used in mountain rescue serve a three-fold purpose:
As an aid in mountaineering
As an aid in victim evacuation
In a safety system.
below are basic working facts about how SAR Teams utilize rope. The information
presented is essential for full realization of the limitations and
capabilities of the climbing ropes.
ROPE AND WEBBING SPECIFICATIONS
static rope made by Pigeon Mountain
Industries (PMI). The information provided below applies to PMI rope only.
Climbing line used for dynamic leader climbing is designed to meet UIAA
standards for 11mm international climbing lines.
100% Dupont 707 nylon
Less than 2% at 200 lbs.
Melts at 480-500 o
Becomes sticky at 445 o
Yellows at 300 o after 5 hrs. exposure
One under and one over
until core failure - sheath still intact
until core failure - sheath still intact
information is based on rope wrapped around a 4" diameter drum. Lower
results will be seen at knots, i.e. a 7/16" rope reduces to
approximately 5,000 lbs on a bowline knot.
Inch Tubular Webbing:
RULES GOVERNING ROPE WORK
walk on a rope. Stepping on a rope is a cardinal sin, usually calling for
prompt and uncouth comments. Stepping on a rope will needlessly cause small
particles of dirt and rock to be pushed into the rope fibers, causing
internal wear that is extremely difficult to detect. Do not allow the rope to
run over sharp or rough edges, especially if it's loaded. Never expose rope
to any chemicals such as gasoline, thinners, oil, road flares, etc. This
includes storing ropes in automobile trunks with oily rags or where fumes may
rope in a clean, dry, cool area whenever possible, and never store rope wet.
Store the rope in a protective storage bag. This provides protection for the
rope as well as a guarantee that the rope will not tangle when it is needed.
the rope periodically during use, and immediately after it has held a fall or
been hit by falling objects. Any suspect rope shall be noted and removed from
active use until it can be inspected by the team equipment officer. If a rope
is at all suspect it should be retired. If puffs of inner fiber are visible
along the rope, retire it immediately. On a climb, a butterfly knot can be
used to temporarily isolate a damaged rope section. Do not leave the rope
stretched or under tension for extended lengths of time. Remove all knots
before storing the rope.
operation the rope will undoubtedly be dragged against rock faces, through
dirt and over brush. Sharp edges could easily cut the best line if the
conditions are correct and the rope is under tension. Whenever possible
minimize the rope's exposure to sharp edges through the use of padding for
static lines. Smooth surface protection or edge rollers should be utilized
for moving lines of raising or lowering systems. Especially pad the area of
the rope near the edge of a cliff when rappelling.
AND DRYING OF ROPES
sections of 8mm rope can be washed at home in an automatic washer. Larger
sections of 11mm rope should be cleaned using a large commercial machine.
Double‑up and chain stitch the rope, and use a nylon safe detergent
such as "Woolite" Set
the machine for "gentle action", warm wash and cool rinse. Rinse
twice if any soap is left on the rope.
preferred method of drying is to hang the rope in a cool, shady place,
however, it can be placed in a dryer on the "cool" or "air
dry" setting. Keeping a rope clean is vital for safety and maximum rope
Basically, a knot is a configuration in one or more ropes, which is used:
ease of tying, and experience are the criteria in selecting the few
basic knots presented herein. Although a great many more knots exist, many
are unsuitable for rescue usage. Further study beyond the limited scope of
this manual is recommended.
knots used must be learned well enough so that each knot can be tied
correctly the first time, even under adverse conditions. Knots should be
inspected frequently when subjected to long use and bad weather, especially
since knots tied on nylon rope tend to slip due to the smoothness of the
fibers. To counter this, all knots shall be tied off with an overhand knot.
the success of every rescue operation can be dependent upon the reliability
of each knot.
are based on the simple physics of friction and binding forces. The following
general terms apply to knots and slings.
"Running End" is the free end of the rope that is not attached to
any other rope or system. The "Standing Part" is the fastened part
or the whole rope other than the running end. A "Bight" is a turn
which does not cross itself. A "
Half-Hitch" is a loop which turns around a shaft, or piece of rope, so
as to lock itself. These are depicted in figure-1. Each specific knot is
knot is used to tie the ends of equal diameter rope together. It should not
be used for joining climbing ropes where tension varies considerably. This is
typically used for utility connections or for securing bandages for splints
etc. See figure-2.
is the simplest knot to tie. It's used as a temporary stop on an unlashed
rope or to supply a better handhold for climbing a single line. The overhand
is also used to secure the free ends of the rope in most other knots. See
through (Water Knot)
knot is used for tying the ends of flat or tubular webbing together. It is
feasible to use this knot to join rope together, however, since a figure-8
follow through is superior, it will be used for joining rope. See figure-4.
knot is used on the ends of ropes to prevent them from slipping through a
pulley or descending device. It is bulkier than the overhand knot, but forms
more gentle turns in the rope. See figure-5.
of Eight Follow through
knot is used to tie ropes of equal diameter together. It's also used to tie
the end of a climbing rope in a sit harness. To use this knot to secure a sit
harness into a climbing line, first tie the figure 8, pass the running end
through the harness attachment, then complete the figure 8 follow through.
