By Don Graydon.
Climbers tie the rope into a harness designed to distribute the force of a fall over a larger percentage of the body. Harness types: seat harness, body harness, chest harness.
Seat harness and homemade seat harness.
- Seat Harness: With properly fitted leg loops, a seat harness rides snugly above your hip bones yet transfers the force of a fall over the entire pelvis. It also provides a comfortable seat while rappelling.
- Adjustable leg loops allow you to maintain a snug fit no matter how few or how many layers of clothing you wear.
- Loops that can be unbuckled permit toilet calls without having to remove the harness or even untie from the rope.
- Having the waist buckle located toward one side helps avoid conflict with your rope tie-in or with the locking carabiner that you will attach to the harness for use in belaying and rappelling.
- Hardware loops are desirable for carrying carabiners and other pieces of climbing gear.
- Padded waist and leg loops give added comfort.
- Homemade Seat Harness: A homemade seat harness is an option for linking yourself to the rope. You can make a simple one from 22 feet of 1-inch tubular webbing.
- Starting about 4 1/2 feet from one end of the webbing, tie 2 leg loops just large enough to fit over your climbing clothing, and leave about a 6-inch bridge between the loops.
- Once they are tied and adjusted, leave the loops in place.
- To wear it, step into the leg loops and wrap the webbing. Use a square knot or water knot to tie off the harness, and then secure the ends with overhand knots.
- Wrap a separate piece of webbing (about 12 feet long) around your waist 2 times and tie it with a water knot. Connect this safety loop to the harness with a locking carabiner.
Body harness and chest harness.
- Body Harness: Incorporate both a chest and a seat harness. Higher tie-in point reduces the chance of flipping over backward during a fall, especially if a pack makes you top-heavy. Because a body harness distributes the force of a fall throughout the trunk of your body, there is less danger of lower-back injury.
Although they are unquestionably safer, body harnesses have not found popular favor in mountaineering.
- More expensive and restrictive.
- Hard to add or remove clothing.
Body harnesses have found the greatest popularity with children, whose still developing bodies make seat harnesses either unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Chest Harness: Can be readily improvised with a long loop of webbing (a long runner). One popular design depends on a carabiner to bring the ends of the harness together at your chest.
To make this carabiner chest harness:
- Start with 9 1/2 feet of 1-inch tubular webbing.
- Tie it into a loop, with a water knot. Use a distinctive color for the webbing if you want to keep the chest harness identifiable; otherwise, it looks just like any other double-length runner.
- Give the loop a half twist to create two temporary loops, and push one arm all the way through each loop.
- Lift the runner over your head and let it drop against your back; then pull the two sides together and clip with a carabiner at your chest.
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