How to Use Ascenders – Different Types & Applications

Ascender is the newest way to climb; it replaces traditional rope and harness systems with an easy-to-use, adjustable system. Climbing ascender provides climbers with the comfort of a harness, the safety of a rope, and a seamless transition between different heights. But you have to learn how to use ascenders first.

Unlike other systems used to climb, a climbing ascender is fully adjustable, and the user can change the angle of the harness in any direction to fit their body and climbing style.

So, adding a climbing ascender kit to your arsenal means to take your climbing to the next level. The flexible design of this ascent aid allows the climbers to use it with various climbing techniques.

In fine, ascender allows climbing to happen in places otherwise inaccessible. This article will focus on multiple tricks and techniques to make climbing with this tool a breeze.
ascender climbing

What Is An Ascender and Different Types of It

Ascenders are devices used to propel oneself up a rope. They are typically made of metal and have a mechanism that allows the user to wrap the rope around it then pull themselves up. Ascenders are a vital piece of safety gear for mountaineers and rock climbers, as they allow the user to ascend a rope without using their hands.

There are many different types and variations of ascenders on the market, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Hand Ascender

A Hand ascender for climbing is an accessory for rock climbers that easily attach ropes to a fixed anchor. Thus, a rock climber can keep one hand free to use an ice axe, which can be challenging to hold with one hand.

You can make it a hand ascender with pulley -a versatile and even efficient alternative- merely by attaching a pulley with it.

Foot Ascender

The Foot Ascender is an innovative device that helps climbers balance and body control. This camming device is attached to the climber’s boot, making it easy for them to glide up the rope friction-free.

The tiny teeth on the device bite into the rope as they walk, raising their weight and straightening their legs. The system also prevents stumbling when descending.

Knee Ascender

The Knee Ascender in climbing is a piece of equipment designed with a loop on the end that is attached to the climber’s harness. The other end connects the foot ascender via a connection loop on the climbing boots.

This piece of equipment is commonly known as the “knee loop,” designed to be used in fixed rope and DRT systems.

Chest Ascender

A Chest Ascender is a climbing device to keep you close to the rope and enable you to slide it smoothly. Proper care is the prime when using these devices because they need to be adjusted correctly to fit your body.

When using one, make sure to have the correct size rope. A chest ascender may be unstable if it is too short or too long, so make sure to measure the length of your climbing rope before you buy it.

Powered Rope Ascender

A powered rope ascender is a device used to ascend or descend a rope. It is similar to a regular ascender, but a motor provides power to the ascent or descent.

And this version can be helpful where there is a lot of weight or resistance on the rope, such as rappelling down a cliff face.

Tree Climbing Ascender

A tree-climbing ascender is a powered rope ascender used to ascend or descend trees while climbing. So, they are often referred to as tree climbing ascenders and descenders. There are two types of tree climbing ascenders: manual and powered.

Needless to say, the former is hand-operated, while the latter is motor-run. The power tree climbing ascender is more efficient and faster than its manual counterpart.

What Are the Benefits of Using Climbing Ascender?

Ascenders help advance upwards when you’re at a height that you can’t reach with your hands or feet. They allow climbing without any gear or equipment needed. The benefits of ascenders are evident in many ways.

    • Convenient: Climbers who want to practice their skills on indoor walls have less need for ropes and harnesses.
    • Excellent Training Tool: If you want to simply practice and improve your skills for indoor climbing walls and mountain or rock climbing, the ascender is an excellent tool for both.
    • Flexible Design: This allows the user to practice various climbing techniques.
    • Tricky Moves: With the Ascender, it’s possible to make some tricky moves, like pull-ups, without any equipment.
    • Help Improve Quickly: The Ascender is an excellent system for improving your climbing.
    • Non-slip Grip: Ascender is equipped with a non-slip grip that is easy to use and comfortable. The grip retracts automatically when not used to fold up and store easily.
    • Portable and Lightweight: The Ascender is easily portable and lightweight. It comes with a cushioned carrying case for easy transport. You can also pack it in your backpack or use it as a rappel device.
    • Versatile Fit: It can be used with any climbing harness. This system offers more than one way to use it.

how to use hand ascender with foot loop

What Are the Best Ways to Use Ascenders?

Several methods to use the ascender are easy to follow and quick. Read on these efficient methods to learn how to use ascenders and descenders creatively.

Ascender As a Backup Device

Ascender is a great backup when your rappel device fails. You can use them to ascend the rope in the event of a rappel failure. Ascenders are climbing devices that clip onto the rope, often used in mountaineering.

Using a Munter hitch to belay an ascending partner is also necessary. You can also use them to ascend if a knot does not feel solid. The device consists of a metal clamping mechanism with a rotating wheel attached to an ascending rope by a carabiner.

So it would help if you started by removing your weight from the rope and then attaching one end of the ascender to a stationary piece of protection on the anchor. Then, pull the ascender up and clip it into the rope.

Using Ascender Loop

The Ascender Loop is a safety device used to rappel and consists of three parts – a loop made of webbing, the ascender that attaches to the loop, and the carabiner used to attach the ascender to the ascender Loop.

