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United States Patent Application 20110309617
Kind Code A1
Eley; Kenneth Stuart December 22, 2011

APPARATUS, SYSTEM, AND METHOD FOR FACILITATING TYING A FRICTION HITCH KNOT IN A CHORD

Abstract

An apparatus, system, and method are disclosed for tying a friction hitch knot. The apparatus includes at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface opposing an interior space. The support member and a bight in the chord define an opening when the chord is positioned adjacent the support member. The support member supports at least one loop formed by a first length of chord and a second length of the chord. The interior space receives a first and a second tail portion of the chord after the at least one loop is formed around the support member. Engagement between the at least one loop and the first and second tail portions of chord is facilitated by slideably releasing the support member from the at least one loop after the first and second tail portions are received in the interior space.


Inventors: Eley; Kenneth Stuart; (Castle Dale, UT)
Serial No.: 162975
Series Code: 13
Filed: June 17, 2011

Current U.S. Class: 289/1.5; 289/13
Class at Publication: 289/1.5; 289/13
International Class: B65H 69/04 20060101 B65H069/04


Claims



1. A method for tying a knot in a chord, the method comprising: providing a chord for tying the knot; forming a bight in the chord, the bight comprising a bend in a portion of the chord; providing at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface and an interior space disposed opposite the at least one substantially rigid support surface; positioning the chord adjacent the at least one support member such that the bight of the chord and the at least one support member define an opening; wrapping a first length of chord and a second length of chord about the support member and through the opening defined by the bight of the chord and the at least support member, wherein the first length of chord and the second length of chord are wrapped around the support member to form at least one loop around the support member; positioning a tail portion of the chord in the interior space in the support member after the at least one loop is formed around the support member; and removing the support member from the at least one loop such that the at least one loop is positioned around the tail portion of the chord.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling a base member to a first end of the at least one support member to maintain the at least one loop on the at least one support member, wherein at least a portion of the base member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface in a direction opposite the interior space.

3. The method of claim 2, further comprising removably coupling a capping member to a second end of the at least one support member to maintain the at least one loop on the at least one support member, wherein at least a portion of the capping member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface in a direction opposite the interior space and wherein the second end is disposed opposite the first end.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising maintaining the chord on the at least one support member by positioning a retention member opposite the interior space such that at least a portion of the substantially rigid support surface is positioned between the interior space and the retention member, the retention member configured to releasably engage the at least one loop.

5. The method of claim 4, further comprising biasing the retention member in an engagement position with a biasing member, the retention member applying a pressure to the at least one loop in the engagement position to maintain the at least one loop on the at least one support member.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising aligning the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface with at least one groove that transects the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the at least one groove engageable with the at least one loop.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising engaging the bight with a projecting member coupled to the at least one substantially rigid support surface to position the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the projecting member extending substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the at least one substantially rigid support surface.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising extending the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord through an aperture disposed through the support member, the aperture extending from the interior space through the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the aperture facilitating retaining at least a portion of the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord within the interior space.

9. An apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot in a chord, the friction hitch knot having a bight formed in the chord, a first length of chord and a second length of the chord extending from opposite ends of the bight, the first length of chord having a first tail portion disposed opposite the bight, the second length of chord having a second tail portion disposed opposite the bight, the apparatus comprising: at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface, wherein the at least one support member and the bight of the chord define an opening when the chord is positioned adjacent the at least one support member, the at least one support member configured to support at least one loop formed around the at least one support member by the first length of chord and the second length of chord; an interior space disposed opposite the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the interior space configured to receive the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord after the at least one loop is formed around the at least one support member; and wherein the at least one support member facilitates an engagement between the at least one loop and the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord by slideably releasing the at least one loop after the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord are received in the interior space.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a base member removably coupled to a first end of the at least one support member, wherein at least a portion of the base member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface of the at least one support member in a direction opposite the interior space.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, further comprising a capping member removably coupled to a second end of the at least one support, wherein at least a portion of the capping member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface of the at least one support member in a direction opposite the interior space and wherein the second end is disposed opposite the first end.

12. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a retention member positioned opposite the interior space such that at least a portion of the at least one substantially rigid support surface is positioned between the interior space and the retention member, the retention member configured to releasably engage the at least one loop to maintain the chord on the at least one support member.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a biasing member configured to bias the retention member in an engagement position, the retention member applying a pressure to the at least one loop in the engagement position to maintain the chord on the at least one support member.

14. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the at least one support member includes a plurality of grooves transecting the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the plurality of grooves engageable with the chord to align the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface.

15. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a hooking member positionable within the interior space, the hooking member engageable with the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord to facilitate receiving the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord within the interior space.

16. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the at least one support member has at least two substantially rigid support surfaces and further comprising an adjusting member, the adjusting member coupled to the at least two substantially rigid support surfaces, wherein the adjusting member adjusts a size of the interior space.

17. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a coupling member attached to the at least one support member, the coupling member configured to couple the at least one support member to a user.

18. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a guiding member positioned within the interior space and wherein the support member includes an aperture extending from the interior space through the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the guiding member guiding the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord through the aperture to facilitate retaining at least a portion of the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord within the interior space.

19. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the support member is telescopically extendable in a lengthwise direction.

20. An apparatus for facilitating tying a knot in a chord, the knot having a bight formed in a the chord, the bight comprising a bend in a portion the chord with a first length of chord and a second length of the chord extending at opposite ends of the bend, the first length of chord having a first section that extends away from the bend, the second length of chord having a second section that extends away from the bend, wherein a first doubled back portion of chord extends from the first section of chord in the direction of the bight and a second doubled back portion of chord extends from the second section of chord in the direction of the bight, wherein the first doubled back portion and the second doubled back portion are positioned through the bight to form at least one loop, wherein a first tail portion of chord extends from the first doubled back portion of chord and a second tail portion of chord extends from the second doubled back portion of chord, the first tail portion of chord and the second tail portion of chord positioned through the at least one loop to form the knot, the apparatus comprising: at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface, wherein the at least one support member and the bight of the chord define an opening when the chord is positioned adjacent the at least one support member, the at least one support member supporting the at least one loop formed by the first length of chord and the second length of chord; an interior space disposed opposite the at least one substantially rigid support surface, the interior space configured to receive the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord after the at least one loop is formed around the support member; and wherein the at least one support member facilitates an engagement between the at least one loop and the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord by slideably releasing the at least one loop after the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord are received in the interior space such that the at least one loop engages the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord to form the knot.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No, 61/356,006 entitled "APPARATUS, SYSTEM, AND METHOD FOR FACILITATING TYING A FRICTION HITCH KNOT IN A CHORD" and filed on Jun. 17, 2010 for Kenneth Stuart Eley, which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD

[0002] This subject matter relates to tying knots and more particularly relates to an apparatus and method to facilitate tying friction hitch knots in a chord.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Climbers, rescue workers, outdoor enthusiasts and others have been using slide-and-grip friction knots or friction hitch knots for many years. These knots are commonly used in single rope techniques while climbing or to capture progress on a moving rope. One common example of a friction hitch knot in use, involves setting up a simple, Compound and complex pulley system arrangements used in high angle rescue with most common being a simple three to one mechanical advantage referred two in slang teams as a Z-rig. The Z-rig uses a friction hitch knot as a method of holding the mainline referred to as a load capture or progress capture prusik on a rope made by the user. A second slide and grip knot or prusik hitch is used as an adjustable ratcheting device and the arrangement of pulleys and lines provides a mechanical advantage when a user pulls on one end of a rope. The slang name comes from the fact that the arrangement of lines is roughly Z shaped.

[0004] To set up a Z-rig, the first end of a chord is attached to an object that the rescuer or other user wishes to move. The chord proceeds from the object through a stationary first pulley which is attached to a stationary object or anchor. The load capturing prusik is tied on the rope between the object and the load and configured in a way that the pulley will mind the prusik as the pulley system is pulled by rescuers and when the rescuers release there pull, the prusik will capture the load.

[0005] After the rope leaves the stationary pulley the rope doubles back towards the object that the user wishes to move. From the first pulley, the chord proceeds through a second pulley which is anchored either to the object the user wishes to move or to the rope with a second friction hitch or prusik knot referred to as the reattaching friction hitch knot or ratchet prusik, As the user pulls the chord and makes progress this knot gives the user the ability to reset the haul system and gain distance for the pulley system.

[0006] One advantage to using a friction hitch knots over mechanical rope grabs is their ability to absorb dynamic forces by slipping. Once the friction hitch slips, the forces resolve; and it does not take much slippage to resolve those forces. Whereas at forces similar to where a friction hitch knot slips, the mechanical ascender will sever the rope or strip the sheath causing sever rope damage and jeopardizing the user's safety. This Z-rig system provides a three times mechanical advantage when compared to a single chord attached directly to the object the user wishes to move.

[0007] A slide-and-grip friction or friction hitch knot will grip the rope when weight is applied and when the weight is released, the friction knot is free to move and because it is symmetrical, it is useful if a load might need to be applied in either direction. The cords used to tie friction knots are usually called "Prusik slings" or slings.

[0008] The Purcell Prusik loop is formed from continuous slings by tying a friction hitch back on to the Prusik sling. Tying the friction hitch knot back onto the Prusik sling involves a complex manipulation of a user's hands making the use of this knot difficult and time consuming. Other friction hitch knots require a similar complex manipulation of a user's hands. Therefore, the use of the Purcell Prusik loop is limited in the field and rescue workers typically must tie the knots beforehand or use more expensive mechanical ratcheting devices or mechanical ascenders.

SUMMARY

[0009] From the foregoing discussion, it should be apparent that a need exists for an apparatus, system, and method for tying a friction hitch knot. Beneficially, such an apparatus, system, and method would allow a user to quickly and easily tie a friction hitch knot back on the chord used to tie the friction hitch knot.

[0010] The present subject matter has been developed in response to the present state of the art, and in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art that have not yet been fully solved by currently available knot tying devices and methods. Accordingly, the present subject matter has been developed to provide an apparatus, system, and method for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot in a chord that overcome many or all of the above-discussed shortcomings in the art.

