/ Which knot for abseiling?

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phja - on 18 May 2013
Hi,

I am going canyoneering in the summer and want to know the best knot to tie two equal diameter ropes together.

My usual go to knot is the double fishermans but, while great for prussiks is a nightmare on ropes you need to untie.

I've heard the figure of eight is a death trap...but is that the figure of eight tied like an overhand or a figure eight rethreaded?

I was thinking of using a double figure of eight (rethreaded like when tying into harness)backed up by a double fishermans.

I'm a little weary of using a double overhand...seems too "basic" and don't like the ropes pulling in opposite directions from the knot.

What would you use?
Richy boy on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja: figure of 8 on the bight on each rope and connect with a karabiner? Much easier to untie.
highclimber - on 18 May 2013
In reply to Richy boy: overhand knot is perfectly safe. if you are concerned about it tie another one ontop of it but this is largely overkill. The Fig 8 is dangerous in this context.
highclimber - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja: The otherone I've used is the reef knot with the ends tied off with a standard stopper/half fishermans. easy to untie too
Phill Mitch - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja: This topic runs and runs, climbers love it. My preferred knot is a reef knot for ease of getting out after, but always put a fishermans either side of it, it's a bit bulky but safe as houses.
Tamati - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja:

Double Fishermans, but it's hard to untie.
So isolate it inside an alpine butterfly.
LJC - on 18 May 2013
LJC - on 18 May 2013
phja - on 18 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:

Why is the fig 8 dangerous in this context?
Cheese Monkey - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja: Overhand backed up with another overhand with good tails. Takes seconds to tie, very strong and idiot proof [simple]
highclimber - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja:
> (In reply to highclimber)
>
> Why is the fig 8 dangerous in this context?

because it can roll over and over itself and eventually it gets to the end of the rope and... well you can see where it ends, so to speak.
hipyhop - on 18 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to phja)
> [...]
>
> because it can roll over and over itself and eventually it gets to the end of the rope and... well you can see where it ends, so to speak.

With just body weight loads too

richprideaux - on 18 May 2013
In reply to phja:

Overhand with a good amount of tail. Safe, and MUCH less likely to jam when being pulled down over rough ground.
3 Names - on 19 May 2013
In reply to richprideaux:

this
rocky57 - on 19 May 2013
In reply to richprideaux:

Agreed, and leave at least 60cm tails. I use it all of the time. I will add in another overhand knot snug up aginst the first one if I have ropes of different diameters, but that doesn't happen very often.
GridNorth - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja: If you ever have to do multiple abseils or recover a rope jammed at the knot in freezing conditions you will never use a double fishermans again. I thought that it had been pretty universally accepted that the overhand was the way to go. I was reluctant at first but now never use anything else even when the rope is running free.
Pero - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:
>
> I'm a little weary of using a double overhand...seems too "basic" and don't like the ropes pulling in opposite directions from the knot.
>
I climbed with a guide in the Alps a few years ago and he used a single overhand. It's safe. No need to back it up with anything, just leave longish tails, as already mentioned, and make sure the knot is fully tightened.


TRip - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:

Single overhand with tails the length of my forearm. It's a bomber, simple knot that I can tie behind my back, one handed, in the dark, in a storm.

I wouldn't use any other knot to tie my ropes together.

Remember K.I.S.S: Keep it simple stupid.
tetley - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:
I understand your reservations about the O/Hand knot, but it is what most climbers are using these days, including Guides as mentioned above. Key here is that you can't really go wrong with it .... you can with most of the others ...especially re-threaded knots. Think about this if you are tired!
The Lemming - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:
> (In reply to highclimber)
>
> Why is the fig 8 dangerous in this context?


Its called the 'death knot' for good reason.

An overhand knot, which is the simplest of all knots is excellent for joining two ropes as long as you leave about half a meter of tail. The knot may roll but as it rolls along the rope it usually sotpes as it tightens.

A figure of eight tied into the end of two ropes will invert and roll along the rope until it falls off the end. And you fall as the ropes seperate. Some people survive and some don't.

http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/the_ultimate_abseil_knot
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IPPurewater on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja: http://www.gudelius.de/spst.htm

These knots are good too.
Andy Lagan - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:
I know its been said here a lot already, but I always use on equal diametre ropes the Overhand knot, perfectly dressed, with the knot not touching the anchor (Karabiner/Maillion), and tails the length of my forearm, (as already stated above) Not longer in case they wrap around the other length of rope when pulling the abseil.
Safe knot with low bulk. Perfectly safe for Canyoning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-sided_overhand_bend

Reef Knot Double fishermans for un-equal diametre ropes.


The Lemming - on 19 May 2013
In reply to IPPurewater:
> (In reply to phja) http://www.gudelius.de/spst.htm
>
> These knots are good too.


