You are on page 1of 40

Climbing Knots

Figure Eight Knot

1.

2.

4.

Structure

In bitter end, form a loop by twisting a bight of the rope. Then pass the bitter end round the standing end, i.e., take the longest journey not the shortest, and through the loop to make the figure of eight. Taking the shortest route, i.e., across and down through the, lopp would form an overhand knot-also a stopper knot but much harder to undo. Uses: The Figure Eight is important to climbers because it is the basis for tying the Figure Eight Bend (Rope Join), the Figure Eight Loop Follow Through, and the Double Figure Eight Loop. The Figure Eight itself is a quick and convenient stopper knot which can be undone fairly easily. This virtue is, unfortunately, also its vice: if used as a stopper knot, the figure of eight shakes undone far too readily. Climbing For climbing, where safety is paramount, the Double Overhand Stopper Knot is the preferred Stopper knot. Comparison: The Figure Eight is a better stopper knot than the simple overhand knot (right) which can bind so tightly that undoing it can be a real inconvenience.

Figure Eight, or Flemish, Bend (Rope Join)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Pulled

Start with a figure of eight knot in one of the ropes. Lead the end of the second rope parallel to the first. Follow the first rope to make a double figure og eight. The second rope must exit beside the first rope's standing end. Pulled:When pulled tight, the neat, flat, parallel arrangment vanishes.The knot becomes threedimensional with the turns finding their own position on top of each other. Uses: The Figure Eight, or Flemish, Bend provides a safe, and simple way to join two ropes. It is easily taught, remembered, visualized, and checked. Safety: For critical loads, e.g., yourself (!), should not be used with ropes that differ much in size and for safety the ends should be longer. Finally, for real security, each end should be tied in a double overhand stopper knot around the other standing end - see illustration to the right. Pros and Cons:The Figure Eight Bend is relatively bulky and, therefore, slightly more likely to get stuck when an abseil rope is pulled down than the double Fisherman's. It's advantage, however, is that even after considerable strain it remains relatively easy to undo. Inspection: Ensure that there are two strands beside each other at each part of the knot. Some texts suggest ensuring a perfect, flat, knot with two strands lying parallel at each point - which does make a very attractive knot. In reality, however, the advice is impractical as the strands find their own position under load - and that position is not "flat".

Figure Eight Follow Through

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Start with a figure of eight knot. Pass the end back up through the figure of eight knot, parallel to itself. Follow the rope round the whole knot to create a twostranded figure of eight knot. Uses: The Figure Eight Follow Through allows the simple and reliable figure eight loop to be tied to a ring, a carabiner, or your own harness. It is easily remembered, easily visualized, and easily checked. Safety: For photography, this knot is shown above with a short tail end. For safety the end should be longer and, for load bearing, the end should be secured with a stopper knot around the standing end (see picture on right).

Variations: There are several variations but only the Loop Follow Through (above) is animated here. It is needed when securing a Figure Eight to a carabiner or ring. The Figure Eight Loop (picture on left) is simple - tie it like a Figure of 8 knot - but use a bight instead of the end. The Directional Figure Eight is preferred when a figure eight loop is being created to take a load parallel to the rope (picture on right). Inspection: Ensure that there are two strands beside each other at each part of the knot. Some texts suggest ensuring a perfect, flat, knot with two strands lying parallel at each point. It does make a very attractive knot. In reality, however, it is impractical as the strands find their own position under load - and that is not "flat".

The Double Figure Eight Loop ("Bunny Ears")

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Structure Make a long loop in the rope and form a figure of eight knot. Pass a bight of the loop through to form the figure of eight. Then pass the loop itself down, round, and over the whole knot. Pull it tight to lock two loops.When the final locking turn is loose, it is easier to see the structure of the figure of eight. Structure: The The Double Figure Eight Loop is based on the simple figure of eight stopper knot (picture on right). For photography, the two loops (above) have been made small. Structure: The The Double Figure Eight Loop is based on the simple figure of eight stopper knot (picture on right). For photography, the two loops (above) have been made small. Uses: The two loops can be used as an improvised seat. It is also useful for equalizing the load on two anchors. In one top-roping technique, the loops are made very unequal. The much larger one is passed around both anchor points. The center of this loop is then secured with a carabiner to the small loop. During rappelling, this ensures a more even distribution of load between the two anchor points. Stability: Compared to some of the other double loop knots, e.g., the French Bowline, the double loop figure of eight is stable, i.e., it is unlikely to slip so that one loop gets larger at the expense of the other loop.

