Articles‎ > ‎

Knot Wizardry - Some Top Tips

1.        Anchors out of reach:

a.        Take your lead rope to the anchor, clip it in, walk back to your belay stance point, clove hitch the rope to your tie-in loop using a screw gate and ensuring the rope back to the anchor is tight.

b.       Repeat the process for the next anchor, and the next if there are 3

c.        You can put up to 2 clove hitches in a HMS karabiner, but only one in a normal D-shape

d.       This will work in every scenario except where you don’t have enough rope to run loops between the stance and anchor.  If you don’t have enough rope, you will need to either position yourself closer to the anchor, or equalise the belay anchor with a sling and just take one loop between that and the stance

e.       If you’re leading all the pitches, it’s probably easier to equalise the anchor with a sling – clipping the second to the anchor and removing yourself from it is much easier that way


2.       Lapping rope at a stance – Use on a hanging or cramped stance to avoid rope tangles

a.        When making the first loops, make them short enough to avoid catching on anything below you, e.g. overhangs of rock, tree branches/ roots, icicles etc.

b.       Make each loop shorter than the last and alternate on each side of your body

c.        Arrange the loops over your tie-in point to the belay


3.       Tying off belay plate - Useful in a myriad of circumstances as it gives the belayer 2 free hands

a.        Can be tied in front of a belay device or against the belay HMS back bar.  Putting half hitches in front of the belay device may reduce your ability to attach a prussik to that section of rope, but small HMS karabiners can hinder tying one against their back bar

b.       When tying half hitches against the HMS, lock them against the back bar and not against the screw gate

c.        The first loop of your half hitch need only be small, but the second loop is best made about an arm’s length

d.       Your half hitches need to be butted tightly up to prevent slippage

e.       2 half hitches is usually sufficient to lock off the rope

f.        For a bombproof lock-off, the resultant loop from your half hitches can be clipped to something (e.g. the anchor)




4.       Tying 2 ropes together (remember, these are not suitable for tying ends of tape together – use a tape knot for that)

a.        Double Fisherman’s – commonly used in making prussiks, or equipping abseil stations with cord

b.       Double Fisherman’s with a Reef Knot in between – useful for tying 2 ropes of different diameter as it should prevent either rope pulling through the knot

c.        Simple double overhand (you can tie 2 if you like, but make sure they’re butted against each other to get the benefit from the second).  The knot of choice for abseiling as pulling one end of the rope will make the knot roll away from the cliff and hopefully not snag on anything

d.       Ensure tails from the knot are roughly a foot long to prevent ropes pulling through the knot.  Avoid making tails any longer than this in case you mistakenly abseil off a tail thinking it was the abseil rope!


5.       Prussiks

a.        Typically use 6mm static cord.  3m off a reel will usually make 2 prussiks (1.5m each).

b.       Original prussik – locks off very strongly but won’t release under load, best used for top prussik when climbing a rope

c.        Klemheist – locks off strongly but won’t release under load

d.       French – doesn’t lock off as strongly as others but is releasable under load.  Best used as an autobloc for abseil/ top prussik when abseiling past a knot/ when undertaking hoists


6.       One handed clove hitch

a.        Care needed not to tie a larks foot, or worse, an Italian hitch – practice it with both hands

b.       Check the knot you’ve created, first by looking at it – does it look like a clove hitch?  Then by pulling both strands coming out of it.  Does it move? - If so, it’s not a clove hitch!


7.       Equalising abseil anchors for a fixed abseil

a.        Ever climb on sea cliffs and need to equalise stakes for the abseil?  A quick and easy method that avoids use of too many slings and screwgates (thereby minimising links in the chain) is to use overhand knots on bights of the rope that comes from the main/first/top anchor.  Make sure all anchors are equalised in the direction of pull of your abseil.

b.       You could use an Alpine Butterfly instead of an overhand knot, but adjusting the overhand knot is much easier.