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/ Which knot for lowered rescue loop?

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oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
Hypothetical situation. Someone is stranded about 10m down, rising tide, sea very rough and they are in imminent danger of being washed off.
You are on easily accessible, safe ground with a rope and little else BUT you cannot get down to them.
Victim unfamiliar with knots and has limited ability to let go of handholds. Communication is possible.
Assume there are anchors and one can use waist belay/direct belay (eg on spike or stake). IF several people were available hauling and security might be easier.

How do you get them attached to the rope ASAP so they are (a) secure and (b) can then be pulled/assisted to safety?

Probably just get them tied on at waist so at least they can’t be washed away. Lower a loop and hope they can step into it or get arms and shoulders through.
Hopefully they can then manage to slide the knot tight.

The Tarbuck knot might do, or similar sliding knot which tightens under load. Disadvantage: knots not widely known.

Might be worth using both ends of rope; also possibly easier if several people hauling. For example, having given partial security with a first untightenable loop under armpits, lower a loose overhand with a long tail which, under instruction from above, could be passed tight round waist by the victim and followed back through (probably difficult under the circumstances).
Alternatively the second end could have many overhand or fig8s on the bight to provide possible hand and footholds, while pulling victim on the first end.

Any useful comments and better suggestions (apart from the obvious contact emergency services)? For instance possibly use middle of rope instead of/in addition to the ends.
trouserburp - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

Hypothetically is your buddy waist deep at the bottom of Boulder Ruckle right now?

I'd be wary of a tightening knot if their full weight might be on it. Re: tying bights for them to climb up the rope, you can't really belay them then, would require a second length of rope - also are you in a rush or not?

If you think they can climb up then throw them a tight-ish rope loop to step into and belay them up with as much assist as you can through the rope. If it's an overhanging nightmare then you might think about your rope ladder solution with a second rope to belay them with? In which case maybe you have enough time to lower them a 3 loop sit harness and a cup of tea
trouserburp - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

My turn: with just a rope can you make a safe and worthwhile Z pulley? 60m rope, 15m cliff, big boulder at top
jon on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:
The sliding stopper knot used to be taught for this way back. It's double stopper - or half a double fisherman's - tied over the rope. Think hangman's noose. But to stop it constricting up to nothing and suffocating the victim, you tie an overhand on the rope first, which the double stopper then slides up against and stops. You have to estimate the circumference of your victim...
Post edited at 14:55
rgold - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

Waist tie-ins are terrible even if they aren't made of slip knots that crush the victim. Lower any of the many double-loop knots---the stranded person puts a leg through each loop so that they have a primitive sit harness (they do have to hang on to the rope above to keep from tipping over). Lower a second rope (or the other end of a single rope if the distances allow for it) with a footloop. The foot loop is raised, the stranded cimber stands up in it (they can insert both feet), the "sit harness" rope is tensioned, allowing the stranded person to hang while the foot loop is raised again, etc. No hauling this way, just taking in and blocking the ropes. Two people, one belaying each rope, can do this with ease. One person will need to install prusiks to mind the rope not being raised. The biggest problem with the system is rope stretch impeding upward progress. Static ropes are obviously better if available.
oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to trouserburp:

> Hypothetically is your buddy waist deep at the bottom of Boulder Ruckle right now? <

Slightly lower seacliff (10m)!

> I'd be wary of a tightening knot if their full weight might be on it. Re: tying bights for them to climb up the rope, you can't really belay them then, would require a second length of rope - also are you in a rush or not? <

I tried the Tarbuck on a dummy (my son), 9mm rope but only over tree branch. Worked. Though our point is valid re being absolutely sure of knot/method in a serious situation.

> If you think they can climb up then throw them a tight-ish rope loop to step into and belay them up with as much assist as you can through the rope. <

Ideally would like to absolutely sure they couldn't slip out...disastrous.

