The climbing rope, harness and carabiners comprise the main safety equipment required in modern rock climbing. While ropes themselves rarely fail, the connection points between the rope and equipment contribute to a large number of climbing accidents. Gear failure is certainly possible, but user error is far more preventable. To practice rock climbing successfully, correct usage of appropriate safety techniques should become second nature.
Put on your harness. Tighten the leg loops and secure the main harness webbing. Some harnesses require you to "double back" the webbing. To double back, fold and thread the webbing through the main buckle a second time. Properly secure your harness according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Make a bight -- or loop -- in the rope by folding a section near your desired connection point. Tie a figure-eight knot with this loop. The figure-eight is the most common knot used to connect yourself to the rope; the bight allows you to attach the figure-eight knot to your harness with a carabiner.
Locate the horizontal waist and leg loop attachment points on the front of your harness. Attach the locking carabiner through the two horizontal loops, not the belay loop. The belay loop is vertical and used for belaying -- a technique for safely holding the rope for an ascending or descending climber.
Attach the figure-eight knot to the locking carabiner. Check for a direct connection between the rope and the harness through the carabiner. Lock the carabiner.
Align the locking carabiner so the rotating lock sits at the bottom half of the carabiner. Aided by gravity, the lock will remain secure in this position. Confirm this when locking the carabiner; if the lock rotates downwards, then the carabiner is oriented correctly. Double check all connection points. You may now proceed to climb.
Attach the rope to your belay or descending device according to manufacturer-provided instructions. Secure the locking carabiner through the device.
Locate the belay loop on your secured harness (the vertical loop at the front of your harness connected to the waist webbing and the leg loops). Connect the carabiner to the belay loop on your harness.
Align the carabiner as before: when tightened, the carabiner locks downwards. Double check all connection points before belaying or descending.
For lead climbing, attach the rope directly to the harness with a figure-eight knot. An auto-locking carabiner can be substituted for a conventional locking carabiner and is sometimes safer. You can keep your gear in good shape by keeping it clean and dirt free. If necessary, wash your equipment by hand in soapy, warm water.
Tips and warnings
- For lead climbing, attach the rope directly to the harness with a figure-eight knot.
- An auto-locking carabiner can be substituted for a conventional locking carabiner and is sometimes safer.
- You can keep your gear in good shape by keeping it clean and dirt free. If necessary, wash your equipment by hand in soapy, warm water.