Skip to Content

How to Alpine Coil a Rope: Expert Techniques Simplified

Alpine coiling is a technique used by climbers and outdoor enthusiasts to manage and store their rope in an efficient, compact, and easily transportable manner. This method is particularly useful in alpine climbing, where minimizing the risk of triggering rockfall is essential for safety. By properly implementing the alpine coil, users can ensure that their rope is neatly stored and easy to uncoil for immediate use on the mountain.

Alpine Coil
two coiled climbing ropes and some nuts surrounding empty space in the middle

The alpine coil starts with forming a loop of the loose rope and holding it at a specific distance from the end. Grasping the rope with both hands and bringing them together creates multiple loops that can be easily transferred to a compact coil. The process requires practice and proficiency to master but offers benefits in terms of convenience and safety during climbing excursions.

Several resources are available for learning how to alpine coil a rope, such as this step-by-step guide and instructional videos that visually demonstrate the technique. By familiarizing themselves with the alpine coil, climbers can optimize their rope management and focus on the more challenging aspects of their adventure.

Alpine Coil Basics

Understanding Alpine Coils

The Alpine Coil is a popular technique used by climbers and mountaineers to manage their ropes efficiently. It is an essential skill to master, as it allows for quick coiling and uncoiling, making it convenient for rock climbing and alpine environments. To form an Alpine Coil, one should start by making a loop at one end of the rope roughly a meter from the end. Then, continue making evenly-sized loops that stack together. Once you’ve reached the desired coil size, wrap the remaining rope several times around the center of the coils, creating a secure bundle. Finally, pass the end of the rope through the initial loop and attach it to a carabiner for carrying. Here’s an illustration to help in understanding the technique better.

Benefits of the Alpine Coil

There are several benefits to using the Alpine Coil technique in various climbing scenarios:

  • Organization: The Alpine Coil helps keep the rope neatly coiled and organized, preventing it from tangling and making it easy to carry.
  • Quick deployment: When coiled using the Alpine Coil, ropes can also be easily and quickly deployed when needed, allowing climbers to save time and energy.
  • Reduced wear and tear: Proper coiling using the Alpine Coil can help minimize the wear and tear on the rope during transport and storage.
  • Versatility: One of the key aspects of the Alpine Coil is its adaptability to different rope lengths and types, making it suitable for various climbing situations.
  • Safety: A well-coiled rope using the Alpine Coil technique reduces the risk of accidents associated with tangled ropes, such as trips and falls.

Mastering the art of the Alpine Coil is a valuable skill for climbers, as it contributes to safer and more efficient climbing experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned mountaineer or just starting in the world of rock climbing, incorporating the Alpine Coil into your repertoire can greatly enhance your climbing adventures.

How to Alpine Coil a Rope

To carry a coil over your shoulder, bring both ends to the top of the newly made coil and form a bight in one of them.Alpine Coil Step 1
Wrap the other end as shown and tuck it through the bight first formed.Alpine Coil Step 2
Pull on the bight to close it and so trap the end.Alpine Coil Step 3


Before beginning the process of Alpine coiling a rope, ensure that your rope is in good condition and free of any knots or tangles. It is important to choose an appropriate location for coiling, which should be a flat, clean surface with enough space to work comfortably. Always make sure your hands are clean and dry to prevent any dirt or moisture from getting onto the rope.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Start by finding one end of the rope and measuring approximately one meter from that end. Hold the rope at this point with one hand. With your other hand, grasp the rope about as far as you can reach.
  2. Bring your hands together, forming a loop. Transfer this loop to the hand closest to the end of the rope.
  3. Repeat this process to create multiple loops, stacking them neatly on top of one another. Make sure that each loop is roughly the same size to ensure a tidy coil.
  4. After creating several loops, wrap the remaining rope around the stacked loops several times to secure them in place. Wraps should be snug but not overly tight, as this could damage the rope or cause difficulty in uncoiling later.
  5. Once the wraps are secure, create a bight (a small loop) with the end of the rope. Tuck this bight through the last wrap that was created. Ensure that the bight is large enough to be easily accessible, but not too large as to be cumbersome or get caught on anything.
  6. To finish off the Alpine coil, tuck the end of the rope through the bight you just created. Make sure the rope is not twisted and that the bight is secured properly before pulling the end tight. This will provide a secure hold on the coil and prevent it from unraveling when carried or stored.

