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grandpa

I have a figure-8 klnot question

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Is it "good practice" to tie off the tail on a figure 8 knot (with a fisherman's knot or the like)?

 

Initially, I learned to do so, but several climbing gyms I've visited do not, and was recently told by someone who makes his living by knowing and using ropes it's not necessary, but recommended one leaves 5x the diameter of the rope for a tail.

 

What do you think, those of you who know more than I (and that's probably everyone)?

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Apparently a well tied, clean figure 8 will not need a backup knot...just a nice little tail.

 

For me, I like a half fisherman's knot in the tail for psychological reasons.

I am sure you will get a myriad of opinions on the merits of a variety of backups...rewoven, glued, tied and stapled.

Bottom line is if it makes you feel better and push harder...do what works for you.

 

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I leave about four inches.. just long enough for a "yosemite finish"... where you tuck the tail back inside the knot. A fraction of a percent safer than leaving it un-finished, but without any extra effort.

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I too learned to back up a figure-8 with an overhand.

 

I know most of us in the rope rescue game have given up on the back-up knot on figure-8's after painfully exhaustive(and mindless) testing by others. People sit in rooms and talk about this kind of earth shattering shit for hours!

 

A PROPERLY TIED and dressed figure-8 should not need a back-up. Our rule of thumb is one palms width of tail.

Edited by cfire

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No.

 

And I wish climbing gyms would stop teaching it!

 

Thank you, all. And this is just the goal I have in mind where I work part-time. My source, a climbing guide on Rainier said essentially the same thing: a bowline needs it, fig-8 does not, and said something about gyms teaching it, and is wasteful of time and energy.

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I think it comes partly from tradition - the figure eight was introduced after the bowline, and since everyone tied back-ups on the bowline, they continued to do so with the fig 8.

 

But there's never been a report of a correctly tied, finished fig 8 spontaneously coming undone. There's several cases of unfinished fig 8's failing - Lynn Hill's 80-footer in France is possibly the most famous.

 

I think the gyms continue to teach it because it gives them a visible redundancy, allowing a lone employee manning the desk to take a look across the space and see - that even if someone completely fouled up their fig 8, they have some sort of backup knot that may work. Its not a guarantee, but it does add a level of reassurance.

 

I teach my guests this distinction, teach them yosemite finishes when they do have longer tail then needed, and explain that backup knots may get in the way at anchors on multi-pitch climbs, so we try to do without them.

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wouldn't call is completely wasteful. If you can tie the finish, then you have the required amount of tail. (and then some) I always tie the overhand but don't worry about it when it comes undone (the overhand knot), which it always does.

 

probably the more important thing to do is to tie the fig 8 cleanly (strands always parallel) and then tug on each of the 4 strands of rope coming out of the knot individually to really chinch the knot down.

 

single bowlines = scary knot IMO. any knot that really needs a backup is not my knot of choice.

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Speaking of bowlines. This is the "normal" knot for sailing. I was out the other day in a good breeze and the bowline on my jib untied (!) I can't speculate on the forces involved, but the knot was perfect and had been working fine for several days and just came untied under load. (granted it was a big load on the sail) I've never seen that before and makes think twice about tying into a climbing rope with it.

 

-Nate

 

 

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I recently started leaving enough tail to re-follow the original figure 8. This seems to make it easier to untie when the knot has been loaded.

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eldiente, my guess would be that the bowline knot became lose and simply fell apart, which it can do readily if lose. To make it more secure tie it as a double bowline (or round turn bowline) with yosemite finish. Tie off the end with a double overhand knot, making that more secure as well. I have been using this exclusively for more than forty years, except around beginners that only know the figure 8, and have never had any issues with it.

Edited by gary_hehn

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As someone said above, in the rescue world the move is towards no backup w/ F8 knots, at least among the more rational teams. That assumes a well tied dressed knot and a tail of 10 x rope diameter (with 10mm rope, that is enough to stick out of your fist if you grab it).

 

Take a fully tied F8 sometime, and untuck the tail once... you will get a directional F8, which is still considered a viable knot, so in a way you could say that it is already backed up!

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