A false loop is created when a sloppy stopper knot is tied to back up another not, most commonly in the case of climbers tieing in to the rope.
Often they are just small loops, which lessens the potential of what can go wrong, but as seen on a recent post online, some people do climb with excessively large false loops, which can lead to a whole new array of problems.
Lets look at when and why a false loop isn’t desirable in climbing:
Its unsafe: If a climber clips into the false loop instead of the rope loop for safety, lets say on a multipitch belay stance, it could be catastrophic. There have been recorded instances of this occurring and leading to accidents.
Bottom roping: if running a group session in a climbing wall with novices, it would be easy for a novice to remove the carabiner from the proper loop and clip it to the false loop and again there are recorded incidents of this happening each year.
Leading: If the loop was excessively large, a lead climber could accidentally clip in to a quickdraw via the false loop and not the live rope. If this was on trad gear they could possibly lift out the trad gear and if it was on bolts they could be yanked backwards, causing a fall onto a false loop.
It just looks plain wrong: and If someone can be that sloppy with the simplest knot, then how sloppy are they with the rest of the aspects of their climbing, like building anchors.
Entrapment: Much like if you tie in with too big a loop, the large false loop can snag on protruding holds or create a suspension hazard, like in a climbing wall where there are large upturned holds. Its even possible for body parts to become ensnared or trapped in a loop. In the picture above it would be quite easy for the climber to catch a leg or arm in the false loop, creating an unorthodox fall. The potential for a choke hazard on a stupidly big loop is there too, were you to get your head stuck in the loop.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this post or other skills and remember always buddy check and “dress & stress” knots thoroughly!