[0011] A friction hitch knot, in certain embodiments, is formed from in a chord. The knot has a bight which is a bend in a portion the chord with a first length of chord and a second length of the chord extending at opposite ends of the bend. The first length of chord includes a first section that extends away from the bend. The second length of chord has a second section that extends away from the bend. A first doubled back portion of chord extends from the first section of chord back towards the bight. A second doubled back portion of chord extends from the second section of chord back in the direction of the bight. The first doubled back portion and the second doubled back portion are positioned through the bight to form at least one loop. A first tail portion of chord extends from the first doubled back portion of chord. A second tail portion of chord extends from the second doubled back portion of chord. The first tail portion of chord and the second tail portion of chord positioned through the at least one loop and the loop is tightened around the first and second tail portions to form the knot.

[0012] The apparatus for tying a friction hitch knot in a chord, in one embodiment, includes at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface and an interior space disposed opposite the at least one substantially rigid support surface. The at least one support member and the bight of the chord define an opening when the chord is positioned adjacent the at least one support member. The at least one support member is configured to support at least one loop formed around the at least one support member by the first length of chord and the second length of chord. The interior space configured to receive the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord after the at least one loop is formed around the support member. The at least one support member facilitates an engagement between the at least one loop and the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord by slideably releasing the at least one loop after the first tail portion of the chord and second tail portion of chord are received in the interior space.

[0013] In certain embodiments, the apparatus includes a base member coupled to a first end of the at least one support member. At least a portion of the base member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface of the at least one support member in a direction opposite the interior space to maintain the at least one loop on the support member. In another embodiment, the apparatus includes a capping member coupled to a second end of the at least one support. In such an embodiment, at least a portion of the capping member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface of the at least one support member in a direction opposite the interior space to maintain the at least one loop on the support member. The second end is disposed opposite the first end.

[0014] In one embodiment, the apparatus includes a retention member positioned opposite the interior space. In such an embodiment at least a portion of the at least one substantially rigid support surface is positioned between the interior space and the retention member. The retention member is configured to releasably engage the at least one loop to maintain the chord on the at least one support member. In a further embodiment, the apparatus includes a biasing member that biases the retention member in an engagement position. The retention member applies a pressure to the at least one loop in the engagement position to maintain the chord on the at least one support member.

[0015] The at least one support member, in certain embodiments, includes a plurality of grooves that transect the at least one substantially rigid support surface. In such an embodiment, the plurality of grooves are engageable with the chord to align the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface.

[0016] The apparatus, in a further embodiment, includes a hooking member that is positionable within the interior space. The hooking member is engageable with the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord to facilitate receiving the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord within the interior space.

[0017] The at least one support member, in one embodiment, has at least two substantially rigid support surfaces. In such an embodiment, the apparatus may further include an adjusting member coupled to the at least two substantially rigid support surfaces to adjust a position of the two substantially rigid support surface. By adjusting the position of the two substantially rigid support surfaces, the adjusting member adjusts a size of the interior space.

[0018] In one embodiment, the apparatus includes a coupling member attached to the at least one support member. In such an embodiment, the coupling member may be configured to couple the at least one support member to a user.

[0019] In a further embodiment, the apparatus includes a guiding member positioned within the interior space. The support member, in such and embodiment, may include an aperture extending from the interior space through the at least one substantially rigid support surface. The guiding member guides the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the chord through the aperture to facilitate retaining at least a portion of the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord within the interior space when the at least one loop is removed from the substantially rigid support surface of the support member.

[0020] The support member, in one embodiment, is telescopically extendable in a lengthwise direction. In such an embodiment, a length of the support member may be extended to support tying multiple friction hitch knots. In another embodiment, the length of the support member may be shorted to facilitate transportation of the apparatus.

[0021] A method of the present subject matter is also presented for tying a knot in a chord. The method in the disclosed embodiments substantially includes the steps necessary to carry out the functions presented above with respect to the operation of the described apparatus. In one embodiment, the method includes providing a chord for tying a knot. Forming a bight in the chord, the bight comprising a bend in a portion of the chord. The method also includes providing at least one support member having at least one substantially rigid support surface and an interior space disposed opposite the at least one substantially rigid support surface. The chord is positioned adjacent the at least one support member such that the bight of the chord and the at least one support member define an opening. A first length of chord and a second length of chord are wrapped around the support member and through the opening defined by the bight of the chord and the at least support member to form at least one loop around the support member. A tail portion of the chord is positioned in the interior space in the support member after the at least one loop is formed around the support member and the support member is removed from the at least one loop such that the at least one loop is positioned around the tail portion of the chord.

[0022] In a further embodiment, the method includes coupling a base member to a first end of the at least one support member to maintain the at least one loop on the at least one support member. In such an embodiment, at least a portion of the base member extends beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface in a direction opposite the interior space to maintain the at least one loop on the support member. The method may also include removably coupling a capping member to a second end of the at least one support member to maintain the at least one loop on the at least one support member. In such an embodiment, at least a portion of the capping member may extend beyond the at least one substantially rigid support surface in a direction opposite the interior space. The second end is disposed opposite the first end.

[0023] In certain embodiments, the method includes maintaining the chord on the at least one support member by positioning a retention member opposite the interior space such that at least a portion of the substantially rigid support surface is positioned between the interior space and the retention member. The retention member is configured to releasably engage the at least one loop to keep the at least one loop positioned around the support member. In one embodiment, the retention member may be biased in an engagement position. In the engagement position the retention member applies a pressure to the at least one loop in the engagement position to maintain the chord on the at least one support member.

[0024] In one embodiment, the method includes aligning the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface with at least one groove that transects the at least one substantially rigid support surface. In such an embodiment, the at least one groove is engageable with the at least one loop to align the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the substantially rigid support surface of the support member

[0025] The method, in another embodiment, includes engaging the bight with a projecting member coupled to the at least one substantially rigid support surface to position the at least one loop in a wrapping orientation around the at least one substantially rigid support surface. In such an embodiment, the projecting member extends substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the at least one substantially rigid support surface to hook the chord to facilitate forming the at least one loop around the at least one substantially rigid support surface.

[0026] In a further embodiment, the method includes extending the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord through an aperture disposed through the support member. In such an embodiment, the aperture extends from the interior space through the at least one substantially rigid support surface. The aperture facilitates retaining at least a portion of the first tail portion of the chord and the second tail portion of the cord within the interior space.

[0027] Reference throughout this specification to features, advantages, or similar language does not imply that all of the features and advantages that may be realized with the present subject matter should be or are in any single embodiment of the subject matter. Rather, language referring to the features and advantages is understood to mean that a specific feature, advantage, or characteristic described in connection with an embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, discussion of the features and advantages, and similar language, throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, refer to the same embodiment.

[0028] Furthermore, the described features, advantages, and characteristics of the subject matter may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize that the subject matter may be practiced without one or more of the specific features or advantages of a particular embodiment. In other instances, additional features and advantages may be recognized in certain embodiments that may not be present in all embodiments of the subject matter.

[0029] These features and advantages of the present subject matter will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the subject matter as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0030] In order that the advantages of the subject matter will be readily understood, a more particular description of the subject matter briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments that are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the subject matter and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting of its scope, the subject matter will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0031] FIG. 1 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of a system for recovering from a fall from a support structure;

[0032] FIG. 2 is a top view further illustrating one embodiment of an anchor for use in the system of FIG. 1;

[0033] FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of a friction resistance member for use in the system of FIG. 1;

[0034] FIG. 4 is an enlarged front view of one embodiment of the engagement area showing the engagement between the anchor and the friction resistance member of the system of FIG. 1;

[0035] FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of a sling for use in the system of FIG. 1;

[0036] FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot;

[0037] FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 6 with the sling of FIG. 5 positioned in a first position for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot;

[0038] FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 6 with the sling of FIG. 5 positioned around the apparatus of FIG. 5 to facilitate tying a friction hitch knot;

[0039] FIG. 9 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of a Purcell Prusik knot;

[0040] FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot;

[0041] FIG. 11 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having a plurality of grooves for aligning loops of a chord around the apparatus;

[0042] FIG. 12A is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having two support members;

[0043] FIG. 12B is a top view further illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 12A;

[0044] FIG. 12C cutaway view of one embodiment of the rotatable coupling area of FIG. 12A;

[0045] FIG. 13A is a side view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having three support members;

[0046] FIG. 13B is a top view further illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 13A;

[0047] FIG. 14 is a side view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having retention member that adjusts the distance between the retention member and a support member;

[0048] FIG. 15 is a top view illustrating another embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having retention member that adjusts the distance between the retention member and a support member;

[0049] FIG. 16 is a side cutaway view further illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 15;

[0050] FIG. 17 is a side view illustrating another embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot with the apparatus having retention member that includes an engagement for engaging a bight of a loop or chord;

[0051] FIG. 18A is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of an apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot;

[0052] FIG. 18B is a side cutaway view further illustrating one embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 18A;

[0053] FIG. 19 is a is a perspective view illustrating one embodiment of a telescoping apparatus for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot; and

[0054] FIG. 20 is a schematic block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot; and

[0055] FIG. 21 is another schematic block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0056] Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment," "an embodiment," or similar language means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present subject matter. Thus, appearances of the phrases "in one embodiment," "in an embodiment," and similar language throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, all refer to the same embodiment.

[0057] Furthermore, the described features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. In the following description, numerous specific details are provided for a thorough understanding of embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that the disclosure may be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other methods, components, materials, and so forth. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the disclosure.

[0058] The schematic flow chart diagrams included herein are generally set forth as logical flow chart diagrams. As such, the depicted order and labeled steps are indicative of one embodiment of the presented method. Other steps and methods may be conceived that are equivalent in function, logic, or effect to one or more steps, or portions thereof, of the illustrated method. Additionally, the format and symbols employed are provided to explain the logical steps of the method and are understood not to limit the scope of the method. Although various arrow types and line types may be employed in the flow chart diagrams, they are understood not to limit the scope of the corresponding method. Indeed, some arrows or other connectors may be used to indicate only the logical flow of the method. For instance, an arrow may indicate a waiting or monitoring period of unspecified duration between enumerated steps of the depicted method. Additionally, the order in which a particular method occurs may or may not strictly adhere to the order of the corresponding steps shown.

[0059] As will be evident to one of skill in the art, performing tasks at a elevated position poses dangers to an individual that are not encountered when the same tasks are performed on the ground. As such, certain safety precautions must be taken to avoid falling from the elevated position.

