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Anchors Mazamas Advanced Rock John Godino By the end of the


Anchors Mazamas Advanced Rock John Godino By the end of the lecture, you ll know how to do this! (just kidding) Anchor and Climbing books we like Anchor ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Anchors Mazamas Advanced Rock John Godino By the end of the

AnchorsMazamas Advanced RockJohn Godino
By the end of the lecture, youll know how to do
this! (just kidding)
Anchor and Climbing books we like
  • Rock Climbing Anchors A Comprehensive Guide by
    Craig Luebben, The Mountaineers Press, 2007.
    (sometimes sold at Mazamas office)
  • Climbing Anchors (2nd edition!) by John Long and
    Bob Gaines, Falcon, 2006.
  • The Mountaineering Handbook Modern tools and
    techniques that will take you to the top, by
    Craig Connally, McGraw Hill, 2005. (sometimes
    sold at Mazamas office)

Anchor fundamentals(from John Longs Climbing
Anchors Field Guide
  • Perfect rarely exists in real world anchors.
  • No single rigging technique works in every
  • Climbers must efficiently improvise on a handful
    of core techniques.
  • The ability to improvise requires a thorough
    understanding of basic principles.
  • Climbing anchors always involve compromises. The
    key understand what you should and should not
    compromise in a given situation.

  • From the Technical Handbook for Professional
    Mountain Guides (on reserve in Mazama Library
  • When building anchors, tradeoffs and
    compromises are inevitable few systems can be
    arranged perfectly. It is important not to lose
    sight of the broader perspectives of time, the
    amount and size/type of protection available, and
    realistic assessment of requirements. Beware of
    becoming involved in an engineering exercise when
    building anchors. The simplest, fastest solution
    is usually the best one.

Anchor Terms - 1
  • Multidirectional Anchor At least 3 solid pieces
    of pro, with at least one maintaining the
    integrity of the anchor against upward and
    sideways pulls.
  • Directional Anchor At least 2 solid pieces of
    pro, rigged in equalization to protect against a
    pull in one direction (typically downwards, but
    could also be sideways or upwards)
  • Master Point the redundant, equalized clip in
    point of the anchor.

Anchor Terms Cordelette
  • Cordelette A statically equalized anchor system
    that is most effective when its arms are of equal
  • Typically, tied with a 18 loop of 7mm cord.
  • Can be tied with a double runner too.

Anchor Terms Sliding X
  • Sliding X A dynamically equalized anchor system,
    typically tied with a single or double length
  • A twist in the sling is essential.
  • Tie a knot in one or both arms to limit

A Quick Quiz . . .
  • Its best to place gear for a rock anchor at
    around waist level, so you can best assess how
    solid a placement you have. (T / F)
  • A cordelette is the preferred rigging system for
    most rock climbing anchors. (T / F)
  • The 6mm cord typically used for glacier travel
    prussiks is not strong enough for use as a
    cordelette. (T / F)
  • Anchors always need to be able to hold a
    fall/pull in more than one direction. (T / F)

When can you skimp on anchors?
  • In many alpine situations, you can cut some
    corners on anchor building. (About 90 of
    alpine anchors youll build are 2 pieces of pro
    or less.) This works because
  • Pitches tend to be lower angle (4th class or low
  • There may very little chance of a fall
  • Rope drag around and over features lowers the
    force on the belayer
  • Some ways to do this Toss a sling around a tree
    or rock, run the rope once around a tree or rock,
    brace or wedge yourself well behind a rock.
  • But remember, learn the rules before you start to
    break them )

Good placements are fundamental
  • Securing good gear placements is the foundation
    of a solid anchor.
  • IMPORTANT fancy rigging tricks (sliding x,
    cordelette, etc.) do NOT compensate for poor
    primary gear placements. (This may sound
    obvious, but its not always emphasized by
  • If you find yourself at a belay station and cant
    get in good pro, what do you do? Consider
    climbing up or down until you get to a better
    spot, or bailing.

Anchor flavor 1Dynamic equalization
  • Dynamic rigging examples sliding x or
  • With dynamic equalization, the load is (more or
    less) shared between all pro placements,
    regardless of the direction of pull.
  • Best use When any of the pro is questionable or
    the direction of loading may change (which is
    more often than you might think.)
  • Tip Minimize friction by using skinny slings and
    a large rounded belay biner.

Anchor flavor 2 Static equalization
  • Static rigging Cordelette, two same length
    slings or quickdraws, or (crafty alternative) a
    sling with a single overhand knot.
  • The load is truly shared between all pro
    placements only when the arms of the cordelette
    are the same length, and the slings/cordelette is
    aimed in the direction of loading.
  • Best use when pro is side by side and bomber
    (usually bolts) and/or when the load will come
    from only one direction.

Recent findings on equalization and cordelette use
  • From John Long, Feb 10, 2006 
  • . . .The tests were to determine, once and for
    all, which system was better at load sharing when
    sustaining a Factor 1 dynamic fall - the
    Cordelette or the Sliding X.
  • . . . there is a significant difference in load
    sharing performance between the two systems, and
    much that has been written about the cordelette's
    equalizing capacities is strictly untrue.

Cordelette most of the load goes to the
shortest arm
Why cordelettes are Less Than Ideal
  • If the arms of the cordelette are uneven (as in
    most all gear anchors) most of the load will go
    on the shortest leg.
  • If the direction of pull changes, the load is not
    equally shared on each leg.
  • So the Big Question - So what? Is it important?
  • My opinion If the gear is lousy, equalization
    is very important. If the gear is bomber, then
    its not very important.

John Longs answer the equalette
  • The equalette is a 20 foot length of 6mm or 7mm
    cord, with pre-tied limiter knots about 10 inches
  • These knots stay tied between uses.
  • Can be used with 2, 3 or 4 placements (but does
    not perfectly equalize more than 2 placements.)
  • This eliminates the "X" and clips off both
    strands (individually, with 2 lockers) at the
    bottom of the rig, between the knots. Can also
    be tied with 1 locker.
  • (Remember your instructors may not know this
    rig, so please be patient with them.)

The importance of being EARNEST
  • The ideal anchor is EARNEST.  This is a general
    evaluation tool, not a mandatory checklist.
    (Think of your checklist of the perfect partner
    . . . Itll never happen)
  • Every time you build an anchor or check someone
    elses anchor, run though it though the EARNEST
  • (If this is too darn long an acronym to remember,
    RENE or SRENE cover the critical points )

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • E Equalized
  • Through dynamic equalization (some version of the
    sliding X, usually preferred) or static
    equalization (some version of the cordelette) all
    anchor components share the load more or less
  • If anchors are all bomber (bolts or great gear),
    then equalization is not so important.
  • Note anchors that are in-line (e.g., a single
    crack) are very hard to equalize properly with a

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • A Angles Appropriate
  • To minimize load multiplication on gear, ideally
    all angles between placements are 60 degrees or
    less and no more than 90 degrees.
  • Avoid the triangle setup whenever possible.
  • Demo - straight line vector pull
  • Watch the webbing angle when slinging a boulder!

Load Multiplication
  • Keep anchor angles
  • Less than 60 degrees if possible.
  • No more than 90 degrees.

Be careful when slinging a boulder
  • Note A small increase in the sling angle has a
    big effect on the load multiplication.
  • This can be tricky to see on a boulder - watch
    for it!

The Triangle anchor
  • Avoid this anchor setup!
  • This is getting rare, but sometimes seen at older
    rap stations.
  • This rig needlessly multiplies the force on the
    anchors. Rerig if you can. (A knife can be
    useful here.)

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • R Redundant
  • Redundancy is If any one component of the
    anchor were to fail, the entire anchor will not
    fail. (Two fat bolts connected with a sliding x
    sling is not redundant.)
  • A thought on redundancy Say that one leg of an
    anchor has a failure rate of 1 in 1,000. Thus,
    two legs have a failure rate of 1 in 1 million
    (1,000 x 1,000.) Three legs or more waste of
    time (Law of Diminishing Returns)

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • NE No Extension
  • If an anchor component fails, the anchor will not
    extend too far, possibly shock loading the
    remaining components.
  • Shock loading is usually a misunderstood term,
    and such loading is generally far less (about 2.5
    kN) than normally thought.
  • Note You cant really have both equalization AND
    non-extension in an anchor. Some trade-off has
    to be made. Minimize extension (6 inches or
    less) is a better way to think about it.
  • Cordelettes are by design non-extending.

