It’s Knot That Bad…

In climbing, there are a lot of different knots that can be used for a lot of different things. This post is about the knots used to tie-in (tying the rope to your climbing harness) for rope climbing. The tie-in setup I will explain is the figure 8 follow-through (FEFT) knot with a strangle knot.

The Save-Your-Life Knot: Figure 8 Follow-Through Knot

This is the tie-in setup used at the two climbing gyms in my area; this is also the setup used at most gyms I have visited. This knot is frequently used because it is relatively safe and simple (reminder: climbing in inherently dangerous). The FEFT is a strong and simple knot that is highly unlikely to come undone on its own when tied properly.

The Backup Knot: The Strangle Knot

After tying the FEFT, it is standard to have some slack left over, so a backup knot is added after the FEFT knot to tie up the slack. The strangle knot, sometimes called a single fisherman’s knot or double overhand knot, is the backup knot that my gym uses.

As a side note, in this article that I read on how to tie the FEFT, the author mentions that the FEFT does not actually require a backup knot with the proper minimal tail length (6 inches). The author also mentions that the American Mountain Guides Association suggests not using a backup knot for easier visual inspection by your climbing partner.

Regardless of whether you want to use a backup knot or not, if you are climbing in a gym, you should follow the rules of that gym. Some gyms require backup knots and some do not.

My final tip for tying knots is to get a second pair of eyes to check your knots. It’s a quick ten second or less check that could save your life one day.

Also, is a great website that shows how to tie the two knots I mentioned above. The FEFT knot is tied a little differently from how I show it, so use the version that clicks for you. I won’t be offended, I promise. The strangle knot uses a wooden handle of some sort in place of the standing end of the rope. Don’t let this trip you up–it’s the same knot.

Until next time, crushers!


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