The Munter hitch knot is an adjustable knot that acts as a friction device or belay device for climbers to control their descent. Named for Swiss mountain guide Werner Munter, the knot is known by several names, including HMS—an abbreviation for the German term for the “half [clove hitch](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/clove-hitch-knot-guide)”—Italian hitch, tag knot, and crossing hitch. The Munter hitch was initially known as the “MB” or Mezzo Barcaiolo (half a knot) after being developed by a trio of Italian climbers in the 1950s. \n\nThe Munter hitch comprises several loops wrapped around a sizeable pear-shaped locking carabiner (also known as an HMS carabiner). However, other solid, rounded objects, like pipes or poles, may also be used. As with many knots, there are several ways to tie-off or secure the Munter hitch, including the Munter Mule, which uses a slip knot around the rope, followed by a half-hitch. The Super Munter involves tying a second Munter Hitch above the first one on the biner, which increases its holding power and prevents the kinks in the rope that often happen with a Munter hitch.\nThere are several uses for the Munter hitch knot, all related to outdoor activities, including:\n\n1. __Abseiling__: A Munter hitch is a valuable knot for abseiling or rappelling down a vertical surface without a rappel device. However, note the following before using this knot to rappel: the Munter hitch produces a great deal of friction which can wear down a rope, so it should be used as a short-term system and not as the primary method when you abseil.\n2. __Belay system__: [Belaying](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-belay) is the process of managing the rope that protects the climber in the case of a fall during rock climbing, caving, mountaineering, or other climbing activity. The Munter hitch is the most common hitch for a belay system and does not require a belay device such as an Air Traffic Control (ATC), which assists in controlling ascent and descent while climbing.\n3. __Load-carrying__: Many industries, including arborists and tower technicians, employ a Munter hitch to lower moderate to heavy loads. Arborists can also use a Munter hitch for climbing purposes.\n4. __Military and rescue__: The Munter hitch is adequate for both military and rescue purposes because of its simplicity and ability to navigate steep terrain. The Munter hitch is also useful with a harness to lower supplies or injured individuals.\nThere are several advantages to a Munter hitch in outdoor scenarios, including:\n\n1. __Ease of use__. A Munter hitch requires just two items for use—a rope and a locking carabiner. Its basic setup also makes it very user-friendly for the belayer, the person doling out the rope to the climber. The belayer locks off or holds the end of the rope and stays out of the system, leaving the anchors—spikes, bolts, or pegs securing the belay system—to handle the impact of a fall. \n2. __Replaces the belay__. The Munter hitch replaces the need for a belay device when climbing, and its ease of use means that it can be a potentially life-saving option if you drop or lose your belay device.\n3. __Versatile__. The Munter hitch has the advantage of being reversible; you can safely pull from either side of the hitch. It also adapts to heavy weight by tightening the loops in the hitch and producing more friction.\nThere are a few disadvantages to using a Munter hitch, including:\n\n1. __Tangles easily__. The Munter hitch is notorious for creating kinks and twists in the rope, which is why it’s best used for brief periods while rappelling. However, you can overcome the kinks by adding one or more turns of the knot to create a Super Munter, especially in a high-load or heavy scenario.\n2. __Produces friction__. The construction of the Munter hitch allows for a significant amount of rope-against-rope contact, which can create excessive friction. Over time, that can fray the rope and even lead to a break.\n3. __Can accidentally unlock the carabiner__. As you move the rope back and forth during your climb, it can accidentally open the lock of your carabiner and cause you to fall if you’re not paying attention. Avoid using a carabiner that unlocks with this hitch.\nHere is a step-by-step knot tying guide to tying the Munter hitch:\n\n1. __Clip the rope__. Clip your locking carabiner to the anchor and then pass the end of the rope through the gate, or locking mechanism, on the biner. Make sure that the brake strand—the end of the rope that the belayer will lock off, or hold in his or her brake hand—is against the spine of the carabiner (its solid side and not the gate), as friction over time could cause it to loosen and even open.\n2. __Twist the loop__. With the brake strand in one hand, twist it upward to create a loop. Open the gate and clip the loop through the biner. Close the gate. Pull both sides of the loop to make sure that it’s a proper Munter hitch.\n3. __Secure the hitch__. You can secure a Munter hitch with a Munter-Mule-Overhand (or MMO) knot by making a loop with the free strand of the rope. Form a bight or loop with the free strand and then tie it into a slip knot, followed by a half hitch, around the standing end of the rope (the part not used in knot tying) above the Munter hitch. The MMO will tighten against the Munter hitch and add an extra element of security.\nClimbing is a high-impact activity with an elevated risk of serious injury. Practice, proper guidance, and extensive safety precautions are essential when attempting a climbing pursuit. This article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional instruction or guidance.\nTake your climbing mastery to new heights with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com) and exclusive video lessons from Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell, two of the world’s most accomplished climbers. Together they’ll help you get a grasp on climbing holds, balance, footwork, and more, plus teach you the ins and outs of ethical outdoor exploration. \nThe Munter hitch is a useful knot that can make descending a breeze when climbing.