How to Tie Figure 8 Follow-Through Knot | Rock Climbing

Learn how to tie a figure 8 follow-through knot from climbing expert Cliff Simanski in this Howcast video.

Right now I’m going to show you how to tie in using a Figure 8 Follow-Through with a Double Fisherman’s as the safety knot. When I select the rope that I’m going to tie into, I want to make sure that, as the climber, I tie into the rope that’s closest to the wall, the end of the rope coming away from the belay bar is going to be for the belayer.

Once I’ve grabbed the proper end of the rope, the first thing I’m going to do is tie a Figure 8 knot. I’m going to do so by grabbing about an arm’s length, maybe a little bit more. I can drop the tail end of the rope and right now I’m going to do what’s called making a bite in the rope, so this bend is called a bite.

Next, I’m going to grab the tail end of the rope and I’m going to wrap it over that bite, making sure that I’m wrapping across the ropes. Once I’ve done that, I’m going to take that tail end and poke it right back through the hole that I made, pulling that tail all the way through. When you’re done, you’ll have a Figure 8.

If your knot looks like anything other than an 8, then you’ve tied it improperly. One of the biggest benefits of using one of these Figure 8 knots is that they’re very easy to identify. So if you have questions about it, make sure you just tie it again.

The next step is going to be to then tie yourself into this knot. So using this type of harness, I want to make sure that I’m threading the tail end of the rope through both my leg loops and also through the waist belt. I like to come from the bottom up because it’s easier for me to identify that I’ve properly gotten both loops. If I were to go from the top down, it’s a little bit easier to miss that leg loop spot, so I like to go from the bottom up.

Once I’ve done that, the rope is properly into my harness, I’m going to start to trace this knot back, making sure that I have two Figure 8’s when I’m done. So to start tying the knot, it doesn’t matter which side of the rope I start on, as long as you stay consistent. We are trying to get parallel lines here. So I’m going to start the knot, pulling that knot nice and close to my harness, trying to keep it about a fist’s length away.

The next step is going to be just to continue to trace this knot around, following that initial Figure 8, wrapping it once again around the rope, finishing the knot through here. Once you get to this step, you want to do what’s called dressing the knot. The way to do that is both ends of the Figure 8 knot need to be kind of tightened up or set in place. This makes the knot pull a little bit tighter, makes it a little easier to untie, and it prevents any weaknesses from having crosses in the rope.

Right here, to get the outside part of this knot a little bit tighter, I’m actually going to fold it in towards the knot, away from the two ropes that it’s touching. Then to tighten this rope, I’m going to grab two ends of the knot, pull those two, grab the other two, and pull those two. It cinches a little bit tighter that way than grabbing the whole knot at the same time and trying to pull it all at once.

Once you’ve tied that Figure 8 knot, you’re then going to tie your backup knot, which is the the Double Fisherman’s knot. To do so, I’m going to grab the knot, taking this tail end, wrapping it across the other rope, coming back over itself, making an X, and then come around again and sending that tail up underneath the X, pulling that tail through, pushing up on the knot to cinch it down a little bit tighter.

Once you’ve tied the knot, to make sure it’s tied properly, you’re checking for five pairs of two ropes in your Figure 8. So right here I have two ropes coming into my knot. Two, two, two, two coming out. So that’s one, two, three, four, five pairs of two. And if I flip the knot over, it should look exactly the same on the bottom. And with your safety knot, you should have an X on one side and an equal sign on the other. And even if you think about an X being the Roman numeral for 10, it’s a little bit more redundancy to make sure that you have your 10 ropes or five pairs. And that is how to tie a Figure 8 knot Follow-Through with a Double Fisherman’s.


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