Ropes Course Manual 2018 - Ropes Course Procedural Manual - Camp Ho Mita Koda

Ropes Course Manual 2018 - Ropes Course Procedural Manual - Camp Ho Mita Koda
Ropes Course Procedural Manual

                     Camp Ho Mita Koda
 Ropes Course Manual
Ropes Course Procedural Manual
Ropes Course Procedural Manual
Ropes Course Procedural Manual

                                         Table of Contents
      General Safety
      Climbing Gear
          • Rope
          • Webbing
          • Manufactured Seat Harnesses
          • Carabiners
          • Helmets
      Care of Climbing Gear
          • Polyester/Nylon Climbing Materials
          • Carabiners
          • Ropes
      Terminology of Climbing
          Belaying Systems
              • General Considerations
              • Conscious Participant Recovery
              • Unconscious Participant Rescue
          What If
              • About the Use of Knots
              • Terminology Used in Knot Tying
              • Glossary of Rope & Knot Terms
              • Names of Knots (used in construction or activities)
          Staff Preparation Check List
          High Course Operations
              • Check List
Low Course Operations
   • Check List
Opening and Closure
Ropes Course Educational Models
   • The Team Concept
   • Staff Role - The Quiet Authority
   • The Action Reflection Model
Listening for Feeling
Decision Making
No Discount Contract
Useful Beliefs About People on the Ropes Course
The Art & Science of Processing Experience
Ropes Course Procedural Manual   General Safety Guidelines   PD.4.1

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                    General Safety Guidelines          PD.4.1

General Safety
In the Beginning… Set the Stage for Safety
It is important to set the stage for safety from the very first interaction with participants. You will have begun
this by contracting with the group to agree to all Goals and Standards at the preparation meeting and then at
the beginning of each day on the course.
Staff who start out with a clear contract will prepare the way for a smooth and safe day. This cannot be
emphasized enough! Take your time in going over these rules, and make sure that they are understood.

Deal Promptly with Violations
Stop the action if necessary, and deal with violations with the entire group if appropriate, so that peer reaction
and feedback work for you. Deal in a straight manner, pointing to the breach of trust, but not placing guilt on
particular individuals.
You are the authority who enforces course standards, so remind people of their contracted goals if problems
develop. You can call an end to the day at any time. You are the boss!

Spotting and Safe Problem Solving Require Critical Focus
Keeping your senses focused sharply on the action and its surrounding environment will attune you to
potential and actual dangers.
Your job is to anticipate potential accidents and to halt the action before they occur. Make your reasons for
halting the action clear, and then demonstrate the proper way to perform the activity. Proceed only when they
understand, and have shown renewed commitment.

Use a Methodical Approach
Wait to put people on the high beams, until they’ve completed several activities on the low beams. Spotting
and trusting must be mastered first. Be aware of how some of the simpler exercises lead towards others.

You Are Responsible for Taking Care of Any Accident that Occurs. Therefore, halt the action at anytime to
correct dangerous practices.
Remember, you are also liable if an accident does occur. The majority of accidents occur on low elements or
games due to poor spotting, or from tripping over roots or holes, while walking from one event to another. Be
sure that trails and walking areas on course are well groomed.

All Staff Should Be Trained in Standard First Aid and CPR.
Have a complete first aid kit available on the course at all times of operation.
If an injury should occur, stop the activity immediately. Keep the victim calm and still. Have staff members
keep the other participants at a distance unless they are needed. Evacuate, if necessary. (See “EMERGENCY

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                    General Safety Guidelines          PD.4.1

Emotional breakdowns are not uncommon. Staff should be ready to offer a hand or shoulder to lean on, when
appropriate. Comfort and positive words are keys here. Let the group help you to give support before

Double Check all games and Elements Before Use
You are responsible for testing the safety and fitness of all activities before they are used by participants. You
are considered legally negligent if you don't check permanent game structures regularly.

Instruct with a Relaxed, Competitive Attitude
You should also demonstrate all games, where feasible, to participants. Demonstrate techniques, positions of
rest, and precarious positions that spotters should be aware of.
Underline the importance of clear verbal commands, and of requesting assistance from your spotters. If there
is any doubt about knots, have participants retie them.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                     General Safety Guidelines
                                                                          Spotting & Lifting

What Does Spotting Mean?
Spotting means actively safeguarding the movements of another participant. Spotting
usually involves several participants or "spotters" protecting a a climber," who may be
one to five feet off the ground. The primary duty of a spotter is to support and protect the
head and upper body area should a fall occur.

Rules of Spotting
Two basic rules of correct spotting are:
1. Attention: The spotter watches the climber constantly.
2. Anticipation: The spotters' hands extend toward, often almost touch, the climber,
   anticipating a fall.
Beyond these, spotting varies considerably according to the event, and positions of the
climber. Spotters must be instructed to anticipate the next movement of the climber at all
times. Generally, the spotter should be very close to the climber. When Attention and
Anticipation are kept in mind, most situations will be easily handled.
It is important that the climber trust his/her spotters. It's also important for spotters to be
confident and comfortable with their skills. Spotting techniques must be taught and
practiced at the beginning of Day One, after warm-ups, and reviewed after warm-ups on
Day Two. This practice will insure confidence and trust on both sides, as each participant
takes their turns at climbing and spotting.

