(Italian Hitch, Crossing Hitch)
What is it: A knot that allows you to belay or rappel on a rope with nothing more than a single locking carabiner.
Why it’s cool: This knot could save you if you drop your standard belay/rappel device.
Red flags / Rules: Not recommended for anything other than emergency use. The Munter Hitch severely kinks the rope, especially in a rappel.
Drop your belay/rappel device and you will be glad you know how to tie a Munter Hitch. This hitch works for belaying and rappelling: pull back on one side, and the Munter Hitch cinches onto itself, creating enough friction to hold a fall or control a rappel. Tie the Munter Hitch on a large locking carabiner to allow the knot to swivel, as it must when you are paying out and reeling in slack.
Despite the Munter Hitch’s utility, only use it in a pinch. The hitch twists the rope into snarls.
Hold the rope in both hands, and form a loop by crossing the rope over itself.
Then form a second loop in the same way.
Now fold the two loops toward each other like you’re closing a book and clip a locking carabiner through both loops.
The Munter Hitch provides a method for belaying and rappelling without a belay/rappel device. This is an important knot for climbers to know. It works best in large pear shaped carabiners and should only be used with a locking carabiner. When belaying with the Munter Hitch be sure that the strand of rope carrying the load is next to the spine of the carabiner. Set this knot up correctly, because someone’s life is on the other end of the rope! This knot can cause kinks or twists in the rope.
INTERESTING FACT: The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch or the Crossing Hitch, is a simple knot, commonly used by climbers, cavers, and rescuers as part of a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this knot is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special “pear-shaped” HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope. The Munter hitch is named after a Swiss mountain guide, Werner Munter, who popularized its use in mountaineering around 1970.