Coiling a rope is both a skill and an art. First, it's a skill because no matter how you coil the rope, you should be proficient and it should be easy to uncoil the rope for use. Second, it's an art, because each of us have our own little tricks that we throw into coiling that make a given coil our own.
Mike Barter, the prolific climbing instructional video-maker, has a
handful of different rope coiling techniques posted on his youtube
channel. The one thing that he neglects to say though, is that before
you start in any rope coiling endeavor, you should flake the rope.
This first video of an individual doing a butterfly coil in his hand is
a great example of someone who skipped the flaking part of the
Butterfly coils -- or lap coils, if that's what you prefer -- can be
bulky and difficult to deal with when they are in your hand,
particularly if you have small hands. In the next video, we will have
the opportunity to see the same type of system done over the neck.
Mike calls coiling over the neck the Brit Style, or something like
that. I might refer to this instead as simply a butterfly coil over
the neck... And I have to say that this is also the way that most
American guides coil their ropes. It's very fast and it's very easy
once you've put in a bit of practice. The biggest downside is when you
have a heavy and wet rope from glacier travel. When that happens it's
never fun to coil over your neck...
In each of the preceding videos, it would be easy to convert the ropes,
the way that the climbers coiled them, into backpacks. You must
simply wrap the two ends of the rope over your shoulders, wrap them
around your waist -- capturing the rope behind you -- and then tie them
together in front of you. Generally a square knot tends to be the
easiest and quickest knot to tie in that position that won't come
Some climbers elect to butterfly a rope as a single strand. This
style, sometimes referred to as a French coil, is nice for quick use of
the rope. Many will do this when they are sport climbing because if
you're good, the rope doesn't necessarily need to be flaked.
In the third video, Mike demonstrates the mountaineers coil. This
particular style can be very nice for traveling with a rope. But where
it is not nice is in uncoiling it. If you coil or store your rope in
this particular fashion, it's very important to remember to uncoil the
rope one strand at a time, otherwise things will get very messy.
Unless you always put your rope
into a rope bag, coiling is a very important part of climbing. As I
say on this blog a lot, practice makes perfect!
--Jason D. Martin