How to Butterfly Coil a Climbing Rope

How to Butterfly Coil a Climbing Rope
In climbing, the butterfly coil will be one of the coil forms you use most often. Whether you are going to or from a climb or simply storing your rope for a trip, this coil is quick to do and efficient at keeping your rope organized. The butterfly coil is easy to carry by hand, in your pack or on your back. Every climber or mountaineer should learn to coil a rope in this manner.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Climbing rope
  • Climbing rope
Step 1
Untangle and organize the rope by feeding it through one hand with the other hand, from end to end, making an unknotted pile on the ground. This is called flaking the rope out. This way you are not working out knots as you coil the rope. During this time you will touch every inch of the rope, so it is also a good time to examine it for cuts, fraying, flat spots or anything that feels abnormal. Always leave the ends at least a foot or two out of the pile of rope so you can find them easily.
Step 2
Use your shoulders as a tool to wrap the rope with. Pick up one end of the rope and keep hold of it in your left hand. Feed the rope over across your shoulders and behind your neck with your right hand, and then grab hold of the rope where your hand naturally rests with your arms down. In other words, you will be creating segments that are the length of your arm span.
Step 3
Now loop the remaining rope over your shoulders and behind your neck going the opposite way. You should be holding a loop in your right hand. Grab it in your left hand, and then loop it back over your shoulders. You will now have loops of rope in both the left and right hands.
Step 4
Continue to make these arm-span length loops of rope across your shoulders, keeping hold of the ends of the loops in both hands. Your hands will be quite full when you are done. Leave approximately eight feet of rope uncoiled so that you can wrap the loops you've made.
Step 5
Carefully lift the looped rope off of your shoulders and fold it in the center (where your neck was). Hold the rope at the folding point with one hand, or rest it over your elbow if it is too much for you to hold. Use the remaining eight feet of loose rope to wrap around the entire bundle. Wrap about three to four times (using about half of the loose length).
Step 6
Make a bight (loop between the two ends of the rope) with the remaining four feet of rope, through the top of the coil where your hand was holding it (or where it was draped over your elbow). Insert both ends of the rope through the bight and pull them to carry as is. Or you can wrap one strand over each shoulder with the coil on your back. Bring the ends around to the front of your waist and tie to carry like a backpack.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.