Snowy Mountains




welcome to


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In the heart of the snow country, here it is not uncommon to have 10 feet of snow on the ground. The checkpoint is at Winter Lake Lodge. From Finger Lake, the mushers begin the long climb to Rainy Pass.

Lots of humans fly out to Finger Lake to watch the race. Kirsten and Karl Dixon who run Winter Lake Lodge provide hospitality for Iditarod spectators. Wait, I don’t get this! How can Winter Lake Lodge be on Finger Lake? The real name of the lake is Winter Lake but the lake is shaped like a two-mile long finger so many old timers and for Iditarod, the checkpoint is known as Finger Lake.

Winter Lake Lodge is a luxury summer lodge. Folks go there for wellness, cooking classes, hiking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking and dog mushing. There are lots of birds, flowers and berries that are rare to other places. Action picks up at Finger Lake/Winter Lake Lodge early on the second day of the race and because it’s early in the race, the action is intense. Teams arrive in a steady stream, one right after the other. Most teams stay and rest during the “heat of the day.” Mushers have to carry enough food with them from Skwentna to feed their dogs at Finger Lake, as there are no musher bags flown out to Finger Lake. Dogs are very happy to eat a tasty meal and then snooze while the temperature tops out in the early afternoon.

Population = 2 (Kirsten and Karl Dixon)

Finger Lake serves as the Cyber Sled Race checkpoint: Pioneer Point. Below you will find all content for Pioneering Merit Badge and other activities related to knot tying. 

The content below is for participants of all ages, unless otherwise noted. Utilize your connected worksheets and tracking tools to find the specific information for your rank. 


Scouting’s founders believed that pioneering was an important way for Scouts to gain confidence in their abilities and to be prepared to make the most of outdoor experiences.

Pioneering—the knowledge of ropes, knots, and splices along with the ability to build rustic structures by lashing together poles and spars—is among the oldest and most honored of Scouting’s skills. Practicing rope use and completing projects with lashings also allow Scouts to connect with past generations, ancestors who used many of these skills as they sailed the open seas and lived in America’s forests and prairies.


Knots, splices, and lashings are formed today the same ways they have been done for a long time. Whether built as models or full-sized structures in the field, the pioneering projects you complete will look very much as they would have at any time in Scouting’s history. Of course, there are a few differences. One important change in pioneering is Scouting’s deep commitment to the principles of Leave No Trace. Where pioneering projects are built can be every bit as important today as how they are built. Protecting the environment, using appropriate materials, and removing all evidence of your activities after an event lie at the heart of responsible Scouting—and pioneering—in the 21st century.

Scouts follow the principles of Leave No Trace wherever they participate in outdoor activities—including pioneering. Planning and preparing will help ensure that you have chosen the right place for your activities and that the materials you use come from environment-friendly sources.

  • Select durable surfaces for building pioneering projects to minimize the trampling of vegetation, and arrange for access to toilet facilities.

  • Follow all Leave No Trace principles to be certain you are also respecting wildlife that make their homes in your pioneering project area.

  • Be considerate of visitors who happen upon pioneering projects. Politely share information about what you are doing and about Scouting. Also give guidance that will help ensure their safety, perhaps by escorting them around a project in progress or by showing them where to stand while they watch.

  • Minimize campfire impact by using a camp stove when a pioneering event includes cooking a meal. Where campfires are allowed, manage yours in a way that lets you remove all evidence it was ever there.

  • Leave what you find, and leave the area in the same condition you found it. Dismantle structures when you are done with them, and store all building materials.

  • Dispose properly of waste, and clean up all bits of rope and other building materials at the end of a pioneering event.


With its rich history and dynamic projects, pioneering pulls together the best features of Scouting. As you plan and build your pioneering project, make it a fun, safe, and positive adventure.


Building a scale model of a pioneering project involves few risks. However, constructing full-sized towers and bridges requires a keen eye toward safety. Manage risk during pioneering projects by being alert to your surroundings and by taking action whenever you notice a potential hazard. Doing so will help prevent accidents, avert emergencies, and ensure a fun, safe time.



Follow these guidelines whenever building and using pioneering structures.

  • Dress for the weather. When necessary, wear gloves to protect your hands.

  • Use ropes and materials that are in good condition and appropriate for the project.

  • Coil and store ropes when they are not in use.

  • Avoid wrapping a rope around your arm or waist when dragging or lifting a load.

  • Do pioneering work only when it is nice outside, never during rainy weather or in wet conditions that can make ropes and spars slippery.

  • Practice good body mechanics when lifting and hauling. Lift no more weight than you can handle safely.

  • Use flagging tape to mark anchor lines, ropes stretched between trees, hanging loops of rope, and cords or ropes that could trip or entangle someone.

  • Stand clear of any weight suspended by a rope. 

  • Stay off to the side of a rope that is tensioned (under strain from a load). A tensioned rope may snap back if it breaks, a knot comes loose, or an anchor gives way


Pioneering calls for knowledge of first aid. Make it a point to know how to respond in an emergency. Being prepared helps ensure that you and your pioneering friends will have glitch-free fun.


Learn about first aid at Ruby - Survival Shack

Rope burns, or friction burns, can happen when a rope slides too quickly through your hands or when any part of the body encounters a fast-moving rope. A rope burn leaves skin raw, red, and sometimes blistered. The best protection against rope burns on the hands is, of course, to wear protective gloves. If a burn does occur, clean the area with mild soap and water to help prevent infection.


Rope is among our oldest tools. Ancient peoples made useful lines by twisting or braiding roots, reeds, plant fibers, or strips of leather and used them to haul loads and harness animals. With rope, they could lash together tools, fishing nets, and shelters. Rope is still important for work and for play. Without it, pioneering projects would be impossible. When choosing a rope for a pioneering task, consider how strong it is, how much it stretches, how easily it handles, and how well it resists mildew, rot, and exposure to sunlight. You will also want to note whether it is made of natural fibers or of synthetics.



Rope makers have settled on a handful of plants as the best producers of natural fibers for

manufacturing ropes. Each has its advantages. The fibers most often used are manila, sisal,

cotton, and coir.

Manila. Manila rope is made of fibers harvested from the leaf stems of the abaca plant

(Musa textilis), a native of the Philippines. It takes its name from the city of Manila, the

Philippine capital. Fibers can grow 10 feet long, making them ideal for constructing rope.

Manila rope is easy to handle and, when new, has a smooth, silky feel. It is strong, does not

stretch much, and is fairly resistant to the damaging effects of sunlight. For tying knots and

making splices and lashings, quarter-inch manila rope is a good choice.


Sisal. Sisal fiber comes from a plant in the cactus family, Agave sisalana, found in arid

regions of East Africa, Central America, and Mexico. (The name sisal comes from a small

town in the fiber-growing region of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.) Because the fibers are

shorter than those of manila rope, sisal rope has only about two-thirds the strength of

manila. Sisal fibers also have a tendency to splinter. This rope is not as flexible as manila

and so is not as practical for lashings and for practicing knots. If knots in sisal rope become

wet, kinks may remain in the rope after the knots are untied.


