How to make the basic mountaineering knots

How to make the basic mountaineering knots

Once dealing with mountaineering, rock-climbing, and rappelling, there is a need for ropes and other technical mountaineering equipment. Using ropes and equipment are the basics of safe movement in the mountains. To make it function successfully, there is a constant need for a sound knowledge of basic mountaineering knots.

It is essential to understand that once you learn how to tie the knots, there is a constant need to practise because that is the only way that you won’t forget them, and with that, you will understand them better. 

Once you practice enough, you will be able to make a difference in keeping yourself or others safe in critical and life-threatening situations on the mountains and rocks.

We are making the mountaineering knots in two ways:

  • Tying them – Simply tying the knot at the same time with both middle parts of the rope.
  • Knitting them – first, we use one part of the rope and the other part we follow ( knit ) the end of the rope and at we’ll get a knot.

Some mountaineering knots fall into groups determined by their usage. Here are some of those classifications:

  • To secure yourself on anchor, carabiner or climbing harness,

  • For joining ropes or webbing,

  • For rappelling, abseiling, belaying,

  • For building climbing anchors,

  • As stopper knots for baking up other knots,

  • For rescue and rigging


A single figure-eight knot belongs to the group of knots known as stopper knots. The single figure-eight knot is usually at the end of a rope. This knot is the basis of many other complicated knots used for rock climbing, like the figure 8 bend, figure 8 on a bight, figure 8 follow-through, double figure 8 knot, etc. 

Single figure eight knot made out of red mountaineering rope


The Trace-Eight Tie-in knot or Figure Eight follow-through is the one that connects you to the end of the rope. It is the knot to learn first, and it’s the only knot you’ll use every time you rope up. Climbers use various knots to tie in, but the Trace-Eight is the easiest to learn and the least likely to untie itself. Figure eight is among the strongest of knots. It forms a secure, non-slip loop at the end of the rope and is the most widely used tie-in knot by mountain climbers because of its strength and security. It is also easy to inspect visually.


The Figure-Eight on a bight is a good knot for quickly anchoring the rope or anchoring yourself to a belay station. Tie a single eight in the rope two feet from its end. Pass the free end through any tie-in point. Retrace the original eight with the free end leave a loop at the bottom of the desired size. Pull all four strands of rope to cinch down the knot. See Back Up Knot to add a backup knot for extra security.


Also known as bunny ears, it looks similar to the figure 8 knot, but it distinguishes from it with two loops, and in the structure, it contains a single loop connecting two figure 8 knots. This mountaineering knot is big, more stable, has better strength, can connect two anchor points, and doesn’t get loose with ease.

Double figure eight knot for basic mountaineering


This knot is used for connecting two ropes, but only with the same diameters. You should tie the ends of the ropes in a symmetrical figure-eight knot with parallel ropes to each other on all points of figure eight. For heavy loads, it is recommended to leave longer tag ends for securing the ropes with some stopper knots.

Figure eight bend knot for basic mountaineering


This knot is also known as double hitch knot because of the two successive half-hitch knots around some circular object. This very simple knot can be tied with one hand. It can be tied anywhere on the rope, except that if it is at the end of the rope, on the shorter part of the rope, it has to be used with a combination of stopper knots.

This knot is ideal for fast attaching/securing yourself to an anchor bolt, belay or rappel station. We can adjust the length of the rope simply or our position to the anchor by loosening the clove hitch, slack slide of the rope through, or retightening to get closer. The case is similar to adjusting the length of a rope on a running end, by feeding in rope from the wanted direction and tightening the knot again in the wanted position.

Clove hitch knot for basic mountaineering


This knot is always tied with a carabiner, usually with pear-shaped carabiners wide enough for at least two turns of the rope. It is an adjustable knot used for rappelling down from a steep rock without using a rappelling carabiner or belay device. It works by using the friction between rope and carabiner, controlled by you on one side as a load and your hand force on the rope on the other side. This knot is recommended only in situations when there is no other option or device for rappelling because using this knot will twist the rope in snarls, for which you need previous experience.


Another useful knot is simple to tie with one hand if you practice it and easy to tie and untie even after severe tension is applied. The characteristic of this knot is a loop at the end of a line, which can be fixed around big objects, and sometimes can be used as a substitution for a body harness, but only in life-saving procedures and never as a part of the main climbing rope. Again if used as a harness for climbing, it goes with a combination of stopper knots on the shorter end. This knot has more than ten variations of the original knot used for different purposes.

Bowline knot for basic mountaineering


Try joining two ropes with a similar diameter or making a loop from one rope connecting its ends. This knot is tied by two overhead knots, each one tied around the standing part of the other one. The most famous variation is Double Fisherman’s Knot. The latter is tied by applying a couple of double overhand knots in their strangle knot forms. By pulling the standing parts of the ropes or ends of the loop that we want to form, we draw the knots close together, and by increasing the pulling force, we make the knot stronger. The chances of untying the knot are reduced to a minimum. With this characteristic, untying the ropes will be very much difficult.

Fisherman's knot for basic mountaineering


This mountaineering knot is also known as a half knot. This knot is a basic stopper knot used as a safety knot by the climbers, and its form is used as a basis for other more complicated knots. If it is tightened strongly it can be jammed with difficulties to be untied.

Overhand knot for basic mountaineering


If you want to connect on the main climbing rope or ascend on a climbing rope, you need to know the Prusik knot and how it works. One needs a cord tied in a loop with a double fisherman’s knot wrapped around the main rope 3-5 times and then back through itself, forming a barrel around the climbing rope, with a tail of the rest of the prusik loop hanging out the middle. When the tail is without weight, then it moves smoothly in both directions of the rope.

Once it is weighted down with a load or pressure from a force that comes from you, the knot is tightened. It forms a bend in the rope that makes moving the knot impossible in both directions. Once the weight is removed, you can move the knot with your hand in the wanted new position, and repeat the process again and again.

Prusic knot for basic mountaineering


Also called the Alpine Butterfly Knot is used mostly to secure a middle climber on a rope with three or more people attached to the climbing rope. The connection between the rope and the harness is direct, with the carabiner to the loop of the butterfly knot. This knot is easy to be tied, but you need some practice and booth hands. Sometimes it is used to isolate some worn part of the rope. 

Butterfly knot for basic mountaineering

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