Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

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Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Murdakah » Sat Mar 01, 2014 1:33 pm

Ok, so I've been reading a lot regarding the Bowline vs Figure of 8, their pros and cons. From what I gather, apart from the fact that the subject is pretty much in a stale mate. What are you guys' thoughts on the matter?
I know that the bowline is prone to untying itself, even the Yosemite finished versions, and thus needs a safety/stopper. But doesn't this defeat the purpose of using the bowline in the first place over the figure of 8? Or is there some other advantage despite easier undoing?
And the fact that the bowline is slightly more difficult to check on your partner really is somewhat beside the point.

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by DamageINC » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:39 pm

So you listed the negatives of Bowline, but what is the real benefit?

Slightly easier to un-knot? Is that really a "benefit", as this is only applicable if you fall on the rope (which can be argued is easier to undo that Fig8). I would rather have a Fig8 that IN NO WAY will undo itself ever.

Considering the effects of an incorrect knot or knot undoing itself, having CATASTROPHIC repercussions, I would say that Fig8 is without debate / argument the ONLY option.

Fig 8 is pretty much fool-proof in that you can immediately see it is correct and a better solution to teach to beginners.
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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by shorti » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:04 pm

Murdakah, I don't know who you are, but if you find me, I will show you how knot to kill yourself. Yosemite bowline won't just untie itself, but it's really better to explain this in person with a piece of rope. Bottom line, don't use a knot you don't fully understand.

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Forket » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:19 am

I've seen some of the best climbers in the world use a double backed granny knot. I myself use a bow-line, because if you fall 10 times on a figure 8 then a double backed/other derivatives of the bowline is easier to undo. I've seen many competition climbers unable to undo their figure8 knots after bailing on the route.

The difference that comes with tying knots is
1) Untying knots
2) The strain the knot puts on the rope

The reason why I dont worry about point 2 is, if you climb on a rope and fall, then the working end of your rope (about 3-5m from tip) will wear faster than the part at the knot.

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Thermophage » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:15 pm

lol...good luck finding any way they Yosemite will untie itself. I simply don't bother with a Fig 8 anymore. It's just waaaaay too much effort to untie after you've fallen on it a few times and are rather pumped.
The Yosemite ties easily, and unties (when you want it to) easily as well.
But yeah...easier to show in person.
Standard bowline....eish now that is looking for trouble, especially with climbing diameter ropes. As soon as it's no longer under tension it does have a tendency to work itself lose somewhat. You also cannot dress it very nicely :(

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Don » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:35 pm

I don't know the latest international specifications, but the last time I checked they taught knots for commercial purposes under
the following criteria( The overhand knot, or "double backed granny knot")

1) They are easy to teach
2) Hard to get wrong, easy to learn
3) Easy to troubleshoot
4) Hard to undo after loading
-> There are also other techno specs like the length of the tail etc.
This pertains to personal cows tails.

There are a whole lot of factors that determine the safety of the knot- this may not be entirely based on the technical specifications of the knot. For example: if one has poor attention while tying any climbing knot, it's a dangerous knot!

Go for peer reviewed knots! (Preferably peers with credible standing) :thumright

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:26 pm

Trickier to tie than Fig-8s
Harder to check
Easier to untie
Require stopper knot/Yosemite finish

Easier to learn and tie
Easier to check
Harder to untie
Don't require stopper (arguable)

I teach everyone starting out climbing the fig-8 rather than the bowline because it is easier to learn and check, but once you have been climbing for awhile most people switch to the bowline due to its advantages. It's a very useful knot to know especially when tying off the rope to large blocks.
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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Murdakah » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:55 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I have no experience with the bowline, so I was just asking, since I am considering to start using it, exactly because of the easier untying.
The bowline is easy to tie and untie yes. The double overhand backed bowline seems safer than the Yosemite finish.
I did an actual test with a piece of rope and applied a cyclic loading which happens a lot during lead climbing. Although it was a thinner rope, the yosemite finish did indeed undo itself once, the other times it simply became a noose even when dressed correctly. But these were extreme circumstances.

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Wes » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:20 am

So the only problem with the Fig-8 seems to be that it is hard to untie.

If you feed back the working end line shown below then after a fall you can pull out the working end easily which loosens the knot.
20140303_081128.jpg (261.48 KiB) Viewed 1693 times

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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by Old Smelly » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:31 am

What Nic said (and what the others implied) - the real issue is that everyone when starting should learn the figure of eight because it is easy to inspect (and not that hard to untie after a few falls).

THEN when you think you are a hotshot you can try graduate to the double bowline with a stopper or Yosemite version.

The real issue is that if you are a hotshot but do Knot do the bowline correctly then you will need Nic to come & pick up the pieces.

Unfortunately this is one of the hallmarks of people who think they are "cool" - see above for who advocates it. They will also refer to climbs in French grades because that is definitely "cooler" than the SA grade :thumright :jocolor: & then argue that that is more precise or accurate a method.

Pretty much the same as in anything else - part of the reason that they push so hard is for poser cred. Which is beside the point in this case - what is to the point is get the darn bowline right! Otherwise some uncool random normal climber will end up picking up the pieces - someone who uses a figure of Eight every time and has done so for years & can see when people have not tied in correctly - easily with a figure eight or slightly less easily with a bowline.

If this upsets you then prove me wrong by tying your bowline properly but otherwise take the advice above and learn how to do the knot properly - otherwise stick to something you know is correct & safe.
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Re: Bowline and derivatives vs Figure of 8

Post by DeanVDM » Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:36 pm

In my opinion the relative benefits vs the risks of changing from a retreaded fig-8 to a bowline are a bit overstated here. There are hundreds of SA climbers (and elsewhere) who use re-threaded figure-8 on a weekly basis, regularly load it during top-roping and falling and still deal with it without big problems and seem to have no sleepless nights about it. I have never heard of anyone retiring a rope or cutting off a piece of rope because “the figure 8 was difficult to untie” (disclaimer: and here I mean a properly dressed fig-8 if you load a poorly tied fig-8 you are making things much more difficult). Even alpine / Ice climbers where untying a weighted fig-8 with frozen / numb hands is a very potentially significant issue are able to cope with it (I had to deal with it a month ago).

Are you guys really honest about how “bad” a re-threaded fig-8 as a personal tying-in knot really is?

P.S. As Nic eluded many of us who do not tie in using it, still use the bowline for making a loop around fixed boulders / trees where there is little movement and cyclic loading and alignment issues. I just do not use it as a tie-in knot and I am not thinking of changing that anytime soon.

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