/ Bowline a safe knot?
I'm only asking because my local wall banned them a while back and I've been getting shtick for using it. It's the only knot I feel comfortable with.
The Bowline is fine. If you are comfortable with it then keep using it, if you have another wall close by then go to that and let the first one know why.
The usual excuse is that wall staff can't recognise a correctly tied Bowline - well train them to do so!
I should add that I've been using a Bowline for over 30 years without a hitch (pun intended).
The biggest potential problem with any tie-in knot is being distracted whilst tying it.
A correctly tied bowline is safe. The problem is that an incorrectly tied one isn't. So always ensure you check and check again.
I use a bowline with a Yosemite finish (back through the main loop and up the rope and tied off with a stopper) and have never had a problem with it. Even better, I've never struggled to undo it even after repeated falls...
A safe knot only with a stopper or if constantly loaded without one. Ie you should never climb without a stopper. A fig8 is safe with or without with enough tail.
I will use bowline for all single pitch climbs but fig 8 for longer routes as the stopper can work loose if left alone.
The problem with Bowlines is that there are several variants with slightly varying degrees of risk attached. Having followed some informative technical articles on this and out of interest questioned a few bowline users it was apparent some of them were clueless (one didnt even realise the stopper knot was vital in the safety of the knot) and were almost using it out of fashion, having started that way. It's not the only area of climbing safety I've come across where some climbers displayed surprising levels of ignorance (FF2 risk onto slings at belays being the most dangerous).
Hence, I'm sympathetic to walls and if I ran one myself, if the climber signing in could explain the various types and issues around each I'd let them have a signed exception but I bet that would cut out more than half the bowline users.
"I'm a way-hip sport climber, not one of those figure-eight-using plebs on a plastic-to-rock course"?
Just tell the local Wall Staff that their experience and knowledge of climbing is woefully inadequate if they are not familiar with a Bowline and its strengths.
And that you seriously doubt their ability to be in such a role of supervision if their basic knowledge of knots is so limited that they only know how to tie a Figure of Eight.
"Hence, I'm sympathetic to walls and if I ran one myself, if the climber signing in could explain the various types and issues around each I'd let them have a signed exception but I bet that would cut out more than half the bowline users."
Why not just ask them to tie the variant they use, check it is safe and then say OK? I use a standard bowline with stopper knot, I don't use any other variants as I don't know them. Why would I need to?
I think what they're worried about is another punter looking at my knot, trying to copy it and getting it wrong, moreover than their ability to look accross the room and tell whether I've tied it correctly. My philosophy to that is, in my opinion, anyone engaging in something as hazadous as rock climbing and who tries to protect themself with a knot that no one has shown them how to tie properly deserves everything that happens to them.
Hy issue is that for over 12 years, I've used nothing else. My dad got me into the sport and showed me how tie in with a bowline. I can tie it with my eyes closed. For the sake of this rule at my local wall that was brought in about a year ago, I've had to learn how to tie a figure-8. A year later, I still get it wrong from time to time and when I decided that I've got it wrong too many times (and i've never got the bowline wrong), I've used a bowline regardless of the stupid rule.
The problem is, it's getting their back up. They've pulled me to one side on a fair few occasions when I've walked in to have a word with me. I's embarrassing, especially when I'm currently introducing a few friends to the spot and they see me getting "told off for using a bowline", I'm sure they think I can't do anything safely because they saw this happen.
Mr. Lemming, you've got it spot on. The staff turnover at the wall recently has been sky high and I'm sure the management are just hireing any little pencil-neck geek to fill the void. I sware I was climbing when one of them was in nappies and he tries to tell me that a bowline is unsafe.
"he tries to tell me that a bowline is unsafe."
It rather annoys me when wall staff say this.
Well-trained wall staff would state the actual reason, or simply state it was their policy to use one knot.
I'm surprised that you get F8s wrong after a year of using them, though. One of their benefits is that it is a very easy knot to tie, and a very easy knot to check. And it will still hold you when surprisingly little of it is tied (precisely how much depending on the rope).
I use a rethreaded bowline as my standard sport climbing knot, and if the staff at a wall told me they weren't happy with that then I would use a figure 8 at that wall. I don't understand why some people seem to want to fight religious wars over such a trivial issue.
The obvious problem for walls is that there is a confusing plethora of bowline variants and it wouldn't be reasonable to expect staff to be able to recognise and evaluate all of them.
I don't see the point in fighting religious wars about it, but I don't like people implying I'm acting dangerously when I'm not.
All I ask is that a wall is honest about its reasoning (or simply says "it's just policy, not for discussion") and does not cast aspersions at the safety of those using it.
"I'm surprised that you get F8s wrong after a year of using them"
I only climb at the wall for a few hours on a friday night during the months with an "r" in them, once in a while, I'll get the knot wrong but I NEVER get the bowline wrong (in fact, I can tie it with my eyes closed) so which one is safer for me to use and which do you think I'm going to be most comfortable using?!
"I don't like people implying I'm acting dangerously when I'm not"
This is a major gripe I have with the staff/management. I'm currently introducing 2 friends into climbing, they said they wanted some experience at the wall first as, to them, it seems a safer place to learn the essentials. I've done my best to convice them that I'm very experienced, that I know what I'm doing and that they can't come to harm. They see a member of staff (an official authority on climbing as far as they're conserned)pull me to one side to have a firm word with me regarding the safety of my choice of knot and suddenly they question my abbilities to keep them out of harm. If I can't tie a knot safely, what else can't I do safely?
In the end, though, you have to follow their rules. As you know them, you could have avoided the embarrassment by using a F8 with the novices present?
This is like Groundhog Day.
Seriously? Read at least
and get back to us...
The walls I frequent ask something similar to "Can you tie in with a recognised knot?" If the wall staff then complain about the Bowline then they are in the wrong as the Bowline is a recognised tie-in knot! The fact that they can't recognise it is neither here nor there - they aren't tying it, I am. It is up to the wall staff to improve, not for me to drop to their level.
This comes up all the time. This knot is completely safe if tied properly. Your local wall are idiots acting against BMC advice.
The wall may have a policy of only fig 8 mainly because it's simpler if everyone does the same thing, easier to check (although it's also true that the bowline is somewhat less forgiving of being sloppily tied, and additionally, in its normal configuration, relies crucially on a properly dressed stopper knot for security).
Whatever the reasons and in what proportion, it's a perfectly reasonable stipulation which they are perfectly within their rights to make. The rethreaded fig 8 is a secure and easy to tie knot, and it's easy to see if it's been tied wrongly - if you want everyone tying in in the same way at your wall, it's a good choice of knot.
There's no good reason for not "feeling comfortable" with the fig 8, except complete lack of familiarity with it. Use it for a while and pretty soon it will become "comfortable". Changing walls seems like an unnecessarily drastic solution - it's not as if you're being asked to do something particularly complicated or difficult.
While I agree with you that it is a little silly to pull you to one side regarding a perfectly good knot I would suggest you teach novices the figure of eight. Simple reason being is that lots of people really struggle with knots for some reason and a figure of eight will be safer because it is obvious if it is right. While the bowline generally falls apart if you don't do a proper job of it there is the potential for a botched unsafe knot which is very difficult with the figure of eight. Because of this I always teach novices the figure of and use it myself on those occasions whereas for the vast majority of climbing I will use a bowline with a Yosemite finish when I climb with my competent friends.