Spotting Enhances Team Building
Appreciate the fact that good spotting is one of the most useful team-building aspects of
course use. Each participant in turn assumes responsibility for the well-being of another
during the event. This develops a good measure of trust between group members.
Individual confidence is also heightened in this supportive atmosphere. Spotting is an
essential aspect of any ropes course. It is as useful, safe, and productive as you, the
facilitator, take the time to make it

Number and Placement of Spotters
As a facilitator, you must know the optimum number and placement of spotters for each
event. You may encourage your group to figure this out for themselves, while assisting
with your observations and hints. It is however, your responsibility to finally maneuver
the group into this optimum placement, prior to the climber's ascent; and to see to it that
the group maintains placement, and adapts properly during the event. Know the best
spotting technique to be used for each event, and for the various positions required.
Understand why these techniques and positions are better than others, and insist that your

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                    General Safety Guidelines
                                                                         Spotting & Lifting

group use them. Never settle for poor spotting Most events are best safeguarded with
four spotters. This means five or six members are actively involved at any given time, out
of a group of perhaps twelve. As a facilitator, you should encourage the spotting crew" to
change around, perhaps with each new climber. Otherwise you can expect the non-
spotters to soon feel uninvolved, and/or the spotters to feel tired and over-used, and the
quality of their efforts to diminish.
Don't let your "first to volunteer" spotters burn out their energies while following half a
dozen climbers. Often, twenty minutes of good spotting will leave the upraised arms
drained of blood, shoulders aching, and nerves a little frayed. Remember this: get the
group to devise its own "rotation system." Keep everyone involved.
The challenge to you as a facilitator is to ascertain optimum spotting by "fresh troops" at
all times, without becoming a "drill sergeant". Allow the group opportunities to grow
together, through exploring experiences, feelings and ideas.

Facilitator's Responsibility
As a facilitator, it is generally best that you devote your attention to making certain that
your clients spot well, rather than becoming a spotter yourself. You will better facilitate a
safe event by observing and supporting the group, and thus devoting full attention to the
climber, than by spotting yourself. Exceptions to this are during times of demonstration.
Ropes Course Procedural Manual General Safety Procedures and Equipment 9

After teaching spotting, have the group use their newly-acquired spotting skills to create a
"safety-net" for the lifting instruction.
Lifting is the acceptable means of assisting a climber in gaining two or three feet of
additional height to perform an event (such as the Wall). It employs a "climber," a
"lifter," and three spotters.
The lifter stands erect, back straight, with knees locked straight, fingers interlocked,
palms up, and arms straight. The climber now steps up into the lifter's clasped hands,
grasping his shoulders firmly. Now the climber moves onto the event.
Meanwhile, two spotters stand behind the climber as he moves, with arms outstretched to
his shoulder blades. A third spotter is back-to-back with the lifter, steadying him—
unless, of course, the lifter is backed against a tree, the Wall, or other fixture.
It is very important that lifting be done with the skeletal system, rather than the muscles,
or a sprain may result. Of primary importance is the back—it must be straight. A bent-
over lifter tends to raise the climber with his back muscles (a mistake that can result in
back injury). The erect lifter should not move during the lift.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                       General Safety Guidelines
                                                                            Spotting & Lifting

Remember that the greater risk in lifting, is to the lifter. The last thing to be checked by
the facilitator, before a lift is performed, is the straightness of the lifter's back: his erect
posture. You must stress the importance of an erect posture when instructing lifting.
Always ask, prior to teaching the lift, whether there are any "bad" backs or knees in the
group. Do not allow anyone with a "problem back" or "athlete's knee" to lift.
Lifting, like spotting, is a useful group-interaction device l)one properly, it is very safe.
Teach it well, and demand that the students follow safe and appropriate procedures.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                  General Safety Guidelines
                                                                          Climbing Gear

Climbing Gear
11 mm Maxim Kernmantle or 7/16" diameter goldline/Skyline These Polyester/Nylon
mountain climbing ropes are used to protect climbers from falls and subsequent injury,
usually having an approximate 6,000 pound test break strength.
Skills -Know how to:
✔ Coil properly for storage, and how to whip out kinks.
✔ Tie a carriage knot
✔ Spaghetti coil, for handling or throwing, and how to tie knots.
✔ Inspect regularly for fluffs, cuts, or breaks.
1" tubular nylon webbing This Nylon webbing is used to make seat harnesses, girth
hitches on anchor points, and static lines. It has a 4,000 pound test break strength.
Skills -Know how to:
✔ Tie a seat harness using a square knot & half-hitches in the tail
✔ Tie slings & girth hitches, using water knots for anchors
✔ Inspect webbing for unraveling and other weaknesses.
These seat harnesses are used to protect climbers in conjunction with rope and webbing
systems. Avg. 4,400 lbs.-test break-strength.
Skills -Know how to:
✔ Put on and adjust a seat harness.
✔ Inspect a seat harness for weakness.
Carabiners are metal snap links, commonly used to connect the climbing rope and
webbing to a safety/belay system. Each has a gate, which is spring held and may be
snapped open, in order to clip a rope or webbing into it. Gates should be opened out and
away from the webbing or rope connection.
1. Locking 'I)" Carabiners are "D” shaped, steel carabiners, with locking, screw-
   down collars. Generally rated at 11,000 pound test break strength. These carabiners
   are used when a belay system comes into contact with steel cable.
2. Locking "D" Carabiners are "D” shaped aluminum alloy carabiners with locking
   screw down collars. Generally rated at 6,000 pound test break strength. These are
   used for rope connections on a seat harnesses.
Skills -Know how to:
✔ Clip carabiners into cable system.
✔ Clip carabiners to seat harnesses.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                General Safety Guidelines
                                                                        Climbing Gear

✔ Implement the diagrams that follow (by studying them).
Fiberglass helmets protect climbers from head injuries. These are worn when rappelling
and on all high events

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                 General Safety Guidelines
                                                                         Climbing Gear

Care of Climbing Gear

1.    Polyester/Nylon Climbing Materials
      a)     All nylon materials should be STORED in a cool, dry room out of
             sunlight. They should be stored free of kinks, and with the appropriate
             storage knots.
      b)     NEVER STEP ON A ROPE, as dirt can be ground in, and will cut or
             weaken fibers. Also, never let nylon rub against nylon, as it has a low
             melting/burning point.
      c)     Ends should be neatly burned to ALLEVIATE problems with FRAYING.
      d)     CLEAN Polyester/Nylon Climbing Materials when required (when
             exposed to mud, dust or dirt), by washing with a mild detergent in cold
             water (washing machine is acceptable). Dry in a shaded place, not in a
      e)     IDENTIFY Y each piece of equipment with a color coded tag made of
             tape, so that a log of usage may be kept.
2.    Carabiners
      a)     KEEP CARABINERS CLEAN. do not step on them or unnecessarily
             abuse them (such as dropping from heights).
      b)     OIL HINGES at the hinge point, when the gate becomes sticky. Then,
             ALWAYS, thoroughly wipe off excess oil before using again.
      c)     IDENTIFY each piece of equipment with a tag made of tape, or by
             etching, so that a log of usage may be kept.
3.    NOTE: All equipment should be checked at regular intervals for signs of wear.
      Keep careful and consistent records on all equipment, and particularly for that
      used for the pamper pole or rock climbing, noting times of use and number of
      falls. The average life for a nylon climbing rope is two to three years. Kernmantle
      ropes are tested and guaranteed for a minimum of 200 falls.
4.    Please note: In order to insure safe usage, we suggest retiring the rope after 20--
      50 falls off the pamper pole.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                     General Safety Guidelines

