How to Cross a Rope Bridge

Just being able to make a rope bridge doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be able to cross it.  The less crossing ropes to your rope bridge, the more complicated the crossing will be.  For suspension bridges and any other bridge where you can plant your feet firmly and walk forward, that’s exactly how you cross.  Just be cautious of your footing.

For either a one or two rope bridge you will want to attach yourself to one of the ropes via a safety harness.  There are safety harnesses commercially available, but here at The Armageddon Blog, we like to assume the worst.  You can tie a Swiss Seat using a 6-10 foot length of rope.  This will prevent you from falling while crossing.

Postman’s Bridge (Two Ropes)

For a Postman’s Bridge you will need to devise a safety rope to tie your safety harness to the top rope of the bridge. I would suggest tying a bowline knot to a carabiner attached to the top rope, and another bowline knot tied to the carabiner attached to your harness.

Once you are attached, you will use the following system of movements in order to cross the bridge.

  1. Shift all your weight to your back hand and leg.
  2. Move your lead leg as far forward on the bottom rope as possible.
  3. Shift your weight equally between your legs and move your lead hand above your lead leg on the top rope.
  4. Shift your weight onto your lead hand and leg.
  5. Move your back hand up to your lead hand (move the carabiner for the safety rope up with this step).
  6. Move your back leg up to your lead leg.
  7. Repeat

This seems fairly easy, but there are a few things to be wary of. 

  • No matter how tight the bridge lines are, there will still be some wiggle in the rope.  Move slowly to avoid losing your balance.
  • If you’re crossing a river, it is entirely likely that the rope will absorb some moisture.  If this happens the rope will be slick: Make sure you have solid footing before shifting your weight.

Commando Bridge (One Rope)

There are two ways to go about this.  You can either cross on top of the rope or below the rope, either way will be equally taxing. 

Commando Crawl (On Top of the Rope)

For this, you lay on top of the rope with one leg bent, foot hooked on the rope and as close to the butt as possible.  The other leg dangles to maintain balance.  You move across the rope using the hooked foot and your arms to drag you across.  While it is harder to maintain your balance with this technique, it is a lot easier to stop and rest your muscles should they become fatigued.

Monkey Crawl (Beneath the Rope)

Grab on to the rope with both hands and hook both heels over the rope.  Move by crawling forward.  This is a simpler method to maintain, however it is much more taxing and nearly impossible to stop and recover should you become fatigued.  On the other hand, if you are using a safety rope you can simply let go with your arms or feet (but not both at the same time) to give them a break.

Crossing with Gear

Should you need to cross with any equipment, hopefully it is in bags.  Attach the bags to the line via carabiner and drag it along behind you.  You can attach the equipment carabiner to a rope and attach it to your safety line carabiner to make it easier to keep track of.

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Author: Adrian

Adrian Hannah is a system administrator and poor college student at Michigan Technological University. He currently resides in Hancock, MI where he observes the outside world and puts in his two cents.