Confirming the origin of the "Michoacan"


New Member
Mark Adams is familiar with the scenario I will explain: tying the "Michoacán in a closed hitch versus the knot I came up with, and have used for the past 15 years, in an open hitch. Mark in fact introduced the argument about the closed version of the knot being called "the Martin", and later renamed "the Michoacan" in a couple early articles (2005 and 2007). This knot Mark describes is tied in a closed hitch fashion. Being so, it is anchored on both ends to the climbing saddle via carabiner, using a cord, then tied around a climbing line for friction. Mark indicated in his 2005 article, that a climbing instructor from Arbor Master began using this set-up, and named it after himself (Martin). In the 2007 article, it was apparently a gentlemen named Morales who wanted to rename it after his home state ( I assume his name was Martin Morales). Later, in a Tree Buzz commentary in which we were discussing my open hitch with a downward coil, it was a climber that he had worked with in the past who used a similar hitch in a closed system. Maybe they are all the same person he is describing, but regardless, the open knot I describe (photographed below), was introduced prior to the closed version (naturally), and has been in use for 15 years, and is really not the same knot at all, other than sharing a downward coil design. In Yoga, if all downward directing positions on all fours were called the "Dog", then class may be a bit mundane in non-functional. So, in the spirit of variety, and accuracy, I explore the differences of what was previously discounted by Mark as simply a matter of "closed dog" versus "open dog". I argue that "closed dog" is actually a difference species of canine than "open dog". Therefore, I also will advance the suggestion that "closed dog" keep the name "Michoacán", but "open dog" be given the name "Michigan", which happens to be the English translation of "Michoacán", and also my State of origin. The two knots are variant enough to be called by different names, not simply with a differentiation of "closed and open", and I came up with the open version a few years prior to Mark's article on the Martin hitch in 2005.

