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Figure 8 vs Double Bowline
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By Jeffrey Watts
Nov 22, 2012
I'm a bigger guy 190-200lb and undoing a loaded figure8 can really suck sometimes so lately I've been tying the double bowline. Some people swear by this knot others wont even belay a person that ties it. From what I've read the figure8 is stronger but since the rope is so wicked strong that it really doesn't matter, and since the bowline is much easier to undue why not use it? Thoughts and opinions...

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By Alex M. Smith
From Bozeman, MT
Nov 22, 2012
Mt. Marcy
Here we go...

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Nov 22, 2012
Yosemite finish on your fig-8 will make your knot very easy to untie. make sure not to pull the finish tight, but instead leave a bit of space so you can pull the rope out of the knot.

the bowline is fine, provided you back it up and check it after every pitch if you're climbing multipitch. make damn sure to back it up, though, as otherwise it can and will come undone.

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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Nov 22, 2012
25' drop...wheeeeee!
The main benefit of the figure 8 is that it is incredibly easy to spot one that's tied correctly. This is part of what makes it such a safe knot. You're right that a bowline is plenty strong with modern ropes, but it's not as easy to see mistakes in it.

There are a bunch of threads on this. The general consensus is don't get fancy, fig 8's work and work well. Technically a figure 9 is an even better knot, but the difficulty in inspecting it makes it less preferable than the 8. If you're having trouble untying it, try a Yosemite finish (or stop falling, nyuk nyuk).



I find the Yosemite finish makes the knot a lot easier to untie when loaded (so does making sure the knot is dressed properly). If that doesn't work for you, well, it's your skin and you can go for the bowline if you really want to (as long as you have a consenting belayer, nobody wants to be a witness).

Cue the rabidly pro-bowline crowd:

(edit: looks like I got beat to the punch)

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By Bill C.
From Fort Collins, CO
Nov 22, 2012
If its tied right it will be just fine. If its not tied right it will not work.

It should also be noted that a bowline is not finished unless it has a fisherman backup. That step is not optional with this particular knot.

Some people will tell you that it is unsafe, which isnt necessarily true. Realistically, any knot that is tied incorrectly can fail, it's your responsibility to make sure that you are tying it correctly (and ideally have a belayer who can verify this every time).

Have fun, double check, and if you are comfortable and confident with it dont listen to the haters.

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By Jeffrey Watts
Nov 22, 2012
John thanks for the reply. Forgive my ignorance I'm pretty new to this sport. When you say "back it up" you mean tying a fisherman knot in addition to the bowline? And yes I have noticed, when tying the Yosemite finish it is a bit easier to untie.

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By Gregger Man
Nov 22, 2012
gg
Some method of backup is required.
This is what I do:

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By bearbreeder
Nov 22, 2012
i actually find the yos finish on the fig 8 much harder to untie

tie the fig 8 properly and neatly ...

after a whipper PUSH and twist the knot to loosen it ...

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By sevrdhed
Nov 22, 2012
Yer gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Nov 22, 2012
John Wilder wrote:
Yosemite finish on your fig-8 will make your knot very easy to untie.




If by Yosemite finish you are referring to the variation above, then I disagree with your statement. I have taken over 1,000 lead falls on a figure eight with a Yosemite tieoff and the knot is not any easier to untie with the Yosemite finish. I tie it just like shown in the picture above which was taken off the AAI's website as a guide on how to tie the figure eight. The only reason why I used the Yosemite finish was to remove the tail so the rope is easier to clip. The figure eight is a secure knot that will seize up under high loading, that is just how it goes, there is no way around it. I have actually had to cut the rope after taking multiple leashed highline falls. My friends and I tried all day to untie it and we couldent get it. That is why I switched to the double bowline on a bight. I have been using that for a year now and taken a few hundred lead falls on it, including one 50 footer, and it works great. I will never switch back. If you use the version I use, the Bowline is secure and will hold in any rope. Below is the version I use, except I feed the tail back through the knot so it stays out of the way. It is arguably the most secure version of the bowline:


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By mozeman
Nov 22, 2012
a true yosemite finish actually weakens the overall strength of the knot overall due to many reasons (not that the knot is every gonna be what breaks in almost all circumstances) but something to keep in mind.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 22, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on
" Yer gonna

diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!"

Yep. Gonna die!

Maybe just stop falling if a figure eight is too hard to untie after climbing. Or just do a knot similar to one used to tie shoes...just make sure to double knot it!!!

I like to use velcro to attach me to the rope personally...quick, easy, painless

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Nov 22, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
The only reason not to use one is because accidents have happened with bowlines. This is a very general statement, but it really is the only one that can be made. More accidents can be attributed to the bowline than the figure 8.

You will see people debate until they're blue in the face that a properly tied bowline will not come untied. This may be true, and it might not be. Knowing that for sure one way or the other might be hard to prove for one main reason: No one that ever had an incorrectly or correctly tied bowline that came untied ever had that same knot re-tie itself exactly the same way so that it could be examined.

Like most other people, I know people that tie in strictly with a backed up double bowline- even in gyms that forbid it, and I know those that only use a figure 8. Both have their merits, one has less accidents attributed to it. That's really the only valid factor. If you're going to use a bowline, know it well, tie it right every time, double check it, and back it up.

