When is a Knot a Knot to know? Rock climbing knots

When is a Knot a Knot to Know?

Want to climb rocks this season? Then you will probably want to know what kind of knots are right for safe use on your climbing rope.   You can always find plenty of information and safety tips at RockandIce.com or Climbing.com websites, or get yourself a good knot book to learn from.  “The Pocket book of Rock Climbing Knots” is a small pamphlet of 18 pages which includes a couple pieces of thin climbing cord for practice, and clear diagrams of how to tie the knots needed.

Your basic tie-in will be the Figure 8 knot, which is considered not only the safest knot to use, but also the strongest of the tie in choices.  Any time you bend your rope at an angle, or tie it into a hard knot, you will lose some percentage of the total rope strength. But 75 -89% of original rope strength is still plenty to climb safely and take typical long falls on a modern climbing rope.

The stiffer your rope, the easier it usually is for making a good knot, and also easier to untie than a softer or worn out rope would be.


Sample knots are shown in the diagram above.  Your figure 8 is for your personal tie-in.  The bowline is also used by some, but mostly is used when setting anchors for atop your climb.  The triple bowline is a way to create three equalized tie in loops in the middle of your rope when setting up a belay station on a multi-pitch climb.

When you must tie two ropes together for a long rappel, the double grapevine rope is the very best knot of choice to use.  If you have webbing, slings that need to be tied end to end, then you use the water knot.   A water knot is not sufficient for attaching two rappel ropes together;  you need the holding power of the double fisherman knot or double grapevine instead.




Be sure to study your knots and review them often.  Have your climbing partner always check your tie in, and you check them for a correct belay device set up and harness tie in too.  More on knots for other uses will follow in more blog updates.


M. Petnuch

VA Guide

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