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Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 22, 2008 - 02:14pm PT
Hi, All:

I'm revising the first How-To book and need to know if the Equalette has caught on as a viable rigging option so I can either recommend it or not. I know it works but if it's not being used I think I might have to shelf it. I'm mainly at sport climbing areas these days so trad configurations like equalettes are not something I commonly see.

Thanks,

JL
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 02:21pm PT
Same as Cordalette?
All I do is trad climb and I never use it.

It is just another piece of extraneous gear to me; yet my sense is that it, along with the Gri Gri, (another tool I've never used on a regular basis) has achieved relative popularity.

dougs510

Social climber
down south
Nov 22, 2008 - 02:28pm PT
JL,
I have two cordalette's and since that's how I was taught (many years ago), I would/will still use it when trad climbing... I'd be curious how others equalize their belays. Perhaps it is an obsolete item.
MisterE

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Nov 22, 2008 - 02:28pm PT
I have been using Ultrabiker's knot since I discovered it here, and it is far and away better than the equalette, and so much easier to set up:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=239823&msg=240945#msg240945
Hardluck

Social climber
N of Mexico, S of Sanity
Nov 22, 2008 - 03:23pm PT
I use it almost exclusively any time I am climbing multi-pitch, John. The clove hitches make it easy to fine tune after rigging. I say it's a keeper.
Logdog

Trad climber
Sierra Nevada
Nov 22, 2008 - 03:24pm PT
JL- Sometimes I use a "webolette", from Larry Arthur @Mountain Tools. The main benefit is that it is lighter than a cordalette, and like a cordalette, it can be used for many things, like self rescue or tieing off a natural object. Good for alpine climbs where you want an equalized anchor.

-Logan
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 22, 2008 - 03:24pm PT
Never used one, never will.

Oh, it's good in theory. but like a lot of theories, it smells of tech-weenie jerkoff. Like a lot of stuff you hear in the bar, it kinda inclines one toward drinking alone.

The big thing in anchors, as in all climbing systems, is simplicity. It's like that ideal about knots: you need to be able to tie them behind your back in a cold shower after staying up all night. Because sooner or later your life will depend on doing everything right while blind, dumb, distracted and shivering uncontrollably.

I can make mistakes when I'm relative with-it. Not judgment errors, just the everyday stuff like buckling your harness. If my sytems are really simple, it's easier to catch the errors in time.

I'm glad you're revising that book. While I occasionally do some of the things you illustrated the first time around, I was critical of the book because it wasn't setting a great example.

I try really hard to make a bomber anchor every time. To me that means:

Three points of pro.
Each one bomber. (No more than one of them at all questionable.)
Preferably in three different crack systems. (I carry 20' cordelettes and use 'em.)
Equalized.

I use the acronym SERENE

SEcure. Each piece solid.
Redundant.
Equalized.
No
Extension.

To me it's the best acronym because:

1. -- SERENE is how you should feel about your anchor.
2. -- It lays out the steps in order of construction.

Then I often, usually in fact, leave out the No Extension part. I feel that if you pay attention to getting your pieces bomber in the first place, your chances of ever needing to guard your anchor against shock loading are vastly reduced.

And in real life I move around while belaying. Fidget, shift on the mediocre footholds, get in my pack for a drink, and move over when the second arrives. All of those compromise the rigid single point enforced by No Extension. I feel it's far more useful to maintain a sliding, continually equalized "power point." (Is there a better word for that?) And shock loading is unlikely anyway with my bomber placements.

So my actual practice is more like SERE(NE), but I use the word anyway to aspire to anchors always giving that feeling and to remind my students of the possibility of knotting for No Extension.

Glad you're revising the book, and if my simpleminded ideas tend make it too skinny, I'll add this: As a guide, the single biggest boost of the last 20 years was a simple device called a Gigi. It's a self-locking belay plate for belaying up the second, and it hangs right on the anchor. Hands-free belaying so I can eat, drink, take off a layer, re-sunscreen and be ready to power onward.

Nowadays several of the belay devices have this function built in. Saves my back a lot on belays. Look for a design that allows you to release the self-lock and give slack, even under the full weight of a fallen second.


evenkeel

climber
Nov 22, 2008 - 03:49pm PT
"I always use three bomber anchors."
Ever climbing in the ruth gorge?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 22, 2008 - 03:58pm PT
I tend to agree with DR - the KISS principle sometimes overrides the SERENE bit. Three solid, varied pieces, belayer securely tied to same. Beyond that, it's often details.

Also, in terms of belay failure, the issue may be more high fall factor falls by the leader above the belay. Especially where protection fails. So that may be something to emphasize, how critical it is that the first few pieces be solid.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 22, 2008 - 04:59pm PT
Nope, never climbed in the Ruth Gorge, and rock quality is one good reason. (along with ferocious storms).

Bridwell's story of leading soft snow over granite slab on the Moose's Tooth, 200' out with no pro and a shovel for an ice tool, is about gripping enough to keep me away (maybe it had something to do, too, with his eyes getting wider in the firelight as he recalled it).

California: good rock, good weather. Any questions?
midarockjock

climber
USA
Nov 22, 2008 - 05:22pm PT
I saw the picture from your old book. I haven't been out
in the trad alpine scene in about 7 years so I don't know
about those new screamers etc.

Equalizing a load is good, but usually the impact or load
bearing force is still dependent upon 1 hook whether bi, tri,
quad etc. pods.

I'll leave it up to you to decide.

Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 22, 2008 - 05:49pm PT
Interesting discussion so far. My sense is that even though the cordelette was proven to be very poor at equalizing (unless the arms of the cordelette are exactly the same length), people by and large still go with it because it's simple to rig.

IMO, this is a sound strategy only so long as the team understands that, with most cordelette set ups, the first piece off the belay is more important as a load limiter than the belay itself.

JL
evenkeel

climber
Nov 22, 2008 - 05:53pm PT
what is wrong with the very simple, very easy to set up, equalized x? This is old hat, beating into a dead horse, but really seems the simple solution to equalizing anchors is the logical one.
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:05pm PT
John, you wrote "... the first piece off the belay is more important as a load limiter than the belay itself.

I could not agree more! I see so many climbers with good belay anchors leading way right or way left or way far without setting good directional pieces. They do not seem to grasp the physics of the situation. I would suggest that the setting of SOLID directional pieces off the belay is a cardinal rule.
evenkeel

climber
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:09pm PT
on the subject. Should one or should one not clip the heighest piece in the belay as the first lead piece if the next piece is 8 feet higher?
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:21pm PT
I didn't learn the equalette when it was the raging discussion. But I can tell you that several guys I have climbed with who are in the early to mid 20's age range, and internet forum users, DO use the equalette. And each has desperately wanted to explain to me just exactly how wonderful it is.... Go on rc.com and I bet you will find a larger percentage of people who have adopted the technique.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:38pm PT
Definitely clip the top piece of your anchor. No way after that can you get a fall factor of 2. And get in another piece asap. It's crucial because so little rope is in the system, and the rope itself is by far the best shock absorber you have. Well, unless of course you count the two human bodies squishing in their harnesses, which helps 'a ton' too.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:51pm PT
I played with the equalete concept a few years before the name caught up with it and abandoned it fairly quickly. You end up trying to adapt the solution to the situation rather than coming up with the best setup for the situation.

I carry a cordelete, but in most cases it ends up just being used like a big azz sling. On the other hand I almost always have Double, triple, and shoulder length slings along and those end up in the belay anchor in various configurations all the time.

One thing that has been lost is the concept of the "stance".

Some of us old farts instinctively position ourselves so that the anchor is only redundant backup, particularly when bringing up a second.

Another concept that seems to be lost is belaying where the simple bomber anchors and ledges present themselves.

It's amazing how often a 20-30 something rope gun will pass a comfortable ledge with a big tree or block only to spend 15 min rigging a complex anchor in an uncomforable spot. Or rig a TR at J Tree with half a dozen pieces when a V8 engine size wedged block provides a bomproof slung anchor. Or whine about having run out of gear when a figure 8 in the rope lassoing a feature would provide an anchor you could haul a truck up with.

