Popular Knots for Arborists (Tree Climbing)

CraigHardy

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  • #1
There is a specific set of knots that are especially helpful for arborists. The tree care industry calls for somewhat unique tasks and having the knowledge of knot tying in your arsenal can make or break a career. Whether it be knots for climbing or knots for rigging, the story is the same; the climber needs to know what he's doing. If he doesn't, something terrible can happen. Use your imagination here - I'm sure every last awful thing has gone down in this industry. Safety and experience is the most important aspect of tree care. Without those two things, it's going to be a doomed job.

In this thread, I've decided to demonstrate how to tie some of the most popular arborist knots. If you have any questions, ideas, or knowledge you'd like to share, please do so down below. I'd love to hear from you.
 
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  • #2

Slip Knot​

Super simple and ultra useful, the Slip knot will take you about three seconds to tie. What's it good for? Picture yourself up in a tree. You forget how to tie the Alpine Butterfly loop and you need to have a different climbing saw passed up to you. Basically, you'll need a loop in your rope so your ground guy can attach the saw to it. Or, you'd like to lower something down to your groundman. Whatever it may be, you need a loop in your rope. Take a look below. I'll teach you how to tie the Slip knot. By the way, this is also a great stopper knot that's got tons of uses. Just remember - if you have nothing attached to the loop in this knot, it'll "slip" right out. So be careful.

To tie this knot, I first made a loop somewhere in my rope. Anywhere.

slip-knot-first-loop.jpg

Then, I brought the top part of the rope under the loop.

slip-knot-pull-rope-through-loop.jpg

I continued to pull that top part through the loop.

slip-knot-pull-through-loop.jpg

And finally, I pulled on that new loop and the bottom part of the rope to tighten the knot.

slip-knot.jpg

As I mentioned above and what's clearly visible now, this knot will pull loose if you don't have anything attached to the loop. Also, whatever it is you do have attached to the loop will be cinched upon. In other words, this loop will always tighten around any object attached to it.
 
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  • #3

Clove Hitch​

The Clove hitch is a popular knot, not only for climbing, but for tree rigging as well. I've used this knot extensively while doing takedowns and I've seen other climbers use it as well. It's tried and true.

There are two different methods for tying this knot. I'll cover them both below. For both methods though, you'll need to back this knot up with two Half hitches. Basically, you'll tie the working end and the standing part together using the hitches.

To tie this knot, I'll first make a wrap around the branch with my rope.

clove-hitch-first-wrap.jpg

I'll make sure the working end crosses over the standing part.

Then, I'll continue around the branch with the working end.

clove-hitch-second-wrap.jpg

For this final step, you can either feed the working end underneath the second wrap, alongside the standing part or you can feed it straight up underneath the X. It's up to you. I think feeding it up under the X is better, as it applies more pressure on the working end of the rope.

clove-hitch.jpg

Again, either way, you'll need to follow up with two Half hitches.
 
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  • #4

Bowline Knot​

This is another very popular knot for arborists. It's used as a termination knot when rigging. Oftentimes, it's finished up with two Half hitches for security, but there's some controversy regarding that. In some circles, it's said that the addition of the Half hitches actually weakens the knot. I don't know how that occurs, but I'm not one to argue.

To tie this knot, I first make a small loop about a foot or two away from the end of my rope.

bowline-knot-loop-in-rope.jpg

Then, I took the working end of the rope and fed it through the loop. I fed it from under the loop to over.

bowline-knot-working-end-through-loop.jpg

Next, I fed the working end behind the standing part.

bowline-knot-working-end-behind-standing-part.jpg

And I continue on by feeding the working end back through the loop whence it came.

bowline-knot-working-end-back-through-loop.jpg

This is the Bowline knot itself.

bowline-knot.jpg

And this is the Bowline loop.

bowline-loop.jpg
 
CraigHardy

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  • #5

Running Bowline​

If you'd like a knot that tightens around an object, a Running Bowline is a great choice. This knot combines the strength of a regular Bowline with the tightening of a noose or a lasso. It's the best of both worlds. This is actually very popular with arborists because it tightens around limbs when rigging.