[0060] One common task performed at an elevated position involves hunting from an elevated treestand. In the excitement of the hunt, hunters often pay little attention to their footing. One misstep and the hunter may fall from the treestand causing severe injury or death to the hunter.

[0061] To avoid injury from a fall, a hunter may wear a harness substantially similar to harnesses worn by rock climbers or industrial workers. The harness is typically coupled to a chord that is anchored to the tree at a position above the height of the treestand. If the hunter falls, the harness arrests the hunter's descent leaving the hunter supported by the harness some distance above the ground.

[0062] While the harness protects the hunter from the immediate dangers involved with falling and hitting the ground, the harness poses additional threats to the hunter in the form of suspension trauma. Suspension trauma, or harness induced pathology (HIP) occurs when the straps around the hunter's legs cut off the blood supply flowing from the hunter's legs back to the hunter's heart. Unconsciousness or death can occur within minutes.

[0063] FIG. 1 depicts a system 100 for recovering from a fall from a support structure 102. The arrangement of the elements that make up the system 100 allows a user to safely tie into a fall protection system to avoid falling from the support structure 102 once the user has ascended to a height at which a danger of falling exists. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 the support structure 102 is depicted as a tree. One of skill in the art will recognize that the system 100 may be used to protect individuals from falling from other support structures such as scaffolding, building supports, ladders, or any other support structure that positions the user at a height above the ground.

[0064] In one embodiment the system 100 includes an anchor 104, an adjustable friction member 106, a length of rope 108, and an ascender 110. In certain embodiments the system 100 also includes a rope retainer 112 and a coupling aid 114.

[0065] In certain embodiments, to use the system 100, the user couples the anchor 104 to the support structure 102 at an elevated position on the support structure 102. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the anchor 104 is a continuous sling 126 made from a rope, nylon strap, or other chord.

[0066] In one embodiment a slide-and-grip friction hitch knot may be used to couple the anchor 104 to the support structure 102. A slide-and-grip friction hitch knot will grip the rope when weight is applied and when the weight is released, the friction knot is free to move and because it is symmetrical, it is useful if a load might need to be applied in either direction. The cords used to tie friction knots are usually called "Prusik slings" or slings. The Purcell prusik loop is formed from continuous slings by tying a friction hitch back on to itself forming a Purcell loop.

[0067] The continuous sling 126 is wrapped around the support structure 102 and a Purcell Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 is tied around a tail portion 130 of the sling 126. One of skill in the art will recognize that the Purcell Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 will allow the anchor 104 to be tightened around the support structure 102 by pulling on the tail portion 130 of the continuous sling 126. Once the anchor 104 has been tightened around the support structure 102, the Purcell Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 resists withdrawal of the tail portion 130 from within the Purcell Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 securing the anchor 104 to the support structure 102.

[0068] In other embodiments the anchor 104 may be a mechanical fastener (not show) such as a carabiner designed to anchor the system to the support structure 102 at a position near a top 116 of the support structure 100. In certain embodiments the carabiner may be a locking carabiner to avoid accidental disengagement of the system 100. One of skill in the art will recognize that the anchor 104 may be any fastener designed to securely fasten to the support structure 102 and support a user's weight.

[0069] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the anchor 104 is positioned near the top 116 of the support structure 102. In other embodiments the anchor 104 may be positioned below the top 116 of the support structure 102 while still being positioned at a height where a fall may result in injury to the user.

[0070] In certain embodiments the adjustable friction member 106 may be directly coupled to the anchor 104 to position the adjustable friction member 106 at an elevated position on the support structure 102. In other embodiments a coupling device 132 such as a carabiner may couple the adjustable friction member 106 to the anchor 104. Again, in certain embodiments the carabiner may be a locking carabiner to avoid accidental uncoupling of the adjustable friction member 106 from the anchor 104. In one embodiment the carabiner may be a three stage locking carabiner that auto-locks in a closed position and takes three stages to open. One of skill in the art will recognize coupling devices other than a carabiner may be used in place of the coupling device 132 to securely couple the adjustable friction member 106 to the anchor 104.

[0071] As further described below, in certain embodiments the adjustable friction member 106 acts as a friction brake to slow or stop a user's descent by forcing the rope 108 through a series of tight bends in the adjustable friction member 106 where the rope 108 rubs against the adjustable friction member 106 to increase friction on the rope 108. The increased friction slows or stops the chord's 108 movement through the adjustable friction member 106.

[0072] Typically a user is securely fastened to a first side 136 of the rope 108 which runs from a first end 140 to the adjustable friction member 106. A rescuer controls the amount of friction between the rope 108 and the adjustable friction member 106 by increasing or decreasing tension on a second side 138 of the rope 108 which runs from the adjustable friction member to a second end of the chord. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 the second end of the rope 108 is located within the rope retainer 112 and thus cannot be seen.

[0073] To slow or stop a user's descent, a rescuer increases tension on the second side 138 of the rope 108 which in turn increases friction between the rope 108 and the adjustable friction member 106. To lower the user, the rescuer decreases tension on the second side 138 of the rope 108 which in turn decreases friction between the rope 108 and the adjustable friction member 106 allowing the rope 108 to slide within the adjustable friction member 106.

[0074] In one embodiment the second side 138 of the rope 108 may be secured to the support structure 102 or another immovable object to avoid having the rope 108 slide through the adjustable friction member 106 when the rescuer is not performing a rescue. Thus, the first side 136 of the rope 108 may be looped up through the adjustable friction member and the second side 138 may be tied off to an immovable object such as the support structure 102. A user may tie in to the first side 136 of the chord 136 which, in cooperation with the anchor 104 and the adjustable friction member 106 will support the user as the user ascends or descends the support structure 102.

[0075] In other embodiments the adjustable friction member 106 may include a lock off member 134a that locks the rope 108 in a fixed position relative to the adjustable friction member 106 to stop the rope 108 from flowing through the adjustable friction member 106. The rope 108 may be coupled to the lock off member in a lock off position and uncoupled to the lock off member 134a in a friction resistance position. Movement of the length of rope 108 is arrested within the friction resistance member 106 when the rope 108 is positioned in the lock off position to support the user as the user ascends or descends the support structure 102. If a fall occurs, a rescuer can uncouple the lock off member 134a to position the rope 108 in the friction resistance position. In the friction resistance position the adjustable friction member 106 allows the rescuer to adjust the friction between the chord and the adjustable friction member 106 to safely lower the user to the ground 124.

[0076] With the rope 108 coupled to the adjustable friction member 106 and the adjustable friction member 106 supported at an elevated height by the anchor 104, a user may couple himself to the rope 108 using an ascender 110 that is moveably coupled to the rope 108. In certain embodiments the ascender 110 may be a Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 coupled to the first side 136 of the rope 108. In other embodiments the ascender 110 may be a Jumar or other mechanical ascender known in the art.

[0077] The ascender 110 freely slides along the first side 136 of the rope 108 in a first direction 142. When pressure is applied to the ascender 110 in a second direction 144, opposite the first direction 142, the ascender 110 grips the rope 108 to arrest any movement of the ascender 110 in the second direction 144. Thus, as a user ascends the support structure 102 the ascender 110 may be slid along the first side 136 of the rope 108 in the first direction 142 to a position higher than the user to support the user in case of a fall. If a fall does occur, pressure is applied to the ascender 110 in the second direction 144 by virtue of the user's body weight causing the ascender to grip the first side 136 of the rope 108 and arrest movement of the ascender 110 in the second direction 144. In this manner, the user is protected from falling all the way to the ground 124 which may result in serious injury or death to the user.

[0078] In embodiments where the ascender 110 is a Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128, the Prusik or other friction hitch knot 128 may be tied in a sling 146. In one embodiment the sling 146 may be rope, chord, nylon webbing or other chord like material having a knotted or sewn termination to form a continuous loop. A Prusik knot 148 or other friction hitch knot is tied in the sling 146 around the first side 136 of the rope 108 to create the ascender 110. The Prusik knot 148 freely slides along the first side 136 of the rope 108 in a first direction 142. When pressure is applied to the Prusik knot 148 in a second direction 144, opposite the first direction 142, the Prusik knot 148 grips the rope 108 to arrest any movement of the ascender 110 in the second direction 144.

[0079] The Prusik is tied by wrapping the end of the sling around the first side 136 of the rope 108 a number of times, usually 3-5 times depending on the materials, and then back through itself, forming a barrel around the first side 136 of the rope 108 with a tail hanging out of the middle of the Prusik knot 148. When a users weight is applied to the tail portion of the sling 146 the loops of the Prusik knot 148 tighten and make a bend in the first side 136 of the rope 108 stopping movement of the Prusik knot 148 along the first side 136 of the rope 108. When the user's weight is removed, the loops of the Prusik knot 148 are loosened and the Prusik knot 148 can be slid along the first side 136 of the rope 108.

[0080] In certain embodiments a Purcell Prusik knot 150 or other friction hitch knot is tied in the sling 146 on the end of the sling opposite the Prusik knot 148. One of skill in the art will recognize that a Purcell Prusik knot 150 differs from a Prusik knot 148 by the chord around which the knot is tied. For example, a Prusik knot 148 is tied around a chord or rope that is different from the chord or rope that forms the knot. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, knot 148 is tied around the first side 138 of the rope 108 and can be thus considered a Prusik knot 148. Knot 150, on the other hand, forms a loop 154 and is tied around the sling 146 itself. Thus, knot 150 can be considered a Purcell Prusik 150. One of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the Prusik knot 148 and the Purcell Prusik knot 150 may be termed by other names by different users.

[0081] The Purcell Prusik knot 150 is tied around a center portion 152 of the sling 146 to create an adjustable loop 154. The user wearing a harness, such as a rescue or climbing harness known in the art, can couple the harness to the loop 154 created by the Purcell Prussik knot 154. The size of the loop 154 can be adjusted using the Purcell Prusik knot 154 to increase or decrease tension on the user's harness.

[0082] In certain embodiments the first end 140 of the rope 108 may be coupled to the support structure 102 to assist a user in repositioning the ascender 110 as the user climbs the support structure 102. By coupling the first end 140 of the rope 108 to the support structure 102 at or near the bottom 118 of the support structure 102, or at or near the ground 124, the user can slide the ascender 110 up the first side 136 of the rope 108 with one hand. One of skill in the art will recognize that the ascender 110 can be slid up the first side 136 of the rope 108 without the first end 140 of the rope 108 being coupled to the support structure 102. However, such an arrangement may force the user to use two hands to slide the ascender 110 up the rope 108, one for grasping the first side 136 of the rope 108 below the position of the ascender 110, and the other for sliding the ascender 110 up the first side 136 of the rope 108.

