Swaney knot

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This knot was invented by Verdi Tanriverdi. He states that:

I have been using it nearly for two decades, one time or another. Those knots have been safe for me. But, the use of this knot by inexperienced people could be deadly. Anyone deciding to use this knot should be using them at their own risk or not use it at all. This knot is named after Scott Swaney because he was the first one to actually rappel on this knot.

The knot requires a rope looped around some kind of anchor; perhaps a natural anchor or Anchor ring. In this configuration, the rope may be descended with a double-strand rappel, but adding this knot enables a single-strand rappel (in a similar way to a block used with an anchor ring, but this knot does not require an anchor ring). The knot can be removed from the bottom of the rappel by pulling on the non-rappel strand, and then the rope must be retrieved by pulling its entire length around the anchor (the same as if a double-strand rappel was used). If the rope may be used for contingency, the rope should be placed in a rappel ring or in a repeat. The knot could be placed on any part of the rope and does not need to be right next to the anchor.

The knot is formed by inserting a bight of the pull strand into the loop created after three (3) twists on both strands of the rope. If additional safety is required, place a biner on the bight loop to make it fail-proof.

This is described as a "releasable contingency knot", but if it may be used for a contingency, the rope should be placed in a rappel ring or a repeat for the ease of the use. It will also require a little more force to release the knot under weight (see below) than some other releasable riggings "releasable riggings" or "contingency anchors" in the US. When it is used with one rope, the rope needs to be pulled out to full extend. When the knot is used with two ropes, since this knot does not require any additional anchor materials, upon release each rope falls down. If the knot is used for a contingency situation or with additional rigging materials, the anchor materials will not come down upon the release of the knot.

How to tie

Single rope variation


BOTH SIDES COME APART, NO NEED FOR PIN BLOCK OR A FIDDLESTICK: In order to use this knot with two ropes, those ropes must be compatible. After placing your rappel rope around an anchor, you match the final two feet of the rappel rope with the pull rope. Then fold this 2 feet section and the rappel side together. (You will have three strands of rope folded). Place three twists on the ropes. And, using only the pull side, place it into the loop of the twisted ropes. Tighten the knot and you are ready to rappel.

Triple rope variation (Canyon Gardener's Delight)

How to use as a contingency anchor

Verdi's Note:

While I am rappelling on this knot, when I lock myself on the rappel side and put the pull cord on to an ATC, I am able to unlock the knot and lower myself down. So, it may require an extra pull but the knot comes apart with a good pull, allowing another person to take control of the rope. Here is a video showing the release of the knot while weighted.

Note that after release, the rope will need to slide, weighted, around the anchor. This means to use this knot as a contingency anchor, it should be used with an anchor ring and not directly around a natural feature such as a tree.

When to use

Verdi describes his use of this knot:

GHOSTING! I typically used this knot on shorter rappels or in a contingency situation. This knot is also suitable for when there is a chance that you may need to lower someone or take control of the rope from the top or even from the bottom. When you use this knot you will be ghosting and there will be nothing left behind as part of your rigging. Best used when the rope is going around a tree or a rock.

This knot should generally be avoided when ghosting with a single rope (leaving no anchor material behind) because it requires the full length of the rappel rope to be pulled around the anchor which will hurt or kill trees and create rope grooves in rock, especially softer rock such as sandstone. This knot should be used with two comparable ropes for ghosting. Releasable anchors are generally better choices when ghosting. This knot should only be used with a rappel ring or a repeat when a contingency is needed. This knot should definitely not be used as a contingency anchor when placed directly around a natural feature such as a tree (as would happen when ghosting) as pulling the fully-weighted rope around the natural feature is far worse than pulling the unweighted rope around the natural feature, and that is already undesirable as mentioned earlier in this paragraph.


Like any outdoor activity, this knot could be dangerous if misused. Best practice to avoid mishaps is to attach a carabiner at the loop of the pull side and test the knot by loading weight before someone actually rappelling on it.