BACKPACKING BASICS

Rock Climbing Knots: A Sure Way to Safe Climbing

Rock Climbing Knots
Russell McCarty
Written by Russell McCarty

You have a passion for rock climbing, it’s crucial to possess knowledge on the necessary safety tools. The rock climbing sport has a lot of cool things including incredible ways that climbers manage to keep their bodies on the rock.

One of these is the use of a rock climbing knot. These aren’t for just keeping shoes on your feet; they keep your full body weight from dropping right off the cliff. If you master them, then you can come down or up any climb on earth. You need to know, learn and practice knots until you can tie them in pitch blackness.

A knot is defined as a connection in the form of a cord, thread or rope which is created either by passing one free end through a loop and drawing it tight.

Or by intertwining pieces of rope, cord or thread. You have a large selection of knots to choose from. It may be tempting to know as many knots as possible; meanwhile, it’s essential to learn those useful to your sport.

Kinds of Knots Available

Knots are an important feature in the climbing activity which climbers should be aware of. A knot makes it possible to join a lot of things like a rope to your equipment or waist.

Kinds of Knots Available

And also used for attachment to rescue systems in case of falls. The basic knots for rock climbers are:

  • Bend knots. You can quickly identify these. Bends have ends coming out of opposite sides of the knot. They’re essential in climbing as they’re used to tie two ropes together for a rappel.
    They’re also applicable when tying accessory cord or tubular webbing into slings or runners. You use them for lengthening a rope by joining two shorter ones, or for joining two ends of a rope to form a loop.
  • Loop knots. They’re made to be dropped over an object. Unlike hitches, loops are made directly around the object and follow its shape. You make a loop by folding back the end of a rope or a line into an eye or loop.
    Afterward, fastening it to its standing part is done which makes it fixed and unable to move. Loops are not like a noose, they don’t become smaller when exposed to stress. They’re suitable for tying a rope around your waist. And good in case you want to create an attachment point along a rope, or to make a loop to lob under a bollard.
  • Hitch knots. You use these to secure a rope to anything or another rope which plays no part to the actual tying. A climber can tie a knot which fits the size of the object that it’s linked to.
    They’re knotted with the ability to be adjusted. The rope can be fed back and forth through the hitch while it keeps tied.
  • Stopper knots. Stoppers help to stop the other end of your rope from slipping through any other knot. You use these to bind the end of the line so that it doesn’t unravel.

The first step to embarking on any climbing adventure is to do enough practice. After mastering the skills, you will be able to accomplish all climbs.

Performance Qualities for Climbing Knots

Once you have zeroed on one or two knots you need, it’s time to ascertain what to look for in a quality knot.

Performance Qualities for Climbing Knots

Picking one knot over another is based on a blend of performing conditions.

  • Strength is the first quality that has to come to mind when selecting knots. It’s quite important but is not the only determinant. Knots rarely break.
    The material used when making ropes is usually robust enough to withstand the demands placed upon them. Having to enhance your safety entails two or more knots that can be tied together to give you more security and a firmer grip.
  • Security of the knot is a critical aspect of quality. The ability of the knot to remain tied is paramount to any climber. Being secure has to be coupled with ease in tying to make a knot more appropriate.
  • Ease when tying is also important. It’s of no value to select a complicated knot when less complex ones are within reach. The ease with which you can untie a knot after loading is crucial.
  • Ease of visual inspection is another outstanding quality of appropriate knots. It’s important to be able to glance at a tie-in knot of your climbing partner or the knots of an anchor system. It enables quick recognition whether the knot is tied properly for safety reasons.

Managing The Knots

All climbers need to know how to knot when time comes. There are varying ways on how to handle knots.

Managing The Knots

Each specific knot has a particular way it’s supposed to be treated. Therefore, for efficient use, you must have sufficient knowledge on how to manage each knot.

