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Photo Credit: Ian Matteson
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Need-to-Know Climbing Knots: Prusik

If you’re going to be a rock climber, you don’t necessarily need to know how to tie your shoes (as long as you wear Velcro slippers), but there are seven essential knots you’ll want to know. There are dozens of knots that might be worth learning as a climber, but for the most part, you can get up and down any climb on Earth with just these basic, essential knots—The Figure-8 Retraced, Girth Hitch, Clove Hitch, Munter Hitch, Double Fisherman’s, Prussic and Euro Death Knot.

Know them, learn them, and practice them until you can tie them in your sleep.


What is it: A way to attach a piece of cord to a (thicker) climbing rope. The main use is to back up your rappel device (not covered in article). You can also use a prusik as a way to ascend a rope (if you don’t have a mechanical ascender). There are also a multitude of uses for self-rescue and escaping belays.

Why it’s cool: Easy to tie and untie, and may come in handy more than you’d think. With two prusiks, you can ascend a fixed line, potentially getting yourself out of a pickle.

Red Flags/Rules: Make sure the loops/coils are neat.

How to Tie it

  • Take your accessory cord (tied into a loop using the Double Fisherman’s knot), and place the loop behind the rope you’re tying into.
  • Take the other end of the cord and pass it through that loop three times, each time going inside the last loop. Make sure each wrap sits neatly.
  • Dress the knot and cinch it down.


Learn How to Tie the 6 Other Essential Knots

Figure-8 Retraced

Girth Hitch

Clove Hitch

Munter Hitch

Double Fisherman’s

Euro Death Knot


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How to Build Your First Trad Rack


Climbing Ropes

Climbing Shoes

Climbing Gear & Equipment

Gearhead Diana Jensen. Photo Credit: Ian Matteson