Friday, October 27, 2017

The Alpine Clutch

The Garda Hitch or the Alpine Clutch...

These are two names for a hitch that is sometimes used as a one-way ratchet in a variety of systems. In other words, when the hitch is tied correctly, the rope only moves in one direction. Following is a short video on how to tie the alpine clutch:

There are some downsides to the garda hitch. First, it cannot be tied well on locking carabiners. The locks sometimes separate the carabiners just enough to make the hitch slip. Second, if the carabiners somehow lose their orientation, the hitch can slip. Third, you must use similar style carabiners to tie the knot. The problem with similar carabiners is that those that work really well, D carabiners, can unclip themselves. Fourth, the hitch is difficult to release under load. Fifth, the garda hitch can never be used instead of a belay device as it can cut the rope. And sixth, the hitch creates a lot of friction in hauling systems.

It seems a little bit sketchy to put all of your eggs into a basket that doesn't allow for locking carabiners. It also seems a little bit sketchy that if the carabiners shift, the whole thing can come apart. And there is that thing about all those other problems.... So why do people use this?

The main reason is that the garda hitch is quick. The set-up takes mere seconds.

The most common uses of the hitch are in crevasse rescue systems, pack hauling systems and in rope climbing systems. If you elect to use the hitch in a situation where it is key to a person's security, it's important that you back-up the garda-hitch. This can be done in several ways if you experiment. The best security is to ensure that there is never more than six feet in a system.

If this particular hitch interests you, dial it in in non-essential systems before committing to it in a human style hauling system...

--Jason D. Martin

No comments: