How to Do a Tyrolian Traverse

How to Do a Tyrolian Traverse
A Tyrolean traverse is a mode of transportation used in rock climbing, river crossings or technical tree climbing. In rock climbing Tyrolean traverses are used mostly for returning to a main wall after climbing a pillar and in river crossings used if a river is too large and swift to wade across. Learning how to set up a Tyrolean traverse can be helpful not only for accomplishing your goals in the backcountry but also in the case of some emergency rescues.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Climbing harness 2 climbing ropes 2 daisy chains Safety slings 2 ascenders 3 to 4 carabiners
  • Climbing harness
  • 2 climbing ropes
  • 2 daisy chains
  • Safety slings
  • 2 ascenders
  • 3 to 4 carabiners
Step 1
Set up an extremely secure anchor on the main wall that can take both upward and horizontal pull.
Step 2
Rappel on two climbing ropes (one rope is fine if the traverse is pretty short). Rappel down to the saddle or area in the middle of the main wall and the pinnacle. Don't pull down the rappel ropes.
Step 3
Climb the pinnacle using a third climbing rope. The person who seconds will bring up the ends of the rappel ropes.
Step 4
Stretch the rappel ropes taut once both climbers have reached the top of the pinnacle, and use the ends to make a secure anchor on the pinnacle. You should now have two ropes anchored to the main wall and the pinnacle, creating a tightly stretched horizontal traverse line. You will not be able to get back the equipment used for the anchor on the pinnacle.
Step 5
Attach two ascenders to the rope and your harness with a daisy chain, one in front and one behind you. Set up an extra safety sling by tying the a webbing sling to your harness and attaching it to the rope with a carabiner so it slides a long. This should be between the ascenders. The first climber is belayed as he jugs across the traverse rope using a method such as the Texas prusik (see chapter 17 in "The Mountaineers: Freedom of the Hills 7th ed." for this method). Though you could hand-over-hand the traverse ropes Indiana Jones-style, it is safer to use a method such as the Texas prusik.
Step 6
The second climber should then untie the ropes from the anchor on the pinnacle and tie the two together as if for a long rappel using a knot such as the double fisherman's knot. Put one end of the tied-together rope through the anchor, and then the climber who has already reached the main wall should tighten and anchor the other end to belay the second person across. The second person jugs across and then the ropes are untied at the main wall. Pull one end of the ropes to retrieve them since they are tied together.
Step 7
Use the same techniques for tree climbing or river crossing. Usually the best swimmer and those familiar with river flow will volunteer to be the one to swim across with the ropes and set the anchor on the opposite shore so the rest of the group can "ferry" across on the ropes.

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.

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