The Double Overhand Stopper Knot

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Wrap the end of the rope round itself for two complete turns. Then, pass the end back through these turns and pull tight. Structure: The Double Overhand Knot is an excellent stopper knot. The method of tying it above ensures that the knot will form neatly. The picture on the left is an alternative method of tying the double overhand. This is easier to visualize and simpler to tie - merely tie an overhand knot (see picture on right) and thread the end a second time. However, to make this version of the knot form neatly, it is usually necessary to twist the two ends while pulling. Uses: In addition to acting as a stopper in the end of a rope, it can act as part of another knot or used to add security: 1. Unless under load, a Bowline can shake loose. By taking the free end and forming a Double Overhand knot round the neighboring part of the loop, this risk is virtually eliminated (picture on left) 2. Two Double Overhand knots are used to join two ropes using the Double Fisherman's (picture on right). 3. The Double Overhand can be added to the Figure Eight Follow Through to form a stopper knot around the standing end and to the Figure Eight Join to form a stopper knots around both standing ends. The Ashley: Of the various other stopper knots, the Ashley, or "Oysterman's Stopper", is excellent, easily learned, but not widely used: merely create a loop overhand knot and pass the end through (left being tied; right completed, far right spread out to show threelobed structure). It is a pleasure to acknowledge Dan Lehman's persistent efforts to make me photograph this knot correctly - thank you Dan!

Other Stoppers: The Figure of Eight is much more widely used, especially in boating, but tends to come undone. The Matthew Walker requires three or four strand rope because it is tied with the separated strands. Therefore, after the strands are reassembled and whipped it cannot be just "untied". Its greatest use may be in smart installations such as rope handrails.

The Double Fisherman's Bend

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

Back View

Overlap the two ends. Wrap one end round both ropes two full turns. Then pass this end back through these turns and pull tight. Next pass the other end two full turns round both ropes. Pass this end back through and pull tight. Pull on both ropes to tighten the two knots against each other. The Back View of the Double Fisherman's is extreamly neat and symmetrical. When ropes of the same color are used, it appers that four identical loops encircle the junction. Structure: The Double Fisherman's, or Grapevine, Bend consists of two double overhand knots (on left), each tied round the other standing end. However, because it is created around another line, this structure may not be obvious. Safety - Use Triple: For load-bearing using modern high modulus ropes such as Spectra, Dyneema or Kevlar/Technora, use a Triple Fisherman's (on right). In each stopper knot the rope is passed around a third time before being threaded back through the loops. The triple, or even quadruple, version is also used by fishermen to join two lengths of fishing line. Uses: The Triple Fisherman's Bend is the way to form a Prusik Loop and is an excellent and reliable way of joining two climbing ropes. It can be used for a full rope-length abseil; after which it is still possible to retrieve the rope. Inspection: The Double Fisherman's is not complicated. Nevertheless, it can be tied wrongly and then fail. If you tie it and your life depends on it, inspect it carefully. If someone else ties it, inspect it extremely carefully. Comparisons: The Double Fisherman's is a reliable, compact knot less likely to get stuck when retrieving an abseil, but somewhat harder to undo than the Figure Eight Bend. 1. The Figure Eight Bend is bulkier - especially when stopper knots are added for safety. It is however, relatively easy to teach and inspect. 2. The Overhand Knot Join (an overhand knot tied with both ends together with lengthy ends) is the rope join least likely to get stuck (picture on right). This is because the two ropes exit the knot at the same point and, therefore, pass over an obstruction relatively easily. Its use as a join is approved and recommended by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA). For additional safety it is also used with an extra overhand knot in the tails. Some authorities call this the "Euro Death-Knot" (EDK) supposedly because it was assumed (seemingly wrongly) to roll-over and fail. EDK seems a more useful label to apply to the figure eight: 3. The "Euro Death-Knot" (EDK) has been appropriately used to describe the figure eight where the two ends exit the knot together - a figure eight version of the overhand knot join above. This version of a figure eight join fails by rolling over even when the ends are long! It has been associated with a number of deaths, and is deliberately not illustrated here. Both these knots have been extensively reviewed and tested by Thomas Moyer who applies the term EDK to both the overhand and the figure eight versions.