  • How to dress knots. All knots must be covered or tied in the utmost secure orientation. Most knots are tied with accessory cord making sure that the strands running side by side in the knot don’t come cross.
    Those with crossed strands shouldn’t snug together. Or else they risk becoming loose over time and can jam badly which is not okay. Each knot has a specific way it’s supposed to be dressed.
    So you need to know how to dress each well. For example, when dressing a Figure of eight on a bight, you have to tie the knot loosely and afterward work out any twists or crosses. The rope strands are just like freeway lanes.
    The cords have to stay side by side. They never have to cross at any point along the path. You must tie the knot once after working out the crosses.
  • Tightening the knot. All knots have to be firmly tightened. In a bid to tighten the knot, it’s not just a matter of only pulling the rope strands on each side of the knot.
    Take the example of the figure-of-eight follow through knot where you must pull both strands tightly on each side of the knot. You must do four pulls in total to achieve the desired result.
  • Knot loading. You have to be sure that once any knot has been loaded it can’t be easily loosened. It has to remain in the position it has been applied to. For best practice, it’s advisable to break the strands which run perpendicularly to the long axis of the knot away from the knotted When working, make sure to put emphasis on both sides of the knot.
    The structure of the knot after loading detects whether the right one is selected for the job. You have to examine whether the knot is stressed along its long axis. If you notice that the stress is sideways, then that’s not a good sign. The strength and security of the knot are compromised, and it’s bound to split apart under the load.

Loops, bends, and hitches should be dressed and tightened differently. You have to know the specific ways to dress, tighten, tie and loosen each knot.

Bear in mind that working with tubular webbing is different than tying the knot with rope or accessory cord.

Rock Climbing Ropes

The rock climbing adventure requires that you have to possess skills to keep your body on the rock including endurance and strength. For equipment, ropes are very vital. You should be aware of how to tie them so that you’re free from danger or your companion climbers.

Rock Climbing Ropes

A typical climbing rope should be 200 feet long though longer cords are available.  Some of the characteristics you should consider when choosing a rope include the lightness, thinness, and strength.

Types of Climbing Ropes

Climbing ropes can be differentiated into two categories:

Dynamic climbing ropes

These can stretch beneath a shock load and have the ability to absorb part of the shock force. In this process, the climber is protected from any harm.

Dynamic climbing ropes

These ropes are made for top-roping to belay the lead climber. Makers of these ropes always use three or more colors on the covering. This is done to differentiate these from other kinds of ropes.

Static ropes

With static ropes, you get more resistance to scrapes and scuffs. Moreso, they are more durable though they aren’t elastic. You should only use these ropes where shock loading doesn’t happen. This is the kind of rope you should use if you need to belay a climber.

Static ropes

The lead climber should never use static ropes. This is because in the case of a fall it lacks the elasticity which is essential to minimize an injury. It’s covering always comes in two colors.

Basic Knots Every Climber Should Know

After learning all the essentials for climbing knots, it’s time to look at the kinds of knots you should consider for you climbing adventure.

Figure Eight Knot on a Bight

The Figure Eight is incredibly the strongest climbing knot. On a bight means being in the middle of a rope, not the end. Tying a Figure Eight Knot on a bight is a reliable, quick solution to creating a loop suitable for securing an object, and it’s also really simple to tie. It’s used to clip a rope onto a harness, belay setup and securing abseil ropes.

Though this knot is not very easy to adjust and untie after loading, its advantages outweigh those setbacks. It stays tied even when you use a frozen rope. Also, its appearance is unmistakable which makes it easy to be checked by climbers. This is very useful in minimizing injury.

Figure Eight Knot with Follow-Through

The Figure Eight with Follow Through is clearly the ideal knot which climbers use when they need to attach their harness to the tip of the rope. And it’s essentially the same as the above.

Except that, you’re starting with the end of the rope and without a loop in the middle of it. If you can get the first figure eight tied, all you have to do is take the end and track the rope back around through the knot.  It’ll end up coming out the top, right next to the other strand.

The Clove Hitch

The Clove Hitch might be a simple knot to many of you – even if you don’t know it by that name. It’s a very handy knot to know since it’s incredibly easy to tie and adjust. And I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of uses for it after you’ve learned to tie it.

With practice, you can be able to tie it using only one hand. It’s the most ideal when setting up belays. It can be tied anywhere on the rope.

You don’t have to find an end adjusted to the bight, and it uses a small rope. It can also be untied very easily regardless of the effort which has been applied to it.

However make sure to pay attention to how the loops lie, or else you’ll just end up with a coil of rope very far from a clove hitch. This knot is used to anchor non-climbing members of the party on fixed ring belays. It’s essential to practice tying this knot as it’ll be of great help in situations where speed is important.

Bowline Knot

The Bowline is another knot used to attach a climbing harness to the end of a rope. It’s not quite as common anymore as the Figure Eight. This knot is simple, secure and stable. It is usually used by climbers to quicken their climbing binds towards the ends of the rope.

It’s not one of those easiest to learn to tie at first trial. However once you know how, it will be an indispensable tool for securing the end of a rope to just any part of the climbing gear. This is what makes it unique from other knots.