> If it's an overhanging nightmare then you might think about your rope ladder solution with a second rope to belay them with? <

Second rope unecessary on 10m cliff. Would belay using knots in bights say half way and use second end for ladder. <

> In which case maybe you have enough time to lower them a 3 loop sit harness and a cup of tea <

Situation has "imminent" danger of being washed off. They are safeish possibly on slack loop under armpits to allow time for tying loops on second end. Problem stated rope and little else (so no tea!).





oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to trouserburp:

> My turn: with just a rope can you make a safe and worthwhile Z pulley? 60m rope, 15m cliff, big boulder at top <

Only rope, so no krab for a pulley!

oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

> The sliding stopper knot used to be taught for this way back. It's double stopper - or half a double fisherman's - tied over the rope. Think hangman's noose. But to stop it constricting up to nothing and suffocating the victim, you tie an overhand on the rope first, which the double stopper then slides up against and stops. You have to estimate the circumference of your victim... <

Its the "estimate" that's difficult....too loose and they can slip out or can't even get into it, too tight and they would suffocate as you point out. Maybe tie 3 of your loops and victim tries each (largest finished loop first!). All except one loop just remain redundant.
jon on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

> Its the "estimate" that's difficult....too loose and they can slip out or can't even get into it, too tight and they would suffocate as you point out.

No. They can easily move the knot backward or forward as necessary once it's around their waist. It's just a simple/single overhand, not a bight. Very standard ML (or maybe MIC?) stuff at the time (80s). Might still be.
oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to rgold:

> Waist tie-ins are terrible even if they aren't made of slip knots that crush the victim. Lower any of the many double-loop knots---the stranded person puts a leg through each loop so that they have a primitive sit harness (they do have to hang on to the rope above to keep from tipping over). Lower a second rope (or the other end of a single rope if the distances allow for it) with a footloop. The foot loop is raised, the stranded cimber stands up in it (they can insert both feet), the "sit harness" rope is tensioned, allowing the stranded person to hang while the foot loop is raised again, etc. No hauling this way, just taking in and blocking the ropes. Two people, one belaying each rope, can do this with ease. One person will need to install prusiks to mind the rope not being raised. The biggest problem with the system is rope stretch impeding upward progress. Static ropes are obviously better if available. <

Good solution for raising as the cliff is only 10m so plenty of rope available. Once the weight had been taken on each end it might make handling the stretch easier I suppose. Obviously it would be easier with less rope to stretch as height gained.
My only reservation is it being possible for the victim to fall out of leg loops and into sea....disaster. Victim obviously not experienced in ropework.
I started out with direct waist ties. Though one can't hang in them for too long without passing out etc (never got that far myself!) it would at least prevent any possibility of being washed away. Your footloop on the second end should relieve strain on the waist.

oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

> No. They can easily move the knot backward or forward as necessary once it's around their waist. It's just a simple/single overhand, not a bight. Very standard ML (or maybe MIC?) stuff at the time (80s). Might still be. <

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but if the single overhand is in the wrong place the victim could still be constricted. Originally you said " You have to estimate the circumference of your victim...".
I suppose a loose single overhand could be 'worked' into the correct position before tightening, though it might be difficult for an inexperienced victim in extremis.
It does seem to fulfill the requirement of virtually any climber being able to tie. Possibly ask for victim's trouser size to help get it right! I believe the Tarbuck would work with simpler manipulation by the victim but that is indeed useless if nobody knows it.
Possibly your sliding stopper knot and others are not now recommended (any instructor able to comment?). As rgold mentions above, (apologies if misrepresenting), a waist tie is potentially dangerous .



Ciro - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

If you're in a fit state to consider hauling, you're in a fit state to descend the rope on body friction. If the situation is that perilous, just anchor the rope and get down there as fast as you can to secure the victim. If you can't call the coastguard you'll find a way back up the rope.... since they're only 10 meters down you'll presumably have a fair bit of spare rope down there to friction hitch the end of the rope to itself, and you'll be able to create a rolling foot loop in the rope (assuming your victim can de-weight the rope again should they be detatched from the rock by the sea).
jon on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:
> a waist tie is potentially dangerous .

Falling off and hitting the ground is dangerous. Drowning is dangerous

In case you haven't understood...

Put the rope around your back, hands on your waist or hips. Right hand holding the rope about 40 - 50cm from the end. Left hand holding the 'long' side of the rope.

Now tie a simple overhand where your left hand is and put the rope back around your back, the overhand in your left hand.

With your right hand tie a double stopper knot around the rope that's in your left hand - beyond the overhand knot, that is away from your body.

Now pull on the 'long' side of the rope so the stopper cinches up against the overhand - pull it up in the air if you want to simulate hanging in it.

