Certain types of climbing pose greater risk or difficulty if the climber is not oriented correctly and using the right equipment. For traveling across dangerous glaciers, ascending or descending a rope, a chest harness is an essential tool for holding the climber upright. Although there are several commercially produced chest harnesses available, you can easily create a chest harness with normal climbing webbing. This light-weight harness can be tied when needed, or it can be disassembled if you need the webbing for something else. The process for tying a chest harness is simple, and something that every climber should know by heart.
Tie a water knot with both ends of the climbing webbing, making a loop. The water knot is a flat knot commonly used to create loops of webbing or to attach two pieces of webbing together.
Measure the resulting webbing loop at three to four feet long. Hold the loop with one hand and extend it across your arm and chest. The webbing loop should reach the elbow on your other arm. If the loop is too long, shorten it by threading more webbing through the water knot.
Make a twist in the webbing, resulting in two adjacent loops. Place the twist on your back and reach an arm into either loop. The webbing should hang loosely on your shoulders like a vest or jacket, with the twist at your back.
Place the water knot in an unobtrusive location. If you're wearing a pack, a water knot on your back may create some discomfort. Rearrange the webbing until the knot is at your side.
Connect the two sections of webbing on your chest with a locking carabiner. Thread the rope above your harness attachment point through the carabiner and lock it.
- Never use the chest harness as the only means of protection. You should always use a waist harness while climbing. The chest harness provides no fall protection, solely serving the purpose of keeping the climber upright.
- Tie the water knot with ample extra webbing emerging from the knot. Without enough extra webbing, or tail, on the knot, the water knot can untie itself. Ensure that you have at least three inches of extra webbing emerging from both sides of the knot.
- While ascending, you may attach a small ascending device to the rope and carabiner on your chest harness. An ascending device provides additional safety by allowing the rope to pass through in only one direction.
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