Instructor Corps Pro Tip:
We don’t talk about rope work much on this blog, which is kinda weird, considering our background. But a solid working knowledge of rope rigs and the various software and hardware they’re made from can unlock a world of possibilities, from rappelling off a cliff, to airlifting a patient, to getting a vehicle unstuck.
The basic building block of any rope system is an anchor. Without an anchor, there’s nothing to pull tension on, nothing to clip in to, etc. And the tried-and-true single point bombproof tensionless anchor is one of the strongest and simplest around. Assembling it takes less than a minute. Simply wrap your rope around a strong, vertical object such as a tree, post, sasquatch leg, etc. You need at least four to six wraps to achieve enough friction to reliably hold the rope. If the object you’re tying around is narrow or slick such as a metal pole, you’ll need to do more wraps. Make sure your wraps are neatly stacked and don’t cross over each other. Leave yourself 18” - 24” inches of tail on the running end of the rope, tie yourself a bowline or a figure eight on a bight, secure the tail with an overhand knot safety, and you’re ready to clip in. Clip your carabiner through the loop of your knot and around the standing end of the rope. If you’re short a carabiner, you can achieve the same result by tying a figure eight follow-through instead of a figure eight on a bight.
What’s so great about this system? Lots of things. For one, it’s safe. The weight of your load is spread evenly around your anchor object, so there’s no single spot in the rope that has to bear a majority of the weight. Because of this, the rope retains 100% of its strength. Since it’s tensionless, it doesn’t bind and remains easy to untie no matter what you do to it. And it truly earns its bombproof rating – the only part of the system that can fail is the rope itself, as long as you choose a sturdy anchor point. If for some reason it slips, the running end of the rope with the carabiner or knot will catch it and lock the system in place.
So, what can you use this for? Any rope system that needs a steady, reliable anchor point. If you’re going over the edge, this can be paired with an edge protector and a Swiss seat for a quick yet safe improvised rappelling rig. If you’re crossing a questionable river on foot, you can use this with a wrap 3, pull 2 webbing anchor, Munter hitch, and a few Prusik cords to create a “handrail” to hang on to so your team won’t get swept downstream. And it’s a great anchor for an improvised log winch like we demonstrated this past weekend at Peach State Overland’s Fall Color Run. Just secure the other end to a recovery point on your vehicle and add two lengths of timber.
Keep in mind that any rope system is only as good as its weakest portion, and that’s dependent on your attention to detail and how much work you put into it. Always double check your knots, don’t exceed the rope’s working load, try to protect your software from dirt and abrasion, and build redundancy into everything you do if it’s something you’re trusting your life to.
Wanna see more rope-related blog posts and videos? Know any more uses for the bombproof tensionless anchor system? Tell us in the comments!