One more issue, the proliferation of the daisy chain (personal anchor). No one is ever going to convince me that anything other than the rope, (with its energy absorbing capabilities) is the right thing to tie in with. I've seen to many shock loaded slings break in industrial settings and have a deep appreciation for the forces that you can attain with rediculously short drops on non stretching slings.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:57pm PT
I would think it would be good to leave in the book, you know another tool in the toolbox.

However I just have two pre-rigged sliding Xs with limiter knots I've used 100% of the time for the last few years. Simple, superfast, bomber, equalizing.
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Gunks, NY
Nov 22, 2008 - 06:57pm PT
apologies if this question illuminates my position as being one of pure ignorance, but by equallette do you mean a normal cordelette clipped into 3 bomber pieces, and then tied off? (more or less)

or are you referring to some gadgetry like a web-o-lette?

I am a newish trad leader (26) and I use the cordalette method. Seems simple to me and I dont have to worry about not having enough slack to make a decent knot and a decent sized master point. I always clip my top piece leading off the belay but I have toyed with the idea of making the anchor with the rope and clove hitching gear in series but I have yet to try this because it seems to have more variables that could go wrong.
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Gunks, NY
Nov 22, 2008 - 07:03pm PT
Hey MisterE,

I looked at the knot you mentioned- that is very clever! I would like to try new things like this but I have to get more confident with various tricks before I start mixing them in on climbs.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 22, 2008 - 08:01pm PT
I've never seen anyone use it.

Of course in Yosemite, it's not very common to worry about the anchor failing. Seems like an issue for sandstone and ice climbers.

PEace

Karl
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 22, 2008 - 08:16pm PT
I use the equalette most of the time. It is much more adaptable than the cordalette because you can reach pieces that are farther apart than with a cordalette tied with a loop of similar size. So for me that means it is also faster. If instead of tying it in a loop if you leave one side with two ends with loops it is more adaptable still. You chuck in your three or four pieces and you hold the center point where you want it and tie in the farthest away piece with one of the loops, then the farthest piece on the other side, etc.
IMHO the defect with the equalette is that there is limited redundency at the power point. If one of the strands at the power point breaks or is cut the biners there can slide along the strands in either direction. Sure there are knots in the way but... If the pro on one side should also blow you are not tied in at all. I have thought of some ways to put more loops in the middle but it just hasn't seemed worth it.
The cordalette knot is also just too bulky. I'm sticking with the equalette.


Zander

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 08:28pm PT
I know people like this stuff and if it works for you that's the key.

But for me it's all just so much encumbrance.

When I am trad climbing on clean rock, I carry six to eight slings, use them judiciously on lead, use the remaining slings in the anchor, often tie-in directly with the rope at the anchor.

Pure old-school.
I never have trouble with anchoring.
My main concern is that the leader is free as possible of dangling jive: it seems I'm always jumping into some wide crack on lead and I just don't want that junk getting in way. I also like to be light on lead.

Get up, get in, top out, get down.
This ain't no disco.

But that's just me.
Less is more.
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Gunks, NY
Nov 22, 2008 - 08:51pm PT
So if you just use slings, do you use multiple slings on one anchor, or just equalize a long sling? If the latter option is the case, how do you make it work when placements are farther apart?
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:01pm PT
Hi Tarbuster,
I have started to tie in with the rope more and more. It is fast and easy.
But
My understanding is that one of the main reasons, after equalization, you tie in with a cordalette or equalette is so that if you have an emergency and you need to escape the belay you don't need to rerig the whole belay. So I try to keep that in mind. Maybe you, Largo and others with more experience can comment on that aspect of the belay setup.
Take care,
Zander
G_Gnome

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:02pm PT
I'm 100% with Tarbaby on this issue. I see people spending so much time equalizing 3 perfect cams that each are good enough to hold any fall that they end up benighted. What kind of way is that to climb? Make it simple, make it fast, make it safe. The only time I worry about all that equalization crap is if my gear is marginal, and avoiding marginal gear is my top priority so that means I don't belay off marginal gear very damn often.
wildone

climber
GHOST TOWN
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:06pm PT
You just said a mouthful Tarbustier. I couldn't agree more. As previously mentioned, I belay off my "stance" 90% of the time, treating the anchor primarily as a backup. The other 10% of the time, I'll do like Doug and use my reverso for an extended, comfortable belay.
I carry a 20 foot piece of cord, and am judicious with my use of double and single length 8mm slings, just in case. Simple as hell, is the name of the game on my anchors, and if I have the options of two "dumptruck" pieces in separate systems and one "finagley" piece, I'll eliminate the finagely piece and just go with two. Of course, this also depends on the difficulty of the terrain I just crossed, and the ability of my second. But I digress. I guess, for me, there is no "rule", and I just choose the simplest, quickest, most failsafe anchor I can.
I've used an equalizing 8, but that's as complex as I'll go.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:10pm PT
Good questions.

I mix and match and QUICKLY: a long sling here, a bit of extra rope there for that third piece that's a bit of a ways away, this cam links to that nut, maybe with just one extra 'biner to get them equalized (push/pull the cam a tad to tighten things up),
Then double 'biners (reversed/opposed) where I clip to them both (again, if necessary, rope goes out to the third piece, maybe on a clove pitch, I cinch it tight to equalize with the other two pieces) DONE.

Always pretty darn well equalized whatever the case.
Analytical, Adaptive, Artful.

Rarely do I get all of the pieces with a single sling. My slings are shoulderlength only; no double runners.

The belay escape!!!
I can teach it, you are going to have to sue me if I can't effect one to save your asss...

To my mind these more complicated anchoring systems: cordalette, equalette, leatherette (kidding), are more about big walls due to complex anchoring and hauling, alpinism and the like.
MisterE

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:21pm PT
Agreed - the sandstone is a bit more finicky, Since leaving the solid rock of the West, I really find equalizing to be a larger issue.

That being said, I usually don't use a 3-point anchor unless the two pieces are not A1

Erik
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 09:31pm PT
No packs: maybe, MAYBE the second will have one)...
No locking 'biners.
No nut tool!

Haha: a nut tool is like a dagger, waiting to stab you on a pendulum fall, and in-gloriously while FOLLOWING. (Plus they make a very unaesthetic, clanking noise).

Modern climbers often lack nutcraft skills: put it in nicely but don't fully set it real hard. The follower needs to employ some ingenuity to remove nuts; don't just yank straight up on it immediately. Coax it out.

MAYBE carry a nut tool on a devious, nut intensive, super committing very long route were gear attrition could be an issue.

Maybe a second rope; maybe double rope technique.
wildone

climber
GHOST TOWN
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:17pm PT
Roy, baby. You're missing the point of the nut tool. Mine has paid for itself 100 times over in cleaning very nice booty cams!
Maybe I've used one on a nut 2 or 3 times!
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 22, 2008 - 10:18pm PT
Fact is, when I used to trad climb a lot, I usually tied in with the climbing rope. I always made sure - so far as I could - that the individual pieces in the anchor were totally bomber, so equalization wasn't a big issue.

But when I'm writing a book for beginners, I can't be so cavalier, nor can I trust beginners to set good primary placements. Add to this the tests that Sterling did (plus Rich Goldstone's mathmatical model, which the testing bore out) that shows a cordelette does not eqaualize worth a sh#t if the arms are of diferent lengths (virtually always), and we had to start looking for other rigging systems to recommend.

It all gets to be a bit much, given my background (started off in '70 with pitons). I sometimes feel like saying: Just slot a few good pieces, clip off with the lead rope and get on with it.

And as mentioned, I too usually belay off my legs (given a good stance), and whenever possible, weight the anchor very little.

Two things about this whole anchor discussion that stand out after all these threads about this and that: first, a factor 2 fall in the field doesn't generate nearly the same forces as it does in the lab (for various reasons - mainly flex and give in the system), and two, hard falls directly onto a belay anchor are exceedingly rare.

If I've learned anything from all this writing and studying of anchors, it's that the top piece of pro is the most important thing in the entire roped safety system. If you're wanting the belay anchor to save the day (to serve, so to speak, as the top piece of pro), you're going about it all wrong.