For a visual demonstration of how to perform the Alpine Coil, please refer to this instructional video by Mike Barter. Becoming proficient in rope coiling techniques, such as the Alpine Coil, is essential for any climber, as it ensures that your climbing rope is properly stored and cared for, making it safer and longer-lasting.

Common Coiling Techniques

Butterfly Coil

The butterfly coil is a popular method for coiling a rope, especially when needing to flake it out easily afterward. To create a butterfly coil, start by finding the middle of the rope and loop it around your hand, forming figure eights. Maintain equal tension while coiling to prevent twists and knots. This technique is particularly useful for those with small hands, as it allows for easier rope management. Practicing the butterfly coil technique can lead to efficient rope coiling and seamless flaking later on. For a visual demonstration, you may refer to this video.

Lap Coil

Lap coiling is a simple and effective method for managing your rope, especially for those new to rope coiling. Lay the rope on your lap and simply create alternating loops on each side, stacking them neatly. Remember to maintain even tension during the coiling process to prevent tangles. The lap coil is less bulky compared to other techniques and offers ease of use in various climbing situations. Mastering lap coiling requires some practice, but it can greatly improve your rope management skills. To learn more, visit this guide by The Mountaineers.

Brit Style

The Brit Style, also known as the mountaineer’s coil, is a technique for coiling a rope around your body, specifically your shoulders and waist. Start by folding the rope in half and then drape it around your shoulders. Wrap the two ends of the rope around your waist, capturing the rope behind you, and then tie them together in front of you. A square knot is generally the easiest and most secure knot for this purpose. This technique is commonly used by the American Alpine Institute and American guides, as it allows for quick rope deployment while climbing. For a detailed tutorial, check out this blog post by the American Alpine Institute.

Special Cases in Rope Coiling

French Coil

The French Coil is a specialized method of rope coiling suitable for long pitches or routes with multiple overlaps. To perform a French Coil, climbers first secure one end of the rope to their harness using a figure-eight knot. They then coil the rope in a series of loops, each approximately 60 cm in length, and make a square knot to secure the loops together. This method keeps the rope tangle-free and allows for quick deployment when needed.

Sport Climbing

In sport climbing, rope management is crucial for efficient and safe climbing. While alpine coils are commonly used for storage, climbers often use a different method for coiling the rope during a climb. This involves forming a butterfly coil, whereby the rope is looped back and forth around the climber’s hand in a simple, flat pattern. The benefit of the butterfly coil is that it reduces the likelihood of tangles and kinks during a climb, allowing for smoother rope handling and quicker clips.

  • Secure one end to harness
  • Loop into 60 cm lengths
  • Secure with square knot

Mountaineers Coil

The Mountaineers Coil, also known as the Alpine Coil, is a popular rope management technique used by climbers for carrying a rope. This method involves coiling the rope in a series of loops and then securing the loops in place using a girth hitch or overhand knots. The Mountaineers Coil is particularly useful for keeping the rope attached to harnesses and ready for use while minimizing tangles and twists. Additionally, the coils can be easily deployed when necessary, making it an essential tool for mountaineering scenarios where time and efficiency are critical factors.

