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Figure Eight Knots

Figure Eight Follow Through

If you are a beginner climber and can only remember one knot, let it be this one. I'd be very surprised if any climber did not know this knot. Among other uses, it's very popular as a "tie in" for attaching the climbing rope to your harness. With that in mind, follow these steps to "tie in" with the Figure Eight knot:
Step 1 (Click To Enlarge)Step 2 (Click To Enlarge)Step 3 (Click To Enlarge)Step 4 (Click To Enlarge)
Step 1: Form a single figure eight in the end of the rope and feed the tail through your harness. Some harnesses require that you feed the rope through certain straps. When tying in, I like to feed rope through the same harness straps that the belay loop occupies (not pictured), others prefer to use the belay loop (as pictured). Still others prefer to tie into a steel locking carabiner, or two aluminium locking carabiners, gates reversed, which have been clipped into the appropriate harness straps. There are pros & cons. Consult your harness manual for the recommended tie in point.

Steps 2 & 3: Rethread the figure eight, following the same path as the first. Pull the knot tight (though some climbers prefer to leave it a little loose to absorb force from a fall). Make sure you have enough tail, as the knot will slip a bit when loaded. Check the knot by counting "two", "two" & "two", for the three visible doubled strands. Ensure they each are lying flat and not crossing over themselves.

Step 4: An optional step. If you find yourself with too much tail, or are paranoid about the figure eight slipping, tie a stopper knot with the remaining tail. 

It is recommended that you check your partner's tie in knot, and get them to check yours before climbing.

Figure Eight On A Bight

This knot is formed from a "bight" of rope. It's very handy to just grab a bight of the rope anywhere along it and tie it off in this manner. Useful for belay set ups, or rescue work, or to backup ascending a rope, and all sorts of applications. Again, I'd be very surprised if any climber did not already know this knot. Never-the-less, follow these steps to tie a figure eight on a bight:
Step 1 (Click To Enlarge)Step 2 (Click To Enlarge)Step 3 (Click To Enlarge)Step 4 (Click To Enlarge)
Steps 1,2 & 3: Grab a bite of rope and form the classic figure eight. Step 4: Pull tight and clip in. Fast, simple and secure.

In-line Figure Eight

This knot can be used to anchor the rope. It's perhaps not as commonly used as the aforementioned, figure eight on a bite, but is very handy when equalising anchors. Follow these steps to tie the in-line figure eight knot:
Step 1 (Click To Enlarge)Step 2 (Click To Enlarge)Step 3 (Click To Enlarge)Step 4 (Click To Enlarge)
Step 1: Form a large loop in the rope. Steps 2 & 3: Elongate the loop, tucking it under and over the line and feeding it back through itself. Step 4: Pull tight and clip to load/anchor. The finished knot should be "facing" the direction of the load. You'll note that with a bit of adjustment you can elongate or shrink the protruding loop - very handy when equalising two anchors.


Further Reading:
Figure Eight - From Petzl's Web site.
Figure Eight - From Rock & Ice Magazine Online.
Figure Eight With Extra Pass - From Karl Lew's web site.
Which Knot As A "Tie In" - The rethreaded figure eight or bowline from Dawn's FAQ site.


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