Forgot your harness? You can still climb safely.

Source: Various sources:
                  Ontario Rock Climbing Association - Safety Manual
                  John Long - Learn to climb series  
                  Handbook of Climbing - Allen Fyffe
                  The Mountaineering Handbook - Craig Connally

Contributed by: Marty Comiskey (

Best useful for:   Top rope  x     Trad  x       Mountaineering  x

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Description (limit to 200 words): I went climbing at Great Falls recently and heard some moaning 

from a member of our party - "Damn, I forgot to pack my harness." It happens to the best of us. Not 

to worry; there are ways to tie in without a harness. None of them are as comfortable (or as safe) as 

a harness, but you can still climb and salvage the day.

As an exercise, I showed them several different "solutions" - all with their particuar pros and cons.

I'm sure you can add to these "pros" and "cons" - I've only highlighted some of the main ones .There are a number of different ways to tie-in in an emergency. Here are four of the more popular/established methods.

- Easiest (and most uncomfortable) is the "old school" bowline on a coil tie in. It works, but as you can imagine not much support.

Pros - it is quick to tie in.
Cons - can be painful if you fall. Can't be used for a rappel, but you could be lowered (if somewhat painfully)



- Diaper sling/harness uses a double length sling. Wrap it around your waist; reach down between your legs and pull up a single leg of sling and clip all three points with a locking biner, or better yet connect all three points with a short sling to avoid the possibility of cross loading the biner.

Pros - fast to tie; gives some support under thighs; can remain on climber after untying from rope; can be used for rappel.
Con's - not as comfortable as harness due to thin sling material. Depending on your size, standard double length sling may either be too long or too short making diaper harness a poor fit.


- A double bowline with a bight (aka Triple bowline) tied with the climbing rope gives a three loop knot that can be used for a tie in. Two of the loops go around your legs, the third loop goes over your head/shoulder to form a chest harness.

Pros - gives you decent support with a confident tie in.
Cons - rope is thin, cuts into thighs. It is more time consuming to tie and takes up several feet of the climbing rope. Can't use this set up for a rappel (but you could be lowered).


- Another option is a make shift harness tied with webbing or seperate length of rope. Basically, you tie two overhand knots to form loops for your legs leaving a small length between them to form your crotch loop. The rest of the material is wrapped around your waist and tied to the leg loops to form the waist portion of the harness. The ends of the webbing/rope are tied off as shown. You would need approx. 25 feet of webbing or rope to tie this setup.

Pros - fairly comfortable, gives decent support, can be used for rappel, harness can stay on after untying from climbing rope.
Cons - takes some time to make rig. 



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