Having worked a fair bit in walls I can totally see their point.
As wall staff you'd much rather just have everyone tying F8s,
-you can spot an incorrect F8 from the other side of the room, whereas I think I'd need to get pretty close and have a good look to identify the bowline variant, and confirm it's safe.
-you can make pretty significant mistakes tying a F8 and still have it work relatively well, whereas any mistakes with a bowline and it won't even work a little bit (apart from maybe with a yosemite finish and stopper)
wall staff get alot of stick on here, but remember that they can't watch you all the time - they have to assume that you'll be safe when theyre not looking based on what they've seen.
They can't judge your skill or experience, how do they know that you know what you're doing?
They cant judge how tired/stressed/distracted you are that day - I would definitely say it's easier to get a F8 right (and check it's right) when my minds elsewhere
climbing personally, I use bowlines regularly, I know how they work, and I can recognise a safe one. -but if a wall asked me not to, I would happily just use a F8.
It's a complicated relationship you have with your wall, and they do have a responsibility to look after you.
separate from this point - If you know the rule is F8s only, you can't get embarrassed when you're told off for ignoring that.
A bowline is fine, as long as you can tie one. And recognise a properly tied one. Many can't.
Hang on, all the climbing walls I've signed up for in the past, I'm sure I've signed something that states I'm competent in all aspects of safety, leading etc.
So, I definitely don't need some officious squirt telling me I'm using the wrong knot.
Being 'Working Class', he'd be bluntly told to F*ck Off!
Well if the rules say f8, and you don't bother, then furthermore tell the staff to F off, you'd be ejected. And rightly so.
I'd give you a boot up the arse no problem Lusky old son.
I agree with you. Whilst the bowline can be made perfectly safe, the F8 has really become the universal standard for tying into climbing ropes, for the reason you cite. I can't think of any manufacturers of harnesses or belay devices who advocate the bowline for tying in, but I could be wrong. The only relative "disadvantage" of the F8 for tying in, is that it is a bit more difficult to undo, particularly after it has been loaded - but the reason for this is the F8 has internal friction to hold itself together and is therefor the more secure knot.
(I used to tie in with a bowline when top roping without a harness, simply because there is a "trick" way of tying it very fast, not because that has any real safety merit.)
Pulling me up on my choice of knot, that I've safely used since the late 70s, would render the disclaimer I've originally signed, worthless.
I'd quite happily leave and never return. Their loss of income.
I doubt they'd be bothered.
They loose the income and no claims bonus either way , better to hoof him out now, saves them money in the long run ;)
Well, fill yer boots pal, let people who haven't got a clue what they're talking about, tell you what to do!
And I thought you were a bit of a free spirit.
I am not sure I agree, I have done a fair bit of working in walls too.
I am happy for people to tie in with what they feel comfortable with aslong as it is safe. If I am unsure about the knot I would go and talk to them, might even learn something in the process. If I don't think it is safe after talking to them I would ask them to change to something different and explain why.
Wall staff are not there to inspect every single person, and you know you can get a general idea on how safe a pair of climbers are going to be just from the way they act before they even get off the ground. If they look unsure and are fumbling their knot (no matter what knot it is) go and talk to them, that way you can check it up close at the same time. No point trying to check peoples knots when they are half way up the wall, chances of you spotting anything are slim to none.
are there any stats
if 100,000 bods tie in with bowline and a similar number tie in with F8 what would the failure rate be for each knot be
In the (fortunately very few) incidents at climbing walls it seems that the train of thought goes:
"There's no knot in the end of the rope"
"The knot must have come undone"
"Bowlines can come undone"
"Bowlines are dangerous"
The problem is that the first of these makes an assumption: that there was a knot there in the first place.
It's not the knot that is safe or unsafe, it's the individual. Blaming any accident or potential accident on the knot is missing the point, the weakest link in any system is invariably human. You can put all the safeguards in that you want but people will still find ways round them, intentionally or otherwise.
As I and others have said on this thread, I haven't been to a wall that asks "Can you tie in with a fo8?", the question is always "Can you tie in with a suitable knot?"
As for spotting incorrectly tied knots - you have to be pretty close to do so, not the other side of the room. The Bowline is actually fault resistant, you can't tie it incorrectly, it's an all or nothing knot. Make a mistake and give it a tug and whatever you thought you made falls apart.
To Steeve: Your mind shouldn't be elsewhere. You are setting up a safety system, if you get distracted then you should start again regardless of what knot you use.
'It's not the knot that is safe or unsafe, it's the individual'
agree its the 'system' that is either safe or less safe when used by thousands of individuals
the 'system' could be said to include
i don't think the climnbing wall is looking at individual knots, they are trying to evaluate the 'system' in terms of risk
True, and perhaps more usefully, it's very quick and easy to tie round somebody else.
I wonder if the Fo8 became the default knot by accident - many Outdoor Centres used waist-belts and tied in with a Fo8 and a krab. This may have got carried over when harnesses became universal.
The concern of staff, and perhaps more importantly their insures is genuine. The fatality at the Stockport wall around 18 months ago was an experienced climber, who accidentally tied a bowline incorrectly, I think. If u were their insurers, it would make sense to insist on a tied figure of 8. Of course there remains a potential issue wit training of wall staff too.
About a year ago the very famouse John Long (stonemaster) who has written several books on how to climb .Decked from a climbing wall and was seriously injured with a compound fracture of leg and ankle. His BOWLINE came undone...enough said?
Quite. I've been trying to make this point for years. The Fo8 tied IN a bight and clipped to a krab is a very simple tie-on. Get it wrong and you've either got an overhand or a "figure-of-twelve" - both safe. The re-thread on the other hand is actually quite complicated. It's just that people have got used to it.
Did it come undone or was it ever tied? How could you tell?
An interesting article on the subject: -
"A lot of people are down on the bowline, but the same thing would have happened with a trace-8. I just wasn't paying attention."
There, corrected that for you.
The insurerers will start to think that wall users who use the bowline are particularly prone to making mistakes or that they make the same number of mistakes but those mistakes are less likely to be spotted and the bowline is less fault tolerant.
John is right that its unfair to attack the bowline as much as some did but he also will know its not strictly true the same thing would certainly have happened with a Fig 8, as the friction is higher in a retraced unfinished Fig 8 and it may have held. The bowline is a safe knot but it's less bomb proof (particularly if distracted) and its less easy to check by wall staff or a climbing partner who hasn't watched the knot get tied (Moff and I still buddy check...dont others?) and of course wall policy is up to the wall, irrespective of macho posturing on a website.
There have been serious accidents at indoor walls involving bowlines, and there have been serious accidents at indoor walls involving fig-8s. They both happen approximately 0.00000% of the time, fortunately not often enough to say with any kind of statistical certainly that one is more dangerous than the other.
Experienced climbers who mis-tie their own knot, fall and hurt themselves can not sue the wall successfully for compo unless they (the wall) were negligent in some way. Why do the insurers care about accidents that won't be leading to a claim on the insurance?
The wall having it's own policy defining something normal as "bad practice" and having semi-qualified floor-walkers stepping in to micro-manage how experienced climbers tie in makes the possibility of a claim in the aftermath of an accident more likely, not less.
