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7 Essential Mountaineering Knots



Knowing how to tie the right knot under pressure can be the difference between life and death on the mountain. But these knots can be useful at sea level, too, to make your life easier and safer.

Clove Hitch
The common, simple to tie clove hitch isn’t the most secure knots, but it’s adjustable and can be tied in the end or the middle of a rope. 
You can use the clove hitch to raise or lower things, like getting that piano through a second floor window, or securing the rope you used to tie the Christmas tree to the top of the car.

Girth Hitch
Another fairly common knot used, the girth hitch is incredibly simple to both tie and release. When dressed tightly and under tension, it’s also strong (though only in one direction) and secure.

Water Knot
The water knot is for pretty specific situations, but that’s what also makes it a great knot to know. If you use knots meant for joining rope and round cordage in order to tie flat webbing together, you may be in for a surprise once the knot is loaded. However, the water knot will do the trick.

More of a nautical than a mountaineering knot, the bowline can be tricky to learn at first. It’s the go-to for securing the end of a line around something or for making a secure loop in the end of a rope.

Figure 8
This essential, easy to tie knot can be tied in two ways — with a follow-thru, or on a bight (when tied in the middle of the rope). For most everyday applications, use the latter for a bomb-proof loop in a rope.

Fisherman’s Knot
This is an excellent knot for joining two ropes end to end. Say you’re tying down a tarp over the back of your friend’s pickup truck and you’ve reached the end of the rope. This knot will take care of you — simply tie on another piece of rope and keep on truckin’.

This friction knot has uses as mundane as hanging things from a vertical rope or pole or getting a better grip on another rope.

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