Terminology of Climbing

Belay System - A system providing safety for a climber, which is devised from one of
several combinations of the following: rope or webbing, carabiners, and belaying devices.
Belayer - One who protects climber from a fall, by controlling and holding the climber's
rope or belay system.
Running Belay - A belay system, whereby the climber is attached to an anchored rope
system (attached to a tree, a post, or other stationary object), with a belayer handling the
rope to keep the climber safe as he climbs.
Anchor Point - A sling which is tied to stationary object, acting as a belay seat, or as a
pulley, in the belay system.
Static Line Belay - A self-belay carried by a climber, such as a webbing sling connected
to his/her harness, which the climber then attaches to the cable above with carabiners. In
the event of falling off, the climber must pull himself back up to the event, but is held in
close proximity to the event by the static belay system.
Belay Seat or Station - Sling attached to a stationary object, to which belayer is
attached, and belays climber from.
Brake Hand - After rope passes around body or through a friction belay device, it is held
by this hand, which holds the rope firmly, and supplies a brake in the case of a climber's
fall. This is generally the stronger hand. The brake hand never releases the rope, and it
stays close to the front of the body.
Guide or Feel Hand - On the side of the rope going to the climber, this hand aids in
taking the rope in and letting it out. At other times it is used to 'feel" rope tension -
especially when the climber is out of sight of the belayer.

Commands used in Climbing and Belaying
Commands should be used and mastered in belay practice, so that they are automatic
during climbing situations. The belayer maintains voice and eye contact with climber at
all times. The following standard, rock climbing commands should be learned and used
during all events which include belayed climbing:
Climber when clipped in.                  "On Belay"
Belayer when ready, acknowledging         "Belay On"
Climber ready to climb.                   "Climbing"
Belayer tells climber to go on.           "Climb On"
Climber if rope is too tight.             "Slack"
Belayer gives six inches of slack to each command until climber is satisfied.
Climber if rope too loose.                "Up Rope"

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                         General Safety Guidelines

Belayer takes up slack.
Climber when off belay                   "Off Belay"
Belayer only then lets go of rope        "Belay Off"
Climber falls                            "Falling"
Belayer assumes a brake position to arrest the fall.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                    General Safety Guidelines

Belaying Systems
Belaying is a technique of rope handling which protects a climber. A rope attached to the
climber runs between the belayer (instructor) and the climber. The belayer will hold the
rope in such a way that he/she is able to catch and keep the climber safe if he/she should
The belay procedure required to protect both belayer and climber follows:
1. The belayer is tied from his waist loop to a tree or similar secure object, usually with a
girth hitch There should be no slack in the e tie-in line.
The belayer is seated, preferably in such a way as to watch the climber.
After donning gloves, the belayer aligns three points: the ground pulley, his body, and the
anchor tree where the belay seat is tied. A triangular base (formed by placing the legs
about two feet apart) should be maintained. See Diagram.
The rope from the climber passed around the belayer, below the waist loop. The free end
is held firmly, on the strong hand side.
The strong hand, the brake hand, is used to hold the rope. In the case of a climber's fall it
will be buried on the ground between the belayer's legs. For this reason the brake hand
must be on the rope at all times. The friction of the rope around the belayer's body
absorbs most of the force from the fall.
The weaker hand, the guide hand, is used to guide the rope and to sense the movements of
the climber. It may also be used to help pull in, or let out rope.
The section of the rope passing around the belayer's waist MUST ALWAYS be tight.
If either the climber or the belayer desire, a test of the belay should be made prior to the
climb. The test should be made in a manner which is safe to both people, and with the full
weight of the climber ultimately on the rope.
Where time permits, you may wish to allow participants to belay each other. Even after
a person is taught to belay, she/he may not choose to belay. Respect that decision, and
allow it, when the reasons are legitimate. Also, you may allow a climber to reject a
belayer if she/ he doesn't trust the belayer.
Additional staff members stand or sit next to the guide hand (on the opposite side from
the brake hand), holding the rope in their hands as an extra safety precaution.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual     General Safety Guidelines
 The picture can't be displayed.
Ropes Course Procedural Manual     General Safety Guidelines
 The picture can't be displayed.
Ropes Course Procedural Manual     General Safety Guidelines
 The picture can't be displayed.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                     General Safety Guidelines
                                                                     Emergency Procedures