The Munter Mule Combination

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

Load

Invert

Pull

Pass a loop ao rope through the opening, rond the spine of the carabiner, round the rope and back through the opening. Lock the carabiner to complete the Munter. With a loop tie an overhand loop knot round the standing end. Then tie a second overhand knot wich also encloses the standing end. Load-The load is on the climbing rope. Thise is used for descent. Invert-The knot is inverting through the carabiner. Pull-The hitch is now inverted to take in slack for ascent. The Munter: The Munter Hitch - sometimes known as the Italian Hitch - (1 - 7 above) allows controlled descent when rappelling (abseiling). The climbing rope passes through a locking carabiner, round the rope, and back through the carabiner. For controlled descent, the brake hand need only apply relatively little force on the free end. Requirements: Use a carabiner large enough to allow the hitch to be inverted through the carabiner when pulled. The load end should pass first round the spine side (not the opening side) of the carabiner. Tying-Off: To secure the Munter, a Mule Hitch (8 - 14 above) can be added above. The Mule consists of using a loop to tie an overhand loop knot round the standing end followed by using the loop to tie a second overhand knot which also encloses the standing end. This final overhand knot is essential because the weight of the hanging rope might otherwise easily undo the first loop overhand knot. When loaded, the Mule knot tends to slide down tight against the Munter and can be somewhat difficult to undo.

Using Thin Rope: In an emergency, modern high strength, thin rope can be used. Additional turns should then be taken round the spine of the carabiner to reduce the strain (see picture on right). These extra turns should be unneccessary with 11mm climbing rope. Advantages The greatest advantage of the Munter is that it can be used with minimum equipment: just a locking carabiner. Disadvantages The Munter kinks the rope and imparts a twist to it during descent. It also makes ropes fuzzy if used regularly

The Alpine Butterfly (or Linemans knot)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

Wrap the rope around your hand. At the end of turn one, position the rope close to your fingertips. Continiue round and complete turn two back near your thumb. Pick up the turn near fingertips. Wrap it round the other two turns. Pull it throug and tighten by pulling on the loop and the ends. Features: The Alpine Butterfly, or Lineman's Loop, provides a secure loop in the middle of a piece of rope. Load can be safely applied: from the loop to either end of the rope; between the two ends with the loop hanging free; or, to the loop with the load spread between the two ends. Uses: It is useful anytime a secure loop is required in the middle of a rope. A good example is when a line of hikers wish to hook on along the length of a shared rope. Tying it: It is commonly tied, as shown, round the hand. To make the process easy, keep the second crossing of your hand near your finger tips and away from the two ends - this is the critical turn which will form the loop. Pick it up, and wrap it round the other two strands. When completed it is best to pull on the loop and both ends to "set" the knot. Advantages: It is more stable than either the Bowline on a Bight or the Figure of Eight Loop - both of which may roll over. In addition, even after a heavy load, the Alpine Butterfly remains reasonably easy to undo.

