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Bunny Ears: The Best Climbing Knot You've Never Heard Of   

Tagged in: Alpine Climbing, Knots, Multi-pitch, Trad Climbing
by Andrew Bisharat
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Bunny Ears Knot in 7 Steps 

Whether you’re doing a three-pitch free climb or a 3000-foot big wall, multi-pitch climbing is all about efficiency. Every little time-saving action, every slightly more streamlined step, adds up to saving you precious hours—it’s the difference between climbing the last hundred feet of 5.9 offwidth by headlamp and topping out to a perfect sunset and sipping a beer by dark.

Climbing quickly isn’t just a matter of moving faster on each pitch—it’s all about increasing efficiency at the anchors.

Enter the Double Figure Eight, known fondly as the “Bunny Ears.” This knot has a range of useful applications, but where it really shines is its ability to get you tied off and equalized to a two-piece anchor more efficiently than any other option out there.

Whether that anchor is two bolts or two cams, you can use this knot to get yourself quickly clipped in and safely off belay. The knot also has the benefits of being dynamic (less force on the anchor) and creating a “master point” spot to clip a locking carabiner for belaying up your second in an auto-blocking belay device situation.

The “ears” of the Bunny Ears can be adjusted so that the anchor is perfectly equalized.

But best of all, no matter how much load you put on the Bunny Ears, it will untie easily. This attribute makes the Bunny Ears great for clipping a jugging line to an anchor or even for clipping the haul line to the haul bag. Here’s how you tie it:

Tie a figure eight on a bite, making the loop part of the knot very long, two feet at least.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 1
Bunny Ears Step 1

Take this loop and feed it directly back through the knot (the same part of the knot where the loop is coming out of). Note how two “bunny ears” start forming during this step.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 2
Bunny Ears Step 2

Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 2B
Bunny Ears Step 2B

Continue pulling the loop through, enough to bring it back up and over itself, right over the bunny ears.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 3
Bunny Ears Step 3

Dress the loop by bringing it down to the base of the knot. Pull the bunny ears tight and out.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 4
Bunny Ears Step 4

Clip each bunny ear to an anchor point! Voila! Assuming your two anchor points are solid, you’re now off belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bunny Ears Step 5
Bunny Ears Step 5

Adjust the bunny ears so that the knot is perfectly equalized. This involves feeding rope into the knot, or out of it—experiment by seeing which side of the ears you have to pull in or push through.

Know how to create a master point. If you’re going to belay the second up, you can clip a locking carabiner through both bunny ears and belay your second using an auto-blocking style of device. If you’re swinging leads, your second can simply clip himself into this point through both bunny ears.

There you have it: a solid, safe knot that is easy to untie and even has a master point for clipping a locking carabiner. Grab a rope; learn the knot, and use your new-found powers for good.

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Next Topic » Stacking Ropes on Multi-Pitch Climbs

Comments on Bunny Ears: The Best Climbing Knot You've Never Heard Of Add Comment
By Mickey Guziak
From: Grand Junction
May 31, 2014
What a great knot. Saves so much time and messing with cordalette.
By Dan Africk
From: Brooklyn, New York
Jun 20, 2014
A trad anchor should always have more than two pieces, and once you build the anchor with a cordelette, sling, etc, it's much faster and better to clip into your master point with a clove hitch, which you can adjust in seconds as you move around the belay ledge. Even with two bolts, using a sling would be faster than messing with adjusting the length of this knot, and easier to equalize.

And when your second comes up, you can simply unclip from the master point. If these bunny ears are your main anchor and you're not swapping leads, you would have to build a whole new anchor when your second comes up.

If you use this method, I would recommend at least modifying it by leaving about 5 feet or so of slack between your harness and the 'bunny ears' knot. This way you can clove hitch into the anchor, so at least you'll be able to move around and adjust your length to the anchor for optimum safety and convenience

This is a good knot in general, anytime you would use a figure-8 on a bight as a master point, since it's easier to untie and has more redundancy. But I think it's a bad idea to tie it directly off your harness as a multi-pitch anchor.
By Byron Igoe
Jun 25, 2014
If I understand it correctly, the fact that you can shift rope from one ear to the other to adjust and "equalize" them also means that this does not offer No Extension (if one of the anchors blows, the other ear takes all the slack) and is not Redundant (if one of the ears is cut, the other ear will pull through).

What I might do in this situation to get similar benefits is: clove hitch to one anchor, clove hitch to another anchor, find the direction of pull in the slack between the clove hitches, and tie a master point. The clove hitches allow for easy fine-tuning of the equalization, and this is SERENE.

For the master point knot, an eight-on-a-bight is often sufficient, but a BFK (or eight-on-a-bight-of-a-bight) provides two loops that are Redundant with No Extension.

The clove hitch solution is also easily extrapolated for a third anchor, in which case a Figure 8 On A Bight with both intermediate lengths will also yield 2 loops in the master point.

Am I wrong?
By Dan Africk
From: Brooklyn, New York
Jun 26, 2014
Byron the method described in the article is not self-equalizing (like a sliding X), so it does have no extension. I believe it's also redundant, but I'd have to study the knot more to be sure. But I think it's very impractical for the reasons I previously mentioned.

The method you're describing sounds very similar to an 'equalette', which is basically a cordelette divided into two arms with load-limiter knots, and then each arm is tied to one or more anchors using clove hitches. The equalette would be simpler to setup, with the advantage of being self-equalized. Otherwise, a cordelette is easier than any of these methods
By Justin Headley
From: Tucson
Aug 5, 2014
Theoretically it's not as redundant as something like a BFK, because the part of the rope that connects both bunny ears doesn't go through a lot of the "meat" of the knot. That's why it's easy to adjust the length of the ears. But in doing some basic testing of this knot at home, I found that if the knot is cinched down and then you simulate one of the ears failing, I really couldn't get any extension out of the other ear. The load was bodyweight-only, though.
By Patrick Mulligan
Jan 28, 2015
Its the rope, most won't worry about redundancy. Why is it that people worry about bunny ears being redundant but not about clipping their rope to a redundant anchor?
By Pat Langendorfer
From: Muncie, IN
Apr 5, 2015
Definitely want to follow rule #1 here and avoid being a jerk, but I want to suggest another idea, too.
Since the article references using the "Bunny Ears" (I know it as the Super 8) in a 2 bolt situation, why not just clip yourself directly into the master point and belay off the shelf of your cordalette anchor? Or, you could use a quad and go direct/belay on alternate sets of strands.
Can you explain how the super 8 makes it more efficient instead?
Always looking for a way to shave time if I think it'll work.
By Pat Langendorfer
From: Muncie, IN
Apr 5, 2015
The knot works exactly like a BHK or fig. 8: will tighten when loaded, no slippage. plenty of worse ways to do this, but not sure if I could make it work faster for me when I factor in having to adjust the length of the loops.
By Craig Childre
From: Lubbock, Texas
Apr 16, 2015
Good at a bolted anchor. I like the setup using, clove hitches. You can add a 3rd loop without too much difficulty.
By bus driver
Aug 10, 2015
I use this knot and like it. Leader only needs two lockers for their tie in. All slings and webbing can be used for leading the pitch. Not great but not too bad if you are leading all pitches. Just have the second clip their own lockers and flip your rope off our tie on and onto theirs and wah la you are on the top of the pile ready to head out. If you're wearing a rope to catch you you should be good with tying into a fixed anchor with it. If it's likely to be sketchy, equalize multiple pieces as one of your anchor points. I like it anyway. Just take out two arm loads of rope until you get used to how long the knot is.

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