It also looks to be one of the knots that can be tied with one hand, which might just come in handy someday. You tie a bowline by forming a loop in the standing point of a line.

Pass the working end up through the eye of the loop, return to the back of the standing part and then down through the eye again. You should finish the bowline off with a stopper to prevent it from turning into a slip knot for safety purpose.

You use this knot when tying around the waist or to a harness. And it’s also convenient for tying around large anchors. This knot is best known for not slipping, coming loose or jamming. It can quickly and easily be untied even when the line is under tension.

The major setback for the bowline is that when tied with stiff rope, it’s liable to come loose. This is because the line can’t bend down properly.

Water Knot

The Water Knot is the best way to join flat stretches of material like webbing or climbing belts together. It also makes it possible to combine two different ropes together securely.

Similar in concept to the follow-through on the Figure Eight Knot , once the overhand knot is tied on the first piece of material, only return the webbing backward through the knot from the other end. This is the fastest knot that you can tie.

Prusik Knot

Named after Dr. Carl Prusik who invented it, sometimes it’s used for self-rescue. It’s also incredibly handy for climbers attaching an object to a rope so that they slide smoothly when the knot is loose.

And hold firmly when a sideways load is imposed. It’s easily adjustable to the conditions of the rock creation, yet securely grips the other rope under load. It’s knotted using a loop of rope and it can be secured to itself with a water knot or fisherman’s knot. This knot is easily achievable regardless of the weight of the climbing gear hanging from it.

It’s useful for anyone who has to scale awkward heights. Climbers use this as a safety mechanism when descending a steep rock face by using doubled rope attached at a higher point.

You have to tie it with a rope that is considerably thinner than the line around which it’s tied. Caution has to be taken to check that the rope is not wet or icy because the knot may slip.

Double Fisherman’s Knot

The Double Fisherman’s Knot is one of the strongest ways to join two ropes together, end to end. It might look similar to the Water Knot at first, but it’s a new knot completely. It’s not the fastest in the world to tie, and it’s relatively bulky, but if you’ve got a desire to join pieces of rope securely, this one’s a charm.

Its end should be taped to minimize the possibility of the knot getting loose. You need to check it regularly to ensure that it’s still tied firmly. For particularly slippy cord, a Triple Fishermans may be appropriate. It’s used by climbers on small stuff since it’s relatively bulky. It works well on material like a thin line or string.

Having become familiar with the knots, it’s about time do some practice. These skills will help you and your companions enjoy climbing more safely. It’s recommended you begin mastering one knot to another not a bunch of them all once. Which type of knots do you use when rock climbing? Or do you have a completely different one you want to share with us?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell McCarty
Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.

  • Brian Taylor

    I really like climbing. I was always impressed by people who engage in this extreme sports. Soon I also want to do it. I know how to make a few knots but I don’t have gear. What do I need to buy? What would be an estimated amount to start?

  • Russell McCarty

    That’s great that you would like to start this awesome activity. You can check on your local indoor rock climbing gym for a start. There are instructors who will teach you the right techniques and prepare you to enjoy the sport. Depending on your needs, they will be able to provide a basic checklist on what you will need.

  • Sarah Adams

    I became interested in rock climbing three months ago! I enjoy the process and preparation. I have many favorite knots. Most of all I like Figure Eight Knot With Follow-Through And Figure Eight Knot On A Bight. Rock climbing is very exciting, even tying knots! Hope to try all these knots in the future!

  • Russell McCarty

    Your enthusiasm is very infectious Sarah. 🙂
    I hope you’re going to do well in rock climbing. Just practice those moves and don’t forget to read on your favorite activity. Make sure you have the right gear, as well.

  • William Golgosky

    When I was first getting into climbing, I bought the SGT KNOTS Learn the Basic Knot Tying Kit to help me get familiar with the different knots I’d have to know. It’s an easy to understand guide, well made and a good way to practice some of the knots laid out here!

  • Kyle Short

    Part of being able to make good knots is having a good rope to use. From what I’ve used, the Sterling Rope Evolution Velocity Climbing Rope is one of the better ropes I’ve used. It’s versatile and I even think my knots look better when I use this rope.

  • Russell McCarty

    Thanks William, your comments are very helpful. Before embarking on any activities such as rock climbing, make sure you have mastered the skills needed for it. In this case, tying knots are important skills that every climber must learn to do well.

  • Russell McCarty

    Thanks for the tip bro and for sharing your thoughts with us. For more options in choosing reliable climbing ropes, you may also check this link:

    http://backpackingmastery.com/top-picks/best-climbing-rope.html

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