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clipping anchor bolt as first piece of gear?
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By photocodo
From Hendersonville, NC
Apr 29, 2013
The "crack"
When climbing multi-pitch trad routes where the anchors are bolted, is it proper to clip one of the anchor bolts as your first piece? I have been doing this lately so if I fall before I get my first piece of gear in I will be falling on the bolt, not the anchor. Do other people do this too or am I the only one?

photocodo

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By Jonathan Dull
From Boone, NC
Apr 29, 2013
Upper pitches on Crescent Tower, Bugaboos.
I will do this if I don't have a piece right off the belay and/or the climbing is difficult right off the belay. I too climb in North Carolina and its common to climb 30-40 feet off the belay before you get a good piece or bolt, especially on all the slabby stuff around the state. The bolt is in fact part of the anchor but I would rather have more of my fall factor on one bolt rather that the entire anchor. So I would say that YES this is good practice and a good way to protect the anchor. Not to mention if you take a 40 ft slidder on to that bolt and rather than your belayer, they will thank you in the end.

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By Larry S
Apr 29, 2013
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.
It depends... I usually try and clip something before leaving so i don't fall directly on my belayer. If the master point is high enough (as in not directly in front of my belayers device) I'll clip that - That's the best choice. If not, I'll opt for a higher bolt or a piece of gear right off the belay.

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By The Phoenix
Apr 29, 2013
The Phoenix
photocodo wrote:
so if I fall before I get my first piece of gear in I will be falling on the bolt, not the anchor.


Wait but isn't that bolt the anchor soooooo aren't you falling onto your anchor? duh

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By CJC
Apr 29, 2013
I do it to protect my belayer who would otherwise take the impact directly on their belay device

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By john strand
From southern colo
Apr 29, 2013
It's a good idea generally. i almost always belay through the anchor when bringing up the second, so then that same piece is also the first gear for the next lead.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Apr 29, 2013
Day Lily.
Do it = fine
Don't do it = fine. No right or wrong in climbing.

You seem to grasp the "why" of clipping into the bolt/anchor piece and the "why not" could be/might be because of shotty/suspicious/bad gear/bolts and you may not want to fall directly on the piece/bolt.

There's no UNIVERSAL right or wrong. Find YOUR right or wrong, will do or won't and the "why" and "why not" of it all.

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By Ryan Kempf
From Boulder, CO
Apr 29, 2013
Ryan on the Sharks Fin wishing he was on Mt. White...
A fall directly on your belayer is a violent catch. Factor 2 falls do terrible things to gear. Being hundreds of feet off the ground compounds the inherint risk of climbing.

Cliping one of the belay bolts creates a pulley effect, decreasing the force of the fall and changing the direction of pull on your belayer. This creates the oppourtunity for them to be pulled up slightly also decreasing the force of the fall (more dynamic).

This could also potentially shorten your fall depending on the relative position of the anchor bolts and belayer (a couple feet could keep you off a ledge). It's not uncommon for me to clip the anchor and ask my belayer to unclip it after I get a piece in (it's easier to belay without the rope running through an anchor bolt).

Take care of your belayer, protect your second. Do this and they will likely return the favor.

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By flynn
Apr 29, 2013
What you said, Ryan. Might also keep you from landing on your belayer or in their lap, never a good thing. Certainly, every situation is a little different, but violent catches or collisions with one's partner will never be good options. Signed, Captain Obvious.

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Apr 29, 2013
The Stoned Master wrote:
Do it = fine Don't do it = fine. No right or wrong in climbing.


Well, yeah, but it is "wrong" to fall factor 2. If you can't get any sort of jesus placement, and you slip off, I wouldn't characterize that as "fine."

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By Ana Tine
Apr 29, 2013
photocodo wrote:
When climbing multi-pitch trad routes where the anchors are bolted, is it proper to clip one of the anchor bolts as your first piece? I have been doing this lately so if I fall before I get my first piece of gear in I will be falling on the bolt, not the anchor. Do other people do this too or am I the only one? photocodo


I think he means "falling on the bolt, not the belayer" because the anchors & bolts are the same (unless he means one bolt, vs the master point). I think this is standard practice. The one argument against doing this is the stress on the anchor in a fall- in a fail it would in turn pull the belayer down too. But bolted anchors should be rated to withstand that, and I guess it's a tradeoff whether to equalize the force (clip into master point), or be redundant and risk the brunt of the fall on one bolt (clip one bolt). Personally I would clip 1 bolt b/c sport routes have just 1 bolt until the anchor, and they seem to catch falls just fine, and in case that one fails, the other one would hold (equalize anchor w/ a tied overhand or fig 8 in sling to not shock load the remaining bolt more than it has to) and the belayer can absorb some of the shock (by now the climber may have been slowed a bit by the failed bolt?), so the remaining bolt does not go.

