A Swiss Seat is one of the most basic abseiling safety devices possible. They are not exactly “approved” but will do in a pinch. The military use them a lot. Making them are easy and actually quite safe to use. The better quality rope the safer it is as there are some very strong forces at work, please dont underestimate these. You make and use these at your own risk.
A Swiss seat rappel harness is a simple harness made from a sash cord or piece of rope. It is good for those who need to make a harness on the fly, or for those who don’t want to buy a commercially made harness.
Find the center of the rope by folding it in half and going to the fold. Place the fold in the centre of your lower back, ends out to either side of your body so that you’re holding an equal length in each hand.
Cross the halves in front of you so that it wraps around your waist. Pull one side under the other to make a half hitch. Repeat so that the rope turns twice around itself. This will eventually be where the carabiner is placed and it keeps the rope from pinching down on your testicles (if you have them). Drop both of the free ends so that they dangle in front of you (probably touching the ground).
Reach around the outside of your legs with both hands and pull the free ends behind you through your legs. Pass each free end up through the portion of the rope wrapped around your waist. The free ends should now be between your body and your ‘belt’. Place the free ends over you rshoulders so that the ends are dangling down in front of your chest, one on each side. Pull down on these as you squat. This is an important step as this is what will tighten your harness. Stand up and squat several times while pulling on the free ends. You should feel it squeeze you between your legs – make sure key parts are not between the rope and your leg.
For both sides, maintaining tension on the free end, drop it behind your back and pass it behind the length of rope that cups your bum, from back to front. This binds the seat in place. Pull the free end towards your front, along your hips.
Making a square knot is down further.
Make a half hitch with each free end as a keeper knot. Note that the half hitch must pass around both ‘belts’ of rope that now exist.
Place any excess rope out of the way in a deep left pocket (cargo pants are an asset) if you have one, and if your knot is on the left. Make sure that the rope is in a place that it won’t interfere with your carabiner during a rappel.
Now have fun
The reef knot, also known as the square knot, is a simple, handy knot for temporary ties.
A very useful rhyme to help remembering the steps is
Right over left and left over right,
Makes the knot neat and tidy and tight.
The knot can as easily, and correctly, be tied left over right, right over left.