How to Tie a Body Harness for Rescue

How to Tie a Body Harness for Rescue
Anyone who ventures into the mountains must be prepared for any circumstance, including the possibility of injury and the need for rescue. A necessary part of any climber's emergency skill base, a rescue harness is also useful for hurried rappels, fall recovery, group tie-ins and as an equipment backup. Know how to tie this harness on yourself, and practice tying it on climbing partners.


Difficulty: Moderate

Seat Harness

Things You’ll Need:
  • 2 10-foot climbing runners
  • 2 locking carabiners
Step 1
Tie one 10-foot runner into a loop using a water knot. (Those who don't know how to tie a water knot can find a visual example at the Animated Knots website.) Take one tail of the runner and fold it back to make a short loop, then pull the same tail through the loop as though tying an overhand knot. Do not cinch the knot tight.

Thread the other tail through the loop, following the overhand knot of the first tail in the reverse direction. The two ends of the runner should form a pretzel shape, or a single double overhand knot. Now cinch the knot tight, leaving at least 2 inches of tail at either end.
Step 2
Wrap the loop you made with the water knot around your waist (don't step into it), and clip the two ends together at your stomach with a locking carabiner.
Step 3
Pull one strap of the webbing from behind your back up between your legs until it meets the carabiner. Lock this piece into the carabiner.

Chest Harness

Step 1
Tie another 10-foot length of webbing into a loop using a water knot.
Step 2
Twist the loop so it forms a figure eight. Slip an arm through both loops as though putting on a backpack. The cross of the figure eight should be at your back.
Step 3
Clip the two loops together at your chest with a carabiner.
Step 4
Tie a line into the seat harness carabiner with a double figure eight. Clip the line into the chest harness for stability. Your weight should be held by the seat harness.

Tips & Warnings

If two locking carabiners are not available, a standard-gate carabiner can be used to secure the chest harness.
If no locking carabiners are available, tie the line into two standard carabiners. The carabiner bodies should be aligned but reversed so their gates form an "X" when opened.
The knots in these harness can work loose over time, so recheck them often.
Rescue harnesses are uncomfortable and less stable than commercial harnesses, and they should not be used as primary climbing gear.

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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