Seeking Advice for Proper Rope Walking Technique and Any Other Relevant/Helpful Information!


That Guy With The Face
Oct 9, 2022
Scottsdale, Arizona
I wrote this in the "how'd it go today?" thread and realized it deserves its own thread because I'm curious as to how rope walking is best performed. Here's my post...

"I discovered this really great, relatively young tree on my apartment complex’s property that goes straight up with a high up canopy and the first limb (about 35 feet up) comes out perpendicular to the stem. I pulled a line over it several feet out from the union so that I could have plenty of space to practice rope walking.

I recently bought a Stein Cambo knee ascender before my surgery and now I’m trying to play around with it and I’m not very good at it…yet! I found a video of a guy using the same device and I watched him fly up a rope like Peter frickin’ Pan, so I’m optimistic that the issue is my technique and not the device nor my commitment to improve. I mean, this guy was practically “rope jogging.” At least that’s how it felt compared to my slow and deliberate steps.

Rope walking is so efficient that even I can reach my destination faster than most other methods, despite having almost no experience. I’m addicted. I just need to get the technique down. The only thing I don’t like is how the bungee starts to eat into my shoulder after a while. But the way I see it: It’s meant to be used in spurts. You ascend, take it off, the end. So obviously it’s going to start becoming uncomfortable as I practice; repeatedly subjecting my shoulder to the bungee more than intended.

Any of you guys and gals have a similar setup for rope walking? Any tips from anyone? The main issue I'm having is that the knee ascender tends to get stuck around my bridge, even though my bridge isn’t super short or anything. It might be the angles. I know the first time I practiced, I had the bungee oriented incorrectly ever so slightly and caught it in the review phase.

I like to film myself practicing at height and then I review it and sometimes even log the footage as a self-teaching tool. Might be excessive, but it helps. I notice all kinds of things that I wouldn’t if I were simply trying to mentally recall the experience by memory. So much more efficient just to review it on tape (ha! Talk about an age revealer! Who uses tapes anymore?)."

Sorry for the length! If anyone has any sage wisdom regarding rope walking gear and technique and setup, etc., I would greatly appreciate it. I tried looking to see if there were already threads about this topic, but the forum search engine appears to be down. So I'm sorry if this is redundant.
Not sure how your bungee is setup exactly. but I have a paracord loop on my saddle waistband I clip into. Hardly know it's there. It only needs to be tight enough to reliably advance the ascender when you step up.
pics of your knee ascender? I cant see how it would dig into your shoulder, I run my bungee up to my chest harness although need to shorten it so it goes to the carabiner connecting the climbing device to my bridge
my prefered for ropewalking seems to be the zigzag/ropewrench combo, or the akimbo, uni in third, hitch and wrench in 10th or 12th
keep a weight on the line below you, just tie a slip knot below you once you get 5 ft up or so, then hang a weight off it to keep the rope tight as you ascend, a 12 ounce throw ball with XSRE carabiner is my goto for a line weight

also, dont use your hands to pull yourself up, its pointless, just use them to keep you upright
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Only have a picture of it disassembled right now. Not near my assembled one. The bungee attaches to the ascender and then the second carabiner goes on the end of the bungee. I tried using it stretched to my bridge, but it wasn't enough. Maybe my expectations were too high? I'll try it again. I saw a guy on YouTube put it on by stretching it all the way behind his back and then he flew up a tree, big strides. It'll rain tomorrow, but I'll practice again on Wednesday if possible. If you're wondering where the foot loop is, it didn't come with one, so I hand made one using accessory cord. It's actually pretty clever how I made it. But anyways, there's a foot loop which clips to the carabiner at the end of the sling portion.

Thanks for all of the advice, @WoodCutr. I love those XSRE carabiners. I have a little collection of the screwgated ones. I have been weighting my rope down. It makes a huge difference.

And @lxskllr, I'm going to do a lot better now that you've told me to take much smaller steps. I feel like that's really going to make it work better for me.

I also recently discovered that neck tethers work way better than any chest harness I've ever tried. They all ride up on me and do weird things. Maybe I'm missing something. I use a 32" spliced eye to eye as a neck tether. It works great and it's comfortable.
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There isn't a wrong way as long as it's safe I guess, but over the shoulder sounds awkward. Dunno how stout that cord is, but play around with a loop til you get the right tension. Girth hitch the loop to the ascender, then clip it off. Good spring? If not, you can shorten the loop, or double over on itself so you have 4 legs going. You don't have to use all the provided material.

I'd be cautious about having a loop around your neck. 99% of time it'll be fine, but that other 1% could be a real bitch. Think about the natural world you're dealing with, and the ways it could go wrong. My first preference is a chest harness, but I'd at least want to see a breakaway on a neck leash.
My knee ascender bungee is doubled over and clipped to my suspenders. It can go anywhere, really. Just so long as it advances with your steps. It’s a SAKA. I can’t comment on yours because I’ve only used the SAKA
double up that bungee and clip it to your bridge and see how it goes, clipping to your chest harness, or even a strap around your wrist and manual advance it with your hand can make a huge difference
My knee ascender is about level with my knee. The bungee is just long enough to clip into my harness at waist level.
I doubled the bungee cord so it would have enough 'spring' to advance the ascender yet still be quite short.
I have a Paul Didier chest harness and that stiff plastic tether thingy (I think it's called a 'holster) on my HH and it tends like a dream.
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Wow! Thanks everyone for all of the great, fast -- and most importantly -- helpful feedback!

I guess there are two major takeaways from everyone's posts...

Firstly, I need to try doubling my bungee and clipping it to my harness. That sounds much more ergonomic and painless (literally). I will try that as soon as I am able.

Secondly, @lxskllr suggested quite correctly that I should look into breakaway neck tethers. I think that's a great idea. I wonder if those can be bought. I could easily make my own by incorporating a loop between my neck tether and the XSRE carabiner made from something with a low MBS, but high enough to allow for the consistent raising of my device. I could also create one with a quick release latch that would have a little cord that could be pulled to release it in case of an emergency.

I actually climbed again today and practiced my rope walking. Honestly, it went incredibly well this time. I was focused, I knew what to do, and my rope was throw over the outside of a limb so that I was hanging in space; nothing to prevent my movement. I went up and down several times. I documented it on film per usual and I made an experiential how-to video out of it. It will be on my channel in the next week or so.
I took it slowly, but this time the knee ascender rose freely and I captured large amounts of progress (6 inches at a time on average) with each stride. It felt so good! I effortlessly was able to ascend, which each attempt getting better and better.

I guess a good takeaway is: Between my last attempt and this one, all I did was try and educate myself about rope walking and techniques, tips and tricks. I didn't even have to actually practice rope walking in order to improve my rope walking abilities! I merely acquired knowledge from people "in the know."

Once again, I'm very grateful for everyone who shared their knowledge! =-D
I could easily make my own by incorporating a loop between my neck tether and the XSRE carabiner made from something with a low MBS, but high enough to allow for the consistent raising of my device. I could also create one with a quick release latch that would have a little cord that could be pulled to release it in case of an emergency.
I think something a good bit lighter than that. Those biners are pretty stout for their size. The only real function is to pull up your ascent device as you climb, so it doesn't need to hold much weight. A very cheap Chinese clip would probably work ok. Something that'll just break when it get a heavy load on it. Maybe like this...


Poor reading comprehension on my part. I see what you're saying now. Clip still might be a good idea though. A "fusible link" that'll break away in case of trouble, and very cheap.
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