JL

MisterE

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:28pm PT
I have always wondered about the sliding .vs tied-off cordalettes.
Never liked the tied-off's, body shifts in uncomfortable stances always threw the weighting way off. I always am willing to trust my multiple pieces over shifting weight on to one piece.

Of course, with the newer belay devices, one can belay directly off the anchors, which changes the load.

The sketchy lead on a sketchy anchor equalizing issue is another matter altogether, static or dynamic?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:29pm PT
"But when I'm writing a book for beginners, I can't be so cavalier, nor can I trust beginners to set good primary placements."

Copy that JL!
What about that widget that Trango sells?
It's like a preconfigured thingalette.

Not necessarily as a direct solution to suit your goal, but as an aspect of the discussion...
wildone

climber
GHOST TOWN
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:38pm PT
John, great last post. I very much appreciate the small insights you give as to what systems you use in the field as you have millions more pitches under your belt than I. I'm sure, writing an educational book intended for intermediates is a daunting task indeed.
Whether I use an equalette or not is not a measure of your success with the issue in my opinion. You ask some hard questions and I appreciate the time and energy you've put into the subject, and all the discussion it generates here. This is why I love this place.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:41pm PT
I totally get the challenge of the O. P.

The minimalist old-school stuff is fairly like riding bareback.

Sure you have to teach expediency, but not at the risk of reduced inclusiveness and inconsistent success with all the variables which your student or reader will present in the face of their attempts at executing a system. (This is probably going to happen with the artful old-school approach AND with the staid somekind-of-alette approach, but probably less so with the latter).

The prescription must have a consistent format and provide great flexibility, all the while grounded in a simple recipe.

Rube Goldberg it is dadeo for beginners.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 22, 2008 - 10:41pm PT
"The sketchy lead on a sketchy anchor equalizing issue is another matter altogether, static or dynamic?"

An experieneced climber will very rarely face a situation where A), the best individual placements you can get in fashioning the anchor are themselves piss poor, and B) the leader must run the rope off a sh#t belay anchor and can't get a decent nut or any pro in for X amount of feet, risking a whipper directly onto the sh#t anchor (I've faced this situation numerous times but ALMOST NEVER on climbing where I thought I might fall).

I think the above was the situation when that team got cleaned off the DNB a few years back - crap anchor and no pro just above. Anyhow, I think that here and perhaps (I don't actually know) only here is where SRENE and complicated rigging techniques are absolutely called or.

JL
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 22, 2008 - 10:59pm PT
If you're wanting the belay anchor to save the day (to serve, so to speak, as the top piece of pro), you're going about it all wrong.

That pretty much captures it, now how you convey that to a neophite in print?

Not a clue!
ben_heavner

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Nov 22, 2008 - 11:13pm PT
Hi JL -

I've been climbing a few years now, and have a couple editions of your anchors book. I've dinked around with the equalette, but end up coming back to simpler things when I'm leading.

I did think the most recent edition of the anchors book really suffered from the loss of pictures of lots of anchors and your discussion of relative merits. There was so much equalette theory that lots of the pictures of "this is a good placement" or "this is not" were cut.

For a beginning leader, I think lots of pictures to study are more important than lots of text. Please bring them back for the newbies!

-bh
WBraun

climber
Nov 23, 2008 - 12:40am PT
Will the green n00b suffer bewilderment from such an anchor book?

There are so many different dynamic methods that work for different situations but the n00bs tend to do the same anchor setups for every different type of scenario.

I remember once on a new route with mixed rock and ice Walt belayed me up with no anchor, there was none. The ice broke on me following his lead. He had a lot of slack when I fell. He was sliding to the edge as he held me.

What saved us?

Maybe I've been doing this sh'it too long.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Nov 23, 2008 - 02:49am PT
Largo, I like the equalette, and I favor it's continuing inclusion. What I think is essential in a book for newbies, is something that gets them THINKING about the principles of anchoring systems. You can throw up a hundred pictures, but you will never capture every scenario, as you know. I think it is most desirable for folks to seen alternatives, have some understanding of what they are about, and then play around to figure out what works well for them, for what they are doing.

We've all seen astonishingly bad things done on the rocks. In the "good old days" there were no clear and comprehensive guidebooks, vetted by many many experts interacting in this medium, then having the ability to field test the resulting techniques. Now, someone comes up with something, and it is world-wide in a week, and thousands of people can comment effectively. And the effort you've put into your books have really paid off, I think, and changed the thinking of many, many people in the direction of safer climbing.

Thanks!
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 23, 2008 - 03:14am PT
John, I use an equalette whenever I carry a seperate piece cord - it's just that in itself is an pretty infrequent occurence - most of the time I just use the rope and slings.

DR: "As a guide, the single biggest boost of the last 20 years was a simple device called a Gigi. It's a self-locking belay plate for belaying up the second, and it hangs right on the anchor. Hands-free belaying so I can eat, drink, take off a layer, re-sunscreen and be ready to power onward."

Not sure if this says more about guiding or this class of devices as a whole...
Bertrand

Trad climber
SF
Nov 23, 2008 - 03:35am PT
I used to love the equalized cord, but now I only use it to sling something big (boulder, tree) or if for some reason I'm leading consecutive pitches. In replacement, I just use my end of the rope and equalize... you always have the perfect amount of line. when my partner finishes his next lead I can quickly break down two of the three points of the anchor and still be tied in to the third while waiting to climb.
Double D

climber
Nov 23, 2008 - 07:23am PT
I use web-o lets but and love them for situations when you are passing off that end of the lead line or really need to equalize a questionable anchor but to untie the figure 8 after jumar loads is both cumbersome time consuming. Much prefer a series of clove-hitches...always have.

PS Largo... if you do end up using (re-using?)the most "poached" anchor picture of all times, my shot of Dale on the Rurp belay, would you at least give me credit for it? (payments and back-payments are also acceptable!)

(-; Dave

Nick

climber
portland, Oregon
Nov 23, 2008 - 11:50am PT
I tried the cordellete when I got back into climbing, deemed it to much fiddling. Didn't like having to drag around a special piece of gear for anchors only. Last winter my daughter brought home the book with the "equalette" in it and I thought I would give it a try. Once again to big and specialized for me. But it got me to thinking. How about taking a double runner and tying a couple of overhands 9" apart to form an equalette, but modify it by taking a spare piece of webbing and running it trough the knots so that three strands make the loop at the bottom. This way you can clip in to two of the strands with a single locker and have room for someone else to clip in as well. It racks like a normal runner on your harness and can be used like a runner if necessary. To add more than two anchor points I use runners or draws to the anchor legs of the equalette. I used it all of this last season. Everyone I climbed with thought it worked pretty well and was easy to use. Just a thought.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 23, 2008 - 12:55pm PT
John, I think the equalette or even one of the stranger variations (I think something called the ELETE) that showed up on the RC.com thread are things a climber ought to know about and be able to use when equalizing two pieces might be critical. But equalizing two modern bolts is not critical, and this seems to be the main application for the equalette.

Here's the real rub (forgive the shouting): NO ONE HAS FOUND A GOOD WAY TO EQUALIZE THREE-PIECE ANCHORS, which seem to be the de-facto standard for trad anchoring. Sliding systems, including the one I devised (the Geekqualizer) and Mal Daly was indulgent enough to make up for me, are in principle effective but in practice are defeated by internal friction. Systems incorporating an equalette or similar two-anchor equalizing device almost always distribute half the load to one of the anchors, and so do no better than tied cordalettes, according to the test data I've seen.

I think it is conceivable that something along the lines of Trango's Alpine Equalizer could be designed that would eliminate the friction problems, but that doesn't seem imminent; there's really no pressure or interest from the climbing community for such things, and there are more and more trad climbs getting bolted belay anchors, so that trad anchoring itself may be on its way to becoming an arcane art.

Personally, I have always tied in with the rope (with the exception of my experiments with the Geekqualizer) and see very little reason not to continue that practice. My tie-ins are essentially the same configuration as you get with a cordalette; I don't usually clove-hitch in series. If I take out beginners, I use cordalettes, which otherwise stay in my closet at home. I've never done climbs where I've wanted to lead in blocks.

