by Tree Climbing Instructor Tim "Tengu" Kovar 

A "Tengu Tip" might be an article about a new climbing technique, a note on familiar techniques, news about gear development,

or a tip from other climbers. It could be anything noteworthy that Tim wants to share having to do with climbing trees,

tree climbing gear, or facilitating others into the canopy.

Tip #1 - Triple Crown Knot

June 2006


A comfortable, happy climber using the Triple Crown foot loops

(see more photos below...)

A couple of years ago I had the honor to train Elliot Su of Taiwan, in TCI’s Rigging, SRT and Facilitator courses. Many of you know Elliot and the great things he is accomplishing in Taiwan.  Elliot brought something to light after climbing and facilitating others for only a few months in Taiwan.

Elliot noticed that first-time climbers were having some trouble ascending the rope using the single foot loop (prusik knot) on DRT. He contacted me and asked if I had had similar problems. I suggested that the climber try putting both feet into the prusik loop. This way they can use the strength of both legs to help propel them upward. Elliot gave it a try and had some success. He then called back to say that he had improved on my solution. He tied a Double Figure 8 knot to produce two separate loops on the prusik cord. This allowed the climber to place their feet into two stirrup loops instead of one, giving them the extra support they need with better comfort and control.

Hrmmmm, I thought, why hadn’t we thought of that? I took Elliot's idea and tried it out at my next facilitated climb. It worked well. But one drawback was that the loops lay on each other and it was sometimes awkward for the climbers to get their feet in. Back to the drawing board.

After doing some research on knots with bights and loops, I came across the Triple Crown knot, also called the Three Part Crown knot. This provides a knot with loops that are always open and easily accessible for everyone—even the older or out-of-shape climber. It works so well, I have never gone back to the single prusik foot loop for facilitated climbs.


1 Take a 10 foot piece of 8 mm accessory cord and join the ends together in a double fisherman's knot, forming a loop.

Bend the loop so 2/3 of the loop is on the left and 1/3 is on the right. It is very important to have your fisherman's knot on the 1/3 side and close to the bend.

You will use Loop 1 to tie your prusik knot onto your climbing rope. (Loop 1 will not move while tying the Triple Crown knot)



The Mantra to this knot is


2 Take the inside cord of the 2/3 section and place it UNDER

Loop 1. You should now have 3 loops of about the same size.

Take Loop 3 and place it OVER the base of Loop 1 and Loop 2.

4 Place Loop 2 THROUGH the hole at the base of all 3 loops.

5 As with ALL knots the three steps are Tie - Dress – Seat. Dress the knot and seat it. Notice how the foot loops (Loop 2 and Loop 3) are equal in size and equal distance from the center knot. Notice also how close the fisherman's knot is to the Triple Crown knot.  Loop 1 will be placed on the down rope of the DRT system, below the Blake’s Hitch, using a double prusik knot.

Even young climbers have no problem!


One disadvantage of this knot is that once it is seated it can be a bit difficult to untie. On the plus side, you wouldn’t want to untie it, except to practice retying.

A few benefits of using the Triple Crown foot loop:

—It keeps the climber’s feet together so they’ll be less likely to kick another climber or to kick bark off the tree.

—It gives the climber a better sense of balance while climbing and sitting on a branch.

—The climber has more of a tendency to move straight up compared to using the single loop, where they tend to kick out and not down.

—Provides mental comfort for the first-time climber as they have a place to put both feet.

I would like to thank Elliot for planting the seed that led me to the Triple Crown Knot. It has made climbing much easier for hundreds of first-time climbers.

Keep balance in the tree and in your life!

Nice form, sliding the prusik knot up

while raising the knees.

Bill McDade, a TCI-trained facilitator,

explaining the double footloop

There's nothing like having a place to rest your feet

while sitting on a branch. Great balance!

Don Stanford, a TCI-trained facilitator

from Tree Climbing Mississippi, helps a young lad

learn the ropes.