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Learning to tie knots


Original Post
Peter Herman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

So I’m a noob.  I’ve been Outdoor climbing several times, but always with someone way more experienced than me and they’ve always helped me “tie in.”  I want to get better at knot tying and what knots are used for different styles/purposes.  Is there a way to get a small section(maybe 5-10 feet) of climbing rope to learn to tie knots on?  And would anyone recommend a book on climbing knots?  


Thanks!

Matthew Bernstein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 95

Good on ya! If any of your friends have old retired ropes, u could ask them for a 10 foot section to practice tying knots. If that's not a possibility, you could go to any REI or other outdoor gear retailer and buy 9 or 10mm static cord by the foot. It wouldn't be good for climbing on, but would have a similar feel to climbing rope and would probably cost you less than 10 bucks. Perfect for practicing knots.  As for books, "Freedom Of the Hills" is a great all around climbing reference book that will have essential climbing knots in it. 

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251
Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 197

animatedknots.com

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 700

Peter,

Where are you at?  I’ve got tons of old rope that I could get you a piece of. 

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

Robert is right on the money, Grog's animated knots page is the go-to nowadays. There's even an app. And then while you are learning why you use the knots climbers use, you practice, practice, practice until you can tie the knot blindfolded, in the dark, without looking, etc. 

Peter Herman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I’m located in Pennsylvania.  

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,610

You might try starting with this page: Knots

It contains links to the site Animated Knots by Grog as well as other discussion and  images.

Any comments about the page are most welcome.

txclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10

Also, don't be intimidated or think you need to learn dozens of knots.  I climbed for years (sport) before I used anything more than a figure eight.  Even now I only really use a figure eight, clove hitch, Munter hitch, Munter-mule (for escaping belay), and very occasionally an alpine butterfly.  Learn those and you'll be able to handle most situations.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,610

Agree with TX’s list as a starting point though for me the alpine butterfly is not used much. Bowline instead?

Rudy Chavira · · Taylorsville. Ut · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I sit around, and tie knots when doing nothing, no matter how many times I've tied them in past. Also when bored I try them one handed if possible.

Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Agree with TXclimber, but really to start focus on a clove, 8, and bowline.  Actually the Munter is a good to know just incase scenario.  

Wes C · · Cleveland, oh · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 71

If your going to be building top rope anchors off trees and such, I'd second the bowline and add a water knot for webbing.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0

Be careful with learning knots from online sources.  Some of them are actually tied incorrectly.  Better to get a good climbing book or learn from a reputable instructor.  And be careful of knot terminology.  Many don't even know the correct names for some knots. 

John Badila · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 15

For knot tying practice, check your local gym.  They may well have some several-foot lengths of retired climbing rope already set aside for that purpose--if you're lucky they'll just give you some.  

Michael Parker · · Tulsa, OK · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 4,041

In single pitch scenarios I really only use the figure 8 for tying in, girth hitch for attaching PAS or sling to harness, and the triple fishermans for knotting the end of the rope to close the system.  In multi-pitch scenarios a few other knots and hitches are useful such as the clove hitch for tethering yourself to the anchor, prusik or auto block for backing up a rappel or emergency ascending, alpine butterfly for tying into the middle of the rope or isolating a damaged section of rope, and the munter to save your ass if you drop, lose, or forget your belay device.  

And as mentioned before there are countless books on climbing knots and their applications.  I haven't bought a book for climbing knots specifically, but most of the books I have read usually have a chapter that covers the standard knots.  Both Advanced Rock Climbing a.co/2tJoeNc and Climbing Anchors a.co/8RRG2qK cover these knots.  And as a bonus you'll get all sorts of other useful info if you choose to read them in their entirety.  

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

Learn how to tie a double back figure 8 into your harness.  Do it with your eyes closed.  You don't need climbing rope, any rope will do.  Buy 10 feet of it at Home Depot.  As a beginner, that is all you need to know.  As you get more into it, you will learn more knots, which are used for other purposes.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

Learn how to tie a double back figure 8 into your harness.  Do it with your eyes closed.  You don't need climbing rope, any rope will do.  Buy 10 feet of it at Home Depot.  As a beginner, that is all you need to know.  As you get more into it, you will learn more knots, which are used for other purposes.

He means a figure eight follow knot.  He is confusing this with doubling back your harness.  Using the correct names of knots is a good habit to get into.


rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Michael Parker wrote:

In single pitch scenarios I really only use the figure 8 for tying in, girth hitch for attaching PAS or sling to harness, and the triple fishermans for knotting the end of the rope to close the system.  In multi-pitch scenarios a few other knots and hitches are useful such as the clove hitch for tethering yourself to the anchor, prusik or auto block for backing up a rappel or emergency ascending, alpine butterfly for tying into the middle of the rope or isolating a damaged section of rope, and the munter to save your ass if you drop, lose, or forget your belay device.  

