Clove Hitch Climbing Technique – A Primer

Tying a one handed clove hitch is a good party trick for your next multi pitch anchor party. The clove hitch climbing technique is one of the simplest ways we can connect ourselves to our anchors. Without it, we would have to buy another piece of gear, like a personal anchor system, to secure ourselves at an anchor. Keep it simple and use the most versatile piece of gear in all of rock climbing, the climbing rope!

Knowing how to efficiently secure ourselves is a useful rock climbing skill that will speed up our multi pitch transitions. When belaying from the top, I like to clearly separate my clove from my belay device, even going as far as to use color coordinated carabiners to help me remember.

If you want to really excel in your rock climbing technique, check out the mountain guides in your area. Climbing with an experienced professional can be a game changer for your climbing and technical skills. We highly recommend checking out a certified professional if you want to up your game.

Don’t let your anchor turn into a jumbled mess like this!

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Remember…Practice

It’s easy to read articles, watch YouTube videos, and follow along to see how to do certain skills. But you need to be actively following along in these articles. I guarantee that you won’t be able to do these hitches unless you are holding the rope in your hand and following along.

Whenever I guide beginner climbers, I will do a few things when demonstrating a new skill. I first demonstrate it for them, talking along as I go, but going at a normal speed. After that, we all go through the steps together. Then they are on their own and attempt it by themselves. I can step in as needed, but they need to go through the steps at least five times before we can move on. Ideally, they would tie a knot or hitch 10 times, be able to tie it with their eyes closed before we move on.

Since I’m not there with you physically (only digitally!) you need to hold yourself accountable. For each of these different hitches, actively walk through each step. Repeat the hitch ten times. Make sure you can tie it with your eyes closed. Then you need to repeat that for the next three days. You need to have these coded into your muscle memory. Rock climbing has a lot of technique, both physically demanding in just climbing a route and when we build anchors and tie knots. Keep practicing and ask questions when you’re confused.

How do I tie a clove hitch?

The air clove is a quick and way to make the clove with two hands, all we do is make two loops in the air, and voila! Before we get started, tie in to the end of the rope and find a suitable anchor where you can attach a locking carabiner.

The clove can also be tied with one hand, which we cover in the section below! But first let’s look at tying the air clove.


First, hold the rope in your hands and create the loop like you’d turn the page in a book. Bring the strand in your right hand to your left hand.

Hold the loop in your left hand and create another loop in the same way with your right hand.

You’ll now be holding two loops like in the picture on the left. Note how the rope strand going out of frame (to the left near my foot) on the left loop is on the bottom and the rope strand for the right loop (hidden by my hand) is on top. This is crucial for the clove.

Next, we’ll be mimicking a sliding door motion. Slide the loop in your right behind your left hand loop and then clip in!

Next, we will be doing a sliding door movement. A glass sliding door is made of two frames, where one door slides behind the other.

We’re going to do this same movement and slide the loop in our right hand behind the loop in our left hand.

You should be able to see through both and as you might have guessed, that’s where we’ll clip in!


Voila! Excellent

The sliding door movement is crucial. Make sure that your right hand behind your left hand. If you’re left handed, you’ll need to mirror these images and slide your left hand behind your right hand. The key is that the second loop that is farthest away from your harness, needs to go behind the closer one.

Congrats on making it through the two-handed version! Now, go ahead and do this ten more times. By the end of this, you should be able to do this with your eyes closed.

Then once you have truly learned how to do the clove hitch with two hands, you can move on to the one handed party trick!

How do I tie a one handed clove hitch?

The one handed clove hitch is easy to tie and it’s easy to adjust so you have the right amount of extension. I like to tie the one handed clove with a method I call “The Double Backclip”. This method is easy to remember because all we need to do is backclip into our carabiner twice. The trick is that we need to grab our rope in a specific location when we make our second twist.

To begin, you need to have a locking carabiner already clipped into your anchor and that you have already tied in to the end of the rope.


Backclip into the locking carabiner. Look at the picture on the left, you can kind of see one of the loops being created.

All we are doing in the one handed method, is creating the two loops one at a time. We will use the carabiner to keep the loops intact.