Cotton. The same cotton plant fibers used to make clothing can also be twisted or braided

to form rope. Cotton rope is not very strong, but it is soft and easy to handle. It is ideal for

clotheslines, tying up packages, and other uses that don’t require it to bear much weight. Cotton rope is not useful for pioneering structures.


Coir. Originating in the islands of the Pacific, coir rope is made of fibers taken from coconut husks. It is a coarse rope, light in weight, that will float and is not harmed by salt water. The chief disadvantage of coir rope—and it is a big one—is that its very short fibers make it the weakest of major natural-fiber ropes. It is not recommended for use in pioneering projects, especially those that will bear weight.

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Just as in prehistoric days, natural-fiber rope is still produced from plants. Fibers

taken from stalks or leaves are twisted together to form thin yarn. Lengths of yarn

are then twisted together in the opposite direction to form a thicker strand.

Next, groupings of strands are twisted together, again in the original

direction, to make a small rope. Finally, three of these small ropes are

twisted together the opposite way to form the finished rope. The lay of the

rope—the shape that results from alternating the directions for twisting the

yarn, strands, and small ropes—allows a rope to hold its shape and resist

unraveling. To better understand the anatomy of a rope, take apart a short

piece of three-strand natural-fiber rope. As you unravel the rope, notice how the

smaller ropes, the strands, and the yarn have been twisted. Finally, unravel a single bit

of yarn and you will find plant fibers—the raw material from which natural-fiber ropes are made.

Binder twine is made from loosely twisted fibers of sisal or jute that have been treated with chemicals during the manufacturing process. Its principal use is for tying bales of hay as they are formed in the field by baling machines. The single-strand construction of binder twine gives it none of the strength that comes from twisting strands together to form the lay of a rope. Binder twine has a breaking strength of only a hundred pounds or less. It should never be used for pioneering projects except when lashing together camp gadgets that will bear little weight (such as a stand for a washbasin), and for making rope.



Synthetic rope is manufactured by twisting or braiding together

fibers made from synthetic (mainly petroleum-based) materials,

giving a variety of rope types that can be produced in almost any

color and matched to many uses. Some synthetic ropes can be

more vulnerable to sunlight than natural-fiber ropes. However,

they generally resist rot and mildew better than natural-fiber ropes

and, in many cases, are stronger.


Polyester. Polyester rope usually is found in braided, rather than twisted, form. This strong, durable rope handles well and doesn’t stretch much. It is less affected by sunlight than most other synthetic fibers. Polyester rope is excellent for practicing knot tying and for use in pioneering work.


Nylon. Modern nylon rope is more than twice as strong as manila rope of the same diameter. It is available in braided form and twisted strands. Nylon rope has more stretch than other synthetic or natural-fiber ropes, but it recovers its original shape after tension from a load has been released. Nylon rope a quarter-inch in diameter works well for practicing knot tying and making lashings.

Parachute cord. A core of nylon strands covered with a braided nylon sheath, this cord takes its name from the role it plays with parachute rigging. It has a thousand uses around camp, from tent guylines to tying gear onto packs to hoisting food bags into trees as bear hangs. However, for pioneering projects, parachute cord can be used only for small projects (camp table, rack for drying clothes). The relatively low breaking strength of parachute cord (generally 200 to 500 pounds) means it should never be used for full-sized towers, bridges, or other weight-bearing pioneering projects.


Polypropylene. Polypropylene rope will float, making it a good rope for waterfront activities and in wet conditions. Polypropylene rope handles well, but its slippery finish makes it unreliable for holding knots or forming secure lashings, especially when the rope is new. While polypropylene has about twice the strength of manila rope of equal diameter, it also stretches more. This rope can be used in pioneering projects as a line for pulling towers into position, as guy ropes anchoring structures in place, and as hand lines for monkey bridges. Its strength makes it suitable for anchoring systems and for any uses involving heavy strain. Its slippery surface reduces the friction of rope tackle systems.


Polyethylene. Polyethylene is an inexpensive braided rope. Knots and lashings will

leave kinks in polyethylene rope that has been under tension, which makes it

unsuitable for most pioneering projects. Polyethylene (also known as Dacron®) does

float, giving it limited use at waterfronts, for example as towropes for water-skiers.


Kernmantle. Today, the only rope approved for BSA climbing and rappelling activities is nylon kernmantle rope. This strong rope has a core of parallel or braided nylon strands (the kern) surrounded by a woven nylon sheath (the mantle).


Did you know?

Rope used for climbing and rappelling at Scout camp — must never be used for pioneering projects.


New rope will have breaking strength and safe working load information printed on its packaging or included with the rope as a tag or pamphlet. The breaking strength of a rope indicates how many pounds of strain it will take before failing. The working load strength of a rope, usually less than 20 percent of its breaking strength, indicates the load the manufacturer recommends should not be exceeded. A typical comparison of safe working loads and breaking strengths for new ropes of various kinds— in this case, ropes of 3⁄8-inch diameter—looks like this. *For exact load limits of a particular rope, see the manufacturer’s information printed on spools or packages of new rope.



Inspect the full length of a rope before and after a pioneering event to ensure there are no cuts or abrasions. Any rope that has cuts, abrasions, or more than a few broken fibers might need to be retired. The same is true if rope fibers have lost their luster and appear dry and brittle. Feel for lumps in braided rope and look for internal fiber puffing through the weave of the braid. A section of line that seems thinner than the rest of the rope can be another sign of a weak spot. Twist open the lay of a natural-fiber rope in several places and inspect the interior fibers. Light-colored fibers suggest the rope probably is in good shape. A rope with a dark or spotted interior, or that smells bad, might not be safe to use. Prolong a rope’s useful life by taking care of it. The following guidelines will help you prevent rope from being damaged:

  • Always step over a rope, never on it. Avoid dragging it along the ground where grit might get into the fibers.

  • Protect rope from abrasion by using layers of canvas or tarp to shield it from sharp edges such as a cliff.

  • Protect rope from heat, chemicals, petroleum products, and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

  • Keep a rope under tension only as long as is necessary.

  • Allow wet rope to air-dry completely before putting it into storage.



Rope must be dry before it is stored. Damp or wet rope may develop mildew and rot. If a rope has become muddy and wet, rinse it off with a hose. Loosely coil the rope, hang it outdoors, and allow it to dry completely. Hasten drying by leaving space between the coils.


Store rope the right way and it will be ready the next time you need it. Start by making sure the rope is clean and dry. Coil and hang pieces of cord and short lengths of rope on pegs, or stow them in clean cloth bags. For long ropes or ropes of large diameter, either coil the rope and hang the coil on a smooth round peg in a gear room, or loosely stuff the rope into a clean canvas duffle bag.











Coiling a Rope for Storage or Throwing

Ropes can be coiled for storage or in preparation for throwing one end across a stream or over a tree branch. Begin every coil by removing any knots and hardware from the rope.

  • Coiling a thick rope for storage. Starting about 10 feet in from one end, drape lengths of the rope over the back of your neck so the loops hang down below your waist. When you are about 10 feet from the other end, remove the loops from your neck, grasp the two ends of the rope, and wrap them several times around the coil. Thread a bend of the remaining rope lengths through the coil, then pass the ends through the bend and pull it snug.

