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Rope Coils for Mountain Scrambling


Cneifion Arete after work


Crib Goch in bad weather




How to Tie Rope Coils for Scrambling


There are several ways to set up coils – soft lock or hard lock and high or low.

Soft locked coils are easier/faster to adjust for length, but there is serious risk of the coils tightening under load – this can be uncomfortable at best, but has also been known to impede breathing. Thus it is recommended to always use hard locked coils

When short roping on glaciers high coils (sternum level) should be used as this high anchor point will help keep you upright if you fall into a crevasse, but in a scrambling situation low coils are best as it is easier to hold falls with the anchor point tied off low close to your waist.

The following images will hopefully show you how to tie coils correctly for scrambling i.e. the coils are tied off with a hard lock and the coils are tied off quite low.

It should be stressed that knowing how to arrange coils is only the start... learning how to use coils when moving together, short roping and pitching is a complex affair that needs a lot of practice.


Coils - Figure of 8
1. First of all connect the rope to your harness as normal. I prefer the Figure 8 knot as it is easy to see that it has been tied correctly.
Setting the coil level
2. Set the level for the coils. This is best done by holding a palm at belly button height. Take the rope around your head and under your hand...
Starting the coil
and then back around you head. Remember to do this with all your clothes and rucksack on.....

Making more coilsContinue adding coils until the remaining uncoiled rope is the right length..


Coils completeLike this... this will normally leave 10-15m of rope between climbers

Coils making a bight

Then put the hand and arm that has been used to keep all the coils the same length through them, so that the coils go over your shoulder and lie diagonally across your body .

Now take a loop of rope (a "bight"in climbing terminology). The bight should contain about 60cm of rope, but this will depend on how many loops are in the coils and the diameter of the rope.

Coils-hard lock

Take the bight under the coils....

Tying off rope coilsBring the bight back round the front of the coils...
Tying off coils 2..and under the live rope to start to create the locking off knot...
Tying off rope coils 3...then back over to start forming an overhand knot that will allow the coils to be locked off
Overhand knot on hard locked coils
then pass the bight under and up through the small loop you have just formed to finish off the overhand knot. There should just be a very small loop poking out of the knot.
Rope Coils finished and locked off Join the loop of the original Fig 8 knot and the loop of the newly created overhand knot with a small locking carabiner.. This locks the coils securely in place.
Rope Coils with a hard lockAlway try to tie off the coils with a small carabiner to reduce movement and slippage - a large carabiner or long tails on the loops allows the coils to move around and the coils to rise up when loaded - not ideal.


























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