Choosing the Right Hitch Cord
From recommending hitches to determining if your eye to eye should be retired, Notch Ambassador Mark Gaudet offers up some helpful information about one of the essential tools in your climbing system: your hitch cord.
What diameter hitch cord should be used for your rope diameter?
A good guideline is to have a minimum of 2mm difference between the larger rope and smaller hitch cord. There are exceptions to this based upon the hitch that is tied, weight of the climber and the construction of the rope and hitchcord. For most situations a 8.1mm hitch cord would be good on an 11mm rope. A 10.1mm hitch cord would be suitable on a 13mm rope. If using an 11.7mm rope you may be able to use either an 8.1mm or 10.1mm hitch cord depending on the hitch that you use to tie.
Which hitch should I be tying?
There are new hitches being tied everyday! Some hitches have been tied, tried and tested while others are created by mistake or to be the solution to someone's problem. I believe there are a few hitches that are reliable time after time and are easy to remember and tie. A schwabisch or a distel would be the two hitches I recommend to a new climber starting out. There are a lot of options when it comes to hitches that you can tie. Some may require longer or shorter hitch cord lengths to function properly.
I typically climb on a distel while using a hitch based system whether it is in a MRS or SRS. There is no need to change your hitch choice based upon the system as the notch flow can be adjusted as to how much friction is needed.
When should I get a new hitch cord?
Hitch cords are not designed to last forever! Hitch cords will last longer when untied on a regular basis to prevent the same part of the cordage from being worn out and becoming glazed. Glazed hitch cords or ones that retain the formation of a knot once untied should be washed, dried and re inspected prior to use again. A hitch cord for myself could last between 1 month to 3 months or more depending on how fast I want to descend thus glazing the hitch cord or if I left the hitch tied. Taking friction off your hitch by using a Figure of 8 descender below for longer descents can extend the service life of your cordage.
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Mark Gaudet is a certified professional climbing arborist from Ontario, Canada. Mark has been working in the private tree care industry for 10 years. As a teacher at Humber College over the past seven years, he enjoys the hands-on approach of teaching students how to safely climb, prune and remove trees.