Cilmbing Safety – How to Tie into a Harness

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 48,038
    Certified American Mountain Guide Jason Montecalvo demonstrates how to tie into a harness.

    Jason Montecalvo

    Jason Montecalvo is an instructor of rock climbing for Sportrock Indoor Climbing Centers. Jason has been leading individual and group indoor and outdoor climbing programs for children and adults for over eight years for multiple organizations including Horizons Adventure Camp where he created, organized and lead team building programs for public, corporate, and at risk and disabled youth, in areas such as hang gliding, caving, scuba, white water kayaking, and high ropes course facilitation. In addition, Jason has been teaching for Northern Virginia Community College as an adjunct climbing professor for over five years. Jason has an Associate in Science as well as a B.S. from George Mason University with his expertise being health and fitness in parks and recreation management. Jason also holds several national certifications in his area of expertise including being a Top Rope Site Manager for the American Mountain Guiding Association as well as having a Wilderness First Responder certification from Wilderness Medical Associates. As an avid outdoor athlete, Jason most memorable climbing accomplishment was climbing multi-pitch routes out west in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and tough single pitch sport climbing routes in the east at the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Jason has lived and in the Northern Virginia DC metropolitan area for 28 years but has a great passion for the west coast and New England regions of the country for all areas of outdoor recreation and sport; in particular, climbing, snowboarding and mountain biking.

    Hi! My name is Jason Montecalvo with Sportrock Climbing Centers and today were learning how to climb safely in an indoor rock climbing facility. Remember, climbing is inherently a dangerous activity and you want to seek professional help from certified climbing instructors prior to engaging in this activity.

    Now were going to learn how to tie into the harness as a climber. The first thing we want to do is, identify the fact that there are two ropes hanging in from the wall, and we are going to need the interior end, or the end that is closer to the wall, since the climber will be climbing on the wall. The one farthest from the wall is for belaying and well get to that later. The first thing we want to do as a climber is we want to get a full wingspan worth of rope starting with the very end of the rope. At this point, we can drop the end of the rope. The end of the rope is called the working end and the end that goes up towards the anchor is called the standing end.

    Once we have got our wingspan, were going to drop the working end and were going to make a little loop here. At this point, were going to take the working end, wrap it around the standing end, and at this point, poke back through the loop that I originally made. I will pull on the end of the rope until I have created an 8. This is the first knot that we need to learn how to create, and this is called the Figure 8. The Figure 8 now will be put through two parts of our harness. We are going to get the end of the rope or the working end, and were going to find our crotch strap. Once we have found our crotch strap, Im going to poke myself in the crotch strap and come up parallel to the belay loop through the waist belt loop as well.

    So now Im going through two points of contact with the rope. I am now going to pull until my Figure 8 gets about two inches from my crotch strap and I will stop there. At this point, Im ready to learn my second knot. My second knot is called the Figure 8 Follow Through or Figure 8 Retrace. What were trying to attempt to do here is taking the end of the rope or my working end and retrace the 8 that I have just created here finishing out the standing end of the rope. What I need to do first is, gather the end of the rope and start right next to my crotch strap with that inch or two that I have left myself going into the Figure 8. At this point, I can begin to retrace what I have created by following the number 8 as I go, pulling out all the slack, keeping the knot about an inch or two away from my harness. I am going to continue to retrace this knot, keeping it nice and even as I go around. As I come around the back, I am continuing to retrace my original knot and Im going to take the end, feed it back down through to finish the retracing process. At this point, Im ready to tighten this knot up by pulling on all the lines in an opposite and linear motion. Once I have done so, I want to leave myself a little bit extra because I am not finished and I need to create my safety knot. My safety knot is going to be a double overhand knot. In order to create that what I will need to do is, take the excess of my rope and wrap up my standing end twice. So, I will show you now how that is done. By going over my main rope over twice -- this time its very important to make an X or a cross on the rope in order for it to pinch itself when I tighten it down. Im going to take the very end of the rope, feed it back through those two holes that I have now created for myself, take the very end and pull to tighten as well, and now I am completely tied in as a climber.

    How do I know Im tied in safely, securely, and properly? Well, I start with my harness and look at my harness in terms of is it snug on my waist and legs, and are my buckles closed? Then I will look as a climber to make sure that I have tied in through my crotch strap as well as my waist, the two points worth of contact. Now, I will work my way out, checking for three sets of parallel lines in my figure 8 retrace, flipping it over, seeing the same thing knowingly that I have done this correctly now, and then Ill look at my backup knot or my double overhand and make sure I see what I like to call an equals and a multiplication sign with a little bit of excess to finish. Therefore I know as a climber I have tied in correctly and I am safe. Next, what I want to start to talk about is, how to belay.