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Figure 8 vs Double Bowline
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By Buff Johnson
Nov 24, 2012
smiley face

Think of the safety as a political knot. It's made for those that need to hold themselves as important to others without actually accomplishing anything.


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Nov 24, 2012

camhead wrote:
So THAT'S why we never hear about you sending anything!

Yea, well someone has to test the ropes for safety, those UIAA guys dont actually climb. I sent an A3 on El Cap this season. If you send me a flag with your face on it I will drag it up the big stone next season and hang it atop the Nose. That way when all the nooby Euros top out they can look at your unworked face and ponder how you were able to get up there so effortlessly. The Koreans will instantly worship you as the El Cap god and supreme ruler of the multi-day climbing universe. You might be able to pull a sponsorship gig out of it.


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By Dylan Dwyer
From Missouri
Nov 25, 2012
after OS soloing the first flat iron, direct route

an added advantage to the bowline is that you will never forget to untie your figure 8 before you pull the rope for the next climber. i've seen too many people leave their 8 still tied to the end after they finish climbing. bad habit that i've had to break from some of my partners. for various reasons i tie a double bowline. i learned the knot when i was 10 and have tied it more than anything, so knowing how to check it is no problem for me. and apparently i don't know how to dress a figure 8 if i have ever had trouble untying it?? i just thought thats the way it was!!


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By bearbreeder
Nov 25, 2012

if you dont fall on a climb where the gear is good and backuped, and the fall is clean ... you arent climbing hard enough

its that simple ;)

and no one i know leaves a fig 8 on the rope once they get out of the toppu roperu tofu guy stage in the gym =P


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By Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Nov 25, 2012
rockerwaves

Mark you're spot on as usual
Aloha, Olaf


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By Edward Pyune
From Las Vegas, NV
Nov 25, 2012
Mongol Hoarde





What a cool knot! I just practiced it, and while I'll take your word that it is very easy to undo, one thing that I noticed was that it took quite a long time to take off. If you are doing a long multipitch route where you won't be removing yourself from the rope for long periods of time, this would seem to be a very good choice. But for single pitch climbs where you may be trading the rope with your friends, I think sticking with the easy to remove figure 8 follow-through is the way to go.


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Nov 25, 2012

Edward Pyune wrote:
If you are doing a long multipitch route where you won't be removing yourself from the rope for long periods of time, this would seem to be a very good choice. But for single pitch climbs where you may be trading the rope with your friends, I think sticking with the easy to remove figure 8 follow-through is the way to go.

Actually you have it completely backwards. The bowline should not be used on multipitch, and especially not long multipitch routes because the knot can in some cases loosen up and possibly come untied. The version I use is very unlikely to come untied, but some versions can. This knot is best used on single pitch climbs where the leader falls often. The only reason why the knot took longer for you to untie was because you did not take a whipper on it. The entire function of this knot is to make it faster and easier to untie after a lead fall. But it is only functional if you fall. If you dont take whippers often, dont use the bowline, there is no point.


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By Eric Coffman
Nov 25, 2012
mountainlion

^^^^+1


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By Allen Corneau
From Houston, TX
Nov 25, 2012

20 kN wrote:
The entire function of this knot is to make it faster and easier to untie after a lead fall. But it is only functional if you fall. If you dont take whippers often, dont use the bowline, there is no point.





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By mcarizona
From Flag
Nov 25, 2012

I like the bowline, but use an '8':

www.rockandice.com/articles/how-to-climb/article/324-not-the>>>

Don't really need to read the link, it pleads that we use the eight. Anyone climbing today?

Steve


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By milesholland
Nov 25, 2012

My friend had his double bowline untie and slide through the all the quickdraws before landing back at my feet. After a few solo moves and an awkward game of catch, my partner got the rope back, tied in and continued on the route, but is now a self proclaimed "figure 8 man"


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Nov 25, 2012
Colonel Mustard

This is yet another matter of personal preference gone dogma. It is as ridiculously inconsequential as debating the merits of an innie versus an outtie. Then again, this is the internet.... Carry on ;).


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 25, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

everyone knows outties are disgusting!


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By John Husky
Nov 26, 2012

I use a cable laid rope, take along a marlin spike and instead of tying in I splice the rope around my harness.

