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Rope Access: Is the death knot a myth???

Mikey Stevenson and I collabed to learn more about the scaffold knot which is commonly used in the rope access industrial world. It cinches up against the carabiner to make a knot with a lower profile and it holds the carabiner in place. We also use it in highlining on some leash rings that are designed as thimbles.

We tested it tied normal of course but also the tail strand put in between the loop. It had no affect on how the rope functioned or its strength. We also tied it wrong so you have to pull the tail to cinch it up, which means the tail becomes loose if you weight it, pulling it undone completely which is how it got the clever name - The Death Knot.

What happens is the death knot, if pulled tight before testing, has the tail side trying to get pulled out at the same time the load strand side is cinching up and squeezing the tail. In all three of our tests, the rope broke at almost full strength and did not slip. THE DEATH KNOT IS STILL DANGEROUS but it is interesting how it works. At the very end (after the jingle), we demonstrate how it can fail easily.

Go subscribe to Mikey’s Channel - @The Rope Access and Climbing Podcast

Our break test were done with a new 10mm static climbing rope

Test 1: 8 to 8 - 18.80kN

Test 2: Scaffold knot #1- 20.80kN

Test 3: Scaffold knot #2 - 18.90kN

Test 4: Scaffold knot variation #1 - 18.52kN

Test 5: Scaffold knot variation #2 - 18.42kN

Test 6: Death Knot #1 - no peak hold - strong!

Test 7: Death Knot #2 - 17.70kN

Test 8: Death Knot #3 - 15.56kN

Highline leash thimble episode

Other highline leash thimble episode

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