This is not to say that the long-arm low-load problem has gone away. The case of three pieces in a vertical line is still the ultimate test of any anchoring system. And I continue to believe that a significant number of anchors constructed by climbers would not pass the ultimate test, which fortunately is very rarely applied. Most of what we call "experience" in this regard is merely the good luck not to have had your anchor maximally loaded.

I do think that there is something one could call "best practice," which ought to alleviate the worst effects of long arms in the three-anchor set-up without introducing any real complication. There are two ingredients: the first is that either a rope cordalette, or else the climbing rope itself set up cordalette-style, should be used to fabricate the anchor. The second is that low-stretch slings (dyneema, etc) be used, if necessary, on some of the anchor points so that the cordalette/rope anchor has more-or-less equal length arms. This is neither complicated nor time-consuming to arrange. For it to work, the significant elongation differences between anchor rope and low-stretch slings must be implemented, so using a dyneema or even nylon webbing cordalette won't work. I think that this should go a ways to eliminating the load inequities that are an inevitable consequence of very unequal anchor arms, and thereby provide you with the best anchor you can practically expect to get, although of course I have no test data to confirm or deny it.

John, one thing that worries me, and I have to apologize profusely for not catching it early on, is that Jim's tests on the effect of elongation in the anchor, the ones that lead to the conclusion that elongation doesn't matter, do not seem to me to be properly configured to test the real situation. There was too much energy-absorbing rope in the system, relative to the amount of elongation, leading to insignifcant changes in fall-factor and so a conclusion that might not be appropriate for real anchoring situations. In a real situation, it is the belayer's anchor strand that will have to absorb the belayer's fall (plus whatever load the belayer is holding at that instant). Minimally, the anchor strand will have to absorb a fall by the combined weights of leader and belayer. If that anchor strand is short, say a foot and a half, and if the elongation in the anchor is, say, six inches, then you still have a fall factor of 1/3 with something like 350 pounds, and there is no way this isn't going to load the anchor significantly. This means that the intelligent use of sliding systems ought to involve tying into them as long as possible, given the nature of the stance.

While we're talking about anchors, there are two other common issues I think are worth attention.

The first is the increasing tendency of people to use low-stretch sling material to attach themselves to their anchors. For a climber who is belaying the leader, this is a practice that cuts into the ultimate margin of safety, and so makes no sense because it is so easy to avoid by using the climbing rope.

The second is the question of whether or not the leader should clip one or more anchor pieces, at least until they get in a piece that protects the belay. When it comes to clipping the anchor, there is a "break-even" point after which the anchor will get a higher load (because of the pulley effect) than it would have if there was just a factor 2 fall onto the belayer. Few people seem to realize how close this break-even point is to the anchor. I think by the time the anchor is at the leader's foot level, in fact somewhat before that, you are risking higher anchor loads than if you factor two'd onto the belayer.

The anchor-clipping advocates (including the Petzl Cartoons) believe that belayers are highly unlikely to be able to hold factor two falls. I think this is nonsense. If the belayer properly sets up their anchor so the load is transferred to the anchor without the intervention of the harness, and if the belayer is wearing gloves, a factor two catch is a reasonable expectation, especially now that belay device manufacturers have wised up and incorporated higher friction into their gadgets. But the gloves are an issue. How do you get people to wear them?

kingpin

climber
methdeathsto ca
Nov 23, 2008 - 01:04pm PT
Equaltettes rock!! No tech, no extra gear, easy to rig and far more equalized than a cordalette. I say keep them in the books!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 23, 2008 - 05:13pm PT
If the lead change is unexpected, then yes, swap ends. If non-alternating leads are planned, then bring cordalettes.

My tongue hurts.
tito

climber
Nov 24, 2008 - 01:53am PT
>IMHO the defect with the equalette is that there is limited redundency
>at the power point.

Examine these two risks:

1) Anchor cord(sliding x, whatever) is cut causing catastrophic anchor failure

2) Cascading anchor failure, i.e. all the load goes onto one piece, which fails, causing all the load to go onto another piece, which fails, etc.

As far as I know, there have been no reported cases where anchor failure occurred because of a cut cord/sling. There have been 2 or 3 catastrophic anchor failures, which are thought to have been caused by a cascade failure.

When you choose to use the equalette, you believe that the risk of 1) is less than the risk of 2). Otherwise, just use a standard cordalette setup. Also remember that for your worries to manifest themselves, the equalette has to be cut in the specific 10 inch area of the master point.

John Long says in his latest anchor book(p. 170) that if you use only one biner at the equalette's master point, then you should clip the two strands sliding x style. That is not how the equalette was envisioned to work. The equalette's power point was designed to allow the biner(s) to slide with a minimum of friction. Clipping the two strands sliding x style defeats that purpose. I believe it was a mistake for JL to write that--although arguments to the contrary are welcome.

You can always clip one end of a sling to one of the anchor points and clip the other end to the master point biner(s) as a loose back up(in case the cord is severed near the master point).
apogee

climber
Nov 24, 2008 - 12:34pm PT
Late (again) to this party, but here's my $.02

Simple is better, unless a clear problem has presented itself that dictates something more complex. Point being, the cordelette may not equalize perfectly, but there has not been (to my knowledge) a clear, demonstrated pattern of belay anchor failure that was directly attributed to a poorly equalized cordelette anchor. So why add the complexity if there isn't a demonstrated need? Don't create a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

As others have commented, KISS.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 24, 2008 - 12:43pm PT
I think about it this way:

A sliding X on two pieces of pro equalizes pretty well and cuts down the force on each piece to 50% of the load (neglecting friction).

If you could equalize well on 3 pieces of pro you are cutting down the force on each piece to 33% of the load (neglecting even more friction). There are diminshing returns the more pieces you try to equalize (you are only reducing the load by an additional 17% with 3 compared to equalizing 2 pieces of pro), I don't think that's a good trade off for having to deal with much greater complexity, gear, time, etc.

I use a sliding X even on what appears to be two bomber bolts, cams, or nuts. If they were any unknown issues (bolts ready to shear, defective gear, etc.) I'm not depending on one piece of gear to hold everything.

I usually don't put a third piece of pro into my anchor. I'd rather put a piece of pro right next to the anchor for the leader to clip into as the first piece, then have the leader place another piece as high as they can reach, if the climbing was difficult right after the belay.

I don't like using the rope for the anchor. In a self rescue I want to be able to escape the belay as fast as possible and know there is a bomber anchor ready to lower off of.

The equalette's power point was designed to allow the biner(s) to slide with a minimum of friction. Clipping the two strands sliding x style defeats that purpose. I believe it was a mistake for JL to write that--although arguments to the contrary are welcome.
The friction in a sliding X is mainly due to binding of the webbing on itself. If you have a sliding X with limiters knots you can make one of the strands of the X a little longer (the one that has a twist in it). Then there is no binding. That may be too complicated for a lot of people though, but I'd rather do that than have to bring an extra locking biner for each anchor.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Nov 24, 2008 - 01:04pm PT
Rgold: "While we're talking about anchors, there are two other common issues I think are worth attention.

The first is the increasing tendency of people to use low-stretch sling material to attach themselves to their anchors. For a climber who is belaying the leader, this is a practice that cuts into the ultimate margin of safety, and so makes no sense because it is so easy to avoid by using the climbing rope."

This is worth highlighting, especially as chains join bolts as common items on popular trad routes and as dyneema becomes the webbing of choice.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 24, 2008 - 01:22pm PT
Dingus, I don't frequent rc.com - what's the link for the parallel thread there?

Something that has been mentioned by one or two upthread is that some climbers will construct an elaborate equalized belay, or indeed any belay at all. Then they clip into the belay, at the so-called "power point", with a single carabiner. Maybe a locking carabiner, but just one. Sometimes for toproping, sometimes to anchor the belayer. What's the point of that? No redundancy. Hard to avoid when it comes to ropes and harnesses, but easy when it comes to carabiners.

I could also go on about misuse of clove hitches.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 24, 2008 - 01:35pm PT
I agree, rgold has made a really good point.

