How Do Rock Climbing Pulleys Work

How Do Rock Climbing Pulleys Work

Rock climbing pulleys affect how a climber moves up the rock. This article shows how pulley systems work and helps to understand the physics of their motion.

Pulleys are used in many different ways as they have a wide variety of applications, including those related to climbing. The teeth on these devices can turn smoothly to convert rotational motion to linear motion. They can also redirect that motion when moving it in a direction you don’t want going, such as sideways or back upward.

The first pulley was invented by a Greek engineer named Archimedes. It was called the “Archimedes’ screw.” The device used a screw mechanism to move objects. Since then, they have been used in many different applications to increase the lifting force available to someone via leverage.

How Does Rock Climbing Use Pulley Systems?

When using pulleys for rock climbing, the climber must be tied into the rope using knots known as the figure-8 and double figure-8. Then, as the climber moves up the rock face, the rope is routed through several pulleys to increase the power and friction needed to keep him on track and safe from falling.


The first pulley that a climber encounters is at the anchor point for his rope. Next, the rope goes through a pulley called a wedge mounted on the anchor’s bolt. Using these two pulleys, the climber can move up and out of danger or pull up more slack than would be possible by using his hands.

Barrel or Tubing Pulley

Next, is a pulley called the barrel or tubing. Again, the climbing rope goes through this to help the climber ascend a slightly more challenging route or angle. Pulleys such as this are combined with the anchor’s wedge to achieve this feat.

Camming Device

From here, the climber leads out and comes across what is called a camming device, generally referred to as a cam or camming unit. This device is mounted onto a groove on the rock face and holds itself in place using wedging action. Another pulley goes through it to help the climber move up this route slightly more efficiently and safely.

Brake Pulleys

The climber climbs further up the face and comes across a series of pulleys that act as brakes to reverse his movement. These are called the “brake pulleys” or “cams.” They are mounted onto the rock and use the force of gravity to hold themselves in position.

Sling Pulley

The last pulley is a sling and is mounted at the top of the climber’s rope so he can regain his balance after he stops. That helps the climber to stop more quickly and safely.

In rock climbing, a pulley system allows the person to transfer more energy and power to an object or move an object with less effort. Pulley systems are used for many different climbing applications, including lowering gear down ropes and increasing power available to help climb up the rope or rock routes. Rock climbing can be dangerous especially if you’re not wearing gloves.

How Do You Use A Hitch Climber Pulley Systems?

A hitch climber pulley is a small, lightweight, manually operated mechanical device with multiple uses for rock climbing. It helps you raise and lower objects through the use of two different pulleys.


To lift an object:

  1. Put your weight into the stirrup at the bottom of the device.
  2. Pull the rope through using your hands or using your feet.
  3. Tighten it with a carabiner to hold it in place.

When you are ready to lower it, loosen the carabiner, and the device will lower the object on its own.


This process is similar to lifting, but instead of loosening the rope after you tighten it with a carabiner as you do when lifting an object, you continue to pull on it when lowering it. By using your leg muscles, you can move objects up or down the rope. For example, you can use this technique to help get small objects up a rock face or to help pull your weight even you are too heavy for rope climbing.

As you pull the rope through, you are also moving a small weight up the rope. This “pumping” action can help make progress on a climb either by helping you lift yourself when climbing a rope or helping to pull yourself upward on an aid climbing route.

Climbing Hitch climber pulleys are frequently used in climbing applications. They will often be employed in tandem with a standard harness and rope to construct something referred to as a Munter hitch. It is one of the most common fail-safe belay systems because it allows you to have more control over your safety system.

For instance, when hiking in a crag or climbing a sport route, you may run into something that will not hold your weight. Your climbing harness and rope system will still be able to maintain the weight of your climber if the climber’s harness does not have enough friction against the rock to continue holding up the climber’s weight. It is called a “slip-off.” The load-limiting portion of the rope protects the climber by limiting how much force can be transmitted to the belayer.

Pulley Related Injuries in Rock Climbing

The pulley system, along with the rope, are the primary tools used in rock climbing. They are used for climbing, belaying, fixing ropes, and also during rescue activities. They can be an object of risk when misused or when they fail to work correctly and get ripped from rock climbing. Common injuries associated with the pulley system are rope burns, rope burns on the body such as abrasions, rope burns on the legs from harness ropes rubbing against them, and rope burns on the hands from grasps.

Because of these injuries, there is an increased interest in advancements in technology that can provide a safer way to work with these essential climbing tools.

Is a belay a pulley?

It often comes up when a climber uses a belay. The belay is not a pulley but a pulley system to transfer energy or power to a climber or another object.

How does a belay system work?

The belay system is a simple mechanical device that lets you climb up and down a rope by providing a mechanical advantage to the climber. It allows the climber to be higher up on the rope than he is physically capable of being. The safety of the belayer is dependent upon these pulleys. They are used to provide much-needed friction to help prevent an over-violent fall.

When using a belay system, the rope goes through the belayer’s harness. The belayer and climber are tied into one of these systems. They are tied with a harness knot known as a “Munter” or “biner.” That is what effectively pulls both the climber and the belayer up together. The friction provided by these two pulleys helps to prevent the rope from slipping through either pulley by decreasing its diameter or its resistance to sliding when pulling on it with force.

What are the three kinds of pulley?

There are many kinds of pulley that you can find on the market today. You will know that what they are from its name.

Wedge pulley

The first kind is a wedge style. The name “wedge” comes from the way it is shaped like a wedge. It is also called a tube pulley. It is commonly used in climbing and recreational sports and industrial purposes, such as milling and lifting heavy objects.

Traction pulley

The second kind is a traction pulley. It is shaped like a V with teeth on the top and bottom. It has a groove to hold onto objects you are lifting. It is commonly used to move large objects in construction or even move people on a rope with their weight being distributed to lift them to another location by pulling up on it.

Tech style pulley

The third kind of pulley is called a “tech” style. This pulley is designed to be used on a rope. It has two moving parts which are linked to each other. It can move up and down the rope. They are commonly designed into climbing harnesses for climbing aids, for example, using them in the middle of the harness and rope to have a mechanical advantage without using more force than you usually do to hold yourself up.


The pulley system is a mechanical device used to transfer energy or power to another object. It is made up of ropes and pulleys:

  1. A climber will connect the rope to one anchor at one end, and the other end will be trailed by an object that needs to move, for example, a person.
  2. The rope will go through one or more pulleys before reaching the terminus, usually attached to the anchor.
  3. The belayer will be connected to the other end of the rope. The belayer is then connected to the pulley or another belay device.

Pulleys are the primary climbing and rescue tools on the wall and if possible best use with the hammer drill for drilling holes into rocks. This simple machine does quite a bit of work, and it serves several purposes for multiple different tasks. Pulleys help you move up, down, and around on a rope by increasing your mechanical advantage. They also maximize your strength, as well as reduce fatigue when used correctly.

These tools can be a significant help to you as long as they are used correctly. If you find yourself in a situation in which you can’t move up or down a rope, or you need to do something with your hands like tie knots, then use a belay device.