This Method for Tying the Alpine Butterfly Has Changed My Life for the Better! Try It Out if You Haven't Already!


That Guy With The Face
Oct 9, 2022
Scottsdale, Arizona
I've attached two videos of how to tie the Alpine Butterfly using (what I believe is) a lesser known method! Most of us use one of the two more popular methods, one of which involves creating three wraps around the hand, after which time the loop knot is formed by manipulating a bight formed by one strand, around the other two strands and eventually pulling taught.

This "Hybrid method," as it is called, utilizes only TWO wraps around the hand, it is more ergonomic and thus ties much more fluidly and with less resistance, and it therefore can be tied much more quickly (I make this educated guess based upon the average knot tiers of the world; I have no doubt some people can perhaps tie this knot faster using another method). There is no reason why your experience trying this tying method has to match my claims exactly. You might think it sucks. However, I believe enough people will find it to be superior, or at least appreciate it enough, that I went through with making a thread about it. If moderation considers this spammy, feel free to take it down. It may not elicit a whole lot of discussion, but it spreads useful education as far as I'm concerned. I've been climbing and enthusiastic about knots for over half a decade (although, not continuously) and I just discovered this tying method for the AB this month. The only thing about it that is even remotely wasteful as far as its efficiency is how, during the very last step, the knot must be reoriented 180 degrees before the finished knot emerges.

I'll shut up now. More show, less tell methinks!

Hybrid method from one angle

A different how-to video showing it from a different helpful angle
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Bartlett has a video: Three ways to tie an AB. This hybrid makes four and I saw a fifth somewhere here or on YouTube.
The AB is a bizarre knot imo. Seems unusual to have a number of completely different ways to tie the same knot.

And the few times I've used it, I had problems untying it though I'm sure I tied it correctly. A buddy mentioned that could be because it works better in no-stretch ropes vs when used in tree climbing rope which has some stretch.

Anyone else notice this?
Yeah, it can cinch down pretty good on a hard pull. There are a bunch of better knots for a hard pull in one direction, but it's an amazing knot if it might be pulled in either direction. Like the figure 8, i think most climbing knots are chosen by their simplicity to tie, compactness, their likelihood of slipping/capsizing, and the ease of checking that they are correct at a glance. Since you want it to never slip it's gonna be a harder knot to untie, so you might have to resort to a marlinspike to untie it if you loaded it pretty hard.

If you know you're about to load it hard on a rigging setup (not the best knot for hard pulls but it is bomber) you can fill the knot with something that is easy to remove, thus giving you slack. Sailors back in the day used toggles or a spike for this application, but a biner works great in a pinch. Sticks are ok, but there's more friction to remove it. I've used a spud wrench before as a filler, works great because the taper makes it easy to remove, but usually i just use a different knot like a catspaw or bowline on a bight. A locked off munter hitch works great too.
Always cool to have different ways to do things, but I'll probably stick with the normal hand wrap. A "trick" I learned from watching a video from Benjo is doing the hand wraps out of order. You go inside(close to thumb), outside(close to fingertips), then middle. Take the outside loop, and pull it through the whole mess. It just eliminates the order swap while it's in-hand, but I find it's smoother with less fumbling to tie it that way.

It can lock up pretty tight, but so far I haven't had it lock enough that a few seconds of working it couldn't get it free. I don't really use stretchy ropes, so that may have something to do with it. I bet a hard load on some treemaster could make it a real bitch to get apart.
Many times i find if dress down tightly to where knot should align to at end of sudden loading
>>it can't impact to that position tighter then; when does load.
Also, the elastic skinnying under high load and stretching into place
>>then relaxed lines expand, tensions captured as trying to untie etc.
i think BFly is best loaded EQUALLY from end to end as main/primary loaded axis
>> if any force to eye , less and applied perpendicularly / not inline to the main axis as like is actually used in Trucker's type knots
So, really with that as the premium benchmark mechanic model,
>>by that measure BFly performs remarkably well even as gets very abused
A> even in Trucker's where ends are not loaded equally,
B>and the eye instead of less is loaded more than 1 end
C>AND eye pulls 90degrees from the ideal angle(pulls inline, rather than perpendicular to main loaded end-to-end axis)
BFly takes it pretty well !
Splint/pin is good, should always be round for best frictions; over and again arc is always key here like in bridge as the most organic working form.
At end of the day most all this is just geometry of a given material;
rope simply a most form-able substance, and without heating, carving, grinding, pounding, nor drilling etc.
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I tie an AB with the two twists then down and through the crossover loop, I never mastered the hand wrap way, but I'm liking that hybrid method.
Tomorrow I'm teaching knots to our road crash unit newbies, will use it for sure.
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I'm glad everyone found this to be interesting and helpful and that it got a bit of a discussion going with several useful tips included. In everyone's opinion, is the Alpine Butterfly the quintessential midline knot? Does anyone believe that there is a more superior midline knot? Does anyone know of any directional midline knots that they believe is better than the AB? Does anyone ever tie a Farmer's loop? It definitely takes a little more time to make, but the tying method is extremely easy (and quite fun), the knot is a bit difficult to examine at first, but it's a super strong knot. I'd say it definitely jams more, too. There is a way it can potentially become undone inadvertently, but I understand it to be extremely difficult to do. I'm just making discussion here. I'm also in no way suggesting that the Farmer's loops is superior; I'm just curious if it sees any action in the arborist realm.
I hadn't either. Looks like the punishment version of the butterfly. You tie a butterfly really quick in front of the new guy, then give him these instructions for tying it. When he inevitably takes forever and screws it up, give him a bunch of shit about it :^D

The Alpine Butterfly is important for me for 2 purposes:

1. Midline loop for setting up 3:1 MA with Maasdam (loop holds rigging biner/pulley back to puller); most frequent use.
2. Isolating a cut/damaged piece of rope for temporary use (happened once up in a tree on a large limb being rigged and once early on in my climbing career when my hand sawing got a wee too aggressive). Thankfully one of the first "advanced knots" in those early days.

I've used both the 3 wraps around the hand and the double loop method Fiona describes above, but this new method has it come out cleaner than both of those, making it the quickest dress and set ever. Thanks again, @Bioassay.
That farmers knot I'd get to about stage three and throw it across the room.
I showed them the twist loop method (ABfly) then no-one was interested in the two wrap boo hoo.
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I mostly use AB's as stopper knots (to jam into the small eye of my friction saver to make it a canopy anchor for SRS) or as the loop on one leg of a doubled rope over a natural crotch, then connect AB loop to working end using Quickie to create a canopy anchor for SRS. I also definitely find them useful in creating a trucker's hitch for tying things down. I also use them with every basal anchor I create (unless I'm using a descender as my emergency back up, like a Petzl Rig) so that it can be used to connect a second line to transfer the load of my body from the anchor (I use releasable anchors) onto the second rope, allowing me to be safely and easily lowered in an emergency by using any type of friction management device, whether it be a portawrap or even just a tree trunk. ABs on a basal anchor, placed roughly at chest height, is simple and easy to do and it can save your life.

@SeanKroll I honestly somehow missed your message at the end there. We said the same thing. I swear that was accidental! 'Great minds" and all that!

This was my 100th post. Sweet. =-D
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I like it...and will give it a try when I get a chance. But it wouldn't surprise me if I stayed with the three turns around the hand method. Been tying the alpine butterfly that way for some 40 know how it is with old dogs and new tricks :D.
same here and me is still in daipers(shit hope this reads as good as I thought, remember me is latino:D