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Obstacles on the battlefield today are inevitable. They can limit the battlefield and, even worse, prevent a unit from accomplishing its mission. However, with highly skilled personnel trained on rope installations, leaders can be assured that even a unit with limited mountain skills and experience will be able to successfully move and operate in terrain that would otherwise have been impassable.


A fixed rope is a rope anchored in place to assist soldiers in movement over difficult terrain. Its simplest form is a rope tied off on the top of steep terrain. As terrain becomes steeper or more difficult, fixed rope systems may require intermediate anchors along the route. Moving on a fixed rope requires minimal equipment. The use of harnesses, ascenders, and other technical gear makes fixed rope movement easier, faster, and safer, but adds to total mission weight.


To install a fixed rope, two experienced climbers rope up for a roped climb. The leader must have the necessary equipment to rig the anchor at the top of the pitch. Although leader protection is usually not needed on a typical slope, additional hardware can be brought along and placed at the leader's discretion. The second will establish a belay if protection is being placed. Otherwise, he will stack and manage the rope. He ensures the rope runs smoothly up the slope and does not get tangled as the climber ascends. Upon reaching the end of the pitch, the leader will establish the top anchor. Once the anchor is rigged, the leader will take up any remaining slack between himself and the second. He will anchor the installation rope and remain tied into the rope. The second unties from his end of the rope and begins to climb. If the leader placed protection, the second will clean the pitch on his way up.


All personnel using the fixed rope grasp the rope with the palm downward and use it for assistance as they ascend the slope (Figure 7-1). An individual can easily prevent a long fall by attaching himself to the rope with a sling using a friction knot (for example, Prusik, autoblock). The knot is slid along the rope as the individual ascends. If the climber slips and loses control of the rope, the friction knot will grab the rope and arrest the fall. The friction knot used in this manner is referred to as a self-belay (Figure 7-2).

Figure 7-1. Using a fixed rope.

Figure 7-1. Using a fixed rope.

Figure 7-2. Using a self-belay.

Figure 7-2. Using a self-belay.


If the fixed rope is to be used on the descent, it can be left in place and recovered after the last rappel. If not, the last climber will tie into the rope and be belayed from above. The climber now can easily free the rope if it gets caught on anything as it is taken up from the belayer.


Whenever the route varies from the fall line of the slope, the fixed rope must be anchored at intermediate anchor points (Figure 7-3). Intermediate anchor points should also be used on any long routes that exceed the length of a single rope. The use of intermediate anchor points creates independent sections and allows for changes in direction from one section to the next. The independent sections allow for more personnel to move on the fixed rope. This type of fixed rope is commonly used along exposed ridges and narrow mountain passes.

Figure 7-3. Fixed rope with intermediate anchors.

Figure 7-3. Fixed rope with intermediate anchors.

a. Installation. Two experienced climbers prepare for a roped climb. The leader will carry a typical rack with enough hardware to place an adequate number of intermediate anchor points. The second sets up a standard belay. The route they select must have the following characteristics:

  • Most suitable location, ease of negotiation, avoids obstacles.

  • Availability of anchors (natural and artificial).

  • Area is safe from falling rock or ice.

  • Tactical considerations are met.

  • A rope routed between knee and chest height (waist high preferred).

  • Rope crossovers should be avoided.

As the leader climbs the route, he will place the anchors and route the climbing rope as in a typical roped climb. The leader makes use of any available natural anchors.

Note: Sling attachments should be kept as short and snug as possible to ensure that a load on the fixed rope below the anchor is placed only on that anchor. This will prevent one section from affecting another section.

(1) The leader places an anchor at all points where a change of direction occurs. He also makes every attempt to route the rope so personnel will not have to cross back and forth over the rope between sections.

(2) When the leader reaches the end of the pitch, he temporarily anchors the rope. He should use a sling to anchor himself if there is any chance of slipping and falling. He then takes up any excess slack, and attaches the rope to the anchor.


Enough slack must be left in the rope so the second can tie the knots necessary to fix the rope.

(3) The second unties from the rope and anchors it at the bottom. He attaches himself to the rope with a sling using a friction knot to create a self-belay. The self-belay will protect the second as he climbs and fixes the rope to the intermediate anchor points. When he reaches an anchor point, he unclips the climbing rope so he can advance the self-belay beyond the anchor point. He then takes the slack out of the section below the anchor point. He ensures that the fixed rope will be approximately knee to chest level as climbers negotiate the installation. He then attaches the rope using an anchor knot (for example, middle-of-the-rope clove hitch, double figure-eight). The second then moves to next anchor point and repeats the process.