[0083] In one embodiment the rope retainer 112 may be coupled to the support structure 102 at a height substantially near a top 116 of the system 100. In other embodiments the rope retainer 112 may be coupled to the support structure 102 at a height substantially near a bottom 118 of the system 100. In one embodiment the rope retainer 112 may coupled to the support structure 102 at a height where a rescuer will typically be located. In yet another embodiment the rope retainer 112 may not be couple to the support structure 102 at all. Instead, in certain embodiments the rope retainer may be positioned near a location where a rescuer will typically be located. In one embodiment the rope retainer 112 may be omitted and the second side 138 of the rope 108 may simply hang from the adjustable friction member 106.

[0084] By positioning the rope retainer 112 near the top 116 of the support structure 102 a rescuer located at the top 116 of the support structure 102 of the can access the rope 108 to safely lower the user to the ground 124. In such an embodiment the length of the rope 108 should be at least two times the length of a distance between the adjustable friction member 106 and a ground 124 to allow for enough rope 108 for the rescuer to lower the user the ground 124.

[0085] In embodiments where the rescuer performs a rescue from the ground 124 the rope retainer 112 may be positioned near the bottom 118 of the support structure 102. One of skill in the art will recognize that where the rescuer performs the rescue at or near the bottom 118 of the system the length of the rope 108 should be at least three times the length of the distance between the adjustable friction member 108 and the ground 124. For example, where the user is coupled to the ascender 110 and the user climbs the support structure 102, the ascender 110 will be positioned near the adjustable friction member 106. Thus, the first side 136 of the chord must be long enough to reach from the ground 124 to the adjustable friction member 106. In order for the rescuer to safely lower the user to the ground 124 from a position at or near the ground 124, the second side 138 of rope 108 should be long enough to reach from the rescuer to the adjustable friction member 106 and still have enough rope 108 to lower the user to the ground 124. Thus, the length of the rope 108 needs to be at least three times the distance between the rescuer and the adjustable friction member 106.

[0086] In the embodiments described above the system 100 is discussed with reference to lowering the user to the ground 124. One of skill in the art will recognize that in other embodiments the user may be lowered to a platform or other surface area located some distance above the ground 124.

[0087] FIG. 2 depicts a top cutaway view of one embodiment of the anchor 104 taken along line 1A-1A. In the embodiment depicted, the anchor 104 is created from a sling 202 substantially similar to the sling 146 used to tie the ascender 110. As such, the sling 202 may be rope, chord, nylon webbing or other chord like material having a knotted or sewn termination to form a continuous loop.

[0088] The sling 202 is positioned around the support structure 102 and a Purcell Prusik knot 204 or other friction hitch knot is tied around a middle section 206 of the sling 202 using a first end 208 of the sling 202 to form the Purcell Prusik knot 204. By tying the Purcell Prusik knot 204 around the middle section 206 of the sling 202, a loop 210 is formed in a second end 212 of the sling 202. A user may then couple the adjustable friction member 106 to the loop 210 of the sling 202 using the coupling device 132 described above to set up the system 100.

[0089] In certain embodiments the anchor 104 may be used by the user for protection as the user initially climbs the support structure 102. For example, in certain embodiments the user may position the sling 202 around the support structure 102 while the user is still on the ground 124 or other support surface. The user may then tie the Purcell Prusik knot 204 or other friction hitch knot around the middle section 206 of the sling 202 and couple the user's harness to the loop 210 formed in the second end 212 of the sling 202. As the user climbs the support structure 102 the user can reposition the anchor 104 at a height that will protect the user in case of a fall. The Purcell Prusik knot 204 allows the user to resize anchor 104 to avoid obstacles on the support structure 102 such a tree branch. If a fall occurs while the user is climbing the support structure 102, the anchor 104, coupled to the user's harness, arrests the user's descent.

[0090] FIG. 3 depicts a front view of one embodiment of the adjustable friction member 106 of FIG. 1. In certain embodiments the adjustable friction member 106 includes a main chord receiving opening 302, an anchor coupling horn 314 having an anchor coupling opening 304, chord guides 306, lock off openings 308, and lock of members 134.

[0091] In certain embodiments the coupling device 132 engages the coupling opening 304 to couple the adjustable friction member 106 to the anchor 104. In other embodiments the anchor 104 may be directly coupled to the coupling opening 304 without a coupling device 132 between the coupling opening and the anchor 104. For example, in certain embodiments the anchor 104 may be a carabiner or other coupling device that engages both the support structure 102 and the adjustable friction member 106 to couple the adjustable friction member 106 to the support structure 102.

[0092] To engage the rope 108 within the adjustable friction member 106 the first side 136 of the rope 108 is positioned behind the plane of the adjustable friction member 106 in the direction of arrow 310. The rope 108 is directed through the main chord receiving opening 302 in the direction of arrow 312 and engages the chord guide 306c. From the chord guide 306c the rope 108 is positioned behind the plane of the adjustable friction member 106 and directed around a back side of the anchor coupling horn 314 in the direction of arrow 316. The rope 108 proceeds past the back side of the anchor coupling horn 314 in the direction of arrow 318 to engage the chord guide 306b.

[0093] From the chord guide 306b the rope 108 is directed through the main chord receiving opening 302 in the direction of arrow 320. From the main chord receiving opening 302 the rope 108 proceeds behind the plane of the adjustable friction member 106 to the chord guide 306e. From the chord guide 306e the rope 108 is directed in front of the plane of the adjustable friction member 106 and proceeds to chord guide 306a in the direction of arrow 322. From the chord guide 306a the rope 108 is directed behind the plane of the adjustable friction member 106 and through the lock off opening 308a. From the lock off opening 308a the rope 108 proceeds around the lock off member 134a and back through the lock off opening 308a in the direction of arrows 324 and 326. The second side 138 of the rope 108 exits the lock off opening 308a and proceeds to a location where a rescuer can access the second side 138 of the rope 108 when a rescue is necessary.

[0094] When the rope 108 is positioned around the lock off member 134a the amount of friction between the lock off member 134a and the rope 108 locks the rope 108 in a fixed position relative to the adjustable friction member 106 to stop the rope 108 from flowing through the adjustable friction member 106. To reduce the friction and allow the rope 108 to flow through the adjustable friction member 106 the rope 108 is positioned in the friction resistance position by unhooking the rope 108 from around the lock off member 134a. Once the rope 108 is unhooked from the lock off member 134a the rope 108 can flow through the adjustable friction member 106 and the rescuer can lower the user to the ground 124 or other surface area. While the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3 depicts the lock off members 134 as including flanges 332 extending from either side of the lock off members 134, one of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the flanges 332 may be omitted to facilitate removing the rope 108 from around the lock off members 134 to position the rope 108 in the friction resistance position.

[0095] With the rope 108 positioned in the friction resistance position the various curves and bends made by the rope 108 as the chord makes its way through the main chord receiving opening 302, around the anchor coupling horn 314, and back through the main chord receiving opening 302 applies friction between the adjustable friction member 106 and the rope 108. A rescuer can adjust the amount of friction between the adjustable friction member 106 and the rope 108 by increasing or decreasing tension applied to the second side 138 of the rope 108 to increase or decrease the rate of the user's descent.

[0096] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3 line 3A transects the adjustable friction member 106 along substantially the center of the adjustable friction member 106 to divide the adjustable friction member 106 into a first section 328 and a second section 330. In certain embodiments the first section 328 is a minor image of the second section 330. Thus, in certain embodiments the rope 108 may be engaged on either side of the adjustable friction member 106. One of skill in the art will recognize that line 3A is for descriptive purposes only and does not depict a feature of the adjustable friction member 106.

[0097] FIG. 4 depicts one embodiment of a front view of the engagement area 156 of FIG. 1. As illustrated, in certain embodiments the adjustable friction member 106 is coupled to the loop 210 of the anchor 104 with the coupling device 132 to secure the adjustable friction member 106 to the support structure 102. The rope 108 is engaged within the adjustable friction member 106 and is coupled to the lock off member 134a to position the rope 108 in the lock off position.

[0098] FIG. 5 depicts a side view of one embodiment of a sling 500 such as the sling 126 used in forming the anchor 104 or the sling 146 used in forming the ascender 110. In certain embodiments the sling 500 is formed from a rope, nylon strap, or other chord having a first termination 502 coupled to a second termination 504 to form a continuous loop 506. In one embodiment the first and second terminations 502, 504 may be coupled to one another using stitching 508. In other embodiments the first and second terminations 502, 504 may be coupled to one another by tying a knot in the two terminations 502, 504. One of skill in the art will recognize that a sling 500 having sewn terminations 502, 504 may provide a stronger sling 500 than a sling 500 having knotted terminations 502, 504.

[0099] As depicted in FIG. 5, the sling 500 is laid out lengthwise having a first bight 510 positioned opposite a second bight 512 to form the substantially oval shaped continuous loop 506. As used herein, the term bight refers to a curved section of a chord such as the chord 514 that makes up the sling 500. One of skill in the art will recognize that due to the pliable nature of the rope, nylon strap, or other chord material that makes up the sling 500, the sling 500 may be shaped in a variety of configurations. Thus, in certain embodiments the sling 500 may be positioned to have several bights substantially similar to the first and second bights 510, 512.

[0100] Referring to a single bight 510 or 512, the bight 510 or 512 is a curved section of chord 514 with a first length of chord 516 extending from one end of the bight 510 or 512 and a second length of chord 518 extending from a second, opposite end of the bight 510 or 512. While the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5 depicts a sling 500 having a first termination 502 coupled to a second termination 504 to form a continuous loop 506, one of skill in the art will recognize that a bight 510 or 512 may be formed in an uncoupled chord 514. In such an embodiment, the bight 510 or 512 will still have a first length of chord 516 extending from one end of the bight 510 or 512 and a second length of chord 518 extending from a second, opposite end of the bight 510 or 512.

