Basic FT #1 - Knots, Prusik, Belay - More Information

Basic FT #1 - Knots, Prusik, Belay - More Information

Additional information for Seattle Basic Alpine Climbing Field Trip 1

Field Trip 1--Knots, Prusik, Belay

Preparation:    Read chapter 9 (Basic Safety System), chapter 10 (Belaying), and chapter 17 sections on the Texas Prusik (pp 379-380, 383-384, 394, 395-396)  in Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition.

You will receive 10 feet of climbing rope at the first class meeting for use in learning the knots. Practice knot tying and the motions of belaying at home and/or with your SIG group.  Becoming proficient takes time and practice, and is critical for continued progress and safety in the course. If you come prepared, the field trip will be both fun and rewarding. If you are unprepared, you will be overloaded and frustrated.

Equipment:       Be sure to bring the materials listed below. Mark your equipment so that you will be able to identify it when it gets mixed in with other gear. You do not need Mountaineering boots for this field trip, but may bring them if you already have them.  If not you can buy them before the second field trip.

  • Clothing that is both comfortable and rugged (cotton is ok for this field trip only, not for subsequent field trips)
  • Boots (You will need sturdy footwear (no tennis shoes or street shoes) while standing in prusik loops)
  • A day pack to hold your gear
  • Your 10 feet of practice rope
  • 2 locking carabiners
  • 1 large, locking pear-shaped carabiner
  • 6 "general purpose" carabiners (do not need to be oval or solid gate)
  • 1 commercial seat harness
  • Helmet
  • Belay device
  • Belay glove(s)
Webbing and cord segments as listed below:
Note:  The following items (6mm Perlon and webbing) are to be cut into the specified lengths at the time of purchase using an electric rope cutter.  Ask the store clerk for assistance.

9/16" or 1" tubular webbing as follows:
  • (2)  9-foot runners of one color
  • (3)  5-foot runners of a second color
  • (1)  8-foot runner of a third color
5 or 6mm Perlon/nylon (not Kevlar) accessory cord as follows:
Climber's Height         Prusik Sling #1, 1st color    Tie-off Loop 1st color       Prusik Sling #2, 2nd color
6’6”                                       13’0”                                             4 feet                                      6’6”
6’0”                                       12’0”                                             4 feet                                      6’0”
5’6”                                       11’6”                                             4 feet                                      5’6”
5’0”                                       11’0”                                             4 feet                                      5’0” 


There will be three main activity areas at which you will spend about 60 minutes each. References refer to Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition.

1.  Knots:  In the Knots area you will tie your runners, a tie-off loop, and have your harnesses fitted (if not done already). You will practice and demonstrate your ability to tie the following knots:

  • overhand knot (fig. 9-4)
  • water knot (fig. 9-7)
  • slip knot (fig. 9-21)
  • clove hitch (fig. 9-18)
  • Münter hitch on pear-shaped carabiner (fig. 9-25)
  • girth hitch (fig. 9-20)
  • Prusik Hitch (fig. 9-22)
  • Mule Knot (Refer to Mule Knot hand out)
  • Butterfly Knot (fig. 9-17)
  • double fisherman (fig. 9-10)
  • figure 8 knot, loop (fig. 9-12)
  • figure 8 knot, rewoven (fig. 9-13)
  • single bowline on a fixed anchor (fig. 9-14)
  • double bowline (on a bight), middle person tie-in (fig. 9-15)
  • butterfly coil (fig. 9-3)
  • Mountaineer coil (fig. 9-2) (Optional)

2.  Prusik:  In the Prusik area you will construct your prusik slings, learn how to tie a prusik knot (fig. 9-22) and practice prusiking up and down a rope. You will discuss your plans for physical conditioning to prepare for the remaining field trips and the climbing season.  See figure 17-3 on page 380 for instructions on how to make your prusik slings.  You will need sturdy boots to stand in the prusik slings.  For the purposes of this field trip only, hiking boots are ok.

3.  Belay:  In the Belay area you will learn the ABC’s of a belay system (A: Anchor, B: Belay, C: Climber).  You will learn setting up an anchor, choosing a correct stance, belay device setup, Münter hitch setup and rope handling.  You’ll learn about using a personal anchor.  After a demonstration by an instructor, and some practice, you’ll demonstrate your ability to set up and handle a belay with both device and munter hitch.



  • You will be given a personized "skills book" upon arrival. This same book will be used throughout the course.   Instructors will use the book to sign-off that you have successfully performed the activities required for each field trip.  
  • Make sure instructors have signed and initialed your skills book where needed before leaving a station.
  • The skills book must be kept at the Program Center at all times.  Return your skills book to the front desk after you have completed all of the activities.  DO NOT take your skills book home, you will not get credit for the field trip!!!
  • Know the whereabouts of your pack at all times. Keep the items you’re not using in your pack.
  • Water will be available in the lobby but you may wish to bring a water bottle and/or light snacks

Harness Use

Be sure that you understand your harness manufacturer’s instructions on how to 1) attach your belay device to the harness and 2) tie the rope into your harness. Always wear and use your climbing harness according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It doesn’t matter what anybody else tells you; if your manufacturer says to do it a particular way, then that’s the correct way to do it. If your harness has a belay loop then you use it for belaying and rappelling. You clip your harness carabiner into the belay loop and then setup your belay device or Münter hitch and carabiner brake system on your carabiner. Tie the rope into your harness in accordance with your manufacturer’s instructions. Attaching your belay device or tying in contrary to the harness manufacturer’s instructions is unsafe and will be graded as such. If you have any questions about how to use your harness, contact your mentor or one of the field trip leaders.

Come Prepared and Have Fun!!