Which professionals climb with an eight, which with a bulin?

We recently took a closer look at figure eight knots and double bulins as tie-in knots and showed their advantages and disadvantages. Today, climbing pros like Jacopo Larcher, Babsi Zangerl, Seb Bouin, Connor Herson or Carlos Traversi will tell you why they prefer which knot.

Conventional wisdom has it that the figure eight knot is easier to visually check, making it safer, while the double bulin is easier to untie after a fall. But is the double bulin really the knot of choice for ambitious sport climbers, while the figure eight knot remains the standard knot for everyone else? This is what the climbing pros say about it:

«The figure eight knot is my knot. It's much easier to check this knot."

Connor Herson

Connor Herson made a name for itself in 2022 with a spectacular Trad inspection. The versatile up-and-coming climber is perhaps best known for redpointing the famous big wall route The Nose at El Cap at the age of 15 and the route shortly thereafter Trad-style Empath (5.14d) climbed. Coming from a climbing family, Connor embodies old school style with a modern twist.

Big wall climber Connor Herson prefers the figure eight knot. Image: Black Diamond
Big wall climber Connor Herson prefers the figure eight knot. Image: Black Diamond

The competitive climber Natalia Grossman clinched the world title in bouldering at the 2021 IFSC World Championships and became America's new competitive superstar. In 2022, she clinched the title again. She is also one of the top climbers in lead climbing and has already scored an 8c outdoors.

With which knot do you think Natalia, the epitome of the new school, ties herself? "Figure XNUMX knot because I've never learned anything else." And she adds: "In addition, double bulin is not allowed in competitions."

Natalia Grossman uses the figure eight knot for two reasons: she has never learned any other roping knot and the double bulin is banned in competitions. Image: Black Diamond
Natalia Grossman uses the figure eight knot for two reasons: she has never learned any other roping knot and the double bulin is banned in competitions. Image: Black Diamond

«I use a simple figure of eight knot with no additional knots. I've never felt like the tail was in my way and I like how easy it is to visually inspect the knot."

Carlos Traversi

For Carlo Traversi, who scored 9b in sport climbing last year and managed a 9a in trad climbing, the figure eight knot is also the first choice. However, Carlo was not always part of the eight-knot team: “I used to use a double bulin for a few years when I was younger. But I found it was harder to check and sometimes loosened up more than I would have liked."

The figure eight knot: easy to check visually, but more difficult to untie than the double bulin after a major fall. Image: Black Diamond
The figure eight knot: easy to check visually, but more difficult to untie than the double bulin after a major fall. Image: Black Diamond

Auch Jacopo Larcher and  Babsi Zangerl, one of the most successful big wall teams, give their opinion on their knots of choice. Jacopo is the first to speak up: "Well, I actually use both: I tie in with the double bulin for single pitches (sport and trad), for multi-pitch routes, big walls or for half ropes I use the figure eight knot."

“When I first started climbing, I always tied myself in a figure eight knot, that's how I was taught. But later I realized that all the cool guys used the bulin, especially a mountain guide and mentor that I admired a lot. So I switched to the Bulin!»

Jacopo Larcher

Now he no longer uses it because it's cool, but because it's much easier to release after a long fall and protects the tie-in loop of the climbing harness. As for the figure-of-eight knot, he says: “I use the figure-of-eight knot for half ropes because the tie-in loop is too small for two double bulins. For big walls, I also use the figure eight knot for the same reason, since I usually also have a daisy chain on my harness. Also, I'm worried that the bulin might partially come off when I'm walking that long in the wall (especially when hauling).»

When climbing with half ropes and on long routes in big walls, both Jacopo Larcher and Babsi Zangerl rely on the figure eight knot. Image: Black Diamond
When climbing with half ropes and on long routes in big walls, both Jacopo Larcher and Babsi Zangerl rely on the figure eight knot. Image: Black Diamond

“I use the figure eight knot,” says Babsi, who has relevant climbing experience on El Cap and who Flash ascent of the cult route Eternal Flame at the Nameless Tower. «This is the knot my brother showed me on my first day of climbing when I was 14 years old. When Jacopo and I got together, I switched to the Bulin. But then I had a bad experience with it on a big wall, so I went back to the figure eight knot."

«The Bulin opened almost halfway – after half a day of climbing. I didn't realize it until very late and was pretty shocked."

Babsi Zangerl
Frenchman Seb Bouin has been loyal to the figure eight knot since its inception. Image: Marco Mueller
Frenchman Seb Bouin has been loyal to the figure eight knot since its inception. Image: Marco Mueller

Seb Bouin, one of the best sport climbers in the world and known for Routes in the upper ninth degree (9b), is a purist when it comes to his climbing style. This means that he is solely focused on drilling and climbing the toughest and best routes in the world.

“I use the figure eight knot. Simply because I started with that and never changed it. If you thread it correctly, there is no problem untying the knot."

Seb Bouin

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Credits: Text and Cover Photo: Black Diamond

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