The Yosemite bowline isn't safe for climbing after all

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stefanfischer

climber
Germany
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 16, 2012 - 05:13am PT
Just seen this video - it shows that the Yosemite finish, when applied to the bowline, can just open up the bowline - I don't think it's safe to climb with it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dj5Y3h1AEI
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Jul 16, 2012 - 10:15am PT
I climbed exclusively with a bowline tied off with a grapevine for the loose end. Always felt good.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 16, 2012 - 10:41am PT
I just spent a good long time poking around in some knot test videos. I won't link them all here since it's a lot of material to wade through.

The general consensus is that bowlines have a greater likelihood of untying, are harder to inspect. Fig-eights are considered "safer" - mostly because they are still good even if you tie them partially or sloppy, but a "properly" tied bowline with a Yosemite finish is not the death-knot pictured in that video. I will say some of the tests seem to favor a regular backup knot or double-loop bowline(finish knot on the bight-side) as a "safer" finish over the Yosemite finish.

I read one report that German climbing competitions only allow a direct Fig-8 tie in after a climber was killed from a bowline coming undone. They didn't specify what kind of finish was used on that particular bowline.

That being said.. the video you posted is somewhat flawed. A Yosemite bowline.. tied tidy and correct and tight is still a bowline.. The video fails to show a correct tightened knot, and also fails to ever show the backup knot that is always tied. Tie one correctly with the strands side by side and look at it... I'm doing it now and I see the bowline still in tact.

The only way to replicate that "failing Yosemite bowline" is to physically loosen the knot and push the doubled back loop through the original loop. Of course.. it's technically possible for this to happen, but the knot would look really sloppy and incorrect from the start and a normal person would retie it if it looked that way. A new, stiff, dry-rope tied incorrectly could definitely untie itself. The video also fails to demonstrate force on the load-strand only.

So could it fail ?: sure- any knot can if tied incorrectly or really sloppy or loose. IMO 1000's of people tie in that way every day and they aren't dropping off the mountains like flies.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:04am PT
The bowline is a popular knot with sailors precisely because it is easy to
untie after it is weighted. BITD, before harnesses, I never saw or heard of
one coming undone. We always backed them up with two half-hitches.
stefanfischer

climber
Germany
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 16, 2012 - 11:07am PT
In response to "justthemaid":

well, it all depend on what you mean with "tied in correctly". For me, if it's threaded correctly, it's correct. All that's left is to tighten it. Correctly threaded, and then tightened --> means the knot is correct.

Yet the video shows that you can thread the Yosemite correctly, tighten it (in one specific order of tugs), and mess it up to a point where there's not even a bowline underneath.

Then, even if you have a stopper, you're not safe. The stopper is basically the only knot that's holding you.

It is practical - it happened to me too while trying to tie the Yosemite. Of course, the knot seems a bit different, but just a little bit. And no one that ties themselves in is used to the fact that the order of tugging is significant for the correctness of the knot.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:16am PT
I'm with Skip on this one. Anyone who "ties" a knot -- any knot -- that way is headed for trouble.

A properly tied bowline with grapevine stopper is not going to come loose.

That video is pretty silly.
Bullwinkle

Boulder climber
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:27am PT
I've used that Knott (dbl bowline and single)quite a lot in the past 40yrs and yes I've had it come untied in the single mode with the Yo finish. It is a knott that demands your attension and because it's so simple, it is very easy to screw up, the fig 8 is probaly safer.

That said Lynn Hill was using a fig 8 when she fell 80' to the deck while lowering from the chains, she had forgotten to finish the knott. The lesson here? uuuummm, not sure. . .
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:29am PT
Yet the video shows that you can thread the Yosemite correctly, tighten it (in one specific order of tugs), and mess it up to a point where there's not even a bowline underneath.

He never ties the knot correctly IMO.

He twice ties it in the start- both times with the strands lose and not tidy. It's hard to describe in words without dragging out my camera and posting some pictures, but I would have straightened up the redoubled strand into a different finish position than he shows. He tightens with "a specific order of tugs" as you say that causes the loops to invert. Sure... it technically can happen, but in real life you tie the bowline first... then back it up afterwards - unlike that video. Once the orginal loop is tight and the weight is on the load-strand, that inversion is highly unlikely. The third demo with the rubber bands you can clearly see that he has to physically push the redoubled loop throught the original loop to make the knot fail.

