A rethreaded figure eight, or figure eight follow through, is a very commonly used tie-in knot in rock climbing. Though it has its draw backs (mainly just getting it untied after a strenuous climb can be trying), it is the best knot to learn when beginning to climb because if done correctly is very safe. The following steps will show you how to take a figure eight knot and use it to tie-in to a harness for rock climbing.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- A harness
- A rope rated for rock climbing
Form a single figure eight and attach it to your harness. I would recommend NOT tying in to just the belay loop, although this is a method some climbers may follow. A very safe method of tying in requires that you feed the tail of the rope through the two loops of webbing that the belay loop also occupies. If in doubt, you can always consult the instructions that come with your harness for recommended tie-in points.
Re-threading the 8. Feed the tail of the rope back into the bottom of the knot next to where the rope exited to form the tail. Follow the line of the knot keeping the two parts side-by-side making sure not to cross them. The tail will finish out by coming out the top or part furthest from your body.
Check your knot. You can check the rethreaded eight by counting the sets of double lines you can see. You should see three sets of doubled rope in the eight.
Dress the knot. Be sure to pull tightly on both strands together to “dress” the knot, ensuring all the while that the doubled areas stay flat and next to each other and not crossed. Some climbers like to leave their knots loose to absorb a fall, but beginners who are top-roping should focus on proper knot-tying to insure safety first. Developing your own system can be done later as experience is gained.
Tie a backup knot. A backup knot is optional for people who have too much tail left over or as just another safety measure if the climber is worried about the figure eight slipping. The excess can be wrapped around the rope twice and then the tail fed through from the top to tie a “stopper” or “fisherman’s” knot. You may hear some climber’s also mention a “Yosemite” finish, which entails feeding the excess tail back through the figure eight. Again, developing your own system should come later as you gain experience.
Check your knot. It is recommended to make checking your knot and your partner’s knot is always a part of your safety system. Before beginning to climb do a check of each person’s harness and knot system and have someone check yours. There is no reason to reach the top of a climb to find out you are tied-in improperly and at that point, you may not have a safe way to remedy the situation.
Tips and warnings
- Rock climbing is a sport that when practised safely and with the proper training and equipment can be fun for beginners as well as the more advanced. It can also be an inherently dangerous activity when warnings are not heeded and proper training is not sought.
- You should never climb alone.
- Always double check your knots and have someone else check them no matter how experienced you are; everyone can make mistakes.
- Also remember that a well-tied knot will not help you if your harness is not fastened properly or doubled-back.
- Never leave the ground until all safety checks have been performed and your belayer is ready with the appropriate technique and equipment.