/ question about "tying in" to the middle of the rope

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Mutl3y - on 25 Apr 2011
Alright, genuine question.

It's common practice to climb on both ends of a single doubled rope for short single pitch routes. The second then ties into the middle of the rope using a slightly bigger than normal figure of eight. No problem.

However, the last couple of years I have taken to doing something quite a bit simpler when seconding - take the middle of the rope, pass it through the belay loop, pull the loop over my whole body, step through it, then tighten (I hope this description makes sense!).

The advantage of this is that it's even quicker than a normal knot, both for putting on and taking off. The disadvantage is that it's (I guess) slightly less safe. But I think that it would only actually be dangerous in some bizarre situation where, for example, the knot became snagged on something and undid... but I'm clutching a bit.

What do others' think and does anyone else do this?


stewieatb on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

I've heard of it being done before - other alternatives include a bowline on the bight tied in a similar manner. With a lark's foot knot, there's a chance that if you fall and are only caught by one rope (with the other being significantly slack), the knot could slip and damage your harness tie-in loops by friction. You can remedy this by tying off a 3' long loop of rope with a figure of 8 knot on the bight, then using the loop to tie on in the manner you describe.
efrance24234 - on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: u mean larks footing yur self with the rope? if so i do it all the time. cant see anything wrong with it but if anyone can let me know asap lol.
efrance24234 - on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to stewieatb: if you tightern the larks foot first then it doesnt slip
ScraggyGoat on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to efrance24234:
If you pardon the pun 'knot exactly' (groan)........safe, for the reasons mentioned above.

Consider the leader tying into the middle of the rope, a bowline tends to be more compact than an oversized figure-of-eight, then if they are any twists or rope tangles the second can sort them out more easily while belaying, or prior to seconding (tying in normally) as the two ends are free to untangle.

In short at the expense of a few seconds go for a proper knot.
Andy Moles - on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

Alpine Butterfly. Good excuse to tie a most excellent knot.
EddInaBox on 25 Apr 2011
In reply to Andy Moles:

An excellent knot indeed, but are you suggesting using it to isolate a long loop and then lark's foot that to the harness by stepping through, or to form a small loop and attach oneself using a carabiner?
peter myers - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: I use an overhand knot rethreaded instead of a fig 8 in this situation. it is less bulky and quicker to tie, then i clip a biner though the short loop of tail and clip that into the belay loop to prevent the knot untying in the event of a little slippage. the biner is less bulky than a stopper knot would be and it uses less rope. as the crab is not actually loaded there is no chance of cross loading it.
Steeve - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:
the petzl technical catalogue used to recommend tying an overhand on a bight to create a 2 foot loop, and then doing the larks footing bit with this loop. its what Ive gone for for a while, adn so far as I can tell, its the safest and least bulky knot you can use.

it certainly wont slip, and shouldnt damage the harness atall, and its no bulkier than a normal fig8.
remus - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: Speaking theoretically, i imagine itd be pretty hard to untie if youd been knocked unnoncious mid route. Given that you only do it on short single pitch routes and the (in)frequency with which people get knocked out midroute and have to be rescued id say you're pretty safe though.
Hardonicus - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

You can do the lark's foot then tie it off with a bowline. use the live ends to form the rabbit hole and the end if the loop as the rabbit.
nniff - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

The most suitable knot for this purpose is a double bowline, stepping through the loop, rather than a lark's foot
Sarah G on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:
Another vote for the Alpine Butterfly. Make it nice and neat, and yes, you will need to connect yourself using a screwgate Krab.

Sx
franksnb - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: fig 8 on a bight with a crab for me.
GrahamD - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

Personally I prefer to lead on the midlle of the rope (tie in with bowline) as it allows twists to work out of the rope before the second ties in.

For seconding I can't see any reason why your method isn't fine although I found it slower than tying a bowline when I tried it.

If you want ultimate speed and you are happy that there is not going to be any odd loading angles its hard to beat a simple overhand knot fixed to the harness with a screwgate.
EeeByGum - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

> However, the last couple of years I have taken to doing something quite a bit simpler when seconding - take the middle of the rope, pass it through the belay loop, pull the loop over my whole body, step through it, then tighten (I hope this description makes sense!).

Also know as the Chris Tan death knot. I do it all the time although you are advised never to do it on your SPA assessment! Like all knots / techniques there are associated risks, but nothing too dramatic.
chris j on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: Never seen it done, if your seconding with it can't really see any problems though.

One thought - it can be better for the leader to tie on to the middle of the rope (bowline on doubled rope or similar) - then if he gets to the top and belay anchors are too far away to reach easily (eg at Millstone or Lawrencefield), he can just pull up one end of the rope, leaving the second just one end to climb with. If the leader's tied on to the ends then it will be a bit more complicated.
CurlyStevo - on 26 Apr 2011
Mutl3y - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to everyone: Thanks for all the advice. I'm definitely going to try the bowline and alpine butterfly alternatives. Cheers
Mutl3y - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Andy Moles: Looked up alpine butterfly and found this:
http://www.animatedknots.com/alpinebutterfly/index.php

It looks pretty neat I guess, but I'm going to have to screwgate it into my belay loop aren't I? So what's the advantage over just doing an overhand knot and screwgating that in?

