Open main menu

Klemhiest / Prusik knots

Hi everyone,

I am using a simple block and tackle using carabiners, for a haul line. The klemheist hitch is what I am using, but I am using it on small diameter line, specifically 1/8 inch amsteel blue, which is what the loops for the klemheist is made of too. The problem is that whether I use the Kelmheist or the Prusik the knots seem to fold over. Do those knots require tension on the haul line to work? Right now I have a hard time keeping the knots in shape. I don't think anyone makes an ascender for that small of line, which would work better. I have the klemheist at the top on the haul line, then the block and tackle,... that ties off to an anchor point at the bottom. It works...because the bottom prusik or klemheist holds the line while I reset the block and tackle for another pull. But like I said...the knots seem to bunch up...becoming useless. Hope I have described this good enough...

can you post a picture so we might better understand what you are trying to accomplish? Also, what are you hauling?

A general rule of thumb when using friction knots is that the rope for the friction knot should be significantly smaller in diameter than the main rope. If you tie a friction knot with cord close to or the same diameter as the main cord, the knot will not lay correctly, no matter how much you try to dress it properly. This generally works out to the friction cord being 6 mm or less for use on a 10 mm rope, 5 mm or less for a 8 or 9 mm rope. You say you are using the same diameter for both. 1/8" is about 3 mm, so your friction knot should be 1.5 mm or less to work properly (that's just a thick thread!). I assume your loads are only 10 pounds or so.

I am guessing from your description that you are trying to set a C or C-Z pulley system for practice, and not for a real load. The prussik is not a good knot for this application, and there are several other friction knots besides the Kleimheist that work well. Sounds like you need some in-person tutoring from an experienced mentor.

Check out this site for how to tie many knots.

This is the direct route to the sites climbing knots.

Bill S.

I bought Amsteel Blue 1/8" which has a breaking strength of about 2500lbs. I wanted a light line, and 100 feet of this stuff weighs less than a pound...and it floats. So it is a good line for backpacking for many different uses, such as a bear line. I spoke with a guy at REI, and he too told me that I would need a significantly smaller line for the prusik, to be effective. I have another way of doing it, using carabiners that works great, so I won't be using the knots after all. Thanks to all of you that offered ideas.

f klock,

Believe it or is for a bear line. I have devised a way to haul heavy packs, up high into the trees using a PCT method. It works great, as I only have two anchor points, and the system does no damage to the tree. It blows me away how well it works, one person can lift three packs at 60 pounds plus, with no problem. I have no pictures yet, but I will be posting a video and posting it on YouTube when I get it finished. It is so simple, but yet light. I know some people use a bear proof container, which is great, but my group goes to areas where they are not required, and it saves a lot of weight not having to carry the containers.


Ya know those mid rope markers? Maybe on mammout ropes? I have had a prussic lock onto it doing a protected free rappel. So here I am hanging in midair ten feet from wall and can't move up or down. Time for deep contemplation, lots of thought, AND the belay knife. Yes I do carry a belay knife, maybe thats why I have trouble finding partners?

Eurpeans use knots, Americans cannot tie knots correctly and substitue pieces of aluminum.

As an example. I tied a rope between my apple tree and chimney and practiced my Tyrolean traverse. I put a biner through my harness and clipped it on the rope. It was my plan to go the middle and then rap down a secnd rope to the ground. WRONG. I couldn't unhook the biner from the rope while loaded. Solution: Ever since then my harness has had a 6 inch spectra sling around it with a biner on it. I also carry a belay knife - so I simply rig up, check everything out, and cut the spectra sling. You can also use the old method of tying a biner to your harness with a special knot that can be untied under load.

I like to use a grigri or something like that instead of prussics, in fact I haven't used a prussic since it left me hanging.

Jim S - go ahead - laugh out loud Bill


At least you practice at home, using the trees and chimney. So you can "fail safely", instead of like some people who first try something they read in a book out on a climb with no way to escape. Typical "inguneer". Hey, at least you aren't like a mutual acquaintance (I almost typed "friend") named Steve. Believe it or not, he is still teaching classes for Sierra Club leadership and winter camping (after we fired him from Doc's and my 50-miler and winter camping courses). I still haven't met anyone else who features himself as an "expert backpacker and climber" who has broken his leg twice at the same location on a maintained state park trail.

Jim S.,

This is very similar to the typical ascent-to-rappel scenario.

Drop your rappel rope and attach it securely to your traverse rope. Never rope to rope, attach it w/ a carabiner.

Attach your rappel device to the rappel rope AND to your harness and lock it off. Make absolutely sure that you attach your rappel device to the down rope and lock it off.

Pull up a bite of rappel rope and tie a clove or italian hitch in it. Make the loop big enough to put your foot through. The length Should be short enough for you to stand in and take the pressure off of the biner that is connecting you to the traverse line.

Remove your foot from the clove (this may be a bit difficult due to the fact that you have just been standing in it, buy you'll get it with practice) Unlock your rappel device, keeping a hand on the control side of the rope, and free rappel away!!!!

Just for the record, not ALL Americans are unfamiliar with how to tie proper knots!. I can ascend, tie off, and even (in an emergency) rappel on rope only. No metal gadgets needed. No offense taken, BTW. :-)

Climb safe - That is, never alone.

Jim S,

For further information on what you are trying to accomplish, check out this book. I use it a lot.


thanks - good idea. It seems to me that in order to stand high enough to do that your center of gravity would have to be above the main rope, which would be a very temporary situation, SO I guess the move would be considered "dynamic", you would quickly unhook. Had I not had the option of hand of hand to the chimney I probably would have arrived at that myself, hopefully before cold set in...

I'll get the book, it sounds quite fascinating. Its always better to have at least a rough Idea of what to do before the event occurs so you can concentrate on doing it correctly.

Actually however I rarely carry more than 80 feet of 5mm rope anymore climbing in extreme places, as I mostly solo climb up to 5.9. I have rapped off the back side of Eichorn Pinnacle in Tuolomne meadows (again solo) using a (doubled) 5mm rope, 4 biners made into a brake (one on the sit sling) and a double spectra sling to sit in, and I would tie off to a tree or something, cut a piece of the rope off to leave a sling that my rope dobled through, and dropped another 35 feet or so to the next flake where I could leave a sling. I much prefer to leave a piton, but I don't carry an assortment nor a hammer while solo climbing.

I happened to be driving back down from Tuolomne about sunset and passing lake tenaya when somehow I got a mental image that someone was in deep doodoo. I parked at the walkout for great white book, grabbed flaslight, put on my climbing shoes and started up the trail when I met a ranger who said there was an injured climber and his partner several hundre feet above us on tecnical rock (about 5.4). I told him I would go up and bring him down. The guy had been climbing in Tevas and had slipped - his foot was twisted 90 defrees to the side and really messed up. His partner and I got him standing between us, an arm around each or us and we each had an arm around him. He could hop on one foot, and we brought him down 5.4 friction with all of us facing out. It wasn;t too difficult. When we got down to where I had met the ranger an SAR bunch was there and they gave me a flashlight and asked me to pick a route down to the parking for them, where an ambuance awaited him for the long ride over Tioga Pass.


Steve knows a lot more now than he did before I took him winter camping... Talk about a linear thinking engineer, of course he was a software weenie so why should he be able to relate to the real world?

I sure wish I could climb in The Valley again and with a partner, but now I'm in the high Cascades and climbing means either I drive 25 miles to sport climb with the ethicless Smith Rock bunch, of I climb on volcanic peaks.


November 28, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply