Knots, hitches and prusiks are foundational to mountaineering skills. There is a wide variety of them that can be deployed in various situations, each with their own functionalities, advantages and drawbacks.
These are the knots covered in MIR’s TMC technical syllabus. They will be used frequently throughout the programme. TMC Team Members should be confident in tying them and familiar with their specifications.
Check out Animated Knots for step by step guides on how to tie these knots, or follow along MIR’s videos below.
Double of Figure 8 Retraced/On Bight
- Basic tie-in knot when climbing.
- Retraced version is useful for creating a secure loop at the end of the rope.
- Used on a bight to create a loop in the middle of the rope. Useful as an intermediate anchor point or to clip in when roping-up.
- The knot becomes difficult to untie when shock-loaded.
- Ensure that knot is clean before loading.
- Primarily used in anchor systems.
- Useful to create a loop in the middle of a rope, especially during roping up.
- More stable than Bowline on a bight or Figure 8 Loop.
- Remains reasonably easy to undo even after heavy load.
- Load is evenly spread between the Loop, and both ends of the loop, hence it is able to isolate any damage section of the rope if need be.
- Creates a secure loop around an object, and to anchor onto it.
- Used as a rock climbing tie- in knot (Yosemite Variant).
- Emergency Harness (triple bowline).
- One-handed Safety Harness (one-handed technique).
- Anchor knot (when climbing).
- Joins two ends of a webbing or sling.
- Used to make a closed loop from a single piece of unsewn webbing.
- Used to tie two ropes of different diameter.
- Binds tightly when loaded.
- Used to tie two ends of Prusik cord together.
- Secures to ends of ropes, and binds tightly when loaded.
- The Girth hitch attaches a sling to your harness or to another rope or carabiner.
|Quick knot for clipping in to a locking carabiner.||Can be tied easily with both hands using loops or retrace method, or with one hand.||May slip, so back up knot should be considered when knot is utilised.|
|Attach a fixed rope or sling to an object.||Knots makes it easy to adjust the length of the rope between climber and anchor without unclipping the rope from the carabiner.|
- Dress the knot by tightening both strands firmly. If the knot is tied correctly, it will stop the pull when loaded.
Munter Hitch, aka halbnmastwurfsicherung, aka “half clove-hitch belay”, aka HMS (hence, HMS carabiner). This hitch is versatile and introduces friction into the system, which gives rise to its applications. The following table highlights these.
|Can be used as substitute for dedicated belay device||Hitch is bidirectional (rope can be fed out of the carabiner or rope can be pulled back through)||Can put twists in rope, especially if used repeatedly|
|Used in belaying, abseiling, crevasse rescue.||Lots of friction for controlling heavy loads, arrest falls.|
|Easy to set up|
(Reference: The Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition, The Mountaineers Books)
Prusiks are a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope. They are utilised in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, rope rescue and zip-lining. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord and the hitch, and the verb is “to prusik”. More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope.
- Ascending a fixed rope, such as climbing a steep slope
- Crevasse rescue
- Safety backup for abseiling
- Emergency anchor point in the middle of a rope
- Autolocking knot in a hauling system
|Ascending and descending a line||Moves up and down the line with greater ease than a Prusik||Grips best only in one direct (unidirectional)|
|Grabbing the rope at a fixed point on the line||Gripping strength is high, but not as strong as a Prusik||Use with caution in snowy conditions|
|Sometimes able to release under load|
Also known as the French Prusik, a variation of the Kleimheist Prusik using a carabiner.
|Ascending and descending a line||Very quick to tie||Weakest gripping strength of the three hitches|
|Grabbing the rope at a fixed point on the line||Moves up and down the line with greater ease than a Classic Prusik||Sometimes slow to grab; needs to be set carefully|
|Somewhat releasable hitch||Can be loaded in either direction||Use with caution in snowy conditions|
|Relatively easy to release under load||Abrupt load release|
|Ascending and descending a line||Can handle weight of very large loads without slipping||Once weighted, does not slide up and down the line as easily as other friction hitches|
|Grabbing the rope at a fixed point on the line||Can be loaded in either direction (bidirectional)||Very difficult to release under load|