And as mentioned before there are countless books on climbing knots and their applications.  I haven't bought a book for climbing knots specifically, but most of the books I have read usually have a chapter that covers the standard knots.  Both Advanced Rock Climbing a.co/2tJoeNc and Climbing Anchors a.co/8RRG2qK cover these knots.  And as a bonus you'll get all sorts of other useful info if you choose to read them in their entirety.  

I think you mean a triple overhand to close the system.  A triple fisherman's knot is used to tie two ends of cords together using triple overhands in opposition.


Nate Tastic · · 88,4,108,50, 80 · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

Learn how to tie a double back figure 8 into your harness.  Do it with your eyes closed.  You don't need climbing rope, any rope will do.  Buy 10 feet of it at Home Depot.  As a beginner, that is all you need to know.  As you get more into it, you will learn more knots, which are used for other purposes.

In case of confusion, I'd like to clarify one part of your comment, if I may? And this may be splitting hair semantics but, for a newcomer, it might be important:

The Double Figure 8 Knot is something else, aka Figure 8 Double Loop, aka "Bunny Ears." OP should learn how to tie a Figure 8 Follow Through Knot.

When you initially put your harness on, and do your safety checks, one of the checks you do is to check your harness to be sure the buckles are "double backed." Check the waist buckle and, if your harness has them, the right & left leg strap buckles (not all harnesses have leg strap buckles, however.) Ask someone experienced what double backed buckles look like.

It's true that some people refer to the "follow through" part of Figure 8 Follow Through as being "double backed" and this when doing their safety checks etc. and why you see it being referenced differently, I suppose.

On a side note, consider doing the 2,2,2,2,2 count after tying the Figure 8 Follow Through Knot into your harness. (others do a 2,2,2 but, when I first started I learned to do 2 in and 2 out as well; making it five total 2 counts.) And then do it again on the back side by flipping it over and counting again. It should only take a second. Do this until you're comfortable with what a figure 8 follow through knot should look like when it's tied correctly. Just take two fingers and count the strands of rope front and again back while counting out the 2s. It should be uniform on both sides:

Image Credit 

Note: above image is only an example for showing the five 2 counts. Your Figure 8 Follow Through (FEFT) should go into both bottom and top tie-in loops; not belay loop, as seen in the image above. To be clear, use both tie-in loops, not belay loop to tie-in. Again, ask someone experienced.

I'll add to the list of knots that have already been mentioned and I relist all of them from above as well:

  • Figure 8 Follow Through (aka Rewoven Figure 8; linked above)
  • Figure 8 on a Bight (aka Figure 8 Loop)
  • Figure 8 Double Loop (aka Bunny Ears; linked above)
  • Figure 8 In-line (aka Directional Figure 8)
  • Figure 8 Bend (aka Flemish Bend)
  • Clove Hitch
  • Munter Hitch
  • Bachman Hitch
  • Girth Hitch
  • Slip Hitch (aka Overhand Slipknot)
  • Bowline
  • Double Loop Bowline
  • Water Knot
  • Overhand Knot
  • Double Fisherman's Knot
  • Triple Fisherman's Knot
  • Stopper Knot aka Barrel Knot (aka Triple Overhand Barrel Knot; "essentially half a triple fisherman's knot on one strand of rope.")
  • Friction Hitches (link)
    • Auto-Block
    • Prusik
    • Klemheist
  • Alpine Butterfly
  • EDK (European Death Knot aka Flat Overhand)
  • MMO (Munter Mule Overhand)

Note: this list isn't exhaustive and at the same time, as others have mentioned, isn't mandatory to know them all to Sport climb, for example. Things like MMO are for rescue so, chances are you'll never need it (knock on wood) but, nice to know, just the same.

Also note: some knots may have multiple names, as you can see. And depending on who and where you climb the name may be different for the same knots. Know your knots by visual inpection, not name alone, if that makes sense.

Learn how to tie them and learn their use cases; when to tie them and keep safety concerns for each in mind etc.

Note: learning how to tie these knots and what to use them for is great. But get an experienced climber to actually go over all these with you before you use any of them, of course.

Books: 

Most, if not all, the knots above are listed, with pictures and descriptions, in "Rock Climbing The AMGA Single Pitch Manual - by Bob Gaines and Jason D. Martin"

Again, Freedom of the Hills is great and has even more knots (bends, hitches etc.)

 

Michael Parker · · Tulsa, OK · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 4,041
rockklimber wrote:

I think you mean a triple overhand to close the system.  A triple fisherman's knot is used to tie two ends of cords together using triple overhands in opposition.

Ah, I suppose you are correct.  I never realized there was a distinction between tying it on a single rope and tying 2 rope ends together.  It must be a fairly common misnomer because I've always heard it referred to as a triple fishermans in both scenarios.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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