I didn’t expect Arctic skills training to involve learning to tie knots. I naively thought that knowing how to tie my shoe laces would get me through. But, as I discovered, each knot must be fit for purpose and the double-bow used on my shoes will not prevent a tent blowing away in a gale.

Tying knots is one of the most frustrating skills to learn. Especially when wearing puffed-up down mitts, it’s like trying to thread a needle while wearing oven gloves. It took me a good while before I could do an Alpine Butterfly (shown below) without turning the air blue.

Despite my initial anger, tying knots, and rope work in general, has become an activity that brings great satisfaction, when done correctly. I do love a good Munter.

Here are the knots we use along with their purpose.

Lark’s Foot

Lark's Foot

Used to attach slings to fixed points to form belays

Munter/Italian hitch

For help controlling assent/decent of a pulk or person over a steep pressure ridge or from a crevasse. A fixed Munter hitch (see main picture) can be used to tie the end of your storm-proofing off. It's my personal favourite!

For help controlling assent/decent of a pulk or person over a steep pressure ridge or from a crevasse. A fixed Munter hitch (see main picture) can be used to tie the end of your storm-proofing off. It’s my personal favourite!

Round turn and two half-hitches

Used to provide a fixed point, usually for storm-proofing because it can be released quickly.

Used to provide a fixed point, usually for storm-proofing because it can be released quickly.

Figure-8

The general purpose knot. I use to to attach my harness to my pulk.

The general purpose knot. I use to to attach my harness to my pulk.

Two more that we use less often are the pesky Alpine Butterfly and the Thompson knot. The Butterfly makes a loop that won’t slip, handy if we needed to connect a group of people together, in a white-out for example. The Thompson we use for making an emergency harness from a length of rope

When my one-stop resource for everything sub-zero and outdoors, Jim McNeill, is not available I use a great app, Knots by Grog. It uses animations and pictures that take you through each knot step-by-step. It’ll even show you how to do a bow-tie!

Remember folks, it’s not too late to buy me a beer and help get me to the Arctic Pole of Inaccessibility!