  • Coiling a thin rope or a cord for storage. Lengths of cord and ropes of small diameter can be coiled by laying loops of equal size in one hand. When only a few feet of rope or cord are left, use your other hand to wrap the remainder around the coil four or five times. Finish by passing a bend of the cord or rope through the coil, then run the end of the line through the bend and pull the end to snug the bend against the coil.

  • Coiling a rope for throwing. Tossing a rope over a tree limb or throwing a line across a creek is a challenging and fun skill. It can be important for setting up a bear hang to protect food in camp, for beginning a monkey bridge, for rigging a guyline on a signal tower, and for many other uses. Secure one end of the rope so it doesn’t take off when you throw the coil. Have a partner hang onto it, or tie it around a tree. If the end of the rope is weighted, neatly coil the rope in your non-throwing hand. Place the coils next to one another so that when the rope is thrown, the coils run out smoothly without tangling. Throw the weighted sock or stuff sack either underhanded or overhanded toward the target. If there is no weight on the rope, coil it neatly and hold it in your throwing hand. Swing the coil in an underhand motion, releasing all the rope at once and allowing it to uncoil as it moves toward the target. Throwing a parachute cord or a rope with a diameter less than a quarter-inch might require adding a weight to one end. A sock or small stuff sack filled with sand works well. Attach it to the line with a clove hitch.



Most knots used today have been around for centuries. They have endured because the way they’re formed—their architecture—has proven to be ideal for certain uses. Knots and Rope Strength Tying knots in a rope causes bends and loops that place uneven strain on the fibers. That can reduce the strength of the rope and decrease its breaking strength. Also, the effects that knots and splices have on a rope vary according to the condition of the rope and the nature of the knot or splice. For instance, knots such as the square knot that create tight bends weaken a rope more than knots with wide bends such as the timber hitch and bowline.


This list shows the approximate percentage of strength left in a rope tied or spliced in a certain way.



A little terminology can help you learn how to tie knots and understand their advantages.​


  • running end. The end of the rope that is used to tie a knot. This end is also called the working end.

  • standing part. All of a rope that is not the running end.

  • overhand loop. Formed when a loop is made so that the running end of the rope is on top of the standing part. underhand loop. Formed when the running end of the rope is placed under the standing part of the rope.

  • bight. Formed by doubling back a length of the rope against itself to form a U. The running end of the rope does not cross the standing part. (If that happens, the shape it forms is a loop, not a bight.)

  • turn. To take a turn, wrap the rope once around a spar or a stake. The friction created by the turn can help you control a line that has tension on it, especially if you are letting out line or taking it in.

  • roundturn. Make a roundturn by wrapping the rope once around a spar or stake and then halfway around again so that the running end of the rope is going back toward the standing part. A roundturn creates additional friction for controlling a line under strain.

  • hitch. A knot that secures a rope to a spar or other stationary object.

  • dress a knot. To adjust a new knot so that everything is in its place. Dressing a knot ensures that the knot will perform as expected.


The knots listed here are important basic knots for use in pioneering and other Scouting activities. These are the knots important to rank advancement. A Scout earning the Pioneering merit badge should be able to tie each of these knots quickly and well.


The square knot is used to tie together the ends of two lines of the same diameter. It is not a reliable knot when used with larger ropes, but is ideal when tying a package with cord or for finishing some lashings and whippings.


The bowline makes a fixed loop that will not slip. It is easy to untie.


The clove hitch can be tied with the end of the rope or tied along the standing part of the rope and slipped over a spar. It is used to start several lashings.


The sheet bend is used for tying the ends of different-sized ropes together. The bend of the sheet bend is formed in the larger of the two ropes.


The timber hitch is used for dragging a log and for starting a diagonal lashing. As tension is put on the rope, the timber hitch gets tighter but is always easy to untie.

Below in the Connected Activities you will have a chance to practice these knots!


For pioneering projects, you will need to add these additional knots to your repertoire. They are useful in many pioneering projects. It is a good idea to become familiar with each of them. Knowing these knots will enhance your skill, increase your knowledge, and provide plenty of enjoyment and satisfaction.


Roundturn With Two Half Hitches. Use the roundturn with two half hitches to secure the ends of foot ropes and hand ropes for a monkey bridge, and to tie off guylines. If desired, you can secure the running ends with safety knots. This knot is especially useful because it is secure and is easy to tie and untie when adjustments are needed. To make a roundturn, take the running end of the rope around a spar. That will allow you to hold tension on a line while you complete the two half hitches.

  • Safety Knot: A safety knot (also known as a stopper knot), added to a knot such as the roundturn with two half hitches and the figure eight follow-through, will help keep the free end of the rope from working itself loose. The most effective safety knot goes by several names—barrel knot, one-sided grapevine knot, and half a double fisherman’s knot. Form it by loosely looping the tail of the rope twice around the standing part, then running the end up through the two loops thus formed. (This is exactly the same method you use to tie the first portion of the double fisherman’s knot, described later in this chapter.) Work out any slack from the safety knot so that it lies snug against the knot it is protecting.

Sheepshank. Use the sheepshank to temporarily shorten a rope’s length or to bypass a weak spot in the rope. To begin, take up the slack to shorten the line. This forms two long bights next to each other. Secure one bight by forming an overhand loop in the standing part of the rope ahead of the bight and slip it over the end of the bight. Form another overhand loop ahead of the second bight and use it to hold that bight in place.

Figure Eight on a Bight. Forming a bight (a bend) in a rope and then tying a figure-eight knot with it results in a loop that will not slip or come loose. When this knot is tied in the end of a rope, back it up with a safety knot.

Figure Eight Follow-Through. This is the same knot as the figure eight on a bight, except when it is made, it can be tied around a tree or stake or through an anchor ring. Begin by tying a simple figure-eight knot in a rope. Run the end of the rope around an anchor or through the ring to which you want to attach itt Then trace the end of the rope back through the figure-eight knot (the “follow through”). Back it up with a safety knot.

Double Sheet Bend. The double sheet bend has more holding power than a simple sheet bend. It comes in handy when tying together two ropes that vary widely in diameter. It also works well for tying together wet or slippery ropes. Tie it as you would a regular sheet bend, but make two or more turns around the bight.

Rolling Hitch. The rolling hitch has many uses, such as tying a rope to a stake or a spar, or forming a hand or shoulder loop to pull a spar. Essentially it is a clove hitch tied around a spar with an extra turn. Pull can be exerted on a rolling hitch either perpendicular to or parallel with the spar. It will untie easily. When you need extra gripping power, make additional turns as you tie the hitch.

Butterfly Knot. This knot creates a fixed loop anywhere along the standing part of a rope. The butterfly is secure, easy to untie, and can withstand tension from any direction. When using a rope to pull a heavy object (such as a log), tie a series of butterfly knots to form loops for each person’s hand or shoulder. When climbing a rope, tie a series of the knots to form loops for your hands and feet. This knot also is used when forming a trucker’s hitch

Carrick Bend. Use this knot for tying together two large-diameter ropes, especially if there will be a heavy strain on the rope. The knot will tighten under strain but won’t slip and is usually easy to untie. It works well with wet or slippery ropes. The carrick bend looks symmetrical as it is being tied, but pulling it tight greatly changes its appearance.