Regardless of the backstory on the "Michoacan", I think it is an adaptation of my single line knot open knot, which I introduced to several climbers involved with Arbor Master and ISA climbing competitions, prior to 2005 in the southeast USA. Mark Adams stated at the time that my knot was in fact the same knot as the "Michoacan", in a blog around 2007, but I disagree, although if what he says is correct, then I should receive credit for the "closed version", although I don't use that. At the time of Mark's 2005 article on the Martin, and later on the Michoacán in 2007 , the Michoacan, was never described as being tied in a single line, with a tail that was not secured. Mark however, commented in a blog on Tree Buzz that my knot was an adaptation of the Michoacán. To the contrary, if it is actually even the same knot (function and design). I think simply because both my knot, and the Michoacan, follow a downward spiral pattern, does not make them the same knot. They function quite differently. I do believe however, that my knot came about first, was demonstrated first, and then the idea of the downward spiral coil was adapted into the closed system with both ends anchored. I think someone came across the open system knot I was using (photographed and sent into Arbor Master around 2004/2005 by Scott Profit, and they played around with it and adapted it to a closed system, then came up with another name based on the guy who came up with the closed hitch. Mark wrote articles about it, and it was called a name that they decided to call it (the Martin, and then the Michoacán). None of Mark's early articles discussed it as a single line open hitch, which is seen as a bit ancient in tree climbing circles. Who wants to climb on an open hitch, tied from a single line? I do, I prefer ancient. So, that's where it started, around 2000. The judges used to look at it in the early 2000's, and shake their head, approving it to climb on with a bit of reservation. Fellow climbers looked at it, but never really wanted to climb on it. I never felt it necessary to advocate it, it's just what worked for me.
When dressed up in a modern high strength small diameter cord, double anchored and combined with a micro-pulley for easy tending, the "Michoacan" looks and functions quite differently than the simple naked knot I tie from a single line in an open hitch style (see photos below). The knot doesn't glaze, although the Michoacán has been described as doing such. Much like the Blake's hitch, the second anchored end at the base of the coils in the closed version of this knot tends to pressure the bottom coil more than if it is left open. The closed Michoacán variation would need two lines, one of smaller diameter with eyelets. At the bottom end of the closed hitch, the climbing line exits the knot, at a restricted slightly offset point where the bottom coil forms a choke around the climbing line, much like the Blake's which forms a sharp bend at the exit point of the climbing line. This causes higher friction at the bottom coil, causing glazing of the line and higher friction. The friction is a good thing, but I was working toward a balance of less friction, and more function when I came up with my open hitch design. My knot (Michigan) goes into a side bend and arcs along the four and a half coils, distributing the friction between them quite evenly. This balances the friction with performance. It's like a transmission versus a single engine interface drive shaft. When anchored at two points on the bottom, the knot compresses more vertically, and the bottom coil is offset slightly, reacting more like the Blake's hitch would. Rather than functioning as a top loaded coil, pulling down on the four coils below as the Michigan does (my knot), the second anchor point simply changes that back to a partially bottom loaded coil, much like the Blake's which is bottom loaded, with a sharp bend at the bottom coil. I tied this open knot because I didn't find the Blake's to be very welcoming, and it cooked a lot from the regular glazing, sometimes getting locked up, especially if I was in a sappy tree like a pine. I also tied it out of necessity, because I was in a tree, having discarded my ascenders, and needed to work. I could not get the Blake's tied correctly (had just started climbing with a friction hitch at the time), and this version came about, with better results. The knot had more freedom, and performed more responsively, and didn't jam up. I had only climbed using the Blake's for less than a month, and it really didn't make sense to me to have that much friction to fight, just to break the knot free to ascend at times. So, this provided for me, and I have climbed on it for 15 years now. I didn't know why people would stare at it when they saw it. It was non-traditional, I did not know that, until later. I was just looking to get work done, and work safely, without having to work harder than necessary. While climbing long days, that's important. I gained confidence in the knot, and with the advent of social media, began discussing the knot online around 2006, after having shared it in several climbing events for a few years prior to that. That's when I came across Mark's article, and variation of the knot, which came about after my introduction of the knot within climbing circles, and in competitions.
Therefore, I am asking for some consideration here, in reviewing my knot, as a separate knot than what Mark Adams called a "variation" of the knot he proposed. If anything, my knot was introduced first, and I have plenty of witnesses to that fact if it were necessary, or worthwhile to prove that. What I think is equally important, and more beneficial to demonstrate, is that my knot, and the "Michoacan" are different knots. Mark labelled them the same knot, in 2007, without any type of investigation, other than observing the downward coil of both, and with the statement that my knot, being tied with a single line, was no different that the "Michoacan", tied with a double anchor. There are certainly examples of upward direction coils that are different knots than a single line upward coil, and I think the Blake's has its place in that argument.
Why would an adaptation of a split tail revert back to single line? It would make no sense. The evolution would move from single to split tail, and that's the case here, and I provide that side of it's origin. If it is a variation, then the Michoacán is a variation of my knot. I climbed on my knot regularly since around 2000. I admit, I never applied it to a split tail system with two anchor points, although I did have a couple climbers who worked with me try that. I don't climb using a split tail, cord, or a double anchored hitch, mainly because I prefer climbing on a knot that matches the diameter of my line, and find that readily available in my climbing rope, with less moving parts. So, I use about 24" of the end of my climbing line to tie up my climbing knot with about 8" of tail. If I have extra tail, or want to tend it closer for whatever reason, I will fold some rope into a figure eight knot at the end. I have used a split tail of the same diameter, and used a single anchor point, with the same results. I tried the double anchor, but didn't like the performance, although it is smooth, I just never have adopted climbing on thin cord, with a micro-pulley.
I believe that there should be some variation in the name of the knot when tied single line versus double anchored as a cord, if the performance varies, and if the configuration is significantly different. Both of those variables hold true here. There are multiple differences, and it is clear in the photos below, changing the design and function. If function changes, the knot should be considered a different knot, don't tell everyone it is the same thing, if in fact there are performance differences. Trust me, there are, and I have never advocated this knot for use by others, because I don't want to be responsible for their well being. I have simply pointed out that it works for me, and it is unique. Try it at your own risk. I have used it for 15 years, and I like it. I climb up with it, and work on the way up usually, and I stay tied into it the entire climb.
I am proposing that when used single line, and letting the tail hang free, the English translation of the name be used: "Michigan", although you may not find that it is a close relative to the "Michoacan". When tied double anchored, use the Mexican name; Michoacan. I happen to be from Michigan, and the climber from Mexico happened to be from Michoacan, Mexico (according to Mark). The translation of Michoacan to English is "Michigan". That's where I first swung from rope, as a kid. So, I see some appropriateness to bring the single line technique north to the 42nd parallel, and let the 19th parallel hold onto the double anchored cord.
A judge named Scott Profit, creator of the "Porta Wrap" for dynamic lowering, approved the knot for me to climb on in at a competition around 2004 or 2005, at Agnes Scott College, in Decatur, GA. He photographed the knot, and stated it would be sent in for strength testing and review. I used the photograph he took of me with the knot as my profile photo on Tree Buzz, but in their new website that image was recently deleted. Bob Weber was shown the knot at a Vermeer expo in Marietta, GA while there on a demonstration around the same time (he wasn't too enthusiastic about it, like "why"??) Mark's first article came out shortly after that, in 2005, introducing a knot with a downward coil, double anchored, as the "Martin". I think that is more than coincidental, but I have to give them credit for coming up with the double anchor variation. Two years later, in 2007, Mark's second article discusses the knot again, renaming it the "Michoacan". Neither of the articles demonstrates the knot in single line design, only double anchored in a cord. The single line method is all I have climbed on for the past 16 years. Prior to that, I didn't use a friction hitch, I used mechanical ascenders, and a figure 8, because I didn't know any better, and was not comfortable not using some type of prophylactic to climb with.
I used a boot lace, for a couple photos.
explanation of photos:
"The Michigan Knot"