When I use a cordelette as just a big, sliding-X runner -- which is most of the time -- I feel like I'm gaining some really valuable shock-absorbtion from the stretch of the 6 mm or 7 mm cord. Especially when I belay straight off the anchor with a GiGi or one of the new belay devices.

But it could be better. Yo, rope makers: how about spinning us some dymanic cordelettes? We pay as much per foot for Dyneema runners as for lead rope itself. Sure, they're light, but they stretch like steel cable. I'd gladly pay the same for truly dynamic Cordelette stock.

The point about tieing to the anchor pieces with climbing rope is well taken, but if we had dynamic cordelettes we could gain all that shock absorbtion and have an easier time escaping the belay or leading in blocks.

If we had truly dynamic cord like that, I would tie most of my runners from it. Every lead fall puts about 1.7 times the force on the top piece of pro as it does on either the falling leader or the belayer. That means the top pro gets the biggest jolt in the whole system. A runner of dynamic cord would soften that. Seems like a good deal to me.

Blue Water? Sterling? Your market is calling...
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 24, 2008 - 02:20pm PT
...and both feet too.

I carry a couple of screamer draws, and one often goes to clip that top piece of the anchor to start the next pitch.
Thom

Trad climber
South Orange County, CA
Nov 24, 2008 - 03:32pm PT
Late to the party as well, but had some thoughts...

While the cordelette has been shown through extensive testing to be inferior to the equalette in achieving equalization between two anchor points, it should be noted that the cordelette never broke during these tests and that traditional belay anchors should consist of at least three anchor points an anchor set-up that was not tested using these two systems. The equalette will only equalize two points, regardless of how many additional points are introduced into the system. For anchors consisting of 3 or more pieces, the cordelette may still be the best choice for load distribution as the equalette will distribute (equally) the load between 2 pieces only regardless of the number of pieces in the system.

I was taught that belay anchors should consist of a minimum of 3 pieces. To quote from the first Climbing Anchors book, regarding 3-piece belay anchors,

"Sometimes, three are enough, and sometimes that's all you'll get. ANYTHING LESS IS A CRAP SHOOT."

The implication from the first book is that you should not set up an anchor consisting of only two pieces of protection, yet the testing for the latest book was done using 2-point anchors.

People are now setting up 3 and 4-piece anchors (as they should), but setting them up with an equalette (per the pictures in the new book) believing (based on the 2-point test data) that they have a perfectly equalized system; not only is this incorrect but, TESTING WAS NOT DONE USING THESE SYSTEMS. This was lost on many readers of the new book who simply weren't paying attention to what they were reading when you wrote, "While the two arms of the equalette achieve a remarkable degree of equalization, the equalization between the individual strands is less...when the system is rigged to three or four placements." Sounds somewhat like a cordelette to me.

Lastly, and important to note, is that while testing showed the cordelette to be inferior for equalization, IT NEVER BROKE DURING TESTING despite unequal shock loading. This, too, was not made clear in the latest addition.

To quote from the new book, "When tested, the cordelette proved to equalize less proficiently...which is why the cordelette can no longer be recommended for its equalization properties when the arms are of unequal length." I've met many new climbers who now swear by the equalette and avoid the cordelette like the plague as a result of the new book.

I don't think this is what you intended, but it's happening. People are mis-applying the test data and arriving at conclusions that are perhaps not for the best.

T.

midarockjock

climber
USA
Nov 24, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
Beginers are usually always interested in more technical
aspects which may or may not be ok.

In a hanging belay set up with your own pieces(not bolts) does the
leader not account for opposite force possibly inverting or pulling
the pieces out? That first piece above the belay could also be
critical.
DanaB

climber
Nov 24, 2008 - 04:19pm PT
"When it comes to clipping the anchor, there is a "break-even" point after which the anchor will get a higher load (because of the pulley effect) than it would have if there was just a factor 2 fall onto the belayer."

Hi Rich,

Could you expand on this, please?

Dana
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 24, 2008 - 04:55pm PT
"For anchors consisting of 3 or more pieces, the cordelette may still be the best choice for load distribution as the equalette will distribute (equally) the load between 2 pieces only regardless of the number of pieces in the system."

Testing showed that with unequal length arms, the codelette put the loading mostly on one arm, the shortest, which has the least stretch. The equalette better distributed the unequal-armed load over two pieces.

However this post as well as what Rich said, underscores the fact that as yet we don't have a KISS (simple) rigging device that achieves good equalization over 3 and 4 pieces. I've seen some rigs that are getting close (the one with the ring, for instance), but they still look tricky to tie and rather ornate.

I don't think that the solution is to bolt trad anchors, however. Who was the wise guy who suggested that, anyhow??

JL
Forest

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Nov 24, 2008 - 05:15pm PT
I gotta admit. I'm with DR here.

I use:

3 solid pieces (more if one is questionable)
one 20' cordalette

equalized to most likely direction of pull, and tied off with figure eight.

I could see call for more exact equalization if you find yourself with questionable anchors. I tend not to climb stuff like that, tho. I'll either back down to the last good set of anchors, or push it a bit further to the next one. Protection is so good these days, that I think there's rarely an excuse for being unable to find good placements for your anchor, at least on the type of stuff I climb.

I like this solution because it's easy to set up and take down quickly and safely, no matter hour tired you might be.

Same answer seems to work really well for the overwhelming majority of anchor situations I find. Every once in a while I need to run a long sling to a third piece further up the climb or something, but that's pretty rare.

Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 24, 2008 - 06:06pm PT
I think I accidentaly obscured my point, way back up thread. My error was using the term "Cordelette." Its original meaning was simply a chunk of thin rope, 15-20 feet long. But listening to this discussion, I'm hearing that it has come to mean a 3-point equilization with a knot.

What I'm really advocating is using it as a giant runner. Equalized down to a single power point with two sliding Xs. But then NOT tied.

Let it slide. Let it continually adjust as you move around on the belay. Let it be just a big sling. Movement happens. Even ONE INCH sideways takes all the equalization out of a knotted system and throws it onto one piece.

Functionally, spreading the load of a fall over several anchor pieces is crucial. Equalization trumps the value of no extension. So I toss out the "no extension" part.

This simplifies the "standard" cordelette rig. To my mind it stays more flexible, continuously adapting as the power point inevitably slides around.

And it's easier to make. One less step. Faster. Satisfies the KISS rule.
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Nov 24, 2008 - 06:37pm PT
If you're wanting the belay anchor to save the day (to serve, so to speak, as the top piece of pro), you're going about it all wrong.

I think this misses the point entirely. The only real thing the anchor needs to do is be able to keep both people from falling off the wall if, despite all your best efforts to keep it from happening, the sh#t hits the fan. To just hold the belayer on the ledge - anything will do.

But because the difference between having an anchor that succeeds and one that fails, if the worst case happens, is so huge... well, maybe y'all don't give a damn, but I want the best anchor I can quickly and efficiently fashion.

This is not to say that I don't respect Tar's viewpoint. I certainly do.

GO
Forest

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Nov 24, 2008 - 07:27pm PT
Let it slide. Let it continually adjust as you move around on the belay. Let it be just a big sling. Movement happens. Even ONE INCH sideways takes all the equalization out of a knotted system and throws it onto one piece.

If you let it slide, then a single cut anywhere in there (i.e. from rockfall or whatever) undoes the whole thing and you die. This remove the redundancy part, which scares me a lot more than being slightly unequalized.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 24, 2008 - 08:19pm PT
A tied cordelette doesn't equalize.

A sliding X with limiter knots or the equalette, which is really a variation of a sliding x with limiter knots, equalizes two pieces pretty well, has redundancy, and little extension.

I went from slings and the rope to sliding Xs with limiter knots in the late 90s, but it always took a long time to tie the sliding Xs. then I went to the cordelette until the new research came out. I went back to sliding Xs with limiter knots, but just leave them tied, so it's quicker than even a tied cordelette. No knots to tie.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 24, 2008 - 09:14pm PT
Clove hitches? The concern I have is with belayers who are tied in solely using clove hitches. There may be times - experienced party, alpinism, avoiding knots freezing up while ice climbing - when it's appropriate, but not as a general rule. Not for those getting started, anyway, given the propensity of clove hitches to loosen themselves.

