Caving Knots


This is a very versatile knot most commonly used for attaching ropes to anchor points. Most things that can be done with fancier knots (e.g. double loop knots for a Y-belay) can also be done with a suitable combination of figure of eights. If you only learn one knot, make it this one.

Strength: 55% (normal), 40% (abnormal)


The figure-of-nine knot can be used as an alternative to the figure-of-eight. It is very similar to a figure-of-eight with just an extra turn before finishing the knot. It is a little bulkier than the figure-of-eight but has greater strength. Strength: 70% (normal), 55% (abnormal)


This can be used for tying a rope around a belay but is most often used for tying the end of a safety line rope around a person when belaying them up a climb or ladder.

This knot does have a tendency to loosen and can come undone so it is a good idea to used a half hitch to secure the "tail" of the knot to the loop. Strength: 50% (normal)

Yosemite Bowline

This knot was sent to me by Bonnie Crystal.

This is a variant of the basic bowline which gets around the problem of the knot loosening itself by taking the end of the rope and threading it back through the knot. This is a neat alternative to using a half-hitch to secure the end of the rope and the resulting knot has the strength of a figure of eight.

Alpine Butterfly

A good knot for rebelays or for tying rub points out of a rope. Its main advantage is that the two strands of rope emerging from the knot are at 180 degrees to one another rather than emerging in the same direction as in a figure-of-eight for example. This makes it a good mid-rope knot and good for rebelays because it has greater strength than a figure-of-eight if the rebelay fails.

Double Figure-of-eight on the bight

This double loop knot is most commonly used for rigging Y-belays. The nature of the knot means that it is reasonably easy to adjust the loops by moving rope from one of the loops to the other.

Bowline on the bight

This is another double loop knot suitable for rigging Y-belays. It has the advantage that is is a bit less bulky than the figure-of-eight on the bight.

Italian/Munter Hitch

An excellent self-reversing friction knot suitable for belaying people when climbing or using a ladder. It can also be used for abseiling and gives a smoother ride than a stitcht plate (IMHO).

This one is worth learning for all those occasions when you forget your Stitcht plate or descender.

Clove Hitch

This simple knot is very useful for when you need a rapid belay around an object or though a krab.

Double Fisherman's

The standard knot for tying two ropes together. If used in the middle of a pitch, a loop knot such as the figure-of-eight should be tied into one of the "tails" of the knot for safety during knot passing.

The two knots that compose the double fisherman's should not be mirror images of one another (i.e. they should have the same "handedness") otherwise they won't stack properly.

"Hedden" Knot

This knot was sent to me by Len Gibler

Leo says: "...this one as far as I can tell was invented and used around 1960 by my friend Chet Hedden....It is possible to get it to jam but it is easy to looosen and fair it."

Constrictor Knot

Th knot was sent to me by Len Gibler

Leo says: "A new knot useful to cavers and climbers was invented early this century by Clarence Ashley himself. He calls it "the constrictor knot". It is enormously resistant to coming undone. Ashley claims it can be used in a pinch as a radiator hose-clamp and I don't doubt it..."

Farmers hitch

Th knot was sent to me by Len Gibler

Leo says: "This knot is excellent for tying in the middle of a climbing rope, for rebelays, for lashings of many kinds -- anyplace a loop that leads fair both ways in wanted. The method for putting it in is simplicity itself:

Take three turns of the rope round your hand, then:
1. Move center part (b) over right part.
2. Move new center part (c) over left part.
3. Move new center part (a) over right part.
4. Pull new center part (b) up to form the loop
5. For most satisfying results, remove hand before fairing or loading knot."

Tape/Water Knot

This knot is primarily used for tying tapes into slings for caving or climbing. The ends of the tape emerging from the knot should be secured to the tape loop using half hitches or insulating tape.

This knot is tied so that the load bearing tape emerges from opposite sides of the knot so it will sit naturally when the sling is in use.


Often used for securing a tape more securely around a stalagmite or column. The knot is weaker than just a loop of tape around the object, but it reduces the chances of the tape slipping off.

Prusik knots

A classic prusik knot is shown on the left, and a Kleimheist prusik knot on the right. Either of these, along with other prusik knots, can be used to prusik up a rope. The rope used for the prusik-loop should be a fair bit thinner than the rope to be climbed.

Sherry Mayo / ANU /