General Considerations
Whenever a group is working on the ropes course, the lead (ground) instructor must wear
a harness and have several slings (or sewn runners) available, in the event that an
emergency requires an evacuation from the high ropes course. Should such an emergency
occur, the lead instructor will be focused on one particular student for several minutes.
During this time, the other participants must be stabilized. All participants on the high
ropes course must go to the nearest platform, stay clipped in; and not move again until
given permission to do so. The other staff or adult assistant must be responsible for this
procedure while the lead instructor works with the emergency.
Conscious Participant Recovery
In the vast majority of falls on a ropes course, the participant is unharmed and not
hysterical, and can simply climb back onto the obstacle. If he/she is hysterical an
instructor can usually help verbally from the ground, or climb up to help physically if
needed. A conscious participant can hang and wait safely in a recommended harness for
long periods of time. There is no reason for an instructor to rush irresponsibly and
carelessly to the top, forgetting their own safety. Once up, a helping hand and verbal
instruction will usually relieve the situation, and assist the fallen participant to return to
their position on the obstacle.
Unconscious Participant Rescue
In the extremely rare event of an unconscious or otherwise helpless participant, use a
procedure by which the hanging participant is lowered to the ground. The instructor will
pull down one of the belay ropes, and take the rope, two carabiners, a knife and an extra
sling (or sewn runner) up onto the high course. He/she will go to the helpless participant,
clip one carabiner into the safety cable, and tie a figure eight knot on the end of the belay
line. The instructor will then use the second carabiner to clip the belay rope to the
participant's harness. The next step is to reach up and clip the belay rope into the first
carabiner, attached to the safety cable. Remaining ground staff must straighten out the
long end of the belay rope on the ground, and position all available participants to assist
with the belay, to lower the incapacitated participant. See diagram figure 1)
A "directional" point is very easy and helpful to set up. Move the now useless belay point
(from where the belay rope was taken) to a convenient tree near the rescue. Use the slings
and carabiner(s), but not the figure eight descender. Run the belay rope through the
carabiner and then to the belayers (see diagram). The direction of pull will be changed
from vertical to horizontal thus permitting more belayers. The assisting adult on the
ground must be responsible for setting up a directional point. The lead instructor can
visually supervise this operation from the high ropes course. If there is any doubt about
the correctness of the directional anchor, don't use it. Refer back to the non-directional
When the rescue is all set up, the participants on the ground who will lower the helpless
participant must first pull on the belay rope to take the weight off of the original sling (or

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                General Safety Guidelines
                                                                Emergency Procedures

sewn runner). These slings are now unclipped by the instructor. Be sure that the belay
rope is connected to the helpless participant’s harness, and that the end is properly
belayed before the sling ropes are unclipped. It is sometimes difficult to pull the
participant up far enough to unclip the sling ropes. When this happens the sling ropes
must be cut with the knife. After calls by the instructor, "On Belay," and the belayers'
response, “Belay On," the sling ropes may be cut and the participant lowered very slowly
and carefully to the ground.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual     General Safety Guidelines
                                      Emergency Scenarios
 The picture can't be displayed.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                      General Safety Guidelines
                                                                       Emergency Scenarios

What If
We suspect that there are those who would rather not read this section, or recognize its
necessity, but each instructor who accepts the responsibility of leading a group on a
Ropes Course is well advised to be familiar with emergency procedures.
Participant falls off of a Two Line or Burma Bridge with only a Running Self-Belay.
Suspected challenges become apparent as the participant:
1. Has fallen below the bottom wire.
2. Does not have the arm strength to climb his/her own belay line.
3. The victim's abdominal section is severely restricted by the 3/8" belay rope sling or
   bowline-on-a-coil, and is having difficulty breathing.
4. Has been reduced to tears, due to panic and growing discomfort, and is crying with
   pain and distress.
One remedy is to avoid use of the Running Self-Belay with groups of questionable
resources. Use the Bottom Belayer Method for this type of group, so that the student can
be quickly and easily be lowered to the ground after a fall. These are things to consider in
advance, because once a participant is dangling, thoughts in retrospect will not help to get
him/her down.

RESCUE 1: Victim Unable to Help Due To Unconsciousness or Panic
With extra coil of rope (extra rope and a sharp knife should always be available at the
Course site) an instructor can be lowered from a carabiner, clipped onto the upper wire,
down to the student. The instructor grips the student under the arms in a leg scissors grip,
readies the knife, grabs the student's waist tie-in, alerts his belayers (note plural), cuts the
student belay line and the pair is subsequently lowered to the ground. The instructor
should clip him/herself to the student's waist tie-in, except in rare cases when time is of
the absolute essence. Do not create a bigger emergency than what you already have.

RESCUE 2: Victim Able to Assist in the Rescue
The instructor lowers a double loop arrangement (Bowline on-a-Bight) to the participant
with instructions to put each leg into a loop. The instructor signals the belayers to "up
rope" after the rope loops are in position on the student's thighs. The instructor unclips
the now slack participant belay line (or cuts the line if that choice is necessary) and
signals the belayers to lower the participant to the ground.


Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                   General Safety Guidelines
                                                                    Emergency Scenarios

Participant becomes stuck, because of a pulley malfunction on a zip wire.
RESCUE 1, above, is workable in this situation in order to get to the participant. The
instructor then clips a belay rope into a quickly tied Swiss seat, and then clips the ropes
onto double steel carabiners on the zip cable. As he/she descends toward the participant,
the instructor must slow down by use of hands (gloves), feet or carabiners (as a makeshift
pulley), or he/she will zip into the participant, resulting in a second and more complicated
rescue. The type of rescue used should be determined, based upon where the participant
stops on the wire.

Participant comes to a stop on a goldline zip, because of opposed D-ring carabiners,
slack ropes, or light body weight.
RESCUE Tie a rope (Bowline) onto a carabiner Clip the carabiner onto the two taut
pieces of goldline above the participant, and drop the rope to the ground. Instruct people
on the ground to pull the carabiner down to the participant, and to continue pulling until
the participants within reach of those on the ground.

A long haired participant gets his/her locks caught in a brake bar set up halfway
down a 100' rappel.
The entrapped student's head is usually pulled well down toward the brake bar. This
position, 50' off the ground, can be uncomfortable and frightening. There are a number of
rescue methods, some that should be tried before others. Consider the following rescue
methods in the order given.
RESCUE 1 Have two or three people pull up on the belay line so that the entrapped
participant gets enough slack to remove the hair, shirt, or whatever is jamming the brake
bar If the participant is not listening or responding to your instructions, try this next
RESCUE 2 Have the group lower you (the instructor), on a belay, down to the
participant, and you make the proper moves while calming the participant. Take a knife
with you. (If photographers are recording the rescue, place the knife between your teeth.
Great stuff!)
DO NOT RAPPEL DOWN: It takes too much time and you will lose the use of one hand.
RESCUE 3 Finally, or perhaps, firstly, (depending upon the rappeller’s mental and/or
physical state) you can cut the rappel rope (not the belay rope), and lower the participant
to the ground. So dramatic, yet so simple! Try the other methods first, if you have time,
in order to preserve the rope.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                  General Safety Guidelines
                                                                   Emergency Scenarios

