Question:

Two 50-foot ropes are suspended from a 40-foot ceiling, from hooks about 20 feet apart. If you are armed with only a knife, how much of the rope can you salvage?

.

.

C

A

P

T

A

I

N

I

N

T

E

R

V

I

E

W

.

.

Solution: Some candidates can solve this in their heads; others do well to draw it out first before answering. In fact, almost all the rope can be salvaged. Here’s one response:

The answer is almost all of it. Here’s how. Let’s tie the ropes together. Now I climb up one of the ropes. As close as possible to the ceiling, I tie a loop in the rope. Now I cut the rope just below the loop. Now I run the rope through the loop and tie both ends to my waist. I can now swing to the other rope and climb that one. I now pull the rope going through the loop tight and cut the other rope as close as possible to the ceiling. I can now swing down on the rope through the loop. I lower myself to the ground by letting out rope. I retrieve the rope by untying it at my waist and pulling the rope through the loop. I now have all the rope except for the piece required for the loop.

Answer: Almost all of it.