The Bowline

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Structure

Form a loop a short distance from the end-alow for the size of the loop and the knot itself. Pass the end of the rope through the loop as though making a simple knot (a half-hitch). Pull the end through, then round the standing end, and then back through the loop to finish the Bowline. Structure-The Bowline is identical in structure to the Sheet Bend-in both knots two loops engage each other. In the Bowline the knot is tied with the only bitter end. In the Sheet Bend there is a choice of bitter ends but the one usually used is zhe other one. Uses: The Bowline makes a loop in the end of a piece of rope. Safety If used in climbing, or any other man carrying applications, always provide additional security by adding a stopper knot. The stopper knot can be tied round the adjacent part of the loop (picture on right), or the end of the rope can be passed back up under the loop and secured to the standing end with a stopper knot. (picture on left). Other alternatives have been proposed to improve the bowline's safety, e.g., the loose end should be as long as 12 times the circumference; or a figure of eight knot should be tied in the loose end. Neither of these is as secure as using the double overhand knots as shown here.

Alternative Structures: When tied as shown in the illustrations above, the bitter end lies in the middle of the loop. Passing the end the opposite way round the standing end forms a "Dutch Marine" or "Left Handed" bowline (picture on right). It performs satisfactorily - the Dutch Navy says better - but is much less used in other countries.

The One Handed Bowline

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

With the rope round your back, hold about half meter of the short end of teh rope in your hand. Hook the standing end with your thumb & tie a half hitch using your forearm. Pass the sortest end round the standing end and pull your handout of the loop. Secure the end with a half hitch to the loop. Uses: The One Handed Bowline is a useful and quick way to tie a bowline when the other hand is occupied or injured. There are three main steps: 1. Hold the short end and tie a half hitch with your whole forearm. 2. Pass the short end round the standing end. 3. Still holding the short end, withdraw your hand from the loop.

The illustration above is taken from the viewpoint of the climber with the rope passed round his/her back. Because a bowline can shake loose, it is shown here with a final overhand knot tied to the loop of the bowline. Caution: a sudden strain while tying this knot could trap your wrist. For safety, some teachers recommend passing the end of the rope using the fingers rather than risk the whole wrist. Alternative Stopper Knots for the Bowline: to see more details about the bowline as well as other methods of securing it, see the Bowline Page

The Prusik Knot or Triple Sliding Hitch

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Structure

Use a piece of cord formed into a loop. Pass the knot round the rope three times inside the loop. Pull the knot tight and make sure the turns lie neatly beside each other. Structure-the Prusik is a symmetrical slide and grip knot. The same number of turns lie above and below the loop. Load can be taken in either direction.

History: The Prusik knot was developed in 1931 by Dr.Karl Prusik (sometime president of the Austrian Mountaineering Club and often misspelled "Prussik".) It appears to be identical in structure to a knot described by Ashley for hoisting a spar., but Ashley did not expressley describe the slide and grip feature. Structure: The knot requires a "Prusik Loop" which is constructed by joining the two ends of a length of rope using a Double Fisherman's or a Triple Fisherman's. Uses: Its principal use is allowing a rope to be climbed. Two Prusik loops are alternately slid up the static rope: a long Prusik loop allows the climber to lift himself using leg power, and a second short Prusik loop is attached to the harness. In rescue work, if a climber has to be pulled up, a Prusik loop could be used to attach a pulley block purchase system to a climbing rope. Slide and Grip Knots: The Prusik is a slide and grip knot; because it is symmetrical, it is useful if a load might need to be applied in either direction. For loads which are always applied in the same direction other knots are preferred such as the Klemheist (see picture on left) or the Bachmann (see picture on right).

The Klemheist

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

Structure

Use a piece of cord formed into a loop. Pass the loop around the main rope. Make three complete turns, laying each turn on neatly. Pass the knot through the loop and pull it back down in the direction of the expected pull.

Structure- This picture shows the apperance of the Klemheist when it has been wound round the climbing rope and then tightened.

