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Originally posted by David Risley
I have used both the Distel and V.T. quite a bit, and like both. They are being widely taught to arborists as modern climbing knots, partly because they are so responsive, but also because they are closed systems with inherent safety benefits. They are, of course, used solely in split-tail type setups, are tied close to the saddle, and are invariably tended with a micropulley.
The V.T. is the most responsive of the two, but is also more sensitive to differences in cord material, so you have to be sure to get the right combination of cord and number of wraps/braids to make it work reliably. I use it with Ultratech, which works very well in the classic 4-wrap/4-braid, or even 3-braid configuration.
One important thing about the V.T. to be aware of -- and wary of -- is that, when tied using new, stiffer cord, it can fail to catch and tighten up on the climbing rope when you descend. So, it is a good idea to work any new cord until it is good and limp before using it for a V.T., and then keep an eye on it to make sure it catches before beginning the first few descents. After a few uses, that potential problem disappears. When you get it right, it is hard to beat the V.T.
I use the V.T. with a tending micropulley on my lanyard line because it works more smoothly for that application in both directions than any other knot or mechanical device I have tried.
The Distel is a little less responsive, and tends to tighten up under load a bit more than you may wish at times, but it is less sensitive than the V.T. to differences in cord material and diameter, and is completely reliable, well suited for both beginner and expert alike. I suspect it is the most likely of the modern knots to become a classic standard. I use 10 mm. Tenex for my Distel, but it will work with almost any cord material.
I prefer the Distel to its cousin, the Schwabisch, because the Schwabish puts more of a bend in the rope. But, the Schwabisch is tied and performs much the same as the Distel.