Rope Climb Technique

A question I often get is, “How do I climb a rope?” There are three main ways to climb a rope: the S-Wrap, the J Hook, and a combination of the two.

The first method is the S-Wrap. With the S-Wrap, the rope comes down between your legs, wraps around behind and outside the dominate calf, and over the top of the same foot. The break foot is used to stand on top of the wrap foot and lock off the rope. I use my right leg as my “wrap leg” and my left leg as my break leg. This style is very secure, and when locked off, 90% of your weight is taken by the rope. This technique is taught in the Army as it is the easiest to do when carrying equipment or when tired.

THE PROS: 

  • The rope takes most of your weight
  • Easy to do when tired

THE CONS:

  • Slow
  • Can cause rope burns on descent
  • If loop comes undone, hard to reset mid-climb
The S-Wrap

The S-Wrap

The second method is the J hook. Here, the rope comes straight down the outside of the dominate leg, under the foot, and over the top of the trail foot. To break, simply stand down on the “U” shape in the rope. The pros of this style: it is very fast, descending is easy, and easy to reset if the loop comes undone. The cons: it is harder to climb and less secure than the S-Wrap.

THE PROS: 

  • The fastest style
  • Descending is easy
  • Easy to reset if loop comes undone mid climb

THE CONS:

  • Harder to climb
  • Least secure
The J Hook

The J Hook

The third method is the goldilocks method, a combination of the two above. This is my preferred way to climb a rope. The rope comes down between the legs, over the front of the dominate shin, under the dominate foot and over the top of the trail foot. This way combines the security of the S-wrap and the speed of the J hook. Descending can cause a rope burn if done too quickly though.

 

THE PROS: 

  • Security of the S wrap
  • Speed of the J hook
  • Can reset mid-climb like the J hook

THE CONS:

  • Can cause rope burn on decent ( I switch to J hook when descending by moving the rope outside my leg at the top).
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I hope this helps you with your rope climbs, all methods have their strengths and weaknesses. I find the goldilocks method to be the best for me for climbing, and the J Hook best for descending. When I get to the top of the rope, I simply move the rope outside my leg into the J position and descend. The best thing to do is to go to the gym and try out different methods to decide what works best for yourself. Keep working and keep climbing.

George

George Cullen