Rigging, Jumping and Hauling Rope Swings
This is one of several chapters (blogs) that cover rope swinging and we guide you to the others in the main "ebook" - How NOT 2 Rope Swing.
Andy Lewis and Sylvan Christenson wrote the book on the topic, but then burned it. In rope swinging years, they are ancient. These OGs haven't shared their secrets on the internet until now.
Warning!: Rope Jumping is inherently dangerous and some of the baddest asses have died doing it, like Lucky Chance and Dan Osman for example. It can also result in serious injuries, NOT just death! The information in this guide is to be used at your own risk. You solely are responsible for your actions and decisions. The information in this guide is meant to help take the mystery out of some of the systems but at the same time, overwhelm you with how much complexity goes into a rope swing. Please go with an expert the first time you go rope swinging! Maybe the 2nd time too...
Interview with Andy Lewis and Sylvan Christensen
Much of this conversation is in the context of rope swings in Moab, where there are sandstone cliffs that are sometimes only as long as a single rope. They are not fixed on doing it exactly any one way. They are flexible with what they have and where they are jumping. They also will rig significantly safer if 100 people plan on jumping it vs just themselves.
ANCHORS: They will use a BFK off 4 bolts like you would see in a highline anchor.
SPAN: They will use webbing like a traditional highline with a loose backup but they also use semi-static rope. When they do use ropes, they will twin tension 2 ropes with a Petzl I.D. on each line with a knot behind them in case they slip.
FULCRUM: If they are hauling back to the exit, They will terminate the webbing sewn eyes or rope knots to two rigging plates or two bomber steel rings with hard shackles or soft shackles.
JUMP ROPES: They mostly jump on dynamic ropes but if they have enough play in the span and swing in the line they would jump on semi-static ropes though it isn't as soft. NEVER JUMP STRAIGHT DOWN ON SEMI-STATIC ROPES! They offset their jump ropes so you get the full stretch of one rope before the other starts to catch. They don't replace their ropes after a certain number of jumps.
TEST BAG: They will throw bags with 100-200lbs of rocks in it so it's testing the height properly, not just the trajectory.
ATTACHING THE JUMPER: Rocks wear out faster than ropes in Moab so abrasion 1 meter away from the jumper as it rubs the edge before they jump is less of a concern. One benefit to adding a sleeve to the 2 jump ropes for the first few meters is that clients would be less likely to jump in between the ropes. They will attach the jumper with two opposing steel carabiners.
HARNESSES: Jumping for just themselves they will use climbing harnesses but a new person will be in a full body harness so they can't scorpion and damage their back.
HAULING: Gas-powered capstan or 30 people pulling is how they will pull people up. They use a tripod, progress capture (protraction), and a spotter to warn the hauler(s) when to stop. They lower a ring down the jump ropes and have a personal anchor already attached to the jumper that they clip to the ring when it gets to them. The haul line pulls the ring directly back up to the exit. During the jump itself, they try to give as much slack in the haul line as possible without being in the way of the jumper so it doesn't get sucked up into the fulcrum and get stuck.
ACCIDENT REPORT: [NOT ON THEIR ROPE SWING BUT WITNESSED IT] A jumper picked up his legs and hit his butt on the cliff edge forcing him to fall in a way that his toes, pointing straight to the ground, hit a tiny ledge that is very hard to hit if you just stepped off the cliff. His big toes broke and he had a double tib fib to boot... get it? He hung at the bottom until he came out of shock and could clip himself in so they could haul him up.
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