Go ahead on how to use hand ascender with foot loop, so you can be sure it is easy:

  • The first step is to take your rope and tie it around the ascender loop.
  • Next, attach the rope to your harness with a locking carabiner, and clip them onto the anchor.
  • Finally, attach the ascender to the Ascender Loop, locking the Ascender Loop into the carabiner.
  • Once the Ascender Loop is attached to the rappel device, your harness should be clipped into the rappel device. This is as simple as that.

The ascender loop is a variation of the ascender used as a backup or an alternative to the ascender. These loops are popular with professional boulderers as passing and climbing the ascender Loop requires some skills.

Using Paired Ascenders/ Ascender Descender Combo

Using paired ascenders is a great way to climb steep mountains, big walls, fixed rope, and following aid pitches. Paired ascenders or ascender descender combo have handles meant for both the right and left hand or one handle that works conveniently for both hands.

To use a paired ascender, stand with your feet in an aider clipped into a hole in the ascender base. The climber’s weight causes a cam to bite into the rope when you climb.

You can’t move aid up or down, but you can slide it up the rope with one hand that is not weighted. This style of ascender is also helpful for rock climbers who want to use it in a solo climbing scenario.

A piece of webbing or a sling attaches the ascender to your harness. After securing the sling or harness, clip the other end into the ascender’s base. This locking device is an essential part of a rope hauling system, and it helps you remain safe while climbing.

However, make sure that the ascenders you are using have different colors to make the right and left-hand ones easily traceable.

Stand in Aiders and Slide the Ascender Up to Climb

Go with the most common methods used by climbers:

The lower and upper ascenders are secured to a harness by the safety cord. Using the same harness length as above, slide the ascender up.

Make sure that the ascender feet are at the same height and that the sling is the same length as above.

The Ascenders stick to a harness or rope with slings and a climbing rope with an overhand knot. Clip the personal anchor to the upper rung with the aiders and stand in them.

You can slide the ascender Up by using both Ascenders and Stand in Aiders to climb. Using the Ascenders can secure your foot.

The Ascenders are connected to a harness by a rope or slings. When attaching the ascender, attach the personal anchor to the lower ascender.

Then, use a climbing rope to secure the ascender to your harness. Alternatively, you can clip an overhand knot to a locking carabineer.

Frog Methods

An ascender is an anchor attached to the rope by a screw link at the lower end. A climber sits on a chest harness and inserts the Croll into the foot loop. Before climbing, it is important to practice pinching the rope between the toes and pointing upwards. Once you have mastered this, you can move on to the next level.

When using the frog method, climbers push up the upper part of their body and sit on the ground. They use their arms to lift the upper body and push the upper ascender up. While standing, the climber keeps their feet under the bed.

The next step is to push the upper ascender up while pushing the rope with their legs. The frog should move up and down by about a quarter of the rope height when the climber is standing.

The frog’s design complements the clamps and helps climbers maintain a stable posture as they push up the rope. It complements the climbing style and uses hard-coated cams to quickly prevent the rope from wearing out.

The frog method requires a person to buy a right and left ascender separately, which is time-consuming and expensive. A new person to ice climbing can start by using the frog method.

Other Equipment Needed to Use Ascenders

Using an ascender for climbing is a sophisticated technique, but this alone cannot enable you to climb. You need a host of other equipment to use an ascender for climbing. Below you go with an inclusive list of additional equipment required while using an ascender for climbing.


You need gloves and other equipment to protect your hands from the friction of the rope as you ascend. Gloves protect your hands from getting cuts and scrapes on the ropes.


When using an ascender, you will need a rope. A rope can be of any length and type, though the popular recommendation is to use an 11-millimeter static rope. A static rope has no stretch and can handle the weight well.


A harness wraps around your body and secures the ascender to you. The most common harness is a climbing harness with straps around your legs and waist and a buckle that secures them in place. There are also chest straps and leg loops to help keep the harness in place.


Ascenders can be used with or without a helmet, though often recommended. A helmet will prevent injury to your head in the event of an accident. More so, it can also protect your face from rope burns if it comes into contact with the rope during use.


A lanyard is a short-length webbing rope attached to the ascender and worn around the waist. This accessory provides a way to quickly connect and disconnect from the ascender, which is important when using prusiking.


Ascenders will not work without carabiners – metal loops with a spring-loaded gate that snaps shut to keep the rope or other object in place. There are many variations of carabiners, but all serve the same basic purpose.

When selecting carabiners for use with ascenders, you should look for ones rated for climbing.


A descender is a device used to rappel down a cliff or other vertical surface. They are typically made of metal and have a handle on one end and a hook. When using a descender, you will also need a climbing rope, carabiners, and a harness.


A belay is a knot used to secure a climber’s rope to a fixed object, such as a tree or piece of equipment. Used as part of a belay system, it stops a climber from falling by friction between the rope and another object.


