The Figure-8 Follow-Through, also called the Flemish Bend and Figure-8 Trace, is the most important knot to learn as a climber. This is the best knot to tie the rope into your harness since it is the strongest climbing knot. It is also easy to check visually to make sure it is tied correctly since each side is a clone of the other. You can tell at a glance if it’s right. We use this knot, I tell my guiding clients, because it won’t come untied and only gets tighter when the rope is weighted.

To begin, pick up a loose end of the rope. Tie a single Figure 8 knot between two and three feet from the rope’s end.

After tying the first Figure-8, thread the end of the rope through the harness loop between your leg loops and pass it up through the harness tie-in point on the waist belt (same waist loop that the belay loop is attached to). Snug the Figure-8 against the leg loops.

Consult your harness instructions for the exact tie-in points on the harness.

Retrace the original Figure-8 with the loose end of the rope, carefully following each part of the original knot. Afterwards tighten and dress the knot by neatening the separate parallel strands and making sure they don’t cross over each other.

You should have a leftover tail of about 18 inches for tying a backup knot. If you don’t tie a backup knot, make sure you have a floppy tail of at least 12 inches so the knot will not undo under load.

After retracing the Figure-8, you should have 15 to 20 inches of rope left. Now you will tie a Fisherman’s Backup knot. This is not a safety knot but a way to keep the original Figure-8 Follow-Through knot tight. The Fisherman’s Backup is the superior backup knot to use because it cinches tight if tied correctly.

First make sure you have about 18 free inches of tail left after tying the Figure-8. Wrap the tail rope twice around the climbing rope, then pass the free end through the coils. Tighten it against the Figure-8. You should have a three-inch tail left.

Lastly, double-check your entire knot and your partners. Now you’re ready to climb!

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Figure 8 | 2012 | supplemental