[0101] Each length of chord 516 and 518 has a tail portion relative to a particular bight 510 or 512. For example, starting with bight 510, the first length of chord 516 has a first tail portion 520a and the second length of chord 518 has a second tail portion 522a. Both the first tail portion 520 and the second tail portion 522 are disposed opposite the bight 510. In certain embodiments, the first length of chord 516 may be considered the portion of chord 514 that extends from bight 510 to extend from the first bight 510 to the second bight 512 despite the fact that this portion of chord is coupled in the middle. The second length of chord 518 is the portion of chord 514 that extends from the opposite end of bight 510 to bight 512. Similarly, starting with bight 512, the first length of chord 516 has a first tail portion 520b and the second length of chord 518 has a second tail portion 522b. Thus, the tail portions 520a, 520b, 522a, and 522b are defined by the relative position of the respective bight 510 and 512 as a portion of chord opposite the bight 510 or 512.

[0102] In embodiments there the chord 514 is not coupled to form a sling 500, the first length of chord 516 is simply a length of chord extending from one end of the bight 510 or 512, and the second length of chord 518 is simply a length of chord extending from an opposite end of the bight 510 or 512. In such embodiments, the first and second tail portions 520a, 520b and 522a and 522b respectively are simply the terminations 502 and 504 of the chord 514.

[0103] FIG. 6 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of an apparatus 600 for tying a friction hitch knot in a chord. In certain embodiments the friction hitch knot may be tied in a sling such as such as the sling 500 of FIG. 5. In other embodiments, the friction hitch knot may be tied in an uncoupled chord 514 having free terminations 502 and 504.

[0104] In one embodiment the apparatus 600 for tying a friction hitch knot may be used to tie a single Purcell Prusik knot in a sling such as the Purcell Prusik knot 204 tied in the sling 126 of the anchor 104. In other embodiments the apparatus 600 may be used to tie Purcell Prusik knots at each end of a sling 500. In another embodiment the apparatus 600 may be used to tie a Prusik knot around another chord such as the Prusik knot 148 tied around the first side 136 of the rope 108 of FIG. 1.

[0105] In certain embodiments the apparatus 600 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot in a chord includes a support member 602 and an interior space 604. The support member 602 includes a substantially rigid support surface 606 with the interior space 604 positioned opposite the substantially rigid support surface 606.

[0106] FIG. 7 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of the apparatus 600 for tying a friction hitch knot of FIG. 6 using the sling 500 of FIG. 5. To begin tying the friction hitch knot the sling 500 is positioned in a first position 700 with the sling 500 positioned adjacent to the support member 602 of apparatus 600. The first bight 510 extends laterally from first side 702 of the support member 602 and the second bight 512 extends laterally from a second side 704 of the support member when the sling 500 is positioned in the first position 700. Given the cylindrical nature of the support member 602, one of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the first and second sides 702, 704 of the support member may be positions on the substantially rigid support surface 606 that are disposed opposite one another. With the chord 514 positioned adjacent to the support member 602, the bight 510 and the support member 602 define an opening 708.

[0107] From the first position 700 the second bight 512 of the sling 500 is drawn up and around the substantially rigid support surface 606 in the direction of arrows 706 and is directed through the opening 708 in the direction of arrow 710 such that the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 wrap around the substantially rigid support surface 606 of the support member 602. The first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 form at least one loop 800 (FIG. 8) around the substantially rigid support surface 606 of the support member 602. In certain embodiments the process just described is performed several times such that the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 make several passes around the substantially rigid support surface 606. One of skill in the art will recognize that where the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 form a single loop 800, the knot may be termed a girth hitch knot. In embodiments where the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 form two loops 800, the knot may be termed a two wrap 4-ring Prusik knot. Of course, other terms may be used to describe these knots.

[0108] One of skill in the art will recognize that the same process can be performed in the opposite direction. That is, in certain embodiments the sling 500 may first be positioned in front of the substantially rigid support surface 606 of the support member 602 and the second bight 512 may be wrapped around the substantially rigid support surface 606 and through the opening 708 in a direction opposite arrows 706 and 710.

[0109] FIG. 8 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of the apparatus 600 once the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 have been wrapped around the substantially rigid support surface 606 of the support member 602 to form loops 800 around the substantially rigid support surface 606. In certain embodiments the support member 602 has a structural integrity sufficient to maintain the shape of the support member 602 when the substantially rigid support surface 606 is supporting the loops 800 in the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500.

[0110] Once the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 has been wrapped around the substantially rigid support surface 606 to form loops 800, tail portions 520a and 522a of the sling 500 are directed through the opening 708 formed from the bight 510 and the support member 602. From the opening 708 the tail portions 520a and 5222a are directed into the interior space 604 within the support member 602 to form a Purcell Prusik loop 148. The support member 602 can then be disengaged from the loops 800 by sliding the loops 800 off the support member 602 in the direction of arrow 804.

[0111] To form a Prusik knot 128 around a second chord (not shown), instead of positioning the tail portions 520a and 522a into the interior space 604 of the support member 602, the second chord (not shown) is positioned into the interior space 604 of the support member 602. The support member 602 can then be disengaged from the loops 800 by sliding the loops 800 off the support member 602 in the direction of arrow 804. In one embodiment, the tail portions 520a and 522a may be positioned all the way through the interior space 604 of the support member 602 such that the tail portions 520a and 522a extend from one end of the support member 602 to the opposite end of the support member 602 and beyond. In another embodiment, the tail portions 520a and 522a may be positioned within the interior space 604 without extending all the way through the support member 602.

[0112] In one embodiment the support member 602 facilitates an engagement between the loops 800 in the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 and the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord or rope) by slideably releasing the loops 800 from the substantially rigid support surface 606 after the tail portions 520a and 522b are received in the interior space 604. The loops 800 are slid off of the support member 602 in the direction of arrow 804 such that the loops 800 are positioned around the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord). In certain embodiments the diameter of the loops 800 can then be reduced to engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord) to form the friction hitch knot.

[0113] It should be noted that while the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4 depicts the tail portions 520a, 522a and 520b, and 522b as being the portions of the chord 514 or sling 500 opposite bights 510 and 512 respectively, in certain embodiments, the tail portions 520a, 522a and 520b, and 522b of the chord 514 may be considered the portions 812 of the chord 514 that extend from the opening 708 formed by the bight 510 to the opposite bight 512. Thus, the loops 800 may engage the tail portions 520a, 522a and 520b, and 522b anywhere along the portions 812 of the chord 514 after the chord 514 has been positioned through the opening 708.

[0114] In certain embodiments the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 may engage a ring 806 or other rigid member before the tail portions 520a and 522b is received within the interior space 604. Once the loops 800 are slid off of the support member 602 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500, the ring 806 or other rigid member is enclosed within a loop 808 formed in the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 between where the tail portions 520a and 522b exits the opening 708 and where the loops 800 engage the tail portions 520a and 522b. Of course, captive members other than a ring 806 may be positioned within loop 808 in a similar manner.

[0115] FIG. 9 depicts a side view of one embodiment of a Purcell Prusik knot 900 tied around the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500. Once the loops 800 are slid off of the support member 602, the diameters of the loops 800 are reduced by pulling on the tail portions 520a and 522b of the chord 514 at a position 902 where the tail portions 520a and 522b exit the opening 708. The decreased diameter of the loops 800 causes the Purcell Prusik knot 900 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500.

[0116] In use, when a pulling pressure is applied to the tail portions 520a and 522a of the sling 500 at a position 910 beyond where the tail portions 520a and 522a exit the loops 800, such as where a user coupled to the loop 808 falls or otherwise weights the loop 808, the pulling pressure causes the diameters of the loops 800 to be further decreased. The smaller the diameters of the loops 800, the tighter the grip between the Purcell Prusik knot 900 and the portions 520a and 522a of the sling 500, or the Prusik knot and the second chord (not shown). The tighten grip stops movement of the Purcell Prusik knot 900 with respect to the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500.

[0117] One of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the apparatus 600 may be used to tie a Purcell Prusik knot or a Prusik knot in a rope, nylon strap, or other chord material that has free ends. For example, in one embodiment the apparatus 600 may be used to tie a Purcell Prusik knot Prusik knot in a length of chord rather than in a sling such as sling 500. Similarly, one of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the apparatus may 600 be use to tie friction hitch knots other than a Purcell Prusik knot such as a Klemheist knot.

[0118] FIG. 10 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of an apparatus 1000 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot in a chord. In certain embodiments the apparatus includes a support member 1002, an interior space 1004, a base member 1008, a retention member 1010, a hooking member 1012, a coupling member 1014, and a capping member 1022. The support member 1002 includes a substantially rigid support surface 1006 with the interior space 1004 positioned opposite the substantially rigid support surface 1006. In certain embodiments the support member 1002, the interior space 1004, and the substantially rigid support surface 1006 may be substantially similar in structure and operate in a substantially similar fashion to the support member 602, the interior space 604, and the substantially rigid support surface 606 of apparatus 600 described above.

[0119] In one embodiment the support member 1002 may include a coupling member 1014 for coupling the support member 1002 to a user. In certain embodiments the coupling member 1014 may be a hole disposed through the support member 1002. In such an embodiment a user may engage the coupling member 1014 with a carabiner (not shown) or other coupling device. The carabiner (not shown) may then be coupled to the user's belt, harness, or other article of clothing to couple the support member to the user. While the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10 depict the coupling member 1014 as a hole disposed through the support member 1002, one of skill in the art will recognize that the coupling member 1014, in certain embodiments, may be a projection that extends from the support member and is coupleable to a carabiner (not shown) or other coupling device.

[0120] In certain embodiments the coupling member 1014 may be positioned on the base member 1008. Thus, in certain embodiments the coupling member 1014 may be a hole disposed through the base member 1008, or a projection extending from the base member 1008 that is coupleable to a carabiner (not shown) or other coupling device. Such an embodiment may be preferred in certain circumstances to allow the user to slideably remove the loops 800 of the sling 500 from around the support member 1002 without interference from the carabiner (not shown) or other coupling device.

[0121] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10 line 10A transects the support member 1002 along substantially the longitudinal axis of the support member 1002. One of skill in the art will recognize that line 10A is for descriptive purposes only and does not depict a feature of the support member 1002.

