The Different Types of Climbing Knots

Figure of eight Knot

Knowing your knots before embarking on a climb is paramount! Even the most experience climbers can get themselves seriously injured when they forget to complete their knot. After all, they’re only human! 

But while there are almost 4,000 types of climbing knots recorded in the sport, there are only seven basic knots that you should know by heart. Basically, these rock climbing knots are

(1)   easy to tie

(2)   easy to recognize visually 

(3)   hard to forget

For beginners, learning to tie these knots by heart will require practice to become competent enough to climb without supervision from a certified instructor

1. Basic Figure Eight Knot: The Basic Figure Eight is used as a stopper knot, or as a method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices. As the name suggests, the knot looks like a number 8 and is the foundation for other stronger knots such as the Figure Eight Follow-Through or the Figure Eight on a Bight.

2. Figure of Eight on a Bight: The Figure of Eight on a Bight is tied in a loop of bight of rope that is usually used for tying a climber onto anchors. This is because it is very strong and easy to untie even after being tightened. The knot is also often used for tying a climber into the middle of a rope as well as for clipping the end of an extra rope or haul line to the back of a lead climber’s harness.

3. Figure Eight Knot with Follow Through: The Figure Eight with Follow Through is the classic method climbers use to attach their harness to the end of the rope, is essentially the same as the Figure Eight on a Bight, except you’re starting with the end of the rope, not with a loop in the middle of it. If you can get that first figure eight tied, all you’ve got to do is take the end and follow the rope back around through the knot so that it ends up coming out the top, right next to the other strand. This is the knot least likely to come untied when weighted.

4. Bowline Knot: The Bowline is another knot used to fasten a climbing harness to the end of a rope, though it is not as common anymore as the Figure Eight, partly because it is more complicated. However when mastered, it can be tied with one hand and is an indispensable tool for securing the end of the rope to almost anything.

5. Water Knot (also known as a ring bend): The Water Knot is frequently used in climbing to join two flat pieces of material (for example, nylon or polyester fabric) together, but it also makes it possible to join two ropes together securely. In rock climbing, nylon webbing is used in harnesses, runners, slings, and anchor extensions.

6. Prusik Knot: The Prusik is a knot used to put a loop of cord around a rope, typically applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving and rope rescue. It’s easily adjustable, yet securely grips the other rope under load and does little or no damage to the rope it is attached to.

7. Clove Hitch: The clove hitch is an easy-to-tie knot for connecting the rope to anchors. It does not take up too much rope and is easily adjusted.