(4) If a long runner is to be used at any anchor point, the second should adjust the section below it so the runner is oriented in the direction where the load or pull on the anchor will come from. This will help isolate the section.

(5) The sections are normally adjusted fairly snug between anchor points. A slack section may be necessary to move around obstacles in the route or large bulges in the terrain. If clove hitches are used, adjusting the clove hitches at each end of the section can leave any amount of slack.

(6) A middle-of-the-rope Prusik safetied with a figure eight may be used when utility ropes are available. These are used to adjust the rope height (either higher or lower).

(7) In addition to the fixed rope, the second could anchor etriers to be used as footholds.

(8) When the second reaches the end of the pitch, the rope is removed from the top anchor and the remaining slack is removed from the last section. The rope is reattached to the anchor. If additional fixed rope is required the procedure is repeated using another rope. The second will tie the ropes together before anchoring the next section, creating one continuous fixed rope.

b. Utilization. Personnel should be attached to the fixed rope during movement for safety reasons.

(1) If a self-belay is desired, a harness should be worn. A friction knot will be tied to the installation rope using a short sling. The sling will then be attached to the harness. Another short sling will be used as a safety line. One end of the sling will be attached to the harness and the other will have a carabiner inserted. This safety line is also attached to the fixed rope during movement. Once the climber reaches an anchor point, he removes his safety line and attaches it to the anchor or attaches it to the next section of rope. He will then untie the friction knot and tie another friction knot beyond the anchor point. The use of a mechanical ascender in the place of the friction knot could greatly speed up movement.

(2) There will be many situations where a self-belay may not be required. In these situations an individual may attach himself to the fixed rope using only a safety line. The individual will tie into the middle of a sling rope approximately 12 feet long. Fixed loops are tied into the running ends and a carabiner is attached into each of the fixed loops. The individual now has two points of attachments to the fixed rope. Upon reaching an anchor point, one safety line is removed and advanced beyond the anchor point onto the next section. Then the next safety is removed and placed on the next section. This way the individual is always secured to the fixed rope at all times.

(3) Personnel will move one at a time per section during the entire movement. Once an individual changes over to the next section he signals the next man to climb. When descending on the fixed rope, personnel can down climb using the installation for assistance. Another option would be to descend using a hasty rappel.

c. Retrieval. When the installation is retrieved, the next to last man on the system will untie the knots at the intermediate anchor points and reclips the rope as he ascends. He will be attached to rope using a self-belay. Once he reaches the top of the pitch, the rope should be running the same as when the leader initially placed it. The last man will untie the rope from the bottom anchor and tie into the rope. He will the clean the pitch as he climbs while being belayed from above.


When an individual or group must descend a vertical surface quickly, a rappel may be performed. Rappelling is a quick method of descent but it is extremely dangerous. These dangers include anchor failure, equipment failure, and individual error. Anchors in a mountainous environment should be selected carefully. Great care must be taken to load the anchor slowly and to ensure that no excessive stress is placed on the anchor. To ensure this, bounding rappels should be prohibited, and only walk down rappels used. Constant vigilance to every detail will guarantee a safe descent every time.


The selection of the rappel point depends on factors such as mission, cover, route, anchor points, and edge composition (loose or jagged rocks). There must be good anchors (primary and secondary). The anchor point should be above the rappeller's departure point. Suitable loading and off-loading platforms should be available.


A rappel lane should have equal tension between all anchor points by establishing primary and secondary anchor points. The rappel rope should not extend if one anchor point fails. The following methods of establishing an anchor can be performed with a single or double rope. A double rope application should be used when possible for safety purposes.

a. If a rappel lane is less than half the rope length, the climber may apply one of the following techniques:

(1) Double the rope and tie a three-loop bowline around the primary anchor to include the primary anchor inside two loops and enough rope in the third loop to run to the secondary anchor (another three-loop bowline secured with an overhand knot).

(2) Bowline secured with an overhand knot (or any appropriate anchor knot).

(3) Double the rope and establish a self-equalizing anchor system with a three-loop bowline or any other appropriate anchor knot

b. If a rappel lane is greater than half the rope length, the climber may apply one of the following techniques:

(1) Use two ropes. With both ropes, tie a round turn anchor bowline around a primary anchor point. Take the remaining rope (the tail from the primary anchor bowline) and tie another round turn anchor bowline to a secondary anchor point. The secondary anchor point should be in a direct line behind the primary anchor point. The anchor can be either natural or artificial.