If the insurers were going to ban anything on the grounds they "cause accidents" it would be autobelays. It's easier to clip a carabiner to your harness than tie any kind of knot, and easier to check at a glance that someone has done so than that they've tied in correctly. Yet accidents involving climbers failing to attach themselves to autobelays are *much* more common than those involving a rope and a partner.
Why? No buddy check. If the management of a climbing wall seriously wanted to reduce the possibility of this kind of accident they wouldn't have their floor walkers looking at people's knots, they'd have them looking at people's partners to see if they were looking their partners' knots (and encouraging them, tactfully, to get into the habit of doing a buddy check every time they tie in).
Actually, if insurers were going to ban any kind of indoor climbing as unjustifiably dangerous, they'd be more likely to start with bouldering. *Much* more dangerous than climbing routes indoors.
Can't believe I'm commenting on yet another bowline thread - what a mug.
Bowline fatalities: 2
Fig 8 fatalities: 0
I estimate (GUESS!) more than 90% of wall users use fig 8 so fig 8 fatalities should far exceed bowline fatalities.
If the knots are equally safe you'd expect perhaps twenty fig 8 fatalities compared to the two bowline fatalities.
Either it is an implausible statistical glitch that no fig 8 users have been making mistakes or the death rate for bowlines is genuinely higher.
I think the level of implausibility could be properly quantified with Baysian statistics or using a Poisson distribution calculation for the occurence of independent events.
> There, corrected that for you.
Thanks I just read somewhere Long's bowline came untied. Still I think more problems can evolve by someone who may tie in with a simple bowline.Even a tightened unbacked up bowline can be shaken out until it becomes untied,not so a Fo8.It is of course a useful knot to use in other circumstances.
> Bowline fatalities: 2
> Fig 8 fatalities: 0
Are you sure about "fig-8 fatalities: 0" ?
I'm not certain, but I think that might not be the case. I could be mistaken, but do seem to remember hearing about one fatality.
Since you cite that Rockfax article as your source:
"The Fo8 does however have one flaw which has made it responsible for a number of very serious accidents over the years both indoors and outdoors."
So, at the very least, "Fig 8 very serious accidents > 1"
Or fig-8 users have been making mistakes, but it's the relatively recent tragedy that we're more aware of. Or perhaps bowline users are older and fatter than fig-8 users on average, and therefore slightly more likely to die if they deck out. (As opposed to merely have a "very serious accident", which would quite likely go unreported in the media.)
Over my head. But it seems to me that the sample size of "people who have been killed in accidents at climbing walls (and whose accidents have been reported in the media)" is so small that you're on very dodgy ground drawing statistical conclusions from it.
At the very least, if you want to get scientific about it, I think you'd need to widen that sample to "people who've decked out following the failure of their tie-in knot".
Ok, that's unrealistic - make it "people to whom an ambulance has been called following an accident involving the failure of a tie-in knot". If someone could gather that data and do the baysian poisson thingamabob of which you speak, then I might grudingly be willing to concede they can tell me that my choice of tie-in knot is "unsafe".
Hence estimate twenty fig 8 fatalities for two bowline fatalties.
I will assume the BMC are competent so they don't miss fig 8 accidents more than they miss bowline accidents. 20
Using this calculator
Enter 1 (the random result) and 20 (the average result).
The probability that randomly we get zero fig 8 fatalities (less than 1) when the expected average is 20 is 2e-9.
This suggests that the odds are 500,000,000 to 1 against that the bowline and fig 8 being equally safe. That is possible but implausibly unlikely.
There may be a better statistical approach but even if I am a factor of one million out then the fig 8 has 500 fewer fatalities than the bowline.
Ignore last sentence of my last post, to get that conclusion requires more advanced stats.
The earlier 500,000,000 to 1 result that bowline and fig 8 are not equally safe is not exact but it is a pretty solid indication.
Ah, the old 'tie a bowline with one hand trick'! My Dad taught me that 50 years ago, and I'm still confident that if I *was* to be stuck on a cliff hanging on with one hand and someone dropped a top rope, I could still tie myself on one handed! Bet they don't teach that on climbing courses nowadays... or do they?
I don't trust statistics. According to statistics I am more likely to be killed in a motoring accident than a climbing accident and that would appear to be borne out when you also consider the number of people motoring compared to the number climbing but I have personally known over 20 people who have been killed climbing but I do not know a single person who has been killed in a motoring incident. That seems like more than a statistical anomaly.
I have worked in climbing walls for years and taught hundreds of beginners how to climb. I discuss the pros and cons of different knots regularly and most especially on Lead climbing courses.
I use a fig 8 most of the time but when working/rushing use a bowline (I know several types all of which are safe when tied correctly). Several of my mates climb on a bowline and when i am with them i might too.
One of the main ways we keep people safe, is to teach, enforce and insist on a 'buddy check', the BMC agrees it works and I don't know a single climber, diver or paratrooper who thinks a 'buddy check' is a bad idea. A buddy check is designed to keep you alive an safe because:
If we assume everyone, including instructors and experienced climbers will make a mistake one time in every 10.000 cos we are all human. one time in 10,000 we might deck or die!
If though, we have two people checking everything, the chances of them both making a one in 10,000 mistake at the same time (climber ties it wrong and belayer fails to check it correctly) are about a trillion to one (I am obviously not a mathematician)
So a buddy check hugely reduces the chances of an incorrectly tied knot.
Given that this thread has decided (and I think in the wall I work in now the percentage is lower) only 20% of people can tie a bowline, thus only 20% of people are able to check a bowline. If you change partner, there is an 80% chance your new partner will be unable to check your knot and your survival rate drops to one in 10,000 (unless you are perfect and do not make mistakes)
I have proven this theory dozens of times when discussing bowlines. At least 80% of customers/students climbing with a bowline user (when asked) could neither tie or check a bowline but every single person without exception was able to tie and inspect a fig 8 correctly.
For this reason alone, I would argue that we should teach beginners the fig 8 and encourage its use generally. I would then teach bowlines as part of a developmental course, discussing it's wider uses and pros/cons.
Its also well known that an incorrectly tied bowline may fail catastrophiclly but you can pretty much retie a fig 8 as incorrectly as you like and it will still hold a fall. After extensive testing we have proven that even if you only put the rope through the first bit of the 8 and do not re-thread at all, it generally still works in a fall and strangles the rope to arrest the fall (don't try this at home without a safety rope).
A fig 8 is never too hard to untie if you can tie it properly with no twists or folds in the re-threading process (most good instructors can do this) and because it is neat it is easier to inspect quickly.
I am a competent bowline user but have to look quite carefully at a bowline to ensure it is safe during a buddy check, a neat fig 8 takes only a quick glance to verify its safety.
Walls are there for your pleasure and to make a profit but want to keep you safe and climbing popular. Not everyone is as clever as some of you guys (work in a wall for a while and meet every type of idiot and half wit) and it is difficult for an instructor/floor walker to know which is which. It is not always easy to allow them time to prove they are competent and takes a lot of time/tact to convince an experienced climber that they have been doing something in a less than perfect manner for years (I have always done it like this and he's not dead yet is common) but trying to explain that all the lemons have to line up at the same time to prove something is unsafe is not always easy.
