In reply to Coel Hellier: If you have tied a stopper knot it is less likely to work undone if hard against the rethreaded fig 8 and it can't create a loop that can catch on things/be accidentally clipped into an extender.
The times I have made errors, and potentially serious one, with regards to knots, is when I have interrupted the tying-in process. Halfway through tying someone passes you a cup of tea or some nuts etc.
One of my rules for staying alive is to never interrupt tying in for anything, until the knot is fully tied.
> If you have tied a stopper knot it is less likely to work undone if hard against the rethreaded fig 8
> and it can't create a loop that can catch on things/be accidentally clipped into an extender.
I guess so, though those are very minor points. An advantage of having the stopper knot an inch or two away is that at a glance it looks like a fig-8 and a separate stopper knot and at a glance you can see that everything looks right (in the photo in this article with them snug it is slightly harder to see that). This might be an equally minor point, but I've usually had the stopper knot an inch or two away from the fig-8, and I've never come to grief over it.
In reply to UKC Articles: I was taught to always thread the rope down through the harness tie in "loop". If the harness has seperate waist and leg loops, it is undesirable to miss the leg loop when threading down, whereas it can be terminal to thread up and miss the waist loop (risk of tipping upside down and falling out of harness !). I have seen it about to happen, as have others that have commented on it. Take care.
In reply to Coel Hellier: Agreed but working in walls I've seen sloppy knots (knots where the stopper is several inches away) cause problems on numerous occasions (of course that's only anecdotal but I'm probably talking a couple of dozen times in 14 years).
Whilst floor walking I've found a fig 8 with a 2 turn stopper against it to be a knot pairing I've always found easy to recognise but that may just be owing to familiarity.
I think one of the main points of the article is to use a buddy system and ensure your partner can recognise when what you have tied on is correct, or not.
In reply to UKC Articles:
Some of the skills/tips/tricks taught in these articles is very useful but considering that pretty much any climber who has done more than a session at a climbing wall will know how to tie a fig 8 is this article not encouraging people who haven't got a clue to go out and give it a go without any real instruction. From this article they may be able to tie a fig 8 but then may get into a whole load of other trouble once off the floor.
perhaps there should be an extension/emphasis to the disclaimer "Being able to tie either of these 2 knots correctly isn't enough to keep you safe at the wall or crag"?
At least suggesting that anyone starting out should really try and get some guidance from someone experienced. And yes I know that many old-school climbers got on fine with just their mothers washing line and some grit and determination but a fair few of these people had plenty of close shaves doing things this way.
I think you've misunderstood - 10cm is the safe minimum length of tail required for the knot to be safe (most if not all knots will allow some rope to slide through as they tighten) not how much is needed to tie a stopper knot. The stopper is an optional extra, if you like, when using the rethreaded fig-8. Maybe I need to rewrite that to clarify though?
I agree that buddy checking is probably the most important thing, it's something I do almost automatically these days.
That's a very good point Gethin. I'll ask UKC to add something along the lines you mention.
When I wrote the article, it wasn't aimed specifically at novices, more as a reminder, update, call it what you will, for all climbers (including myself) to remind us why we do things the way we do.
I think it's a useful article because not everyone finds it easy to learn or process info when shown or instructed by someone else. Some do better by exploring and trying out for themselves, others can pick stuff up best by reading about it.
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:
Reminders are welcome to most I think, I do remember getting to the top of a route indoors at the foundry in Sheffield and only noticing as I clipped the double crabs at the top that I was only tied in to a leg loop.
One thing I always do is to give the rope a good heave once I've tied in - the tug is good enough to feel the resistance in both the rope and the small of my back. I then visually check the knot again. Helps ensure that I've not done something too stupid like misthreading the rope through the harness or itself.
Obviously in the buddy system they can do this as well.
First thing that sprung to mind, assuming I was somewhere fairly solid and had a krab handy, would be to tie some sort of knot on a bight with one hand and clip it to the belay loop.
But that said, the belay loop itself would mean that both bits of the harness are actually attached to the rope in a sense, just with the risk of going over backwards. So, so long as you were sure it was tied in correctly to the leg loops, steadying yourself on the rope to avoid going over backwards would presumably suffice. But it wouldn't have been nice if you'd taken a massive lead fall, it would most probably have resulted in going upside down and headbutting the wall.
I haven't done that, but I did once only tie in through the waist belt. That wasn't very comfortable, but it wasn't until I reached the floor on being lowered that I noticed why.
In reply to Mike Conlon: I can't agree enough with nocker, having seen a few incidents of mis-tying owing to that (including a climbing instructor!). In that sense, while the words in this article are not bad, the photos of two knots are dreadful - it shows how NOT to do!
Actually, I don't agree. I think it's more important to tie in correctly, and check that you have done so (by using the buddy system) than to suggest people use a method which makes things marginally better if they mess things up.