History: The Klemheist (or Kleimheist - it appears to be widely spelled both ways) is a derivative of the original Prusik knot. It appears to be identical to the knot described by Ashley for securing a loop to a vertical pole Structure: The knot requires a "Prusik Loop" which is constructed by joining the two ends of a length of rope using a Double Fisherman's or a Triple Fisherman's. Slide and Grip Knots: The Klemheist is a good example of the family of "Slide and Grip" knots. It may be the preferred choice when the load is known to be in one direction only. The Autoblock and the Bachmann perform a similar function but both require a locking carabiner. Risk: Only pull on the Prusik Loop. Do not grip the knot itself and pull because the knot then slips. Similarly with the Bachmann: don't pull on the carabiner: this quickly releases the grip. Variations: With these knots the number of turns should be increased or decreased to suit the ropes and the conditions, i.e., before using any Slide and Grip knot, test it to see that it both grips and releases well. Rope Size: These knots must be made using a rope smaller than the load bearing rope, e.g., 5 or 6 mm cord around a main 9 mm abseiling rope. The effectiveness of these knots diminishes as the sizes of the two ropes approach each other.

The Rolling Hitch (Taut Line Hitch)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Structure Pass the end round the main rope (large green) to make a half hitch. Follow the first half hitch round the same path but up away from the standing end. Pull the end tight to tuck the second turn in. Continiue round the main rope in the same direction to make the final half hitch. Structure-The Rolling Hitch depends on the second turn being tucked in beside the first turn but up above it. This shows the second turn completed but looose. When pulled tight it is gripped between the standing end and the first turn.It takes the load even before the final half hitch is tied.

Description: The Rolling Hitch is an example of a Slide and Grip knot. It attaches a rope (which should be the same size or smaller) to another when the line of pull is almost parallel. Critical Details: The photos above correctly show that the second turn must be tucked up above turn one when rope is being tied to rope. Also, the red rope is parallel to the green. The "pull" MUST be in line with the main rope. If the tension is away from the standing rope, this knot usually fails. The Taut Line Hitch is exactly the same as Ashley's alternative version of the Rolling Hitch. It is described without the second turn being tucked above the first, and some of the descriptions quite properly go on to caution the user that the knot may slip! For this reason only this one page is provided for both the Rolling Hitch and the Taut Line Hitch. There is no justification for teaching the Taut Line Hitch without the tuck - it works better with it - see below.

Uses: This Slide and Grip knot is a possible alternative to the Klemheist, Prusik, and Bachmann. Unlike the others it can be tied with the end of piece of rope whereas the others all require a loop. Like the other Slide and Grip knots, the Rolling Hitch should be carefully tested before trusting it. Always be prepared to tighten it. Under Load: The Rolling Hitch is one of the few knots which can be tied and untied with load on. It does not bind and, when tied correctly, does not slip. However, in critical applications some authorities do recommend using the bitter end to tie a second Rolling Hitch beyond the first. Like the other Slide and Grip knots, it functions best when the knot is tied in a piece of rope smaller than the main climbing rope. Awning Hitch: The value of 'tucking up' turn two above the first can be shown by starting the knot with and without this tuck. As soon as the 'tuck' is made the knot is stable and functions as an "Awning Hitch" (picture on Left). Without this tucked turn, the first part of the knot has no 'structure' and just slides along the rope. Rolling Hitch to a Pole (above): If this knot is to be used to secure a rope to a pole, an alternative version of the Rolling Hitch (also known as the Taut Line Hitch) is preferred in which the second turn stays parallel beside the first and is not tucked up above it . Safety Belt Hitch (above right): Ashley also describes a Safety-Belt Hitch used by Steeplejacks , where three turns, not "tucked up", are used in the first part of the knot before the final half hitch is placed. History: The Rolling Hitch has a complicated history. It is linked to similar knots named the Magner's or Magnus Hitch. It is all too commonly described without the second turn being 'tucked above' turn one - even when being tied to rope. This is unfortunate. Ashley clearly describes both methods and stresses that the version used when tying rope to rope should include this tucked up second turn . Many scouting websites show it without this tuck. The error of using the wrong technique is illustrated by cautionary statements which often follow the description, e.g., "... Tip. When adjustments are complete, lock the rolling hitch into place by using a stop knot such as a Figure of Eight in the first rope, below the Rolling hitch, to stop it slipping..." Hello! Tie it correctly, tighten it, use it for two ropes which lie parallel, never tie it with a larger rope round a smaller one, and it doesn't slip under load.