A fig 8 is quicker to check,
Pretty much everyone is capable of checking it,
It is less likely to fail if tied incorrectly and they can always be untied if re-threaded correctly. i would guess these are the reasons some walls have started insist on their use.
Most walls are still happy to allow any safe knot and employ climbers who know several types of knot.
If you are unwilling to make simple changes (fig 8 instead of bowline) to make life safer and easier for climbing in general, then do not go to the wall that ask you to use a fig 8. If you are unable to tie a fig 8, then ask the wall staff to help you. They are usually friendly people doing a job they like and are keen to help. The woefully inadequate staff get paid a low wage because it is a nice job and do not need obnoxious, arrogant, 'good' climbers being difficult and insulting them because they do not know every single type of knot and can not check them all as easily as they can a fig 8.
Be nice, teach the instructor your fancy bowline, tell him of its pros/cons then use a fig 8 to make life easy for him. It probably was not his decision.
Can't believe how upset people get over this bowline vs f8 nonsense. I learned 30 years ago to tie a bowline, and yes I too can tie it one-handed, blind-folded, behind my back, underwater, etc. etc. The obvious question is, 'why would I want to?'. I now use a f8 to tie in, a) because it's not a difficult knot to learn and any climber should be able to tie it easily, and b) I want to teach other people how to tie in safely and easily and be able to recognise immediately if their mate has also tied in correctly.
Really, when it comes down to it, it's just a knot that you choose to tie to connect yourself to a safety system. Out on a crag, it's entirely up to you to decide which you want to use, at an indoor wall it's their facility that you're using, and you should abide by their wishes, whether you agree with it or not.
While we're on the subject of abuse of wall staff,
at one wall I worked at we gave new members a piece of rope, and asked them to show us the knot they'd tie in with;
On one occassion I presented a customer with the rope, he quickly tied an alpine butterfly, and chucked the rope onto the counter with a smug "I bet you don't even know what that's called"
Unfortunately I was too taken aback by his dickishness to come up with
"I do, and it's an inappropriate knot to tie into a top rope with" or a version of that with more expletives.
I feel like a couple of the posters in this thread could be that guy....
It's worth remembering a number of things about wall staff:
-how bady paid they are, in general, and also considering the responsibilities they take on.
-almost all of them are only there because they love the sport
-they spend huge amounts of time at climbing walls, and lots of them are very strong
-as a result of the previous two points; lots of them are likely to be better, more experienced, more passionate, more dedicated, stronger climbers than you, so consider how high your horse will be before you get on it.
Knots don't come undone.
Both Fig 8 and stoppered bowline are bombproof knots.
Accidents happen when people get distracted and don't finish tying in.
Neither knot needs to be perfect to be overwhelmingly likely to hold and a stopper knot itself would almost certainly be enough regardless of how badly the rest of the knot has been messed up.
The issue isn't which knot people use (as they don't come undone); it's about finishing tying in.
Buddy checking is to be encouraged but you don't need to know how to tie a knot to see when there's no stopper.
Insisting on one knot over another I believe is missing the point. I think if walls wanted to make a difference by checking knots they should instead be insisting on a stopper, regardless of the knot type, as this is a very reliable indicator that tying in wasn't interrupted and unfinished.
And yes I'm fully aware that a fig 8 doesn't need a stopper but a half-tied 8 would very easily be spotted if it wasn't stoppered.
Thank you John for some common sense on this thread.
Knots do come undone, especially stopper knots when squirming up clefts and the like. The risks are very low but higher for a bowline. Wobblydave is an occasional bowline user and yet explains carefully some comparative issues that I always found compelling: a fig 8 sometimes holds even if only the first part of the rethread is complete; Fig 8s are real easy to buddy check; proper buddy checks on stoppered bowlines are not so easy for those who use bowlines and impossible for most climbers.
When dealing with climbers outdoors both knots are fine (especially as much larger differences in risk exist between the games we play) yet indoors Fig8s make life much easier for managing wall safety.
Are you really trying to claim that in an indoor environment it isn't trivially easy to check whether someone has or hasn't tied a stopper knot? Or that both stopper and bowline could both magically undo themselves within a few minutes? Or that if a stopper is added to any wrongly-tied other knot it isn't virtually guaranteed to hold?
If not then why persist the myth that anything other than the hardest knot to untie after a fall should be acceptable? Yes there are drawbacks to the fig. 8 and even if you personally don't experience them or aren't bothered by them that doesn't mean you should be helping make life hard for people who do.
In terms of your statistical analysis, you should probably be considering number of falls taken, rather than number of users. People tend to use a bowline as it is easier to untie after taking a fall. It wouldn't surprise me if the reason there are more bowline accidents is that there are more falls on bowlines than figure of 8s - not really concluding anything about the safety of either knot.
Having worked at a wall, most people that sign the form to say they are competent actually are, but there are a many people who turn up and climb who should not be allowed to. Wall staff can't take the position of "they are responsible for themselves" or a lot more accidents might happen.
Personally I use a bowline for single pitch sport, and F8 for trad/mountain/ice/etc, and don't think a hard and fast rule of one knot is the right way to go about things.
Having worked at one of the busiest walls in the country I know where you are coming from.
I worked this bank holiday weekend a few years ago, the scale of the carnage seen was unbelievable. There were keen newbies trying to learn to lead climb without any instruction other than a book (which they hadn't read properly from the looks of things), there were scores of people who hadn't been for years and were blatantly dangerous and the level of numptyness on average was truly staggering. The poor duty manager called his rounds for suicide watch
When it is like this, do you expect the wall staff to be completely understanding and friendly
But all climbers take a 'fall' ie they all lower off
I'm claiming its much easier to check you have a correct complete knot with stopper if using a Fig 8 and also that most indoor climbers could not safely buddy check a bowline. Bowline users who know their stuff and are climbing as a pair are not going to have an issue but I've seen plenty of bowline users climb with others where the buddy check is negated through ignorance; also, I'm sure I can't be the only one who has spotted knot problems as a third party and this has always only been incorrectly tied fig8s.
Walls set their rules and people who don't like them can always go elsewhere and there are good reasons for them to prefer fig 8s. I know fig 8s are harder to undo after a fall but even there the level is often exaggerated and if that was the key issue why isn't everyone using bowlines also using the yosemite finish. Sadly bowline use occasionally smacks of fashion or elitist nonsense (like some climbers not wearing helmets in situations when they almost certainly should). I've also never met a bowline user who couldnt tie a safe Fig8 if they had to.
Jeez Offwidth, you've hit an all time low with that one.
Why? Being an experienced, climber bowline use is really common amongst my pals and they are not like this but some climbers I meet are because they seem clueless about the knot they used yet pretty arrogant about its utility. I'd add pretty much everyone I know does lazy and sometimes even stupid shit at times so we need systems when we deal with commercial liability. Next time you are indoors observe the following: how few climbers buddy check properly, how many don't pay proper attention to their leader; how many belay too far out from the wall; how many stand in the fall line of another climber. Is it any wonder walls feel they need to 'nanny' us.
I don't think I've ever been called either fashionable or elitist before so to get both at once is a bit of a shock. But I'm sure you meant hypothetical climbers a bit like me rather than actually me so that's alright.