Not clipping it the anchor at all allows some of the force to be absorbed by the belayer before the fallen climber's weight is on the anchor system. At times it might be good to skip if it will cause a fall onto the ledge or a pendulum into a wall. However in most other cases, falling past the belayer w/o clipping is pretty tough on the belayer and can hurt his back - the climber's falling weight whipped down onto the belayer, without the belayer's own weight helping him/her. And hard on the rope which just got a FF of almost 2 (not quite 2 b/c of the slack in the rope and any slippage thru the belay device). And a farther fall.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Apr 29, 2013
Day Lily.
Exactly: YOU think it is wrong. It IS NOT all around wrong. By that logic every person who's ever run it out (their choice or routes dictation) is wrong and every soloer. There is no right or wrong, just right or wrong according to...

Relativity is a bitch I know.

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Apr 29, 2013
The Stoned Master wrote:
Exactly: YOU think it is wrong. It IS NOT all around wrong. By that logic every person who's ever run it out (their choice or routes dictation) is wrong and every soloer. There is no right or wrong, just right or wrong according to... Relativity is a bitch I know.


You should probably refrain from answering anybody's basic climbing questions on the internet from now on.

And, please, do as you wish out there, I'm not here to stop your fun. But "Do it = fine. Don't do it = fine" isn't the best advice.

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By todd w
Apr 29, 2013
Agreed. Falling directly onto your belayer's device is bad. Don't get in that situation.

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Apr 29, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
It is "proper", and it will reduce fall factor, should you pop off without any other pro right off the belay. What Ryan says is right on.

Also, consider that just because you have two shiny bolts for your anchor, you don't necessarily have to belay directly at them. If your pitch is well under 60m, let's say 120 ft for example, you can use your rope to anchor into the bolts, and extend yourself a fair distance away from the bolts, while still utilizing them as your belay anchor. This will better facilitate the leader clipping one as his/her first piece of pro, and will also put more rope in the system (as opposed to being right at the bolts with the belay) which will reduce some of the FF should the leader fall on that bolt before placing/clipping any other pro.

Often times the best stance will obviously be AT the bolts, but if there is a concern, the above is an option.

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By Ryan Hill
From Oakland, CA
Apr 29, 2013
Jonathan Dull wrote:
I will do this if I don't have a piece right off the belay and/or the climbing is difficult right off the belay. I too climb in North Carolina and its not common to climb 30-40 feet off the belay before you get a good piece or bolt, especially on all the slabby stuff around the state. The bolt is in fact part of the anchor but I would rather have more of my fall factor on one bolt rather that the entire anchor. So I would say that YES this is good practice and a good way to protect the anchor. Not to mention if you take a 40 ft slidder on to that bolt and rather than your belayer, they will thank you in the end.


In a situation like this, where I can't get a good piece of gear or a bolt for quite some ways I usually extand the belay so that the belayer is 10-12 feet below the anchor. This ensures that if I do fall that there is enough rope out to avoid a high fall factor and decreases the chance of me hitting my belayer. Obviously considerations should be made if there is ledge fall potential, but otherwise I feel pretty safe with this set up.

As for the poster's original question, I would say that it is common practice to clip a piece of the anchor as you climb above it. In fact, every climbing instruction I have read or been taught encourages this behavior. Much better to fall on a solid anchor piece than to fall directly on your belayer, decreases the fall factor. Of course if you don't have any solid anchor points then you have a problem, but that is another discussion entirely.

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By Shawn Heath
Administrator
From Forchheim, Germany
Apr 29, 2013
I couldn't resist uploading this cool silhouette m...
Why don't you just have your partner continue past the anchor and pre-clip something a little higher, then comes back to the anchor and belays you up so that, should you fall while leading the opening moves of the next pitch, you won't fall on your belayer or the anchor? Of course, if your first placement is 40 feet above the anchor, this poses a problem...