Water Knot. Use this knot to tie together the ends of a piece of rope (such as a flagpole rope) or nylon webbing to make a sling for using with anchoring systems. The water knot won’t slip once it has been tightened and is almost impossible to untie—a good thing when used with anchor slings. Back up the water knot with safety knots.

Pipe Hitch. A pipe hitch creates enough friction to keep a rope from slipping and gives considerable grip as you pull on a pipe or spar, or pull a stake or post out of the ground. Tie the pipe hitch with four, five, or six turns; add more turns to get the friction you need. Draw the turns snug as you make them so that you get the full effect of their friction. To make a pipe hitch, form a bight in the rope and wrap it around the spar. Use at least four wraps, more for more gripping power. Finish the knot by pulling the standing end of the rope through the bight.

Double Fisherman's Knot (Grapevine Knot). For tying together the ends of two ropes of equal diameter (especially ropes made of synthetic materials that tend to slip easily), this is the most reliable knot. It also can be used to secure the ends of a rope or cord to form a fixed loop (grommet), which is particularly useful with braided rope that cannot be spliced. Begin the double fisherman’s knot by laying about 2 feet of the ends of two ropes alongside each other, ends opposite. Loosely loop one rope end twice around the other, then thread the end of that rope through the loops. Repeat the process with the second rope end. Carefully tighten the two parts of the knot, then slide them against each other. If they don’t fit together neatly, the knot is incorrectly tied

Bowline on a Bight. The bowline on a bight creates two loops anywhere along a rope that you can slip over one or more stakes. It can provide hand and shoulder loops for heavy pulls, and form loops for tying in other lines. Make a bight long enough so that the two loops formed are the sizes you need. Adjust the loop lengths before tightening.

Honda. The honda knot forms a fixed loop in the end of a rope to put over a stake or spar. It may also form a running loop when you want the knot to tighten as you pull. The knot consists of two overhand knots snugged tightly together to form a fixed loop with a diameter of about 3 inches. The standing part of the rope, passed through the fixed loop, forms the large running loop that will be thrown at a target. Tension on the rope can make the honda almost impossible to untie

Masthead (Jury) Knot. Use this knot when erecting a vertical spar that must be held in position with guylines, or when attaching guylines at the top of a pole. The masthead or jury knot provides four loops for the four guylines. It should be tied with a rope that has a larger diameter than the guylines secured to it. The knot itself creates only three loops. You form the fourth loop by tying the two running ends together with a square knot. Be sure to secure the ends of the square knot with safety knots. The masthead knot does not cinch tightly around the spar. It must be supported with cleats attached to the spar to prevent it from sliding down.

Prusik Knot. Use this knot to make hand and foot loops for climbing another rope or vertical spar, or to make hand and shoulder loops as an aid to hauling a log. A Prusik provides grip and a loop to tie into another line with a sheet bend. It may also serve as a safety brake against back-slipping on a load-lifting line. The Prusik’s multiple turns provide friction and create a bend in the standing part of the larger rope, allowing the knot to hold when it bears weight, but to slide on the larger rope when the weight is released. The Prusik is widely used by mountain climbers to attach a loop (sling) made from a smaller rope to a larger rope to form a hand- or foothold.

Barrel Hitch. A barrel turned on its side can be secured with a rope sling for hoisting. If a barrel must remain upright while being lifted, use the barrel hitch. Adding a second loop will help stabilize the barrel and keep it upright.


Splicing is a means of weaving the strands of any natural-fiber or synthetic three-strand rope to protect a rope end from unraveling, to form a secure loop in a rope end, or to join together two rope ends. Though splices can take longer to form than knots, they have several advantages. They are permanent, reliable, and less bulky than knots, and they reduce a rope’s strength much less than knots that serve the same purpose. Splicing takes practice. It is easiest to learn if you can sit down with someone who can help you master each step of weaving the strands together. Three-strand manila rope with a 1⁄4-inch diameter works well for learning to splice.

Each of the three splices (back, eye, short) begins in a special way. Once a splice has been started, the rest of the process is identical for all three. 

Explore splicing rope in the Connected Activities below!


Building pioneering projects often requires reliable anchor points for attaching guylines and for both ends of a monkey bridge. You also need secure anchoring when using rope tackle to move or hoist loads.



A sturdy tree or a large, immovable rock might be just right for use as an anchor. Otherwise, pioneering stakes driven into the ground can serve as anchors.



When nature does not provide a solution, anchors can be constructed using stout

pioneering stakes. Ideally, pioneering stakes are made of hardwood. The most common

size of stake for the projects shown in this pamphlet is 2 to 3 inches in diameter and about

24 to 30 inches long. After cutting the stake to size, use an ax to shape a point on

one end. Bevel the top of the stake to prevent it from mushrooming or splitting

when the stake is driven into the ground. Don’t use tent pegs as pioneering

stakes—they are not long enough or strong enough to make a secure anchor.

1-1-1 Anchor

The 1-1-1 anchor is made by driving three stakes in a row directly in line with the direction of the pull of an anchor rope or guyline. Secure a loop of rope between each pair of anchor stakes, then use a stick to twist the rope tight. Push the end of the stick into the ground to keep the rope from unwinding. 

Depending on the load an anchor will bear and the stability of the soil, you can add stakes to the anchor in configurations such as 2-1-1 or 3-2-1.

Before using an ax, you must earn the Totin’ Chip, which grants you the right to carry and use woods tools.

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Log and Stake Anchoring System

1-1-1 Anchor

Rope Sling

Log & Stake Anchoring System

The log and stake anchoring system relies on a log staked to the ground. Discuss the anchoring needs with your merit badge counselor to determine how large the log needs to be—probably at least 5 feet long and 4 to 6 inches in diameter.

  1. Place the log perpendicular to the guyline it will anchor, then drive four stakes across the front of the log, leaning them backward at a 45-degree angle.

  2. Position a rope sling around the log. A carabiner or steel ring secured to the sling will provide a point to tie the guyline.

  3. Drive another set of stakes 24 to 36 inches behind the first. Place a loop of rope between each pair of front and back stakes, then tighten by twisting the loop with a stick.


Rope Sling

A rope sling (also known as a grommet) is often used as part of an anchoring system. To make a sling from a 10-foot length of 1⁄2-inch manila or polypropylene rope, splice the ends together with a short splice, or tie them with a water knot or double fisherman’s knot. (Use safety knots or lashings to secure the rope ends.)

Place an anchor sling or guyline around the stake close to the ground. A line higher on the stake might have enough leverage to pull the stake loose.


Rope tackle creates a mechanical advantage that allows you to move a large load with a small amount of force. Rope tackle works on the same principle as using ropes and pulleys for lifting or hauling loads. The principles of mechanical advantage can be demonstrated with rope tackle set up to move a log. The type of rope you choose for a rope tackle should have a low stretch factor, such as manila rope. Some synthetic ropes have a slick surface that helps reduce friction, but they might also stretch a lot, lessening the effectiveness of rope tackle. (For applying mechanical advantage to tent and dining fly guylines, parachute cord can be ideal.)


