Anchor Building Question


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Trad climber
Ames, IA
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 21, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
So today I was climbing and I started talking to a guy at the gym about multi pitch anchors and now I'm confused. Basically he told me my way of building an anchor is unsafe and "yer gonna die!!!!!!"

I learned to build an anchor in this manner:
-Plug 2-3 pieces of gear or clip existing bolts
-Run a cordelette through the pieces or bolts, and tie them off with a figure 8. (like how you would tie an overhand knot)
-Clip in to the master point directly or with a sling depending on the situation
-Belay second from the master point, or from a secondary belay anchor. (i usually go off master point for simplicity sake)

I have also used three slings to make an anchor as well.

He said my anchor was bad because the master point will not equalize as my body moves, but I cant think of a time where my body moved a significant amount while anchored.

His way was like this:
plug gear or clip bolts
clove hitch the pieces/bolts with the rope
clove hitch locking biner to harness and belay second from the body.

That doesnt make any sense to me, it doesnt seem any more dynamic than a "standard" anchor and i feel like belaying a second from your belay loop would be awkward.

Was this guy an idiot or am i gonna die?


Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Feb 21, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
You're fine.

Climbing is about managing risk, not eliminating risk. Climbing theorists like to get their panties in a bunch.

No reason to belay off a secondary anchor, waste of resources.

Trad climber
Feb 21, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Tobe - go to the stoney point thread- around 1340 -1360 watch Pyro's videos,look at the knots he's using setting up a top rope.

Reno, NV
Feb 21, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
When I first started climbing self-equalizing was the hip thing to do. Then at some point it became pre-equalized, which is what you currently do. Apparently, the hip new thing has gone full circle back to self-equalizing. However, that is not what guy-in-gym is talking about. Cloving a bunch of pieces together does not self-equalize, so tell him to piss-off. But the part about you dieing is correct. So go climbing while you're still here.

Feb 21, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
No reason to belay off a secondary anchor, waste of resources.

Not true.

I've done it numerous times according to time and circumstance.

There are times when it's preferred and or necessary.

I'll be at the cookie again tomorrow, show up, and I'll make a million different anchor variations for ya.

Only one million though and no more .....

Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Feb 21, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
You're way is fine Tobe, and not much different than what your critic recommends. Instead of using cordalette your critic does a static equalization with the rope using clove hitches.

Your way uses more gear, but is for all intents and purposes the same. If any part of the anchor rips then there will be some extension and shock loading to the remaining anchor points.

Self-equalizing anchors are just a myth, or an unattainable ideal. There will always be some extension involved.

Just remember... "Place thy protection well lest the ground rise up and smite thee".

the Fet

Feb 21, 2013 - 10:47pm PT
When I was starting out a guy told me NOT to belay off my harness I should always redirect off the anchor lol.

Unless you are dealing with sketchy placements most anchor methods are usually fine. Cordellette, Clove hitch the rope, sliding X, etc. I prefer not tying in with the rope because its a pain when you swing leads and it makes self rescue more difficult.

Belaying the second off your harness might mean less force on the anchor in a fall but to me that's usually outweighed by the ability with a redirect to easily hold a fallen second, easier to belay, and easier to self rescue.

Unfortunalty these know it all types make it harder to speak up or be listened to when people actually doing something wrong.

Feb 21, 2013 - 10:50pm PT

A thread on anchors.

Trad climber
Feb 21, 2013 - 10:52pm PT
I'll be at the cookie again tomorrow, show up, and I'll make a million different anchor variations for ya.

Call in sick, get in your car and be there in the morning. This is a very one time chance.

Edit: good opportunity.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Feb 21, 2013 - 11:27pm PT
So today I was climbing and I started talking to a guy at the gym

Well there's your problem!!!!

You're fine don't listen to this guy.

I think the main thing as others have said is to learn the basics of what makes a "safe" anchor and know how to apply it to any situation you face.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Feb 21, 2013 - 11:30pm PT

Run, don't walk to the Cookie. You got the old man now to show you the ways. You just short cut about 30 years off the learning curve.


edit-and it sounds like you mostly got it figured out anyway.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Feb 22, 2013 - 12:49am PT
and have No Extension if one of the redundant components fail

If you don't have ALL of these 100% PERFECT (especially the last two), yer gonna die.

Are you nuts?? I'll take solid and redundant, thanks. Have you actually climbed anything serious in your life?

Oh, the first two fwiw.

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Feb 22, 2013 - 12:49am PT
Ames, IA?

Man, the trolls run wild here these days.

Feb 22, 2013 - 01:00am PT
Are you nuts?? I'll take solid and redundant, thanks.

Yep. That whole shock load idea has been dis-proven for a while now. Sliding X is simple and bomber.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Feb 22, 2013 - 01:14am PT

Freeze it in place.Bomber.

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Feb 22, 2013 - 01:24am PT
No simple answer to this question.
You have to set up your anchors best suited to the situation are in.

Werner is right. It's good to know many different ways to set up anchors.

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Feb 22, 2013 - 01:32am PT
Troll or not, I don't really care.
On multipitch, I would plug in a piece for an upward pull.i.e., when the second gets to the anchor, clip him in to your anchor, and the anchor used placed for the upward. That way he won't get pulled up if you take a leader fall

Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 22, 2013 - 01:47am PT
A single blue camalot is and always will be equalized.

Feb 22, 2013 - 01:54am PT
I grew up in Iowa and read every mountaineering book in our little public library (there were maybe a dozen) so I say we cut the kid a break. That was around the time Nixon got re-elected. I know I don't have a vote.

Feb 22, 2013 - 02:02am PT

You got my vote .....
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