Make a Rope Ladder For Any Climb

Posted: 06/10/2009 in emergency preparedness, equipment, primitive skills, survival
Tags: , , , ,

Rope ladders are an incredibly simple piece of equipment to build, and if you don’t need the ladder, you can use the rope for some other need, like dragging that deer out of the woods. I was over to one of the bog box sporting stores the other day and was amazed at how many gadgets there were to get you up into your tree stand. I wondered why more people didn’t just use a rope ladder to get up high and asked the salesperson about it. His reply was; “Huh? What? Let me know if you need any more help….” And then he wandered off to talk to some other zit laden kid. I figured it probably never dawns on anybody that they can save a lot of money, as well as making their tree stand more secure by using a simple do it your self ladder. Besides that, how much profit is there in a hank of rope compared to a two hundred dollar tree stand kit?

Rope ladders have been around for eons, and in primitive days were made by various aboriginals by twisting vines together to make them stronger, or by making rope from grasses. Today, there are several versions available premade, but they can be costly, bulky to carry, and limited in usage at times. The traditional scheme of ladder consists of two ropes laid parallel, and a board placed between the two ropes every few inches. Sometimes a pipe is used. Holes are drilled through the cross piece and the rope(s) threaded through them, and knotted to keep the cross piece in place. These are normally what we see used as emergency ladders, and they come with some sort of apparatus to keep them hooked onto a window frame some way during use.

Another type of ladder is called a firecracker ladder, and this one consists of a single rope tied through the middle of the cross pieces, and assembled the same as the previous mentioned version. Both of these versions have their uses and are quite handy to have on hand as an emergency ladder, but when you are out cruising the forests, and you want to climb down a steep embankment or cliff, or even just want to get up into a tree stand, they can be very cumbersome. You have to roll them up and carry them as a bundle, or in some sort of duffel bag. The cross pieces mean you are limited to spces where you have enough room to accommodate the width.

There is another version of a rope ladder that I personally prefer when afield, and that one is the stirrup ladder. It’s a simple one made from a single rope, with stirrups, or loops tied into it every few inches. It’s harder to climb than a conventional ladder, but its portability makes up for that. You can simply coil it like any rope, throw it over your shoulder and take off. Plus, it’s a quick and easy build, no tools needed, and the rope is still intact for other uses if you need it. You also have the capability of making it as long or as short as you need, provided you have enough rope.

Before we go further, here’s a couple of points regarding rope safety. First and foremost is to make sure that you use the right rope for what you intend it for. In other words, don’t make a ladder out of clothesline rope. Check the breaking strength of the rope you intend to buy, and make sure it has a breaking strength of at least 10,000 pounds. If you are big ole bear of a guy, that may not even be enough. But up to maybe 250 pounds is a good limit for that strength of rope. Check with a local pro if you can’t figure it out, and if you can’t, don’t make the ladder. And get what is commonly referred to as a kernmantle as opposed to a regular twisted strand rope. They last longer and are easier to coil.

You’ll also want to regularly inspect the rope you use for climbing for wear, and if there are any frays or nicks to it, relegate it to the tying off the tarp category and get a new one. Safety is always job one, and remember that. as far as buying the rope itself, there are hundreds of them on the market, and it can be difficult to find a good source for your climbing rope. You can get a good quality and strong rope at some hardware stores, but make sure it is of the safety type that roofers would use to tie themselves off with. Another source is at a sporting goods outfitter that caters to the rock climbing trade. however, some of these folks can be rather snooty if you are not going rock climbing, and the rope is usually pretty expensive.

An even better, and usually much cheaper source for your rope is going to be an arborists supply shop. Ask for tree climbing rope and you’ll be right at home. You can also pick up some pointers on climbing trees by rope as well there. But no matter where you buy your rope, make sure it is strong enough for climbing. Many brands label the rope with a breaking point, but these are not necessarily the true breaking point, so shop carefully.

At any rate, at one end of your rope, tie a bowline knot at one end of your rope. This will be the bottom of the ladder. Make sure you tie a tight knot onto the loose end of the rope so it doesn’t get pulled back through if excessive force is applied to the loop.

Generally, for most men 12 to 18 inches is a good distance between loops, or stirrups in a rope ladder. Tie off a fisherman’s loop at the desired distances. These are easy to make. Simply double the line, grasping it in your left hand with about twelve inches sticking out. Wind the loop over two extended fingers and through the hole that is created. Pull it tight, and try to make all of the loops consistent in size.

Make another loop at the very end in the same way. If you want to connect two ropes together, simply join the two ropes together by a similar knot on the second rope.

If you are making this as an emergency egress rope, size the loop so it will fit around a beam or pipe that will fit across the window frame and be big enough to support the weight. Make sure no more than one person at a time is on the ladder when in use. To use for climbing up to your tree stand, tie a rope to the end, and make what is called a monkey knot at the other end, or attach a weight to it for throwing it over a sizable limb on your tree.

Pull the ladder up to the height of the limb and then tie off the second pulling rope so that it will support the weight of your climb. If it is windy, or you want to stabilize the ladder, tie off the bottom loop. If you do that, you won’t be able to pull the rope up after you though. Usually that isn’t a problem, but there may be times you’ll want to do that. especially in the coming times. When you’re done, you can simply untie the rope from the tree and coil it up like you would any other rope. No bulky cross pieces to play with and no need to bother with a duffel or bag to carry it in.

By using this type of ladder, you won’t be bringing attention to your tree stand by having to leave ladders attached to it. Nor will you have to leave the tell tale screw in steps that some people use. Even if you unscrew the steps, holes will be left in the tree. Out of sight, out of mind is the key idea behind using this type of a ladder. At some point and time you will more than likely have to do some hunting that needs to be kept under the radar, such as when our wild lands become prohibited from us. The coming times are going to be tough for some folks, and unbearable for others, but if we develop the survival mindset today, we’ll be able to survive the coming times.

  1. james g says:

    your link, the apocaplytic cyclist is not found.
    thnkx for the rope ladder.

    Thanks for the heads up on the A C link, I removed the link as I couldn’t find the blog anywhere.

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