  • Begin with rope attachment to harness
  • Form loops of equal length
  • Secure using girth hitch or overhand knots

Best Practices and Tips

Maintaining Your Rope Coil

Properly maintaining your rope coil is essential to ensure the longevity and functionality of your climbing rope. It’s crucial to regularly assess the age and condition of your rope, as even those that appear to be in good shape may have hidden damage or wear that could compromise safety. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your rope coil:

  • Regularly inspect your rope for signs of wear or damage. This includes checking for frayed spots, cuts, or excessive stiffness, which may indicate the need for replacement.
  • Keep your rope clean by wiping it with a damp cloth or washing it with water and gentle soap if necessary. Dirt and grime can accumulate on the rope, causing increased wear and reducing its lifespan.
  • Store your rope in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, chemicals, and sharp objects. Proper storage will help extend the life of your rope and protect it from harmful environmental conditions.

Avoiding Tangles

One of the main responsibilities of a climber is to keep their rope organized and tangle-free. A tangled rope can be difficult to manage, potentially causing delays or safety issues during climbs. To avoid tangles and ensure smooth usage of your alpine coiled rope, follow these tips:

  • Coil your rope neatly and consistently. Use the Alpine Coil method, which involves wrapping the rope in equal-sized loops. This technique helps prevent twists and tangles from forming during storage and transport.
  • Uncoil your rope carefully and methodically. Avoid pulling the rope hastily or dropping it on the ground, as this can cause it to become tangled or knotted more easily.
  • Flaking out your rope before a climb can help prevent tangles during ascent and descent. Lay the rope in a zigzag pattern on the ground, ensuring that it runs smoothly and without any twists or knots.
  • Pay attention to the size of the loops you create while coiling your rope. Consistent loop sizes will make it easier to uncoil and manage during use.

By putting these practices and tips into action, you can efficiently manage your alpine coiled rope, ensuring that it remains in optimal condition and is always ready for your next climbing adventure.

Alpine Coil Application

Glacier Travel

In glacier travel, alpine coils can be used to quickly and efficiently organize ropes for easy carrying. This method allows the rope to remain attached to harnesses and be ready for use while traversing icy landscapes. It also helps in preventing any unwanted tangles or knots that might otherwise impede progress during critical moments. The Alpine Coil knot is particularly useful when making progress on challenging terrain where speed and efficiency are crucial.


Backpackers often need to carry ropes for various activities, such as securing gear or creating shelters. An alpine coil is an effective way of coiling ropes for backpacking trips, as it maintains the rope’s integrity and minimizes the risk of snags. This method can also help to quickly deploy a rope if needed. The compact nature of the alpine coil allows backpackers to carry ropes without taking up excessive space and weight in their packs.

Traveling with Backpacks

When traveling with backpacks, ropes can often become tangled and cumbersome. Using an alpine coil to organize ropes is a practical solution for keeping them under control. Coiling ropes in this manner ensures that they are ready for use while reducing the risk of damage and tangles during transportation. Additionally, the alpine coil is beneficial for those who may need to attach a rope to the outside of a backpack, as its compact form prevents it from catching on branches or other obstacles during hikes. This method is especially useful for securing ropes in a rope bag while traveling, keeping them neat and protected.

Tying into Harnesses

When alpine climbing, it’s essential to securely tie into your harness using an alpine coil. This method of coiling the rope allows for efficient handling, easy storage, and quick deployment when needed. In this section, we will explore how to securely attach the alpine coil to a harness.

How to Securely Attach the Alpine Coil to a Harness

To begin, make a coil of the loose rope. Hold the rope approximately one meter from the end with one hand and then grasp the rope with the other hand about as far as you can reach. Bring your hands together, forming a loop, which is transferred to the hand closest to the end of the rope1.

Once you have created the alpine coil, follow these steps to securely attach it to your harness:

  1. Ensure that the harness is properly worn and adjusted for a snug fit. The leg loops should be tightened, and the waist belt should be sitting above the hips.
  2. Tie into the rope using the appropriate knot for the type of climbing you will be doing. Common knots used are the figure-eight follow-through or the double bowline.
  3. Bring both ends of the alpine coil to the top and form a bight with one of them. Wrap the other end as shown, and tuck it through the bight first formed2.
  4. Pull on the bight to close it and trap the end, thus securing the alpine coil to the harness.
  5. Double-check all knots and connections to ensure that they are secure and properly tied.

