Mountaineering isn't all about toughness and endurance and being a "hard man" (or "hard woman," if there is such a reference). It's also about mastering some very specific skills, such as knowing how to tie the right knot in the right place at the right time -- and doing it under pressure, as a mistake on the mountain might have deadly consequences. But that doesn’t mean that the knots are that difficult in and of themselves. In fact, many of the important mountaineering knots can be used in real life situations, to make our lives easier or safer -- or both!
The common clove hitch isn't as secure as some other knots, but it works great for certain mountaineering applications, especially when it's under a constant tension. It's simple to tie, and it's adjustable, and can be tied in the end or the middle of a rope. In real life, you could use the clove hitch to raise or lower things, such as getting that giant antique desk up and into a second floor window, or to secure the end of the rope you used to tie down the Christmas tree to the top of the car.
Another fairly common knot used in some mountaineering situations is the girth hitch, which also happens to come in handy in everyday life. It's incredibly simple to both tie and release, and as long as it’s dressed tightly and under tension, it's also strong (though only in one direction) and secure.
The water knot is for pretty specific situations -- tying flat webbing to itself or to another piece of webbing -- but that’s what also makes it a great knot to know, both on the mountain and in everyday life. If you use knots meant for joining rope and round cordage in order to tie flat webbing together, you may be in for a surprise once the knot is loaded. However, if you use the water knot, it's about as secure as they come.
The bowline is probably best referred to as a nautical knot, not a mountaineering knot, but it’s used when climbing just about as often as it is on boats these days. It can be a tricky knot to learn at first, but once you get it, you get it. In everyday life, the bowline is the go-to knot for securing the end of a line around something (a tree, a pole, your favorite lawn ornament), or for making a secure loop in the end of a rope (such as when you’re hauling your buddy out of that sinkhole).
In mountaineering, this essential knot can likely be seen securing a climber's harness to the end (or middle) of a rope, and can be tied in two ways -- with a follow-thru, or on a bight (when tied in the middle of the rope). For most everyday-life applications, the figure 8 on a bight will be the one to go to when you need a bomb-proof loop in a rope. It's easy to tie and it stays where you put it.
This is an excellent knot for joining two ropes of similar size together, end-to-end, and while your everyday life needs for this knot may not be as critical as those of a mountaineer, it's just as useful. Say you're tying down a tarp over the back of your friend's pickup truck, which contains all of your worldly possessions, and it’s about to start pouring rain. And you've just reached the end of the rope, but you’re still not done securing the tarp. The fisherman's knot will take care of you -- simply tie on another piece of rope and keep on truckin'.
Knowing how to tie a Prusik knot is really important when you're dangling on the end of a rope, far below where you need to be, so this one could be a lifesaver on the mountain. But this friction knot with the fun name could have uses in everyday life as well, even if they are as mundane as hanging things from a vertical rope or pole (hanging your food out of reach of critters while camping comes to mind), or getting a better grip on another rope (an adjustable handle, if you will).
READ MORE: 7 Rock Climbing Knots Every Guy Should Know : Discovery Channel
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