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Water Knots on Slings


Original Post
aha · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

Does anyone still apply super glue to their water knot for a sling? 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 442

Sounds like that would defeat the purpose of using a water knot, which is to be able to untie it if needed. If you plan on never untying it then just use a double fishermans bend

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
aha wrote:

Does anyone still apply super glue to their water knot for a sling? 

There were people dumb enough to do that?

aha · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

It was once a practice. I clip bolts nowaday so it is a moot point for me. We used to do it for permanent slings.

Chad Oness · · Minnesota City, MN · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 25

"moot" point

aha · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

Roger that..moot

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 15,137

A bit of history....in the ancient days before sewn slings were available commercially (much less felt-padded shoulder slings), the water knot was used to tie 1" webbing into a sling.  The water knot was more compact than a double fisherman's, although some used that knot. However, under repeated loading-unloading (like taking the sling off your shoulder with gear on it) the knot would loosen, even untie.  (One famous pair of British(?) climbers, high on El Cap's Nose, had their gear sling untie and lost most of their gear when one climber handed the gear sling to the other to change the lead. They were forced to finish the climb with almost no gear.) 

 Hence climbers often glued the knot, especially on the "gear" sling.  Of course super glue wasn't available at the time; I think most used a silicone glue.


Jeremy Bauman · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 740
aha · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks Robert, I did that around 25y ago for my fixed slings. I did use super glue and never had any problems. However, I was curious if anyone still did it. A lot has changed since then though so I don't imagine the need to do it now.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

I never heard of superglue.  I did know people who stitched down the tails.

There is no question that the tails of water knots subjected to periodic loading will creep towards the knot, with potentially catastrophic consequences.  This was the cause of a tragedy in the Tetons two years ago resulting in the death of an IFMG certified guide (publications.americanalpine…), and anyone who has been around and active long enough has seen this phenomenon in action.

Fortunately, most people are using sewn slings nowadays, so the problems is much less common for runners and tethers.  The one place one still encounters it with some frequency is in tied webbing rappel slings.  I'm gonna get up on my soapbox again and say that if you are installing such a sling, you should  never use a water knot and instead use a double or triple fisherman's knot.  The reason is that the sling you leave may be fine for you but could become dangerous  before the webbing itself has deteriorated visibly, and subsequent parties might not do their due diligence in inspecting the set-up.

Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 55

It's always worth having a few tied slings on long routes. Don't super glue the knot! Instead tie your water knot with 3" tails and then get it wet with some warm water. Next work the knot tight with your fingers and then hang from it with body weight to further set the knot. This will really help it to stay in place. Let it dry and go climbing. Always check it though as even doing this it will loosen over time.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
rgold wrote:

Fortunately, most people are using sewn slings nowadays, so the problems is much less common for runners and tethers.  The one place one still encounters it with some frequency is in tied webbing rappel slings.  I'm gonna get up on my soapbox again and say that if you are installing such a sling, you should  never use a water knot and instead use a double or triple fisherman's knot.  The reason is that the sling you leave may be fine for you but could become dangerous  before the webbing itself has deteriorated visibly,...

While I agree that we shouldn't intentionally leave time bombs...

 ...and subsequent parties might not do their due diligence in inspecting the set-up.

... frankly, that's their problem.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 442
Marc801 C wrote:

While I agree that we shouldn't intentionally leave time bombs...

... frankly, that's their problem.

Do you know what's better than a climber dying and it not being your fault? A climber not dying in the first place.

Dumb people may be dumb and do shit to kill themselves, but even dumb people still have loved ones who care about them living. 

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615
Marc801 C wrote:

While I agree that we shouldn't intentionally leave time bombs...

... frankly, that's their problem.

+1

Climbers shouldn’t be just jumping on a rap without inspecting. And it takes A LOT of cycles to get to failure. I mean, are THAT many people not inspecting their rap anchors? ... as it goes from tail length of 1.0 to 0.95 to 0.90 to ...?

Edit to add: Then what is so good about a water knot? It is easy to inspect for correctness - which seems desirable for a rap sling that most who use never saw it tied.

And I do use a double fisherman’s on the few tied slings I carry

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,146

We never glued water knots just left 2" tails inspected regularly. At this point most of mine are sewn but a couple.

Mobes Mobesely · · Granite island · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Marc801 C wrote:

While I agree that we shouldn't intentionally leave time bombs...

... frankly, that's their problem.

Yep, climbing is not a nanny sport like Eli thinks it should be.


Rob D. · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 30
rgold wrote:

 The one place one still encounters it with some frequency is in tied webbing rappel slings.  I'm gonna get up on my soapbox again and say that if you are installing such a sling, you should  never use a water knot and instead use a double or triple fisherman's knot.  The reason is that the sling you leave may be fine for you but could become dangerous  before the webbing itself has deteriorated visibly, and subsequent parties might not do their due diligence in inspecting the set-up.

five-ish years ago while climbing early season in the gunks we were digging out tree-rapp stations from winter snow and I remember having to retie what seemed like every knot because of this.  It scared me because I know there are times when I was too-blindly trusting tat.  

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 442
T Roper wrote:

Yep, climbing is not a nanny sport like Eli thinks it should be.


I'm not saying that it should be a "nanny sport" or anything like that. If people do something dumb in a vertical environment like that, they deserve whatever comes their way.

The point I'm trying to make is that there's no good reason to use a water knot in that situation but there is a good reason to use a double fishermans bend and no reason not to use it.

And, having experience grief many times in my life, I would prefer not to contribute to causing somebody else to feel grief. I don't wish that upon anybody, even if it means ridding the genetics of dumb people from the gene pool.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615
eli poss wrote:The point I'm trying to make is that there's no good reason to use a water knot in that situation but there is a good reason to use a double fishermans bend and no reason not to use it

I may be in the minority.

Still, when I look at a waterknot in webbing, I have high confidence that I can tell whether it is tied correctly besides just having adequate tail length. So I personally prefer to find water knots in rap webbing.

With a double fisherman’s in webbing, I am not so sure and am left feeling that I need to have tied it or someone I trust needs to have for equivalent confidence.

For me, a poorly tied double fisherman’s is also a kind of ticking time bomb should it be a backup to another tied sling that gets cut away due to age.

I know the debate will continue.

aha · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

So, double fisherman on a nylon sling vs cord for trad protection? I would now make my alpine slings out of cord if the consensus is the double fisherman. Note: I have sewn slings already   

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Here's an example from one of my own tied slings.  The ends were originally about 1.5 inches.  If you are going to use this knot, 3 inch tails would be highly advisable.  I wouldn't use superglue or anything else that would keep me from checking that knot every time before it was put into service.

Here, from the AAC accident report I linked to in my previous post, is the the sling that was responsible for the death of the guide.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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