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Apr 29, 2013
Shawn Heath wrote:
Why don't you just have your partner continue past the anchor and pre-clip something a little higher, then comes back to the anchor and belays you up so that, should you fall while leading the opening moves of the next pitch, you won't fall on your belayer or the anchor? Of course, if your first placement is 40 feet above the anchor, this poses a problem...


Maybe I'm missing something, but that sounds like the partner will be in the exact same situation we're discussing when he/she heads up to the first piece.

What am I missing?

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Apr 29, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
The rope is already in that first pre-placed piece. The follower (the leader of the next pitch) stops short of that first piece at the belay to re-rack, etc. Then when the leader takes off, they're essentially on a top rope off that first pre-placed piece, avoiding a FF2 directly onto the belayer. That first piece off the belay should be back-clipped though so that when the leader climbs up to it, the rope is running through it properly and it won't need to be unclipped. At least that's how I read it.

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Apr 29, 2013
derp. Got it, thanks.

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By Ana Tine
Apr 29, 2013
Thanks for explaining it... so the leader of the last pitch overclimbs by 1 protection piece, and goes back down?

At first I also thought it was the same situation, but that the climber in question was assumed to be the weaker climber. So, the eventual belayer will climb and clips the 1st piece which is not the anchor, and the eventual climber will belay. Then, the eventual belayer climbs back down to belay, while the eventual climber goes to climb.

Seemed like a lot of work. But, it is an idea to get the lighter person (or in equal weights, the better climber) to always climb and clip the first piece?

Either way, defintely not a speed climbing method.

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Apr 29, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
Just because you pre-place a piece for the person leading the next pitch doesn't mean that it's to be assumed that they are the "weaker" climber- although a new leader or a "weaker" climber could be more prone to fall. The strongest and most competent of leaders can fall, and sometimes when they're on something well below their limit. It's just another trick to avoid a FF2 directly onto the belay.

It doesn't take that much time to climb past the belay, say ten feet or so (or even less), place a piece, clip into it and then either downclimb or get lowered back to the belay. Then it's business as usual. The only difference is that slack is being pulled up through a first piece of pro, instead of directly to the anchor. It's actually a minimal amount of time and effort to avoid a potentially disastrous situation.

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By The Phoenix
Apr 29, 2013
The Phoenix
Jake Jones wrote:
Just because you pre-place a piece for the person leading the next pitch doesn't mean that it's to be assumed that they are the "weaker" climber- although a new leader or a "weaker" climber could be more prone to fall. The strongest and most competent of leaders can fall, and sometimes when they're on something well below their limit. It's just another trick to avoid a FF2 directly onto the belay. It doesn't take that much time to climb past the belay, say ten feet or so (or even less), place a piece, clip into it and then either downclimb or get lowered back to the belay. Then it's business as usual. The only difference is that slack is being pulled up through a first piece of pro, instead of directly to the anchor. It's actually a minimal amount of time and effort to avoid a potentially disastrous situation.



Nice trick... see good info can be gleaned of the internet.

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By Clayton Knudson
From El Portal, CA
Apr 29, 2013
john strand wrote:
It's a good idea generally. i almost always belay through the anchor when bringing up the second, so then that same piece is also the first gear for the next lead.

I like this idea. seems more efficient

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By Bill C.
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 29, 2013
Jake Jones wrote:
Also, consider that just because you have two shiny bolts for your anchor, you don't necessarily have to belay directly at them. If your pitch is well under 60m, let's say 120 ft for example, you can use your rope to anchor into the bolts, and extend yourself a fair distance away from the bolts, while still utilizing them as your belay anchor. This will better facilitate the leader clipping one as his/her first piece of pro, and will also put more rope in the system (as opposed to being right at the bolts with the belay) which will reduce some of the FF should the leader fall on that bolt before placing/clipping any other pro. Often times the best stance will obviously be AT the bolts, but if there is a concern, the above is an option.



+1. If you clip in to the anchor with the rope this can be even easier. Have the belayer anchor in with a munter on the master point. Then he/she can lower 6-8 feet under the anchor, and clove the brake strand of their munter to their belay loop. This creates an unbelievably adjustable tether, and all the belayer has to do is ratchet themselves back up to the anchor when their leader gets to the next belay.

Then when the leader clips into an anchor leg for pro, you automatically eliminated a chance for a FF2.

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By Ana Tine
Apr 29, 2013
Definitely a good tip... yeah, I realize it doesn't matter who is the better climber in the way Shawn & Jake describe it. I was just trying to make sense of the tip before I realized what was going on.

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