As Seen In: USA Today, Discovery Channel, US News & World Report

Suspension Traverse

The suspension traverse is used to move personnel and equipment over rivers, ravines, chasms, and up or down a vertal.

Figure 7-19. Suspension traverse.

Figure 7-19. Suspension traverse.

Site Selection

The crossing site must have bombproof anchors at the near side and the far side, and suitable loading and off-loading platforms. If the anchors do not provide sufficient height to allow clearance, an A-frame must be used.

Installation

Installation of a suspension traverse can be time-consuming and equipment-intensive. All personnel must be well trained and well rehearsed in the procedures.

a. A-frames. Even in wooded mountainous terrain constructing an A-frame may be necessary due to the lack of height where the installation is needed. Site selection determines whether more height is needed; mission requirements determine site selection. The two main installations that use A-frames are the suspension traverse and vertical hauling line.

b. Equipment. Two sturdy poles are needed. The exact size of the poles depends on the type of load and location of the installation. The average size A-frame pole should be at least 3 inches in diameter and 9 to 12 feet long. Three to five 14-foot sling ropes are needed, depending on the size of the poles used for the A-frame.

c. Construction. Place two poles with the butt ends flush, and mark the apex on both poles.

(1) Ensure that proper height is attained and that the installation runs in a straight line between the two anchors. An A-frame placed out of proper alignment can cause the system to collapse. Try to find natural pockets in which to place the base of the A-frame poles.

(2) With a sling rope, tie a clove hitch around the left pole (standing at the base of the poles and facing the top) 3 inches above the apex marking, leaving about 18 inches of the sling rope free on top of the clove hitch. Place the locking bar on the outside edge of the pole. Make sure the rope end is pointing down as it is tied. (See Figure 7-20A.)

(3) Place the poles side by side and wrap the sling rope horizontally around both poles six to eight times, wrapping down from the clove hitch (Figure 7-20B). It may be necessary to join another sling rope to the first by using a square knot secured with overhand knots. Position this knot on the outside of one of the poles so as not to interfere with the vertical wraps. Make at least two additional wraps below the joining square knot. (See Figure 7-20C.)

(4) On the last horizontal wrap (ensure there are at least two wraps below the joining knot) to which the clove hitch is not tied, pass the rope between the poles below the wraps, and make four to six tight vertical wraps around the horizontal wraps (Figure 7-20D). Make the wraps as tight as possible. The vertical wraps must be as flat as possible next to each other. When starting the first vertical wrap, ensure it is in the same direction as the 18-inch tail on the top of the clove hitch. Insert a carabiner into the last two vertical wraps (Figure 7-20E).

(5) On the last vertical wrap, pass the rope between the poles above the horizontal wraps. Tie it off with a square knot in the section of rope coming from the clove hitch. Secure with overhand knots tied in the tails. (See Figure 7-20F.)

Figure 7-20. A-frame horizontal and vertical wraps.

Figure 7-20. A-frame horizontal and vertical wraps.

(6) Use a spreader rope to prevent the A-frame from collapsing from pressure applied at the apex (Figure 7-21). If the ground is soft, dig the legs in about 6 inches. Tie a sling rope between the legs with a round turn with two half hitches around each leg. Remove all slack in the rope between the legs.

(7) If the ground is a hard surface, tie end-of-the-rope clove hitches with the locking portions facing to the rear, the direction of kick. Tie the tails off at a 45-degree angle with a round turn and two half hitches to a secondary anchor point. The spreader rope should be no more than 6 inches above ground level. The use of clove hitches and half hitches permits easy adjustment of the spreader rope. If more than one sling rope is needed, tie the two ropes together with a square knot and secure with half hitches or overhand knots.

Figure 7-21. A-frame spreader.

Figure 7-21. A-frame spreader.

d. Installation Construction. One man rappels down the pitch and secures two installation (traverse) ropes to the far anchor with an anchor knot. Place a transport tightening system in each installation rope at the near (upper) anchor. Run the installation ropes through or around the anchor in opposite directions and tie off. Anchor the traverse ropes as close together as possible so that the ropes do not cross.

(1) Place the A-frame (if needed) so that both traverse ropes run over the apex and the A-frame splits the angle formed between the near (upper) and far (lower) anchors, with the legs firmly emplaced or anchored with pitons. Ensure that the A-frame is in line with the anchors. Adjust the A-frame under the traverse ropes after tightening to firmly implant the A-frame.

(2) Tighten the installation ropes using either the transport tightening system (paragraph 7-11) or the z-pulley tightening system (paragraph 7-12).

(3) Anchor the A-frame to the traverse rope. Tie a clove hitch at the center of a sling rope. Place it over one of the poles above the apex and move down to the apex so that the locking bar of the clove hitch is to the inside of the A-frame. Secure each end of the sling rope to one of the tightened static lines with two Prusik knots-one forward and one to the rear of the A-frame on the same static line rope (Figure 7-22).

Figure 7-22. Anchoring the A-frame to the traverse rope.

Figure 7-22. Anchoring the A-frame to the traverse rope.

Note: The A-frame should be positioned so that the angles created by the A-frame bisecting the installation rope are approximately equal on both sides. This creates downward pressure holding the A-frame in position, not forcing it in a lateral direction. It must also be placed in a straight line between the upper and lower anchor points.

(4) Use a carrying rope to attach loads to the traverse ropes (Figure 7-23). Join the ends of a 14-foot sling rope with a square knot and two overhand knots. Displace the knot one-third of the distance down the loop and tie an overhand knot both above and below the square knot. This forms two small loops and one large loop that is longer than the two small loops combined.

Figure 7-23. Carrying rope for use on a traverse.

Figure 7-23. Carrying rope for use on a traverse.

(5) Attach the carrying rope to the traverse ropes with carabiners (or a pulley) that have the gates reversed and opening in opposite directions. Attach a belay rope to the center loop of the carrying rope using a fixed loop or locking carabiner on the side opposite the joining knot (Figure 7-23). When the suspension traverse is near horizontal, a second rope may be needed to pull the load across and should be attached to the carrying rope the same as the first.

(6) Insert second carabiner into the one placed into the wraps of the A-frame. This is where a belay rope will be attached

(7) With a sling rope, tie a six wrap middle-of-the-rope Prusik knot to both static ropes near the far side off-loading point. This acts as a stopper knot for the man descending, preventing him from hitting the lower anchor.

(8) Attach the load by running the long loop of the carrying rope through the load or through the soldier's harness and attaching the bottom loop to the traverse rope carabiner. Descent must be belayed slowly and be controlled. Soldiers descending should hold onto the carrying rope and keep their feet high to avoid contact with the ground. Due to the constant tension maintained on the belayer, use a mechanical belay. If the belayer cannot view the entire descent route, use a relay man.

Retrieval

The suspension traverse is not as readily retrievable as the one-rope bridge. Therefore, the installing unit should dismantle it after it is no longer needed.

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