The weather has been really nice this weekend in North wales so over the weekend I set up a slack line in my back garden to have a play about on!

On Sun I went to take it all down. Problem is I attached one end of the line to a carabiner using a clove hitch, it appears this was a big mistake. The hitch is now totally locked up and I can't undo or move the knot, it's been under tension for about 2 days. In hindsight this was probably not the knot to use here...

Can anyone suggest any good tricks to loosing the knot off? or do I have to cut the thing off?

Seen someone suggest a "Fid". But I obviously don't own one of these? Alternatives?

  • 1
    Next time, use two carabiners instead of one. That makes it a lot easier to undo a clove hitch.
    – Guran
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 8:27
  • Hi Liam. Respectfully, I'm wondering if this question falls into our scope. If it does, then wouldn't any activity we do outside in the yard be included? There's a similar one that has appeared since this, and I have the same concern there. Can you help me understand what makes this on-topic? Thanks! Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 22:29
  • Hey @sue. I've sent you a chat message
    – user2766
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:19
  • Hi Liam, Thanks much for the chat message. I appreciate your time, and also letting me know it was there, as I don't always get my notifications! I have to call the Geek Squad (the American group of computer-fixers!), to fix my computer, and do a few things but I promise I'll answer sometime today. We can erase these comments if you want, including my first one. Thanks again! Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:59
  • @Liam I replied to your chat message. I'm sorry it took so long. By the time the awesome Geeks fixed my computer, it was night time where you live. I think my objection was misguided, and the question is in scope, and am sorry I put you through this. Thanks for your politeness and understanding! Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


I tried the suggestion by B540Glenn. Unfortunately this resulted in a very broken pencil and not much progress. It did though inspire me!

I figured if I had something pencil shaped but stronger this would probably work. Digging though my tool box I came across a nail set:

enter image description here

I figured this would be perfect. So I set to work forcing the set into the gaps between the ropes:

Place the set into a suitable gap, hammer gently ensuring the set is going between the coils and not though them: enter image description here Starting to get though Set though coil of the rope

After doing this a couple of times in a couple of places and some gentle levering the knot started to loosen. After a couple of minutes it was loose enough to slip off.

Released biner and rope. Note the broken pencil and black marks (from the pencil lead) on the rope!

Word of warning, this has done some minor damage to the carabiner and rope. I don't use this rope or biner for climbing so I'm not really bothered but you might want to be wary/more careful than me if you want to keep using these items afterwards for climbing. I mostly use this rope for slacklining.

  • 1
    I am not sure whether this biner was aluminum, but it could be, so a warning (please excuse me if the biner is steel): Aluminum biners are not suited for constant high loads (even less if the forces change around a high value). You should always use steel biners for slacklines and if an aluminum was used, retire it.
    – imsodin
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 9:22
  • 1
    Hi @imsodin the biner was steel. Good shout though.
    – user2766
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 9:28
  • Why the minus one?
    – user2766
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 7:47
  • I always string a small length of cord into the knot when I'm tying it, so if it does get super tight I can use the cord to work it loose instead of prying it apart with a tool. You have to be preemptive for this to work though, you could also use second carabiner, stick, zip tie, anything that you have on you really.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:44
  • 1
    The traditional tool for loosening tight knots is a marlinspike, not a fid. (Both are tools used in rope work, but a fid will generally be weaker and larger depending on the size of rope its intended for.) A good makeshift marlinspike is an icepick with the tip filed down, rounded and smooth.
    – oasisbob
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:21

How about a pencil? I use a pencil to add a little play into stubborn knots. Don't use a very sharp point, use one that has a rounded point to avoid puncturing the line.

I don't climb so the line I use is nautical in nature. You may want to treat your climbing line more carefully.

  • Good idea, this knot is really really tight though. I'll try it tonight but I'm not sure this will be strong enough
    – user2766
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 14:03
  • You could use a screw driver (better handle than a pencil - more force). inspect the rope very carefully and consider retiring it for anything really important. I have always managed to work them loose, but I have never had a rope as tight as a slack line held by a CH.
    – user5330
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 4:49

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