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Learn How to Climb: Tying into the Rope

Your Safety Depends on Properly Tying into the Rope


Learn How to Climb: Tying into the Rope

Your tie-in knot is the most important climbing knot you will learn.

Photo © Stewart M. Green

The climbing knot you tie into the rope with is your literal lifeline. Without a proper knot that’s properly tied onto your harness, your rope is useless. The best knot is, of course, one that doesn’t come undone when it’s weighted.

Knots to Know

When you learn to climb, it’s best to learn only a few essential knots. It’s easy to get by with knowing how to tie only a handful of knots, as long as you know how to tie them and know what they are used for.

The six most important knots to learn are:

  1. Figure-8 Follow-Through finished with a Fisherman’s Backup Knot
  2. Clove Hitch
  3. Figure-8 on a Bight
  4. Prusik Loop
  5. Double Fisherman’s Knot
  6. Münter Hitch

Figure-8 Follow-Through Knot

There are lots of knots to tie into the rope with, but the best and only tie-in knot for your first climbing experience (as well as your climbing career) is the Figure-8 Follow-Through knot, also called a Figure-8 Trace or a Flemish Bend. This standard tie-in knot will not come undone if it’s tied properly. The Figure-8 Follow-Through, called a cinch knot, only gets tighter when it’s loaded with your weight when you rest on the rope, fall off the wall, or lower from the top.

To learn how to tie the Figure-8 Follow-Through knot, click on the link and follow the series of photos to learn how to tie the knot and then practice until you can tie it without looking. Just remember: this knot is what ties you into the rope, it’s the basis of a safe climbing system. After you tie into the rope, it is always a good idea to have your climbing partner check your knot to make sure it’s tied properly. The Figure 8 Follow-Through knot is perfect for visual checking since each side of the rope in the knot is a clone of the other.

Another Gym Tie-in Knot

Some climbing gyms pre-tie a Figure-8-on-a-Bight and have you clip that knot into a locking carabiner on your harness. While this eliminates your responsibility for properly tying into the rope, it also adds another link to the tie-in system. It’s fine to do this in a gym but when you begin climbing outside, always tie the rope directly into your harness rather than clipping it into a carabiner.

You and your partner are tied in. Now you have to learn to belay, a necessary and important climbing skill that protects the climber from falling to the ground. Go to Belaying Basics to learn how to belay each other.

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