Essential Knots: The Alpine Butterfly

As well as having a groovy name, the alpine butterfly is a super useful knot which you can use to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. It can be tied without access to either of the ends, providing a clip-in point which can be loaded in 2 or 3 directions.

Alpine butterfly knot for climbing

How To Tie an Alpine Butterfly Knot

First, form a loop in the rope.

How to tie an alpine butterfly knot for climbing

Twist the loop so it becomes two loops. Then pull the top of the upper loop behind and underneath the line of the rope.

Tying a alpine butterfly knot for climbing

The upper loop is now beneath the line of the rope. The next step is to push it through the original first loop.

How to tie an alpine butterfly knot

Finally, pull it tight.

Tying alpine butterfly knot

You should end up with this:

Alpine butterfly knot front and back

An alternative way to tie the alpine butterfly is to wrap it around your hand three times as shown below. Pull the top wrap down over the other two, then back up behind them.

How to tie an alpine butterfly knot over hand


Using the Alpine Butterfly Knot

You can use two opposing screwgate carabiners to attach it to your belay loop. This is really useful for glacier travel, or any other occasion where you need to tie in to the middle of the rope.

The size of the loop can be adjusted. For roping up on a glacier, a longer loop may be needed to give the climber more room to move away from the taut rope. The alpine butterfly is also easier to unfasten when it has been heavily loaded than other knots such as the figure of 8.

Alpine butterfly knot clipped to belay loop on climbing harness

The alpine butterfly can be used to equalize a two-piece belay. Tie a large-looped alpine butterfly to one piece and a clovehitch to the other piece. Adjust the clovehitch to fine tune the equalization. This is useful for fixing ropes, such as on a big wall.

Equalize belay with alpine butterfly knot

The alpine butterfly can also be used to isolate damaged sections of rope.

This is useful when using your rope as a fixed line or in a situation where the rope will not pass through any carabiners. Obviously, you will not be able to lead climb with a knot in your rope!

Alpine butterfly knot tied over core shot damaged rope
Alpine butterfly climbing

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