By following these steps, climbers can ensure that their alpine coil is securely attached to their harness, providing an efficient and safe solution for roped travel in alpine environments.


  1. Alpine Coil
  2. Survival World

Learning the Alpine Coil

The Alpine Coil is a useful technique for climbers to coil their rope neatly and efficiently. Mastering this skill will make it easier to store and transport the rope, as well as deploy it quickly when needed.

Instructional Videos

There are several instructional videos available to help you learn the Alpine Coil. One helpful resource is a YouTube video that demonstrates how to quickly coil a rope for storage using the Alpine Coil technique. Another informative video to consider is by Mike Barter, who teaches how to coil and carry a rope to avoid triggering rockfall while Alpine climbing. Both of these videos provide clear, step-by-step instructions, allowing you to visually grasp the process.

Practice Methods

When learning the Alpine Coil, it’s important to practice regularly in order to build up the necessary skill level. Start by following the instructions provided in the instructional videos. Key steps include:

  1. Loop creation: Hold the rope at a distance of about one meter from the end, and grasp it again as far as you can reach. Bring your hands together to form a loop, which is transferred to the hand closest to the end of the rope.
  2. Stacking loops: Repeat the loop creation process, making sure to stack each new loop on top of the previous one. Consistent stacking will ensure a neatly organized coil that is easy to deploy when needed.
  3. Securing the coil: Once the entire rope has been coiled, use the remaining meter of rope to secure the bundle by wrapping it around the coil and tying a secure knot.

Remember, practice makes perfect. As you become more proficient with the Alpine Coil technique, you’ll find that coiling your rope is faster and more efficient. Challenge yourself by timing your coiling process, and strive to improve your speed while maintaining a neatly organized and secure coil.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best technique for coiling a rope for climbing?

There are several techniques for coiling a rope for climbing, but the Alpine Coil is considered to be one of the most popular and efficient methods. It is commonly used by climbers to keep the rope attached to their harnesses, ensuring it is ready for use. This method is also known as the mountaineer’s coil. Detailed instructions and animation for the Alpine Coil can be found on

What are the benefits of using the Alpine Coil method?

Using the Alpine Coil method for coiling a rope has several advantages. It enables an even distribution of weight, making it comfortable for the climber to carry, the rope remains tangle-free and easily accessible, and it can be quickly uncoiled for use.

How do I secure the rope after coiling it?

After coiling the rope using the Alpine Coil method, you should wrap the two ends of the rope over your shoulders, around your waist, and then tie them together in front of you. A square knot is usually the easiest and quickest knot to tie in that position, as it won’t come undone. More details on securing the rope can be found on the American Alpine Institute blog.

Can I Alpine Coil different types of climbing ropes?

Yes, the Alpine Coil method can be used with different types of climbing ropes. However, it is best suited for dynamic or semi-static ropes used in climbing or mountaineering activities.

What are the common mistakes when coiling a rope using the Alpine Coil method?

  • Coiling the rope too tightly, which can cause kinks and knots
  • Not managing the rope ends properly, leading to tangles or twists
  • Insecurely attaching the coiled rope to the harness
  • Not paying attention to maintaining an even distribution of weight

To avoid these mistakes, follow a step-by-step tutorial like the one found on

How do I uncoil the rope quickly and efficiently after Alpine Coiling?

Uncoiling the rope after using the Alpine Coil method is simple. First, untie the knot that secures the rope around your waist. Then, carefully remove the rope from your shoulders and let it fall to the ground. Starting from one end, begin uncoiling the rope by pulling it towards you, allowing it to slide smoothly through your hands, while checking for any tangles or knots.

Alpine Coil Video