Form a loop with a Figure-Eight Knot on a bight or reweave it.
Always leave a long tail 4 inches plus or tie a security Overhand Knot.

Rope usage
Form 6 inch loops at both ends of rope –with overhand or figure-8, leave 4 inch tail Large enough to slip a hand through

Join 2 loops by slipping first rope loop over second rope loop, then threading first rope end through second rope loop  or join 2 ropes with a Double Fisherman’s Knot
The end loop can be used for hiker’s wrist
Anchor – around tree – use Girth Hitch or Figure-Eight

Belay – control a line tied to climber for protection against falling
Belay around tree – simplest
Body belay – around body – last resort – friction burn
Maintain a stable position. Sitting is safer.
Tie loop around tree – clip carabiner to loop – use Munter Hitch.
Use Munter Hitch to add friction to prevent a “run” on the rope.
Never let go of the rope at any time – always keep one hand on rope.

Harness – tie around climber for protection and belay
Simplest is rope/web around body – can slip and hurt.
Diaper seat – Seat sling – reduce slippage – around body and legs. Made from 8-10 feet web tied in a loop with fisherman’s knot

How to use a harness seat:
Place knot in back.
Pull left, right, to front, form loops and hold.
Pull rest between legs to front, forming a diaper. Thread bottom part through the left, right loops.
Snug up and tie bottom loop (over left, right loops) to itself, locking all three parts together.
Attach another rope to bottom loop using a rewoven Figure-Eight Knot. Or use locking carabiner.
Test for close fit.
Slide back loop high up on waist for balance

Useful, but not essential
Use only screw-locking carabiner. Simplest mechanism.
Always lock the carabiner

Use only a climb-rated carabiner rated at 4000 lb (20 KN) or more
Typical lock carabiner weight – 2.5 to3 oz. (75 – 90 grams)

Aid roping.
Using rope as a step
Secure rope/web belt around waist
Thread rope with loop down under belt,
Wrap rope from inner thigh, back of leg, front of shin to feet
Attach to feet using Girth Hitch around instep
To use, raise foot, take up rope, step up and reposition body
You can use two aids to act like left-right steps.