Tyrolean traverse

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Tyrolean traverse used as emergency evacuation. Saxon Switzerland, 1926 Fotothek df ps 0000186 Abseilubung am Hohen Torstein. Bergung eines Verletzten m.jpg
Tyrolean traverse used as emergency evacuation. Saxon Switzerland, 1926
Climber uses Tyrolean traverse to cross the Rio Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina Tyrolean traverse across Rio Fitz Roy - 1.jpg
Climber uses Tyrolean traverse to cross the Río Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina
US Marine trains river crossing using Tyrolean traverse. USMC-090622-M-4150N-179.jpg
US Marine trains river crossing using Tyrolean traverse.

A Tyrolean traverse is a method of crossing through free space between two high points on a rope without a hanging cart or cart equivalent. This is used in a range of mountaineering activities: rock climbing, technical tree climbing, caving, water crossings and mountain rescue. A zip-line is in essence a Tyrolean traverse which is traveled down quickly with the assistance of gravity. Several sources claim that the name comes from the Tyrolean Alps, where climbers are said to have developed the system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. [1] [2] [3]

In rock climbing a Tyrolean traverse is most often used to return to the main part of a wall after climbing a detached pillar. Lost Arrow Spire, a detached pillar in Yosemite Valley, is often abseiled using a dramatic Tyrolean traverse. There are many ways to anchor the line at the two high points but the significant feature is that there is a line strung between them. [4]

Many classic locations for Tyrolean traverses have since been used as locations for "highlining" or "slacklining" (techniques which involve walking across the line like a tightrope, rather than hanging beneath) at great heights. In a sense completing such a slackline would count as a Tyrolean traverse but since slacklines are not typically used as a form of transportation this is not entirely accurate. With the rise in popularity of slacklining and the relative decline in the use of Tyrolean traverse by the climbing community the terms "highlining" and "Tyrolean traverse" have been somewhat confused due to obvious overlaps in the nature of the activity, including preparation and location.

Because Tyrolean traverses (and highlines) have low tension they may sag significantly between the ends. The result is that they slope downhill at the beginning, and then uphill at some point along the traverse, with the lowest point being determined by the relative heights of each end. Traveling across a Tyrolean traverse can vary from using only one's hands and legs to the use of carabiners or pulleys, with prusiks, or ascenders when "progress capture" is required to prevent sliding back toward the low point due to the upward slope. In most modern situations the traverser is secured to the line through some combination of climbing harness, webbing, carabiner, and/or pulleys.

There are situations in which a Tyrolean traverse is the preferred way to descend a route, a Tyrolean traverse may allow a climber to avoid a long multi-pitch rope rappel in favor of a walk-off (walking descent); or a Tyrolean traverse may allow the climber to avoid an undesirable or dangerous location such as a steep scree field.

The longest Tyrolean traverse agreed by Guinness is 1550 meters. It was created on September 19th, 2008, in Rila mountain range in Bulgaria. [5] Another famous Tyrolean traverse, set up in 2000, connected Castleton Tower and Rectory desert towers, which are about 500 meters apart. [6]

A famous use of a Tyrolean traverse in popular culture was in the opening scene of the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger , where a mountain rescue climber (played by Stallone) unsuccessfully attempts to transport a woman across a high Tyrolean traverse, only to have her fall to her death. [7] This scene was later spoofed in the Jim Carrey comedy film Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls .

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Butterfly loop Knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope

The butterfly loop, also known as lineman's loop, butterfly knot, alpine butterfly knot and lineman's rider, is a knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. Tied in the bight, it can be made in a rope without access to either of the ends; this is a distinct advantage when working with long climbing ropes. The butterfly loop is an excellent mid-line rigging knot; it handles multi-directional loading well and has a symmetrical shape that makes it easy to inspect. In a climbing context it is also useful for traverse lines, some anchors, shortening rope slings, and for isolating damaged sections of rope.

Spring-loaded camming device

A spring-loaded camming device is a piece of rock climbing or mountaineering protection equipment. It consists of two, three, or four cams mounted on a common axle or two adjacent axles, so that pulling on the axle forces the cams to spread farther apart. This is then attached to a sling and carabiner at the end of the stem. The SLCD is used by pulling on the "trigger" so the cams retract together, then inserting it into a crack or pocket in the rock and releasing the trigger to allow the cams to expand. A pull on the rope, such as that generated by a climber falling, will cause a properly placed SLCD to convert the pulling force along the stem of the unit into outwards pressure on the rock, generating massive amounts of friction and preventing the removal of the unit from the rock. Because of the large forces which are exerted on the rock when an SLCD is fallen on, it is very important that SLCDs are only placed in solid, strong rock.

Glossary of climbing terms List of definitions of terms and concepts related to rock climbing and mountaineering

This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Rock-climbing equipment

A wide range of equipment is used during rock or any other type of climbing that includes equipment commonly used to protect a climber against the consequences of a fall.