[0122] In one embodiment a base member 1008 may be removably coupled to a first end 1016 of the support member 1002 at an angle substantially perpendicular to an axis (line 10A) of the support member 1002. A portion of the base member 1008 extends beyond the substantially rigid support surface 1006 in a direction opposite the interior space 1004. In tying the friction hitch knot, such as the Purcell Prusik knot 900 described above, when the loops 800 of the sling 500 are moved towards the base member 1008 in the direction of arrow 1018, the base member 1008 keeps the loops 800 positioned on the support member 1002. In certain embodiments the base member 1008 is removable so that a user can tie the friction hitch knot by sliding the loops 800 off of either the first end 1016 or the second end 1020 of the support member 1002.

[0123] In certain embodiments a capping member 1022 may be removably coupled to the second end 1020 of the support member at an angle substantially perpendicular to an axis (line 10A) of the support member 1002. A portion of the capping member 1022 extends beyond the substantially rigid support surface 1006 in a direction opposite the interior space 1004. When the loops 800 of the sling 500 are moved towards the capping member 1022 in the direction opposite the direction of arrow 1018, the capping member 1022 keeps the loops 800 positioned on the support member 1002.

[0124] In one embodiment the base member 1008 and the capping member 1022 may be removably coupled to the support member 1002 by threads 1024 that engage corresponding threads within the coupling flanges 1026 and 1028 of the base member 1008 and the capping member 1022 respectively. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10 only the threads 1024 that engage corresponding threads in the coupling flange 1028 of the capping member 1022 are shown. In other embodiments the base member 1008 and the capping member 1022 may be removably coupled to the support member 1002 by a snap fit or other engagement means as is known in the art. In certain embodiments one of the base member 1008 or the capping 1022 member may be permanently coupled to the support member 1002.

[0125] In one embodiment a retention member 1010 is positioned opposite the interior space 1004 such that at least a portion of the substantially rigid support surface 1006 is positioned between the interior space 1004 and the retention member 1010. The retention member 1010 is configured to releasably engage the loops 800 of the sling 500 to maintain the sling 500 on the support member 1002.

[0126] In one embodiment the retention member 1010 includes a biasing member (not shown) configured to bias the retention member 1010 in an engagement position. In the engagement position the retention member 1010 applies a pressure to the loops 800 of the sling 500 to maintain the sling 500 on the support member 1002. In certain embodiments the retention member 1010 may be pivotably coupled to a retention member coupling flange 1030 with a pin 1032 disposed through the retention member 1010 and the retention member coupling flange 1030. The pin 1032 allows the retention member 1010 to pivot away from the substantially rigid support surface 1006 in the direction indicated by arrow 1034.

[0127] In certain embodiments the biasing member (not shown) may be positioned between the retention member 1010 and the retention member coupling flange 1030. The biasing member (not shown) engages the retention member 1010 and the retention member coupling flange 1030 to return the retention member 1010 to an engagement position after the retention member 1010 has been pivoted away from the substantially rigid support surface 1006. In certain embodiments the biasing member is made of a material having sufficient elasticity to return the retention member 1010 to the engagement position. In the engagement position the retention member 1010 applies pressure to the loops 800 of the sling 500 to maintain the sling 500 on the support member 1002. In one embodiment the retention member 1010 may be pivotably coupled to the retention member coupling flange 1030 with the biasing member (not show) configured to operate in a fashion substantially similar to the way a biasing member operates to close a gate on a carabiner as is known in the art.

[0128] In one embodiment the apparatus 1000 may include a hooking member 1012. The hooking member 1012 may be positionable through the interior space 1004 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 to facilitate receiving the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 within the interior space 1004.

[0129] The hooking member 1012 may include a hooked end 1036 positioned opposite a handle 1038. An elongated rod 1040 runs from the hooked end 1036 to the handle 1038. In certain embodiments the elongated rod 1040 has a length sufficient to span the distance between the first end 1016 of the support member 1002 and the second end 1020 of the support member 1002. In use a user may insert the hooked end 1036 into the interior space 1004 of the support member 1002 from the first end 1016 of the support member 1002.

[0130] In certain embodiments the base member 1008 may be removed prior to inserting the hooked end 1036 of the hooking member 1012 into the interior space 1004 to allow a user access to the interior space 1004 from the first end 1016 of the support member 1002. In other embodiments the base member 1008 may include a hole configured to allow access to the interior space 1004 from the first end 1016 of the support member 1002.

[0131] In one embodiment the hooked end 1036 of the hooking member 1012 is advanced through the interior space 1004 of the support member 1002 until the hooked end 1036 of the hooking member 1012 is positioned past the second end 1020 of the support member 1002. With the hooked end 1036 positioned past the second end 1020 of the support member 1002, a user may engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 with the hooked end 1036 of the hooking member 1012. In other embodiments the hooked end 1036 may be positioned near the second end 1020 of the support member 1002 without actually being advanced all the way past the second end 1020.

[0132] Once the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord) are engaged with the hooked end 1036 of the hooking member 1012, the user can withdraw the hooking member 1012 from within the interior space 1004 to position the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord) through the interior space 1004 within the support member 1002. One of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the tail portions 520a and 522b (or the second chord) may be positioned all the way through the interior space 1004 within the support member 1002 such that the second bight 512 (or the second chord) is positioned past the first end 1016 of the support member 1002. In other embodiments the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord) may be positioned within the interior space 1004 of the support member 1002 without pulling the tail portions 520a and 522b (or the second chord) all the way through the interior space 1004.

[0133] FIG. 11 depicts a side view of one embodiment of an apparatus 1100 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the apparatus 1100 includes a support member 1102 and an interior space 1104. The support member 1102 includes a substantially rigid support surface 1106 with the interior space 1104 positioned opposite the substantially rigid support surface 1106. In certain embodiments the interior space 1104 is configured to operate in a manner substantially similar to the interior spaces 604 and 1004 of apparatuses 600 and 1000 described above.

[0134] In one embodiment the substantially rigid support surface 1106 supports the loops 800 in the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 in a manner substantially similar to the way the support surfaces 606 and 1006 of apparatuses 600 and 1000 support the loops 800 in the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 or chord. Thus, in certain embodiments the support member 1102 has a structural integrity sufficient to maintain a shape of the support member 1102 when the substantially rigid support surface 1106 is supporting the loops 800.

[0135] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 11 the substantially rigid support surface 1106 includes a number of grooves 1108 that transect the substantially rigid support surface 1108. The grooves 1108 are engageable with the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 or chord to align the loops 800 in a wrapping orientation around the substantially rigid support surface 1106. In one embodiment the grooves 1108 operate to keep the loops 800 from crossing one another when the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 or chord is wrapped around the substantially rigid support surface 1106. Thus, in one embodiment the grooves 1108 facilitate the proper tying of a Prusik or Purcell Prusik knot. One of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the grooves 1108 may be oriented to facilitate tying other types of friction hitch knots.

[0136] In one embodiment the grooves 1108 may be sufficiently deep to engage the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 or chord to align the loops 800 in a wrapping orientation around the substantially rigid support surface 1106. In another embodiment the grooves 1108 may be shallow enough to engage the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 of the sling 500 or chord to align the loops 800 in a wrapping orientation around the substantially rigid support surface 1106 while still being shallow enough to allow the user to slide the loops 800 off of the support member 1102 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522b of the sling 500 (or the second chord) to tie the friction hitch knot.

[0137] While the apparatuses 600, 1000, and 1100 for facilitating tying friction hitch knots have all been illustrated and described as having cylindrical support members 602, 1002, and 1102 respectively, one of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the support members 602, 1002, and 1102 may have any other cross-sectional shape. For example, in certain embodiments the support members 602, 1002, and 1102 may have a square, rectangular, triangular or any other geometric shape.

[0138] FIGS. 12A and 12B depict an apparatus 1200 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot according to one embodiment. In certain embodiments the apparatus 1200 includes a base 1222, two support members 1202a and 1202b and an adjusting member 1220.

[0139] One of skill in the art will recognize that with the apparatus 600, 1000, and 1100 discussed above, the interior spaces 604, 1000, and 1100 are defined by the size of the support members 602, 1002, and 1102. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 12A and 12B, the interior space 1204 is not limited by the size of the support members 1202. Rather, the size of the interior space 1204 may be adjusted to accommodate different sized rings or other rigid members such as ring 806 discussed above. This may be particularly useful where the user wishes to tie Purcell Prusik knots at each end of a sling 500 and include a ring 806 or other rigid member on the loops formed by the Purcell Prusik knots. To tie two Purcell Prusik knots in each end of a sling 500 with each friction hitch knot contain a ring 806 or other rigid member, a user may be required to insert at least one of the rings 806 or other rigid member into the interior space 604, 1004, 1104, or 1204. If the interior space is limited by the size of the support member such as the interior spaces 604, 1004, or 1104 within support member 602, 1002, or 1102 respectively, the user is limited to a ring 806 or other rigid member that fits within the interior space 604, 1004, or 1104.

[0140] In certain embodiments, the size of the interior space may be adjustable such as the interior space 1204 depicted in FIGS. 12A and 12B. According to one embodiment the base 1222 includes a slot 1224. The bottom end 1228 of each support member 1202 may include tabs 1226 that are received within the slot 1224 in the base 1222. In certain embodiments the tabs 1226 are slideably engaged within the slot 1224 such that the distance between the support members 1202 can be adjusted in the direction of arrows 1230. Adjusting the distance between the support members 1202 adjusts a size of the interior space 1204 allowing a user to insert a larger ring 806 or other rigid member into the interior space 1204.

[0141] In certain embodiments an adjusting member 1220 is coupled to the support members 1202. The adjusting member 1220 adjusts the distance between the support members 1202 to increase or decrease the size of the interior space 1204. In one embodiment the adjusting member 1220 may be threadedly coupled to one support member 1202 and rotatably coupled to the other. For example, in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 12A and 12B the a first end 1232 of the adjusting member 1220 is rotatably coupled to second support member 1202b such that the adjusting member can freely rotate with respect to the second support member 1202b. In certain embodiments lateral movement of the adjusting member 1220 is limited with respect to the second support member 1202b.

[0142] A second end 1234 of the adjusting member 1220 is threadedly coupled to first support member 1202a. By rotating the adjusting member 1220 the threaded engagement between the adjusting member 1220 and the first support member 1202a causes the adjusting member 1220 to move laterally with respect to the first support member 1202a. Because lateral movement of the adjusting member 1220 with respect to the second support member 1202b is limited, the adjusting member causes the second support member 1202b to move laterally with respect to the first support member 1202a.

