Ropework for traditional climbing - tying in
This article considers the advantages and disadvantages of each style of knot and explains how to use the rope loop you create.

Ropework for traditional climbing - tying in

You need to be in no doubt that the rope is securely attached to your harness. The only foolproof method is to tie a secure knot. Choose between a rewoven figure of eight and a bowline. Both are perfectly adequate for the job but there are subtle differences between the two that are worth being aware of.

Rewoven Figure of Eight 


  • Easy to learn 
  • Easy to see if it is right
  • If tied incorrectly you end with an overhand or figure of nine, both safe
  • Cannot come undone if tied correctly
  • Still safe if the stopper comes undone as long as there is sufficient tail
  • Quite bulky
Bowline bowline
Bowline with Stopper 
  • Quick to tie
  • Low bulk
  • More complicated to learn
  • Can work loose
  • Must have a stopper to prevent it working loose
Rope Loop  

Whichever knot you choose, you will create a fist-size loop as you tie around the leg loops and waist belt of your harness. This is known as the 'rope loop' and it becomes the focal point for tying yourself to anchors and the loop to which you will attach the belay plate.

This enables most of the load to be transferred to the anchors bypassing you. If you belay from the harness central loop, as you would if not tied into the rope at all, you will hold a great deal more of the weight. This is not unsafe but it is unnecessary and is less comfortable for the belayer.


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