Mountain Medicine Knots

Below is a list of the knots and their standards that are tested at the Mountain Medicine Course at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. They are listed in the exact order that is tested. The testing will begin with students in rope corral attire lining the perimeter of the rope corral with their climbing equipment and the instructors in the center of the rope corral. An instructor will state, “You have thirty seconds to tie a square knot with two locking overhands, ready, begin.” The students begin to tie the specified knot and place the knot on the rope corral before the specified time ends. If the knot is unsatisfactory or the student does not complete the knot in time, the knot is a fail. The student will test the failed knots the next day after 24 hours of practice. If the student fails a second time, he may fail the course. The information below will be relayed at the course, but is sometimes fragmented and takes a while to accumulate, so enjoy.

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Rope Corral Attire:

  1. Watches and rings removed to prevent degloving
  2. Blouses tucked into pants and shirt sleeves rolled to prevent catching in the carabiner
  3. Pants unbloused from boots
  4. Not required, but bring sunscreen and a hat and water since you may be standing at the rope corral for a few hours each day

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Equipment:

  1. Petzl climbing helmet
  2. Two carabiners
  3. Sling rope
  4. Long and short Prusic cordage
  5. Long and short water tape

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Standards:

  1. 30, 45, 60, and 90 seconds: there are 30, 45, 60, and 90 second knots. You start at “ready rope” holding both ends of the rope in your hands with a cubit’s length already measured and hanging. You must place your knot on the rope corral before the timer sounds.
  2. Fist to Forearm: the pigtails of the knot have to be between a fist and a forearm’s length. If longer than a forearm’s length (elbow to wrist) or shorter that a fist’s grip then the knot fails.
  3. Fist to Thumb: the pigtails of the knot have to be between a thumb and a fist’s length. If longer than a fist’s length or shorter than a thumb, then the knot fails.
  4. Carabiner to Fist: the loop must be large enough to fit a carabiner through, but not large enough to fit a fist through.
  5. Midline: knot is middle of the rope, does not need to be at the end of the rope, so there are no pigtail standards.

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Knots:

Below is a list of the tested knots in the order of testing. Below that are instructional YouTube videos from EOTG Climbers for each knot, along with the standards for each knot.

  1. Square Knot with two locking overhands
  2. Double Fisherman’s Knot
  3. Roundturn with two half-hitches
  4. Roundturn with bowline and locking overhand
  5. Watertape Knot
  6. Six finger Prusic
  7. Midline Figure Eight
  8. Alpine Butterfly
  9. Clovehitch
  10. Munter Hitch
  11. Munter Mule
  12. Slip Figure Eight
  13. Retrace Figure Eight
  14. End of the line Prusic with a bowline
  15. Around the body bowline with locking overhand and figure eight just out of reach
  16. Swiss Seat or Military Rappel Seat

1. Square Knot with two locking overhands: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to forearm.
2. Double Fisherman’s Knot: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to forearm.
3. Roundturn with two half-hitches: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to forearm.
4. Roundturn with bowline and locking overhand: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to forearm.
5. Watertape Knot: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to thumb, dressed and set.

6. Six finger Prusic: 30 second knot, dressed and set, the knot must be slid to the side of the loop so that it is not touching the carabiner or the six finger prusic. The knot is tied with the small length of cordage that is already tied in a loop with double fisherman’s knots.

7. Midline Figure Eight: 30 second knot, loop carabiner to fist, no crosses, midline knot.

8. Alpine Butterfly: 30 second knot, loop carabiner to fist, midline knot.
9. Clovehitch: 30 second knot, pigtails fist to forearm.
10. Munter Hitch: 30 second knot, carabiner locked, either right or left handed brake, start with a clovehitch on the rope corral from last knot.
11. Munter Mule: 30 second knot, no more than three fingers length between the locking bars, start with a clovehitch and Munter Hitch and locked carabiner from last knot, it helps to lean back with your weight suspended on your carabiner for this knot.
12. Slip Figure Eight: 30 second knot, midline knot.
13. Retrace Figure Eight: 45 second knot, loop carabiner to fist, pigtails fist to forearm, no crosses.
14. End of the line Prusic with a bowline: 45 second knot, loop carabiner to fist, pigtail fist to thumb.

15. Around the body bowline with locking overhand and figure eight just out of reach: 60 second knot, pigtail fist to forearm for locking overhand, carabiner to fist for figure eight loop, bowline must be tight.

16. Swiss Seat or Military Rappel Seat: 90 second knot, tuck pigtails into pocket, the instructor may call “seat hip” or “seat shoulder” for the carabiner. Seat hip = clip the lip. Seat shoulder = clip the boulders.

-Brad Kinney MD

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