Top 5 Knots/Hitches for Mountaineering – MTI Guides Agree on 3


by Lindsay Mann

We asked our MTI guides, What are the five essential knots/hitches you need to know for mountaineering?



A knot can exist by itself. It is used to tie two ropes together or a rope to itself.

A hitch can’t exist by itself. It must be tied around something, i.e. a piece of rope or a carabiner.


Our Contributors?
  • Christian Santelices: Chief Exum Guide, IFMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide
  • Jessica Baker: Lead Exum Guide, Founder/Owner Ski Divas
  • Lindsay Mann: Senior Guide Rainier Mountaineering Inc., Pacific Alpine Guides
  • Sheldon Kerr: Senior Guide International Mountain Guides, AMGA Certified Ski Guide


The guides identified knots/hitches that could be used for the following applications:
  • Tie into a climbing rope
  • Secure yourself to an anchor
  • Escape a belay
  • Ascend a rope
  • Lower
  • Belay
  • Build a basic haul system
  • Back up your system


Agreed on Knots/Hitches:

figure 8Figure 8 Follow through

Uses: Tying into the end of the rope through your harness, tying off to natural anchors
Pros: It is easy to see if this knot is tied correctly.
Reminder: It is important to leave at least six inches of tail.


Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 10.40.21 AMMünter Hitch

Uses: Allows you to belay or lower with a single locking carabiner. This is a useful hitch to have in your toolbox if you forget your belay device.

Cons: It can twist the rope, not an intuitive break position.


Clove Hitchclovehitch

Uses: Tie into anchors

Pros: Can be tied with one hand, adjustable even when it is tied.

Cons: It needs to be checked, it is easy to confuse the Clove Hitch with the Münter Hitch.



Additional knot/hitches recommended but not agreed upon:

Mule Knot
Uses: This transforms the münter from a hitch to a knot.

Bowline with a Backup Knot
Uses: Tying into the rope, Tying anchors using the rope, easy to untie after it is loaded

Cons: Many of its applications can be performed with a figure 8 follow-through

Figure Eight On a Bight
Uses: Building an anchor, used for tying into the middle of the rope

Pros: Easy to identify if tied correctly

Uses: See above under friction hitches

Pros: This friction hitch is multi-directional, verse other friction hitches like the autoblock which are directional.

Uses: Tying two ropes together, Stopper knot


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