/ NEW ARTICLE: Rock Climbing Basics 1: Tying In

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UKC Articles - on 26 Aug 2013
Fig 8 thumbnail, 4 kbThis is the first in a 12-part series from Climbing Magazine, Wild Country and Red Chili, demonstrating and explaining the basic skills needed to be safe on the crags.

In this episode, Julie Ellison, Climbing Magazine's Gear Editor, talks us through tying on with a figure of eight knot - the standard method required by climbing walls and often thought to be more 'foolproof' than a bowline...


Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5714
SI - profile removed on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: I wonder why the figure of 8 knot is more likely to come undone in the UK? All the rain maybe?
Owdham - on 26 Aug 2013
No Stopper knot ?
jwa - on 26 Aug 2013
Shouldn't episode one have been putting on and correctly fitting a harness, including doubling back buckles where appropriate?

I wouldn't do it but is it really something that "you must never do" to tie in to your belay loop?
Climber_Tim - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to jwa: Absolutely, the belay loop is not designed for this and is not protected against the heat friction created between the rope and the harness.
Neil Williams - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Climber_Tim:

Unless you're German.

Neil
Climber_Tim - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: No Stopper? figure 8 "follow though"? Threading from the bottom? This is clearly not intended for a UK audience. Oh and a belayer outside without a helmet.
martinph78 on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Climber_Tim:
> Threading from the bottom?

I wasn't going to bite but have to know what reason you've got for questioning that.



Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

The lack of a stopper knot is astonishing. Should be standard practice whatever tie in knot you use, in whatever country you climb:) Given there's no stopper, that 6-8 inch end looks horribly short to me.
galpinos - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Climber_Tim)
> [...]
>
> I wasn't going to bite but have to know what reason you've got for questioning that.

So if you only thread one of the leg loops/waistbelt and miss the other, it's the waistbelt that's threaded.
Steve Perry - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Climber_Tim)
> [...]
>
> I wasn't going to bite but have to know what reason you've got for questioning that.

plus 1
Oceanrower - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Climber_Tim:
> (In reply to jwa) Absolutely, the belay loop is not designed for this and is not protected against the heat friction created between the rope and the harness.

Eh? What heat? What friction? I can only assume you're doing it entirely differently from me!

An Alpine style harness is made from exactly the same webbing. Does that mean they're all going to fail?
GridNorth - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
> [...]
>
> So if you only thread one of the leg loops/waistbelt and miss the other, it's the waistbelt that's threaded.

The counter argument is that if you do not complete the knot the rope is more likely to fall away if it is threaded from the bottom. Forgetting to complete the knot has happened to me more often than threading just the leg loops. Bottom up for me although to be honest it's not worth debating.
GrahamD - on 27 Aug 2013

> The lack of a stopper knot is astonishing.

Why is it astonishing ? a stopper knot doesn't add any strength to a FoE
galpinos - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to galpinos)
> [...]
>
> The counter argument is that if you do not complete the knot the rope is more likely to fall away if it is threaded from the bottom. Forgetting to complete the knot has happened to me more often than threading just the leg loops. Bottom up for me although to be honest it's not worth debating.

Agreed, was just explaining the rationale.
planetmarshall on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to GrahamD: No, but it's not necessarily about adding strength. Everything you do in the mountains is about taking risks, understanding those risks and what you can do to mitigate them.

I would imagine the risk of a properly tied F8 with 13cm end coming undone is close to zero. However, if you anticipate a risk that the F8 is not tied properly, then the stopper knot could save your life.
Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

Agreed, nothing to do with strength. It's to stop knot falling apart in the unlikely event of it coming loose; but, more than that, it's a way of tidying up a longer end coming out of the knot. There have been extraordinary cases of knots pulling a fantastic distance in some falls. Anyhow, in 42 years of climbing I don't recall any climbing partner of mine not using a stopper knot.
AlH - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Oh heck here we go again...
Rethreaded Fig. 8 without a stopper knot- correctly tied and well dressed with a reasonable tail is fine to climb on and some people feel its easier for the climber and there partner to see at a glance if the rethreaded fig. 8 is correctly tied. Its also less bulky.
Rethreaded Fig. 8 with a stopper knot- a belt and braces approach with the stopper knot increasing safety if the main knot is mistied and the stopper shows that a sufficient length of tail has been left and serves to tidy the tail away.
Pros and cons add your own then take your pick.
Threading bottom up. In my experience this seems to be the 'natural' way for many to tie in. When you look down its often easier to see the bottom/leg loops and that is what many people automatically reach for.
Threading top down. IF you forget to thread both bits of the harness then arguably its better to have the belt as the only bit threaded as its higher up relative to most people's centre of gravity so if they fall on steep ground there is less chance of them inverting. Many CWAs/SPAs are introduced to this argument and teach top down threading because of it and word has spread.
However anecdotally (and from few non scientific tests I've done) if you forget to rethread your knot beyond the first pass then if you have threaded bottom up there seems to be more friction and even an untied knot may hold a fall. (Have a play with that one at the wall and scare the floorwalkers ;-).
Again add further pros and cons and take your pick.
martinph78 on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to galpinos: Wow, there IS a reason!

Cheers.
Ann65 - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
The stopper-knot may be a hangover from the days when a Bowline was in regular use. It was needed then as the Bowline could and did at times work its way loose.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Ann65:

IIRC, when I used to climb very regularly on climbing walls throughout the UK in the 1990s, they all insisted on climbers using a stopper knot in addition to the figure-of-eight.
Ann65 - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Yes I remember that same same advice even in the 1980s.

A well tied stopper-knot looks good and stays in place but a poorly tied one will come loose. In those situations, even when the stopper-knot has come completly undone, I've never seen the figure of eight loosen up.

If the stopper-knot doesn't add to the mechanical strength of the figure of eight is it really required - though it does look tidy when in place.
useful on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
The counter experience: I've missed the leg loop, but never missed tying the knot. It was slightly uncomfortable as I lowered off, but I didn't die.
I don't know the consequences of threading the leg loop but not the waist.
Not tying the knot, however, could result in death, hence why I check twice.

One more thing: threading from the top is easier in big gloves (gravity assisted) when e.g., ice climbing. So maybe an advanced technique?
useful on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Ann65: A stopper knot also means that you have the recommended minimum length of tail available (10cm or 4in approx). or at least you've tried to get that much!
JuneBob on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
There wasn't much mention of the buddy-check which I feel is by far and away the best way to reduce the chance of any sort of mistake.

not wearing a helmet, stopper knot/no stopper knot, bowline/FoE, etc. All these are debatable.

Not doing a buddy-check is completely and utterly unforgivable.
andrewmcleod - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to useful:
> I don't know the consequences of threading the leg loop but not the waist.

I have done this once or twice - it feels distinctly unpleasant and you tend to fall backwards, so end up hanging onto the rope.

I tie a stopper knot to make sure I don't need it because I would have enough tail :P
winhill - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Climber_Tim:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) No Stopper? figure 8 "follow though"? Threading from the bottom? This is clearly not intended for a UK audience. Oh and a belayer outside without a helmet.

There can be differences in standard practice between the USA and the UK

Using Climbing Magazine's experienced staff and following AMGA guidelines

The method shown here is as recommended in the USA – it is worth noting that in the UK the use of a ‘stopper knot’ is recommended.

There are only 9 sentences of text and 3 (that's one third or 33%) refer to the differences that occur in alternate localities.

This could be quite precisely intended for UK audiences, to challenge the learning and application of highly localised uncritical Best Practice, Rules is Rules rote learning techniques.

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