(2) Use two ropes. Establish a multi-point anchor system using a bowline on a bight or any other appropriate anchor knot.

c. Situations may arise where, due to the length of the rappel, the rappel rope cannot be tied to the anchor (if the rope is used to tie the knots, it will be too short to accomplish the rappel). The following techniques can be used:

(1) When using a natural anchor, tie a sling rope, piece of webbing, or another rope around the anchor using proper techniques for slinging natural anchors. The rappel rope will have a fixed loop tied in one end, which is attached to the anchor created.

(2) When using an artificial anchor, tie off a sling rope, piece of webbing, runner, or another rope to form a loop. Use this loop to create an equalizing or pre-equalized anchor, to which the rappel rope will be attached.


Due to the inherent dangers of rappelling, special care must be taken to ensure a safe and successful descent.

a. Communication. Climbers at the top of a rappel point must be able to communicate with those at the bottom. During a tactical rappel, radios, hand signals, and rope signals are considered. For training situations use the commands shown in Table 7-1.






I am ready to begin rappelling.



I am on belay and you may begin your rappel.



I have completed the rappel, cleared the rappel lane, and am off the rope.



I am off belay.

Table 7-1. Rappel commands.

Notes: 1. In a training environment, the lane number must be understood.
  2. In a tactical situation, a series of tugs on the rope may be substituted for the oral commands to maintain noise discipline. The number of tugs used to indicate each command is IAW the unit SOP.

b. Duties and Responsibilities.

(1) Duties of the rappel point commander are as follows:

  • Ensures that the anchors are sound and the knots are properly tied.

  • Ensures that loose rock and debris are cleared from the loading platform.

  • Allows only one man on the loading platform at a time and ensures that the rappel point is run orderly.

  • Ensures that each man is properly prepared for the particular rappel: gloves on, sleeves down, helmet with chin strap fastened, gear prepared properly, and rappel seat and knots correct (if required). He also ensures that the rappeller is hooked up to the rope correctly and is aware of the proper braking position.

  • Ensures that the proper signals or commands are used.

  • Dispatches each man down the rope.

  • Is the last man down the rope.

(2) Duties of the first rappeller down are as follows:

  • Selects a smooth route, for the rope, that is clear of sharp rocks.

  • Conducts a self-belay.

  • Clears the route, placing loose rocks far enough back on ledges to be out of the way, which the rope may dislodge.

  • Ensures the rope reaches the bottom or is at a place from which additional rappels can be made.

  • Ensures that the rope will run freely around the rappel point when pulled from below.

  • Clears the rappel lane by straightening all twists and tangles from the ropes.

  • Belays subsequent rappellers down the rope or monitors subsequent belayers

  • Takes charge of personnel as they arrive at the bottom (off-loading platform).

Note: A rappeller is always belayed from the bottom, except for the first man down. The first man belays himself down the rope using a self-belay attached to his rappel seat, which is hooked to the rappel rope with a friction knot. As the first man rappels down the rope, he "walks" the friction knot down with him.

(3) Each rappeller down clears the ropes, and shouts, "Off rappel," (if the tactical situation permits). After the rope is cleared and the rappeller is off rappel, he acts as the belayer for next rappeller.

(4) Soldiers wear gloves for all types of rappels to protect their hands from rope burns.

(5) Rappellers descend in a smooth, controlled manner.

(6) The body forms an L-shape with the feet shoulder-width apart, legs straight, and buttocks parallel to the ground. When carrying equipment or additional weight, a modified L-shape is used with the legs slightly lower than the buttocks to compensate for the additional weight. The rappeller's back is straight. He looks over the brake shoulder. The guide hand is extended on the rope with the elbow extended and locked. The rope slides freely through the guide hand. The guide hand is used to adjust equipment and assist balance during descent. The rappeller grasps the rope firmly with the brake hand and places it in the brake position. Releasing tension on the rope and moving the brake hand regulates the rate of descent. The rappeller never lets go of the ropes with his brake hand until the rappel is complete.

c. Tying Off During the Rappel. It may be necessary to stop during descent. This can be accomplished by passing the rope around the body and placing three or more wraps around the guide-hand-side leg, or by tying off using the appropriate knot for the rappel device.