Your reply though, in its apparent haste to make life just a little bit harder for many climbers other than yourself, fails to comment on my (rather good I thought) suggestion that, rather than walls trying to change climbers' perfectly reasonable preferences for one knot or another, instead could achieve the exact same safety target (or better) simply by asking all wall users to add a stopper to their knot.
You must be a sensitive mood today taking ' occasionally' and attaching that to yourself in contradiction to pretty much everything else I said.
If pretty much everything else you said didn't completely ignore everything in the post you were replying to I'd probably be inclined to agree.
As many Americans would no doubt say at a time like this, "whatever..."
Yup John, arguing against religious fervour is pointless. Is not as if your opinion is backed up by any real climbing experience indoors or out is it ;-)
Absolutely! Wish I'd thought of that...
Because most climbers are less familiar with bowline than with fig 8.
Do you have an alternative theory explaining why indoor fatalities are bowline related?
Well that isn't really a logical reason is it?
Alternate theory to what?
I use a bowline on a bight as it goes through the harness twice and seems more secure. I have had my stopper knot come undone whilst dogging a route before and it made me a bit nervous about using a normal bowline. Does anyone else use this knot or just me?
ps: I don't actually tie it on a bight, I just follow it back through like you would with a figure of eight, both loops through both harness loops. I also put in a stopper knot.
About 500 000 Germans, for a start!
It's not how well the person tieing the knot can check the knot, it's about how well the person doing the buddy check can. That person is probably less familiar with the bowline.
Alternative to buddy checks failing or lack of faulty tolerance meaning a miss-tied fig 8 more likely to hold than a miss-tied bowline.
Do you have a theory (alternative or otherwise) why uk indoor fatalities are bowline related?
This is the key point. If you are trying to run a wall with hundreds of people climbing in a day and every one of those customers is lowering off /falling off maybe 5 or 10 times in their session and you want to make sure that fatal/serious accidents are a once-every several years occurrence you need a near zero probability that someone will fall as a result of tying in going wrong.
Did I miss the post where this was established? The only referenced article I spotted upthread was the Rockfax one, which concluded thus:
"both knots have been implicated in serious accidents. It would be possible to do some in-depth research to find out which one has the worse record based on wall accident stats and considering every long drop as a potential fatality. The bottom line is though that all this research would probably show is that neither the bowline nor the Fo8 are totally reliable if not properly tied – not really a very startling conclusion!"
Could it be that this 'fact' is based upon a sample size of 2 fatalities out of probably dozens if not hundreds of occasions when climbers have mistied knots and got away with it due to noticing in time or being lucky with sprung-floor landings? If there's a problem that needs fixing I think we should establish that first before pretending we can fix it by telling climbers what to do with their own ropes.
See my post of 21:21 Sat, you can see and you can critique my maths.
I'm no stats expert but I reckon Poisson calculation for discrete unrelated events is appropriate.
>The only referenced article I spotted upthread was the Rockfax one, which concluded thus:
My calculation of 21:21 Sat indicate that the bowline fatalities might be just luck but the odds against that are five hundred million to 1.
Even if you try the Poisson calculator with an unrealistic assumption such as equal numbers of indoor bowline & fig 8 users the odds of the BMC recording get two bowline fatalities and zero fig 8 fatalities is 8 to 1.
I really don't think it can be put down to luck as the odds are against it.
Can you think of a reason why falling off a miss-tied fig 8 is more survivable or less reported by BMC/coroners/walls/UKC/local press than falling off a miss-tied bowline?
Chris, to be fair to the wall staff, it is harder to check a bowline compared to a fig 8 due to the number of bowlines there are in regular use. I use a re-threaded bowline, friends use a simple bowline, others at the wall use a French bowline, others a double bowline.
Wall staff aren't always knowledgable about such knots. Maybe they should be. But then maybe they should be paid more to.
No, but I can think of reasons why the two reported incidents may not have been a random sample. Such as if they were at older walls with concrete flooring and an older user profile. Such as if bowline users in general are older and less likely to survive a severe impact?
That's just off the top of my head - I wouldn't be surprised if there were some far more relevant confounding factors too hat haven't immediately come to mind.
The point is that unless you study the incidence of actual tie-in failure (rather than subsequent fatality) you're not easily going to be able to say very much with any certainty about tie-in failures.
good point, it's worth observing that the relative demographics of the users of the two knots in the UK may be more significant than the knots themselves.
Yeah whatever, as I cant see any of these things in the post I suposedly ignored and I can fully accept most people use a bowline safely (and why). Incidently, other knots exist which would be safe and harder to undo like a simple re-threaded hitch with a stopper. I never adapted to use a bowline as I dont sports climb much and I dealt with probably thousands of beginners over 15 or so years, nearly all introduced to climbing indoors in a Uni club with very much a trad focus, one of the minority that ran big scottish winter trips annually and encouraged interest in moving on to the alps or the greater ranges. It was just easier to teach a knot I used myself, easier to get beginners to check. Also I've never had a serious problem undoing a fig8 despite being overweight and taking some biggish trad falls ( you bend it back and forth across the plane of the knot a few times and it loosens nicely). Like much of climbing we choose systems to suit needs and adapting one known well can be better at times than a slightly more suited but new solution as inexperience can lead to mistakes. Anyway even a man of your experience can learn: ask people using a fig8 at the wall next time if they could recognise the knot you use is safe (to avoid cheating tell them it is a bowline and tie it wrong on purpose); the answers might surprise you (including some who will assume it must be right just because of who you are).
Very likely zero assuming both groups knew how to safely tie their respective knots and they only had to tie/test them once.
Not a random sample but very probably a total sample.
I doubt walls/BMC/local press/coroners are hiding fatalities.
Doubt the majority of wall users use a bowline but a lot of people do for sure. Even worse I´ve never even seen a floor walker here in Germany or anyone checking and nobody I knows does buddy checks either.
Perhaps we just make damn sure we can tie our own knots instead of relying on someone elses dubious skills and knowledge.
There was a good write-up a few years ago on one of the US sites by a guy who learnt the hard way, the group of four all thought someone else had done his buddy check and the knot (8) failed, I´ll bet he´s a bit more rigorous about his own checks nowadays!
Sweeping them under the carpet, as it were?
Fair point, but a total sample of the wrong data set!
Back to Largo then...who has more experience on knots and he admitted inattention? Lyn Hill famously also fell because of a knot error. Maybe its best we rely on our own experience and buddy check as a back up and listen to those third parties who ask if things are Ok. The yosemite death and serious accident survey tells us experienced climbers make stupid mistakes mainly when doing stuff they regard as mundane or easy.
>....... Such as if bowline users in general are older and less likely to survive a severe impact?
John, I think you just called me old AND decrepit in the same breadth.
I'm on my way to Chez Arran with my boxing gloves right now.
Lyn Hill famously also fell because of a knot error.
What knot was she using/not using?
Clearly she wasn't using a bowline or fig 8, or indeed any other knot.
Clearly she wasn't using a bowline or fig 8, or indeed any other knot.
Not quite true.
If she was using a bowline without a stopper, she would still have been using a bowline.
If she tied a figure of 8 and forgot to re-thread it, then she would have still tied a figure of 8.
Seems to be the best dataset for uk wall fatalities.
I have used the buddy check system for a few years now and quite like it. Last month in Kalymnos, I introduced an 'old' trad climber to sport climbing and the buddy system. He appeared to get on fine, so on one occasion I didn't thread the rope through the belay plate when he set off to lead. He looked, 'saw' that everything was OK and set off. That taught him to REALLY do a check!