A student who is heavy, inept, or emotional (or all of the above) falls off an event,
becomes exhausted or passes out.
The immediate danger is not falling but rather the growing feeling of panic resulting from
the discomfort of hanging in the air, or being unable to move. Definite procedures
should be readily available for rescue, rather than blithely (and half-seriously) thinking,
'What goes up, must come down. "
RESCUE 1: Participants of Questionable Ability
Have a belay rope available, and use it for participants of questionable ability. A Belay
allows an escape method for the individual who feels that he/she has reached their limit,
and provides an additional measure of security for those participants who would not
make an attempt without it.
RESCUE 2: Unconscious Participant on a Dynamic Course or Event
To extract an unconscious participant, from a Dynamic Element can usually be
accomplished by just lowering the victim slowly and carefully to the ground. However, if
the victim is entangled or draped over a piece of a portion of an element, then this will
entail a facilitator's climbing the element, using a Self -Belay, or setting up a ladder to
reach the participant. Once the rescuer is at the participant's height and clipped in for
safety, he/she can then untangle the participant, and lower the participant to the ground
(on the Dynamic Belay to which he/she is still clipped).
RESCUE 3: Unconscious Participant on a Static Course or Event
To extract an unconscious participant, from a Static Course: Follow instructions Case 1:
Rescue 1 (previous page).

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                                      Knots

About the Use of Knots
A knot is a configuration in ropes for the purpose of joining two lines together, or to
fasten a rope into a loop, or to connect it to some other object. Reliability and ease of
tying and/or untying are of great importance. At times it must be possible to tie a rope or
make a sling with one hand.
              It has been said that a climber's knot should be so simple that
               a climber could tie it in, the dark while he/she is half asleep.
               A simple knot together with enough practice to make tying it
                       almost automatic, is indicated and preferred
The number of knots, bends and hitches is almost unlimited. Elaborate knot boards
showing beautiful and complicated knots are attractive decorations. However, the number
of knots used by climbers has been steadily decreasing. It is possible to climb successfully
using only two knots, the overhand knot, and the bowline, if all variations are included.
Many of the knots shown here may be derived from these two. However, knots based on
the figure-eight have many advantages and they are included as well. Some other
standard knots are also included.
There are knots that do well on a testing machine, but have not been favored by climbers.
An example is the double carrick bend. It has the highest breakage strength of any
standard knot, but is awkward to tie. Except for use with heavy hawsers in shipping, it is
seldom used, and even then, the ends must be secured. Yet, if one was to go by the table,
this would be the knot to use
In the following table, the figures for the knots were obtained by using 5/16" nylon rope,
the carabiner figure with 7/16" nylon rope.

                                 RELATIVE STRENGTH KNOTS
              (Rope strength is 100%. Percentage describes strength of rope with knot tied in it)

                          Double Carrick Bend ....................... 71%
                          Sheet Bend........................................ 65%
                          Fisherman's Knot ............................. 59%
                          Square Knot ..................................... 54%
                          Double Bowline................................ 69%
                           Bowline ........................................... 65%
                          Butterfly ........................................... 63%
                          Overhand Loop ................................ 49%
                          Rope Through Carabiner ................. 79%
It would seem that a knot has only about 50% of the strength of a new rope. In actual
climbing experience, it is almost unknown for a rope to break at the knot. Rope most

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                          Knots

often breaks at an old cut, where the rope passes over a sharp rock, or perhaps in an
apparently sound section of the line that may have at some time been subjected to a
severe strain. Notice, too, that the strength of a rope passing over a carabiner is greater
than the more common knots.

Terminology Used in Knot Tying
Knots have many names, as many as five not being uncommon. We will use the term
“knot” both as a general term and as a fastening device. A “bend” is used to tie two ropes
together. The term “loop” is used for a fixed or non-constricting circle of rope, while a
“noose” is a circle of rope that will slip and tighten. A “hitch” is a knot that grips a shaft
or another rope. Unfortunately some terms are so well established that it will not always
be possible to stick to the above usage. When no name has become standardized, the
name used will be that which is most descriptive. For example, “overhand bend” is much
more explanatory than is “water knot”.

                                   Glossary of Rope & Knot Terms
Running End of the rope is the free end, commonly called just the end
Standing Part - a designated part of webbing or rope which does not move but figures
into the knot
Hitch - a knot that grips a shaft or another rope
Loop - turn of rope which crosses itself
Half Hitch - a loop running around rope, or shaft, so as to lock itself
Bend - a knot joining two ropes together
Bight - a simple turn of a rope which does not cross itself
 The picture can't be displayed.

              Bight                         Loop                       Half-Hitch

The other basic knot-forms should be learned, as they are often used in conjunction with
other knots and are used to construct more complex knot configurations.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual   Knots

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                                              Knots

Names of Knots (used in construction or activities)
You must know how to tie each, teach each, and identify incorrectly tied knots. Knots will
have to support lives, so make sure they're right. When in doubt about a knot, retie it.
You are responsible.

q   Half Hitch                                                                  q   Bowlines
q   Overhand                                                                    q   Square Knot
q   Double Overhand                                                             q   Overhand Bend
q   Figure Eight                                                                q   Clove Hitch on a Post
q   Figure Eight Bend (Follow-

                       See the following pages for specific diagrams on knot tying.

A loop is formed, and the end passed through the loop. This, the most fundamental knot,
is really easier to tie than to explain. It is used as a temporary stop on an unlashed rope
end and to provide an enlargement along a rope to supply a better hand hold for climbing
a single line.
                               The picture can't be displayed.

Modern climbing practice suggests that the ends of any knot be secured if the knot is
subjected to intermittent stresses. The overhand knot is faster to tie and is more secure
than two half-hitches for this purpose, and is being increasingly used in place of the

If the end is led behind and around the standing part of the line, before passing through
the loop, the figure eight knot results. It is bulkier than the overhand knot, but forms more
gentle turns in the rope and is much easier to untie.
                                              The picture can't be displayed.

This is an attractive appearing knot and is often used to decorate or order knot display

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                                          Knots

Tying an overhand knot in one end of a rope, then passing the end of another rope
through this knot and tying a second overhand knot around the standing part forms a
fisherman's knot. Many climbing books refer to this as the Englishman's knot. The two
overhand knots should be slid together so that the flat sides are parallel.
                                   The picture can't be displayed.