After almost all personnel have descended, only two personnel will remain at the top of the rappel point. They will be responsible for establishing a retrievable rappel.

a. Establishing the Retrievable Rappel. To set up a retrievable rappel point, a climber must apply one of the following methods:

(1) Double the rope when the rappel is less than half the total length of the rope. Place the rope, with the bight formed by the midpoint, around the primary anchor. Join the tails of the rappel rope and throw the rope over the cliff. Tie a clove hitch around a carabiner, just below the anchor point, with the locking bar outside the carabiner away from the gate opening end and facing uphill. Snap the opposite standing portion into the carabiner. When the rappeller reaches the bottom, he pulls on that portion of the rope to which the carabiner is secured to allow the rope to slide around the anchor point.

(2) When the length of the rappel is greater than half the length of the rope used, join two ropes around the anchor point with an appropriate joining knot (except the square knot). Adjust the joining knot so that it is away from the anchor. Tie a clove hitch around a carabiner just below the anchor point with the locking bar outside the carabiner away from the gate opening end and facing uphill. Snap the opposite standing portion into the carabiner. Upon completion of the rappel, pull the rope to which the carabiner is secured to allow the rope to slide around the anchor point.

Notes: 1. When setting up a retrievable rappel, use only a primary point; care is taken in selecting the point.
  2. Ensure the soldiers have a safety line when approaching the rappel point, with only the rappeller going near the edge.

b. Retrieving the Rappel Rope. The next to last rappeller will descend the lane, removing any twists, and routes the rope for easiest retrieval. Once he reaches the end of the rappel, he tests the rope for retrieval. If the rappel is retrievable, the last man will rappel down. Once he is off rappel, he pulls the lane down.


During military mountaineering operations, many types of rappels may be used. The following paragraphs describe some these rappels.

a. Hasty Rappel (Figure 7-4). The hasty rappel is used only on moderate pitches. Its main advantage is that it is easier and faster than other methods. Gloves are worn to prevent rope burns.

(1) Facing slightly sideways to the anchor, the rappeller places the ropes horizontally across his back. The hand nearest to the anchor is his guide hand, and the other is the brake hand.

(2) To stop, the rappeller brings his brake hand across in front of his body locking the rope. At the same time, he turns to face up toward the anchor point.

Figure 7-4. Hasty rappel.

Figure 7-4. Hasty rappel.

b. Body Rappel (Figure 7-5). The rappeller faces the anchor point and straddles the rope. He then pulls the rope from behind, and runs it around either hip, diagonally across the chest, and back over the opposite shoulder. From there, the rope runs to the brake hand, which is on the same side of the hip that the rope crosses (for example, the right hip to the left shoulder to the right hand). The rappeller leads with the brake hand down and faces slightly sideways. The foot corresponding to the brake hand precedes the guide hand at all times. The rappeller keeps the guide hand on the rope above him to guide himself--not to brake himself. He must lean out at a sharp angle to the rock. He keeps his legs spread well apart and relatively straight for lateral stability, and his back straight to reduce friction. The BDU collar is turned up to prevent rope burns on the neck. Gloves are worn, and other clothing may be used to pad the shoulders and buttocks. To brake, the rappeller leans back and faces directly toward the rock area so his feet are horizontal to the ground.

Figure 7-5. Body rappel.

Figure 7-5. Body rappel.

Notes: 1. Hasty rappels and body rappels are not used on pitches that have overhangs; feet must maintain surface contact.
  2. Hasty rappels and body rappels are not belayed from below.

c. Seat-Hip Rappel (Figure 7-6). The seat rappel differs from the body rappel in that the friction is absorbed by a carabiner that is inserted in a sling rope seat and fastened to the rappeller. This method provides a faster and more frictional descent than other methods. Gloves can be worn to prevent rope burns.

Figure 7-6. Seat-hip rappel.

Figure 7-6. Seat-hip rappel.

(1) An alternate technique is to insert two carabiners opposite and opposed. Then insert a locking carabiner into the two carabiners with opening gate on brake hand side. Then run the rope through the single carabiner. This helps to keep the rappel rope away from the harness.

(2) To hook up for the seat-hip method, stand to one side of the rope. If using a right-hand brake, stand to the left of the rappel rope facing the anchor; if using a left-hand brake, stand to the right of the rappel rope. Place the rappel rope(s) into the locking carabiner; slack is taken between the locking carabiner and anchor point and wrapped around the shaft of the locking carabiner and placed into the gate so that a round turn is made around the shaft of the locking carabiner (Figure 7-7). Any remaining slack is pulled toward the uphill anchor point. If a single rope is used, repeat this process to place two round turns around the shaft of the locking carabiner. Face the anchor point and descend using the upper hand as the guide and the lower hand as the brake. This method has minimal friction, and is fast and safe. However, care is taken that the rope is hooked correctly into the carabiner to avoid the gate being opened by the rope. Loose clothing or equipment around the waist may be accidentally pulled into the locking carabiner and lock (stop) the rappel. For this reason, the rappeller must tuck in his shirt and keep his equipment out of the way during his descent.