After a tiring day, this looks a little to complicated for my fuddled little brain.
CurlyStevo - on 19 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Richy boy) overhand knot is perfectly safe. if you are concerned about it tie another one ontop of it but this is largely overkill. The Fig 8 is dangerous in this context.

i was abbing of an ice route and the ropes were getting increasing icey with each ab, i was doing the best job i could clearing ice and tieing tidy tight backed up over hand knots. after one ab we noted the lower overhand had rolled one twist in to the upper one! Sure it may have stopped rolling after the first roll but i was pretty glad of the backup!
Richy boy on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja: 2 figure of 8's on the bight connected with a screwgate is safe as houses. I just don't think people are seeing the same image of this as I am? I usually use a double fisherman's but threw the figure of 8 option in there purely as a different example.
GridNorth - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Richy boy: It may be safe but the potential for jamming during recovery is significant.
Richy boy on 19 May 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Completely agree. Not my first choice of knot.
highclimber - on 19 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to highclimber)
> [...]
>
> i was abbing of an ice route and the ropes were getting increasing icey with each ab, i was doing the best job i could clearing ice and tieing tidy tight backed up over hand knots. after one ab we noted the lower overhand had rolled one twist in to the upper one! Sure it may have stopped rolling after the first roll but i was pretty glad of the backup!

The Overhand does roll a little but not like the Fig8 does! The problem with the two overhand knots is that is is bulkier and more likely to snag but for piece of mind on a single abseil you can't do worse.
TRip - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Richy boy:
> (In reply to phja) 2 figure of 8's on the bight connected with a screwgate is safe as houses.

Have you ever done ten plus abseils in a row using this system? It sounds like rope snag central. Also I'd be uneasy about attaching my ropes with a screw-gate, which I see as another link in the system that could fail. A single screwgate is no where near as secure as a solid knot.

I've done a fair whack of abseiling in my time, in the dark, in storms, whilst completely wasted, in the pissing rain and would never use anything other than a single overhand - unless the ropes were of widely different diameters.

I think a lot of the people commenting on this thread a) don't have the expirence to comment and b) are being irrational about the single overhand. It is a brilliant simple knot.



pec on 19 May 2013
In reply to Richy boy:
> (In reply to phja) 2 figure of 8's on the bight connected with a screwgate is safe as houses. I just don't think people are seeing the same image of this as I am? I usually use a double fisherman's but threw the figure of 8 option in there purely as a different example. >

I can't think of any scenario where this knot would be sensible to use. Its slow to tie, bulky, guaranteed to snag, has potential for sideways loading of the krab, more to get wrong (ever forgotten to screw up a screwgate?) and more to go wrong.
The overhand is everything your knot isn't.

Richy boy on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja: As I said before it is not my first choice of knot. I merely said it as a safe example alongside the other knot options. If you don't like it then don't use it. Simple...
TRip - on 19 May 2013
In reply to pec:
> (In reply to Richy boy)
> [...]
>
> I can't think of any scenario where this knot would be sensible to use. Its slow to tie, bulky, guaranteed to snag, has potential for sideways loading of the krab, more to get wrong (ever forgotten to screw up a screwgate?) and more to go wrong.
> The overhand is everything your knot isn't.

Quite!

The only situation I can ever imagine using that set up is doing full length abseils with one single rope and 6mm pullcord. In which case I would be using a triple action screw gate to connect the ropes together.

TRip - on 19 May 2013
In reply to Richy boy:
> (In reply to phja) As I said before it is not my first choice of knot. I merely said it as a safe example alongside the other knot options. If you don't like it then don't use it. Simple...

Except that it isn't safe. Your ropes are connected by something that isn't that secure and could potentially unclip.

Have you ever abseiled with the ropes connected in that way?
highclimber - on 19 May 2013
In reply to TRip:
> (In reply to Richy boy)
> [...]
>

> b) are being irrational about the single overhand. It is a brilliant simple knot.

Exactly. It's a bit like Ockam's Razor really - The simplest option is generally the best of all options!
Richy boy on 19 May 2013
In reply to TRip: ''Your ropes are connected by something that isn't that secure and could potentially unclip.'' ? A screwgate unclipping? Cross load maybe but unclip-no
Richy boy on 19 May 2013
In reply to TRip: ''Have you ever abseiled with the ropes connected in that way?'' No. As I mentioned earlier I use a double fishermans.
John_Hat - on 19 May 2013
In reply to phja:

Religious argument position 1: Double fishermans, with any variety of knot in the middle (my preferred option is reef knot). Chances of knot failure - nil. In repeated tests the rope breaks before the knot.

Religious argument position 2: Double overhand. Argument is that is doesn't tend to get stuck in cracks as much as a double fishermans.