  1. Tie one end of your rope to a tree or other secure anchor.

  2. Tie one end of a shorter rope around the log with a timber hitch. Form an eye in the other end of the short rope by making an eye splice or by tying a bowline or figure eight on a bight.

  3. Pass the running end of the long rope through the eye in the short rope. Pull the slack out of the long rope.

  4. Check that the anchor is secure, the timber hitch is well-tied, and the eye in the short rope is correctly formed.

  5. Move the log by pulling on the running end of the long line. The mechanical advantage of the system is 2:1; for every 2 feet of rope you pull through the system, the log will move 1 foot. The effort required to move the log is only half what it would be to pull the log with a rope that was not formed into tackle.


Have everyone not involved in moving the log stand well clear of the rope tackle. To reduce friction on the ropes and thus increase the mechanical advantage, snap a carabiner into the loop on the short rope and pass the running end of the long rope through that.

The mechanical advantage created by rope tackle can double the strain placed on a rope. It also can concentrate the tension on loops and knots. Rope moving through a loop causes friction that can generate heat and added strain. Over-loading and heat from friction can damage rope fibers and reduce the efficiency and safety of rope tackle. Stay within safe working limits by using rope tackle only for loads that can easily be managed with the kind and diameter of rope available. While tackle is in use, keep an eye on all knots and anchors to ensure that they remain secure. Ropes used to make the tackle should be inspected regularly for damaged fibers.

Trucker’s Hitch

A useful form of rope tackle is the trucker’s hitch. Use it to put tension on lines stretched between two trees, to lift a weight, to tie down and secure your equipment on a trailer or truck, and to tighten guylines on tents and rain flies.

  1. Tie one end of the rope to a tent grommet, a tree, or a trailer or truck hook on the far side of a load.

  2. Use a butterfly knot to form a loop in the standing part of the rope.

  3. Bring the free end of the rope around a stake, a hook on a trailer or truck, or other anchor, and pass the free end of the rope through the loop.

  4. Put tension on the rope by pulling the free end, then tie off the rope.


To maintain the tension created by rope tackle (securing a tent guyline, for example), form a bight in the hauling end of the rope and tie it off with a tight half hitch snugged up against the loop formed by the butterfly knot.



Lashing is a way of using rope to securely join spars. Lashings, like knots, have been a part of human knowledge for thousands of years. In fact, the lashings formed today are practically identical to those made by Scouts since Scouting’s earliest days.

The Language of Lashings

The following terms will help you understand how to make lashings.

  • wrap. A wrap is a turn made around the two spars to hold the spars tightly together. Usually three wraps are made to form a square lashing. Other lashings might require more wraps.

  • frap. A frap is a turn made between the spars. It goes around the wraps to pull the wraps tighter. Usually two frapping turns are made on a lashing.

  • spar. A spar is a pole or staff, usually made of wood. Spars are used as the structural members of pioneering projects.



Use a square lashing for binding together two spars that are at, or close to, right angles with each other. The spars are square with each other; thus the name for the lashing.

  1. Place the spars in position.

  2. Tie a clove hitch around the bottom spar near the crosspiece.

  3. Make three tight wraps around both spars, securing the end of the clove hitch as you would a timber hitch. As you form the wraps, lay the rope on the outside of each previous turn around the top spar, and on the inside of each previous turn around the bottom spar.

  4. Make two fraps around the wraps, pulling the rope very tight.

  5. Finish with a clove hitch around the top spar.



Here are two variations on the basic square lashing.


Modified Square Lashing.

Tying a clove hitch to complete a square lashing can be difficult. The modified square lashing eliminates the ending clove hitch.

  1. Begin with a clove hitch, but leave a tail of about 12 inches and let it hang free.

  2. Complete three wraps and two fraps to form a traditional square lashing, but instead of finishing with a clove hitch, bring up the tail of the rope and tie a square knot in the standing part of the rope.


Japanese Mark II Square Lashing.

The Japanese Mark II square lashing is a straightforward approach for lashing two spars together.

  1. Begin by folding the lashing rope in half. Place the bend around the vertical spar and beneath the horizontal spar.

  2. Working both ends of the rope at the same time, make three wraps around the spars.

  3. Bring the rope ends up between the spars in opposite directions to make the frapping turns around the wraps.

  4. Pull the frapping turns tight, and complete the lashing by tying the two ends with a square knot.


The advantage of this variation is that you work both ends of the rope at the same time. That can make forming the lashing quicker since each hand has less rope to pull through. The drawback is that it can be more difficult to keep both rope ends pulled tightly than when lashing with a single rope end.


Modified Square Lashing


Japanese Mark II Square Lashing


Spars secured with a shear lashing can be raised as an A-frame.


  1. Lay two spars side by side and tie a clove hitch to one of them.

  2. Make three or four loose wraps around the spars, and then put
    two loose fraps between them.

  3. Finish with a clove hitch around the other spar, then spread the
    ends of the spars to form the shape you need. Redo the lashing
    f it is too tight or too loose.


To bind spars at an angle other than a right angle, use a diagonal lashing.


  1. Tie a timber hitch around both spars and pull it snug.

  2. Make three tight vertical wraps around the spars, laying the wraps
    neatly alongside the timber hitch, then make three horizontal
    wraps across the spars.

  3. Cinch down the wraps with two fraps around the lashing, pulling
    the rope tight.

  4. Tie off the rope with a clove hitch.


Round lashings bind two spars side by side.

  1. Position the spars alongside each other and tie them together
    with a clove hitch.

  2. Make seven or eight very tight, neat wraps around the spars.

  3. Finish the lashing with another clove hitch around both spars.


A round lashing has no fraps. The wraps must do all the work, so pull
them as tight as you can. Make a second round lashing farther along the spars to keep them from twisting out of line.

Other Lashings

A few additional lashings will allow you to build special structures or put the finishing touches on a table, tower, or other project.


A close relative of the shear lashing, the tripod lashing is the one to use

for making a tripod or for joining together the first three poles of a


  1. Lay three poles alongside each other with the top of the center
    pole pointing the direction opposite that of the outside poles.

  2. Tie a clove hitch around one outside pole.

  3. Loosely wrap the poles five or six times, laying the turns of rope
    neatly alongside one another.

  4. Make two loose fraps on both sides of the center pole.

  5. End with a clove hitch around an outside pole. Spread the legs of the tripod into position. If you have made the wraps or fraps too tight, you may need to start over


The floor lashing will secure the top of a table, the deck of a raft, the
floor of a signal tower, or the walkway of a bridge.

  1. Lay the poles side by side on top of the stringers— the logs or
    poles on which your platform will rest.

  2. Tie a clove hitch around one stringer.

  3. Bend the standing part of the rope over the first pole. Pull the
    bend of rope under the stringer and cast it over the second pole.
    You may need to lift the end of the pole to get the rope over it.