Adjust the position of the overhand so the rope around your waist is tightish but not too tight.

Now slide the stopper forward and step out of the rope. Maybe adjust the position of the overhand if the person is a different size to you, then throw it to them. They can put it on over their head or step into it.

Tell them to pull it tight and adjust if necessary.
Post edited at 19:49
oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to Ciro:


> If you're in a fit state to consider hauling, you're in a fit state to descend the rope on body friction. If the situation is that perilous, just anchor the rope and get down there as fast as you can to secure the victim. If you can't call the coastguard you'll find a way back up the rope.... since they're only 10 meters down you'll presumably have a fair bit of spare rope down there to friction hitch the end of the rope to itself, and you'll be able to create a rolling foot loop in the rope (assuming your victim can de-weight the rope again should they be detatched from the rock by the sea). <

I agree, if at all possible I would probably go down to the victim and make absolutely sure they were secure and knew what to do. In fact one might be able to have, say, four lengths of rope going down if an anchor was near the edge and the rope was tied off about 1/4 way from each end, so the victim wouldn't need to unweight and one could self protect with knots in bights of rope on way back up etc etc..

However I'd deliberately stated that this was not possible as I was mainly interested in the best way to get an inexperienced victim tied on "remotely".
It would for instance be quite possible for someone to have taken charge at the scene who was not familiar with climbing anchors or techniques, and who was following procedures by awaiting arrival of their own equipment and team. They would be unlikely to sanction anyone descending to the victim but might be OK with another suggestion if there was great urgency.
Again it might be possible to at least secure the person if no anchors were available for a descent (though I didn't mention that condition when posting).


bouldery bits - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:
Honestly, figure 8 with a huge loop. They can pop the loop under their armpits and cling onto the rope for dear life!
Post edited at 20:53
oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

> Falling off and hitting the ground is dangerous. Drowning is dangerous (re: a waist tie is potentially dangerous .) <

Yes, agree entirely! That's why I'd go for a waist tie although many might dislike this option.


> In case you haven't understood...< How to tie the sliding stopper knot.

Sitting by the computer with a rope round me. Very safety conscious.
Its indeed easy to do (big plus) and I had actually got it from your description earlier.
It still seems as though it would be possible to get the overhand preset at a position that could cause constriction of the victim. However this is obviously unlikely in practice or it would not have been recommended by ML or MIC. Be interesting to know if it is still taught.
Knowing the Tarbuck knot I might still use that myself, as it can be slid to any position without adjusting.

I also tried out another adjustable knot on my son: basically a simple loop is made ending in a couple of twists of the tail round the the other side, the long tail is then rethreaded through a pretied overhand on the main rope side. Providing the resulting rethreaded overhand is a few inches away from the loop, the loop can be tightened as much as necessary by pulling outwards on the strands going back to the overhand. It works, at least with my 9 mm rope, though different ropes might need another twist. Its very easy to remember (though not from my description). However its dangerous to use anything that's not fully tested.


oldie - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Honestly, figure 8 with a huge loop. They can pop the loop under their armpits and cling onto the rope for dear life! <

That seems indeed the simplest solution.

However there is at least a possibility of losing the victim (probably fatal) and I'd personally like them tied on if time allowed.

Incidentally, on a lighter note, Game of Thrones fans will remember a drowning Theon being bodily hauled onto a passing ship with the rope round his back or front, under his armpits and back up to the deck (no loop at all).
This might be a method used by mariners though it would be unwise to rely on it. The successfully arrested factor 2 fall with a natural fibre rope and single axe pick placement, while climbing the 700' ice wall, does stretch credibility.
birdie num num - on 27 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

I’d send Mrs Num Num one of those magic disappearing knots
Ben Sharp - on 28 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:

Midshipman's hitch, quick and easy to tie, easy to adjust, non-constricting.
oldie - on 28 Dec 2017
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Thanks for the reply. The midshipman's hitch seems possibly a better alternative to the Tarbuck, if choosing to use a slide and grip knot, though I imagine both should be safe for the posted application.
Looking on the web its pointed out that the Tarbuck is easier to tie wrongly. I suppose both knots used should be tested before use as they can be affected by rope diameter, flexibility etc.
rgold - on 28 Dec 2017
In reply to oldie:


> My only reservation is it being possible for the victim to fall out of leg loops and into sea....disaster. Victim obviously not experienced in ropework.