I have done the same but I hate the thought of this being a formal process. I glance at my mates crotch and I'm sure he does the same to me but we tell each other it's just a buddy check. :-)
'very likely zero' is different from zero
'assuming both groups knew how to safely tie their respective knots'
this assumption is known to breakdown when large number of people are involved
what we're trying to find out, ignoring the less inspirational stuff, is - is the use of one particular knot safer than another - there has been loads of interesting stuff, the historical evidence from rockfax (that seemed a bit ambigious), demographics and stoppers from john A and a boatload of anecdotal stuff
for me however 'Elsewhere's' maths, backing the Fo8 is the most convincing in the absence of more data
All the climbers I've seen deck from high up indoors (easily more than 10 now and a few from the top) were due to belayer inattention or bad belaying. All the knots I've ever seen incorrectly tied indoors have been fig8s.
Irrespective of those fatality stats the real indoor risk is inattention and inexperience, not knots. Lots of things in climbing are technically safer but irrelevant to the real risks involved, for example using locking crabs on all belay gear.
Body belays are very high risk compared to normal methods but I still use them occasionally to stay practiced, partly as Ive had to typically a couple of times a year when I get to a belay where there is no gear or nothing I have fits or where the belay needs protecting (mainly winter).
Offwidth, you really need to pay attention or you'll run out of climbing partners!
I seem to remember reading that she was distracted and failed to rethread her figure of eight
Really?? I've never seen a deck-out indoors from any significant height.
As a lifelong bowline user myself (except when forced to use a fig 8 during competitions) I'll save you the trouble and just punch myself for insulting myself.
There are no "fatality stats", so far the only thing that's actually been cited in this thread is one old Rockfax news article.
I have seen one (my own), and know of atleast 2 others. One resulted a in a broken back (thankfully for me, not mine!). All down to belayer error.
There are recorded fatality events which become statistical estimates when you apply some maths.
Hence analyse as a unique combination of two events rather a fluctuating Poisson distribution of events.
Assume bowline users are 10% of indoor climbers and 90% of indoor climbers use fig 8.
Assume that bowline and fig 8 are equally safe.
There's a 90% chance that the first fatality is a fig 8 user and
there's a 90% chance that the second fatality is a fig 8 user.
The probability that both fatalities are fig 8 users is 81% (90% of 90%).
The probability that the fatalities are one fig 8 user and one bowline user is 18%.
Hence the probability that the two fatalities are both bowline users is 1% (10% of 10%).
Hence it is highly unlikely (1% probability) that both climbers would be bowline users if both knots are equally safe.
Yes. One only missed me by inches at The Beacon. Most were in Nottm at my Uni wall or NCC and none in the last five years since I've stopped climbing when lots of beginners were about.
I'd agree stats is giving the numbers and analysis more credit than they perhaps deserve but it was others who used the words I replied to.
There's nothing remotely like data cited in this thread so far.
It doesn't matter what analysis you apply to what you're calling "data", even if you actually knew what you were doing with the stats, garbage in = garbage out.
The only data I've analysed is two fatalities associated with bowline compared to zero fatalities with fig 8 or other knots in the same period.
I've stated assumptions but I don't recall cited other data on fatalities.
That's BMC data and since it's fatalities it will be backed up by coroners' reports.
Doing analysis correctly requires that assumptions are stated clearly so they can be questioned. Would you care to suggest improvements to my assumptions?
The working out has been included so that it can be questioned.
Would you care to point out the errors of my analysis?
"even if you knew what you were doing with the stats (which you clearly don't)"
You are obviously in a position of expertise to confidently judge my stats. We could do with greater expertise so please present you improved analysis.
That's an easy one. Don't make those assumptions.
If you want to do some kind of meaningful statistical analysis, stop guessing and get some data. Not on fatalities alone, which are (fortunately) too infrequent to provide any real insight, but on accidents more generally where a person has decked out following the failure of their tie-in knot. You would need to stop mentioning that one Rockfax article over and over again because that alone is not data.
And it is indeed very questionable.
The most obvious one, which I've already pointed out several times: It is based on a series of guesses and no actual data.
A slightly less obvious one, which both John Arran and I separately pointed out (you ignored us both) - If bowline users are more likely to be killed if they deck, that could account for a higher rate of fatalities from a lower rate of knot failures. That could for example be because they tend to be older (the simple bowline is in many ways an 'old fashioned' choice), or perhaps that they're heavier (and therefore more likely to favour a knot that is easy to untie after it's been loaded).
No, I already said I really don't have a clue about statistics - just barely enough of a grasp to recognise that you don't either.
"My stats" is too grand a name for what you're doing though really. You're not actually doing any analysis, you're just spuriously generating numbers to support your opinion.
Even if I were an expert I could not present an "improved analysis" because, like you, I do not have access to any useful data to analyse.
I believe the BMC maintain a database of climbing wall accidents reported to them by ABC members, btw. I don't think any of their data is in the public domain though.
I would like to think that if there was a pattern in there that justified a blanket ban on the bowline as a tie-in knot the ABC would recommend such a policy to their members. They do not.
If bowline & fig 8 users fall similar distances (eg the height of a wall) with similar fequencies then bowline users would have to be perhaps ten times more likely to die to skew the fatalities.
Could bowline users or older climbers really be that fragile?
Even if bowlines are associated with a higher incidence of accidents (which I agree is ludicrously far from being shown) there still remains a complete lack of demonstrated causality. Assuming accidents would happen less often to bowline users if they switched to a fig 8 is like assuming that because accidents happen mostly to men we'd all be safer if we had a sex change.
Before anyone tries I'm really not sure that analogy can be pushed any further and I hereby deny any responsibility for the thread carnage that might ensue if anyone tries!
Doesn't matter. The bottom line is this: until/unless you get some real data beyond vague anecdotal reports of two isolated incidents, anything you try to dress up as a statistical analysis is just bollocks.
I don't think fatalities are anecdotal, they'll be reported in the press and coroner's court.
So what? FFS - you haven't actually looked at the "press and coroner's court".
You just keep endlessly citing the same old Rockfax article which mentions two fatalities that "initial investigations" "seem to suggest" were associated with a simple bowline, and an unspecified number of "very serious accidents over the years, both indoors and outdoors" associated with the fig-8.
Have there been more fatalities than those two? You don't know.
How many accidents have there been that didn't result in a fatalty? Not a scooby.
you seem pretty fired up over someone taking the info they have and very mildly suggesting that the available numbers suggest that one thing differs from another thing - are you feeling quite well
Well, I've used a bowline for over 40 years and I much prefer it to the fig8. For past 10 yrs or so I have used the Yosemite finish with a double stopper. Fantastic knot. Climb at least 3 times a week - more in the summer. Just make sure I ignore all interruptions when tying it. I hope I'm not tempting fate ...
This is dragging on a bit !
Anyway, here's my two cents worth :
The bowline was the traditional way to tie on directly to a rope before harnesses, before indoor climbing and indeed before climbing in general became the popular activity that it is today. At that time you simply DID NOT fall. A fall usually meant death or serious injury.
