Glacier travel tip - secure your foot prusik with tape


When roping up for glacier travel, climbers typically attach prusik loops to the rope to enable self-rescue from a crevasse.  The normal rig uses two loops: 1) a short waist loop (typically about 24 inches) clipped to your harness, and 2) a longer foot loop (about 48 inches) and, depending on the rigging, also clipped to the harness or hanging free.

The problem here is becomes what to do with the 4ish feet of extra hanging foot loop?  Most books advise you to simply “tuck it into your harness waist belt or leg loop”.

Sheesh, have these authors ever actually tried this in Real Life?! CLUSTER!

Think of all the gear you have in front of you on a glacier climb – climbing harness, pack waist belt, carabiner to clip your waist prusik, carabiner to clip rope, tied off extra rope in a kiwi coil, maybe a shoulder sling with rescue gear . . . it’s already a complicated mess down there, and stuffing in a leg prusik loop makes it even worse.

And remember, you probably don’t need to even put a foot prusik on the rope for every glacier climb you do.  Check out this tip for an overview of the three levels of risk of glacier travel, and appropriate rigging for each.

Here are two options to deal with this.

1 - After you attach the foot prusik it to the rope, roll the remaining cord into a small bundle and tape it securely with athletic tape.  Rather than a dangling long loop of cord to deal with, you now have a compact bundle that simply rests a few inches below the prusik knot. The only time you’ll ever need this foot loop is in case of a crevasse fall, which most climbers on moderate routes go their entire lives without experiencing.  If this ever happens, you can easily rip the tape, and then the cord deploys. You can even tape up your foot loop at home, as long as you leave about 8-10” free so you can make the prusik knot.

2 - Skip the long prusik all together and just add a second short one. If you ever need to use it, have a double length (120 cm) runner handy on your harness, girth hitch it to the short prusik and there’s your foot loop ready to go.