Sorry if I'm missing something.
GrahamD - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

Aesthetics.
Max factor - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Mutl3y)
>
> Personally I prefer to lead on the midlle of the rope (tie in with bowline) as it allows twists to work out of the rope before the second ties in.
>
One advantage of tieing into the ends is that if you are a bit challenged to set up belays becuase you are short of rope, you can untie one end, drop that through the gear and then bring the second up on one rope only.

Agree with you that a lot of the time, overhand and screwgate does the job just fine.
Ben1983 - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:
It's a good knot to know, but this is the wrong situation. An Alpine butterfly is great if you are in the middle, moving together in a three, because force can be safely transferred across the knot (a figure of 8 deforms if you pull the two ends in different directions).
PS. to tie into the middle I always tie a double bowline - exactly like a normal bowline, but with the loop. Seems easy enough.
chris j on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Max factor:
> (In reply to GrahamD)
> [...]
> One advantage of tieing into the ends is that if you are a bit challenged to set up belays becuase you are short of rope, you can untie one end, drop that through the gear and then bring the second up on one rope only.

Ummm, if you're tied on to the middle, you pull up one end & you have half the rope to play with for your belay, no need to untie first... & you still have one end at the bottom for your second to tie on to.
Ben1983 - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:
Oh, you can also use it to isolate frayed or damaged pieces of rope, by tieing it with the damaged bit in the middle. This can be useful in certain circumstances.
Ben1983 - on 26 Apr 2011
In reply to chris j:
Yeah, I'm also happy to lead on the middle. For me, the only disadvantage is that at the top of a lot of crags, I often find it quicker to tie both ropes around a tree or boulder; with the middle you effectively have only one end to play with.
nniff - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to Ben1983:

> PS. to tie into the middle I always tie a double bowline - exactly like a normal bowline, but with the loop. Seems easy enough.

That's a double bowline on a bight - the bight is the loop with which you are tying the knot. If you tied that without incorporating your harness, you would have two loops formed by tying the knot (the double bowline) and a third loop which is what remains of the loop you used to tie your knot (the bight) - hence the name - a double bowline on a bight.

A double bowline tied in the middle of the rope requires you to step through the loop so that you end up without a loose end (or loose loop). Strictly speaking you have two loose ends, but each one is 30m long.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to Ben1983)
>
> [...]
>
> That's a double bowline on a bight

No it's not. It's a triple bowline. Neither Ashley nor Budworth make mention of a "double bowline on the bight". Does it matter? Yes, if you want the right knot tying. The confusion arises in that the knot is tied with a bight but this doesn't always help when naming them.
nniff - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to brt:


My apologies - I think you're right - it's not what I was told many years ago. We live and learn, :o)


Still prefer a steppy-through bowline for tying into the middle of a rope to lead or second though, whatever you want to call it, and indeed for a waist tie too.
Nic DW - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to peter myers:
> (In reply to Mutl3y) I use an overhand knot rethreaded instead of a fig 8 in this situation. it is less bulky and quicker to tie, then i clip a biner though the short loop of tail and clip that into the belay loop to prevent the knot untying in the event of a little slippage. the biner is less bulky than a stopper knot would be and it uses less rope. as the crab is not actually loaded there is no chance of cross loading it.

I have no doubt this is the best way.

wilkie14c - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:
Overhand on the bight then re-threaded and finished off with a screwgate has been quick, not too bulky and safe for me and others for donkeys years.
how would the larks footing ones self affect your ability to escape the system should you need too?
Stuart (aka brt) - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to brt)
>
>
> My apologies - I think you're right - it's not what I was told many years ago. We live and learn, :o)
>
> Still prefer a steppy-through bowline for tying into the middle of a rope to lead or second though, whatever you want to call it, and indeed for a waist tie too.

That's a bowline on a bight - ABOK # 1080, p 195. A good knot for this solution.

As for escaping the system: one assumes that tying into the middle is done because we're on a single pitch crag and using just one half doubled up. The leader tying into the middle would create a little more faff but not unsolvable given some thought and how likely anyway?

deepsoup - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to blanchie14c:
> how would the larks footing ones self affect your ability to escape the system should you need too?