Line coming down to left side is tied to my belt. Line going off to the left from the knot is the tail, and hangs free. Line coming down to the right is the residual line, on the ground. To the left, and not in the shot, is the other end of the line tied to my belt, which would then go up and over a limb, and come down, through the knot. What you see is the end that would come down through the knot.
As you see, this is much different than the Michoacan, and much different than a cord anchored at two ends with eyelets.

It is very easy to tie. You take any line, and you get enough to make 4 and a half rotations, and have a tail. Turn it from top down, 4 times, without encircling the end you went up with from your tie off point below the knot. On the final rotation, you encircle the line you went vertical with, and you dress the knot with a final pass through the middle of the coils.

1. Up from climbing belt or object you wish to ascend or descend.
2. around top of the descending end of line, which would originate on the object being ascended or descended as well, then anchored around a tie off point.
This line would be coming back from the tie off point. The line going to the tie off point from the object being ascended or descended is not shown.
3. second coil down around the descending line.
4. third coil down around descending line.
5. fourth coil down around descending line
6. fifth coil around includes the originating line, and the tail then goes up through the bottom two coils. This becomes 4 and a half coils.
7. tail of knot, ends here, after passing under the bottom two coils

When used as a single line knot, with no cord, the knot forms an arch between the four and a half coils, distributing friction between all of the coils relatively even, and does not glaze, or lock up. I don't consider the configuration differences minor, since they have major performance differences.

My knot (the Michigan), can pass through the bottom coil, or the middle, I suggest the middle for added safety, and slightly more friction. If tested, the friction coefficient, loading of bottom and upper coils, workability, overall function and glazing will vary greatly between the two versions. This is not a simple variation, its more of an evolution of the knot from a very simple hitch, to a more complex hitch that is double anchored requiring smaller diameter line.

I included a couple shots I took climbing today, to show the knot in use. It's really simple, and ties quickly, remaining dressed throughout the climb, without binding.


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Active Member
Uh - I've always considered that every knot or hitch known to us today has already been used - and we just discover them again and again, depending on the need...

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Well-Known Member
Vt guy for a long time. Switched to a michoacan and it's been great. Tends like a dream and let's me fly down the rope. If you've been tying your vt loose and are looking for something else check the michoacan out. It's a game changer


Well-Known Member
Love me some micho too! I think it's great, especially since like most climbers I started on a blakes. Reliable, easy to tie and hardly any set-back make it my hitch of choice for lanyard and climbline. Stiff cord and 3 over 2 for me seems to work the best.


Well-Known Member
TC1 I will try your "Michigan" because it looks cool, but it appears to be an open form of a Knut hitch, with the tail going back through the bottom two turns rather than just one in the closed Knut. The "Martin" on the other hand is a closed version of the revered "Blakes" hitch.

I'd guess the Prusik came first, all others are a variation on the theme.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
And the variations are oh, so important!

Each variation solves a problem for a climber With all the variables it's nice to have so many options

The history that you shared is what I've heard many times over the years


New Member
I actually got the idea of the knot from a fisherman's knot. I grew up fishing. At 5 years old, it was the first knot I learned how to tie. It's the knot that holds the fish hook on the line. You go through the eye of the hook, coil up several times, then back down through the eye of the hook, and up through the coils. You dress it at that point, and it locks in place, with the same contour as the hook, so a worm can easily hide it.
That is probably where my original idea came from, it came natural.