Which rope clamps are there?

 Rope clamps are indispensable when climbing on a rope. They make ascending and descending much easier and have become indispensable for many rope climbers. Without rope clamps, the ascent becomes a huge physical act. In addition, they also serve as a necessary safeguard against falls.

Important to know

A rope clamp is also called a rope clamp and is used as climbing equipment. It allows the climbing rope to slide in the climbing direction and blocks it in the other direction, thanks to built-in teeth.
There are a total of four different types of rope clamps, which are distinguished:

  • Hand rope clamp,
  • Chest ascender,
  • Foot ascender
  • Auxiliary rope clamp.

They mainly differ in their different functions:

Secure against falls: Hand ascenders and Chest ascenders
Pure climbing aids: Foot ascenders and makeshift crampons.
The areas of application of a rope clamp are very versatile. You can use them for “jümarn” (climbing with two rope clamps), as a belay for building a pulley or for solo climbing (only for very experienced climbers).este Rope Clamp: Shopping Guide and Recommendations (06/22)

What is a suitable riser clamp for you?

We help you find the perfect rope dock. To do this, we compared manual crampons, chest crampons, foot crampons and makeshift crampons and listed their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Hand ascender

A hand rope clamp is now considered a "must have" for rope climbers. With the help of this rope clamp you can "jümarn", i.e. rope yourself up with two hands rope clamps. You attach one rope clamp to your harness and the other to the sling that you climb through with your foot.

You can mainly use this rope clamp to ascend on the rope. It forms your “safety backup” and is therefore part of your chain of protection. It makes your ascent easier by ensuring that you can pull up with little effort. It's also easy to use.


  • Part of the belay chain
  • makes takeoff easier
  • easy to handle


  • too uncertain as an independent belay chain
  • its use requires practice

A disadvantage is that an independent hand climber is too uncertain as a belay function. It is better to use a second rope clamp and/or a Prusik (special clamp knot) in addition to the hand rope clamp. Moreover, using such a rope clamp requires some practice, because you have to open it with one hand during use.

Chest ascender

You connect a chest rope clamp directly to your climbing harness. It gets its name from the fact that it sits exactly at the level of the chest.

The main advantage of a chest climber is that it can protect you from falling, compared to a toe climber, i.e. it can be counted as part of the safety chain, just like the hand climber. A chest climber is not really necessary for the actual ascent, because you can also use your abseil device for it. However, it is much easier and faster with such a crampon.


  • Part of the belay chain
  • makes takeoff easier


  • Complex conversion of the descender
  • The biggest disadvantage of such a rope clamp is that you have to convert your descender quite extensively to use a breast rope clamp. This is not easy, especially for beginners.

Foot ascender

A foot climber is not part of a belay chain, but is attached directly to your foot and is used purely as a climbing aid. If you want to buy a foot ascender, you should always have a hand ascender, chest ascender or other means of protection with you when climbing.

He can e.g. used as support on long climbs. It is also a good aid when using special climbing techniques, such as climbing stairs.


  • Lighting on long climbs
  • support in the use of special climbing techniques


  • Unintentional opening possible
  • clumsy handling

The disadvantage of foot climbers is that they can sometimes open unintentionally, which is why they should only be used by experienced climbers. The fact that the foot is attached to the rope in this type of rope clamp also generally makes it very clumsy to handle.

Auxiliary rope clamp

An auxiliary rope clamp is a rope clamp in minimal form. It can save you time in situations where you can feel safe as a lead climber, even if your lead climber is in trouble.

This allows you to reach belays that are longer than the actual rope. This allows the second climber to continue climbing, even if the lead climber is at a critical point, without endangering him. On the other hand, if your second climber is in a tricky situation, you can use the makeshift rope clamp to secure the exit of a route.


  • time savings
  • reaching places longer than the rope
  • securing the exit of a route


  • high risk of loosening slings or wedges
  • not possible to secure the leader on the descent
  • risk of rope wear

A disadvantage of the improvised rope clamp is that its use increases the risk of slings or wedges coming loose. In addition, it is not possible to tie up the lead climber during the descent, i.e. the lead climber must never be put in a situation where he is forced to descend! As with any use of a rope clamp, the risk of rope wear eventually increases.

Who is a rope clamp suitable for?

With a rope clamp you can always pull yourself up on your rope without much effort, whether you are in an emergency situation or not. Rope clamps are particularly suitable, for example, as a belay for solo climbing, for climbing the big wall, for technical climbing, as a backstop when setting up a pulley and, last but not least, even as equipment for expeditions and caving.

How can I save myself with a rope clamp?

To free yourself from a crevice with a rope clamp, you must proceed as follows (this procedure is also called the pulley technique)

  • First you have to educate yourself. To do this, attach a rope clamp to the climbing rope and arrange it with a 90 loop at arm's length.
  • Then you set up a climbing prusik. To do this, place a pulley under the top rope clamp and hang a climbing sling from it.
  • Now you start the ascent: you alternately push the self-binding clip up, follow the scaffolding with your foot and then climb up again. Repeat this until you reach the edge of the canyon again.
  • At the edge of the crevasse you use the self-tying technique: you hook the pulley into the body and remove the ascender loop. Now reroute the rope at the top clamp. That is it! Now you can pull yourself up like a pulley.
  • What alternatives are there to a rope clamp?
  • Before the introduction of rope clamps, special knotting techniques were used to climb up the rope. Today, however, they are mainly used in mountain rescue, or are usually just used as an additional belay to the rope grab.

The following knotting techniques are distinguished

Prusik knot: When taking off with a Prusik, two ascending slings, with a length of approx. 150 m, are pushed up the rope behind each other. Before the descent, the Prusik is used again as a securing aid on the brake rope.
Garda sling: This is also called a Garda sling and is considered an alternative to a rope sling with a backstop. The Garda sling has the advantage that it can be made without much effort with the usual climbing equipment you have with you. To do this, a loop is tied through two identical carabiners in an express set.

FAQ overview: Go back.


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