Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear Guy

Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?

If I were you I’d give up my fascination with the self-release knot. The only climber I have known who experimented with this knot, died. For real.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

I’ve been fiddling with a self-release knot that lets you rappel on a single rope, then shake the rope to release the knot at the anchor and retrieve the rope. I’ve heard of old alpine guides using such a knot, but I can’t find it in any books. Do you know of this knot or can you recommend another self-release knot?

—Jim Gknot via rockandice.com

The releasable Kamikaze knot got widespread coverage on a popular television show, but it may be the most dangerous knot of all time.
You mean besides the bowline?

I suspect you are a Bear Grylls fan and watched “Man vs. Wild,” Season Three, Episode Three, where he demonstrated the “Kamikaze” knot, a variation on
the sheepshank where you cut the center strand of the knot.

That’s right, you cut your rope. I am a student of onomastics, so pay careful attention to the meaning of names. Knowing what is behind a name
can take on great importance. Ignore at your own peril. “Kamikaze” as applied to a knot tells me all I need to know, just as I know I’d probably not
open a text message from Anthony Weiner, and wouldn’t mind being stranded on a ledge with Jenny Humpsalot.

Anyway, in “Man vs. Wild,” Bear demonstrates the Kamikaze knot by tying off a single line and rappelling. Once on the ground, he shakes the rope and voila, it
falls to his feet. On TV the knot seems to work even if Bear does squeal like a ninny at the thought of the Kamikaze coming unraveled while he is mid-rappel.
Though widely considered a fraud, Grylls did in another episode squeeze the juice from a pile of elephant dung and drink it on camera. He also climbed
Everest in 1988, the youngest Brit to do so at the time—if you don’t count the Brit who did it when he was a year younger.

If you drink pachyderm poop water, using the Kamikaze knot might seem reasonable, even sane. Otherwise, the knot has no application for climbers. It might
be good for the Japanese art of Kinbaku. Don’t know.

If I were you I’d give up my fascination with the self-release knot. The only climber I have known who experimented with this knot, died. For real. There
are, of course, times when you need to rappel the full length of a rope and retrieve it. For those instances, carry two ropes and enough anchor material
to build additional stations if necessary. Rappelling is dangerous enough without gleaning your tips from some TV punk poser. Next!

This article originally appeared in Rock and Ice issue 215 (January 2014).