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • S Strong / Secure
  • This is the PRIMARY requirement of an anchor.
  • The individual placements are as good as can be,
    given available gear and rock features (or snow
  • After you build the anchor, give it a good shake
    to be sure the pieces hold.
  • Try to use more then one rock feature when
    possible (two different cracks rather then one).

An EARNEST Anchor is
  • T Timely
  • An bomber anchor can be a bad choice if it takes
    too long or too much gear to build.
  • Remember the Law of Diminishing Returns
    spending an extra 10 minutes to make an anchor 1
    safer is generally not a good idea!
  • Note - "too long" can vary widely depending on
    team skill, route length/difficulty, and hours
    until nightfall.

Anchors a rule of thumb
  • There is a LOT of subjectivity in anchor
    building, and firm rules are hard to nail down.
    (Like driving, the more you know, the more you
    can occasionally break the rules . . .)
  • If you are placing gear, anchors must be made of
    a minimum of two equalized pieces, and ideally
  • If you only have a single anchor point (tree,
    rock outcrop), be sure you can hang a truck from

Two big anchor tips . . .
  • 1 - Look around The first step in anchor
    building  Take a few deep breaths and 30 seconds
    to look around and review the possibilities. 
    Calmly "expanding your vision" usually turns up
    more (and better) anchor options than myopically
    plugging gear in the first crack you see.
  • 2 - Place gear high One of the most common
    mistakes in anchor building is placing pro too
    low.  If you place gear at chest level, after
    equalizing everything, the master point will
    probably be below your waist - not good if you
    want to stand to belay.  Placing gear at head
    level and up offers more options in your stance
    and is generally better. 

Belay anchors Step by Step
  • At a nice belay ledge, place the largest, best
    gear you can find. Clove hitch to it, and call
    Off belay.
  • Take a few deep breaths, and take 30 seconds to
    look around for secondary placements.
  • Place 2-3 more pieces chest high or higher, and
    in more than one crack if the rock is less then
    perfect. Set gear in close, but not cramped,
  • Rig the placements with proper dynamic or static
    equalized rigging, noting all possible directions
    of pull.
  • Pull up slack rope, put partner on belay (on your
    harness or directly off the anchor), give
    everything a final check, and call Belay on.

Anchor forces
  • The good news real world fall forces are
    typically much less (6-9 Kn) than generally
    thought (and less then the evil Mazama belay tree
    and the UIAA lab drop-tests.)
  • In reality, leader fall climb forces are lowered
  • Rope stretch
  • Rope slippage through the belay device
  • Lifting of belayers body (jump as you catch a
  • Falling climbers body distortion
  • Tightening of knots and harness webbing
  • Note a hanging haulbag has NONE of these
    qualities, so static equalization might be a
    better choice!

Avoiding a hard impact factor 2 fall the Jesus
  • You always want the top piece of gear, not the
    belay anchor, to stop all leader falls.
  • For this reason, an anchor is not complete
    until the leader starting the next pitch places
    and clips the first piece of pro. Protect early
    and often
  • Clipping a component of the anchor by a leader
    rather than a separate piece is not the best

Anchor types . . .
  • Anchors can be . . .
  • One direction or multidirectional
  • Single-point or multi-point
  • . . . and various combination of these!
  • single point multidirectional a sling around a
    single stout tree.
  • Multi point, one direction 2 pieces of gear
    rigged for a vertical fixed line.

One Direction anchors
  • In many cases, force will only come from a single
    predictable direction. If so, you only need to
    consider one direction of loading in your anchor
  • One direction anchors can be a single point of
    pro, or multiple points.
  • When to use a one direction anchor?
  • rappelling
  • top roping
  • fixed rope on vertical or traversing faces
  • rescues
  • hanging a haulbag or portaledge (big walls)
  • when upward or sideways forces on the belayer
    will be minimal (belaying a leader on 4th class)

Multi directional anchors
  • Used for holding force from (surprise!) more than
    one direction. Normally downward and upward, but
    sometimes outward and sideways (traverses).
  • Again, they can be a single point of pro (rare),
    or multiple points.
  • NOTE One multidirectional piece in an anchor is
    usually adequate.
  • When to use a multi directional anchor? It can
    be debated, but Mazamas teach
  • Belaying a leader when hard upward pull may
    happen (ie, most all 5th class rock)
  • Belaying a traverse

Single point anchors
  • Typically used a lot more in alpine climbing,
    where terrain is easier and speed of belay
    setups is more important.
  • Consists of one piece of pro only.
  • Loads are ideally predictable and low.
  • May be a very good gear placement or a very solid
    natural feature (rock horn, boulder, tree).
  • Always test with enthusiasm!
  • Often backed up by bracing the body to add a
    bit of redundancy. Avoid belaying directly off a
    single point anchor.

Natural anchors
  • A natural anchor is anything the environment
    provides trees, blocks, rock horns, etc.
  • Benefits Can be more secure then gear built
    anchors, fast to rig, and multidirectional.
  • Trees be sure its alive, use slings rather
    than rope to tie it off, and tie as low as
    possible to reduce leverage.
  • Rock Features Only the mass and position keep
    boulders in place. They must be immovable.
    Beware of sharp edges.

Multi Point anchors
  • Can be unidirectional or multidirectional.
  • Used when
  • Large natural features are not available
  • Loads are moderate to high (lead climbing,
    rescue, potential shock loads)
  • When falls (not slips) are possible.

Upward Directional (UD) 1
  • An upward directional, for lead or top rope
    anchors, can be good for two reasons
  • Keeps belayer and anchor from being pulled very
    far upward if the leader takes a whipper.
  • Maintains correct angle of pull on the anchor
    esp. important with a cordelette.
  • Tip Look for horizontal cracks - use it if it's
    there and a good placement.  Why?  It gives you
    an instant multidirectional anchor!

Upward Directional 2
  • A UD can be
  • a part of the actual anchor
  • directly attached to you.
  • Direct attachment is often the easiest
    approach. Integrating upward pull pieces
    directly into the anchor is not always possible,
    due to lack of rock features and/or available
  • Demo Build a downward pull anchor, tie in with
    the rope, then place a cam or tricam near your
    knees and daisy to it. Instant upward
  • If you are low on gear at the anchor, wait until
    the second brings more up and then shore up the

Upward directional anchor
  • Note the position of master point about head
    high. Gear needs to be placed high to do this.
  • Note the upward pull anchor is NOT part of the
    main anchor. I prefer this most of the time.

A few thoughts on theMultidirectional first
piece for leader
  • Mazamas teach opposing two pieces of gear as the
    first placement. Its good to know, but dont
    use it all the time. Cons takes time, 3 biners,
    2 pieces of gear, and a double runner.
  • If you do it 1) have the belayer help build it
    and 2) make it high off the ground so it works as
    a first piece of pro as well as a directional!
  • IMHO, a cam is a fine multidirectional first
    piece too. Having the belayer standing in the
    right spot is best!
  • Once off the ground, the zipper effect is
    usually minimized by belayer standing right
    underneath the route.

Anchoring yourself at base of the route Pros
and Cons
  • If you might be pulled into or off of something
    dangerous, then consider anchoring. (overhangs
    and drop offs e.g. Spiderman at Smith).
    Anticipate the direction where you might be
  • Advantages to NOT being anchored you can move
    or jump up to soften a hard fall, move away for a
    better view or to up rope, move in to give slack
    fast. Anchors are often not available. If you
    might need to move around, clear the area of
    packs, gear, etc.

Crafty anchor trick anchor is out of reach
  • Scenario Youre leading, and top out on a
    pitch. You see a solid tree about 20 feet back
    from the edge of the cliff. You want to sit at
    the edge to have a better view of your partner.
    How best to rig the anchor?
  • Walk to the tree. Sling it, and clip the rope
    through the sling. Walk back to the edge of the
    cliff (staying on belay), and clove hitch into
    the tie in loop made by the rope on your harness.
    You are now anchored right at the edge, using
    only your climbing rope.

