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Double Figure-8 Follow Thru
by Tone Garot

Introduction

If you know how to make a figure-8, it is fairly easy to make this double figure-8 follow thru knot. Figure-8 knots, in general, are versatile and commonly used for attaching ropes to anchor points. They are used in both caving and climbing. This variation, which I am calling a "double figure-8 follow thru," offers some distict benefits that make it worth knowing.

Click here for a description of how to make this knot.

Benefits

The double figure-8 follow thru gives two "bunny ears," useful for Y-belays.

This variant also gives a lower bight loop for hooking in a cowstail.

Caveats

The "double figure-8 follow thru" takes more rope to actually make the knot. In those cases where rope is at a premium, you might want to use a regular "double figure-8".

History

While in Mante, Tamaulipas, México, Peter Sprouse showed me an interesting figure-8 knot variation. It's a fairly easy knot to make and almost obvious once you see it. I asked him where he learned it—he said Vivian Loften showed him.

I sent an E-mail to Viv to see what she knew. She replied that she had learned this knot from Greg Francek, the owner/manager of Black Chasm Cavern in California. Greg has much Search and Rescue experience and is also a climber. Viv suspected that Greg learned the knot from SAR, they being fond of the figure 8 and its variations because of the simplicity and ease of inspection. Viv learned the knot from Greg at the entrance of Lechuguilla Cave in 2004 and has used it frequently since.

Viv sent an E-mail to Greg saying that I was interested in the history of the knot, and he sent me the following message:

I received a cc'd email from Viv regarding the double figure eight in question. It is one of several versions of the "double figure eight" that I have learned in climbing and SAR circles in the Yosemite area. I learned this knot back in the mid 80's from legendary climber and YOSSAR fixture Werner Braun. I'm not certain that John Dill is the originator; however, as the long time YOSSAR director, he is one of the most experienced high angle ropes guy in the world, and he has invented and put into use numerous knots and rigging techniques.

Most people that use this knot end up loving it. After I started using it back in about 1985, I started caving, and I saw many great applications of it—especially for rebelay situations. Early on, I had not seen any other cavers using it—now it is somewhat more common. In 2000, I was caving in Borneo and saw some French cavers rigging with it, I had a chuckle when they told me that they learned it from a California climber who taught a class in Europe. As it turns out, that climber was a friend and fellow patroller from the ski area where I worked.

I do know that the knot has been pull tested under many situations and is plenty strong for sporting use. Some of the SAR people complain that it doesn't meet the higher strength standards of NFPA guidelines. There is another "doubled-double" variation that is stronger but uses more rope, is bulky, and is more complicated to tie. However, some heavy rescue situations would favor that version. I have also heard the bigger variation called a "Yosemite Doubled-double".