The Most Valuable Knot/Hitch a Climber Can Know
Updated: Apr 28
Since we're stuck inside today because of rain, let's take a vote. How many people think the figure 8 knot is the most valuable knot a climber can know? What about a bowline, clove hitch, or flat overhand? Well our vote goes to the Munter hitch! (Technically it's a hitch, but that's splitting hairs!)
The Munter hitch, or Italian hitch, is quite versatile and has many uses including a belay, load transfers, and can easily be turned into a clove hitch. Any self rescue that we perform as a climber is based around proficiency with the Munter hitch and its subsequent knots, the mule knot and the overhand knot.
Let's start off easy. The Munter hitch is quite easy to tie, especially with only one hand!
(A freshly tied Munter hitch! This one is tied in the lowering configuration.)
To tie the Munter:
Start by putting a half twist of rope in a locking carabiner
Tension the rope by pulling on the strand coming from the back of the carabiner and wrap it over the front strand. Clip this into your carabiner.
A Munter hitch! After you lock your carabiner, you're ready to belay/lower or begin to transfer a load.
It's easy to transform a Munter hitch into a Clove hitch. Start by adding a twist on the non-loaded strand.
Clip that twist into your locking carabiner and screw the gate shut. Pull until a you see a Clove hitch.
Voila, a Clove hitch!
Now, let's add in the mule knot and the overhand backup. This is a great way to go hands free in a rescue scenario. Commonly called "baseline," this particular setup makes it extremely easy to transition into a raise, lower, or technical descent.
It's all too easy to learn these knots once, and completely forget them when you need them most. Get out and practice with some friends, put your dog on belay with a Munter, or work one on one with a guide to ensure you are the best climbing partner you can be!
Written by Ben Coryell, An Owner of Golden Mountain Guides