Rock Climbing Basics Series: Episode 11; Coiling a Rope

© Wild Country/Climbing Magazine

This is the eleventh in a 12-part series from Climbing Magazine, Wild Country and Red Chili, demonstrating and explaining the basic skills needed to be safe on the crags. In this episode, Julie Ellison, Climbing Magazine's Gear Editor, talks us through coiling a rope in a quick, efficient manner. This is key to allow minimum faff, increasing speed in the hills, increasing the number of routes you can do in a day, or perhaps most importantly, prevent you from missing last orders in the pub!

There can be differences in standard practice between the USA and the UK, and some beginners may have been taught very slightly different techniques at their local climbing wall or club. However the methods in this video series are simple, easy to understand and if done correctly, safe. As always, feel free to discuss alternative methods in the forums.

Wild Country and Climbing Magazine have produced a series of 'How To' videos designed to demonstrate basic climbing skills and techniques. In this video Julie Ellison, Climbing Magazine Gear Editor, demonstrates how to coil a rope. There are many techniques for coiling a rope, depending on circumstance and in this video Julie shows off possibly the most useful, what she calls ‘the backpack coil’. This is a great way of coiling a rope that allows you to carry a rope in an unobtrusive manner if you’re walking down from the top of a crag or in any situation where you need free hands.


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30 Sep, 2013
Instead of coiling the rope double I prefer to coil it single. For the rest the method is similar. I find that when coming to the rock it's much less likely to tangle.
30 Sep, 2013
I agree! I've never been convinced by this idea that it saves time by coiling ropes doubled. Despite years of scoffing from my trendier friends it's always been demonstrably true that any time saved during coiling is less than that lost uncoiling, attempting to run the rope through, and untangling the mess that results. Of course, it is useful if you really need to get off in a hurry for some reason and don't care if you need to sort the rope out later.
30 Sep, 2013
If you use the method as shown, and you have to carry the rope any distance, the arm loops can become uneven and the rope can pull to one side, which can be annoying and distracting if down climbing. To avoid this, make the arm loops by crossing the rope across the centre of your chest and it will be much more stable.
30 Sep, 2013
I always coil single strand now. It's no slower and you can still wear it like a rucksack by uncoiling the end strand a couple of meters.
30 Sep, 2013
// It takes a little longer to coil but you don't have to "uncoil" it when you start climbing so if you add up the total time it's quicker.
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