Knot Techniques for canyoning that are not commonly used. The Belgian Knot: The Belgian Knot is something that’s truly incredible and Munter Variations. The many ways to tie this knot. These techniques could be useful for guides or other canyoneers to add to their toolkit.
It’s not often something surprises me, so I really appreciate stumbling upon something new and interesting. The Belgian Knot is something that’s truly incredible (also known as the “Hohn Rate”) . Essentially, it’s used to adjust the length of a loop to a range roughly 50-90% of the loop’s total length. With a 22kN sling, the Belgian Knot reduces the sling’s breaking strength to 15kN.¹ Not bad at all! Now to figure out a good way to use it…
¹ Marc Gratalon, Vincent Lecomte, Isabelle Fouquet, Sylvain Borie, Chris Bouilhol, Antoine Heil. « Guide des Nœuds et des Ammarages dans les Travaux Sur Cordes: Resistances et Applications. » L’association Développement et Promotion des Métiers sur Cordes (DPMC). 19 Oct 2012 – V1. Pg 31. Web. 10 May 2015. (http://www.cqpcordiste.fr/sys.download.asp?FICHIER=8a7d38ee-def2-46a3-9cf0-88ae60c2ce8e.pdf&FILENAME=Guide_Noeuds-Amarrages_V1b_Ma%2Epdf)
I’ve had a few thoughts about possible uses, and the one I’m most interested to try is a deviation. Using the Belgian Knot, a simple deviation could be adjusted to just the right length to reduce rope rub and the angle of deviation. But I have to wonder how well the Belgian Knot would hold its length in a situation where the load and its direction changes frequently?
I thought I’d put up a basic tech post for those who are just starting out in canyoning (or those who want a few more tricks in the bag). This video shows 4 different methods to tie the Munter Hitch. It’s one of the first knots (technically a hitch, I know) people should learn, as it is the basis for the most simple releasable system in canyoning, the Munter-Mule-Overhand. 3 of the 4 methods in this video are one-handed methods, which any professional can tell you is very important.
From a pedagogical standpoint, I should recommend people learn one way to tie the Munter and stick with that, but in my experience, no one method is perfect for every situation. Personally, I use 3 of these 4 methods quite regularly. Generally I avoid the one-handed method that puts the brake strand on the spine side of the carabiner. I don’t like trapping the brake strand inside the carabiner like that. I often find it advantageous to be able to remove one strand from the munter easily. For example, when I belay people with an auxilliary rope, I use a munter hitch. Once they reach the bottom, I reset the belay for the next person. If I’m not using a yo-yo system, I’ll pull all the rope back to the top. Pulling rope up through a munter sucks, so I remove one strand of munter from the carabiner, and then I pull the rope freely through the carabiner. Once the rope end is back at the top, I replace the strand into the carabiner to form the munter again. For me, this is very efficient.
The other reason I avoid the spine-side method is that it may reduce the overall strength of the carabiner, because it puts the load strand farther away from the spine. This is a rather contentious statement, and I have found no tests to prove this may be the case for the Munter, only vague references. However, there is some information on the munter’s closest relative the Clove Hitch at the Guide Tricks for Climbers LLC website (http://goo.gl/YjyDyH). A study conducted by Bluewater found that there was a 38% reduction in an HMS carabiner’s rated strength when the load strand was placed away from the spine when using a Clove Hitch. While the Munter was not specifically tested in this study, later in the article Robert “SP” Parker mentions that “The UIAA recommends use of the Munter Hitch in the same configuration with load next to the spine to maintain carabiner strength”¹, but unfortunately there’s no citation of this claim.
¹Parker, R. (n.d.). Use and Abuse of the Clove Hitch. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from http://www.guidetricksforclimbers.com/index.php/appendix/78-gtc-articles/78-use-and-abuse-of-the-clove-hitch