[0143] In certain embodiments one of the support members 1202 may be rigidly coupled to the base 1222 while the other support member 1202 is allowed to move laterally. For example, in one embodiment second support member 1202b may be rigidly coupled to the base 1222 such that second support member 1202b does not move with respect to the base 1222. In such an embodiment first support member 1202a may be configured to slide laterally away from or closer to second support member 1202b to adjust the size of the interior space 1204 when the adjusting member 1220 is rotated.

[0144] FIG. 12C depicts a cutaway view of one embodiment of the rotatable coupling area 1236 of FIG. 12A. In certain embodiments the first end 1232 of the adjusting member 1220 includes an enlarged node 1238 disposed around the shaft 1240 of the adjusting member 1220. The enlarged node 1238 is received within a recess 1242 in the support member wall 1244 of the second support member 1202b. The enlarged node 1238 is retained within the recess 1242 by walls 1246 on either side of the recess 1242 to limit lateral movement of the adjusting member 1220 with respect to the second support member 1202b. As the adjusting member 1220 is rotated the threaded engagement between the adjusting member 1220 and the first support member 1202a at the second end 1234 of the adjusting member 1220 causes the distance between the support member 1202 to be increased or decreased to adjust the size of the interior space 1204.

[0145] FIG. 13A depicts a side view of an apparatus 1300 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the apparatus includes three or more support members 1302 slideably coupled to a base 1322. The three or more support members define an interior space 1304. In certain embodiments the size of the interior space 1304 is adjustable by sliding at least one of the support members 1302 away from or towards the center of the interior space 1304.

[0146] In certain embodiments at least one adjusting member 1320 is coupled to at least one of the support members 1320. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 13A each support member 1302a, 1302b, and 1302c is coupled to an adjusting member 1320a, 1320b, and 1320c respectively. By providing an adjusting member 1320 to adjust the distance between the center of the interior space 1304 and each of the support members 1302, the size of the interior space 1304 can be adjusted in three dimensions.

[0147] FIG. 13B depicts a top view of the apparatus 1300 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot according to one embodiment. In certain embodiments the base 1322 includes slots 1324 for receiving tabs 1326 coupled to a bottom end 1328 of each of the support members 1302. The tabs 1326 are slideably received within the slots 1324 to allow the support members 1302 to be adjusted towards or away from the center 1340 of the interior space 1304 in the direction of arrows 1342.

[0148] As discussed above, in certain embodiments each support member 1302 is coupled to an adjusting member 1320. In one embodiment the each adjusting member 1320 is threadedly coupled to the tabs 1326 at the bottom end 1328 of each support member 1302. By rotating the adjusting members 1320 the threaded engagement between the tabs 1326 and the adjusting members 1320 increases or decreases the distance between the center 1340 of the interior space 1304 and the support members 1302. In this manner the size of the interior space 1304 may be adjusted in three dimensions to accommodate larger or smaller items to couple the items to the loop 808 in Purcell Prusik knots such as knot 900.

[0149] While the apparatuses 600, 1000, 1100, 1200 and 1300 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot described herein have been discussed with reference to climbing or rescue systems, one of skill in the art will recognize that apparatuses 600, 1000, 1100, 1200 and 1300 may be used in any system for which a friction hitch knot may be useful. For example, in one embodiment apparatuses 600, 1000, 1100, 1200 and 1300 may be used in tying a friction hitch knot in a fishing line or in a suture used in a surgical procedure.

[0150] FIG. 14 depicts one embodiment of an apparatus 1400 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the apparatus 1400 includes a support member 1402, an interior space 1404, a base member 1408, and a retention member 1410. In one embodiment the support member 1402 and the interior space 1404 may be substantially similar in structure and operation to the support member 1002 and the interior space 1004 of apparatus 1000 described above.

[0151] In one embodiment the retention member 1410 may include a chord engagement portion 1412 and a base engagement portion 1414. The base engagement portion 1414 may be slideably disposed through a hole (not shown) in the base 1408. In one embodiment the base engagement portion 1414 slides within the hole (not shown) in the base in the direction of arrows 1416 and 1418 to adjust a size of a space 1418 between the substantially rigid support surface 1406 and the retention member 1410.

[0152] In certain embodiments, by adjusting the size of the space 1418 between the substantially rigid support surface 1406 and the retention member 1410, a user may use the apparatus 1400 with slings 500 or chords having various diameters. In operation a user may position a first bight 510 of a sling 500 or chord in the space 1418 between the engagement portion 1412 of the retention member 1410 and the substantially rigid support surface 1406 of the support member 1402.

[0153] The user may apply pressure to the retention member 1410 in the direction of arrow 1420 to cause the base engagement portion 1414 of the retention member to slide in the direction of arrow 1416. In one embodiment movement of the base engagement portion 1414 in the direction of arrow 1416 decreases the distance between the retention member 1410 and the substantially rigid support surface 1406 of the support member 1402. Thus, the space 1418 between the retention member 1410 and the substantially rigid support surface 1406 may be adjusted to secure the first bight 510 of the sling 500 or chord within the space 1418. In this manner the user my secure the first bight 510 of the sling 500 or chord in a position that facilitates passing the second bight 512 around the support member 1402 and back through the first bight 510.

[0154] In certain embodiments the second bight 512 may make several passes around the support member 1402 to tie the friction hitch knot. In one embodiment, the first bight 510 is positioned in the space 1418 between the retention member 1410 and the substantially rigid support surface 1406 of the support member 1402. For each additional pass around the support member 1402, the sling may be positioned on the side of the retention member 1410 opposite the space 1418 between the retention member 1410 and the substantially rigid support surface 1406.

[0155] Once a sufficient number of passes around the support member 1402 and the chord engagement portion 1412 of the retention member 1410 has been made, the second bight 512 of the sling 500 or chord may be positioned within the interior space 1404 and the loops 800 of the sling 500 or chord may be slid off the support member 1402 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522a of the sling 500 or chord.

[0156] In certain embodiments, when the apparatus 1400 is not in use, the retention member 1410 may be secured to the support member 1402 with a chord, strap, Velcro, snap fit, or other means to couple the retention member 1410 to the support member 1402. In one embodiment, once the loops 800 of the sling 500 or chord have been passed around the support member 1402 and the retention member 1410, the second bight 512 of the sling may be coupled to the support member 1402 a chord, strap, Velcro, snap fit, or other means. The loops 800 of the sling 500, being passed around the retention member 1410, may operate to secure the retention member 1410 to the support member 1402.

[0157] FIG. 15 illustrates a top view of one embodiment of an apparatus 1500 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 15 the apparatus 1500 includes a support member 1502, an interior space 1504 disposed within the support member 1502, a base member 1508, and a retention member 1510. In certain embodiments the support member 1502 and the interior space 1504 may be substantially similar to the support members 1002 and 1402 and the interior spaces 1004 and 1404 of apparatus' 1000 and 1400 described above.

[0158] In one embodiment the base member 1508 may include a slot 1512 for receiving the retention member 1510. In one embodiment the center portion of the slot 1512 may include a void 1514 that extends all the way through the base member 1508. Shoulders 1516 within the slot 1512 may prevent the retention member 1510 from slipping all the way through the slot 1512.

[0159] In certain embodiments the retention member 1510 is received within the slot 1512 and may slide within the slot 1512 in the direction indicated by arrow 1518. Thus, a size of a space 1520 between the support member 1502 and the retention member 1510 may be adjusted to accommodate slings 500 or chords of differing diameters.

[0160] A coupling member such as a nut (not shown) may be threadedly received on threads (not shown) on the bottom of the retention member 1510. The coupling member (not shown) may operate to lock the retention member 1510 in a position a certain distance away from the support member 1502 to engage the sling 500 or chord to facilitate tying the friction hitch knot.

[0161] FIG. 16 illustrates a side cutaway view of the apparatus 1500 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot taken along line 15A of FIG. 15. As depicted in FIG. 15, in certain embodiments the support member 1502 may be threadedly received within the base member 1508.

[0162] In certain embodiments, the retention member 1510 includes a threaded extension 1530 that extends through the void 1514 in the slot 1512. The retention member 1510 may rest on the shoulders 1516 to prevent the retention member 1510 from slipping all the way through the slot 1512. By tightening the coupling member 1532, the retention member 1510 may be locked into position to maintain the size of the space 1520 between the retention member 1510 and the support member 1502. Thus, the size of the space 1520 between the retention member 1510 and the support member 1502 may be adjusted to engage slings 500 or chords of varying diameters.

[0163] FIG. 17 depicts another embodiment of an apparatus 1700 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the apparatus 1700 includes a support member 1702, an interior space 1704, and a projecting member 1714. In one embodiment the support member 1702 and the interior space 1704 may be substantially similar in structure and operation to the support member 1002 and the interior space 1004 of apparatus 1000 described above.

[0164] In one embodiment the projecting member 1714 is coupled to and extends from the substantially rigid support surface 1706 of the support member 1702. The projecting member 1714 engages the bight 510 of a sling 500. With the first bight 510 positioned on the engagement 1714, the tail portions 520a and 522a may be passed around the substantially rigid support surface 1706 of the support member 1702 in the direction of arrow 1712 to form at least one loop 800 around the support member 1702. In certain embodiments the sling 500 or chord may make several passes around the substantially rigid support surface 1706 of the support member 1702. In the final pass, the tail portions may be positioned through opening 1716 to engage the bight 510.

[0165] Once the sling 500 or chord has been passed around the substantially rigid support surface 1706 of the support member 1702 a sufficient number of times (usually 3-5 times) the tail portions 520a and 522a may be positioned within the interior space 1704 and the loops 800 may be slid off of the support member 1702 to engage the tail portions 520a and 522a of the sling 500 or chord to tie a Klemheist knot in the sling 500.

[0166] In certain embodiments the support member 1702, the base member 1708, and/or the retention member 1710 may be made of a material having a density less than the density of water. In such an embodiment the apparatus 1700 may float on water in the event that a user drops the apparatus 1700 in water. In another embodiment the support member 1702, the base member 1708, and/or the retention member 1710 may be made of a material that glows in the dark such that the apparatus 1700 may be used at night or where light is limited. In yet another embodiment the apparatus 1700 may include a power source and a light such that the apparatus may be used at night or where light is limited.

