Figure of Eight Knot with Follow Through
In the late 80’s there was a fashion for poking and threading the tail of a Figure of Eight knot back through the body of the knot. It looked neat and myself and few other young climbers and instructors starting using this variation. Then word got around that in certain circumstances the knot would roll apart so we stopped using it. However it seems to be coming back into fashion so it seems timely to re-examine why we shouldn’t be using this technique.
Why we shouldn’t be using the Figure of Eight with
The standard figure of eight knot with or without a stopper is used every day thousands of times throughout the world. It has been tried and tested throughout a vast number of scenarios, we know that it works and is safe. The problem with knot variations is that they haven’t necessarily been through the same number of real life repetitions. With the variations there may be a particular situation or circumstance where the knot fails. This is the case with both the Figure of Eight knot with and the Bowline with Yosemite Huck.
We can test the Figure of Eight with and the Figure of Eight with follow through very easily with some bungee cord. Take a length of bungee cord of any thickness. Tie a standard Figure of Eight on the bight and try and pull it apart. It is impossible to make the knot pull apart or fail. Now try the same with a Figure of Eight knot with the follow through. The knot will pull apart and fail catastrophically.
The obvious counter to the the failure of the follow through is that a climbing rope will behave differently to a bungee cord. Well yes of course but it is possible to make the same failure of the knot occur with climbing ropes.
Whilst running Climbing Wall Instructor and Rock Climbing Instructor courses with instructional staff at the Foundry Climbing centre in Sheffield we started experimenting on the follow through with climbing ropes. Hydyn was first to pull apart with his hands a Figure of Eight with follow through tied in a climbing rope. Zac and Harry have also managed to pull knots apart with their hands as demonstrated in the following videos.
Now I’m not suggesting this rolling and failure will happen every time. It depends on the rope and to some extent how tightly the knot is tied (although it doesn’t seem to make much difference in bungee cord). But why take the risk?
The knot we tie in with is crucial to our safety so why risk a knot that may come undone when we can tie one that we know will absolutely not come undone.
What knot should we tie in with?
Tie a well dressed and well tightened Figure of Eight with 10cm of tail or with a stopper knot butted up against the figure of eight. Alternatively use a well tied and well dressed standard bowline with a stopper knot.
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