As climbing evolved, other ways of tying on were used, e.g the figure of eight. As many have pointed out the figure of eight is very difficult to undo if it has taken a fall or many falls. This being the case, it is not the ideal knot for indoor walls and sport climbing where falls are part and parcel of the activity. For alpine climbing, with a harness, it is ideal as the rule of simply not falling holds strong to this day. It is an easy knot to learn and I have used it exclusively for alpine climbing / mountaineering since I started.
its almost as much fun as a winter climbing thread
Q which one, on the scant evidence available, appears to be the safest.
pretty non controversial
FWIW used both options in last seven days
All knots are safe if used and tied the correct way.
And the bowline has been used as THE knot of choice for all ships the world over when tying up alongside. Safe?
> Did it come undone or was it ever tied? How could you tell?
Since he was alive he could, presumably, confirm it.
> A safe knot only with a stopper or if constantly loaded without one. Ie you should never climb without a stopper. A fig8 is safe with or without with enough tail.
> I will use bowline for all single pitch climbs but fig 8 for longer routes as the stopper can work loose if left alone.
This seems to be as sensible a comment as I've read so far (and what a long time ago it was).
Apart from that I'd say just abide by the rules of the wall (I find it more than a little worrying that the OP is happy to admit he gets his FO8 wrong: Sounds like a very good reason to keep practising it to me)
Oh yes we did.
A fall usually meant death or serious injury.
No it didn't.
Sad to hear about accidents but unsurprised: fig8s have so many more beginners using them and although I've not witnessed an accident due to a knot, as Ive said before, all the knot errors I've seen are Fig8s and it cant all be due to the ease of inspection. My earlier comments on bowlines partly relate to a minority of arrogant users, some of whom I've met, who I'm not convinced know their own knot and yet act all superior about it - and partly in sympathy to the very real issues walls face in maintaining good practice.
Thanks for the most sensible comment to this whole saga.I've been climbing for 50 years and use a stoppered bowline on the wall and on single pitch climbs,but a fig8 alpine.
I know you're getting on a bit; Andy old-chap but I was thinking more in the way of our climbing pioneers, such as Whymper; in the days before dynamic ropes and all that.
Sorry I wasn't clearer, or perhaps your memory is going ?
Far more accidents occur through poor belaying and belayer inattention.
That said, it's a climbing centre manager's job to reduce/keep the number of accidents and near misses down and if this means implementing rules such as only using fig8 to tie on then we've just got to suck it up and appease them, or go elsewhere. I'm not a fan of rules and regulations like these but it's the way of the world I'm sorry to say.
It's not that big of an issue really, just do what you are asked and if you don't know how to tie a fig8 properly - ask someone. They won't eject you from the building!
>I was thinking more in the way of our climbing pioneers, such as Whymper; in the days before dynamic ropes and all that.
>I know you were, but I just felt like having a dig! It does surprise me though just how hazy people can be about past times in the climbing world. I was recently discussing an E1 I did in 1974 and the guy asked me if we had dynamic ropes then! I had to explain that nylon ropes, dynamic by default, had been around since the end of the war and were pretty much universal in this country by the early fifties. Harnesses - early 70's for common usage.
It's interesting that those 25 years or so coincided with the greatest expansion and democratisation of climbing in its history. While economic factors were important, I suspect the appearance of nylon ropes also played a part.
Nothing to do with the topic, but you'll forgive an old chap rambling on won't you? I've only led three new routes this year so far, though I've seconded half a dozen - I'm not the man I was.
For the last few years I have been using an extra turn on my bowline,as per American style.Never remotely starts to work loose,and easier to untie than a fig 8 knot after a fall.
If using double ropes,if they are ten mil or 11,then I am happy to tie them into the same single bowline with a few half hitches.Never loosens at all.
Try to get your partner to check your tie in knot.
Be sure you tighten your knot from both ends.
Anyway, I now use an end-bound single bowline with a yosemite finish. A lovely knot with a distinctive appearance that's only been invented (more likely re-discovered) in the last few years, so it doesn't have a snappy name. It's actually the corollary of the Edwards bowline, in which the two internal locks, yosemite and end-binding, are in the opposite order.
Over the years I've oscillated between the bowline and the Fo8 for tie-on, and I still teach Fo8 to beginners. It's a beginner's knot.
The new bowlines that are being developed are getting close to the holy grail in my opinion, but they ain't beginners' knots.
I'm not being elitist here, or trying to do down the Fo8, merely sticking up for the bowline.
I think calling the F8 a beginner's knot is a bit disparaging: it is a very good knot for climbers of all levels of experience.
IIRC the history of these knots went something like this.
We started (as beginners, note) with hawser rope and the bowline.
Then the superb new kernmantle ropes arrived from continental Europe and the F8 started to find favour, particularly as it was less prone to coming undone. (I don't think tying the bowline right was the issue then, because we all knew how to tie it almost in our sleep.)
This popularity of the F8 was amplified by two things: (1) the bowline was rubbished by some experts as a "chopper" knot that was weaker than the F8: it had been inherited from the marine world and was not(no pun intended) especially suitable for climbing. (2) The introduction of waist bands and then harnesses, required the rope to be threaded through the loops in the waist band. The first half of the F8 was held in place by the threaded rope, and the follow through to complete the F8 followed naturally as part of the threading process. By the early 70s this procedure became standard for probably 80% of climbers.
Then sport climbing arrived, in which the default is hanging on the rope, which made the relative difficulty of untying the F8 as nuisance. So the bowline increased in favour again simply for "convenience" (for "convenience" climbing!).
Personally, I strongly favour the F8 for trad climbing, but have used the bowline when sport climbing and top roping. If in doubt, I go with the F8 and I think the climbing walls are right to do so.
It's basically worthless anyway. Under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 liability for negligence occasioning death or personal injury cannot be excluded. I think there's also some kind of common law principle that you can't sign away someone else's responsibilities towards you.
If they're enforcing the rules of the climbing wall (as in the OP's case) then that's all the "clue" they need.
> Over the years I've oscillated between the bowline and the Fo8 for tie-on, and I still teach Fo8 to beginners. It's a beginner's knot.
It certainly isn't a 'beginner's knot'. Being suitable for beginners is not the same thing.
The climbing wall staff or the person doing the buddy check won't spot a mistake as quickly or as confidently as they'd spot a miss-tied fig 8, particularly if as you say new bowlines are being developed.
Maybe so, but a failure to micro-manage experieneced climbers' tie-in knots and/or enforce largely arbitrary 'safety' rules is *not* negligence.
The "disclaimer" at a climbing wall (well, any sensibly managed climbing wall) is not a disclaimer at all. It's a declaration that the user understands the risks associated with climbing. The principle of "volenti non fit injuria" applies.
There's been much talk of insurance companies in this thread, so lets clear this one up - if an experienced climber mis-ties their tie-in knot and as a result they deck out and are injured or even killed, the climbing wall's insurer is not going to have to pay out to settle a claim.
If you don't understand what your buddy has done, why would you not just ask them to explain it? That's what buddies are for.
Climbing wall staff aren't a substitute for a buddy check. It isn't possible, or desirable, to supervise ordinary users to that degree. But for an easy solution to that one see John Arran's excellent suggestion above regarding stopper knots.
Your buddy may understand the explantion but soembody else's buddy may not.
I doubt anybody has said that.
Not spotted that, is that to make a stopper mandatory?