Figure 7-7. Proper hookup using carabiner wrap.

Figure 7-7. Proper hookup using carabiner wrap.

d. Figure-Eight Descender. The figure-eight descender puts less kinks in the rope, and it can be used with one or two ropes (Figure 7-8).

(1) To use the figure-eight descender, pass a bight through the large eye and then over the small eye onto the neck. Place the small eye into a locking carabiner. To reduce the amount of friction on the figure-eight, place the original bight into the carabiner and not around the neck of the descender. (Less friction requires more braking force from the rappeller.)

(2) The guide hand goes on the rope that is running from the anchor. The brake hand goes on the slack rope. The brake is applied by moving the brake hand to the rear or downward.

Figure 7-8. Figure-eight descender.

Figure 7-8. Figure-eight descender.

d. Other Devices. Many different types of devices are similar in design and operation to the basic plate. These include slots or plates and tubers. Most of these devices can accommodate two ropes not greater than 7/16 of an inch in size. Follow manufacturer's directions for using these devices for rappelling.

e. Extending the Rappel Device. The rappel device can be extended using either a piece of webbing or cordage to move the device away from the body and the harness, preventing accidental damage (Figure 7-9). It also allows for easier self-belay.

f. Self-Belay Techniques. A friction knot can be used as a belay for a rappeller (Figure 7-9). The knot acts as the brake hand when the rappeller must work or negotiate an obstacle requiring the use of both hands. The knot acts as a belay if the rappeller loses control of the rope.

Figure 7-9. Extended hookup with self-belay.

Figure 7-9. Extended hookup with self-belay.


The one-rope bridge is constructed using a static rope. The rope is anchored with an anchor knot on the far side of the obstacle and is tied off at the near end with a tightening system. A one-rope bridge may be built many ways, depending upon the tactical situation and area to be crossed (crossing a gorge above the tree line may require constructing artificial anchors). However, they all share common elements to safely construct and use the bridge: two suitable anchors; good loading and unloading platforms; a rope about 1-meter (waist) high for loading and unloading; a tightening system; and a rope tight enough for ease of crossing. Which side the tightening system is utilized, or whether an anchor knot or retrievable bowline is used, depends on the technique.


A suitable crossing site must have "bombproof" anchors on both the near side and far side. These anchors must be extremely strong due to the amount of tension that will be placed upon them. Natural anchors, such as large trees and solid rock formations, are always preferred. The site must also have suitable loading and off-loading platforms to facilitate safe personnel movement.


The transport tightening system provides a mechanical advantage without requiring additional equipment.

a. The rope must first be anchored on the far side of the obstacle. If crossing a stream, the swimmer must be belayed across. If crossing a ravine or gorge, crossing may involve rappelling and a roped climb. Once across, the swimmer/climber will temporarily anchor the installation rope.

b. One man on the near side ties a fixed-loop knot (for example, wireman's, figure-eight slip knot) approximately 3 feet from the near side anchor and places the carabiner into the loop of the knot. The opening gate must be up and away from the loop. If two carabiners are used, the gates will be opposing. At that time, soldiers route the remainder of the rope around the near side anchor point and hook the rope into the carabiner. This system is known as a transport-tightening system (Figure 7-10). The man on the far side pulls the knot out four to six feet from the near anchor.

c. Once the knot has been pulled out, the far side man anchors the rope using a tensionless anchor. The anchor should be waist high.

Figure 7-10. Transport tightening system.

Figure 7-10. Transport tightening system.

d. A three-man pull team on the near side pulls the slack out of the installation rope. The knot should be close enough to the near side anchor to allow personnel to easily load the installation.


No more than three personnel should be used to tighten the rope. Using more personnel can over-tighten the rope and bring the rope critically close to failure.

e. The rope the can be secured using one of three methods: transport knot (Figure 7-11), round turn around anchor and two half hitches on a bight (Figure 7-12), or a tensionless anchor knot (Figure 7-13).

Figure 7-11. Transport knot

Figure 7-11. Transport knot


Figure 7-12. Round turn around anchor and two half hitches on a bight.

Figure 7-12. Round turn around anchor and two half hitches on a bight.

Figure 7-13. Tensionless anchor knot.

Figure 7-13. Tensionless anchor knot.


