Important Climbing and Scrambling knots

The advice on this page is meant as a reminder for people that have received qualified instruction on one of my rock climbing courses, or as pre-reading for those that are keen to learn as much as they can from one of Mountain-Trips rock climbing courses.

Under no circumstances should the advice on these pages be used without supervision from a suitably experienced person.

Tying knots is a fundamental skill in both rock climbing and scrambling. Luckily there are not that many we need to know and with a bit of practice they can become second nature.

Hover your cursor over the image for a description of how to tie the knot.

Basic Rock Climbing Knots

Rock climbing has a couple of knots basic knots that are essential. The Double Figure of Eight and the Clove Hitch are the two most commonly tied knots.

Clove Hitch

The clove hitch is mainly used for tying the rope to karabiners which have been attached to the rock face using protection. Clove Hitches are easy to tie, adjustable, use little rope and they can even be tied one handed.

Double Figure of Eight

This is one of the knots used for tying the climbing rope to a harness. It is an extremely strong knot, will not work loose and easy to check that you have tied it correctly. Its drawbacks are that it can be hard to undo at the end of the day and does take a long time to tie.

Stopper Knot

Both a Figure of Eight and a Bowline should be finished with a Stopper Knot. These will back-up the first knot if you have tied it incorrectly, stop the end of the rope pulling back through the knot and keep the end of the knot out of the way when you are climbing.

Overhand Knot

This simple knot is used for making loops in a rope, these loops can be used in many ways including attaching a rope to a harness, tying ropes together and fixing a rope to a spike of rock. You probably already know this knot but were unaware it had a name.

More Advanced knots

These knots are not so important for the beginner to learn but can prove very useful as you progress and learn more complex skills

Italian Hitch

This is similar to the Clove Hitch but the rope will move when you pull on either end of the knot. This knot can be used to belay with, as the friction between the ropes makes the rope easy to hold even with your partner hanging off the other end. Start by making two loops just like the start of the Clove Hitch.

Making a prussic loop

Prussic loops are useful for abseiling and in some cases used as 'tat' to abseil from (I use a stronger rope that I tie my chalk bag on with). They are made from 3mm or 4mm climbing cord that is tied into a loop using a double fishermans knot (half a double fishermans is used for a stopper knot

The photos below show the steps in making a prussic loop and have a look at the abseiling page for how to use them.

I know turn the knot around and repeat the process with the other end of the rope.

Learn more on a climbing course

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"The BMC recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions."


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