This provides the most secure harness tie in for climbing applications. See
of Eight on a Bight
knot is used to make a loop at the end or in the middle of a rope. It's
easier to tie than a butterfly knot and is stronger than a bowline. It can be
used as an anchor knot or in any system used by this team. Both ends of the
rope leaving the knot should be in the same direction when the knot is
loaded. Note that it is possible to tie this knot incorrectly, thus reducing
its strength by 8 - 10 percent. See figure-7.
The bowline can be used to secure an end man on a belay, or used as an anchor knot. It's easy to tie, but must be tied off to insure it won't loosen when the rope is slack. When looping a rope around a boulder or a tree to create an anchor, the bowline knot should be utilized. Note that it is possible to tie this knot incorrectly, thus reducing its strength by one-half! See figure-8.
is a very useful anchor knot. It can be used with offset sized loops to form
a self-equalizing anchor. This may also be used to secure the middle of
the rope when both ends of the rope are required for the system being used.
Be careful when tying this knot
as it can easily be tied into a slip knot. See figure-9.
on a Coil
knot is used to secure a climber into a climbing line when the climber is not
wearing a climbing harness. This technique has the advantage that there is
nothing to fail between the climbing rope and the climber as is the case when
tying into a climbing harness. Falling on this knot is more irritating than
falling in a sit harness. The knot should be tied snugly around the smallest
section of the abdomen. This knot should be used to attach a belay when
rappelling or jumaring. See figure-10.
ballatine bowline is one of two middleman knots authorized for use by this
team. The knots are interchangeable, but the rescuer should be familiar with
both knots so that he can identify both as safe and accepted knots. This is
used to tie a loop in the middle of a rope or to isolate a damaged section.
When loaded, the two ends of the rope leaving the knot are to be in opposite
directions. The loop of the knot may be loaded in any direction including 90
degrees with respect to the rope. See figure-11.
is a friction brake knot used as a safety device in rappelling, litter
evacuation, or ascending a rope. It grips the climbing line securely when
under tension, but slips when pressure is released. The prussik is considered
a "soft" ascender since the rope being ascended is not being
impinged by a "hard" metallic device. The prussik may be used to
replace the Gibbs ascender in systems work as a provisionary option. Prussiks
used on the team should be comprised of 7mm line, which is issued by the team
equipment officer. The prussik must be attached to a larger diameter rope to
work properly. Extreme care should be used when using the prussiks to not
allow the prussik to move quickly with tension on the system line as this can
cause a large amount of heat which would both damage the prussik and the
climbing line. There have been reports of prussiks knots that have burnt
through main lines. See figure-14. A three-wrap prussik may be used
to increase the amount of resistance generated by the prussik. Three-wrap
prussiks are preferred in all system applications of the prussik The triple
wrapped prussik is somewhat easier to move when tension is released due to
the size of the wraps.
taut line hitch is a utility knot commonly used by Boy Scouts to tension guy
ropes to stabilize tent poles. This is used to adjust the edge protection
location used in system operations. See figure-15.
knot is normally tied with a tubular webbing rabbit runner, and is used in
any system where tension must be released in order to free up another piece
knot requires two locking carabiners, one non-locking carabiner, and a
36" rabbit runner (48" is better). The knot is started by securing
one end of the rabbit runner to one of the locking biners. The rabbit runner
is then directed through the other biner at a distance of 5 to 6 inches away
from the first biner. The runner then is taken back through the first biner.
This wrapping continues until there is less than 12 inches of runner
remaining. The complement of the runner is then frapped around the outside of
the wrappings already created. This should start very close to one of the
locking biners working its way toward the other locking biner. All but 2
inches of the original wrappings should be covered by the outside frapping.
The frappings should be snug as to create friction. As a final step the
non-locking biner should be secured to the free end of the rabbit runner and
pushed through the center of the original wrappings. The knot should be
stored tied with the non-locking biner attached to both locking biners. When
in use, obviously the non-locking biner must be disconnected from one
of the locking biners. The mariner's knot also acts a shock absorber for
shock loaded systems. See figure-19.
device is used as a sit harness. It's usually made from webbing using a
overhand follow-through. This sit harness is inferior to the swiss seat
except that it may be simpler and quicker to place on a frightened subject
dependent upon the situation. See figure-21.
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updated by Fillmore SAR Member Jude Egold