Here's a diagram of a typical harness system:


X = attachment point
| = rope
C = carabiner
L = shock-absorbing lanyard
H = harness

What's the device called that allows you to slide up and down the rope, but it bites into the rope when you fall? I've found multiple products that accomplish this, but perhaps one is better than the other:

  • rope grab
  • self-retracting lanyard/lifeline
  • belay device
  • some sort of knot

Money is mostly unimportant. I'm more worried about the solution that is least cumbersome and safest.

2 Answers 2


It's called a rope-grab and is mostly pretty foolproof - they also allow a lot of freedom of movement so you are mostly likely to actualy use them!

See fall protection guide (pdf) for more info


In situations where I've belayed, my preferred method of attaching the rope to a climber's carabiner is using a figure-eight follow through with a stopper knot. If you're just looking for something that will catch you if you fall off the edge, this will work. However, you can't adjust rope length with this method without putting yourself at risk for a fall.

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(image source)

If you need adjustable rope lengths, look at passive self belaying devices that automatically lock in the event of a fall. However, these aren't cheap.

  • they're not "cheap" - but they're not that expensive either - simple climbing rings available from places like REI are only a few dollars. The spring-loaded stoppers are a bit more, but still quite accessible - especially when you consider the cost of the harness vs the cost of a fall!
    – warren
    Apr 22, 2011 at 15:43
  • @warren: Simple climbing rings (carabiners and eights) are completely different from a solo or self belay device, which run $100+. The best solution is mgb's answer of a rope grab which is tailored to construction applications rather than recreational climbing. I'm not advocating being unsafe for the sake of saving a few bucks.
    – Doresoom
    Apr 22, 2011 at 16:06
  • by "climbing rings" I mean the various types of belay and rappelling devices I previously linked-to from REI in my last comment (rei.com/category/4500695). The $15 option is pretty reasonable - and the type of belaying device I've used at more than one indoor climbing gym.
    – warren
    Apr 22, 2011 at 16:09
  • 2
    Safety gear seems to cost 10x as much as the same gear for climbing! But rope-grabs are idiot proof while most climbing gear needs you to know what you're doing.
    – mgb
    Apr 24, 2011 at 16:22

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