> I started out with direct waist ties. Though one can't hang in them for too long without passing out etc (never got that far myself!) it would at least prevent any possibility of being washed away. Your footloop on the second end should relieve strain on the waist.

BITD when we all climbed with swami belts, conventional wisdom was that you could hang for 15 minutes before suffocating. The waist loop creeps up and compresses the rib cage, suppressing the ability to breath. It also often makes the hanging person vomit, which then obstructs the airway. I recall reading of two such deaths to climbers years ago.

The seat sling completely eliminates this possibility. If tipping over is a concern, then after tying the seat sling, tie an overhand knot about 18 inches above the seat sling knot. The overhand loop should be long enough to pass around the stranded persons back and situate under their armpits---a makeshift chest harness. It doesn't have to be particularly snug since it is only to prevent tipping. You have to send down a carabiner on the overhand loop so that the stranded person can, after stepping into the leg loops, pass the chest loop around them and clip it back to the rope above the overhand knot. (The need to clip the main rope above the overhand knot could be a weak point. Best to send the whole rig down configured so that the stranded person sees clearly where to clip the carabiner. Alternatively, tie a second small overhand loop just above the first and have them clip the chest harness to that.)

oldie - on 28 Dec 2017
In reply to rgold:

> you could hang for 15 minutes before suffocating. .... I recall reading of two such deaths to climbers years ago. <

> after tying the seat sling, tie an overhand knot about 18 inches above the seat sling knot. The overhand loop should be long enough to pass around the stranded persons back and situate under their armpits---a makeshift chest harness. It doesn't have to be particularly snug since it is only to prevent tipping. You have to send down a carabiner on the overhand loop so that the stranded person can, after stepping into the leg loops, pass the chest loop around them and clip it back to the rope above the overhand knot. (The need to clip the main rope above the overhand knot could be a weak point. Best to send the whole rig down configured so that the stranded person sees clearly where to clip the carabiner. Alternatively, tie a second small overhand loop just above the first and have them clip the chest harness to that.) <

Thanks for replying. Your solution would indeed prevent falling out of the rope and also suffocation.
However in my rather fantastical original post only a rope was available, so no krab available.
Perhaps a loop in the second end of the rope could provide much the same function though at least a second person would probably be necessary to manage it. The 10m cliff height would probably allow 4 lengths of rope down to the victim (if anchored 1/4 way from each end) so your raising by foot loop method should still be possible.

Every situation is different and if I didn't envisage a victim continuously dangling on the rope for a long period then personally I might still try for a secure waist tie, using one of the knots people mentioned, and get them up ASAP. I'd assumed the victim had little experience and so I would try to keep their rope manipulations to a minimum.
Incidentally have just looked up current UK ML teaching and I believe they recently stopped advocating full body support (Thompson knot?) and now recommend the simplicity of an overhand knotted waist tie for assisting someone (admittedly envisaging a somewhat less serious situation involving a rescuer who was not an experienced climber).


oldie - on 29 Dec 2017
In reply to rgold:
> The foot loop is raised, the stranded cimber stands up in it (they can insert both feet), the "sit harness" rope is tensioned, allowing the stranded person to hang while the foot loop is raised again, etc. No hauling this way, just taking in and blocking the ropes. Two people, one belaying each rope, can do this with ease. One person will need to install prusiks to mind the rope not being raised. <

Apologies, just reread you first post re prusik loops. Would be difficult since stipulated only rope available, but I suppose not impossible eg cut end of rope for sling for prusik type knots. Or possibly simpler and faster: one rescuer takes weight on waist while another person ties new knot in bight to put over anchor to raise foot loop? Or use second footloop in another strand (possibly 4 strands possible from anchor) and raise footloops alternately in same manner. Otherwise revert to "chain" of foot loops?
Post edited at 08:56
oldie - on 29 Dec 2017
In reply to rgold:

Another thought re prusik loop, avoiding necessity to cut rope: Use a strand from middle section of rope for footloop and for the prusik "sling" use the second end of rope (overhand leaving long tail, work out how to form the prusik type knot with this single rope tail around the strand with footloop, and follow back through overhand). Could be attached to anchor with a knot on bight if necessary.

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