This view is perhaps not universal within the mountain training community, but it appears to be the most prevalent (at least within those that I consulted with when researching the article)
I'm a self-confessed knot-nazi (ghastly phrase, but it serves). For the Fig 8, picture 5 passes (albeit sans stopper), but 6 and 7 do not because they don't lie evenly.
IMHO one of the reasons people struggle to unitie Fig 8 knots is that they tie them so that they don't lie evenly and the strands cross over, in which case you can't break the knot to loosen it.
Again IMHO, the knot should look the same, every time. If it doesn't something's wrong. That thing might be trivial, but at least you're looking for something. It takes no more time to tie a good knot than a poor one.
> (In reply to gethin_allen) Can't imagine how that must feel. What did you do about it?
clipped the crabs and then lowered off holding on to the knot to keep me upright but with my weight supported on the leg loop.
The problem would have come if I'd fallen as at best it would have had me dangling around upside down. If I'd had gear I could have clipped another crab through the knot to my belay loop but you don't carry gear indoors.
The link at the end of the article takes you to the BMC website. Use the tabs to choose your area of interest (e.g Rock Climbing, Mountaineering). You can narrow down your search by then selecting the "Gear" tab. Here you'll find videos, articles and downloads.
I don't understand, Dan. As you stated, it is "marginally better", then, why don't you accept the method?
I fully agree with you that partner check (or buddy system - sounds like more American? is essential, whatever knot or tying method you use (so do I!). However that does not put the tying method irrelevant.
I believe anything that reduces a risk, even if marginally (unless it is an awful lot more troublesome or time-consuming), helps make the bet of survival (or safety) in favour of you in climbing.
My attitude indeed saved my life more than once in my climbing career (though not this tying method, fortunately - I am not keen to test it!).
The tying method to the harness is one of those that reduce a risk, if marginally, then I regard it as relatively important.
Indeed I have once spotted an instructor tying to only the leg loops, because he threads from the bottom and because probably he was absent-minded or distracted while tying in. The latter is of course a more serious problem and we should avoid it by all means, but we all know that can happen one odd day. Then, when there is a better method that may improve the situation, why don't you use it?
I also note it could have been worse - there is a non-negligible chance of threading a rope via a small webbing to keep the rope in the centre of leg-loops (which definitely would not cope with even the body weight, except for ultra-overmade and well-thought Metolius SafeTech harness). It can happen whether you thread the rope from the top or bottom. However, if you thread from the bottom and if it happens and if you forget to thread the rope to the waist belt, the consequence is equivalent to not tying a rope to the harness at all!
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:
> Actually, I don't agree. I think it's more important to tie in correctly, and check that you have done so (by using the buddy system) than to suggest people use a method which makes things marginally better if they mess things up.
I can tell you why I don't thread top down. Its because its too bloody awkward. I've tried it after a mistake tying into a leg loop only but now I've reverted to bottom up threading because I find the liklihood of mistying the knot more of a factor for me.
In reply to Coel Hellier: may be minor, but believe it not in the same climb i firstly managed to clip the little loop imbetween the stopper and the fig 8 into my gear as i was moving past it on a particularly difficult move, just bad luck, and then while moving past another piece higher up the quickdraw caught my crampon and clipped the cage imbetween the boot and the antiballing plate... subsequently pulling out my only pro on that pitch while stopping me from moving up! disentangling that was one of the hardest things i have ever had to do. 2 very scary incidents on the same winter climb, so it may be a minor point but its certainly a valid one ha! I am now a lot more cautious about moving past gear...
In reply to UKC Articles: One reason that I tie in from the bottom up is that if for some reason I forget to complete the knot, and I suspect that this is the main cause of tie in failures, the rope is more likely to fall off before I get too far up the route.
It's not a case of right or wrong - I just happen to believe that the focus should be on getting tied in correctly in the first place, and then checking it (either self or buddy), rather than using a method which gives you some redundancy if you stuff it up. By all means thread downwards, I just don't think it's that important relative to the other issues.
One thing I have noticed, is that the proportion of my climbing partners who buddy check each other is slowly increasing. I think this is probably the single most useful increase in safety since I began climbing.
In reply to jimtitt:
As I mentioned before I truly hope you never have to take a phone call from a distraught friend who has just stood by and watched someone fall from the top of a wall. As you can appreciate it was a situation none of us ever wants to have to do....
(I will not go into further detail on this out of respect for the friends of the deceased)
I get to see a lot of accident investigation documents in my job, the single common factor in most is an oversight in a simple operation. Dangerous tasks are always approached cautiously and the risk assessments by those involved are thorough. Routine tasks are not always done with the caution they should be and incidents and accidents can and do happen.
