The Munter Mule Overhand (MMO)

The Munter Mule Overhand (MMO)

April 22, 2023 fmg-adminGuides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

The munter hitch or Italian hitch is a foundational tool that can serve many purposes in the rock and alpine climbing environment.

belayed rappel with MMO know

It can work as a belay tool in the off chance that you accidentally drop your device, and it can be used to lower a climber or even rappel. When tied off with a mule hitch and backed up with an overhand, the munter-mule-overhand or MMO becomes a great releasable hitch that is integral to effecting any rescue involving a rope.

The MMO is material efficient, requiring a single HMS style carabiner and a rope, and it is easy to construct with some practice. 

Tying the MMO is simple yet should be practiced many times before being used in an actual scenario. You’ll start by tying a munter hitch in the loaded position, or lowering position, instead of the belay position. Next, you’ll use the brake strand to create a mule hitch around the load strand. Once you’ve created the mule hitch, you’ll need to pull enough slack through to then finish with an overhand around the load strand.

Now you have a MMO which essentially fixes the load strand of rope but allows that fixed strand to be released under load. This ability is what makes the MMO invaluable for rope rescue systems. Since the MMO is primarily used for rescue, it is important to learn how to construct it under the supervision of a trained professional.

Now, let’s imagine a scenario where you’re a couple pitches up a route and you’re belaying from a plaquette style device attached to the anchor. Often people refer to a plaquette style device as a guide style device. These devices work great for belaying from above because they automatically block the brake strand of rope. (Please note that these devices are not meant to be a hands-free device and if you’re taking your hand off the break strand for longer than a few seconds you should tie a knot in the brake strand to back it up.) So, you’re belaying from above and your partner gets hit by rockfall and is unconscious. While there are many ways to release the device to effect a lower, let’s remember that we are more than a rope’s length from the ground, and our partner is unconscious. So, what do we do (after calling for rescue assistance)? Well, the first thing we need to do is get the device out of the system. How do you do that when your partner is not able to unweight the rope? Here’s where the MMO shines.

This scenario and many others are reviewed and practiced during our Rock 402, Rock Climbing Self Rescue course. This course focuses on all the fundamental tools needed to perform a “self-rescue.” While calling for a rescue is often a good idea, it’s also important to know how to get yourself and your partner to ground.   

Forrest Stavish
AMGA Assistant Rock Guide, Ice Instructor, WEMT-B  

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