How to Make a Very Sturdy Rope Ladder

How to Make a Very Sturdy Rope Ladder
Rope ladders, or etriers, are common tools used in aid climbing to make advancement to a set piece of protection easier. While many commercial varieties exist, a simple but sturdy ladder can be made using only your climbing webbing. The sewn commercial models allow foot loops to remain open under load; however, tying your own etriers lets you customize length and loop size, and remains an excellent skill to have in case of equipment failure or need for rescue.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • 15 feet 1-inch climbing webbing
  • Carabiner
Step 1
Fold the webbing exactly in half and line up the two free ends.
Step 2
Tie the free ends into a loop using a frost knot. Fold the free ends back to create a loop about 5 inches long. Tie this looped section into an overhand loop, taking care not to allow the free ends of the webbing to slip out of the knot. Slip a carabiner through the final overhand loop. This is your etrier's connection point.
Step 3
Make the first step 8 to 10 inches below the frost knot. Pinch the webbing together at this point and pull out one piece of webbing to make a loop above your fingers. Pull out enough to make a loop big enough for your foot, including whatever climbing footwear you tend to wear. Tie both pieces of webbing into a single overhand knot at the bottom of the loop to secure the step.
Step 4
Make the second loop in the same fashion as the first, but pull slack for the loop out of the opposite piece of webbing. This will create alternating steps when you hang your etrier.
Step 5
Use the last 8 to 10 inches of webbing as the final step. Since you looped the webbing and tied a frost knot in the opposite side, there should be no need to tie a knot at the bottom step.

Tips & Warnings

Etriers can be as long as you want, but most have only four or five steps and are around a long arm's reach in length. To adjust the length of these etriers, use as twice the webbing as the finished length, then add 10 inches for each step and another 10 inches for the frost knot.
Etriers should only be tied with climbing webbing. Do not use regular rope or any material not certified for rock climbing.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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