Rappel Anchors
  • Rap anchors need be only one directional.
  • The max possible force on a rap anchor is only
    about 1.5 Kn, so the anchor does not really have
    to be super strong.
  • Simple and avoidable rigging failures, not
    displaced pro, are statistically the main cause
    of rap accidents (from Long).
  • Rap smoothly to keep a low, static load on the

Top Rope Anchors
  • Top rope anchors generally demand a bit more care
    to build, because
  • If you are in a teaching setting, many lives may
    be depending on your anchor.
  • You are rarely right there next to the anchor to
    monitor it.
  • Max force on a top rope anchor A bit more than
    twice the weight of the climber.

Top Rope Tips
  • Demo Make a top rope anchor using a single
    climbing rope. (Handy for Rocky Butte and
    Student Wall)
  • Sneaky sport climbing trick Thread an anchor
    using someone elses rope thats already in place
    put the ropes end to end, then tape rope ends
  • Avoid having the rope run over any edges. Extend
    master point with runners and pad edge if needed.

A nice toprope setup (2 ropes)
Natural Pro Tensionless Anchors
  • Make a Tensionless anchor if possible when
    using rope or webbing around a fixed object.
  • Multiple wraps minimize the force on the knot. A
    bowline is good to tie this off. (Beware of tree
    sap on your rope!)

Wrap 3, pull 2
  • Good for rescue, rappels and toproping, generally
    not for actual climbing (too slow to build).
  • Wrap webbing 3 times around solid, single point
  • Join ends with a water knot.
  • Move knot to front side and pull on the 2 strands
    that are not knotted.
  • Extend strands equally and add a locking biner.
  • This is the strongest way to attach webbing to a
    single anchor.

Bolts . . .
  • Always test them. Never assume bolts are
    reliable. (Make a donation to ASCA Mazamas
  • How to test Does the head or hanger wiggle or
    spin? Whats the bolt diameter? Corrosion?
  • Good bolt in good rock 8,000 lbs. Max force in
    climbing generated 2,000 lbs. (1 Kn about 220
  • Clip bolts and rap bolts are different. Rap
    bolts at a belay/rap station are wider diameter
    and designed to lower off of. NEVER lower or rap
    with your rope directly through a clip bolt! 

Top roping off bolts
  • Lowering directly through anchor chains is
    generally not good practice, although you see it
    a lot at Smith.
  • Exception If youre not sure the second can
    make the climb and you dont want to reclimb the
    route to clean your pro, or if youre climbing
    with beginners.
  • Best practice Use your own draws to TR, and the
    last climber cleans gear and raps off. Be sure
    the last climber knows how to do this safely!

Fixing a rope away from bulge - 1
  • Gear placed to one side direct loaded rope away
    from rock bulge.

Fixing a rope away from bulge - 2
  • When a fixed rope will be loaded over an edge, a
    sling can back up the rope.

Cordelette - 1
  • I prefer 6mm nylon (not the 7 mm perlon mentioned
    in books.) 6mm nylon cord is okay for
    cordelettes, as two strands will hold 16kN more
    than strong enough.
  • The cordelette pretty much replaces 1 webbing
    for everything! (thank gawd . . .)
  • How to rack it Do the Twist! Divide into 4
    equal strands, twist a few times, biner ends
    together. Have a designated biner that always
    lives on your cordelette. Dont waste time with
    fancy racking knots or daisy chaining your

Cordelette Tips (if you do decide to use it . .
  • Place the master point locker biner in the
    cordelette before tying the knot.
  • Carefully note the direction of pull before tying
    the knot in a cordelette (the most common
    mistake). If you belay directly off the anchor
    rather than your harness, choosing the right
    direction of pull is a LOT easier.
  • A long runner (or rabbit runner) may serve as a
    cordelette use with 2 pieces of pro.
  • Crafty trick How to shorten the cordelette to
    use with close together pro.

Home anchor practice use a door!
  • Practice anchor building at home using door
  • Use 1-2 foot loops of parachute cord or twine
    tied to the hinges and doorknob as your anchor
  • Dont use runners or climbing webbing on the
    hinges, as there might be oil on the hinges that
    can damage your slings.

Wrapping it up . . .
  • All anchors start with solid gear placements.
  • No single flavor of rigging will work in every
  • All rigging methods sliding x, cordelette and
    equalette and have their place in your toolbox.
  • Carry a cordelette on alpine climbs it has many
  • With a sliding x, use a limiter knots if the arm
    of the sling is more than 6 inches.
  • Evaluate all anchors you use with EARNEST.