A sling is a fabric or webbing attached to the ascender to wrap around the tree trunk or other object. Thus, this add-on helps to keep you safe while you are ascending.

Whereas the said gears are essential to climb using an ascender, make sure the pair of climbing shoes you put on are properly broken-in, stretched-out, and washed for an effortless ascending.

How to Use Ascenders for Climbing Mountain?

Now you know how to use ascenders and what tools are the integral parts of the ascender climbing process. So, it’s time to go climbing. But before going for mountain climbing, we suggest practicing using an ascender with a fixed rope.

To use the ascender, clip the attached redirect carabiner into the blue webbing tied to the bottom of the ascender. Do not clip the carabiner through the hole at the top of the ascender.

It is important to remove the carabiner every time your gear passes. If you don’t have a redirect carabiner, you can use a DMM Revolver carabiner instead.

Once you’re on the ascent, make sure your backpack attaches to the rope so that you don’t fall from the ascent.

So, the ascender is the most versatile of all the tools used to climb a mountain. It has many uses, and you can choose from multiple types.

The first is to use it on steep slopes. The second is to be used to attach fixed ropes to cliffs. If you don’t want to use a rope, you can use an Ascender with two loops for a fixed rope.


What’s the difference between ascender and other climbing systems?

Ascender is a proper climbing system designed with the climber in mind from the ground up. Designed to meet the needs of climbers, it is a great help for both indoor and outdoor climbing.

It allows the user to practice climbing techniques without using ropes, and it’s even great for rappelling. It’s exceptionally versatile.

So, when faced with the dilemma Ascender vs. Other Climbing Systems, remember what is said above.

How to use Hand ascender with Foot Loop?

Crucial to climb a rock face, the ascenders are pretty helpful devices to ascend a rope or other rope-like object. Climbers put pressure on the device to advance along the rope.

Often, climbers use them in conjunction with foot loops – a type of small loops of rope placed on the top of the climbing rope to prevent the climber’s weight from moving the rope.

They provide an alternate way of attaching these devices to the climber.

Are ascenders bad for ropes?

To climb a rope, you need a device that will allow you to move up the rope without having to climb it hand-over-hand. Ascenders are those devices able to velcro your feet into the device to move up the rope one foot at a time.

Climbers typically do not use ascenders when climbing a free-climbing route because they can damage the live-end of a rope when they contact it. But climbing ropes have been developed to reduce this so the ascender’s teeth cannot damage the rope.

Despite the aggressive look, the climbing ascender teeth are not harmful to the rope except for factors – that are rare and less than one.

Do I need 2 ascenders? 

The answer is that you don’t; you can use one or two. It’s better to use two ascenders. What are the benefits of using two ascenders?

You get more friction moving up the rope, which means you can get more weight on the line. Moreover, to go ahead with a single ascender is a bit risky, while two ascenders attached to your harness will provide added safety and convenience.

The climber on his feet and hands-free can use more ascenders to accelerate progression and slide them along the safe rope while keeping the rope taut.

How do you use the ascender arborist?

Ascender arborist is a tool used by arborists. It’s a simple tool, and essentially a ruler made to measure limb lengths. You hold the tip in one hand and the main body in the other. It is basically a straightedge that measures limbs.

The arborist uses the tool to ensure that tree limbs are present in the correct proportion in relation to each other.

You can use it on any part of the tree trunk and on branches to mount on both right and left hands as an alternative to the pole pruner.

How do you put an ascender on a harness? 

Ascenders are called “artillery” by rock climbers because they resemble the hooks used by artillerymen to hoist ammunition onto their chests. The two types of ascenders are pulleys and the Jumar, the latter being one of the most popular options.

A pulley-style ascender is usually attached to a harness with one carabiner. The other carabiner is attached to the rope. The Jumar or “Jumars” are also popular and are used with a camming device.

They are usually attached to a harness with two carabiners.

How do you descend with a rope when climbing? 

Climbing a mountain entails two things – Climb and Descend. You can use ascenders the same way as a carabiner and they attach to the rope and run the length of the rope while descending.

They also use friction against the rope to decrease its energy to descent. The general process for using an ascender for climbing down is attaching it, placing your weight on it, and releasing your hands.

Wrap Up

Once mastered overusing ascender, you can apply it indoors or outdoors, on vertical or overhanging surfaces; it’s even perfect for rappelling. With ascender, climbing has been easier, more comfortable, and versatile. In short, climbing with an ascender is as simple as strapping in and starting your climb.

It offers many advantages to the climbers, including low-impact movements and the ability to fit snugly into spaces too tight for other devices. Along with that, you can move it quickly to follow different routes or to travel up a rope without adding weight.

If you’re looking for a quick-draw to add to your climbing arsenal, the ascender is the way to go. So, learning the tricks about how to use ascender is more than necessary.

Afzall Rahman

Afzall Rahman is a college teacher by profession and is a rock-climbing enthusiast from his early childhood. So, anything on climbing keeps him glued to for hours - be it a movie on or related to climbing, book on or by climbers, article or podcast on climbing destinations, skills, gears, or the likes.

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