Hauling The Second: Counterbalanced Hoist

Imagine that the climber following you can’t get past the crux. Or maybe he has fallen off a thin traverse and is now dangling in the air. You calmly advise your second to pull up the lovely prusik cords garnishing his harness and jug his way up the rope using friction knots. What, he doesn’t have any prusiks? And even if he had, he wouldn’t know to use them? Good luck, hauling his lard ass up is up to you then.
Don’t panic. Assisted hoist, or Z-pulley system should get your partner out of the trouble. However, my climbing instructor taught me a really easy hoisting system which will get your buddy out of the trouble with minimal effort:

How to set it up

Counterbalanced hoistCounterbalanced hoistPictures should be self-explanatory. Here is how it works:

  • Your second’s body weight is counterbalanced by your own. Given that, the only mass you will have to pull up is the difference between you and him. Friction will add a bit of resistance, but not much.
  • Pull down the rope strand on which you are hanging and at the same time pull his strand up. This will make your partner going up and you going down.
  • The prusik rigged on the anchor carabiner will prevent rope from sliding back when you unweight it.
  • After few meters of hauling, ascend the rope (using prusiks) to get back to the anchor. The foot prusik is not mandatory if the terrain is not steep, and you are climbing back up rather than ascending rope.
  • Back at the anchor, tie a new figure-8-on-bight knot on your rope BELOW your prusiks and clip it to your harness. This is a back-up for your attachment to the rope by the waist prusik. Repeat this reasonably often to minimize the slack.
  • Start pulling him up again. Repeat going down and back up until your partner is able to climb again, or you reconvene on the belay ledge.
  • The counterbalanced hoist works best if your partner is lighter than you or you are about the same weight. If your partner is much HEAVIER than you (more than by 20 kg/40 lb), consider using some other hauling system.
  • If you considerably outweigh your partner, prusiking back up might be troublesome, because the rope will keep sliding toward you (and the partner coming up). Wrap another waist prusik around both rope strands and clip it to your harness. This prusik will block the rope while you are ascending it back to the anchor. If you are using it, wrap the foot prusik around both strands too.

What You Will Need

  • 3 prusik cords.
  • 2 locking biners (besides what you use for belaying and the anchor).
  • Being competent at escaping belay (!). That is a chapter on its own.
  • To think about what you do.


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2 Comments on “Hauling The Second: Counterbalanced Hoist”

  1. Lidac Says:

    This makes me want to be hauled up 😉

  2. riši Says:

    Being hauled up while climbing is the 3rd best thing in the sport, right after big ledges and solid bolts. 🙂

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