The Lesson? It doesn't matter what knot you use. Just pay attention to finishing it completely and correctly

...and yup - your fig-8 is way more foolproof so stick to that if you have doubts.

PS: I normally tie in with a fig-8 BTW.. I use a bowline on our double ropes which are skinny and difficult to untie if you use a Fig-8.

Greg Barnes

climber
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:37am PT
Wow, who even knows how to tie a bowline?

I have no idea.
jstan

climber
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:41am PT
Did Lynn tie a completed figure 8 but without the backup? And that failed? Or was the knot itself a problem? She must remember. If the figure 8 is not bombproof we need to know it.

The Yosemite finish? No way I would try to deal with all those
"If you do this exactly rights". Why?

Bowline is essential for towing a car. Never use anything else.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:44am PT
Greg- I can tie about 10 types of bowlines.

BTW: When's your next one- handed knot-tying competition?

You might as well just send me the prize now.
coondogger

Trad climber
NH
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:47am PT
I thought the primary reason bowlines took second place to the figure 8 is because you tie one easily identified knot that doesn't come undone.
Everyone so far has said you need a second secure knot to ensure a bowline doesn't untie itself.
Bullwinkle

Boulder climber
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:50am PT
Jstan,

Lynn was wearing a open Jacket and distacted while tying her Knott. She did not Follow thur the Fig 8, she only threaded the start of Knott. When she weighted her rig at the anchors the end pulled thru and 80' of airmailed Lynne hit the deck.

In other words, always check your knott. Like this Guy, gotta say he does look, cool. . .
Jack using the Dbl BowLine with Yo Finish and Looking Good doing it. ....
Jack using the Dbl BowLine with Yo Finish and Looking Good doing it. . .
Credit: Ricky A
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:52am PT
Been climbing in Yosemite most of my life, never heard of a Yosemite bowline, therefore, never used one.

Sorry.

Figure 8 for me.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:55am PT
The figure eight is a VERY dangerous knot, JStan. There are hundreds of reports of if failing, being the go-to knot for gym leading, every hour.


One time I tied my figure eight, then untied it - it came right out.

Freaky. Don't untie your knots when climbing, guys, they can't hold you that way.
jstan

climber
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:55am PT
Thanks bullwinkle. Had me worried for a moment.

Oh and Jeff. Is the tree in front of the hole or behind? Norton asked me to explain the bowline to him and I want to be sure I have it right. If you could.....
Dave Kos

Trad climber
Temecula
Jul 16, 2012 - 11:59am PT
Wow, who even knows how to tie a bowline?

I have no idea.


I'm with Greg.

I think I learned in Boy Scouts long ago, but have since forgotten. (I do remember something about a rabbit though...)

Some Random Guy

Trad climber
San Francisco
Jul 16, 2012 - 12:04pm PT
I've used that Knott (dbl bowline and single)quite a lot in the past 40yrs and yes I've had it come untied in the single mode with the Yo finish.

ur gonna die!

The Lesson? dressed and stressed?!?!?
Dave Kos

Trad climber
Temecula
Jul 16, 2012 - 12:10pm PT
Been climbing in Yosemite most of my life, never heard of a Yosemite bowline, therefore, never used one.

Sorry.

Figure 8 for me.


I learned the term "Yosemite Finish" about a year ago (also after many years of climbing in Yosemite.) I learned it from a young employee of a climbing gym in Virginia (it was required at the gym - on a figure 8 however.) The guy who told me the term didn't know where Yosemite was.

It seems the "Yosemite finish" is becoming more common. About twenty years ago I had a partner who used it (bit didn't have a name for it?) Now I see it all the time (still don't like it though...)

I'm guessing the technique has been around as long as knots have been, but when did people start calling it the "Yosemite finish?"


survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jul 16, 2012 - 12:22pm PT
I'm guessing the technique has been around as long as knots have been, but when did people start calling it the "Yosemite finish?"

When some dude who learned it in Yosemite showed it to someone else....
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