The Girth, Strap, Cow, LanyaardHitch, or Larks Head

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Pass the loop of the strap round the harness, strap, or rope. Thread the other end of the strap through the loop. Make sure the strap lies neatly and then pull it tight. Structure: The Girth Hitch is much more familiar than many of us recognize: it is the same knot we use to link a pair of elastic bands. It is known by many names including: strap hitch , cow hitch, lark's head (and lark's foot), and lanyard hitch. Uses: The Girth Hitch attaches a sling or a webbing strap loop to your harness or to another sling, strap, or rope. It is also often employed when slings are used to connect anchor points to a static rope in a top-rope set-up. Pros and Cons It is probably the quickest and easiest knot to learn. However it reduces the strength of a sling more than when a carabiner is used to join two slings.

The Water Knot

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

Tie an overhand knot in the end of the strap. Lay it neatly but not too tight. Thread the other strap in the reverse direction following the exact path of the first overhand knot. Pull the knot tight. Structure: The Water Knot is essentially an overhand knot (picture on right) with the second strap (or rope) passed along the knot in the reverse direction. The knot should be arranged neatly and pulled tight. Several inches of the straps should be left over and for safety some authorities recommend tying an overhand knot in the ends. In webbing straps it makes a very satisfactory and safe join. Uses: In climbing it is used to join two pieces of webbing strapping.

Blakes Hitch

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Wrap the end of the line four times round the climbing rope. Bring the end back down and tuck it under the first two turns so that it exits in the middle of the four turns. Tie a figure 8 stopper knot in the end tighten it close against the four turns. Uses: Blake's Hitch is a Friction, or Slide and Grip, hitch. It is used by arborists for ascent and descent. Like other Slide and Grip Knots, the strain should only be taken on the line below the hitch. Blake's Hitch itself should not be used for traction because pulling directly on the hitch loosens it and allows descent - possibly out of control if unexpected. Tying It: In practice it is an advantage to wind the first two turns while your thumb is inserted up alongside the climbing rope. This maintains a pathway to make it easier to thread the line. Note: This final threading must pass behind the main rope. Other stopper knots may be used instead of the figure 8. This might be wise as the figure 8 is not very secure and the Blake's Hitch tends to slip. Origin: Blake's Hitch was originally described by Heinz Prohaska in Nylon Highway #30 in May 1990. However, it has become widely known as Blake's Hitch and this name is used here. Pros and Cons: Like the Rolling Hitch, Blake's has the advantage that it can be tied in the end of a piece of rope instead of requiring a Prusik Loop. However, without the protection of the added stopper knot it tends to pull loose too readily.

The Clove Hitch

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Structure

Form a loop in the rope. Then form a second loop- the same way up. Both loops should be identical. Then cross the loops one above the other so they form a knot-instead of just two loops stacked on each other. Place the knot over the post. Structure- the Clove Hitch is composed of half hitches stacked one above the other. Comment: The Clove Hitch has two glaring faults: in some applications it may bind and be hard to undo; and , in others, it may slip under load. For this reason there is no reason to use in boating. There is, however, one excellent use for it in the Theatre where it used for easily adjusting the height of curtains.

Tied Using the End: When it is not convenient to form a clove hitch with two loops, it can be tied by passing the end round the pole (picture on right). Climbing: However, it is described in climbing manuals and texts and is fairly widely used. The illustration above shows the knot being formed in a bight. It can also be used to tie off a rope that is passing through a carabiner: a bight can be hooked in to secure the rope effectively creating two half hitches, i.e., a clove hitch. Alternatives In many situatons if you feel an urge to use a clove hitch - resist! Choose something else:

Temporary whipping for a frayed rope end: Constrictor Knot

Securing a Rope: Munter/Mule Combination Round Turn and Two Half Hitches