The Italian hitch knot, also known as the Munter hitch, helps mountain climbers control descents as part of a belay system and helps take up slack when ascending. The Italian hitch is often referred to as the Munter hitch because it was named after Werner Munter, the Swiss mountain guide who invented it. Its original name is the Halbmastwurfsicherung or HMS. These names are used interchangeably so it’s important to become familiar with each one. Werner Munter is known for his study of risk assessment of avalanches for climbers, skiers, and hikers.
There are 2 ways to tie an Italian hitch. The first way is to tie the hitch first, then attach it to a carabiner. The second way is to tie in on the carabiner.
Italian Hitch-first version
- Take the rope so it is under your palm and over your thumb.
- Turn your hand over so the rope automatically forms a loop.
- Continue holding the loop and also grab the rappel line. You will now be holding 2 sections of rope.
- Clip the carabiner around the two sections so that the opening of the carabiner is farthest away from you and the spine is closest to you.
- Grab the carabiner and pull tight to lock the hitch in place.
Italian Hitch-second version
- Make a loop in the rope and put it over the opening of the carabiner. Move it toward the spine.
- Bring the rope back down over the opening of the carabiner, then out the back, or behind, the clasp.
- Lock the carabiner in place.
Important: Make sure the carabiner you are using is large enough for the rope to slide easily. The loop has to be able to move freely from one side of the carabiner to the other, depending on if you are descending or ascending.