[0167] FIG. 18A depicts one embodiment of an apparatus 1800 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the apparatus 1800 includes a support member 1802 having a substantially rigid support surface 1804 and an interior space 1806 disposed opposite the substantially rigid support surface 1804. The support member 1802 is configured to support at least one loop 800 formed around the at least one support member by the first length of chord 516 and the second length of chord 518 of a sling 500 or other chord 514.

[0168] The interior space 1806 is configured to receive the first tail portion 520a of the chord 514 or sling 500 and the second tail portion 522a of the chord 514 or sling 500 after the at least one loop 800 is formed around the at least one support member 1802. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 18A, the support member 1802 includes an aperture 1801 that extends through the support member 1802 from the interior space 1806 through the substantially rigid support surface 1804. The aperture 1808 facilitates retaining a portion the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a of the sling 500 or chord within the interior space 1806 in the support member 1802.

[0169] For example, in use, after the first length of chord 516 and the second length of chord 518 have been wrapped around the support member 1802 a sufficient number of times and positioned through the opening 708 formed by the bight 510 and the support member 1802, the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a of the sling 500 or chord 514 are inserted into the interior space 1806 in the support member 1802. The user may then position the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a of the sling 500 or chord 514 through the aperture 1808 such that they extend through the support member 1802. Once the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a of the sling 500 or chord 514 are extended through the aperture 1808 support member 1802 the user may grasp or otherwise hold the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a to keep them from being pulled back out of the interior space 1806. The support member 1802 may then be removed from within the at least one loop 800 and the at least one loop 800 may then be engaged with the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a to form the friction hitch knot.

[0170] FIG. 18B illustrates a side cutaway view of the apparatus 1800 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot taken along line 18A of FIG. 18A. As is more clearly depicted in FIG. 18B, in certain embodiments, the aperture 1808 extends through the support member 1802 from the interior space 1806 all the way through the substantially rigid support surface 1804 of the support member 1802.

[0171] In one embodiment, a guiding member 1810 is positioned within the interior space 1806. The guiding member 1810 extends all the way across the interior space 1806 such that the guiding member 1810 forces the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a through the aperture 1808 in the support member 1802. In one embodiment, the guiding member 1810 may be sloped to guide the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a in the direction of the aperture 1808. Once the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a are extended through the aperture 1808, the user can grasp the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a to keep at least a portion of the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a positioned within the interior space 1806 as the user slides the at least one loop 800 off of the support member 1802 to engage the first tail portion 520a and the second tail portion 522a and form the knot.

[0172] FIG. 19 depicts another embodiment of an apparatus 1900 for facilitating tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments, the apparatus 1900 includes a support member 1902 having at least one substantially rigid support surface 1906. In one embodiment, the at least one substantially rigid support surface 1904 includes at least two sections 1904a and 1904b. In other embodiments, the at least one substantially rigid support surfaces 1904 may include more than two sections.

[0173] In certain embodiments, the two (or more) sections 1904a and 1904b are matingly nested within one another. In such an embodiment, the two (or more) sections 1904a and 1904b are slideable within one another such that the support member 1902 is telescopically extendable in a lengthwise direction as indicated by arrows 1908. By making the support member 1902 telescopically extendable, the size of the apparatus 1900 can be increased or decreased depending on a user's needs. For example, during transport of the apparatus 1900 the user may wish to decrease the size of the apparatus 1900. To do so, the user simply compresses the support member 1902 in a direction opposite arrows 1908 by sliding section 1904b within section 1904a. When the user wishes to use the apparatus 1900 to tie a friction hitch knot, the user extends the support member 1902 by sliding section 1904b from within section 1904a to increase the length of the support member 1902. Of course, one of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments, the friction hitch knot may be tied with the sections 1904a and 1904b positioned in a non-extended position.

[0174] A telescopically extendable support member 1902, in certain embodiments, may allow a user to tie multiple friction hitch knots around the support member 1902. For example, in one embodiment, a user may form a bight 510 in a first chord 514 or sling 500 and wrap the first and second lengths 516 and 518 of chord 514 or sling 500 around the support member 1902 and through the bight 510 to form at least one loop 800 around the support member 1902. The tail portions 520a and 522a of the chord 514 or sling 500 may be left hanging for future insertion into the interior space 1908 to form a friction hitch knot. Engagement between the bight 510 and the first and second lengths 516 and 518 of chord 514 operates to keep the chord 514 or sling 500 engaged with the support member 1902. This operation may then be performed with a second chord 514 or a second sling 500. The first and second chords 514 or slings 500 may be stored with each of their respective loops 800 positioned around the support member 1902 and their respective first and second lengths 516 and 518 of chord engaged with their respective bights 510. The tail portions 520a and 522a of the chords 514 or slings 500 may be left hanging for future insertion into the interior space 1908 to quickly and easily form a series of friction hitch knots in the field.

[0175] FIG. 20 depicts one embodiment of a method 2000 for tying a friction hitch knot in a chord. In the present disclosure, the method 2000 is described with reference to apparatus 1000. One of skill in the art will recognize that in certain embodiments the method 1400 may be practiced with any of the apparatuses 600, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500, 1700, 1800 and 1900 described above.

[0176] The method begins 2002 and a chord is provided 2004 for tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments the chord may be a sling such as sling 500 described above. In other embodiments the chord may be a length of chord such as the chord 514 used to make sling 500 but having free ends. A bight such as bight 510 is formed 1806 in the sling 500 or chord 514. As discussed above, the bight 510 is formed as a bend in the chord 514 or sling 500. A support member such as support member 1002 is provided 1808. In certain embodiments the support member 1002 has at least one substantially rigid support surface 1006 and an interior space 1004 disposed opposite the support surface 1006.

[0177] The chord 514 or sling 500 is positioned 2010 adjacent the support member 1002 such that a bight 510 and the support member 1002 define an opening 708. A first and second length of chord 516 and 518 are wrapped 2012 around the support member 1002 and through the opening 708 defined by the bight 510 and the support member 1002. The first length of chord 516 and the second length of chord 518 are wrapped around the support member 800 to form at least one loop 800 around the support member 1002.

[0178] In certain embodiments tail portions 520a and 522a are then positioned 2014 within the interior space 1004 of the support member 1002 after the loop 800 have been formed around the support member 1002. To form the knot, the support member 1002 is removed 2016 from within the loop 800 or loops so that the loop 800 or loops are positioned around the tail portions 520a and 522a of the chord 514 or sling 500. After the loop 800 or loops are engaged with the tail portions 520a and 522a, the method ends 2018.

[0179] FIG. 21 depicts another embodiment of a method 2100 for tying a friction hitch knot. In certain embodiments, the method may be performed with any of the apparatus discussed above.

[0180] The method 2100 begins 2102 and the steps of method 2000 are performed 2104. In certain embodiments, once the loops 800 of the chord 514 or sling 500 are formed around the support member 1002, a base member 1008 may be coupled 2106 to the first end 1016 of the support member 1002 to maintain the loop 800 or loops on the support member 1002. In one embodiment, at least a portion of the base member 1008 extends beyond the substantially rigid support surface 1006 of the support member 1002 in a direction opposite the interior space 1004. In other embodiments, the base member 1008 may be coupled 2106 to the first end 1016 of the support member 1002 before the loop 800 or loops are formed around the support member 1002.

[0181] In certain embodiments, a capping member 1022 is removably coupled 2108 to the second end 1020 of the support member 1002 to maintain the loop 800 or loops on the support member 1002. At least a portion of the capping member 1022 extends beyond the substantially rigid support surface 1006 of the support member 1002 in a direction opposite the interior space 1004. Thus, when the loop 800 or loops are slid towards either end 1016 or 1020 of the support member 1002, they encounter the either the base member 1008 or the capping member 1022 and cannot be slid off of the support member 1002. Because the capping member 1022 is removeably coupled to the support member 1002, the capping member 1022 may be removed to easily slide the loop 800 or loops off of the support member 1002.

[0182] In one embodiment, the chord 514 or sling 500 may be maintained 2110 on the support member 1002 by positioning a retention member 1010 opposite the interior space 1004 of the support member 1002 such that at least a portion of the substantially rigid support surface 1006 is positioned between the interior space 1004 and the retention member 1010. The loops 800 are positioned between the substantially rigid support surface 1006 and the retention member 1010 and releasably engaged with the retention member 1010 to keep the loop 800 or loops positioned on the support member 1002. In certain embodiments, the retention member 1010 may be biased in an engagement position with a biasing member such as a spring or other spring-like material. When the retention member 1010 is biased in the engagement position, the retention member applies a pressure to the loop 800 or loops to maintain the loop 800 or loops on the support member 1002.

[0183] With reference to apparatus 1100 depicted in FIG. 11, in one embodiment, the method 2100 further includes aligning 2112 the loop 800 or loops in a wrapping orientation around the substantially rigid support surface 1106 with a plurality of grooves 1108 that transect the substantially rigid support surface 1106 of the support member 1102. In such an embodiment, the grooves 1108 are engageable with the loop 800 or loops to align the first and second lengths of chord 516 and 518 in a wrapping orientation around the support member 1102.

[0184] With reference to apparatus 17 of FIG. 17, in certain embodiments, the method 2100 may also include engaging 2114 the bight 510 with a projecting member 1714 coupled to the substantially rigid support surface 1714 of the support member 1902 to position the loop 800 or loops in a wrapping orientation around the support member 1702. The projecting member 1714, in one embodiment, extends substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the substantially rigid support surface 1706.

[0185] With reference to apparatus 1800 of FIGS. 18A and 18b, in one embodiment, the method 2100 further includes extending 2116 the first and second tail portions 520a and 522a of the chord 514 or sling 500 through an aperture 1808 disposed through the support member. In certain embodiments, the aperture 1808 extends from the interior space 1806 through the substantially rigid support surface 1804. The aperture 1808 facilitates retaining at least a portion of the first tail portion 520a of the chord 514 and the second tail portion 522a of the cord 514 within the interior space 1806 in the support member 1802. As discussed above, once the first tail portion 520a of the chord 514 and the second tail portion 522a of the cord 514 have been positioned through the aperture 1808, the user may grasp the first tail portion 520a of the chord 514 and the second tail portion 522a of the cord 514 to keep at least a portion of the first tail portion 520a of the chord 514 and the second tail portion 522a of the cord 514 positioned within the interior space 1806.

[0186] The present subject matter may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

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