To tie this knot, I followed the exact same instructions as above, but before I did that, I had to feed the working end of the rope around the standing part.

running-bowline-cross-ropes.jpg

running-bowline-first-loop.jpg

At this point, I began tying the standard Bowline loop. I started with creating a loop in the working end.

running-bowline-second-loop.jpg

Then I fed the working end through the loop, from underneath to above.

running-bowline-working-end-through-loop.jpg

And then I completed the Bowline knot. To see instructions for that, check out the post that's directly above this one.

running-bowline-knot.jpg

This is an example of how this knot can run and tighten around an object. I used my trusted log in this demonstration.

running-bowline.jpg
 
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  • #6

Bowline on a Bight​

This is an interesting Bowline knot. It's sort of a doubled up version of the standard one. This knot isn't actually tied like a traditional Bowline would be. It's tied much differently.

To tie this knot, I first make a bight in my rope and then tied an Overhand knot.

bowline-bight-overhand-knot.jpg

Notice which way the knot is facing (which part of the rope is facing up and which is facing down.

Next, I took the loop and flipped it up and over the knot.

bowline-bight-flipped-loop.jpg

After that, I took hold of the ropes that feed through the knot to form the loop and began to pull.

bowline-bight-pull-through.jpg

What's happening here is the loop is tightening down around the knot while I'm pulling the ropes that feed the loop.

Finally, after I pull those ropes, the loop tightens completely around the base of the knot and the two ropes now become the new loop.

bowline-bight-loop.jpg

bowline-bight-knot.jpg
 
CraigHardy

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  • #7

Anchor Hitch​

This is one of the best termination knots known to man. It's actually my favorite climbing knot to use with a carabiner and saddle. It's very easy to tie and it holds very strong. I always use a stopper knot on the working end though because that's just how I am. As long as you've got five rope widths as a tail, you should be fine. They say this one doesn't come loose. I personally still like to use stopper knots with everything, just so I don't have to worry, but that's me. I do a lot of moving up in those trees and who knows what can happen to a knot while that's going on.

To tie this knot, I first bring the working end of the rope from under the carabiner up through it.

anchor-hitch-working-end-rope-up-through-carabiner.jpg

Then I take two wraps with the rope. Notice how the tension that's going to be put on the rope is closest to the spine of the carabiner.

anchor-hitch-double-wrap-around-carabiner.jpg

Next, I feed the working end of the rope around the back of the standing part and then slide it through the wraps.

anchor-hitch-working-end-around-through-wraps.jpg

Making sure the tail is at least five rope widths long, I pull both ends of the rope to tighten the knot.

anchor-hitch.jpg
 
CraigHardy

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  • #8

Alpine Butterfly Loop​

This is a hugely important and useful knot for arborists. It essentially allows a loop to be tied anywhere in a rope. It doesn't matter if all you've got is the dead center portion of your rope. If you need a secure loop, this knot is for you. It's also very easy to tie. I can imagine using this loop to lower objects, such as chainsaws and pole saws, down to my groundmen and having them pass objects back up to me. I can't count how many times I've needed to have things passed up while I was in the tree. Before I knew this knot, I had everything tied to the end of my rope. While that worked, it wasted a lot of time.

To tie this knot, I placed my rope flat on the table. If you're in a tree, your rope will likely be hanging right in front of you in a straight line. That's fine. I then made a bight in the rope and twisted it twice.

alpine-butterfly-loop-double-twist.jpg

If you'll notice, there are two loops in the rope. There's one up top. That was created by the second twist. There's another loop that was created by the first twist. In the above photo, that one is sort of closed up.

To continue on, I took the top loop and folded it back and under the bottom loop.

alpine-butterfly-loop-two-loops.jpg

Then I took the new bottom loop (the original end of the bight) and fed it up and through the new center (top) loop.

alpine-butterfly-loop-through.jpg

When I pulled all the ends of the rope as well as the bight tight, I had a wonderful Alpine Butterfly loop.

alpine-butterfly-loop.jpg
 
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  • #9

Munter Hitch​

When you don't have a repelling device, such as a figure 8, on hand, you may use the Munter hitch to descend from a tree. As long as you keep tension on the bottom part of your rope, it should work fine for you. Be warned though, because this hitch utilizes rope on rope contact to slow your descent, it can cause a lot of wear to your rope rather quickly. It's best to limit this hitch's use.

This knot is easy to use at any point along your rope. You don't need to find the end of the rope and work from there. A mid-section is fine.