This knot may be used to tie two ropes of quite dissimilar materials together, such as a
braided rope and a woven rope. It was originally used to tie a piece of gut to a fish line,
where most common knots completely fail.

Under hazardous conditions, the knot should be secured. Either two half-hitches are tied
around the standing part of the other rope, or one overhand knot is so tied. The overhand
knot is easier to tie and more reliable.
 The picture can't be displayed.

The fisherman's knot, properly secured is one the safest means of joining two ropes. If
jammed tightly, it may be a little difficult to untie. In this case it is often simpler to force
some rope back into the knots in the opposite order from which they were originally tied.

q SQUARE KNOT                                                        considerably. If it is used for this
This knot, well known from our Boy                                   purpose, it should always be secured.
Scout days, is suitable for tying
                                                                      The picture can't be displayed.

packages or dunnage. It is not
satisfactory for joining two climbing
ropes, nor for use where the strains vary

q WATER KNOT / OVERHAND                                              running ends will be facing opposite
BEND                                                                 each other. This Bend works well when
This is a secure knot, and may be tied in                            tied in webbing. It is called a WATER
two different ways: (1) If the ends of the                           KNOT.
rope are not available, and if it is not
important which line carries the strain, a
simple overhand knot may be tied in the
doubled ropes. This is called an
Overhand Bend. (2) If the ends are
available, then at one end of rope A, tie
an overhand knot, then lead the second
rope end along the first until the bend is
formed. When tied correctly, the

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                                                    Knots

 The picture can't be displayed.

                                                                                The picture can't be displayed.

If this knot is based upon the figure-
eight knot, it makes a more symmetrical
knot, and is much easier to untie. This
knot is also called the FLEMISH BEND.

q OVERHAND LOOP (On a Bight)                 webbing, and some climbers still favor
AND FIGURE-EIGHT LOOP (On a                  it. The figure eight loop is easier to
Bight)                                       untie.
                                              The picture can't be displayed.

These knots may be used to construct
loops, by simply tying them in bights. If
it is desired to tie the rope around an
abject, it may be easier to first tie the
knot in one rope, then lead the other rope
and through the first knot. The overhand
loop is the old climbing knot known as
the MIDDLEMAN’S KNOT, which is
now usually replaced by the bow-line-
on-a-bight. However, it works well in

q BOWLINE                                    used and the purpose of the knot. One of
The Bowline is often called the "king of     the best arguments we have ever heard,
all knots," this is the basic climbing       took place between an old cowpoke and
knot, but is equally respected by            a retired sea captain, as to what is the
cowhands, sailors and all others that use    "only" way to tie or bend a bowline. The
knots. All groups that use the knot have     diagram shows a standard way of tying
come up with different ways of tying         this knot. Fortunately, if this knot is tied
this knot, depending on the size of rope     wrong, usually no knot results. However,

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                        Knots

it is possible to tie this knot with the
end on the opposite side from the
standing part, and by so doing, about
half of the strength is lost.

This knot is used to secure an end man, to provide a non-slipping or tightening loop or
conversely to tie a small loop to form a non-jamming noose. If the loops of two bowlines
are tied through each other, it may be used to join two lines together. It is easy to untie,
and may be used in this way to join ropes of dissimilar materials together.

This hitch is commonly referred to as a         feet is dependent on the angle of the climb.
"knot" by climbers. In normal practice it is    If one is using two prusik knots to climb a
used to tie a smaller rope, usually in the      rope dangling freely in midair, one will
form of a loop or a sling, onto a larger        probably want a short sling attaching the
rope. It grips the main line very securely if   waist to the top prusik and a long sling
under tension, but is easily slipped along      attaching a foot to that knot. The other foot
the line, if the pressure is released.          will be placed in a shorter sling.

To prusik up a rope, one ties small loops
of 5/16" or 1/4" around the climbing rope,
using prusik knots. One may use either
two or three slings, but since two slings
are simpler, this is preferable. One
attaches additional, longer, slings to these
prusik knots, and then uses these longer
slings for the feet and waist or chest. If
one uses two prusik knots, one knot is for
a foot, the other is for the second foot and
the waist or chest. Thus, by applying one's
weight alternately between the two knots,
it is possible to climb. The length of the
prusiks and their relation to the waist and

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                          Knots

          The picture can't be displayed.

Another way to make a prusik knot that holds better is to pass the loop through itself
three times instead of twice. The closer the diameter of the sling approaches that of the
fixed line, the greater the danger of slippage.
                 The picture can't be displayed.

                                                   rope, it may be difficult to get the knot to
                                                   conform to such a relatively small
                                                   diameter. If a spun nylon hard-laid rope
                                                   becomes wet, it stiffens and the knot
                                                   may fail. This is not due to a change of
                                                   frictional qualities.
                                                   Much of the tendency of a prusik to slip
                                                   is due to the 90 degree angle between the
                                                   needed tightening force and the load-
                                                   line. If, when setting the prusik, the
                                                   thumb is placed against the knot while
                                                   the fingers grip the sling, it is possible,
If pliable small slings are used, such as          with almost no effort, to tighten the knot,
5/16" loop, on a larger pliable climbing           as the load is allowed to come onto the
rope, the knot grips without trouble. If a         line. If this first "snubbing" friction is
hard-braid rope of larger diameter is              applied, then the total load will further
used, such as a 7/18" sling on a 7/16"             tighten the knot, when it is added.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                                 General Safety Guidelines
                                            This knot, called a "girth hitch" by
 The picture can't be displayed.

                                            packers, is the most satisfactory hitch to
                                            tie onto a shaft, trees, cinch ring or
                                            another rope. If tied in a doubled rope,
                                            there is absolutely no way in which it
                                            can loosen. If the post has a convenient
                                            open end, the knot may he formed about
                                            the fingers and dropped over the post. If
                                            to be tied through a ring, one end is fed
                                            through, around, across and back
                                            through, so that the two ends lie parallel
                                            and adjacent. It was from this knot that
                                            the prusik knot was developed.

                                             The picture can't be displayed.

