Monday, December 10, 2012

Why I've Stopped Tying in with a Bowline

Here's a link to a story about John Long getting injured at a gym when his bowline came untied and he fell.

John says the knot failed because he didn't finish tying it properly.  I used to tie in with a bowline because they are easier to untie.  I no longer do because a friend of mine was 50 feet up a 5.12 trad lead, noticed his bowline had come untied and wouldn't hold a fall, had to re-tie the knot with one hand while barely hanging on with the other, and then lowered to safety.  I know it's a safe knot when done correctly, but that is two people I know of that are much better, harder, and more experienced climbers than I am that have narrowly escaped disaster because of a bowline coming loose.

I've decided to just stick with a figure eight.  It's never come loose on me, and trying to untie one after a hard fall just gives my arms a better workout.  Nothing wrong with that.


  1. 10 years ago I was cragging with a bunch of friends and one of them took a 60 found groundfall after topping out. Several of us at the time tied in with a rewoven bowline that I thought was quite safe and great for heavier climber. I quite frankly can't even remember the knot now, but the theory is his belayer didn't know how to check it, he mistakenly didn't finish it, and when he weighted it on the anchor off he went. Remarkably he only broke his collarbone, but did have a severe head injury that has left him with speech and motor function problems. Interestingly he had a pretty bad rope burn on his hand from trying to grab the catch the rope as he fell.

  2. You cant find figure 8 ever coming untied on there own but every year you read someone that has an unfortunate accident or worst because they were using a bowline. Just saying. It only takes an extra moment to untie a figure 8.

    Most gyms teach (and require) a figure 8. New generation of climbers will be like...What??? You tie into that??

    My 2 cents.