Recently I heard as a general rule of thumb that one should leave at most the width of your hand as space between the knot (a figure eight for instance) and the harness. Its quite obvious that one doesn't want one or two feet of rope between the harness and the knot, since it might catch on something, but I never paid too much attention on whether its one, two or three times the width of my hand.

Aside from it being caught on something, are there any other dangers associated with having too much space between the knot and the harness?

  • 2
    I've closed this question not because it's a bad question per se, but because the scope of this site has changed in the three years since it was asked and questions about (non-sport) climbing should now be asked at The Great Outdoors instead. – Philip Kendall Nov 14 '17 at 15:52
  • @PhilipKendall This question has an answer within the scope of sport climbing (it is given by Houve below). Another answer is: The longer the distance from knot to harness, the longer the necessary distance between climber and quickdraw, which makes taking up restful positions more difficult and climbing more effortful. Sport climbing is, by the way, something that is done outdoors on rocks, as well as indoors, so "outdoor climbing" does not make climbing non-sports climbing. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_climbing – user14301 Nov 15 '17 at 9:54
  • The question is not explicitly and specifically about sports climbing - it is about general techniques and principles used in climbing - it is therefore off-topic at Sports SE. – Nij Nov 24 '17 at 4:15

Yes, there is a reason why your knot shouldn't be too far away from the harness. When you fall from the wall and your knot is too far away from the harness, there is a good chance it could hit you hard in the face when the rope stretches. Depending on the fall distance and the knot itself it could hurt a lot or in worst case it could knock you unconscious. When you are lead climbing and the distance between save points is large and your climbing partner gives you a bit more rope, the fall distance can easily be several meters. Falling around 10 meters results in a velocity of ~50 km/h (for a 75kg person). Getting hit by a knot with 50km/h in the wrong spot could knock you out. And an unconscious climber on the other end of a rope at a real high wall in the wild is a serious problem.


There is also the risk of clipping the loop between the knot and the harness in the qickdraw by mistake.
In lead climbing that is a serious problem, because you have to clip it out again and clip the "right" part of the rope.
Meanwhile you are unsecured the whole time and getting exhausted.

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