After each course, we ask clients to complete a feedback
form, so that we can improve our service. One aspect that
was highlighted by some climbing and ski courses clients,
was that it would be useful to be able to practice / revise
some basic ropework before the trip. If you are booked
on a course and do not understand any of the ropework
below, do not worry as one of our instructors / guides
can teach you the ropework you during your course. We
re-iterate that it does not matter if you do not know
any of these knots, especially if you are on a climbing
or ski course where no previous skills are required, as
you will be taught any ropework required during the week. Below is an overview film of all the knots and ropework, to get you started...
How to use this page
Above is an overview film (10 minutes long) of all the most commonly used knots and basic ropework for climbing and mountaineering. This film has an audio commentary, which talks you through how to tie the various knots, and their uses. The knots and ropework are divided into 4 sections...
STAGE 1 - Tying onto the rope. Knots; single figure of eight, rethreaded fig 8, stopper knot.
STAGE 2 - Making safe on the mountain. Knots; figure of 8 on a bight, clove hitch.
STAGE 3 - Rope control raising & lowers. Hitch Knots; Italian / Munter, Garda / Alpine Clutch.
After you have watched the full film, you may wish to practise particular knots, especially if you are already familiar with some of the knots. To assist you, to the right on this page are the separate clips (without audio) of each knot, so you can replay them as required, to learn the knots.
for tying onto a climbing rope, and backing up the
Figure of 8 knot
The figure of 8 knot is the first step of the most
popular way of tying onto a climbing rope. As you
can see from the diagram on the left, the knot does
form an 8 shape when tied correctly. In order to
tie the rope onto your harness, you need to tie
this knot roughly one metre from the end of the
Figure of 8 knot
Once you have followed the instructions in the section
above, you pass the end of the rope through the
leg and waist loops of your harness until the single
figure of 8 is close to the harness, and then retrace
the knot with the end of the rope until it emerges
out of the end by the main length of rope.
This is an alternative knot for tying onto a rope
with, though generally it is not advised for beginners
as the knot works loose quite quickly, and can turn
into a slip knot unless backed up with a stopper
knot (see section below). The bowline is useful
in that it can be untied even after heavy loading.
If you use a bowline, the stopper knot prohibits
the bowline reversing. If you are tied on with a
doubled figure of 8, the stopper knot is not necessary
unless you have misjudged the length needed for
tying on. The stopper knot is also called a fishermans
knot and two are used for making prussic loops.
for controlling a climbing rope
The italian hitch is used for belaying, and in case
you loose your abseil device it can also be used
for descending ropes. The only aspects to be aware
of are that this hitch kinks the rope and the karabiner
it is clipped onto can get warm if the hitch is
used for abseiling, and this could harm the rope.
This is used for locking the rope off on a karabiner,
and classically is used at all the belay anchor
points, such as ice screws or rock protection, that
a karabiner has been clipped into. Even when the
hitch has been put on the karabiner, it can be adjusted
without needing to open the karabiner again.
knots for locking onto a climbing rope
The kleimheist is often the most effective prussic
for locking on a rope, and is frequently used for
a safety back up on an abseil. The only disadvantages
to this knot are that it can lock too well, and
be hard to undo, and also all the load weight is
on one piece of 7mm prussic cord in a fall situation.
This prussic looks similar to the kleimheist, apart
from both end loops are clipped into the karabiner,
so in event of a fall, the weight is distributed
better on the prussic. This knot is very useful
in a crevasse rescue hoist pulley system as it can
be easily loosened, and can lock off automatically.
The tress is the best prussic to use on wet or iced
up ropes, a it squeezes the rope to create friction
when under load, rather than constricting on itself
like a normal prussic. This enables it to open more
when not loaded, so it can easily be slid over lumps
of ice that have formed on the rope.
ropework and hoist systems
do not expect clients to be able to set up crevasse rescue
hoist ropework systems before a course, but the two diagrams
below of the 1:3 and 1:5 mechanical advantage hoists have
been put up on this page by popular demand, so that past
clients can refer to them when revising techniques learnt
on their courses.
Ice Axes buried in snow
Ice screws if on a dry glacier
Buried rucksack or bag
STAGE 1: Tying onto the rope
Single Figure of 8
Rethreaded Figure of 8
Rethreaded 8 and Stopper
STAGE 2: Making yourself safe
Figure of 8 on a Bight
Clove Hitch using two hands
How to adjust a Clove Hitch
Clove Hitch using one hand
Rope control hitches
Italian / Munter Hitch
Garda Hitch / Alpine Clutch
STAGE 4: Safety backup knots
key part of choosing a company is being able to come and
talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor
face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know
our clients value speaking to real people, getting open
and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are
British, and our office and outdoor store is based in
Windermere in the English Lake District.
in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee
to discuss your course in person with a trip