To tie this knot, I first clipped my carabiner onto the rope. Notice that the rope is above the top part of the carabiner and under the bottom. That's important.

munter-hitch-rope-through-carabiner.jpg

Next, I made a loop with the bottom portion of the rope. Notice that the part of the loop that's closest to the carabiner is on top.

munter-hitch-loop.jpg

After that, I brought both sides of the loop into the carabiner.

munter-hitch-loop-through-carabiner.jpg

munter-hitch-loose.jpg

When I pulled both ends of the rope tight, the hitch was complete. It's upside down when the rope is loose, but once there's tension placed on it, it flips into the proper position.

munter-hitch.jpg
 
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  • #10

Round Turn & Two Half-Hitches​

This is an incredible knot for rigging. The multiple large round turns take a lot of stress off of the rope that holds the limb and the two Half hitches are essentially a Clove hitch. I'd say this is a secure knot to use with tree work.

To tie this knot, I first made two round turns around the log (limb), making sure to cross the working end over the standing part.

round-turn-two-half-hitches-turns.jpg

Next, I brought the working end of the rope around the standing part and fed the working end under itself.

round-turn-two-half-hitches-first-hitch.jpg

Finally, I brought the working end around the standing part again and then I fed the working end under itself to create the Clove hitch. I pulled the ends of the rope to tighten the knot down.

round-turn-two-half-hitches.jpg
 
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  • #11

Blake's Hitch​

I love this knot. This is the go-to knot for tree climbers. Climbers use this knot all day long while spending time in trees. It's a friction knot that allows a climber to ascend a tree and then repel just as easily. There are tons of videos on how to tie this knot on YouTube, so if you'd like more background and usage information, I encourage you to search there.

To tie this knot, I first crossed the working end of my rope over the standing part.

blakes-hitch-cross-ropes.jpg

Then, I wrapped the working end four times around the standing part, from bottom to top.

blakes-hitch-four-wraps.jpg

After that, fed the working end over the first wrap and then behind the standing part.

blakes-hitch-working-end-under-standing-part.jpg

I continued to feed the working end under the lower two wraps and then out the side.

blakes-hitch-working-end-under-two-wraps.jpg

I pulled the tail tight and I had a nice Blake's hitch.

blakes-hitch-climbing-knot.jpg

blakes-hitch.jpg

This hitch slides easily up the standing part of the rope, but when pressure is put on it from below, it'll lock in place to avoid sliding down.
 
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  • #12

Prusik Knot​

The Prusik knot is one of the easiest knots to tie. All it takes is to wrap your prusik around your climbing rope a few times and you're done. This knot is very popular with tree climbers because it offers unparalleled maneuverability in the tree. It's generally used in conjunction with a carabiner and a lanyard and is especially popular with pruners. I used to use this all the time when I would prune large oak trees.

To tie this knot, I first took my prusik loop and placed it perpendicular to my climbing rope. Please note that these ropes are for demonstration purposes only. Neither rope would really be used in the field. These are cheap ropes from Tractor Supply.

prusik.jpg

Next, I took the knot end and fed it under the climbing rope and through the other side of the prusik. Also note that I would generally offset the knot so it wouldn't get in the way later on.

prusik-knot-one-wrap.jpg

I then wrapped the prusik around the climbing rope two more times.

prusik-knot-two-wraps.jpg

prusik-knot-three-wraps.jpg

After I pulled tight, I had a nice Prusik knot.

prusik-knot.jpg

The benefit of this knot is that it loosens from and locks onto the climbing rope or lanyard in either direction, making it especially versatile.
 
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  • #13

Klemheist Knot​

Similar to above, this knot is another that works on friction. When weight or tension is applied to it, the knot locks onto a climbing rope or lanyard. When the weight is removed, the knot loosens slightly allowing it to move freely along the rope again. This knot is similar and works in the same way the Prusik, Bachmann, and Blake's hitch work to ascend and descend a climbing rope.

To start this knot, I first took my homemade prusik and folded it over my demo climbing rope.

klemheist-knot-first-wrap.jpg

Then, I wrapped the prusik around the climbing rope four times. In the photo below, there are only three wraps because I ran out of rope. Apparently my homemade prusik was too short.

klemheist-knot-wraps.jpg

Next, I fed the bottom part of the prusik through the bight at the end of the wraps.

klemheist-knot-through-loop.jpg

And finally, I pulled downward on the prusik to add some weight to it. It's the bottom part I'd add my carabiner to to ascend the tree.

klemheist-knot.jpg
 
Popular Knots for Arborists (Tree Climbing) was posted on 06-05-2021 by CraigHardy in the Outdoor Forum forum.

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