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How to Tie a Water Knot and Build a Webbing Anchor

Before learning how to tie a Water Knot, Dear Reader, it may help to read Simple Canyoneering Knots. As a prelude to Water Knot instruction, a bit of mountain wisdom from Edward Whymper is appropriate: “There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell, and with these in mind I say, climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may...

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Figure Eight on a Bight & Variations

FIGURE EIGHT ON A BIGHT Among the most useful of knots for canyoneering, the Figure of Eight on a Bight produces a strong loop for clipping into … something… anything! This can be used for securing a canyoneer near an anchor; for fixing a rope for rappelling; for lowering a pack on another line, etc. While it is shown here NEAR the end of the rope, it can be made anywhere in the rope by just taking a bight, and starting to tie… [A]. Take...

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The Swiss Seat – A simple webbing harness for canyoneering

Sometimes it is a good idea to tie a harness from a length of webbing. Canyons in North Wash often only have one or two rappels, so a temporary webbing harness works well there. Sometimes your partner will goof up and forget his harness – good to have a backup plan other than running six miles back to the car. Other times you might need to come up with harnesses for a bunch of kids or something. A Swiss Seat harness can be a good...

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Ghosting Techniques in Canyoneering – an Introduction

Ghosting is the art of descending a canyon and leaving nothing behind. Ghosting techniques are used in selected places where leaving no visible anchors has a benefit. Examples include: 1: anchor areas that are visible to the general public (eg: First rap in Cassidy Arch Canyon in Capitol Reef NP); 2: descents of rarely-done canyons, where leaving the canyon without visible signs of descent means other canyoneers can also do a first descent of the canyon; 3: in places, ghosting techniques can be used to...

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The Stone Knot (aka Stein Knot): A Canyoneering Secret Weapon

The Stone Knot (or Stein Knot) is a blocking knot technique that can improve safety and speed things up on canyoneering descents. A couple of nerdy technical points: first, the Stone Knot is actually the kind of knot called a ‘hitch’, since it uses an object to complete the knot; and second, the Stone Knot is a family of knots, since there are at least four forms that qualify as Stones, while being somewhat different. The Stone Knot is made in a rope set-up for...

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How to Tie Two Ropes Together

There is a lot of discussion about the “best” knot for tying two ropes together. For canyoneering, for climbing, for whatever! It depends – of course it depends. It always depends. For many of us, the preferred knot for connecting rope is the European Death Knot (aka Euro Death Knot or EDK) WITH a back-up knot. Which has many names, but let’s call it the STACKED EDK or the STACKED OFFSET OVERHAND BEND. The first picture shows the first overhand knot; the second, with the...

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Simple Canyoneering Knots: The Overhand and Figure Eight Knots

“To me the simple act of tying a knot is an adventure in unlimited space. A bit of string provides a dimensional latitude that is unique among the entities.”    – Clifford W. Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots, page 8. In this lesson, we’ll look at knot terminology and learn how to tie the overhand and figure eight knots, with a few variations. To begin our foray into canyoneering knots, we start with basic knotting nomenclature. Knotting is done with a piece of cord, webbing...

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Biner Blocks, Pull Cords and All That Jazz

Knowing how to rig a carabiner block (biner block) and pull cord allows for retrievable single-rope rappels, creating several advantages for the backcountry canyoneer. Not only can you carry less rope with this technique, you can reach longer rappels with any given weight of rope. A BLOCK is a way of attaching the rope to an anchor so it can be retrieved. The normal “climber” method of setting up a rappel is to thread the rope through the anchor and rappel on both strands. This is a...