Very often there is a show off element in all of us that wants to demonstrate our mastery, to show while at the base of crags, or in pubs or climbing gyms, some fancy knot or crazy complex trick that has the audience convinced of our skill as a climber. But I would say that we don’t need tricks as climbers, the show off stuff, and instead, need to be masters of what we already know (that way we can break the rules). This does not mean we ignore anything new, rather that we need to be able to sort through the chaff in order to signal out the few tricks that are more than that (such as the locking munter, Stone Hitch or Monster Munter). The reason for this is that what we know we know, we can tie a figure of eight or munter hitch with our eyes closed, an autoblock prusik or European Death knot in a snow storm.
But how about that Macramé knot someone once showed you one day after climbing, or a slippery hitch you saw on Youtube or Farrimond prusik in a book? Could they be better suited to this sudden problem you need to solve, maybe a leader hanging in space with blood coming out their ears, lightning crashing, nighttime imminent? Maybe, but can you remember them just like that, is that groove there in your head, or will you fuck it up and make things worse - like much worse?
Macrame knot WARNING by Richard Delaney (check out ropelab.com.au
When dealing with heavy weights and ropes and drops and dying and worse you really can’t afford to be dabbling in ‘I think that’s right?’ or ‘can you look this up on Youtube on your phone?’. No, when problems arise, namely self-rescue, you need to stick what you know, systems and knots you know and understand, have practised until they’re second nature, that you will do what they always did, saving the other stuff for party tricks.
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram