Using ropes while tramping

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Hi all, I've been wondering about the use of ropes on tramping trips. Occasionally see or hear comments suggesting they be used on certain sections of a route but not sure how. I'm imagining tying it round something solid to use for a downclimb, then leaving for your return? Do people use anchor type devices? How about tying your pack to it and lowering that down first? Keen to hear what situations people use ropes in. Cheers!
Most tramping parties would only a carry a rope for pack hauling. Most of those would be smaller than an 8mm climbing rope. A simple solution to an anchor is a metre or two of sling or 25mm tape which can be looped around something or knotted and wedged in a crack or between rocks. It is usually only a few dollars per metre and can be left behind if necessary. A basic harness can be fashioned from 4.5m of sling. There are many alternatives to purpose built belay devices. Shoulder belays or a belay using an ice axe.
1 deleted post from michaelbpacker
Thanks aardvark! Good info.
I've only used rope for pack hauling (on two occasions). One time was with a bit of clothesline and that was very unpleasant work.
I guess the line between tramping and transalpine climbing lies at about the point where you are carrying and using a real climbing rope. If you were planning on a bit of real abseiling or protecting a short rock or bit of steep snow /ice you might carry a shorter piece of 8 mm climbing rope such as [this]( You'd also carry some 6 mm line. If you need an anchor for abseiling, you'd tie a loop of the 6 mm line around a piece of rock that was sticking out, thread the climbing rope through the loop so the middle was at the loop and abseil down the doubled rope. Pull one end of the climbing rope through to recover it. Repeat as necessary, leaving a shortish loop of 6 mm cord behind each time. It's possible to make a harness out of a length of the 6 mm cord wrapped around your waist and tied, and a figure 8 sling of tape or cord around your legs that you clip/tie to the waist loop. You can abseil off a single carabiner with an Italian hitch. You can also protect a down or up climb with a cord sling tied around the climbing rope with a prussic knot and then tied/clipped into an improvised harness. In somewhat less serious country, you might carry 15 -20 m of polyprop line, something like [this]( Be careful, some of this cheap line is rubbish, waterski rope with a stated breaking strain over 900 kg/working load over 100 kg is probably OK. It's quite light (250 g for 15 m or so) It gives you an option for hauling or lowering packs, protecting a river crossing or a short awkward bit of down climbing. You wouldn't want to subject it to a shock loading from a real fall. If you needed an anchor and to recover the rope, you could cut some for a sling around a rock and double the rest to abseil off. Abseils will get shorter and shorter if you have to get down this way! If you knew it was only one bit of nastiness to get down then easy, you could tie one end around something, go down the single rope and leave it behind if you had no other option. Make sure you know your knots - double fishermans to join two ropes/make a sling and double figure 8 for a loop in the end of a rope.
Our main "tramping" use of ropes used to be for river crossings. This seems to have gone out of favour because of the serious consequences of getting it wrong but it is an effective method of crossing rivers. Back in the early 1970's NZFS gave informal instruction to back country users in using ropes for river crossing.
This article by Brian Wilkins from a FMC Bulletin in 2011 is worth a read. Rope techniques described from about page 33. As said in the article, at some point there seems to have been a big push against rope techniques and in favour of only using/teaching mutual support techniques for river crossing by the MSC. The big problem with mutual support techniques is that when they go wrong, they go really wrong and everyone is swimming somewhere they're likely to die as the easiest place to cross is at the top of a rapid, just above a faster piece of water. You can't cross a deep pool without swimming, you can't cross the middle of or just below a rapid as it's too deep and too fast, so you have to cross at the point the water starts to speed up and so becomes shallower and usually has a smoother bottom. Therefore, all marginal river crossings are done immediately above a death trap. It's also quite hard to coordinate a backing out manoeuvre with a group using mutual support if you decide it's getting too much. With a rope on, the crosser will pendulum/get pulled out of difficulty rather that washed into it. Perhaps most importantly, it gives you a good option to back out if you realise it's getting too deep/fast. A rule of thumb I think is depth x speed in metres per second needs to be less than 1 to cross. Perhaps getting off topic, can branch if further discussion in this direction is warranted: I agree with what's in this article, but personally, if I know I'm going to have some potentially serious rivers to cross, I'll take my packraft. [One of these is only 700 g](, I carry a couple of plastic paddle blades I can lash onto my walking poles or a bush pole. Total weight under 1 kg, and I'm across in 10 minutes. I figure I'm saving weight on such trips as I don't have to take 3 days spare food in case I get stuck. [This is the Landsborough in October last year](;949E47EF-E60B-406E-B4D6-F5486B55AD47), it's been raining for a week, and will continue to do so for the week I'm up the Clark to Marks flat and return. There's no way across as a tramper, no amount of rope and or big strong experienced people is going to help, but it was a quick blow up the raft, paddle across near the bluff, deflate, pack away and get on my way.
Not sure about that landborough picture. Its incredibly hard to figure water speed from a still picture but I do wonder if a swim would do the trick. Also what is the water like down at the bluff? The obvious choices are a quiet very deep pool which would be an easy swim or a nightmare rapid. As the river is up my money unfortunately is on the second choice
I guess a good swimmer without a pack on might get across [here](;FC543508-0434-4F24-9065-F1D943A556D2), but with a heavy pack on? All that water under the bluff is moving, and it goes into a big long rapid below. It's also cold water and air, cold enough to be snowing on the tops. I'd say less than a 50-50 chance of making it across, even if you didn't drown, you'd have a very high chance of ending up on the wrong side without boots or pack and dying of hypothermia.
Second pic shows a great crossing point but you cant get to it. Yes cold would be a serious issue as well. You get cold very quick in water and even quicker in single digit temp water. The clear water had me thinking it was nicer than it really is.
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