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Why the munter mule?


Original Post
David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70

Hi,
At the risk of sounding really stupid, why do people lock a munter off with a mule knot rather than just a couple of half-hitches?

I've found that many find it difficult to remember how to form the left hand loop in photo 8 of:
animatedknots.com/muntermul…

in part because a loop can be formed the way shown or the other way up, but only one will work. Beginners are even more confused when asked to do it at speed when they are standing above the carabiner, rather then below it as they might not have practiced it.

I had assumed it was because it makes the knot easier to untie when loaded, or during the act of untying was less likely to lead to the suspended climber being dropped. So I went to the climbing gym and had a play. A munter finished with a couple of half-hitches seems BETTER all round. As a half-hithes are how we teach tying off a belay plate (at least in the UK), it would make life easier if munters were tied off in the same way.

Maybe I didn't load the thing enough?

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615

It is indeed something to play with under controlled circumstances. I sometimes find the mule knot hard to release under full body weight. The bite seems to act like a bulge that is hard to slip through the constricted loop just before the moment of release.

shoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 75

The mule is useful because it is very easy to undo while maintaining control on the belay end. It is effectively a slip knot, where pulling to undo it keeps you on belay one handed. Half hitches necessitate use of both hands to keep control, and are not quite as stable as the mule.

I can't speak much to what is considered "standard" practice in the UK, but mule knots are also used for tube/plate type devices. At least in the US, mule knots are standard belay tie offs for both plate and munter.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 70
shoo wrote:The mule is useful because it is very easy to undo while maintaining control on the belay end. It is effectively a slip knot, where pulling to undo it keeps you on belay one handed. Half hitches necessitate use of both hands to keep control, and are not quite as stable as the mule.
This is I think what I compared: a munter mule compared to a munter followed by two half-hitches/slip knots tied on a bight. i.e. the same as the version of a mule shown in animated knots, but without the little loop - my version proved easier to untie and control than a mule knot.

I was expecting the mule to be easier and give better control, but find the opposite, so was wondering if I'm missing something, or is it that people haven't tried the alternative?
Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615
David Coley wrote:... munter followed by two half-hitches/slip knots tied on a bight ... without the little loop - my version proved easier to untie and control than a mule knot.
It may take some mileage with this configuration to know under what conditions there might be enough creep to cause the half-hitches to cinch up and so be hard to release. Imagine hanging from the rig while ...

  • wriggling around to build a gear anchor;
  • loading it with a second person (victim);
  • rope is soaking wet;
  • etc..

I'm not saying with any certainty one way or another. I just have this suspicion that the little loop on the mule knot normally pinches off a bunch of the creep-inducing forces. It could be the case that the best course of action depends on the circumstances.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065

The munter mule is actually pretty easy to tie if practiced

The key point is to always remember that the brake strand should always be on the INSIDE of the twist ... That pinching is what makes the mule effective

Ill take some photos today at the crag to demonstrate

There are of course other ways to tie off, but the MMO is secure and proven

The caveat is that on webbing a mariners would generally better for body weight applications as thr flat profile of slings/webbing can bind in a MMO, making it difficult to release under load

;)

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I'll throw my idea in..

I was taught to tie an overhand to escape then use a Biner, pruzzik and sling to escape completely. I only use a munter if I'm not using a Grigri or not escaping completely.

Bearbreeder, I've climbed on a couple 60 degree days in Squamish during February but WTH is going on in BC this year!!!??? You guys get any winter this year? I would be thinking about skinning up to Alice Lake not rock climbing today!!

bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Bill Kirby wrote: I'll throw my idea in.. I was taught to tie an overhand to escape then use a Biner, pruzzik and sling to escape completely. I only use a munter if I'm not using a Grigri or not escaping completely. Bearbreeder, I've climbed on a couple 60 degree days in Squamish during February but WTH is going on in BC this year!!!??? You guys get any winter this year? I would be thinking about skinning up to Alice Lake not rock climbing today!!
Judge for yourself ... Today at the crag, partner on lead

Teenage girls wont blow gorbies 11c, smoke bluffs, squamish

Wee ruuuuuv grobol wah-mang up here

As for escape .. Some form of releasable hitch is essential, an overhand may not be releasable under load

Ill take the photos tmr ... Apologies i was too busy scrubbing an old climb today

;)
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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