In reality though, I have pulled my car out of the snow/ditch with a fig 8 and untied it. The rope was a 8.6 and required smashing with a hammer to soften the knot.


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By Gregger Man
Nov 26, 2012
gg

I'm curious about which variant(s) of the bowline were tied in the infamous cases of failure or near-miss. It's hard to compare apples to apples when there are so many different ways to complete the knot.


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By John Husky
Nov 26, 2012

Gregger Man wrote:
I'm curious about which variant(s) of the bowline were tied in the infamous cases of failure or near-miss. It's hard to compare apples to apples when there are so many different ways to complete the knot.


An excellent endorsement for the fig 8. K.I.S.S.


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By Mark Wyss
From Denver, CO
Nov 26, 2012
Mt. Baker

I'm wondering what the ratio is on climbers who learned to climb using the figure 8, then decided to switch to the double bowline, and vice versa. The age of the climber, or how old the mentor is. Where the climber/mentor are from (america, europe, aust, etc).I see no reason to change. I mean is the figure 8 really that difficult??

I don't know of ANYONE that when taught the fundamentals of climbing, the double bowline was part of it. It was always the figure 8. That may be a result of many learning to climb in a gym. But why switch knots? Laziness had been brought up and though an irrational reason, it is the way American's are these days.


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By bearbreeder
Nov 26, 2012

Mark Wyss wrote:
I'm wondering what the ratio is on climbers who learned to climb using the figure 8, then decided to switch to the double bowline, and vice versa. The age of the climber, or how old the mentor is. Where the climber/mentor are from (america, europe, aust, etc).I see no reason to change. I mean is the figure 8 really that difficult?? I don't know of ANYONE that when taught the fundamentals of climbing, the double bowline was part of it. It was always the figure 8. That may be a result of many learning to climb in a gym. But why switch knots? Laziness had been brought up and though an irrational reason, it is the way American's are these days.


ive noticed a certain "cool factor" among some gym and sport climbers about the bowline ... something that sets em apart form the rest of the gumbies ... or that makes em seem more "advanced" because they now have a fancier knot

and quite a few of these people are newish climbers ... tie a bowline and send an 5.11 and suddenly yr not a top rop tough guy anymore ...

what i find pretty funny personally is newish climbers who tie a bowline for top roping claiming its easier to untie ..

but hey im not telling people what knot to use ... its yr own responsibility ;)


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By Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Nov 26, 2012
rockerwaves

I have been a climber for over forty years now.
For many of those years I was a rock climbing guide and instructor.
I have always used and taught the basic figure eight as the tie in knot.
It has never failed.


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By Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Nov 26, 2012
Big Boulder, just a bit downhill from Temple of Kali. Alabama Hills, CA.

Olaf.... right on.

rgold.... that picture 3#.. showing you clipped in to anchor on your rope loop.

That is a two edged death setup....

A fellow, RIP... bought the farm a few summers ago on Thin Ice.

I guess when the T-Storms blew in, and they put on jackets, he could no longer see that he was only tied in to the rope... like in your photo. When it came time to untie rope and rap outa there.... he was gone.

Very sad but true.


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 26, 2012
smiley face

Gregger Man wrote:
I'm curious about which variant(s) of the bowline were tied in the infamous cases of failure or near-miss. ...


We had an interesting philosophical discussion this past weekend -- wouldn't a "near-miss" be a hit??


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By roger fritz from rockford, IL
Nov 26, 2012
Wichita Mountains, Sunshine Wall

Buff Johnson wrote:
We had an interesting philosophical discussion this past weekend -- wouldn't a "near-miss" be a hit??


A miss that was near to the target is still amiss.


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By dancesatmoonrise
Nov 26, 2012
avatar

Interesting and perhaps sobering discussion.

For my personal situation, I have tied in every single time with a bowline since maybe the early 90's. For the 15 years prior to that, it was an 8. Here are my observations:

- An 8 is solid.
- An 8 can be a PITA to undo after a fall.
- I always backed up the 8.
- When untying from an 8, many leave the half-8 in the end of the rope. On alpine, mixed, peak-bagging, or winter serious sheet, that half-8, or other back-up, has not rarely ended up at an anchor, high above, leaving the team with some tough options. Happened to a winter alpine team on Snowmass, two years ago.