As for the discussion generally, it may be an illustration of the principle that the perfect can sometimes be the enemy of the good. Encouraging those who are learning to climb to create "perfect" belays obscures the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect belay, or perfect belay chain - the latter being often more the issue, those critical first few pieces of protection off the belay. In turn obscuring that there is always both objective and subjective risk in climbing. Better have that out in the open.

And it's impracticable for anyone, let alone novices, to create a perfect belay. Not in the real world, anyway.

There's no such thing as safe climbing, only safer climbing, with judgment always being critical. If people start to think that climbing is or should be safe, it can easily lead to other expectations, e.g. regarding fixed anchors. After all, if it's an effort to learn how to create an acceptable belay using natural anchors, and they (horror!) sometimes fail, shouldn't there just be bolt belays everywhere? A steep and slippery slope.
rockermike

Mountain climber
Nov 24, 2008 - 09:47pm PT
It took me years to change from jerry rigged rope and sling anchors to a cordelette. I think I for one am too old to learn another new trick. My rule of thumb; just make sure all 3 pieces are bomber, throw on a cordelette and be done with it.

But, just for the sake of discussion, how about cordelette or web-elette, with NO knot. Totally equalized; Then back up each leg with ultralight 8mm dynamic slings. Tied off to roughly right length but with enough slack to allow equalization of main sling, but not long enough to allow shock. Those slings are damn light these days. Just a couple of extra ounces of cord to carry. No shock; redundancy; equalization, you get it all.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 24, 2008 - 11:23pm PT
Dana,

If you fall, statically belayed, directly onto the belayer (and your impact is transmitted by the belayer's tie-in directly to the anchor), then the anchor has to absorb the load of a factor two fall, say 9kN.

If the leader clips the anchor, then the fall factor is, at first, greatly reduced, but because of the pulley effect (mitigated by friction) the load to the anchor is 1.7 times the peak load in the leader's end of the rope. So, low fall factor means lower peak load, but this load is nearly doubled by the pulley effect.

As the leader gets higher above the belay anchor without anything else in, the fall factor increases, the peak rope tension increases, and the clipped anchor has to withstand 1.7 times that increased peak load. At some point, the leader reaches a ``break-even point,'' at which the leader's lower fall-factor fall, with impact 1.7 times the rope tension, equals the anchor impact of a factor-2 fall directly onto the belayer.

Once above the break-even point, a leader fall imposes a higher load on the clipped anchor than a factor-two fall onto the belayer would.

What is not generally appreciated is how close the break-even point is to the anchor. If belays are static in both cases (not a very reasonable assumption but one that allows some comparisons), the rope has a UIAA rating of 9 kN, and the leader is the standard-issue 80 kg flyer, then the break-even point occurs when the leader is half as far above the clipped anchor as the length of the belayer's tie-in. (This easy to visualize statistic assumes that the leader has clipped the power point of the anchor. If the leader clips one of the anchor pieces, then the break-even point is half as far above the clipped piece as the distance from clipped piece to the belayer's waist.)

Let's say the belayer has a 3-foot tie-in. Then the break-even point occurs when the leader's waist is a foot and a half above the power point, roughly when the power point is at the leader's knees. Once the power point is lower than the leader's knees, it will be subjected to a higher load if clipped than it would be if the leader factor-twoed onto the belayer. This is what I meant when I said the break-even point is really very close to the anchor.

If we assume a dynamic belay as a result of the rope slipping through a belay device with, say, a 4 kN slipping threshold for a particular belayer, then there is no break-even point. The peak anchor load for a factor-two fall onto the belayer is 4 kN, and the peak anchor load for the fall with lead rope clipped to the anchor is 9.7kN. (Edited to include tito's correction) This is interesting, because it suggests that a statically belayed factor-2 fall onto the belayer does not load the anchor any more than a dynamically belayed fall in which the leader has clipped the anchor.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Nov 24, 2008 - 11:41pm PT
Wow Mr. Gold, way to put a stamp on it. Your knowledge appears to outweigh the discussion in some way. I'm a 3 points of contact former weekender, but I can tell someone who seems to really know what they're saying.....can't I?

How many K were in that plane that fell in upper Merced Lake?
Ben Harland

Social climber
Baltimore, MD
Nov 25, 2008 - 02:55am PT
By my calculation, we have

a) cordalette
- loop cord around three pieces and tie a knot
- not great equalisation

b) equalette
- loop one end of cord
- tie two clove hitches (only one needs to be carefully placed)
- good equalisation


Extension is the same. I go b. What am I missing?
tito

climber
Nov 25, 2008 - 04:58am PT
> The peak anchor load for a factor-two fall onto the belayer is 4 kN,
> and the peak anchor load for the fall with lead rope clipped [through] the
> anchor is 6.8 kN.

6.8 kN? Isn't the question: what force on the climber's side of the anchor is necessary to generate 4 kN on the belayer's side of the anchor? When 4 kN is generated on the belayer's side of the anchor, then the belay device will start slipping.

4 kN = (.7)(X)
==> X = 5.7 kN

Therefore to get 4 kN on the belayers side, the climber needs to generate 5.7 kN on his side of the rope. So isn't the peak force on the anchor the sum of those forces:

4 kN + 5.7 kN = 9.7 kN
Peter

climber
Nov 25, 2008 - 05:03am PT
I used to use a cordolette and then a webolette fairly frquently. Now I only use them when climbing easyish routes where I'm going to be hauling up a new climber ie; toprope situation, and sometimes in alpine situations for slinging big features. Otherwise too slow to fold up, too lumpy on my harness. As of a year or two ago I always use the Metolius PAS with fall rated loops for myself and all my regular partners are also converts. Seemed silly expensive at first but it is incredibly versatile and fast. We keep the PAS girth hitched to our belay loops. Bang in a few pieces and clip them to the PAS with sling extensions if necessary, or clip the PAS to a bolted belay - You're done. Your partner can clip to your PAS to swap gear and then they're off.

TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Nov 25, 2008 - 08:13am PT
rgold, that was thought-provoking analysis. Thanks.

It does assume that the belayer is "static" i.e. somehow tied in such that he does not get lifted toward the power point. The dynamic case limits the load [at least until the point at which belayer reaches the power point] and is a function of the weight of the belayer and the friction at the power point, which I think is also not widely appreciated, though likely more widely understood than your analysis of the break-even point.

The alternative of belaying directly off the belayer's harness carries its own risk that perhaps is not well understood by those who most commonly set up the pulley. If the factor 2 onto the belayer occurs, the belayer must immediately (before the load) alter the position of his brake hand from below the waist to above the waist at which point he will then be absorbing a downward load.

This is an event that he may never have experienced before (especially if he is a beginner, i.e. a member of Largo's target audience). It won't happen in any toprope situation.

I fear that the belayer is more likely to fail to catch the fall under these circumstances, than the anchor is to fail. Maybe you have data or experience one way or the other?

The very few times I have been in this situation on lead, I took care to advise the belayer of the different requirements and did not depart the belay until I was satisfied that he or she understood exactly that a) the brake hand would have to go up, b) why that was so, and c) that the force of the fall would fall onto their legs and possibly pull them off his or her stance, or onto the ground.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 25, 2008 - 09:18am PT
Tito, thanks for spotting the error, which was in a paragraph I added as an afterthought late at night. I've edited the number in question and credited you for providing the correction.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 25, 2008 - 10:11am PT
Rich, could you explain what you mean by "pulley effect"?

Re your break-even point, a good one: when leading off the belay, I always clip the highest piece, not the power point. Two advantages. One, it raises the break-even point, sometimes a lot. Two, it reduces the risk of catastrophic failure of the entire anchor.

So many dynamic slippages in a real-world belay, it would be instructive to plug a dynamometer onto that top piece and measure peak force. I'm guessing even in a max fall factor 1.7 situation, by the time the belayer is lifted off his footholds the peak force gets down around 3 Kn.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 25, 2008 - 02:29pm PT
I'm concerned about hijacking Largo's thread with my response to Dana, since Largo is interested in hearing about the equalette, not this stuff.