  4. Pull the rope tight, then bend it over the third pole. Continue until all the poles are bound to the stringer.

  5. Finish with a clove hitch, then repeat the procedure to lash the other ends of the poles to the other stringer.


West Country Shear Lashing. West Country whipping. The primary

difference is that the whipping is used to prevent a rope end from

unraveling, while the lashing is used to hold spars together.

  1. Lay the spars side by side. Tie the midpoint of the lashing rope
    around the spars with an overhand knot.

  2. Take the two ends of the lashing rope behind the spars and tie
    another overhand knot.

  3. Continue to tie overhand knots, alternating them between the front and back of the spars, until the lashing has been formed.




You can use the two-spar shear lashing to extend the length of one spar by lashing another spar to it. This is also a good lashing to use when spar legs will be spread apart to form an A-frame trestle. To extend a spar, make two lashings where the spars overlap. The diameter and length of the spars determine the amount of overlap.

Place the lashings as far apart as possible to maintain the strength


To make an A-frame trestle, place the spars next to each other and form

a loose two-spar shear lashing about a foot from the top ends of the

spars. Spread apart the other ends to form the A-frame, and tighten the


  1. Start with a clove hitch on one spar.

  2. Wrap the excess part of the short running end around the standing part of the rope.

  3. Make eight to 10 loose wraps around the spars, then tighten the wraps with two frapping turns between the spars.

  4. Finish the lashing by tying a clove hitch on the other spar.



Sometimes all you need to hold two small spars together are a few

wraps with a rope or cord. Finish with a square knot or clove hitch

and you have a strop lashing. Essentially it is a shear lashing formed

without any fraps. Strop lashings can be used to secure a short stave

to a stake, to join walkway sections to a rustic bridge, or to lash the

ends of bridge walkways to stakes.


A trestle is the main supporting framework for building a rustic tower, bridge, or other pioneering structure. It is made with spars as the primary weight-bearing legs, and braces (including horizontal ledgers and transoms) providing stability. Three trestle designs are the H-trestle, X-trestle, and A-trestle, each named for the shape of the letter it resembles.



H-trestles are used in tower designs and for certain bridges. All of the lashings on an H-trestle are square lashings except for the diagonal lashing used to secure the cross braces to one another. Here is how to build an H-trestle.


  1. Lay the two legs on the ground with the butt ends (the larger-diameter ends) of the spars at the same end and even with one another. Secure the horizontal ledgers in place with square lashings.

  2. Add the cross braces. The cross braces (spars usually 2 inches in diameter) are lashed to the legs in a particular sequence.

    • Position one cross brace so that it is on the side of the spars opposite the ledgers. (It might help to flip the trestle over.) Lash the cross brace to the spars with square lashings.

    • Position the second cross brace so that one end is on the same side of the spars as the ledgers, but the other end is on the opposite side. Lash the second cross brace to the spars with square lashings. There will be a slight gap between the cross braces where they cross one another.

  3. Stand the trestle up. Make sure the legs, ledgers, and cross braces are all properly positioned and secure. If everything looks good, use a diagonal lashing to pull together the two cross braces where they are closest to each other. That will add tremendous stability to the trestle and complete the structure. If adjustments must be made, lay the trestle down and get everything in order before making the diagonal lashing


Two X-trestles provide the standards at each end of a monkey bridge. Here is how to build an X-trestle.

  1. Lay the two legs on the ground side by side with the butt ends (the largerdiameter ends) of the spars at the same end and even with one another. With a loose shear lashing, secure them at the halfway point of their length.

  2. Form the X by spreading apart the butt ends of the spars.

  3. Create stability by lashing a horizontal ledger in place with square lashings.



This design forms an A-shaped trestle that can be used for a variety of bridge plans. Here is how to build an A-trestle.

  1. Lay the two legs on the ground side by side with the butt ends (the largerdiameter ends) of the spars at the same end and even with one another. Form a loose shear lashing a foot from the narrower ends of the spars.

  2. Spread apart the butt ends of the spars to form the A shape.

  3. Use square lashings to add two ledgers (bottom ledger and top transom) to the legs.


rope for lashing

In most cases, 1⁄4-inch-diameter manila rope is fine for lashing together two spars when the combined diameter of both spars is 6 inches or less. When the combined diameter exceeds 6 inches, use rope that is 3⁄8 inch in diameter. To ensure the full strength of a lashing, use enough rope to make the required number of wraps and fraps. Dress the lashing after completing it by wrapping any extra rope around a spar and securing it with an additional clove hitch.


Build a signal tower? You bet. Rig a monkey bridge to cross a stream? There is no better way to spend the day. Lash together a table for your patrol campsite? Perfect. Project construction brings together all the skills of pioneering. You will need to make a plan, create a design, and develop a list of materials. When everything is ready and you have your counselor’s approval, you can use your best skills for making lashings and tying knots. Before long you will have a structure that you’ll be glad to call your own.



With straight sticks and strong string you can lash together models of any rustic structure. A signal tower could be only 2 feet high. A bridge might have a span of just 24 inches but be perfect in every detail. Build your models as authentic as you can, using the correct knots and lashings. When you have the chance to build the real thing, you will know just what to do. A scale of 1 inch = 1 foot is a good standard for most models. It will mean, for example, that the model of a 24-foot bridge will be 24 inches long. Models built to this scale are easy to manage and large enough to show all the details.


For “spars,” you may be able to get permission from a landowner to cut lengths of willows or other straight, durable branches. Dowels from building supply stores are useful, too. Strong cotton string or flax cord can be used to make lashings and anchors

For a permanent model, consider building on a piece of plywood. You could even use plastic foam shaped and painted to represent terrain features—the banks of a stream, for instance.

In the Connected Activities you will find plans to build a pioneer project of your own!


Your Scout Troop might want to assemble a pioneering kit that contains the ropes and spars needed for a variety of pioneering projects. The materials in the kit can be used at Scouting events, reused many times and replaced as necessary, then neatly stored until the next time they are needed.


Rope can be purchased in spools of 600 feet or more. Manila rope 1⁄4 inch in diameter is ideal for most pioneering projects. Cut the rope into lengths of 10, 15, 20, 30, and 50 feet. Whip the ends of each length to help prevent fraying or unraveling. For easy identification, color code the rope lengths by dipping the ends in paint of various colors.


Spars are available from various sources including lumberyards and farm supply stores. Sometimes they can be harvested during timber-thinning operations at Scout camps or on private tree farms. Remove the bark to limit damage from insects and to provide a good surface for securing lashings. As with ropes, spars can be painted on the ends to color-code their lengths.

Treat spars with care so they can be reused and will last a long time. When spars are not in use, store them in a dry, sheltered, and well-ventilated area. Keep the spars off the ground by stacking them on top of several perpendicular logs or timbers.

A typical pioneering kit includes the following:


Besides spars and ropes, your pioneering kit should contain some basic equipment needed for building projects.