- I always back up the bowline (a single bowline) with a half-fisherman's knot.
- I always tension the bowline - before making the backup.
- The bowline takes less rope to tie. Often inconsequential, but on extremely long pitches, it might avoid a few feet of simulclimbing. This has come into play more than once during my climbing career.
- I've taken quite a few falls, and a couple exciting whippers, with this knot, and it's never failed me. One particularly exciting episode was a near-factor-1 fall in November 2011. Knot held just fine.
- The bowline has worked well for me on multipitch routes as well.
- After tying the half-fisherman's backup, the loop easily tucks through the leg-loop portion of the tie-in point on the harness (because the tail comes back toward you, instead of going away from you,) keeping the tail neat and clean and out of the way.


In summary, I like the single bowline with a half-fisherman's backup. It's quick and easy to tie and untie, and it has proven reliable, at least in my personal experience. This thread does make me quite curious about the purported failures, and what truly occurred. It does make me think twice about perhaps going back to the 8 after something close to 20 years with the bowline.

Two parting thoughts. In the real early days, we used a bowline on coil. But then, that was before climbing was "for the masses." Men were men, Ray hadn't invented Friends yet, and you either wore EB's or RR's. : )

And the last thought is this: If one does not tie a bowline, but simply the half-fisherman's backup, it becomes an extreme (and still reliable) slip-knot - cinching down on the tie-in point when loaded. In other words, the backup alone, even with an improperly tied bowline, should hold. This is also true of the 8. To me, the backup knot is as important in the tie-in (regardless of what type of tie-in knot) as it is in roped-solo climbing. Backup, redundancy... key components of safety in so many aspects of climbing and alpinism.


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 26, 2012
smiley face

roger fritz from rockford, IL wrote:
A miss that was near to the target is still amiss.


Yes, but you nearly missed


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By Mark Wyss
From Denver, CO
Nov 27, 2012
Mt. Baker

dancesatmoonrise wrote:
Interesting and perhaps sobering discussion. For my personal situation, I have tied in every single time with a bowline since maybe the early 90's. For the 15 years prior to that, it was an 8. Here are my observations: - An 8 is solid. - An 8 can be a PITA to undo after a fall. - I always backed up the 8. - When untying from an 8, many leave the half-8 in the end of the rope. On alpine, mixed, peak-bagging, or winter serious sheet, that half-8, or other back-up, has not rarely ended up at an anchor, high above, leaving the team with some tough options. Happened to a winter alpine team on Snowmass, two years ago. - I always back up the bowline (a single bowline) with a half-fisherman's knot. - I always tension the bowline - before making the backup. - The bowline takes less rope to tie. Often inconsequential, but on extremely long pitches, it might avoid a few feet of simulclimbing. This has come into play more than once during my climbing career. - I've taken quite a few falls, and a couple exciting whippers, with this knot, and it's never failed me. One particularly exciting episode was a near-factor-1 fall in November 2011. Knot held just fine. - The bowline has worked well for me on multipitch routes as well. - After tying the half-fisherman's backup, the loop easily tucks through the leg-loop portion of the tie-in point on the harness (because the tail comes back toward you, instead of going away from you,) keeping the tail neat and clean and out of the way. In summary, I like the single bowline with a half-fisherman's backup. It's quick and easy to tie and untie, and it has proven reliable, at least in my personal experience. This thread does make me quite curious about the purported failures, and what truly occurred. It does make me think twice about perhaps going back to the 8 after something close to 20 years with the bowline. Two parting thoughts. In the real early days, we used a bowline on coil. But then, that was before climbing was "for the masses." Men were men, Ray hadn't invented Friends yet, and you either wore EB's or RR's. : ) And the last thought is this: If one does not tie a bowline, but simply the half-fisherman's backup, it becomes an extreme (and still reliable) slip-knot - cinching down on the tie-in point when loaded. In other words, the backup alone, even with an improperly tied bowline, should hold. This is also true of the 8. To me, the backup knot is as important in the tie-in (regardless of what type of tie-in knot) as it is in roped-solo climbing. Backup, redundancy... key components of safety in so many aspects of climbing and alpinism.


Age?


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