How to Tie a Stopper Knot for Climbing.
Updated: May 15
Did you know that one of the most common accidents in climbing is a climber being lowered off the end of the rope by their belayer? But if you tie a stopper knot in the end of the rope, you close the system, preventing a possible accident.
Closing the system is simply tying a knot at the belayers end of the rope so it can't fly through a belay device accidentally. Disaster averted.
Best practice is to make closing the system part of your pre-climb partner safety check. So while you're checking the climbers tie-in knot and the belayers belay device connection, also double check that there is a knot in the opposite end of the rope that is resting on the ground.
There are a number of ways to accomplish this and it's a simple as securing the belayers end of the rope. Here's a breakdown of a few different methods, starting with the most secure to the least secure:
1. The Double Overhand aka Double Fisherman's. Tie a double overhand knot in the end of the rope on the ground. It makes an excellent stopper knot, when well dressed, will jam in whatever belay device in use. Perfect for any single pitch crag and appropriate for top roping and lead climbing.
2.The Figure-8 Follow Through. This is a good choice in a multi-pitch setting, where the leader is going to belay the follower up the pitch and carry onto the top of the cliff. Both climbers tie in with a traditional figure 8 follow through to their harnesses. Voila...system closed and both partners can double check each other before the leader leaves the ground.
3. Attach to a Rope Bag. This is our least preferred method but it's better than nothing. Just be sure it's attached well and can't work it's way loose if you shuffle the bag around.
Dress the knot well, that means cinch it down tight so it can't loosen up.
For the love of all things sacred and holy, don't bury the end underneath your rope pile either. Keep it out in plain sight so it's visible for you and your climbing partner to see.