Commonly used to fasten a rope to a
post or onto another line. Also used to
secure the ends of a knot for greater
security. For the first purpose, the ring
knot is superior, for the second, an
overhand knot is now, preferred.
Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                        Running the Course

Staff Preparation Check List
For Operating a Ropes Course, Games and Initiatives

A. Prior to Program
This list will help staff members to check for adequate preparation for an upcoming
1. Become familiar with group's goals, objectives, composition (age, sex, reason for
   participation, demographics etc.).
2. Review all medical waivers. Note special cases, so that you may observe cautions in
   appropriate situations.
3. Check weather report; prepare for predicted situation; arrange back-up plans.
4. Inventory First Aid Kit contents, restock if necessary.
5. Look over all gear for improper wear and condition. Get gear ready.
6. Walk course and check condition. Remove all hazards (such as branches). Observe
   elements, to see that they look in good condition. (This is in addition to regular
   inspections for maintenance).
7. Have meeting of all facilitators, familiarize each with role and "game plan."
8. Review emergency procedures. Include clear posting of emergency phone #s and
   maps to emergency facilities.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                          Running the Course
                                                                     High Course Operation

High Course Operations
Check List

A. Prior to, and during a program
Attending to these details, before and after the participants arrive, will foster safe
operations of a high course
Emergency Systems
   1. Each staff member must know Emergency Plan and evacuation or rescue
      procedures for this particular course. Have access to all medical forms.
   2. On courses where rescue bags are in place, they should be checked prior to each
      program for proper packing and condition.
   3. All staff should have immediate access to, or carry with them, a closed knife or an
      emergency scissors, extra carabiners and two prusiks or sewn runners.
   4. Each facilitator should have knowledge and ability to rappel out of the course
      using proper safety gear
   5. Keep an eye out for weather conditions. Know quickest exit system in case of any
      sign of thunder or lightening.

Staff Positions
   1. Always operate a course with at least one staff person on the ground to ensure
      proper hook-up and sending participants in to the course, as well as a back-up for
      emergency situations.
   2. No participant should enter the course, until there is a competent staff person on
      the course, secured, and in a position where they can assist.

   1. Be sure participants have been double checked for proper fit and assembly of
      equipment harness, buckles, belay apparatus) before entering course. This cannot
      be stressed enough!!! Create a system among your staff that is adhered to in every
   2. Make sure that each participant has been properly informed, and demonstrates
      proper use of safety equipment. (Firmly require absolute attention during
      demonstration times. When preparing to demonstrate, wait until you have
      everyone's full attention. Make it very clear to participants. pants that their safety
      is dependent upon careful and correct usage of their equipment).
   3. All participants should participate in activities of their own free will. Excessive
      physical, mental or emotional prompting or coercion is discouraged [Note if you
      talk someone into doing something that they "don't want to do" this could become
      an issue in a liability case].

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                    Running the Course
                                                               High Course Operation
   4. Check each person as they move through the course for physical, mental
      emotional state. Review periodically to keep a pulse on everyone. Take measures
      necessary to provide non-invasive support.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                          Running the Course
                                                                      Low Course Operation

Low Course Operations
Check List

A. Prior to, and during a program
Attending to these details, before and after the participants arrive, will foster the safe
operation of a low course.
Keep a Pulse on All Systems
   1. Each staff member must know where First Aid Kits are located, as well as
      emergency procedures for this particular course, and have access to all medical
   2. Visually inspect each event as you arrive at the site: this will be a double-check,
      since it should have been formally done before the program began.
   3. Keep a check on the weather. Consider what steps to take, should conditions
      become threatening. (such as rain gear, or moving indoors)
   4. Always have water available, with adequate time planned for water/bathroom
      breaks, snacks and meals. (Remember that often a group of 'youth at risk' may not
      have had any breakfast - and may require an earlier lunch or snack - consider the
   5. Be sure that participants have proper clothing and footwear. Remove all jewelry
      and watches, etc. Get rid of any gum, candy, chewing tobacco, which could be
      swallowed during activities. (Enforce your rule on smoking-generally not best in
      the woods).
   6. Continually monitor group for energy level, dehydration, heat exhaustion and
      attention to activity. Plan accordingly to remedy any negative situations as they
   7. Get into the habit of scanning the area and making eye contact (to check in) with
      other staff members every few minutes. This insures that you can catch another
      staff member’s attention non-verbally when required.
   8. Communication
   9. Maintain a firm and kind, safety-conscious tone.
   10. Demonstrate all low events where improper execution may result in someone
       being injured. On low events which require a demonstrated technique in order to
       be done correctly, be sure that all safety aspects have been covered before
   11. Always be sure that a communication process is in effect before participants begin
       events which require spotting. (example: "Spotters ready?" reply: "ready!")
   12. Don't ever be afraid to stop an event to regain control, or to avert a potential

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                      Running the Course
                                                                  Low Course Operation
   13. Consistently give clear verbal commands. Ask questions. Find out participants'
       needs. Take time, and create "space," for them to speak out. Give and receive
   14. Silently observe the group, and keep track of the mental/emotional states of
       individuals. Make adjustments to provide support when needed, without
       distracting or detracting from the activities of the entire group.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                          Running the Course
                                                                          Sample Itinerary

