Bunny Ears: The Best Multi-pitch Climbing Knot You’ve Never Heard of
Whether you’re doing a three-pitch free climb or a 3000-foot big wall, multi-pitch climbing is all about efficiency. Every little time-saving action, every slightly more streamlined step, adds up to saving you precious hours—it’s the difference between climbing the last hundred feet of 5.9 offwidth by headlamp and topping out to a perfect sunset and sipping a beer by dark.
Climbing quickly isn’t just a matter of moving faster on each pitch—it’s all about increasing efficiency at the anchors.
Enter the Double Figure Eight, known fondly as the “Bunny Ears.” This knot has a range of useful applications, but where it really shines is its ability to get you tied off and equalized to a two-piece anchor more efficiently than any other option out there.
Whether that anchor is two bolts or two cams, you can use this knot to get yourself quickly clipped in and safely off belay. The knot also has the benefits of being dynamic (less force on the anchor) and creating a “master point” spot to clip a locking carabiner for belaying up your second in an auto-blocking belay device situation.
The “ears” of the Bunny Ears can be adjusted so that the anchor is perfectly equalized.
But best of all, no matter how much load you put on the Bunny Ears, it will untie easily. This attribute makes the Bunny Ears great for clipping a jugging line to an anchor or even for clipping the haul line to the haul bag. Here’s how you tie it:
Tie a figure eight on a bite, making the loop part of the knot very long, two feet at least.
Take this loop and feed it directly back through the knot (the same part of the knot where the loop is coming out of). Note how two “bunny ears” start forming during this step.
Continue pulling the loop through, enough to bring it back up and over itself, right over the bunny ears.
Dress the loop by bringing it down to the base of the knot. Pull the bunny ears tight and out.
Clip each bunny ear to an anchor point! Voila! Assuming your two anchor points are solid, you’re now off belay.
Adjust the bunny ears so that the knot is perfectly equalized. This involves feeding rope into the knot, or out of it—experiment by seeing which side of the ears you have to pull in or push through.
Know how to create a master point. If you’re going to belay the second up, you can clip a locking carabiner through both bunny ears and belay your second using an auto-blocking style of device. If you’re swinging leads, your second can simply clip himself into this point through both bunny ears.
There you have it: a solid, safe knot that is easy to untie and even has a master point for clipping a locking carabiner. Grab a rope; learn the knot, and use your new-found powers for good.