Rock Climbing without a Knife, Are you Crazy?
Seriously, think about it. You are stuck 2000 feet up a blank face and you are dangling from the rope. Maybe you’ve been impaled by a large tree branch and you can’t keep moving, but if you just keep hanging there, the weight of your body will blow the three piece anchor your partner built and you’ll both die. In this situation, having a high quality rock climbing knife will allow you to at least cut yourself lose and save your friend.
Whenever I think of using a knife while climbing, my mind immediately goes to the opening scene from Vertical Limit. Despite what you may think, there are actually way more practical uses for a rock climbing knife than cutting your rope so a family member can to fall to their death.
In fact, i’m going to give some scenarios of legitimate uses for a knife whether you are at the crag, multi-pitching, or alpine climbing.
Scenario One: Rope in a Crack
You’re in Red Rocks finishing the last pitch of a long climb up one of the canyons. It’s early spring and you and your partner can’t believe you are only group on the route. You have just enough time to rappel and hike back to the car before the gate closes.
You are three rappels in with two to go. You pull the rope and the end gets stuck on the way down. You and your partner put all your weight into it, but it wont budge. Most of the rope is down, so you decide to lead up on the other end to where it is stuck and fish it out.
When you get to it, you realize that by pulling on it, it has pinched itself into the crack so tight that it is completely fixed. Because you are smart, you pull out your knife and cut the end of the ropes leaving the small section of rope hidden in the crack. You lose about 10 feet off your rope, but you and your partner finish rappelling and make it out of the park just in time.
Scenario Two: Ugly Webbing
You and a few friends decide to do an easy, popular alpine climb where everyone feel comfortable soloing. However, at the top you are required to do a 60 foot rappel down to the decent trail. The rappel is overhanging so you bring a rope to ensure that you and your friends get down safely.
You have a great time scrambling up the face, but when you get to the rappel you see that it’s off a big horn that has about 12 multi colored slings on it. All the slings look sun damaged so you pull out your webbing and tie on a new sling.
Because you are awesome, you also reach for your knife and cut the old webbing free and stuff it in your sack. You and your friends rappel safely of your new anchor and it looks way cleaner.