Regarding rules though. Philosophically, I would prefer it if there are as few rules to climbing as possible. And as such, I think it would be best if rules regarding "safety" were necessary and efficacious.
What would you think if a wall decided that all climbers and belayers must wear hi-viz vests from now on? (A common enough "safety" rule in many workplaces, whether it offers any protection from anything at all or not.)
I'd say it would be completely pointless, arbitrary and irritating, but no doubt there'd be plenty of of folk posting on here to say "I *always* wear hi-viz to belay, why can't you just stop complaining and wear yours?" "Their wall, their rules, just suck it up and obey" etc..
Nobody else's buddy matters. A "buddy check" involves one buddy at a time.
If one's climbing partner can't understand one's tie-in knot, then fair enough, one or the other does need changing. (And if one's climbing partner can't get their head around the concept of a bowline, it's probably the partner, not the knot, that needs replacing.)
Though in truth it probably doesn't really matter. The main purpose of a buddy check is to prevent a simple, silly mistake resulting from a moment's inattention. (Hence why so many people deck after failing to clip in to an auto-belay - surely a simpler operation than tying any knot.)
It's probably enough to just ask - "That looks funny to me, are you sure that's right?"
Not explicitly perhaps, it seems to be implied in plenty of posts in this thread.
Essentially, yup. Hang on, lets see if this works.. http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=587843&v=1#x7778794
It makes a difference at the high levels, though. The bowline uses a bit less rope, so if you climb on a bowline you've shaved off a few grams which can make all the difference at E9. Tie in with a F8 and everyone knows you're not aspiring to those high grades.
> It makes a difference at the high levels, though. The bowline uses a bit less rope, so if you climb on a bowline you've shaved off a few grams which can make all the difference at E9. Tie in with a F8 and everyone knows you're not aspiring to those high grades.
Just aspiring to follow in the footsteps of alpine climbers with 30+ years of experience.
> It makes a difference at the high levels, though. The bowline uses a bit less rope, so if you climb on a bowline you've shaved off a few grams which can make all the difference at E9. Tie in with a F8 and everyone knows you're not aspiring to those high grades.
I now understand why some posters referred to the knot as being 'trendy'.
I have been using a bowline with an extra turn (yosemite bowline) fr my personal climbing for 20 years, never any issues but when I was instructing a went for figure of eight with myself and clients as its easier to tie and easier to learn as well as easier checking the group members knots for safety.
As far as walls banning knots, its stupid!! when you sign in you sign that you are proficiant and take responsibility.
Making the knot standard/only allowed is understandable if it is part of the walls insurance purposed but other than that it sounds like stupid policy!
I can just imagine the instructor on high horse!! I have worked and climbed in many walls over the county and they all have them!!
Since all correctly tied knots are safe, the safety of a knot is determined by the human factors and the tolerance for those huamn factors.
is it easy to get wrong?
if it is wrong will it still hold?
will it be recognised when it is wrong?
>It's probably enough to just ask - "That looks funny to me, are you sure that's right?"
Yes that probably is enough. But safety is about the consequences when that doesn't happen or something else goes wrong (eg miss-tied, buddy check fails or omitted and/or no stopper).
A "mandatory" stopper is an excellent idea as it is an extra level of fault tolerance to prevent disaster if both knot and buddy check fail.
The fig 8 has a better reputation for holding when miss-tied (not something I have knowingly tested).
The disadvantage of the bowline is the buddy may think a miss-tie is just the left hand doubled chinese squamish* variation.
Obviously I made that up but I found a page with 35 variations including a chinese one.
That was an attempt at a joke... :)
And the downside to the fig-8 is the same thing - being a 2-stage knot it may also hold together long enough to appear to have been tied when it hasn't. This too has caused serious accidents.
Reputation is a slippery thing. A thing isn't more likely to be true because more people believe it. (If indeed they even do.) In many, many posts over many threads just like this one I've never seen anyone point to any credible evidence that a fig-8 actually is safer.
Then the buddy in incompetent. It's a good argument to use a different knot with that partner, or to get a new partner. Not justification to ban the knot and every other knot but one for all the climbers all the time.
And, as above, no justification to introduce an arbritrary and (so-far) mildly oppressive "safety" rule. That's the first milestone on the road to Grigri's bolted to the floor.
The merit of John's suggestion is this. With a stopper knot an incorrectly tied double chinese squamish bowline *or* an incomplete fig-8 will hold. For that matter, a stopper knot alone backing up a simple turn in the rope or no tie-in knot at all will hold.
I wouldn't be wholly enthusiastic even about prescribed compulsory stopper knots, but if a wall were going to introduce an arbitrary rule that one does at least have the advantage over a knee-jerk bowline ban that it makes sense.
Absolutely. And this is key.
Even if we assume for a moment that using a bowline [i]is[/i] more risky - understanding risks, and choosing to accept them is a fundamental part of the whole game of rock climbing.
I'm sure insurance companies are fully capable of suggesting stupid policies. But there's no suggestion that any of those few walls that have brought in a bowline ban have done so at the suggestion of their insurance companies.
Insurance companies are motivated by the money.
A successful claim against a climbing wall is more likely to result from a slippery floor in the toilet or someone getting scalded by a hot cup of tea in the cafe than decking out off the main leading wall.
Volenti non fit injuria. An experienced climber, not under instruction, who mis-ties their own knot and gets hurt as a result doesn't have a case to bring.
There seems to be an assumption underlying some posts here that the sad deaths mentioned in that Rockfax article must have resulted in a big claim against the walls' insurance. I very much doubt that was the case. Does anybody here know otherwise?
If it's no longer the case that climbers understand and accept the risk (how ever slight) that climbing may result in their injury or even death, even indoors, then the BMC Participation Statement goes in the bin. "Volenti non fit injuria" no longer applies to climbing wall customers, and the insurance companies really do have something to worry about.
(Well, not worry about, obviously. Insurance companies never worry, they just crank up the premiums by a few hundred per cent.)
> That was an attempt at a joke... :)
With hindsight it appears obvious but this is UKC...
I've made that mistake and discovered it before the buddy check.
Indeed, I did just state it as reputation rather than fact.
No. Human error is part of the system usless somebody supplies the the world's climbers with quality controlled buddies immune from error.
I've made it clear that I think the numbers point one way.
It's not mere momentary "human error" when a belayer can't recognise their climbing partner's knot though is it?
"Hm. He usually ties in with a simple bowline with a stopper knot, but randomly seems to have chosen the left handed double chinese squamish bowline this time. Weird. Ah well, better not comment on it."
That's not really what a 'buddy check' is.
There's no need for the buddy to be immune from error, they're just there to improve the odds: (small chance of climber's error) x (small chance of buddy's error) = (extremely small chance of team error).
And I've made it clear how convincing I find your numbers - we've done that to death now I think. :o)
Elsewhere on the site
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
Tonight's Friday Night Video features the Norwegian town of Rjukan, once believed to be the home of the world's tallest... Read more
Rock shoes stink – let’s face it. Boot Bananas are the perfect way to fight the funk and keep them fresh. They help... Read more
Perhaps the perfect Xmas gift for the climber in your life... Wild Country's Crack School has two of the worlds best crack... Read more
The release of Peter Jackson's new film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on 12th December may not appear to link to... Read more