The climbers that are most frequently involved in accidents are experienced and competent and make small critical errors and get caught out. A second line of defence like the buddy check can catch an un-done buckle or incorrectly tied knot. Ropes rarely get cut, crabs rarely break but people DO make mistakes.
> (In reply to jimtitt)
> As I mentioned before I truly hope you never have to take a phone call from a distraught friend who has just stood by and watched someone fall from the top of a wall. As you can appreciate it was a situation none of us ever wants to have to do....
> (I will not go into further detail on this out of respect for the friends of the deceased)
> I get to see a lot of accident investigation documents in my job, the single common factor in most is an oversight in a simple operation. Dangerous tasks are always approached cautiously and the risk assessments by those involved are thorough. Routine tasks are not always done with the caution they should be and incidents and accidents can and do happen.
> The climbers that are most frequently involved in accidents are experienced and competent and make small critical errors and get caught out. A second line of defence like the buddy check can catch an un-done buckle or incorrectly tied knot. Ropes rarely get cut, crabs rarely break but people DO make mistakes.
If you don´t want to discuss particular incidents then in future maybe you shouldn´t introduce them into the debate.
As a second line of defence against errors partner checks can certainly be recommended amongst other systems, that I know a large number of people who prefer other ways of doing things is fact. That a previous poster distorted Dan´s words to say that partner checks are essential when clearly many disagree (including obviously some of Dan´s climbing partners) merely gives the false impression that partner checks are the only way to safely climb.
Some would argue that the apparently ever-increasing number of accidents caused by incorrectly tying on, whether at the bottom or when re-threading on sport routes could be connected with the removal of the emphasis on personal skills and checks and replacing these with an attitude of reliance on others. A recent accident in the U.S where all the members in the group though the other had done the check shows clearly this could be so.
> The times I have made errors, and potentially serious one, with regards to knots, is when I have interrupted the tying-in process. Halfway through tying someone passes you a cup of tea or some nuts etc.
> One of my rules for staying alive is to never interrupt tying in for anything, until the knot is fully tied.
In reply to jimtitt: I haven't discussed anything simply relayed my personal experience of an easily preventable accident, the lasting consequences to those that were close to him are the things I don't feel are relevent or appropriate to put on an internet forum. If you feel that your crass replies are substantiated in this context then maybe a moments thought for your reputation as a supplier of safety products would be prudent.
Many may disagree with Dans affirmation of a pre climb check, how many of those would disagree that you check before doing something behind the wheel of a car. No one has ever suggested that a buddy check makes climbing safe, it simply offers the chance to catch a mistake and that is never a bad thing.
Far better and more competent climbers than I will ever be have died because of making simple errors. People, even very intelligent, focussed and skilled people, can and do make mistakes.
Your point about personal reliance is a very salient one, but I don't think a buddy check removes any personal responsibility. Rather, it reaffirms the traditional bond of the roped partnership.
Back in the day, if you fell when leading, it was the partnership that was likely to die together. Is this any different? You are a team (unless you are soloing) and look out for each other. The incident you refer to in the US doesn't sound like this, more like a group scenario gone wrong. The buddy shouldn't be any old Tom, Dick or Harry, it should the other person on the rope. If you don't trust that person with your life, then you shouldn't climb with them.
I think far more weight may be attached to the environmental factors than to a supposed diminishment in personal safety awareness. I bet there are very few incidents of simple errors at scary places like Swanage & Gogarth - you tend to triple check everything and watch the leader like a hawk. Meanwhile, at the well bolted crag there are stereos, bare chests and banter, and more likelyhood of being distracted. The climbing wall is like this but even more so.
These are the places where both experienced and novice climbers tend to have accidents - gravity cares not how many years you have under your belt, or how safe you were up till that point.
I think the real message here is whatever system you use or knot you tie, be mindful and don't get complacent. Don't forget to have fun too....
"I don't think a buddy check removes any personal responsibility"
But it does add responsibility over your partner.
I usually do cross check, whenever I've forgotten and I've remembered once they were on the wall I start thinking nervously that if something was wrong it would feel my fault for not cross checking, which is not a situation I like.
Similarly, if my belayer forgot to clip the weight bag on (I'm quite heavy, most people I climb with aren't) and they got injured by being slammed into the first clip and I didn't check, I would feel responsible as well. (This has happened top roping when it's less of a concern, but fortunately not when leading).
frankboase10 Jul 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: Beautifully clear photo's, is it possible to show some other knots? Maybe not just for climbers but just for the fun of it.
In reply to jimtitt: i always do buddy checks with whoever i am climbing with and i still pay full attention to doing my own tying in.. i can see no reason for this to be a bad thing, and you do appear to be saying that experienced climbers never mistakes.... that is rubbish!! since when is minimizing the chance of killing yourself or your partner ever a bad thing?!
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