Reinhard Fichtinger

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Practical Tips

Uncoiling – the first time

In conventional production (not «Lap Coiled») the rope is coiled, tangle free, on drums. It is also delivered in the same coiled condition. During its first use it must be uncoiled again, otherwise annoying tangles develop. To uncoil: open the rope cord and put both lower arms through the rope coils in opposing directions. Maintaining constant pressure – twist your lower arms outwards around each other, so that the ends of the rope drop to the floor. Take care that the second end doesn’t wind itself around a wrist and prevent the turning action. After uncoiling the rope, it can be run through by hand, meter by meter, two or three times, and shaken gently in order to remove any twists. Afterwards, it is ready to be transported or stored in a rope bag. Carrying out the uncoiling procedure over a rope bag, or at home, protects the rope, from the outset, against unnecessary contamination.

Rope Bags

When sport climbing a rope bag is the best means to transport and protect the rope from dirt and keep it ready for use. One end of the rope is tied to the rope bag loop and then the loose rope can be stacked on the open tarp. The top end can now run freely to the lead climber. For carrying, the rope end is tied to the second loop of the tarp. An additional benefit of the bag is that if the free end of the rope is tied to the tarp, it can’t slip through the belay device by mistake when lowering—unfortunately this is a frequent cause of climbing accidents.

Rope management at the belay stance

Particularly with waterfalls, but also on alpine climbs, and in windy conditions, it’s important that the rope coils don’t hang down below the belay stance because they can get snagged on blocks or icicles. Experienced climbers lay the rope in alternate coils right and left over their belay rope, thigh, or foot and so always have good rope control. If the same leader continues to climb the next pitch then the rope taken in must first be completely restacked so that it runs out clea

Recovery period after a fall

After sport climbing falls the rope benefits from a rest phase. After a hard shock loading the rope should «enjoy» a recovery period and, if possible, the rope end should be alternated. In this way, the manmade fibers stretched by the fall can rejuvenate – thus, clearly increasing the rope’s life span. The rope can also be saved if you don’t stay hanging from the rope after a fall. Instead, attach yourself directly to a bolt.

Rope routing

Skillful rope routing reduces friction on the rope and your nerves. If possible, the rope should not run over sharp, rough edges, through cracks, or behind rocks, where it can get stuck, heavily worn, and in the case of a fall, can break. Intelligently placed protection can keep it away from loose rock and wet, or damp places. Widely spread protection points can be compensated for by using long runners. Even if the rope route can’t be made sufficiently straight, double rope technique can be used – particularly with «naturally protected» routes, as often found in England and the USA.

Short roping

For short, easy sections, with no danger of falling, the rope can be carried in coils over the shoulder. For that purpose, each climbing partner puts as many coils as is comfortable over their shoulder and fixes the complete bundle of coils with a cross hitch, a figure eight knot and additionally a screw gate carabiner at the tie point. If this is not done, the coils can, in a fall, tighten and strangle the climber. To remove the rope, one coil after another is taken from the shoulder, so that no tangles or knots form. Climbing difficult sections simultaneously with a «short rope» technique is possible for mountain guides, within a limited range of application. This is lethal for non-professionals. For you this means: belay correctly or climb rope fre


If the rope is not well coiled for throwing, knots can easily form. When rappelling in broken terrain with loose rock rappelling can cause rock fall or in high winds, throwing the ropes will likely cause them to blow around and get snagged. To avoid this, or in an awkward descent route, it can make more sense to lower your climbing partner. If, in an emergency, a Munter hitch has to be used for rappelling, the ropes should be routed in parallel to avoid tangles.

Three Person Rope Teams

Longer routes are sometimes climbed in three person teams, whereby one leader belays two seconds at the same time. If two single ropes are used, the leader must never clip both ropes into the same protection point, otherwise a dangerously high impact force can develop. For three person rope teams half ropes can be used, but never twin ropes.

Taking Rope In

The rope which is taken in should be lain on the cliff side of the anchor point in order to avoid trapping the rope’s end between the ring and the rock face.


Coiling allows the rope to be transported without a rope bag. In order to avoid tangles the «Lap Coiling» method is recommended. Whether the doubled rope is coiled from the middle or from the ends, or as a single strand from one end; or whether you collect the rope coils in one hand, over your neck, or over your thigh whilst kneeling doesn’t matter. But, it is crucial that the rope is coiled in coils, which hang down alternately left and right, and not in loops. Do not twist out any twists that develop! When the whole rope is coiled, hold it in the middle and wrap one or two arm lengths of rope around it a few times. Pull one rope coil through the «eye» which has formed and, over the «head» of the rope and tighten. If you use this method with two rope ends, you can wear the rope like a backpack. When using the rope again, you can prevent a «bird’s nest» forming if you lay the individual coils down and stack the rope prior to climbing.

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