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Related UKC Forum discussions
But - have you ever tried to untie a Figure 8 knot that you've taken a fall on? Even if you've only gone a modest distance, the chances are that you'll be struggling for a while, and probably end up doing unwarranted things with nut keys to your valuable rope. (Or your friend's, or the wall's, valuable rope.) And don't even ask about trying to tie an "8" one-handed, say when you need rescuing from an ill-advised solo (but thank goodness you're wearing a harness and are still able to hold on with one hand).
The solution: the bowline. Even after huge falls, it's still easy to untie. It can (with practice) be tied with one hand. And it's just as strong as any other knot such as the Figure-8.
This variation of the bowline is a neat and safe knot for tying on with. Once learned, you will probably never use another knot!
BEWARE though. If tied wrongly, the bowline can turn into a slip knot which will UNTIE at the worst possible moment. So ensure that you always, always check it - and then you get someone else to check it too.
So here it is - Click on any of the images below for a larger version with its instructions.
Thanks to Steve Anson, who taught me this knot and to Rowland Edwards who taught it to him