The Figure Eight Follow-Through Knot

The Figure Eight Follow-Through Knot

December 22, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guiding Rock Climbing

Why do I choose to tie in with the figure eight follow-through knot? Well, that’s easy: it’s the knot we all know and can readily identify! The figure eight follow-through knot has many great attributes. It’s simple, strong, self-cinching; it takes two complete motions to untie; it’s fairly easy to untie after being loaded, and most importantly, it’s easy to identify and therefore double check! That ease of identification is my number one reason for using this knot.

Over the last eleven years of climbing I’ve dabbled with quite a few tie-in knots, and I always find myself coming back to old faithful. I’ve gone through the phases of finishing my eight with a Yosemite finish or even the Kentucky tuck. I’ve tied in with rethreaded bowlines and even the brotherhood knot. I’ve been told and heard all sorts of reasons why these knots are all better for sending or climbing above your limit. Things like, the bowline is much easier to untie after loading it versus an eight or, the “bro” knot is way more streamlined and keeps your tail out of the way when clipping. Yeah…..those things might be true to an extent, but do the pros outweigh the cons? 

I’ve never met an eight that I couldn’t untie, even some poorly dressed ones. I also have never clipped the wrong side of my eight while leading. With a six inch tail I find it almost impossible to miss clip my tail end instead of my lead end. With that said, a poorly dressed eight is a bad, bad eight. I recently saw a young lady climbing in the gym and her eight was so far from her tie in points that she couldn’t clip the lead end of her rope. My heart was racing watching her struggling to “not” take that whip! Don’t even get me started about why the “backup knot’ is a major concern as well.

Some of my experiences with other methods of tying in have led me back to the figure eight follow- through. For example, I have had a rethreaded bowline come fairly loose while climbing at my limit. Now that was terrifying! I once was a big Yosemite finish kinda guy but after many gym sessions struggling to get my eight untied, I had the realization that maybe this method of finishing is harder to untie than just tying the thing correctly  Let’s not forget about the brotherhood knot only being an overhand with a follow through. One motion to untie! Add to that the difficulty in being able to easily double check these other knots, and the cons of other knots outweigh any perceived advantage.

My climbing experience has led me to be an advocate for tying in with the figure eight follow-through. In my guiding experience I can’t imagine teaching guests to tie in with anything else. The ability for me to be able to double check with ease is invaluable. Fast, simple, safe!

Petey Guillard

AMGA Assistant Rock Guide

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