Tying the Münter Hitch
By Lee Trowbridge, NSS #33443 (Oak Ridge, TN)
(Editor's Note: This article was published in Nylon Highway #39, but the drawings were left off. It is reprinted here for clarity.)
The Münter hitch is a useful knot which can serve as a simple, effective belay device. In a pinch, accompanied by a leg wrap, it can be used for short rappels in preference to the "biner wrap". The only hardware required is a carabiner; preferably a steel one for reasons of abrasion resistance. According to Padgett and Smith's On Rope, as a beley device the Münter hitch can provide more frictional force than either a figure-8 or a stitch plate.
In On Rope, a relatively simple technique is described to tie the Münter hitch, and with the book open in front of you, it is no trouble at all to tie this knot. In a dark muddy cave however, even the simplest task can be more difficult than is easily appreciated in the comfort of one's living room. Having once needing three tries to tie this know (no, I can't explain the mental lapse), it occurred to me that a more easily remembered means of tying it would have helped. The accompanying diagram shows such a method. It is essentially a variation of the On Rope method, but with the rope distorted so that it appears more symmetric. This method consists of four parts:
The carabiner of course needs to be anchored appropriately (to what, depends on the intended use.) The Münter hitch is self-reversing. That is, either end can support the load, the other being the belayer's end.
Should the load reverse, the knot will flip to the other end of the carabiner and reverse. This technique has made it easier for me to remember how to tie this useful knot (even under duress), and hopefully it will prove useful to others.
Reprinted from Nylon Highway #39. Previously printed in the D.C. Speleograph - August 1994, Originally printed in the Speleotype, January 1994 - East TN Grotto.
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