During training, a second static rope may be installed under less tension and alongside the tight rope to increase safety. An individual would clip into both ropes when crossing, thus having a backup in case of failure of the tighter rope.


The Z-pulley tightening system (Figure 7-14) is another method for gaining a mechanical advantage.

a. The rope is brought across the obstacle the same way as discussed in paragraph 7-10.

b. Once across, the far side man anchors the rope.

c. One soldier ties a friction knot (autoblock, web wrap, Kleimheist) with a sling rope onto the bridging rope on the near side bank. Two steel carabiners are inserted with opposing gates into the friction knot.

d. The rope is routed around the near side anchor and through the carabiners, from inside to outside, and is run back to the near side anchor.

e. A second sling rope is tied to the bridge rope and then anchored to the near side anchor. This knot will be used as a progress capture device.

Figure 7-14. Z-pulley tightening system.

Figure 7-14. Z-pulley tightening system.

f. The three-man pull team on the near side then pulls on the rope, creating a pulley effect that tightens the system. As the rope is pulled tight, one man pushes the friction knot back toward the far side.

g. When the rope is tight, it is tied off with a tensionless anchor knot, transport knot, or round turn around anchor and two half hitches on a bight.


The rope bridge can be used to move personnel and equipment over obstacles. There are several methods of accomplishing this.

a. Method of Crossing. If dry crossing is impossible, soldiers will use the rope bridge as a hand line. Preferably, all soldiers will tie a safety line and attach it to the rope installation as they cross. If the soldier must cross with his rucksack, he may wear it over both shoulders, although the preferred method is to place another carabiner into the top of the rucksack frame, attach it to the bridge, and pull the rucksack across. Soldiers will always cross on the downstream side of the installation. If a dry crossing is possible soldiers will use one of three methods: commando crawl, monkey crawl, and Tyrolean traverse.

(1) Commando Crawl (Figure 7-15). The soldier lies on top of the rope with the upstream foot hooked on the rope and the knee bent close to the buttocks; the downstream leg hangs straight to maintain balance. He progresses by pulling with his hands and arms. To recover if he falls over, the soldier hooks one leg and the opposite arm over the rope, and then pushes down with the other hand to regain position.

Figure 7-15. Commando crawl.

Figure 7-15. Commando crawl.


Only one man at a time is allowed on the bridge while conducting a commando crawl.

(2) Monkey Crawl (Figure 7-16). The soldier hangs below the rope suspended by his hands with both heels crossed over the rope. He pulls with his hands and arms, and pushes with his feet to make progress.

Figure 7-16. Monkey crawl.

Figure 7-16. Monkey crawl.

(3) Rappel Seat Method (Figure 7-17). The soldier ties a rappel seat (or dons a seat harness) with the carabiner facing up and away from his body. He then faces the rope and clips into the rope bridge. He rotates under the rope and pulls with his hands and arms to make progress. The rappel seat method is the preferred method. If crossing with rucksacks, a carabiner is inserted into the frame and attached to the rope bridge. The soldier the places one or both legs through the shoulder carrying straps and pulls the rucksack across.

Figure 7-17. Rappel seat method.

Figure 7-17. Rappel seat method.

b. Rigging Special Equipment. Any special equipment, such as crew-served weapons, ammunition, or supplies, must be rigged for movement across the rope bridge. A unit SOP may dictate the rigging of these items, but many expedient methods exist. The rigging should use various items that would be readily available to a deployed unit. Some of these items include tubular nylon webbing, cordage (various sizes), and carabiners.

(1) Machine Guns. To rig machine guns, use a sling rope and tie a rerouted figure-eight around the spine of the front sight post. Then tie two evenly spaced fixed loops. Finally, anchor the sling rope to the buttstock of the machine gun. Additional tie downs may be necessary to prevent accidental disassembly of the weapon.

(2) ALICE Packs. ALICE packs can be joined together with a sling to facilitate moving more than one rucksack at one time.


A hauling line may be used to move rucksacks or casualties across the rope bridge (Figure 7-18).

a. Construction. An additional rope is brought across the rope bridge and anchored to the far side. The other end is anchored on the near side. All the slack is pulled to the near side, and a figure-eight slip knot is tied at the loading platform. A carabiner is inserted into the loop and clipped onto the rope bridge.

Figure 7-18. Hauling line.