Opening and Closure
Of an Outdoor Event with a Client Group
It is as important to open smoothly, clearly, and harmoniously with client groups, as it is
to close with a summation of learning, and a positive affirmation of the participants and
their work.
A disorganized Opening sets a tone of confusion for clients and staff, as well as does a
Closure that is hurried, with insufficient time to process the day's events.
The following suggestions for Opening and Closure are based upon a theory from
psychology that suggests that individuals and groups move through periods of inclusion,
control and affection, and whereby these issues must be recognized and dealt with. We
have found these models to be very accurate, and effective in many situations.
Be sure to schedule adequate time for Opening and Closure, as well as keeping the time
contract with your staff and clients. Remember to share leadership with the entire staff,
dividing responsibility for these opening and closing pieces.
A. Opening
1. Begin by forming a circle. Wait for everyone. Let them know that you will not begin
   until all gather. (Peer pressure will pull the tardy in).
2. State, "Welcome to the Ropes Course," or something else, appropriate to the event
   and the group. Observe each person silently, and be aware of their attitudes.
3. Play the Echo Name Game (or something similar), with a word or statement from
   each person such as: “ how I'm feeling right now.” Proceed slowly, easily and
   deliberately. Encourage peers to provide hints and support when needed.
4. Ask each person to tell why they are here, (or what they would like to accomplish,
   or another appropriate statement of information about themselves of your choosing).
5. Briefly describe the course, motioning to any elements within sight: "...a series of
   problem solving activities, requiring the physical support and ingenuity of the entire
   group...elements that bring out leadership, trust and teamwork." (You may allow
   them to walk around and look at all events after the introduction).
6. Let the participants know what your role will be (specifically in reference to the
   Action-Reflection Model, (if you have chosen to utilize it). Look at each person as you
   communicate, in order to be sure that they clearly understand.
7. Communicate Housekeeping Guidelines, slowly. Again, look at each person, to
   check for comprehension.
8. Review the Standards, one at a time and slowly, checking for each participant's
   agreement. (see Preparation and Staffing chapter for complete checklists)
   a.      No drugs or alcohol.
   b.      Give everything a try. Failure is an acceptable part of learning.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                           Running the Course
                                                                           Sample Itinerary
   c.      Look out for yourself as well as others. Ask for help and support if you need
   d.      If you experience pain or discomfort, please let us know. An injury can be
           worsened by continuing. We will make arrangements for you to participate in
           ways that will not aggravate the injury, and offer first aid when applicable. (It
           is best to state this, for often overly aggressive or very passive participants
           may not speak up should an injury occur).
9. Discuss goals slowly, one at a time. Check for agreement from participants.
10. Briefly state schedule: major divisions of day: lunch, closing time, etc. A more
    involved breakdown of the schedule is unnecessary. Check with all for agreement. (If
    someone has to leave early, find out at what time, so that you can plan for it).
11. Tour of elements (optional ). Walk to all games, and give a brief description of each.
12. Take final questions, and then go on to warm-ups (as soon as everyone is ready).
   a.      Warm-ups. This is the final section of the Opening.
   b.      Staff participates in the warm-ups in order to demonstrate inclusion.
   c.       Once finished, the staff returns to a supportive,   background role, and the
           group solves initiative games on their own

13. Sample Warm-up Sequence with demonstration by staff member:
    a.    Loosen-up on "your own" - torso, head, arms, legs, challenge areas
    b.    Breathing/yelling
    c.    Illustrate Spotting, demonstrating which areas of body to protect.
    d.    Demonstrate and Practice Lifting (safely)
    e.    Conveyer Belt
    f.    Trust Falls or Trust Circles

14. Complete Opening. Go on to first initiative game.
   a.      Emphasize moving carefully and deliberately, and keep the participants with
           you each step of the way. Repeat a clear "Contract," or framework of
           agreements, to let both parties know what is expected of them from each
           other. To keep the tempo from dragging, make your explanations brief and to
           the point. Be supportive and enthusiastic!
B. Closure
Closure takes place after the final group initiative of the day. (This does not replace a
planned, structured, follow-up meeting after the program).
1. SOLO After last initiative game (you may exclude review of last game), send
2. participants out to find a quiet, private solo spot for 5-15 min. (synchronize watches).
3. Why SOLO ? Time to go over what this day has meant to you.

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                      Running the Course
                                                                      Sample Itinerary
4. Return, and form a circle.
5. “Does anyone have something specific to say to anyone else about today?" You
   may ask for one positive or helpful comment for each person, and move deliberately
   around circle.
6. Ask for additional comments on what has been learned, either as individuals, or
   about the group.
7. Ask for final feedback for the staff: safety, comfort/abrasion level, improvements
   and helpful things staff did. You may also ask for suggestions at this time.
8. Express thanks from the entire staff, compliment them (truthfully), and invitethem
   to return as you send them home. (Remember to make arrangements before they
   leave, for the final follow-up meeting, or for the next day's event, whichever is

Ropes Course Procedural Manual                                          Running the Course
                                                                   Processing & Facilitation

                   If you give a man a fish, he will have a single meal;
                    if you teach him how tofish, he will eat all his life."
What Is Processing?
Processing is both a science and an art. The primary role of adventure educators is to
assist in the progress of participants and students, as they integrate the learning that
results from performing an activity (group or solo). The facilitator's (or educator's)
responsibility is to structure situations so that they encourage a positive reaction from the
participants. The assisting of participants to comprehend and internalize experiences, and
the lessons learned through these experiences, is called processing.
Processing points out how to utilize past experiences in making future decisions, and
therefore to direct or alter future behaviors, and thus, results. Learning resulting from the
experience is of greater consequence, than is the outcome or nature of the experience.
Outdoor programming activities, like ropes courses and initiative games, should be
planned in such a way as to meet particular goals (i.e. goals of the group or program)
Processing or debriefing after the activity gives the participants an arena for discussion
and integration of their experience; and this is what we call the Art of Processing.
This art of systematic questioning, and analysis of an event, leads the participants to
realize greater self-awareness, and assists them in applying lessons learned here to other
Developing the Skill of Processing
Experiential educators/facilitators develop the ability to process effectively through
practice, over many years. Every new situation offers new insight to the facilitator who
seeks it. The key to all good processing is a sense of honesty and deep caring.
Guidelines for Processing:
1. The participant must do it themselves. You must not speak for them!
2. Assist in a positive way.
3. Don't push. Let them seek their own answers.
4. Use Challenge by Choice.
5. Use your "bag of tricks," to bring forth just the right question or comment for a
    particular moment.
These can be difficult skills to teach. Questions and techniques can be taught, but feeling
and intuition develop with practice. A facilitator must also be able, once the safe learning
climate is created, to ask the right question, accurately read verbal and non verbal human
response, and to sense the state of participants.
The leader's role is to create a learning climate that offers challenge, fun and success.
He/She must also structure the situation to meet the goals and objectives of the program.
To lead participants into an activity without this may result in haphazard learning or none
at all. A processor, facilitator or leader, must then be flexible. and respond with intuition

You can also read