So I'm going to hold any further replies for now. I don't have time today, but in a day or two I'll start a new thread and copy whatever comments are here over to that. If that thread then dies for lack of interest, so be it...

the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 25, 2008 - 03:06pm PT
Peter the PAS isn't dynamic like the lead rope. Using it to clip to the anchor increases the force considerably. You should always use the rope to connect the belayer to the anchor.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 25, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
After Obama is sworn in on January 20th, use of the equalette seems likely to rise. The "elite-ette" will no longer be an acceptable method of anchoring.
Victor

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Nov 26, 2008 - 12:22am PT
I've been using the equalette for over a year and I've come up with a variation that allows you to avoid using 2 carabiners at the "power point". I don't think I've seen this variation before so I'll post it here.

Here's a photo of it:

Here's a photo of the power point area:

The only difference is that there are 3 strands in the power point. This is done by making an 'S' with a strand of cordalette, then squishing the 'S' down where you find 3 strands overlap in the middle and 2 elsewhere. Tie a figure 8 at each side where there are 3 strands.

Some tips about tying this:
* make the sliding/power point section about 12in long
* one side should be longer than the other to allow for some versatility

I tie this once and leave the figure-8s in there. Easy to set up with three pieces. On one end (usually the short end) clip one piece in, on the other clove hitch two pieces. When you're done, clip into two of the three strands in the power point. In the worse case two of those pieces will be equalized.

And about tying in, I always tie in with the climbing rope. If you can't trust your rope why bother with anything else.

-Victor
tito

climber
Nov 26, 2008 - 02:26am PT
> Tito, thanks for spotting the error
> ...and credited you for providing the correction.

Totally unnecessary. Thank you for all your great posts on anchors here and elsewhere.
Peter

climber
Nov 26, 2008 - 03:34am PT
Fet - I don't understand what force the PAS increases compared to a cordolette or sling. I belay off my harness either way, and usually clip the rope to a power point an arm's length above my waist when belaying the second and at least until the leader has a couple of good pieces in. The only time the second is clipped directly to the anchor is when we're switching leads and there's no risk of a dynamic fall. If you tie in to the anchor with the rope how much force is absorbed by the short length of rope between the anchor and your harness?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 26, 2008 - 04:17am PT
I agree Peter, the PAS static issue is a non-issue.

Just like many of these geek threads that don't consider enough practical issues.

The real issue on using a PAS to connect the pieces on your belay is this: You can't escape the belay in an emergency without basically disconnecting your anchor!

Same goes for folks who use the rope to anchor directly to the pieces.

Now for folks who worry about the mechanical advantage effect of clipping the rope through the top piece of the anchor, answer me this, if you are at a hanging belay or are just putting your weight on the belay to get off your aching feet, will the multiplier effect still put twice the force on the belay. I think not. If you are hanging on the belay already, the forces on the anchor remain the same.

Personally, I belay the second off the anchor with a gri-gri. I could escape the belay in 1 second, I can haul with almost no set-up, I can take pictures without risking dropping the partner, and if they fall, it's no effort to hold them.

Then I belay the leader off my harness for better dynamics in absorbing the "real" fall,.

peace

Karl
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 26, 2008 - 04:29am PT
This was one (ala Trango) of a couple of ideas I threw up for three-points during the extended RC anchorfest. It, and all the other groovy contributions from folks, were great fun for an evening at home on the InterWebbing - the problem is, I simply never really bother out on the rock, and rarely ever have an independent piece of cord with me. When I do, it goes into an equalette which I like way more than [tied] cordelettes which I never did like and never used.


P.S. I agree with Karl that weaving a PASS-like device into the anchor is a decidely bad idea.
NoRushNoMore

climber
Nov 26, 2008 - 05:24am PT
Peter, I am with you on your method, this exactly what I do most of the time.

Small suggestion: I clove hitch the longest leg of the anchor with the rope and clip PAS to the remaining two pieces. If anything this gives you close to even distribution between pro.

While escaping the belay argument is thrown around a lot it's not that practical, what do you do once you are free from the belay? Free solo to help your hanging partner? Ascend with prussics?
Nah, you a lot more likely to lower him down till you run off the rope and then disassemble your anchor and climb up till you meet in the middle
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 26, 2008 - 01:35pm PT
Peter, sorry I mis-read your post, it sounded to me like you didn't use the rope at all to connect to the anchor, just the static PAS.
JohnRoe

Trad climber
State College, PA
Nov 26, 2008 - 02:30pm PT
Karl wrote: "Now for folks who worry about the mechanical advantage effect of clipping the rope through the top piece of the anchor, answer me this, if you are at a hanging belay or are just putting your weight on the belay to get off your aching feet, will the multiplier effect still put twice the force on the belay. I think not. If you are hanging on the belay already, the forces on the anchor remain the same."

Karl, I think that your argument is correct as long as the fall is not hard enough to lift you (the belayer) up off the hanging belay. In this thread, people have been talking about braking forces of many kN. These would lift you off the hanging belay unless you had a separate downward-force anchor (and in either case the "pulley effect" argument would apply).

John
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 26, 2008 - 02:49pm PT
John wrote

"Karl, I think that your argument is correct as long as the fall is not hard enough to lift you (the belayer) up off the hanging belay. In this thread, people have been talking about braking forces of many kN. These would lift you off the hanging belay unless you had a separate downward-force anchor (and in either case the "pulley effect" argument would apply). "

What I'm saying is, you're hanging on the anchor. If you get pulled up by the leader falling and it's directed through the anchor. yes, that weight goes on the anchor but was on there anyway. You're pulled up so that weight gets subtracted and reapplied in the pully situation. End result, equal.

Mostly irrelevant to me anyway except intellectually. Granite is Bomber! Sandstone guys can have fun worrying. I crap my pants in Sedona

Peace

Karl
JohnRoe

Trad climber
State College, PA
Nov 26, 2008 - 03:24pm PT
Hi Karl,

I think that if the belayer is being pulled (accelerated) upwards, the force being applied through the rope to achieve this acceleration is greater than the belayer's weight. So, the force applied to anchor by the belayer while the fall is being stopped is greater than the weight "that was there anyway". Does that make sense?

Happy ThanksGeeking :-)

peace

John


tito

climber
Nov 26, 2008 - 03:34pm PT
> Now for folks who worry about the mechanical advantage effect of clipping
> the rope through the top piece of the anchor, answer me this, if you are
> at a hanging belay or are just putting your weight on the belay to get off
> your aching feet, will the multiplier effect still put twice the force on the belay.
> I think not. If you are hanging on the belay already, the forces on the anchor
> remain the same.

While I think I understand the point you are trying to make, your conclusion appears to be preposterous. Your text seems to say: if you are at a hanging belay, i.e. all your weight is on the anchor and the leader clips a piece of the anchor and then falls, "the forces on the anchor remain the same." I'm pretty confident you don't believe that.

Also, not all your weight is going to be hanging on the top piece of the anchor, is it? Presumably you have other pieces in your anchor. So when the leader falls, how much additional force does the top piece get hit with?

> Fet - I don't understand what force the PAS increases compared to a cordolette or sling.

Suppose one piece of your anchor blows. Suddenly the anchor extends and you are brought to halt on a relatively low stretch piece of sling as your PAS comes tight to the other anchor point. Compare that to the situation where you build an anchor with a cordalette made out of 7mm perlon and clip a length of rope to the power point to tie in:

1) If a piece of the anchor fails, the extension is probably not going to be as great with a cordalette.

2) The cordalette will stretch more than the PAS reducing the forces on the remaining anchor.

3) The length of rope you tied into the the power point with will stretch reducing the forces on the remaining anchor

How much will the cordalette plus rope tie in reduce the forces on the anchor? Is it significant?

> I've been using the equalette for over a year and I've come up with a variation
> that allows you to avoid using 2 carabiners at the "power point".

Have you considered what will happen if the left hand anchor fails? If that happens, the power point biner will impact the left hand figure eight and try to pry it apart. One reason you should prefer an EDK for a rappel knot instead of a figure eight is because the figure eight rolls easier. In your setup, I think it is highly likely the eight would roll at least once after the power point biner impacts it, and since the tail sticking out of the left hand knot is short, it will come untied. What does that leave you with?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 26, 2008 - 04:42pm PT
J Roe Math Bro write
'Hi Karl,

I think that if the belayer is being pulled (accelerated) upwards, the force being applied through the rope to achieve this acceleration is greater than the belayer's weight. So, the force applied to anchor by the belayer while the fall is being stopped is greater than the weight "that was there anyway". Does that make sense?

