How to make the basic mountaineering knots

Once we are dealing with mountaineering, rock-climbing, rappelling, there is a need of using ropes and other technical mountaineering equipment. Using ropes and equipment are the basics of safe movement in the mountains, so in order to make it function successfully, there is a constant need for a sound knowledge of basic climbing knots. 

It is essential to understand that once you learn how to tie the knots, after that there is a constant need for practicing the knots from time to time because that is the only way that you won’t forget them and with that, you will understand them better. 

Once you practice enough, you will be able to make a difference in keeping yourself or others safe in critical and life-threatening situations on the mountains and rocks.

Basically we are making the knots in two ways:

                    Tying them- Simply tying the knot at the same time with both middle parts of the rope, 
                    Knitting them- first, we use one part of the rope and the other part we follow ( knit ) the end of the rope and at we’ll get a knot
                          Some of the mountaineering knots can be divided into groups determined by their usage. Here are some of those classifications:
                          • To secure yourself on anchor, carabiner or climbing harness,

                          • For joining ropes or webbing,

                          • For rappelling, abseiling, belaying,

                          •  For building climbing anchors,

                          • As stopper knots for baking up other knots,

                          • For rescue and rigging

                          single figure eight knot

                          A single figure eight knot belongs to the group of knots that are known as stopper knots. The single figure eight knot is usually formed at the end of a rope. This knot is the basis of many other complicated knots used for the purpose of rock climbing, like the figure 8 bend, figure 8 on a bight, figure 8 follow-through, double figure 8 knot, etc. 

                            figure KNOT

                            There are two versions of this knot which are giving you the same shape of the knot except the difference is in the way of making or tying the knot, and position of the knot on the rope.

                            - The Trace-Eight Tie-in knot or Figure Eight follow-through is the one that connects you to the end of the rope. It is the knot to learn first, and it’s the only knot you’ll use every time you rope up. Climbers use various knots to tie in, but the Trace-Eight is the easiest to learn and the least likely to untie itself. The figureeight is one of the strongest knots; it forms a secure, non-slip loop at the end of the rope. This is the most widely used tie-in knot by mountain climbers because it’s strong, secure, and easy to visually inspect.

                            - The Figure-Eight on a bight is a good knot for quickly anchoring the rope, or anchoring yourself to a belay station. Usually, it is tied with a double line of the rope everywhere on the rope. The knot can also be tied by tying with a doubled line at the end of a rope. It is faster but cannot be used for tying into a fixed object.

                            double FIGURE eight KNOT

                            Also known as bunny ears, it looks similar to figure 8 knot, but it distinguishes from it with two loops, and in the structure, it contains a single loop that is connecting two figure 8 knots. This knot is larger, more stable, has better strength, can connect two anchor points, and doesn’t get loose easily.

                            FIGURE EIGHT bend KNOT

                            This knot is used for connecting two ropes, but only with the same diameters. It is recommended to tie the ends of the ropes in a symmetrical figure eight knot with parallel ropes to each other on all points of the figure eight, and for heavy loads, it is recommended to leave longer tag ends for securing the ropes with some stopper knots.

                            clove hitch KNOT

                            This knot is also known as DOUBLE HITCH KNOT, simply because it is made from two successive half-hitch knots, around some circular object. This is a very easy and fast-tying knot that can be tied with one hand. It can be made anywhere on the rope, except that if it is made at the end of the rope on the shorter part of the rope it has to be used with a combination of stopper knot. This knot is ideal for fast attaching/securing yourself to an anchor bolt, belay or rappel station. We can adjust the length of the rope simply, or our position to the anchor by loosening the clove hitch, slack slide of the rope through, or retighten to get closer. The case is similar to adjusting the length of a rope on a running end, with feeding in rope from the wanted direction and tightening the knot again on the wanted position.

                            MUNTER HITCH KNOT – HALF CLOVE HITCH

                            This knot is always tying with a carabiner, usually with pear-shaped carabiners, who are wide enough for at least two turns of the rope that you are using. It is an adjustable knot that is used for rappelling down from a steep rock without using a rappelling carabiner or belay device. It works by using the friction between rope and carabiner, controlled by you on one side as a load and your hand force controlling the rope on the other side. The use of this knot is recommended only in situations when there is no other option or device for rappelling because using this knot will twist the rope in snarls for which you need previous experience.

                            bowline knot

                            Another one of the most useful knots, simple to tie with one hand if you practice it, easy to tie and untie even after severe tension is applied to it. Characteristic for this knot is a loop at the end of a line, which can be fixed around big objects, and sometimes can be used as a substitution for body harness, but only in life-saving procedures, and never as a part of the main climbing rope. Again if used as a harness for climbing it goes with a combination of stopper knot on the shorter end, and this knot has more than 10 variations of original knot which are used for different purposes.

                            FISHERMAN’S KNOT (DOUBLE FISHERMAN’S KNOT)

                            It is used for joining two ropes with a similar diameter or making a loop from one rope connecting its ends. This knot is made by two overhead knots each one tied around the standing part of the other one. The most famous variation is Double Fisherman’s Knot which is simply applying a couple of double overhand knots in their strangle knot forms. By pulling the standing parts of the ropes or ends of the loop that we want to form, we draw the knots close together and by increasing the pulling force we make the knot stronger, and chances of untying the knot are reduced to a minimum. With this characteristic untying, the ropes will be very much difficult.

                            overhand KNOT 

                            Known as a half knot, this knot is a basic stopper knot used as a safety knot by the climbers and its form is used as a basis for other more complicated knots. If it is tightened strongly it can be jammed with difficulties to be untied.

                            prusic KNOT 

                            If you want to connect on the main climbing rope or ascend on a rope, you need to know Prusic knot and how it works. For this you need a cord tied in a loop with double fisherman’s knot which will be wrapped around the main rope 3-5 times and then back through itself, forming a barrel around the rope with a tail of the rest of the prusic loop hanging out the middle. When the tail is without weight, then it moves smoothly on both direction of the rope, but once is weighted with a load or pressure from a force that comes from you, then the knot is tightened and it forms a bend in the rope that makes moving of the knot impossible in both directions. Once the weight is removed, you can move the knot with your hand in the wanted new position and repeat the process again and again.

                            butterfly KNOT 

                            Also can be called Alpine Butterfly Knot and it is used mostly to secure a middle climber on a rope when three or more people are attached to the rope. The connection between the rope and the harness is directly with the carabiner to the loop of the butterfly knot. This knot is easy to be tied but you need some practice and booth hands. Sometimes it is used to isolate some worn part of the rope. 

                            Written by: Petar Nolev, mountain guide and rescue service

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