Bob Wightman

Advanced combinations of knots.

It is rare for a single knot to be used in isolation - many situations call for a combination of techniques. This page is about some of those techniques.

Before having to rely on these knots in a risky situation, please ensure that you have practised tying them in a safe environment.

Please note that these pages are under construction so some features may not be complete.


Joining fixed ropes

Big walls (or long abseils) may require that the length of an abseil is longer than a ropelength. In this case, two ropes have to be joined end to end.

Problem
Join two ropes together for a long (>50m) abseil, such that they can easily be undone. The solution should also allow convenient passing of the knot on abseil or ascent.
Solution
Join the ropes using a double fisherman's knot. Take this knot and form an alpine butterfly knot around it, so that the double fisherman's is at the end of the tie-in loop. The alpine butterfly takes the strain but is backed up by the double fisherman's which is unloaded so should be easy to undo. The loop of the butterfly can be used as a temporary tie-in point whilst the climber is passing the main knot.

Damaged Ropes

Problem
You have two ropes but one of them is damaged and you need to make several full length abseils and so need to retrieve the ropes after each abseil.
Solution
Thread the good rope through the belay point. Tie the ropes together with a double fisherman's knot, the fact that this knot is hard to undo after being loaded is not a problem here as we are after the safest solution.
In the good rope, as close to the double fishermans' as possible, tie an alpine butterfly knot
Clip a screwgate karabiner into the loop of this knot then clip it around the good rope on the other side of the belay. This then cinches up against the belay.
Now abseil on the good rope only. At the next belay point pull on the damaged rope and both the ropes are retrievable.
This method is also suitable for those situations where for weight purposes a very thin line has been brought as the second rope. See the link for pictures.