Knots allow you to use the rope for many special purposes. They let you tie into the rope, anchor yourself to the mountain, tie two ropes together for long rappels, use slings to climb the rope itself, and much more.
Climbers rely most heavily on a dozen or so different knots (figs. 6-6 through 6-26). Practice these knots until tying them is second nature. If you really want a test, try tying them in a cold, dark shower to give you an idea of the conditions you may someday encounter on a climb.
In some cases, more than one knot can perform a particular task, and the knot chosen is a matter of personal preference. Some knots may be preferred because they have a higher breaking strength (fig. 6-5). Others may be chosen because they are easier to tie or are less likely to come apart in use.
Regardless of the knot, tie it neatly, keeping the separate strands of the knot parallel and free of twists. Cinch every knot tight, and tie off loose ends with the insurance of overhand knots.
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