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Climbing Knots timberlinetrails.net
The "Waterman Knot" - is a very useful knot for tying two ends of webbing together. This is extremely
important in climbing and mountaineering, because 3/4" or "1" inch webbing is used all the time for runners, anchors
(by throwing it over a knob or projection), aid (for stepping into), or even for a safety harness for rappelling and
climbing. The uses of the humble webbing seem to be endless. But in order to do any of the above, the webbing must
be configured into a loop, and that requires tying the two ends together. Here is where the "Waterman Knot" comes
into play. It is the perfect knot for tying those ends together. The two colors of webbing shown below are for
illustrative purposes only, even though you could extend the length of a piece of webbing by tying another piece of
webbing to it. (the length is only limited by the amount of webbing you have on hand). But for the most part, climbers
use 5 or 6 foot piece of webbing and tie the ends together. This seems to be somewhat of a standard length of
webbing in mountaineering. Tied off loops of webbing are so important that most climbers carry several of these
pre-configured loops on every climb they go on.
#1 - To start the knot, make a simple overhand knot
configuration as shown with the red webbing. Then begin
to lay the other end of the webbing directly on top of the
end portion of the other end as shown in the red.
Four step illustration of the "Waterman Knot"
#2 - Next, continue to lay the yellow webbing directly on
top of the red webbing following it exactly around in the
#3 - Now feed the yellow end under the bridge of
webbing where the small two black arrows are.
#4 - Nearly done. All you need to do is to pull the two
ends tight, and you will have a first class "Waterman
Knot." Make sure you have 2 or 3 inches of loose on
each side for added security.
"The Fisherman Knot"
Like the "Waterman Knot" above, the use of the fisherman knot is similar. It is used to tie two ends of rope together, but
that is where the similarity ends. As you will see below, it is tied in a completely different way. The "Fisherman Knot" is
useful for tying two ropes together for the purpose of rappelling often times. This allows two - 50 or 60 meter ropes to be
tied together. This allows the mountaineer to rappel over 150 feet and still be able to retrieve his rope. The "Fisherman
Knot" is also used for tying narrow diameter rope together for protection purposes and also for short loops of rope that
can be used to prusik up a fixed line for ascending purposes. The four step process of the Fisherman Knot is shown below.
#1 - Lay the two ends of the ropes side by side as shown.
#4 - All is left to do now is to pull the opposing ends of rope and slide the
opposing knots together. Once this is done take time to dress up the coils
and make sure you have a few inches of rope free on each side as shown.
This will give you a bit of extra security just in case there is a small amount
of slippage under load. Shown above is a two coil fisherman knot, but as
mentioned above, three, four, or more coils could be used if more friction
#2 - Next, coil a couple of loops around the opposing rope lengths on
each side. The more the coils the more secure the knot. Two to three
coils should be more than sufficient.
#3 - Now complete your last coil and then feed the end of each rope
through it's own coils from the inside out. This way when the knots slide
together they will press against each other to provide lots of friction. This
will eliminate slippage under most normal loads.
"The Double Figure Eight"
The double figure eight knot is very fast to tie, and in my experience, a very secure knot. This knot is a good one for
quickly tying of the rope to a piece of protection, or tying in climbers in sequence on glacier travel. These are only a couple
of uses. You will no doubt find many other uses for the "Double Figure Eight Knot". Below is a four stop sequence showing
how to tie this knot.
#1 - Double back the rope and create a loose loop as shown.
#2 - Next, turn the doubled rope to the left, and create a circle of rope as
#3 - Take the loose loop of rope that extends to the right in figure two,
and wind it over the top of the double line.
#4 - Lastly, take the larger loop "A" in figure three, and wind it under the
small doubled coil shown in figure three "B", and pull it through from
beneath. Finally, pull the ends tight. You should now have a configuration
that looks similar to the above.
"The Bowline Knot"
The bowline knot is another very valuable knot in the climber's arsenal. This is a must know how to tie knot for every
climber and mountaineer. It is one of the most secure knots if tied correctly, and is used often for tying directly to the
climber's safety harness. You will find many uses for this knot also. An old saying for tying this knot went something like
this. "Through the hole around the pole and back down the hole" Below is a six part series on the "Bowline Knot"
#1 - Start off with a simple overhand knot configuration. This is the
"Through the hole" portion of the knot.
#2 - Next, wind the loose end of the rope around the long end of the
rope. In other words, "Around the pole."
#3 - Now, feed the loose end of the rope through the hole as identified as
"X" in figure two. Thus "Back down the hole."
#4 - Finally, pull the entire figuration tight, and dress up the knot.
#5 - I usually include an additional overhand knot to backup the bowline
knot. This is not absolutely necessary, but I find that it adds just a bit
more security. It also lets me know that something is amiss if I look down
and see my backup knot has come undone.
#6 - Shown here is a bowline knot being used to secure the rope to the
climber's safety harness.
"The Prusik Knot"
The prusik knot is used most often by climbers for self rescue situations. This knot enables a climber to ascend a single
rope. This would be useful, for example, for extricating oneself out of a crevice in a glaciated region. A prusik knot would
also come into play if a climber fell on an overhanging section of a rock wall and swung out of contact with the terrain.
Being able to climb back up the rope to the anchor would be very useful indeed. Mechanical ascenders can also be used for
these types of self rescues, but a lightweight loop of rope is many times more practical than carrying the extra weight of
ascender (not to mention the expense). Therefore, I believe it is very important for any climber who ventures into the wild
to have a knowledge of how to tie a prusik knot. You never know when your life could depend on it. Below is a five part
illustratioin of the "Prusik Knot."
#1 - First create a loop using a lightweight determined length of rope. You
need to make use of the "Fisherman Knot" as shown above to tie the ends
together. Then begin to wind the loop around the main rope (in red)
#2 - Next, continue to wrap the
loop of rope around the main rope.
The more the wraps, the more the
friction. Two or three wraps
should be enough.
#5 - Above shows the prusik knot
in action. A carabiner can be
attached to the prusik loop along
with a sling, and the climber can
then place a foot in the sling. Two
of these configurations must be
used, one for each foot, in order to
ascend the rope.
#4 - Prusik knot completed.
#3 - Above shows the prusik knot nearly complete. From here all you
need to do is pull the coil from the right, and tighten it up as shown in
Well, that's it for the knots section of Timberline Trails. I believe that it will
serve you well in your climbing and mountaineering career if you are able to
master the above knots. In my years of experience I have found them to be by far
the most important knots to learn.
Knots - are an extremely
important part of climbing
and mountaineering. No
climber could be
complete or safe without
some basic knowledge of
knots. On this page, I will
show you what I believe
to be some of the most
important knots that you
need to be familiar with.
There are multitudes of
knots that can be tied,
and if you knew them all,
you would be not only set
for climbing, but also to
tie off a clipper ship. But
I have found that the
knots shown on this page
have been sufficient for
me to get along quite well
over the years on many
excursions. If you would
like to advance even
further in the art of knot
tying, there are many
good books, and other
websites that specialize in
knots, and you may want
to explore them on your
own if you feel so