The UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – regularly receives questions related to safety topics. The UIAA Safety Commission, with support of other UIAA Commissions and experts, has published a series of articles answering common questions with the objective of making them available to the wider climbing community.

The latest question is:

Much is said about knots for ropes in the mountains, and as the UIAA is the world authority on the subject, my query is the following: What are the knots endorsed by the UIAA for rope work in the mountains? 

UIAA Safety Commission
There is no definitive list of knots and the UIAA has never defined or endorsed such a list.

Having said that, you can find a climbing application for every knot ever invented. Some knots are stronger, some knots easier to remember, some knots are easier to adjust, some knots are very specialised, and some knots are easier to get wrong!  Be careful – all knots can be misused or mis-tied. For sure, a rope with no knots is stronger than a rope with knot(s) …. But it’s not a lot of use!

In hiking and climbing the main function of the rope is to attach people to each other or the mountain – or both.

To choose what knots to teach in climbing is mostly an aspect of pedagogy and methodology, and to some extent culture.

The UIAA does address the most common knots and their main purpose in the Alpine Handbook: Summer Skills, produced in partnership with The Petzl Foundation. The current digital version is available to purchase here. Please note that a new version is due for release and is available to preorder for UIAA member associations.

Some extracts from the book, including articles which address questions related to ropes, are available here.


To submit a question to be addressed by the UIAA Safety Commission please click here.

Previous questions

Suncream and climbing gear
Rope testing
Half ropes
Bolts near edges
Figure-eight knots
Disinfecting climbing equipment
Static and semi-static ropes
Retiring carabiners