Zip line Transportation system

A zip-line, zip line, zip-wire, zip-power-line, or aerial runway, is a pulley suspended on a cable, usually made of stainless steel, mounted on a slope. It is designed to enable cargo or a person propelled by gravity to travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable by holding on to, or being attached to, the freely moving pulley. It has been described as essentially a Tyrolean traverse that engages gravity to assist its speed of movement. Its use is not confined to adventure sport, recreation, or tourism, although modern-day usage tends to favor those meanings.

Rock climbing Sport in which participants climb natural rock formations

Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. Knowledge of proper climbing techniques and the use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.

Munter hitch Adjustable knot used control friction in a belay system

The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch, Mezzo Barcaiolo or the Crossing Hitch, is a simple adjustable knot, commonly used by climbers, cavers, and rescuers to control friction in a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this hitch is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special "pear-shaped" HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope.

Ascender (climbing) Devices used for ascending, braking, or protection in climbing

An ascender is a device used for directly ascending a rope, or for facilitating protection with a fixed rope when climbing on very steep mountain terrain.

Slacklining Sport similar to tightrope walking

Slacklining refers to the act of walking, running or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors. Slacklining is similar to slack rope walking and tightrope walking. Slacklines differ from tightwires and tightropes in the type of material used and the amount of tension applied during use. Slacklines are tensioned significantly less than tightropes or tightwires in order to create a dynamic line which will stretch and bounce like a long and narrow trampoline. Tension can be adjusted to suit the user, and different webbing may be used in various circumstances.

Prusik knot

A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord used to tie the hitch and the hitch itself, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. Due to the pronunciation, the word is often misspelled Prussik, Prussick, or Prussic.

Rope drag

In rock climbing, rope drag is the friction of the rope plus its weight that the climber feels when pulling a rope through a number of protection points, or over rock prominences. A large number of anchor placements, especially if they form a zig-zag rather than a straight line, can make the rope drag so bad that the climber can hardly move forward.

Dynamic rope

A dynamic rope is a specially constructed, somewhat elastic rope used primarily in rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. This elasticity. or stretch, is the property that makes the rope dynamic—in contrast to a static rope that has only slight elongation under load. Greater elasticity allows a dynamic rope to more slowly absorb the energy of a sudden load, such from arresting a climber's fall, by reducing the peak force on the rope and thus the probability of the rope's catastrophic failure. A kernmantle rope is the most common type of dynamic rope now used. Since 1945, nylon has, because of its superior durability and strength, replaced all natural materials in climbing rope.

Robert John Slater was an American mountaineer known for his first ascent of the big wall route Wyoming Sheep Ranch on El Capitan. A tireless outdoor recreationalist, Slater built up an impressive climbing resume during his college years and later as he worked as a trader on the Chicago Board of Trade and for Goldman Sachs. He died on August 13, 1995, while descending from the summit of K2.

Dean Potter American climber and BASE jumper

Dean Spaulding Potter was an American free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper, and highliner. He completed many hard first ascents, free solo ascents, speed ascents, and enchainments in Yosemite National Park and Patagonia. In 2015, he died in a wingsuit flying accident in Yosemite National Park.


A Z-Drag or Z-Rig is an arrangement of lines and pulleys, effectively forming a block and tackle, that is commonly used in rescue situations. The basic arrangement results in pulling the hauling end 3 times the distance the load is moved, providing a theoretical mechanical advantage of three to one. In actual practice the advantage will be reduced by friction in the pulleys or carabiners. The advantage will also be reduced if the pull on the hauling end is not parallel to the direction the load moves in. The name comes from the fact that the arrangement of lines is roughly Z shaped. Besides the mechanical advantage to pulling, it also uses only part of the total length of the rope for the block and tackle arrangement.

<i>North Face</i> (film) 2008 film

North Face is a 2008 German historical fiction film directed by Philipp Stölzl and starring Benno Fürmann, Florian Lukas, Johanna Wokalek, and Ulrich Tukur. Based on the famous 1936 attempt to climb the Eiger north face, the film is about two German climbers involved in a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps.

Lost Arrow Spire

The Lost Arrow Spire is a detached pillar in Yosemite Valley, California, located immediately adjacent to Upper Yosemite Falls. The structure includes the Lost Arrow Spire Chimney route which is recognized in the historic climbing text Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. The last two pitches of Lost Arrow Spire Chimney are called the Lost Arrow Spire Tip and completes the detached portion of the spire. The Tip route is often reached by rappelling into an area known as The Notch. Once the route is completed climbers will often return to the main wall via a dramatic and famous Tyrolean traverse.

Robert L. M. Underhill

Robert Lindley Murray Underhill was an American mountaineer best known for introducing modern Alpine style rope and belaying techniques to the U.S. climbing community in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Andy Lewis (performer)

Andy Lewis, is a professional performer and speaker, stunt/safety coordinator, Tandem BASE jumper, slackliner, and extreme sports athlete. Lewis started a Tandem BASE Jumping Company in 2018 called “BASE Jump Moab" and is most famous for his efforts as a slackliner. Lewis has completed numerous accomplishments as a highliner and trickliner, and is also a distinguished BASE jumper and rock climber. He has created new "slack" vocabulary, new slackline disciplines, and is an ambassador to the sport.


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  6. "Castleton – Rectory tyrolean traverse". Climbing (197): 40. September 2000.
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