This question made me wonder how one should be pulled up in a rescue situation, e.g. when lowering is not an option. This answer explains a Z-pulley when in an alpine/glacier environment.

I'm more interested how to solve this in a rock climbing environment. Is there a faster method than building a Z-pulley with a dedicated anchor? The person herself can be assumed to sit in a harness, and is in a stable position.

EDIT from comments: here is a good description how a z-pulley works and is set up.

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    Assuming the person to be pulled up can't assist, a Z-pulley is the most practical option I am aware of.
    – imsodin
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 12:36
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    Whoops, I assumed a Z-pulley is already the variant with a higher transmission ratio. So there is a variant that is somewhat better suited. This simple pully still requires a lot of force and can easily be extended. In any case you don't need to descend to set either of those up
    – imsodin
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 17:05
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    @imsodin Could you post an answer of how this would work? I cannot image a Z that does not go down from the anchor point and does not require you to navigate down the rope to reset the prussik.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 18:47
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    @Paparazzi Sure you need to move the prusik downwards, but that doesn't need to be a big distance.
    – imsodin
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 19:33
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    @imsodin Cool but that is still a descent. You have a couple feet of overhead for the prussik line. Unless you plan for it there are a lot of anchor points that don't have that luxury. For example an overhang does not offer that and would be a common belay point. Friction on rocks could mess up the prussik that does not come into play on a glacier.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


In an ideal situation where you are using a belay device in guide mode off of the anchor, I would use a z-pulley, mostly because it would be so fast to set up.

Consider your position before setting it up,

enter image description here

at this point all it takes to set up a 3:1 z-pulley is to attach a prussik onto the climber rope with a carabiner and clip the carabiner onto the belay strand like this,

enter image description here

Once the prusik has gotten high enough that it you can no longer pull in rope, let the belay device hold the rope in guide mode, and reach down and push the prusik as far down the rope as you can.

This would be rather slow since you can't pull in very much at one time.

The other thing to consider is if it wouldn't be easier to lower the person instead of pulling them up the rock.

I could see this being used where you really need to get to the top and your follower is struggling to get past the crux of the route.

  • How would you transition to let out rope or set up the prussik? Does the belay device have a lockout?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 9:34
  • @Paparazzi One with guide mode does Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:30
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    very nice, z-pulley seems to be both the most generic and also the most simple thing, +1
    – knitti
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 15:20

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