Give Me Two Days – and I’ll Transform The Way You Think About Short Roping

Ideas by Chris, words by Anne

Many things in climbing and mountaineering are cut-and-dried. A rope will take a maximum shock loading before it will break. Navigating off the top of Ben Nevis in thick cloud requires accuracy in the distance and the direction. But some things are more art than science, and short roping is one of them. Yet for a Mountain Guide it is literally the difference between life and death.

Short roping clients in the alps

Short roping clients in the alps

Short roping can be used in a wide range of situations and for different reasons, from straightforward but exposed ground to serious terrain, and right up to pitched climbing. If you want to become a master, ask yourself these questions:

How am I moving?

Think about how you are moving and what this enables you to do. This is the ideal:

  • moving fluidly and dynamically
  • moving confidently
  • strong stance
  • straight and strong body position
  • able to hold a fall on any kind of ground
  • able to adapt quickly to changes in terrain, eg steep and blocky to slabby and slippery
  • able to adapt quickly to the unexpected - a section of ground might look fairly benign but turn out to be serious and vice versa 

How is my client moving?

When there are any changes in the way your client is moving, you must make corresponding changes in your techniques. You need to be making dynamic risk assessments all the time so that you are aware of the following:

  •  more confidence = less chance of a slip
  • different responses to terrain eg someone might be happy on loose rock but uncertain on steep grass or vice versa
  • external effects of weather, wind, exposure etc
  • internal effects of size of person, fitness levels, confidence levels, hunger, fatigue, etc
Short roping training in the lake district

Short roping training in the lake district

Where is the best place to stand in relation to my client?

Always aim to adopt the position of maximum effectiveness (POME). Choose the most effective solution in any situation – a simple concept that is difficult in practice.

  • close to your client or further away?
  • direct or indirect belay?
  • a good strong stance is the pivotal factor in determining your effectiveness in holding a fall

Want to find out more and put it all into practice?

Book on to one of our two-day short-roping workshops:

8th & 9th October 2016: full AMI members only

5th & 6th November 2016: open to all MLA holders who want to take their skills to the next level

There is more info on the CPD page, and future dates will be posted on our calendar.