If you are going rock climbing, then in addition to carrying a rope, you’re going to have to know how to use it which means learning all about the various knots that can be tied and which knots are suitable for which particular stretch of climb.
It’s estimated that there are approximately 4,000 different known climbing knots. Therefore, whilst it would be impractical to learn them all, it’s important you learn a dozen or so different knots to suit the different scenarios you could be presented with.
Different Purposes Of Climbing Knots
Knots serve many different purposes when out rock climbing. Here are some of the most commonly used knots including examples of when you might use them.
Figure Eight Loop
The Figure Eight loop is one of the most standard knots for connecting your rope to your harness. Its popularity is due to the fact that it’s a very simple knot to learn, yet it is also one of the strongest and most secure.
There are several climbing knots which you might use to anchor yourself to the side of a rock face or cliff and the clove hitch is one of the most popular knots for doing that as it’s another knot which is easy to tie, doesn’t take up too much rope and is easily adjusted.
Double Fisherman’s Knot
Often used in top roping and rappelling, this is basically a variation of the Fisherman’s knot except that two knots are used and can be used to tie two ropes together where they have different diameters. A single Fisherman’s Knot is more commonly used when two ropes which have the same diameter are tied together.
This is probably going to be one of the most important knots you could learn if you should ever find yourself slipping down into a crevasse or something similar and you need to ascend to climb up and out. In addition to you being able to climb upwards and out of a situation, it is also used to haul up a load and as a backup when abseiling.
Munter Hitch and Italian Hitch
Both of these knots are useful to learn if you’re faced with an emergency situation whilst belaying and can help in improvising a belay device.
Some other commonly used knots include:
- Alpine butterfly
- Overhand and Double Overhand
- Water knot
Knowing Your Knots
It’s imperative that you are fully competent in learning how to tie climbing knots and which knots you should choose in any given situation because if they’re not secure, you could end up not only compromising your own safety but the safety of other climbers who are climbing with you. Once you have mastered the basics, you should practice each knot over and over again until you can pretty much master any given knot you have learned with your eyes shut.
Practice outdoors too, especially when it’s cold and windy as you’ll never be sure of good weather when you’re out climbing so by practising tying knots at ground level when the weather’s throwing its worst at you, you’ll be far more prepared for when you have to tie them for real when out on a rock or mountain slope in inclement weather.
Things To Remember When Learning How To Tie Knots
It’s obviously going to be easier when you’re practising knots when you can see visual diagrams and instructions as to how to tie the knot stage by stage and there are plenty of books and online resources which are available for that purpose. Better still, enrol on a course as there’s nothing better than to see an expert tie a particular climbing knot and then for you to have a go yourself. If you make a mistake, the instructor will be able to point that out and help you correct it.
Climbers will all have their own preferences as to the type of knot they’ll choose to learn but the main things to bear in mind when you’re considering which knots to learn is to learn those which are easy to tie, difficult to forget and which are easy to check visually to know if they’re correctly tied or not.