I'm 190 lbs and I fall a shitload because I suck, and I've never struggled that much with a figure 8 fwiw.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Nov 22, 2012
At the BRC
I like the "brotherhood knot" which is kind of like a reverse rethreaded overhand knot. But I think I'll start calling it the "alpine granny knot."

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By Rob Warden, Space Lizard
From Springdale Ut
Nov 22, 2012
blah
try the dyslexic bowline...its pimpin...

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By Mike Ecker
From phoenix
Nov 22, 2012
priest draw bat roof
I agree with john wilder all the way. Yosemite finish, as long as you don't pull the finish taught will untie easily. Plus why tie a knot that you will need to check every pitch or have to back up!

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By Cale Hoopes
From Sammamish, WA
Nov 23, 2012
Profile Icon
Wow... 1,000 falls.

I agree with the one person who found the yosemite finish on the double figure 8 to be a little harder to loosen.

However, I also think that you should just go with that and work the knot free after loading. Life goes on.

I don't think the bowline is that good of an idea just because it's so easy to tie it wrong and it's hard to inspect.

Typical answer, yeah, I know. But why take an extra risk?

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Nov 23, 2012
Cale Hoopes wrote:
Wow... 1,000 falls.

What can I say, falling is fun. I will gladly take a whipper for the camera to to startle the non-climbing locals in the area. Plus, I like climbing at and sometimes above my limit which means falls are inevitable. You are correct that the bowline is harder to inspect, but once you get it down, it's not hard. The downside to the bowline is that your partner cannot inspect unless s/he knows how to tie it which is part of the reason why it is normally not allowed in the gym. Also, unlike the figure eight, you should pretension the bowline, especially if you use the double bowline as opposed to the retraced bowline on a bight.

Honestly, the bowline on a bight with my special finishing "bowline Yosmeite finish" variation is the only version I would use. I have used the standard double bowline in the past, but that version is much less secure and can loosen up. At that point you are relying solely on your backup fisherman's to stop the knot from coming untied. I have seen people tie it with no backup! That is a death sentence IMO. Anyway, my version is so much secure because it is two knots tied in series. Basically you tie a single bowline, then retrace the rope back through your harness, tie another single bowline, then tie a finshing knot. It's pretty secure.

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By Allen Corneau
From Houston, TX
Nov 23, 2012
You guys are driving me nuts.

This is a bowline...




This is a double bowline...




This is a bowline on a bight...





Using the proper term will help to further the conversation instead of causing confusion.

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Nov 23, 2012
20 kN wrote:
If by Yosemite finish you are referring to the variation above, then I disagree with your statement.


No. I dont pull the finish line tight- that would make the knot just as hard, if not harder, to untie. Leave the tail loose enough to get two fingers through- pull the finish line out and the fig-8 is easier because its not seized up.

i've never taken a whipper on a fig-8 with a properly done yosemite finish that i couldnt easily untie.

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By skeeter
From Lakewood CA
Nov 23, 2012
Allen Corneau wrote:
You guys are driving me nuts. This is a bowline... This is a double bowline... This is a bowline on a bight... Using the proper term will help to further the conversation instead of causing confusion.



Hey Allen (or anyone else that knows), I've been curious about the double bowline and the lockoff. Does it need to be fed back through the loop then locked off or can it be locked off in the same fashion shown on the bowline diagram in your post?

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By Jonathan Steitzer
From midcoast, maine
Nov 23, 2012
Allen Corneau wrote:
You guys are driving me nuts. This is a bowline... This is a double bowline... This is a bowline on a bight... Using the proper term will help to further the conversation instead of causing confusion.



I'm totally with you. It drives me crazy too. Proper terms, knowing your knots, and rigging, is essential. Put some time into it.

Do you sail?

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By Allen Corneau
From Houston, TX
Nov 23, 2012
steitz wrote:
Do you sail?


Nope, just a climber living in the flatlands of the Gulf Coast.

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By prod.
From Boulder, Co
Nov 23, 2012
Double Bowline with a back up since 1989. Never come undone, I'm not changing.

Prod.

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By Allen Corneau
From Houston, TX
Nov 23, 2012
skeeter wrote:
Hey Allen (or anyone else that knows), I've been curious about the double bowline and the lockoff. Does it need to be fed back through the loop then locked off or can it be locked off in the same fashion shown on the bowline diagram in your post?


I don't know for sure, but I would assume it's just to keep the tail/stopper knot out of the main loop.

Extra info: I tie in with the BOAB (retrace, of course) and instead of tying an extra stopper knot as shown in the picture, I tuck the tail back down, in this case the loops on the lower-left of the knot.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 23, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Climbers using the Yosemite finish on a figure-8



should be aware of a dangerous tendency to capsize under relatively moderate loads (eg twice body weight) if the loop is cross-loaded. What you don't ever want to do is something like this:



A bowline that hasn't been properly backed up (for me, Yosemite finish plus barrel knot) is even worse if cross-loaded in this way.

The bowline on a bight, or in the context of tying in, the rethreaded bowline, is the best combination of security and untie-ability.

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