  • 2 shovels

  • 2 wooden mallets

  • 1 hand axe

  • 1 bow saw

  • 4 spools of parachute cord

  • 4 boxes of binder twine

  • 10 wooden cleats and nails (for use with masthead knot)

  • 50 anchor stakes

  • Carabiners, steel rings, and/or screw pin shackles

  • Tape measure


The pioneering basics—tying knots, making lashings, constructing anchors, and using rope tackle—can be learned and practiced at home or at meetings. 


  1. Decide on the type of project you want to build. Consider the equipment, the number of people needed, and the time required to build it.

  2. Check the project site. Are there natural anchors (mature trees, large rocks) for securing guylines? If a bridge will cross a stream, how long must the span be, and how high? What safety issues must be addressed before pioneering work can begin?

  3. Make a rough sketch of the project. Develop a list of materials that includes all the spars, ropes, and other items you will need. Step 4

  4. Gather the materials.

  5. Review the plans with your crew members and counselor. Perhaps the project can be built as several trestles that can then be lashed together. Several Scouts can be assigned to build each trestle or other subassembly of the project.


The challenges below are for designed to allow you to explore more about Pioneering by doing hands-on activities. These are labeled by program area. To find which activities correlate with your advancement, check your connected tracking sheets located at Anchorage - Starting Line




Part of caring for rope includes preventing the ends from unraveling. For synthetic rope, that means fusing them. For natural-fiber rope, that means whipping the ends. The ends of three-strand ropes also can be protected with back splices. Rope and cord made of synthetic materials will melt under high heat. An electric blade cutter, often found in stores that sell rope, is the safest means of neatly fusing rope ends. You can also use a match, butane lighter, or candle to fuse a rope. Working in a well-ventilated area, melt and fuse the strands by holding each rope end a few inches above the open flame. Melted rope will be hot and sticky. Don’t touch the end until it has cooled. All Cub Scouts should do this with the help of an adult. 



Because natural fibers burn rather than melt, the ends of manila, sisal, cotton, or other natural-fiber ropes are protected by whipping. Whipping keeps rope ends from fraying or unraveling by tightly binding them with strong cord. Among the styles of whipping are basic, West Country, and the sailmaker’s.


Basic whipping. Every Tenderfoot Scout knows how to make a basic whipping to protect the end of a rope from unraveling. First, cut off any of the rope that has already unraveled.

  1. Using a piece of strong cord at least 2 feet long, form a loop. Lay the loop near one end of the rope.

  2. Tightly wrap, or whip, the cord around the rope.

  3. When the whipping is at least as wide as the rope is thick, slip the end through the loop and pull hard on the free ends to tighten the cord. Trim excess cord, then whip the rope’s other end.

West Country whipping. Famous for seafaring traditions, the counties west of Bristol, England, lend the name West Country to a form of whipping that works well on any type of rope. The success of West Country whipping depends on the tightness and neatness of the knots formed with the whipping cord. To make the West Country whipping, start with about 14 inches of waxed flax cord.

  1. Bring the cord around the rope near one end and secure the cord with an overhand knot.

  2. Take the two ends of the whipping cord around to the back of the rope (away from you), and tie another overhand knot.

  3. Continue to tie overhand knots, alternating them between the front and back of the rope, until the whipping has been formed. As a rule, make the whipping at least as long as the diameter of the rope.


Always tie each overhand knot the same way (for example, right over left, or left over right) so that the knots lie tightly together to form a smooth whipping. Finish the whipping with a square knot and trim the excess cord.

Sailmaker’s whipping. The sailmaker’s whipping can be used on three-strand rope. It differs from basic whipping in that the cord is secured around one of the rope strands before the whipping begins. That will help keep the whipping from coming off even if the rope is heavily used. Here is how to make the sailmaker’s whipping.

  1. Unlay the three strands for about 1 inch from the end of the rope. Form a bight near the end of a 16-inch length of cord and slip it over one rope strand, allowing several inches of the bight to remain. Lay the running ends of the cord between the other two strands of the rope.

  2. Twist the strands of the rope back together. Using the longer end of the cord, make wraps around the rope. Keep the wraps tight against each other.

  3. After completing the wraps, loop the bight over the end of the same strand around which it began. Run the longer end of the cord through the bight, then pull the two ends of the cord to tighten the bight against the whipping. Finish by tying the ends of the cord with a square knot and trimming the excess cord.



Demonstrate your knowledge of rope tying by practicing the knots below! Based on your rank in

Scouting, practicing these knots may qualify for requirements. See the chart below to find your knot

tying rank requirements. 

Download the Knot Tying Passport to help you!


Additional Advancement Requirements:

In addition to simply practicing your knot tying, find additional advancement requirements below related to your rank earned by participating in Cyber Sled Race. 

  • Wolf - Call of the Wild: Show how to tie an overhand knot and a square knot.

  • Bear - Bear Necessities: Demonstrate how to tie two half hitches and explain what the hitch is used for.

  • Arrow of Light - Scouting Adventure: Show how to tie a square knot, two half hitches, and a taut-line hitch. Explain how each knot is used.

  • Arrow of Light - Outdoor Adventurer: Show how to tie a bowline. Explain when this knot should be used and why. Teach it to another Scout who is not a Scout.

  • Scout Rank: Show how to tie a square knot, two half-hitches, and a taut-line hitch. Explain how each knot is used.

  • Tenderfoot Rank: Demonstrate a practical use of the square knot, two half-hitches, and taut-line hitch.

  • Second Class Rank: Demonstrate tying the sheet bend knot. Describe a situation in which you would use this knot. 

  • Second Class Rank: Demonstrate tying the bowline knot. Describe a situation in which you would use this knot.

  • First Class Rank: Demonstrate tying the timber hitch and clove hitch.

  • First Class Rank: Demonstrate tying the square, shear, and diagonal lashings by joining two or more poles or staves together.

  • Pioneering Merit Badge (Scouts BSA or Venturing): Demonstrate how to tie the following knots: clove hitch, butterfy knot, roundturn with two half hitches, rolling hitch, water knot, carrick bend, sheepshank, and sheet bend.

challenge h.png

SHEET BEND: Need to tie two ropes together? This is the knot for you. The sheet bend won’t slip when ropes of dissimilar material and size are entwined.

HOW TO: When tying the knot, be sure that the working ends are on the same side; otherwise, the knot might be unreliable. If you tie a thick and thin rope together, use the thick rope to form the “stationary loop” and the thin rope as the “working line.”

TAUT LINE HITCH: To create an adjustable loop that stays in place, use the taut-line hitch. This is the knot to use for staking out the guy lines of your tent.


HOW TO:  Pass the running end of the rope around the tent stake. Bring the end over and around the standing part, then back through the loop that has formed. Go around the standing part inside the loop again (this time closer to the tent stake). Going in the same direction, take the end around the standing part outside the loop to tie another half-hitch. Work any slack out the knot. Slide the hitch to tighten or loosen the line.

TRUCKER’S HITCH: The trucker’s hitch is a powerful pulley with a locking knot. Use this when you need a locking pulley with a 2-to-1 mechanical advantage, such as hanging a bear bag, tying a canoe on a car or guying out a tarp. Unlike the taut-line hitch, this knot won’t slip when used with slippery line.

