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Knotty Question

Author: Travis Lott
Date: April 27, 2004
By: Travis "WildMan" Lott

Once again I am having a problem understanding some things that I am seeing on a popular and well-read tree climbing message site. This time it concerns the issue of knots.

The issue began with a writer asking questions about some knot called the Valdotain Tresse and also mentioned another knot called the Machard Tresse. The messages went from there to another knot called the Distel. Then I was reading about a thing called the Schwabish. From there things went on to talk about the alpine clutch and finished up with discussion about some knot called the Fisherman Loop.

I have been climbing for two years now, consider myself a better-than-average climber, and received my instruction from a climber who has been going up and down ropes for the majority of his life. I have never before heard of any of these knots. I called my instructor and he assured me that while some of these knots do ring a bell in his mind, he sees no need for them.

I suppose my concern on this issue is centered on the idea that safe climbers tend to keep things simple. Throwing in a lot of knots that are un-needed is a violation of the KISS principle. I am convinced that my Blakes Hitch and a good Prussik knot are about the only friction hitches that I need. My instructor agrees. While I have no problem with the idea of occasionally experimenting with new knots and new ideas, I do believe they should be immediately discarded if found to be un-needed. I am also a believer in the idea that a good climber will have a lot of different tricks at his disposal, including a lot of knots, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to keep them permanently on file in my brain. If they work, and if they are better than what I am already using, I will add them to my repertoire, and the older knots will be discarded. I do not wish to sound as though I am discouraging experimentation, but it would seem that these knots that are being discussed have been around for quite some time, and if they really were better than what I am regularly using, then what I am regularly using would have already been replaced by these so-called "new" knots.

Just for the record, I have studied these knots that are being tossed about among the messages and I have even tied a few of them and hung in my harness from a few of them. None of them comes anywhere close to my trusty Blakes Hitch and my trusty Prussik. The "new" knots have been tossed.

So why all the discussion about these "other" knots? I suspect that a lot of the people involved in this chain of discussion are climbers of the professional variety and it is perhaps possible that such knots are needed within the ranks of professional climbers. As a recreational climber, though, I find the entire discussion tiring and totally unnecessary. Thanks, but I will stick with the two knots that have already served me well!

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