Next, we’re going to back clip into the locking carabiner again. But you need to grab the rope in the right location.

Take a look at the image on the left. We are creating a loop by keeping the strand of rope going to our harness in front of the strand going down to the rest of the rope.

We need to make this first loop. Then we will twist with our right hand so we have a second loop like in the next image.

Now that we have the second loop in our right hand we will clip into the carabiner.

You need to clip into the carabiner from the back of the loop. In the photo on the left, the nose of the carabiner will be coming in from the side where my middle and pointer finger are located. Not from the side where my thumb is holding.

There you have it! You have successfully done the one handed clove hitch. Now all you need to do is practice this ten times. By the end of your practice session I want you to be able to finish this hitch with your eyes closed. At a multi pitch anchor, you may only be able to use one hand to clip in, so make sure you have this skill down!

How do I tie a munter hitch?

Tying the munter is very similar to tying the clove. Remember in the clove, we did a sliding door action with our two hands. But the munter will be like turning the page in a book. We will turn the page of our right loop to our left loop. We want to be clipping our carabiner through two parallel twists.


We’re going to follow the same first step as our two handed clove. With your right hand, turn the strand of rope to create a loop so the strand going to your harness is on the bottom.

Repeat that step again and pinch this loop in your right hand.

You should now be holding the rope like in the picture on the left.

Turn the page!

Your hands will now come together like your turning the page in a book to meet each other.

Doing this makes the loops run parallel to each other.

All you need to do now is clip your locking carabiner through the parallel facing loops.

After you do this, you’ll have the munter hitch!

You now have a completed clove hitch!

How do I tie a one handed munter hitch?

Being able to tie any knot with one hand is a fun tech tip. The motion for the one handed munter hitch will be a similar motion as our one-handed clove. Begin by clipping the rope into your carabiner.

Next, we grab the rope closest to us, make a twist, and clip it into the carabiner.

The difference between the one handed munter hitch vs the one handed clove is that we are grabbing the rope that is between our body and the carabiner (closest to us) rather than the strand that is on the other side of the carabiner.

Readers also asked

Is a clove hitch strong?

The clove has a strength of around 60-65% (the percent is relative to the strength of the material). A rock climbing rope can have a tensile strength of 5500 pounds, so our clove can hold over 3500 pounds.

What’s the difference between a clove hitch and a munter hitch?

The difference between a clove and a munter is their function. The munter is a hitch that increases friction and allows you to belay a climber. The munter is also known as HMS, an abbreviation for the German word Halbmastwurfsicherung which means half clove hitch belay. The munter is critical to know in case you ever drop your ATC or GriGri. The clove is used to secure yourself to a climbing anchor. The munter allows rope to move (with increased friction) and the clove cinches the it tight.

What is the difference between a hitch and a knot?

A hitch must be tied around an object, like a carabiner, while a knot is capable of holding its form on its own. The figure eight knot we using for tying in, can be tied directly in the rope. While if I were to tie a one handed munter in the air, it would fall apart. If I wanted to practice, I would need to do it around my thumb.

When do I use a munter hitch?

The Munter can be used to control friction in a belay system, it can be used if a climber forgets or drops their belay device. It’s also known as the Italian hitch, but got its name from Werner Munter who was a Swiss mountain guide. The munter is an excellent skill to have in your rock climbing toolbox.

When do I use a clove hitch?

A clove hitch is a simple hitch that is easily tied and adjustable. The hitch is used to secure a rock climbing rope to a carabiner. Since the climbing rope will be tied in to the climber’s harness, the rope will be fixed to the attachment point.

What is a personal anchor system?

A personal anchor system, or PAS, is a piece of climbing gear that connects you to an anchor station. These systems are like multiple slings sewn together to create a redundant and strong tether. It’s common to use a PAS while on a sport climb, but it isn’t necessary for multi pitch rock climbing.

What is a half hitch?

The half hitch sounds confusing, but you actually already know how to tie it. The half hitch is just an overhand knot tied around an object. This is called a hitch because the rope is attached, or hitched to an object. You can practice tying this on a carabiner, clothes hanger, or any rod/dowel you have lying around!

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