Figure 7-18. Hauling line.

b. Moving Rucksacks. Use carabiners to attach the rucksack frames to the rope bridge. Then clip the carabiner of the hauling line into the carabiner of the rucksack closest to the far side. Personnel on the far side pull the rucksacks across using the hauling line while personnel on the near side manages the slack at all times.

c. Moving Litters. The carabiner of the hauling line will remain on the rope bridge. On each side of this carabiner, using the hauling line tie a middle-of-the-rope clove hitch around both of the horizontal lift straps of the litter. Remove the slack between the carabiners. Then place the carabiners in each of the lift straps onto the rope bridge. The same technique used for the rucksacks is used to pull the litter across.


Once all except two troops have crossed the rope bridge, the bridge team commander (BTC) chooses either the wet or dry method to dismantle the rope bridge.

a. If the BTC chooses the dry method, he should have anchored his tightening system with the transport knot.

(1) The BTC back-stacks all of the slack coming out of the transport knot, then ties a fixed loop and places a carabiner into the fixed loop.

(2) The next to last man to cross attaches the carabiner to his rappel seat or harness, and then moves across the bridge using the Tyrolean traverse method.

(3) The BTC then removes all knots from the system. The far side remains anchored. The rope should now only pass around the near side anchor.

(4) A three-man pull team, assembled on the far side, takes the end brought across by the next to last man and pulls the rope tight again and holds it.

(5) The BTC then attaches himself to the rope bridge and moves across.

(6) Once across, the BTC breaks down the far side anchor, removes the knots, and then pulls the rope across.

b. If the BTC chooses a wet crossing, any method can be used to anchor the tightening system.

(1) All personnel cross except the BTC or the strongest swimmer.

(2) The BTC then removes all knots from the system.

(3) The BTC ties a fixed loop, inserts a carabiner, and attaches it to his rappel seat or harness. He then manages the rope as the slack is pulled to the far side.

(4) The BTC then moves across the obstacle while being belayed from the far side.


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.


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 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.


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.


The vertical hauling line is an installation used to move men and equipment up vertical or near-vertical slopes (Figure 7-24). It is often used with a fixed rope for personnel movement. The hauling line is used to move equipment, such as mortars or other crew-served weapons, rucksacks, or supplies

Figure 7-24. Vertical hauling line.

Figure 7-24. Vertical hauling line.


The first and most important task is to determine where to construct the vertical hauling line. The site must have an appropriate top anchor that is secure enough to hold the system and load. Loading and unloading platforms should be easily accessible natural platforms that provide a safe working area. The ideal platform at the top allows construction of the vertical hauling line without the use of an A-frame. The site should also have sufficient clearance to allow for space between the slope and pulley rope for easy hauling of troops or equipment.


Construct an A-frame, if necessary, and anchor it. Double one installation rope, find the middle, and lay the middle of the installation rope over the apex of the A-frame; a 30-centimeter (12-inch) bight should hang below the apex.

a. To maintain the 12-inch bight, tie clove hitches above the A-frame lashing on each side of the apex with the installation rope, ensuring that the locking bars of the clove hitches are on the inside. Ensure that the portion of the rope that forms the bight comes out of the bottom of the clove hitch. (See Figure 7-25.)

Figure 7-25. Attaching the anchor rope to the A-frame.

Figure 7-25. Attaching the anchor rope to the A-frame.

b. To anchor the A-frame, use a transport tightening system with the doubled rope, which is tied to the A-frame. Tie this off at an anchor point to the rear of the A-frame installation and adjust the angle of the A-frame so it leans out over the cliff edge. The angle should be 15 to 25 degrees unloaded. The A-frame should not lean outward more than 45 degrees once loaded since the legs can lose their position.

c. Tie the ends of another installation rope together with a joining knot to form the hauling line. Attach the rope to the system by two carabiners with gates up and opposed or one mountain rescue pulley with a locking steel carabiner in the 12-inch bight hanging from the apex of the A-frame. Tie fixed loops (wireman's, directional figure-eight, or single butterfly) on opposite sides of the endless rope at the loading and unloading platforms.

d. Attach equipment to the hauling line 12 inches above the joining knot by a carabiner in the fixed loop.

e. Additional fixed loops may be tied in the hauling line for more control over the object when moving large loads. Attach personnel to the hauling line by use of a rappel seat or seat harness.

Note: Mortar tubes and similar objects are attached to the line by two knots so that the tube stays parallel and as close to the hauling line as possible.

f. When personnel are moved using a vertical hauling line, make a knotted hand line; anchor it in line with, or to, the primary anchor (round turn with a bowline); and place it over the spreader on the legs of the A-frame. Space the overhand knots in the knotted hand line 12 inches apart, with about 20 feet of rope without knots at one end for the anchor. Throw the knotted hand line over the A-frame spreader rope and down the side of the cliff. Personnel ascending the vertical hauling line use this as a simple fixed rope.

g. Use as many men as needed to pull the load to the top by pulling on the rope opposite the load. If equipment and personnel are only being lowered, belay from the top using the hauling line. Station two climbers at the unloading platform to retrieve loads.

h. If only equipment is being hauled up, it is not necessary to use the knotted hand line rope, but it may be necessary to use a belay rope. To move materials or troops up on one side of the hauling line, pull the other side from below.


