Climbing Gym rope
Creating an eye splice in one end will allow you to climb a tree in a park or your backyard and girth hitch it over a branch to start climbing. The downside to using a Manila rope is that it will fray over time, as you can see in the picture of the climbing SEALs above!
The second option, which I highly recommend, is to make your own Fast Rope. By making your own Fast Rope, you’ll not only gain the practice of tying a multitude of knots, save money, and build something awesome, you’ll end up with a climbing rope that will last much longer than a natural fiber rope.
There are sometimes auctions on eBay too for used Military Fast Ropes, but they’re usually very worn, and you won’t know the history behind the rope or how stable it is.
There are three different techniques I’m going to address today, and below you can watch a video of each of these being used and see why I prefer to climb with the brake-and-squat technique I was taught in BUD/s. You should also climb in pants and boots to save your shoes and legs from rope abuse.
While any of the techniques I’ll explain below will allow you to climb a rope, there’s only one I’m going to recommend based on speed, fast reacquisition of the rope, and energy savings.
Gym Class Technique
The first technique I’ll address is the typical way I see people climb rope that have never been properly taught how to climb. I call it the “gym class technique, ” because if you’re like me and went to elementary school before schools were afraid of being sued, you probably used this technique to get up the rope.
Gym class technique is where you pinch the rope between your feet, reach up with your hands to pull up on the rope, and then repeat. While you can manage to get up a rope using this method, you’re working twice as hard. With any technique, the goal should be to use your legs to get up the rope without depending on upper body strength.
That’s not to say upper body strength isn’t important or needed to climb, it’s just to say that your legs should contribute and not just hold the rope.
Brake and Squat (Marine Style)
Marine-style brake and squat is what the Marines teach in boot camp; while effective, it’s not a very quick technique, and it can create extra work by forcing you to reacquire the rope if you lose the wrap. With any brake and squat technique, the goal is to work your way up the rope by using your feet to put the brakes on the rope in a squatted position, and simply standing up, reaching as far up as you can, and repeating.
The technique for the Marine-style brake and squat is as follows: First you jump up with your arms extended, letting the rope either fall between your thighs or to the outside (I’ve seen both). From there you single wrap the rope around one of your legs and across the top of your boot. The boot of the unwrapped leg clamps down on the other boot, trapping the rope. You can now support your weight without using the power of your arms and hands.
I don’t personally care for this method, because as mentioned above, you have to re-wrap the rope around your leg if it’s not feeding through your legs as you climb up. This can lead to extra work and getting beat when racing a buddy.
Brake and Squat (BUD/s Style)
During BUD/s I was taught to use a very simple brake and squat technique that’s extremely fast, makes it easy to reacquire the rope, and will beat any other technique for speed. We’d have team rope climbing races all the time, and it would always be the guys using the Marine-style brake and squat technique (despite being taught otherwise) that would slow a team down and cause them to hit the surf. It pays to be a winner!
All there is to the BUD/s style technique is to jump up to grab the rope high, letting the rope fall on the outside of a leg. Using the leg that the rope falls to, simply step on it by using the opposite foot to help. The combination of the rope falling across the top of the opposite foot and stepping on the rope with the other foot will lock the rope in place.