HomeOutdoor activitiesHow to Coil Climbing Rope

How to Coil Climbing Rope

Coiling a rope can be handy when transporting it between crags or keeping one end accessible in a backpack or stuff sack. Unfortunately, this method may lead to tangles and twists in the rope, so it’s best avoided altogether.

Instead of discarding your rope, store it in a dry and dark place with plenty of airflow. Doing this will extend its life expectancy and help it look better in years to come.

Start in the middle

Coiling a rope before climbing or belaying is an efficient and effective way to prepare it for use. Additionally, coiling makes carrying around the rope during your climb much simpler as well as storing it away for later.

Start by finding the middle of your rope – it may have a marking indicating its center – or flake both ends through your hands until you hit it. This extra step helps guarantee that all strands are free from tangles before coiling them.

Once you’ve located the middle, loop both strands over your shoulders with one hand while holding onto the opposite end beneath your opposite hand. This makes carrying any size rope much easier!

If you plan to belay someone, the rope must be wound differently than if just running it up for yourself. That is because the belayer will need to feed in slack and re-coil as they go on lead.

Therefore, it’s ideal to begin with the longest coils at the bottom and make them smaller as you go along. The longer coils won’t tangle with rocks or other features while the shorter coils are easier to feed through.

Next, wrap each end of the rope around each coil. To do this successfully, alternate turns that lie “under” rather than “over.” Doing this helps prevent a single twist from becoming tangled.

Continue this process until you reach the tail-end of the rope – usually several feet long. Tie this end shut to secure any coils in place and then you’re ready for use!

Back-feeding is another technique you can use to prevent kinks and snarls in your rope. This technique works best when the rope needs only be moved a short distance, as coiling may not be necessary.

When storing your rope, consider using a rope bag or stuff sack with an opening in the bottom. This is an effective way to pack away your cord and keep it free from dirt and moisture during storage.

Loop both strands over your shoulders

Climbing rope is an essential item to take on any climbing trip. When not in use, store it somewhere dark and free from halogens and other acids so that the rope does not get damaged.

Coiling a climbing rope begins by holding the middle in one hand and looping both strands over your shoulders. Some ropes come with an easy middle marker that makes this process simpler, but if not, find both ends and hold them together.

Next, slide your palms down the strands and bring them back up in front of you. The strands must now cross over your shoulders a second time to form a coil-like shape.

Continue this process, using both hands to pull apart and allow them to wind around your shoulders until there are 8-10 feet of each strand remaining.

Once you have wound the rope around itself three or four times, take both ends and tightly wrap them around all of its coils near the top. Do this until your rope lies flat and taut.

Once you have done this, tie a square knot around your waist to secure yourself. This will make tying the bundle shut much simpler and help prevent it from getting knotted in the first place.

When tying the rope into a backpack, it’s best to leave some tail slack in the bundle. This makes it much easier to carry even when not wearing a harness.

Another way to secure the rope into a backpack is by creating a prussik. This friction hitch has many applications when rappeling or in glacier rescue scenarios, and you can attach this loop onto an anchor point like a rock spike for extra safety.

Climbers often employ a prussik and locking-off knot to ensure their rope does not feed through their device. While this can be more complex, the effort pays off with superior results.

Wrap the two ends around the coils

No matter the climbing rope type, coiling it before storage is key to prevent twists or kinks in its strands as you work with it. Coils also make carrying your rope easier as they can be draped across the top of a pack or attached to your harness for convenient transport.

When coiling your climbing rope, there are a few tricks experienced climbers swear by to keep it free from tangles and ready for when you next need it. Here are some of the best coiling techniques:

1. Mountain Coil

To begin this technique, loop both strands over your shoulders and pull them together to form a loose bundle. At the end, you should have approximately eight to ten feet of rope remaining at the end. Wrap each end around all of the coils near the top of your bundle three or four times, making sure each turn rests against the previous one without twisting or kinking the rope as it wraps.

2. Butterfly Coil

This technique is straightforward and fast, enabling you to get your rope into a coiling pattern quickly. It works with any climbing rope and is ideal for beginners or those new to coiling.

3. Figure 8 Coil

This popular technique helps avoid kinks and twists in rope, since it does not introduce any twists during formation of each turn. It works for both single and doubled ropes alike; however, it requires more precision.

4. Alternating Over and Under

A common method for coiling a single rope is to start in the middle and grab both ends with one hand. Your dominant hand should grip the other end and wind it around your shoulders until approximately eight to ten feet of both strands are free at each side. Repeat with the other hand, lift up the coil over your head, letting it fall symmetrically at each side, and repeat this process on both ends.

Tie the bundle shut

Climbing rope is an essential tool for many outdoor adventures. Learning how to coil it properly reduces the chance of tangles and keeps the end easily accessible while climbing.

Coiled ropes make packing much easier, as they’re compact. Coiled ropes also serve a safety purpose by helping prevent stepping on them when climbing or rappelling.

Start by holding your rope in an ‘L’ shape in the palm of your hand, and wrap it repeatedly around both your hand and elbow to form a coil. Continue until approximately 30cm remains, then fold the remaining end into a loop and tuck it under the wrapped rope to securely join them together.

Once the bundle is tightly wound, take your non-dominant hand and carefully grab the middle of the tied rope – taking care not to loosen it in the process. Then tightly wrap any excess rope around this centre point – being sure not to loosen it in the loop.

When coiling twisted rope, such as the Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic, it is best to avoid this technique. Twisting can make it harder to form an even coil due to multiple twists introduced.

One method of coiling involves using excess rope to form a bight. This bight is then fed through your wraps, ensuring that each wrap locks onto itself.

By keeping the rope tied this way, it won’t get tangled or unraveled and makes it harder to carry as a backpack. If you need to store it for an upcoming trip, simply tie off one end and slide onto your top layer of luggage; alternatively, use it as a carabiner to hang from your harness.

Alternatively, you can leave a long tail of slack that can be used to create a backpack that secures the end of the rope. Simply swing the bundle on your back and grab two slack pieces to put over each shoulder, then tie them into square knots.


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