Personnel using the hauling line for movement must apply all related principles of climbing. Always station two operators at the top of the vertical hauling line to aid men or to retrieve loads when they reach the top. They will always be safetied while working near the edge. When in use, the A-frame should lean slightly over the edge of the cliff to prevent excessive wear on the ropes that pass over sharp rocks. Reduce excessive friction on the system. Remove all obstacles and any loose objects that could be dislodged by personnel and equipment.


The vertical hauling line is used along a main supply route. When it is no longer needed, the installing unit will return and dismantle the system.


Moving heavy objects with limited manpower may be necessary in mountainous terrain. To reduce fatigue of those personnel moving the load, simple rigging techniques can be used to increase the mechanical advantage of the hauling system.


The Z-pulley system is a simple, easily constructed hauling system (Figure 7-26).

a. Considerations. Anchors must be sturdy and able to support the weight of the load. Site selection is governed by different factors: tactical situation, weather, terrain, equipment, load weight, and availability of anchors.

b. Theory. Use carabiners as a substitute if pulleys are not available. The mechanical advantage obtained in theory is 3:1. The less friction involved the greater the mechanical advantage. Friction is caused by the rope running through carabiners, the load rubbing against the rock wall, and the rope condition.

c. Construction. Use the following procedures to construct a Z-pulley system.

(1) Establish an anchor (anchor pulley system [APS]). Place a carabiner on the runner at the anchor point, place a pulley into the carabiner, and run the hauling rope through the pulley.

(2) With a sling rope (preferably 7 millimeter), tie a middle-of-rope Prusik knot secured with a figure-eight knot on the load side of the pulley. This will be used as a progress capture device (PCD). A mechanical descender may be used in place of the Prusik knot. Take the tails exiting the figure-eight and tie a Munter hitch secured by a mule knot. Ensure the Munter hitch is loaded properly before tying the mule knot.

(3) At an angle away from the APS, establish a moveable pulley system (MPS) to create a "Z" in the hauling rope. Tie another Prusik knot on the load side of the hauling rope. Secure it with a figure-eight knot. Using the tails tie a double-double figure-eight knot. Insert a locking carabiner into the two loops formed, then place the working end into the carabiner. Mechanical ascenders should not be used as an MPS. Move the working end back on a parallel axis with the APS. Provide a pulling team on the working end with extra personnel to monitor the Prusik knots.

Figure 7-26. Z-pulley system.

Figure 7-26. Z-pulley system.

d. Other Factors. If the two pulleys touch, the "Z" is lost along with the mechanical advantage. For greater efficiency, the main anchor should be well back from the edge and all ropes should pull parallel to the load.


Avoid the possibility of overstressing the anchors. Be aware of reduced sensitivity to the load due to the mechanical advantage. Use belays and backup safeties. Protect the rope from edges and other abrasive parts of the rock.


The U-pulley system is another simple, easily-constructed hauling system (Figure 7-27).

a. Considerations. Anchors must be sturdy and able to support the weight of the load. Site selection is governed by different factors: tactical situation, weather, terrain, equipment, load weight, and availability of anchors.

b. Theory. Use carabiners as a substitute if pulleys are not available. The mechanical advantage obtained in theory is 2:1. The less friction involved the greater the mechanical advantage. Friction is caused by the rope running through carabiners, the load rubbing against the rock wall, and the rope condition.

c. Construction. Use the following procedures construct a U-pulley system.

(1) Anchor the hauling rope.

(2) Prepare the load or casualty for hauling. Place a locking carabiner the on to the harness or the rigged load.

(3) Lower a bight to the casualty or the load.

(4) Place the bight into the carabiner; or place the bight on to a pulley and then place pulley into the carabiner.

(5) Construct a second anchor. Attach a locking carabiner to the anchor.

(6) Tie a middle of the rope Prusik onto the haul rope exiting the pulley. Secure the Prusik with a double-double figure eight. This is the PCD. Place the fixed loops into the locking carabiner of the second anchor.

Figure 7-27. U-pulley system.

Figure 7-27. U-pulley system.

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