Happy ThanksGeeking :-)

peace

John "

Since you are the Math Master, let's simply it to compare this.

1. Let assume the leader clipped the powerpoint of a cordalette anchor as a directional, climbed up 15 feet and fell. The belayer is also hanging low on the cordalette.

versus

2. The belayer is hanging there and belaying off the powerpoint with a gri-gri (assume static belay even though they slip a bit)

How much pully effect in #1 versus #2

Obviously a softer catch if the leader falls right onto the device of the belayer (if he catches it, and then the other factors about escaping the belay or hauling the leader back up come into play

Peace

Karl
Nick

climber
portland, Oregon
Nov 27, 2008 - 09:30pm PT
I have been sitting here waiting to to eat the bird and drinking beer after a wonderful hike with the family today. Perhaps I have a few under my skin and this is ill advised, but.. My daughter and I went out to the micro training wall and constructed a marginal anchor using my equalette then took a couple of photos. Thought I would post them up for a proper holiday thrashing. I can see a couple of things wrong with it like the clove hitch from the pink tricam is not quite right, but hell I built this thing quick with a skin full of beer.
Perhaps you can't tell but the locker on power point is on doubled webbing.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 27, 2008 - 09:59pm PT
Thanks for taking the time to photograph and post Nick.

Two questions or observations,.

#1 Time is safety in climbing. How fast can you construct an anchor like that? Do you do so for regular climbing.

#2 Anchor seems to eat up a lot of vertical space. How often is that a downside at actual anchors. (particularly fixed one that tend to be close to a stance or ledge)

3. Do you clip a directional in the anchor if there is a lead-out off the belay? If not, is the anchor more likely to fail from a factor 2 on your belay loop or by ripping the whole anchor?

Just for the sake of discussion

Peace

Karl
WBraun

climber
Nov 27, 2008 - 10:44pm PT
Nice anchor Nick.

But I still prefer the non-anchor Walt and Stretch gave as we all were sliding towards our doom.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2008 - 10:55pm PT
Nice anchor.

I think all these long-winded discussions are good because they bring into sharper focus various elements that have long been glossed over or explained away - often incorectly - with "traditional wisdom" or daft lab tests, and what's more, so long as we keep fiddling around with various anchoring arrays, someone, at sometime, is going to come up with somthing amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving.

JL
Nick

climber
portland, Oregon
Nov 27, 2008 - 11:59pm PT
Karl,

#1 Time is safety in climbing. How fast can you construct an anchor like that? Do you do so for regular climbing.

This anchor can be made real quick. The equalette is a pre tied double nylon runner which I rack like I do all the other runners on my harness. Most of the time it is literally just clip the ends to your two best pieces place an upward piece below and clip the belayers rope into that as well. Everything else is straight off the rack nothing fancy. I also like to use the equalette as a tied daisy to anchor with when routes require multi pitch raps. I use it on most trad anchors.

#2 Anchor seems to eat up a lot of vertical space. How often is that a downside at actual anchors. (particularly fixed one that tend to be close to a stance or ledge)

I have not had too much issue with that yet. Although I have only used it on maybe 30 or 40 anchors. It is not even as long as a regular runner because of the knots. I do wish it was a little shorter for racking, but I have never seen a 1.5 length nylon runner.

3. Do you clip a directional in the anchor if there is a lead-out off the belay?

Hell yeah, I clip a directional. I out weigh my daughter by 50 lbs and one of my main climbing partners is 6'4" 235. Most of the time I use the rope.

If not, is the anchor more likely to fail from a factor 2 on your belay loop or by ripping the whole anchor?

Neither I hope ....I have no idea. I usually don't clip the anchor as the first piece unless it is a big fat bolt. I always belay off my belay loop, hoping that my body on a stance will take some of the blow off the anchor.

Time to eat pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 28, 2008 - 01:36am PT
As I have said before (but don't actually do because my anchors in granite are almost always bomber)

Want a serene anchor? Here's my idea, if you REALLY need the best anchor protection on some sketch rock, just clip a shorty screamer to each piece (or at least one or two of them) and rig a regular cordalette anchor to the screamers.

If the system gets stressed enough to be an issue, the screamers will extend, leading to perfect equalization with no shock load, and also absorb energy from the situation at the same time.

Discussed here

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=577246

Peace

karl
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 28, 2008 - 02:23am PT
Karl describes the "scream-o-lette". Sound effects to match if it doesn't work.
George R

climber
The Gray Area
Dec 10, 2008 - 11:21pm PT
On Nov 23rd, rgold wrote:

" John, one thing that worries me, and I have to apologize profusely for not catching it early on, is that Jim's tests on the effect of elongation in the anchor, the ones that lead to the conclusion that elongation doesn't matter, do not seem to me to be properly configured to test the real situation. There was too much energy-absorbing rope in the system, relative to the amount of elongation, leading to insignifcant changes in fall-factor and so a conclusion that might not be appropriate for real anchoring situations. In a real situation, it is the belayer's anchor strand that will have to absorb the belayer's fall (plus whatever load the belayer is holding at that instant). Minimally, the anchor strand will have to absorb a fall by the combined weights of leader and belayer. If that anchor strand is short, say a foot and a half, and if the elongation in the anchor is, say, six inches, then you still have a fall factor of 1/3 with something like 350 pounds, and there is no way this isn't going to load the anchor significantly. This means that the intelligent use of sliding systems ought to involve tying into them as long as possible, given the nature of the stance. "



Right. A general conclusion that anchor rigging elongation (aka extension) is harmless is not supported by any test data.

The Long/Sterling tests simulate a situation in which a climber is rope soloing without a haul bag or belayer or any other significant weight on the anchor. This tells us almost nothing about what happens when the belayer (and/or 3rd climber, haul bag, etc.) falls due to extension. Depending on the circumstances, such a fall could have a very high fall factor (possibly greater than FF 2) on a tied-off rope (no belay to slip and limit force). Or worse yet, onto a static tether such as a sling or daisy chain.

Rock & Ice magazine also did some tests to examine the anchor extension question. (See Rock & Ice #135, July 2004). Their conclusion was extension is dangerous. They also made the error of generalizing from one situation to all situations, however their tests are more relevant to the situation we're concerned with. The R&I test was perhaps extreme (no dynamic rope at all) but they more accurately modeled the situation of the belayer falling on to the belay anchor due to extension.

The key to reconciling the differing test results and to understanding the extension problem is the Fall Factor. In the Long/Sterling tests, extension resulted in insignificant additional force placed on the remaining anchor point. Exactly what we should expect in that situation, because the fall factor was not increased much by the extension. In the R&I tests, the fall factor was high and no dynamic rope was involved, so extension caused a large force on the remaining anchor point. Again, just what should be expected.

It should be emphasized that it is the belayer (and/or other large masses attached to the anchor) that matters. A falling climber may have enough dynamic rope out to keep the fall factor low and minimize additional force from anchor extension. The belayer, third climber, haul bag or whatever may not. They will often be tied (not belayed) to the anchor with relatively little dynamic rope or perhaps none at all. Fall factors and forces may therefore be very high. The issue is how much dynamic rope compared to how much extension with respect to each falling mass in the system.

The Long/Sterling tests and the Rock & Ice tests each tell us something, but not everything, about the potential dangers of anchor rigging extension. If we apply the fall factor concept, and consider ALL the significant masses that are involved in a given situation, we can draw the correct conclusion for that situation.

Again, the issue is how much dynamic rope compared to how much extension with respect to each falling mass.

G
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 11, 2008 - 12:38am PT
Thats a fine post and one that should be reposted to the thread regarding if a leader should clip a directional into the anchor or not. A fall directly on the belayer which results in a pulled anchor piece which leads to extension would seem to lead to the worst of all worlds in terms of forces

Peace

Karl
The Guy

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:15pm PT
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