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

Coiling, Carrying, and Throwing

The ease and speed of rope deployment and recovery greatly depends upon technique and practice.

Coiling and Carrying the Rope

Use the butterfly or mountain coil to coil and carry the rope. Each is easy to accomplish and results in a minimum amount of kinks, twists, and knots later during deployment.

a. Mountain Coil. To start a mountain coil, grasp the rope approximately 1 meter from the end with one hand. Run the other hand along the rope until both arms are outstretched. Grasping the rope firmly, bring the hands together forming a loop, which is laid in the hand closest to the end of the rope. This is repeated, forming uniform loops that run in a clockwise direction, until the rope is completely coiled. The rope may be given a 1/4 twist as each loop is formed to overcome any tendency for the rope to twist or form figure-eights.

(1) In finishing the mountain coil, form a bight approximately 30 centimeters long with the starting end of the rope and lay it along the top of the coil. Uncoil the last loop and, using this length of the rope, begin making wraps around the coil and the bight, wrapping toward the closed end of the bight and making the first wrap bind across itself so as to lock it into place. Make six to eight wraps to adequately secure the coil, and then route the end of the rope through the closed end of the bight. Pull the running end of the bight tight, securing the coil.

(2) The mountain coil may be carried either in the pack (by forming a figure eight), doubling it and placing it under the flap, or by placing it over the shoulder and under the opposite arm, slung across the chest. (Figure 4-3 shows how to coil a mountain coil.)

Figure 4-3. Mountain coil.

Figure 4-3. Mountain coil.

b. Butterfly Coil. The butterfly coil is the quickest and easiest technique for coiling (Figure 4-4).

Figure 4-4. Butterfly coil.

Figure 4-4. Butterfly coil.

(1) Coiling. To start the double butterfly, grasp both ends of the rope and begin back feeding. Find the center of the rope forming a bight. With the bight in the left hand, grasp both ropes and slide the right hand out until there is approximately one arms length of rope. Place the doubled rope over the head, draping it around the neck and on top of the shoulders. Ensure that it hangs no lower than the waist. With the rest of the doubled rope in front of you, make doubled bights placing them over the head in the same manner as the first bight. Coil alternating from side to side (left to right, right to left) while maintaining equal-length bights. Continue coiling until approximately two arm-lengths of rope remain. Remove the coils from the neck and shoulders carefully, and hold the center in one hand. Wrap the two ends around the coils a minimum of three doubled wraps, ensuring that the first wrap locks back on itself.

(2) Tie-off and Carrying. Take a doubled bight from the loose ends of rope and pass it through the apex of the coils. Pull the loose ends through the doubled bight and dress it down. Place an overhand knot in the loose ends, dressing it down to the apex of the bight securing coils. Ensure that the loose ends do not exceed the length of the coils. In this configuration the coiled rope is secure enough for hand carrying or carrying in a rucksack, or for storage. (Figure 4-5 shows a butterfly coil tie-off.)

Figure 4-5. Butterfly coil tie-off.

Figure 4-5. Butterfly coil tie-off.

c. Coiling Smaller Diameter Rope. Ropes of smaller diameters may be coiled using the butterfly or mountain coil depending on the length of the rope. Pieces 25 feet and shorter (also known as cordage, sling rope, utility cord) may be coiled so that they can be hung from the harness. Bring the two ends of the rope together, ensuring no kinks are in the rope. Place the ends of the rope in the left hand with the two ends facing the body. Coil the doubled rope in a clockwise direction forming 6- to 8-inch coils (coils may be larger depending on the length of rope) until an approximate 12-inch bight is left. Wrap that bight around the coil, ensuring that the first wrap locks on itself. Make three or more wraps. Feed the bight up through the bights formed at the top of the coil. Dress it down tightly. Now the piece of rope may be hung from a carabiner on the harness.

e. Uncoiling, Back-feeding, and Stacking. When the rope is needed for use, it must be uncoiled and stacked on the ground properly to avoid kinks and snarls.

(1) Untie the tie-off and lay the coil on the ground. Back-feed the rope to minimize kinks and snarls. (This is also useful when the rope is to be moved a short distance and coiling is not desired.) Take one end of the rope in the left hand and run the right hand along the rope until both arms are outstretched. Next, lay the end of the rope in the left hand on the ground. With the left hand, re-grasp the rope next to the right hand and continue laying the rope on the ground.

(2) The rope should be laid or stacked in a neat pile on the ground to prevent it from becoming tangled and knotted when throwing the rope, feeding it to a lead climber, and so on. This technique can also be started using the right hand.

Throwing the Rope

Before throwing the rope, it must be properly managed to prevent it from tangling during deployment. The rope should first be anchored to prevent complete loss of the rope over the edge when it is thrown. Several techniques can be used when throwing a rope. Personal preference and situational and environmental conditions should be taken into consideration when determining which technique is best.

a. Back feed and neatly stack the rope into coils beginning with the anchored end of the rope working toward the running end. Once stacked, make six to eight smaller coils in the left hand. Pick up the rest of the larger coils in the right hand. The arm should be generally straight when throwing. The rope may be thrown underhanded or overhanded depending on obstacles around the edge of the site. Make a few preliminary swings to ensure a smooth throw. Throw the large coils in the right hand first. Throw up and out. A slight twist of the wrist, so that the palm of the hand faces up as the rope is thrown, allows the coils to separate easily without tangling. A smooth follow through is essential. When a slight tug on the left hand is felt, toss the six to eight smaller coils out. This will prevent the ends of the rope from becoming entangled with the rest of the coils as they deploy. As soon as the rope leaves the hand, the thrower should sound off with a warning of "ROPE" to alert anyone below the site.

b. Another technique may also be used when throwing rope. Anchor, back feed, and stack the rope properly as described above. Take the end of the rope and make six to eight helmet-size coils in the right hand (more may be needed depending on the length of the rope). Assume a "quarterback" simulated stance. Aiming just above the horizon, vigorously throw the rope overhanded, up and out toward the horizon. The rope must be stacked properly to ensure smooth deployment.

c. When windy weather conditions prevail, adjustments must be made. In a strong cross wind, the rope should be thrown angled into the wind so that it will land on the desired target. The stronger the wind, the harder the rope must be thrown to compensate.

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