Skills Refresher: 3 more knots

Three more knots might be useful for those who already have an understanding of the basic knots, have been climbing a while or even trainee climbing instructors.

Three more knots and how to tie them

Learning more knots is never a bad thing, it’s always good to have these in your repertoire!

Italian Hitch (Munter Hitch)

Useful for belaying when you don’t have a belay plate or for lowering someone. It’s quick to tie and easy to know if you have gotten it wrong.

There is a distinctive flip of the knot around the carabiner if done correctly. It sometimes puts kinks or twists in ropes, however.

Alpine Butterfly

Useful for isolating a core short piece of rope or attaching two nearby anchors and is easily untied even if heavily weighted. There are two styles of tying this knot shown below.

Bunny’s Ears

Useful for when you would like two loops coming from your figure 8 on the bight instead of one. Perhaps when setting up a group abseil or a top rope set up.

Top Tips for Tying Knots

  • when trying to learn a new knot, keep a short length of rope beside the couch and practice tying them as you watch telly, so that tying the knot becomes second nature to you.
  • Remember to always dress and stress your knot and leave a long tail and/or tie a stopper knot.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this video or other skills.

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5 Tips: Tying in to the rope

Tying in to the rope is probably the most important thing we do every time we climb. It is the essential connection point between our harness and the rope, if it fails we have little chance of avoiding injury or worse.

Before we start, let’s look at a video of tying in to the rope with a re-threaded figure of 8.

5 tips for tying in to the Rope

Use a re-threaded figure of 8

While there are other knots to tie in with, such as the bowline, my preference for instructing climbers and for my own personal climbing will always be the re-threaded figure of 8. There are many reasons why I prefer it, but mainly it’s because:

  • Even a poorly or incorrectly tied figure 8 with a stopper knot could still hold long enough to work. However, a poorly or incorrectly tied bowline will be way more likely to fail.
  • It’s easier to tell from a distance or buddy check whether it’s tied correctly or not.

Proper tail length

While it’s important to have an appropriate tail leftover, too often climbers have an excessive amount of tail left. This looks sloppy, even if tied up into a big stopper knot.

Find a sweet spot that makes for the perfect amount of tail (approx 6-8 inches), which will allow you to add a small stopper knot. I measure along one outstretched arm to the inside of my armpit.

Never measure along two fully outstretched arms, which is the common mistake I see happening.

figure of 8 Tying in to the rope

Make a small loop

A large tie in loop looks sloppy, can get caught or snagged while climbing and can lead to belaying or hauling problems down the line if it stretches too much when loaded.

You should aim to copy the size of your harness loop when tying the rope loop. To do this, move your first fig 8 knot as close to the harness as possible, before re-threading.

bad figure of 8

Tie into both harness loops

Rather than tie into your central harness loop, tie into the waist and leg loops holding your harness loop in place.

Why be clipped into one loop, when you can be clipped into two? Its that simple.

A debate rages on whether to pass the rope through the top (waist loop) or bottom (legs loop) first. I understand both points of view, but I don’t teach a preference.

I teach people to always always be super vigilant when tying in, just make sure you go through both, again it’s that simple.

Tie in to Both harness loops

Concentrate fully and always buddy check

When tying in, ignore everything going on around you including your climbing partner. It is very easy to get distracted mid-way through tying in and not finish the job.

This may seem unlikely, but there are many recorded examples of this happening, even to professional climbers.

No matter who you are climbing with, always buddy check their knots and have them check yours. Sometimes we can feel awkward when doing this with more experienced climbers, but just think how awkward it’ll be if you forget and your partner has an accident.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this post or other skills and never forget to dress & stress knots thoroughly!

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Skills Refresher: 3 basic knots

These three basic knots are useful for those learning to scramble, rock climb or going on a mountaineering trip. Never assume you know them, it’s always good to recheck and relearn before you find yourself using them.

There’s a short video for each type of knot so read on to get back up to speed on your climbing knots!

Re-Threaded Figure of 8 (incl stopper knot)

This is my preferred knot for tying into the rope. It’s easy to learn, easy to tell if it’s tied correctly and perfect for teaching beginners. 

Figure of 8 on a Bight

Quicker to tie than the re-threaded fig 8 and useful for building anchors. Remember to always dress and stress your knot and leave a long tail and/or tie a stopper knot.

The Clove Hitch

Its simple to learn, used by all types of climbers from sports climbers to alpinists and easy to tell if its not a clove hitch. If it doesn’t lock, it’s not one.

Top Tips for tying basic knots

  • when trying to learn a new knot, keep a short length of rope beside the couch and practice tying them as you watch telly, so that tying the knot becomes second nature to you.
  • Remember to always dress and stress your knot and leave a long tail and/or tie a stopper knot.

Want to learn more basic knots?

I have a blog post with three more knots for you to learn or relearn! Even if you know them, it’s never a bad idea to go back over them!

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this video or other skills.

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Skills Refresher: Taking a compass bearing from the map

In poor visibility, thick fog or at night-time we sometimes use a map and compass to calculate the bearing we are going to walk along. Knowing how to take a compass bearing from the map is a key skill to have, just in case. 

This post could be a useful refresher for anyone who has done a Mountain Skills course or maybe hasn’t used their compass in a while.

If you haven’t used a compass before, or are unfamiliar with reading a map, then this post might not be for you. If you’d like to learn how to stay safe in the mountains, you might consider a 2-day Mountain Skills Course.

Knowing the parts of the compass

Firstly let’s look at this quick video to reacquaint ourselves with the parts of the compass we need to use.

Parts of the Compass

Now, let’s watch this video explaining how we can use those parts of the compass to take a bearing from the map.

Magnetic Variation

If you don’t understand magnetic variation and why we allow for it, if you don’t know your northings from your eastings or if any of the phrases used in the video are unfamiliar to you then the information in this video might not be of use to you just yet.

Tips on Taking a Compass Bearing From The Map

TOP TIP: try guessing what your bearing will be before you do the calculation. If your guesstimate is 90 or 180 degrees away from your calculation, we know we have made a mistake and can investigate why.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this video or navigation training.

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