HOW TO: Form the overhand loop. Then pull the loop through. Make the loop exactly as shown; it won’t work if you do it backward. Run the working end of the rope through the loop and then pull hard to form the pulley. Secure the pulley to a stationary object (like a pole or branch) with a quick-release half-hitch or, for extra security, two or more standard half-hitches.

PRUSIK HITCH: A prusik hitch can slide up or down a stationary rope, but it will hold fast when weight is applied. It’s used in a number of self-rescue situations. Mountaineers use the prusik for footholds to help them climb a vertical rope. Campers use it for rigging rain flies or rescuing rock-pinned canoes in a river.

HOW TO: First, use a sheet bend or double fisherman’s knot (instructions below) to make a loop from a length of parachute cord or rope. Then, wrap the loop around the main line three times. The prusik hitch will slide easily along the rope, but it will jam when a load (horizontal or vertical) is applied.

BOWLINE: This knot is popular among mountaineers, climbers, sailors and others. Use the bowline when you need a non-slip loop at the end of a line. The knot won’t slip, regardless of the load applied.


HOW TO: Begin by forming a loop or “rabbit hole.” The “rabbit” (working end) of the rope goes up through the hole, around the tree, then back down the hole. The knot will slip as it tightens, so allow a long working end.

TWO HALF-HITCHES: Use two half hitches to tie a rope to a tree, ring or dock. If you need more security, take a second turn around the tree, or just add more half-hitches.


HOW TO:  Pass the running end of the rope around the post or through the grommet. Bring the end over and around the standing part of the rope, then back through the loop that has formed. This makes a half-hitch. Continue taking the end around the standing part to tie another half-hitch (this time outside the loop). Be sure to go around the standing part in the same direction. Pull the knot snug and slide it against the pole or grommet.

DOUBLE FISHERMAN'S KNOT: Use this knot to tie together the ends of one rope, forming a loop. The loop of rope can be used for many purposes, including the prusik hitch, shown above.

SQUARE KNOT: The square knot can be used to join two ropes together. Generally, it works best with two ropes of the same diameter, and should not be used to hold a heavy load.

HOW TO: Hold an end of the rope in each hand. Pass the right end over and under the rope in your left hand. Pass the rope end now in your left hand over and under the one now in your right.Tighten the knot by pulling both running ends at the same time.

CLOVE HITCH: The clove hitch is a versatile knot that is often used in Scouting activities, including servings as the start or finish to many lashings.

HOW TO: Bring the running end of the rope over and under a pole. Take the end around a second time, crossing over the first wrap to form the shape of an X. Bring the rope end around a third time and tuck it under the X. The ends of the rope should come out between the legs of the X. If they come out to either side of the X, you don’t have a clove hitch. Pull the ends of the rope to tighten the hitch.

TIMBER HITCH: The timber hitch is often used to drag a log across the ground or to start a diagonal lashing.

HOW TO:  Pass the running end of the rope around a log.Loop the end around the standing part of the rope, then twist the end around itself three or more times. Pull slack out of the rope to tighten the timber hitch against the log. The hitch will stay secure as long as you are pulling on the rope. When you are done using the rope, the timber hitch is easy to loosen and remove from the log.



Splicing takes practice. It is easiest to learn if you can sit down with someone who can help you master each step of weaving the strands together. Three-strand manila rope with a 1⁄4-inch diameter works well for learning to splice.



The back splice permanently prevents the end of a rope from unraveling. Because splicing
increases the diameter of a rope end more than whipping does, tying knots in back-spliced rope
can be more awkward than when using rope protected with whipping.

  1. Unlay rope strands about five twists. Bend strand A back between strands B and C and hold
    it against the standing part of the rope. Allow the bend in strand A to extend upward about
    an inch.

  2. Wrap strand B around the base of the loop formed by strand A.

  3. Bring strand C through the loop formed by strand A.

  4. Tighten the strands, gently tugging on them to snug them neatly against one another. Doing
    so makes the crown knot symmetrical, with all three strands identically positioned.

  5. Pass one strand over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside
    that one. (You will need to twist open the lay of the rope to make the tuck.)

  6. Continue by passing each strand in turn over the strand directly below it, then tucking it
    under the strand alongside that one. Repeat this process two more times, going in order
    with the strands.


After making three tucks with all the strands, cut away half the fibers of each strand. Make a

fourth tuck with the reduced strands to taper the splice. Trim the remaining fibers.


The eye splice creates a fixed loop at the end of the rope. Use this splice to make a fixed loop in the end of a guyline or to splice a rope into the grommet of a tent or dining fly, or to splice eyes into the ends of a rope to be used as an anchor sling.


  1. Use a square knot to tie a piece of whipping cord around the rope about 6 inches from the end. Unlay strands A, B, and C back to the cord and spread them apart. Bend the rope to form an eye of the size you want.

  2. Twist open the lay of the rope and tuck center strand B under a strand on the standing part of the rope.

  3. Pass strand A over that strand, then tuck strand A under the strand beside it. 

  4. Turn the eye over.

  5. Find the strand next to the one with strand A tucked under it. Twist open the lay of the rope and tuck the end of strand C beneath that strand. At this point, the eye will be formed and the three strand ends will be symmetrical.

  6. Complete the splice as you would a back splice:

  • Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.

  • Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.

  • Do the same with strand C, going over the strand directly below it and then under the next one.

  • Repeat the process twice more, going in order with strands A, B, and then C.

  • For a tapered finish, reduce the diameter of the strands and make a fourth tuck.



A short splice is used to join two rope ends together. It can be used to join several shorter ropes to form a longer line, or to rejoin a rope that has been cut to remove a damaged section. It may also be used to splice the ends of a short length of rope to form a fixed loop that can be used as an anchor sling (also known as a grommet or a strop) for anchoring pioneering projects.


  1. Unlay the two rope ends 5 to 6 inches. Interlace the strands of one rope end with those of the other. Use whipping cord to secure the strands in place at the point where they meet.

  2. Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one. (To make the tuck, first twist open the lay of the rope.)

  3. Roll the splice toward you. Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one. (Strand B will be tucked under the strand lying next to the strand with A tucked under it.)

  4. Again roll the splice toward you. Pass strand C over the strand directly below it and then under the next one. (Strand C will be tucked under the strand lying next to the strand with B tucked under it.)

  5. Continue the splice as you would complete a back splice or an eye splice.

    • Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.

    • Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.

    • Do the same with strand C, going over the strand directly below it and then under the next one.

    • Repeat the process twice more, going in order with strands A, B, and then C.

    • For a tapered finish, reduce the diameter of the strands and make a fourth tuck.

  6. Remove the whipping cord from the splice. With the remaining three strands, complete the splice on the other side by following steps 2 through 5.



To better understand the structure of rope, make your own. The basic process of making rope consists of twisting fibers to form strands, then twisting the strands together to form rope. You can use either a rope spinner or a ropemaker.


You will need to use a coping saw to make your rope spinner. To make a cutout in a

piece of wood, first bore a hole, 1⁄4 inch or larger, just inside the shape you want to

cut out. Remove the blade of the coping saw, slip the blade through the bored hole,

and replace the blade in the saw frame. With the blade thus “inside” the wood,