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No Harness?
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Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
No Harness? on 08/24/2012 17:09:49 MDT Print View

I was going to post in the "Climbing Harness" thread below, but it seemed a little off topic arguing when to replace gear, so here we are. Search didn't offer much.

I climbed the Washington Volcanoes this summer, and it struck me that my cushy harness (used primarily for rock climbing) is nearly a pound. Yikes!

So, to the internets! Minimalist harness, lightest weight, boom- Camp Alpine95 somethingorother. 3.5oz. Sweet! Wish I had 50$.

Got to thinking. Harnesses are a relatively new invention in mountaineering. Could do a swammi, or go Wymper style and just tie straight into the rope? Lightest harness must be... no harness?

Before we drift, I'm wondering if anyone nixes the harness on simple, low angle climbs (Glacier, Baker, etc) without technical rock, rappels, or other must-have-harness occasions? And something tells me a crevasse fall on a 3.5oz harness can't be all that more comfortable than a rope around the waist.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: No Harness? on 08/24/2012 17:19:36 MDT Print View

Due to the roundness of a rope, they don't make good harnesses. You want something that is flatter, like a nylon tow strap.

Back about forty or fifty years ago, we didn't have proper harnesses. Or, if they existed, we could not afford them. All we used was a Swiss Seat made from a long nylon strap.


Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Swiss Seat on 08/24/2012 17:42:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the Swiss Seat reference, I hadn't heard of it prior. I like it, if for no other reason it requires less webbing than the Hasty Harness.

Do you mean to say rope makes a poor harness due to it's round shape, because of comfort?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
leg loops on 08/24/2012 17:49:09 MDT Print View

You need some kind of leg loops so you don't pass out in a long hang with the rope
pressing on your chest. Unless your climb has no possible way for you to end up in a
hanging situation, fashion some sort of leg loops from webbing to go with whatever
waist tie in (swami, bowline on a coil etc.) you use. In any case, make sure you can't
fall out of your system either feet or head down.

If rappelling is involved, a harness or swami with leg loops is more practical than using
the rope as a harness.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
swammi on 08/24/2012 18:01:50 MDT Print View

I've been playing with webbing options today, and it looks like about 15ft of 1inch tubular is the least amount I would want, although the swiss seat needs less. This amount of webbing is about 4.7oz on my scale, which is nearly as light as you can find a harness. It will probably be my solution on the cheap til I can justify another harness to the wife.

I never considered passing out due to upward diaphragmatic pressure. Probably a concern :P

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: swammi on 08/24/2012 18:12:48 MDT Print View

Just got back from a 6 day glacier mountaineering course on Mt Baker. I used a Black Diamond Couloir harness, as did the instructor, and the other participant. Perfect for our application -- it's on sale right now for $41 at BD's website. I've seen it on sale for even less...

Mark Montag
(mMontag) - F
Go with the BD on 08/24/2012 18:33:07 MDT Print View

Another vote for the Couloir - BD got it right on that piece of gear - semi adjustable, drop leg loops - packs small.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
BD on 08/24/2012 19:55:50 MDT Print View

I tried the BD on and found it a little finicky. I want to try the CAMP alpine95 out. It is less than half of the weight, and if it can fit over my boots/pons I might be drawn in that direction. I don't where skis, so the standing on/off isn't much of an issue.

Khader Ahmad
(337guanacos) - F

Locale: Pirineos, Sierra de la Demanda
Edil knot on 08/25/2012 05:22:25 MDT Print View

To make an emergency harness you can use the Edil knot, invented or introduced to the climbing world by Alberto Rabadá "Edil" in the fifties :

edil knot

The center (longer than the other two) loop goes over your shoulder, the other loops in your legs, the bulk of the knot more or less over your belly button.

It's far from an optimal solution, but it works well. If you try it, do it in a controlled environment first.

As with other emergency methods it's not suitable for a prolonged hanging situation, apart from passing out if you are suspended too long on a thin rope or harness (like the cilao or camp ski racing harnesses) you can die due to orthostatic shock when someone moves you, it's a really rare event, but it happens.

There are many cheap and light harnesses around, buy one.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
No Harness vs. Light harness on 08/25/2012 13:41:10 MDT Print View

I've put a lot of miles on Camp's sub-4oz harnesses. I wore out one of the originals and than replaced it with latest version. I've also hung in the light little BD harness recently. I love my camp harness but you need to be sure to put it on before you need it, definitely before you put on crampons. I find it comfortable enough that I can just put it on early and wear it all day weather I am using it or not. The BD harness would be the best for donning in a sketchy spot, and it has gear loops, which are usefull.