It'd make it quite tricky I'd imagine, but if you're tying into the middle of a rope to lead you're on a short single pitch climb pretty much by definition, so its quite fairly unlikely to be an issue.
CurlyStevo - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to brt: You can tie a step through version of the figure of eight which looks less prone to slipping out of shape. See double figure of eight loop on google.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

...or ABOK #1085 ;-)
wilkie14c - on 27 Apr 2011
In reply to deepsoup:
Sure, you'd only do it on short stuff anyway where you'd prob not need to escape the system. You'd need a knife with you for an emergency I guess, easier just to tie in with one of the many methods offered I'd say.
Max factor - on 06 May 2011
In reply to chris j:
> (In reply to Max factor)
> [...]
>
> Ummm, if you're tied on to the middle, you pull up one end & you have half the rope to play with for your belay, no need to untie first... & you still have one end at the bottom for your second to tie on to.

but you can only move half the distance of the rope out from the belayer (unless you untie), which isn't going to help you very much if your anchor is > 1/2 the rope length away.
CurlyStevo - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Max factor:
I've used one rope tieing in to both ends many times and never had the problem of running out of rope, as if there was even the remotest chance of this happening I'd have used two ropes in the first place.
jkarran - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

> What do others' think and does anyone else do this?

I do it and it hasn't killed me yet.
jk
John_Hat - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

My main concern would be if as a second you came across a bit of gear which had run across the rope and then got itself totally stuck - i.e the rope ran *behind* the stuck gear - (this ocurred recently in a frankly bizarre set of circumstances - I wasn't leading btw). In this case a cam in a deep crack. The second would then be truly stuck.

With a fig8 doubled or a fig8 screwgated to harness a second rope can be lowered and the second can untie from the first and continue.

Basically there's no easy way of getting out of the larks foot. On the other hand on short single pitch you'd just lower them to the ground.
In reply to Mutl3y:

I often use a clove-hitch to a krab on the belay loop. It looks a bit minimalist but works just fine.


Chris
CurlyStevo - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
there have been serveral accidents over the years using one screw gate as the attachment point of a rope to a harness. I always use two in this instance.
Max factor - on 06 May 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

There are plenty of times I've done 20 to 25m pitches and taken advantage of this, e.g. stanage. Saves the faff of using two ropes. That isn't to say it was a necessity, there are other belays available, but sometimes the quickest one is that boulder *just* out of reach.

At the extreme, I've even belayed someone in Mother Carey's on a doubled over half rope. when they ran out they cooly untied one end and carried on on on a single half if you see what i mean. but then they were rather good.
In reply to CurlyStevo:
>
> there have been serveral accidents over the years using one screw gate as the attachment point of a rope to a harness.

Really? Being old, sensible and easily frightened, I ensure the screwgate is really tight, check it several times before I leave the ground and repeatedly on the route!!


Chris
CurlyStevo - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
This is one of the most popular re-occurring threads on UKC. One of the previous times this came up it was noted on the thread that a single attachment point of a screwgate for the rope to the harness has failed on multiple occasions and isn't recommended. Whether you choose to believe that information is up to you but it seems pretty plausible to me as it's being moved around a lot as you climb and could undo.

I always use two screw gates for this purpose.
CurlyStevo - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Max factor:
Does it really save faff if you end up running out of rope either getting a belay or on route? I'd just rather save myself the hassel and uncoil the other rope.
chris j on 06 May 2011
In reply to Max factor:
> (In reply to chris j)
> [...]
>
> but you can only move half the distance of the rope out from the belayer (unless you untie), which isn't going to help you very much if your anchor is > 1/2 the rope length away.

As CurlyStevo said, I only use a single rope at crags I know well so know roughly how far away the anchors are. Otherwise I'll be on two ropes. 6 and 2 3s really.
In reply to CurlyStevo:
>
> This is one of the most popular re-occurring threads on UKC. One of the previous times this came up it was noted on the thread that a single attachment point of a screwgate for the rope to the harness has failed on multiple occasions and isn't recommended. Whether you choose to believe that information is up to you but it seems pretty plausible to me as it's being moved around a lot as you climb and could undo.
>
> I always use two screw gates for this purpose.

I think this must be like the bowlines that come undone - it has to be down to user error.


Chris
Duncan Campbell - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Mutl3y: I do what I think I was taught as being a 'pig's nose' essentially an overhand on the bight, rethreaded with a stopper knot. I didnt use it for ages after being taught it but I think it's safe anyone disagree?

DC
CurlyStevo - on 06 May 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
Well that is unprovable either way. Do you know what the standard practise for MIA is with regards to this? Is one screwgate biner in this situation considered ok?

I tend to be a bit belts and braces with screw gates that I know I am 100% relying on and I know will move about.
Offwidth - on 07 May 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs: I thought the problems involved the crab rotating as well as the gate getting undone.
Offwidth - on 07 May 2011
In reply to Mutl3y:

This is The Chris Tan Death Knot (do a search here) which I think only has concerns re-escapability in awkward situations or slippage if one rope cuts. I'd still say its safer and obviously neater than using a crab to tie in.

Do not use an Alpine Butterfly. This is designed to take pulls across the knot when the tie in is perpendicular to the tension (eg to tie in the middle person with three on one rope moving 'alpine style').

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