This (rather excessively extensive test) may help.

http://user.xmission.com/~tmoyer/testing/EDK.html

Which basically says that fishermans is bombproof, fig-8 is lethal, and overhand is somewhere in between, but practiaclly is unlikely to give any problems unless badly tied. However if it is badly tied (possible?) then there might be a problem.
pec on 19 May 2013
In reply to John_Hat:


> Which basically says that fishermans is bombproof, fig-8 is lethal, and overhand is somewhere in between, but practiaclly is unlikely to give any problems unless badly tied. However if it is badly tied (possible?) then there might be a problem. >

But its very hard to tie an overhand badly, even in the dark, wet, cold, when tired etc. The overhand is also way easier to undo than a double fisherman's that's been loaded.

John_Hat - on 19 May 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

Oh, incidentaly my view is that knot failure is probably instant death.

Rope getting stuck in crack is annoying as hell but likely sortable by some means. Yes, its possible to come up with a scenario where a rope getting stuck in a crack causes major issues, but its just that - the one in a million.

I stick with double fishermans as I know that it won't fail. I've done more abseils than I can count and its got stuck in a crack once, and it was easily sortable.

The rope getting stuck in a bl**dy tree has happened a lot more times (why do trees have an affinity for falling abseil ropes???), and is a right pain in the neck. That can happen regardless of the knot!
John_Hat - on 19 May 2013
In reply to pec:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
>
> [...]
>
> But its very hard to tie an overhand badly, even in the dark, wet, cold, when tired etc. The overhand is also way easier to undo than a double fisherman's that's been loaded.

Probably true. I've never had a problem untying a double fishermans. To be honest if there's a reef knot in the middle I never have a problem anyway. In any case if you've got a nutkey or a krab with you then you can get ANY knot open regardless of how tight it is.

You're obviously one of the double overhand crew. That's fine. I *really* don't care what other people use or don't use. You're not going to persuade me to use the overhand, that's fine. I'm not going to persuade you to use a DF, that's fine too. Neither would I even try and persuade you to use a DF. We are all grown ups and can decide for ourselves.

have fun, abseil safely:-)
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r0x0r.wolfo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to phja)
>
> Religious argument position 1: Double fishermans, with any variety of knot in the middle (my preferred option is reef knot). Chances of knot failure - nil. In repeated tests the rope breaks before the knot.
>
> Religious argument position 2: Double overhand. Argument is that is doesn't tend to get stuck in cracks as much as a double fishermans.
>
> This (rather excessively extensive test) may help.
>
> http://user.xmission.com/~tmoyer/testing/EDK.html
>
> Which basically says that fishermans is bombproof, fig-8 is lethal, and overhand is somewhere in between, but practiaclly is unlikely to give any problems unless badly tied. However if it is badly tied (possible?) then there might be a problem.

You're being fairly misleading here. First you talk about the double overhand then you post a site with testing pertaining to a single overhand (edk). If I get some figures up for a single fisherman does that make the double fisherman more dangerous? Very odd.

The best knot is probably neither/experience and knowledge of different knots and their properties. Stating "I use X knot and I won't listen to anything else" is deciding to be ignorant. There are tested knots/variants which are flat and have superior breaking strength than the overhand/better profile than the double fishermans. Whatever knots you know, It's wise to use the knot appropriate to the situation. Doublefisherman for wet/icy ropes, double overhand in fair conditions for speed and ease of tying (just one example).

This goes for all things in climbing, if you are comfortable (important) with several methods of doing things you can adapt more easily to a given situation. I don't think religious dogma comes into it. We rationalise our decisions (or at least i do).
AlH - on 20 May 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> The best knot is probably neither/experience and knowledge of different knots and their properties. Stating "I use X knot and I won't listen to anything else" is deciding to be ignorant. There are tested knots/variants which are flat and have superior breaking strength than the overhand/better profile than the double fishermans. Whatever knots you know, It's wise to use the knot appropriate to the situation. Doublefisherman for wet/icy ropes, double overhand in fair conditions for speed and ease of tying (just one example).
>
> This goes for all things in climbing, if you are comfortable (important) with several methods of doing things you can adapt more easily to a given situation. I don't think religious dogma comes into it. We rationalise our decisions (or at least i do).

Who do you think you are coming on here with your balanced opinion? Are you suggesting that there might not be one true holy grail 'best way'? Where would the fun in that be. This is an internet forum after all... home to lovers of dogma and 'best' practise. LOL
needvert on 20 May 2013
EDK for me.

With a name like that and everyone still using it, it's got to be safe.
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
CurlyStevo - on 20 May 2013
In reply to phja:
http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/the_ultimate_abseil_knot

Interesting reply from another climber also having issue with single overhand.

I think the single overhand is probably ok on dry ropes of the same diameter although I usually use the double overhand my self, however if wet or icey I would use a double overhand and if the diameters are quite different a double fishermans.
jkarran - on 20 May 2013
In reply to phja:

> I'm a little weary of using a double overhand...seems too "basic" and don't like the ropes pulling in opposite directions from the knot.
> What would you use?

A long enough rope. Failing that: Overhand.
jk

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