I'm also no stranger to a bowline on a coil or a tied webbing harness. Personally I'd say that there is not really any comparison. Tying in with the rope is really only appropriate when you are being belayed, it isn't useful for rappelling or glacier travel, and the likelihood of serious injury from the rope if you end up hanging is very high. I don't know how you would prusik out of a crevass tied in with coils. It leaves you with strictly a body rappel, which can work OK if the terrain is not to steep and you actually practice enough to actually do it safely. If you use this technique regularly I think you will quickly spend more than $50 replacing the clothes that you ruin in the process.

I think the camp harness is more comfortable than a tied harness to hang in. It is far better than a swami belt, those are known to reliably make people go un-conscious when hanging.

The places where tying in with coils or some sort of improvised harness seems to work OK is when scrambling. If you are using a rope to protect someone from above in a situation where they will not have to hang any real amount of time if they put there weight on the rope than it can be a reasonable solution. I would not want to consider leading without a real harness though.

I think the cost of a light harness is well worth it. Climbing takes money, the harness is less than the amount you probably spend on gas many weekends, and not much more than a climbing permit on Ranier.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Gas money on 08/26/2012 14:45:07 MDT Print View

You are correct. It's the choosing between the gas and the gear that's the issue :P

I'll haul around my rock harness this season, and hope when I finish school in the spring I'll start earning the big yuppie bucks

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Harness on 08/27/2012 19:59:00 MDT Print View

U can get ul harness by diff manuf ... Some are even suitable for rock climbing as well

A harness should last you for years, especially fron rei ...

You generally dont want to rappel offa bowline coil, etc ...

Remember the simpler and easier it is when yr cold, tired, hungry and in the dark ... The safer youll be

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
No harness on 03/27/2013 20:14:48 MDT Print View

When I began rock climbing, we tied in with a single loop bowline (later bowline on a coil), and did body rappels. I was really glad when swami seats and harnesses came along. They are well worth the weight. However, it is nice to know what you can do with nothing more than a rope - comes in handy sometimes. But I will willingly carry a harness for anything significant.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Gas money on 03/27/2013 21:58:52 MDT Print View

>"You are correct. It's the choosing between the gas and the gear that's the issue"

Okay, this isn't UIAA-certified, but if you're not taking leader falls and are seriously considering using a rope as a harness to save money:

Go to a Pick-your-Parts Automotive Salvage Facility (i.e. "junkyard"). Find a front seat lap/shoulder harness from a late-model car. Go to the passenger side because it's seen less use. Pull out all the 2" webbing, and cut it off. Repeat on another car. Each will be about 9 feet long. Send it through the laundry with some Tide detergent to clean up quite nicely. You now have something designed to take thousands of pounds of force in a high-G setting, but is lighter and (being wider) more comfortable than 1" tubular webbing. For about $2 if they charge you anything.

If you haven't thought about a stitching and buckles A LOT, just use overhead follow-through knots to hold it together.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Camp on 06/12/2013 00:42:52 MDT Print View

The Camp ... as you mention is one of, if not the lightest harness out there, fine for glacier travel, but not much more. At $50, it's also one of the cheapest harnesses out there. Making a harness out of webbing would weigh considerably more and they're not too comfortable.

Here's my take on the yes/no harness issue. If you're scrambling on rock and you're confident - go for it - go unroped. I do it all the time. I'd suggest wearing a helmet if there's a lot of rock/cliff above you. Having climbed a lot in both BC and WA, I would never go unroped on a glacier. The big volcanoes in WA all have massive crevasse fields, a lot of which you probably can't see [is there 12" of snow between me and 100' of air - who knows?]. I've had to cross over many a sketchy crevasse on Baker [with undercut edges etc]. A friend of a friend fell 100' feet into a crevasse in BC [unroped] a few years back and it didn't end well. I appreciate that you want to lighten-up, but a harness and being roped on a glacier is basic safety. Mountaineering can be heavy and expensive - you have to find that happy medium of cost/performance/safety. I should also mention that saving money by purchasing one brand of jacket over another or one type of carabiner over another makes sense, but cutting-out a critical piece of safety gear because it's $50 [or is too heavy] - doesn't sound reasonable to me. Mountaineering is one of those few sports where mistakes are often made only once.

Edited by redpoint on 06/12/2013 00:58:17 MDT.