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Rope Anchor (video demonstration)
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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 4, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

I recently switched from using a cordelette to the rope as my primary anchor rigging method. Initially, I was intimidated by the concept, and by the examples I was able to find online. At first glance, they looked complex and appeared to violate the concept of KISS.



After fooling around in my garage, and then out on the rock, I realized that it's not complex at all, and that the rope anchor can be adapted to a wide range of situations with relative ease. It's fast, the rope is strong and dynamic, and at the very least, this would seem to be a technique that all climbers should keep in their bag of tricks. There are situations where I still prefer to use the cordelette, but not many.

I would like to thank Rich Goldstone for his posts at rc and the taco, which served as the inspiration for all this. I am a relative noob, you see.

Some important notes about the way I have this rigged:

1. I use a fig-8 on a bight as the masterpoint. This creates a convenient and easy-to-identify loop to clip into. I have read that the fig-8 can capsize to failure when subjected to ring-loading at lower-than FF2 forces, but this shouldn't be a concern as long as the belayer is tied into the system. Without a free end of rope, there's nowhere for the knot to go. If you need to escape the belay, it would be a good idea to tie off the free strand.

2. The video demonstrates a simple and straightforward anchor. Once you become familiar with the rigging, it is very easy to add additional pieces or a strand to protect the system against an upward pull, if you need it.

3. One feature that I really like about this method, is that it can be quickly adjusted on the fly for a new direction of pull, all while remaining anchored in. For example, say that your second traverses up to the belay from your left, but will lead the next pitch by casting off to the right. You can adjust the cloves on each piece at the changeover to prep the anchor for the new direction of pull, and you can do so with relative ease.

4. Yes, this method requires an additional carabiner at the master point. You will probably be ok with one locker in place of the two that I use, but this method "feels" safer and is easier to manage (I dislike having to manage two cloves on a single biner).

5. I usually belay directly off the anchor using an ATC-Guide, but redirecting off two equalized pieces is an option, for those that prefer it (I demonstrate this at the end of the video).

At the risk of starting another tired debate about the merits of the cordelette vs. rope or any other method, which is not my intention:

Those that are concerned about time and efficiency.. I have timed myself using both methods and they are basically identical in terms of speed, especially when you consider the time it takes to deploy/stow a cordelette. Build this thing 10-15 times and I am certain you will come to the same conclusion. Unless you're planning to set the new NIAD record, time isn't a factor. If you are planning to set the NIAD record, I doubt you are reading this, anyway. If you do plan to set the NIAD record, and you are reading this, you are probably suffering from delusions of grandeur. Just a heads up.

Those that are concerned about complexity.. take a few minutes and fool around with the rigging at home. If your brain works like mine, you might have a hard time visualizing how everything fits together based on a tiny 2D image. Hopefully the video will help. Once the rope is running through your hands and you're tying cloves off to real biners, it will all make perfect sense in a wonderfully tactile metaphysical sort of way. I promise.

I still use a cordelette when I'm not planning to swing leads. In fact, I still carry it on most multi-pitch climbs, because I am usually scared and carrying extra gear is the way I compensate for my abnormally small testicles.

It is possible to do a quick belay-changeover by having your second build their own anchor (using their own end of the rope) on top of yours. The pieces are already there. Certainly not as fast as the cordelette method, but it only takes an additional minute or two, as long as your partner is already familiar with the rope method.

Have fun and be safe.


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By rogerbenton
May 4, 2013
Whoever this guy is, he's just plain irresponsible.

that works. thanks for the time to make/post the vid.

here's another method i really like. quick, easy, requiers one locker, totally bomber. i really like how this method lets you equalize yourself and the belay separately; if your partner weights the rope you are not effected. plus the belay can easily be redirected for upward when your partner sets off on the next lead.

climbinglife.com/instructional-videos-mainmenu-87/909-rock-a>>>


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
May 4, 2013
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Thanks for taking the time to make that


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By Robin like the bird
From mountain center ,CA
May 4, 2013
oh

KISS? I have never heard of this one. Could some one explain


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 4, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

Thanks for the link, another good one to know, Roger. I believe there is a significant disadvantage, though. I tried rigging this just now, and it doesn't really work when the pieces are in a horizontal orientation, does it? The v-angle greatly exceeds 90 degrees, unless you position the master point way down at knee-waist level, which is less than ideal. I suppose you could position yourself lower to begin with, but this raises a host of new issues. Do you use this method if your pieces are set horizontally? I wonder if I'm missing something.

It seems this method is only suited for a belay where your pieces are lined up in a vertical crack. This would be a serious limitation, considering that one of the primary advantages of the rope-method is adaptability and flexibility.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
May 4, 2013
tanuki

Hi Jason. Thanks for the video. Personally, I usually go with something very similar to the link posted below (climbinglife.com). IMHO, it is an easier set-up. However, that is just me. Your method looks fine and if you are comfortable with it, that's great!


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 5, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

I intended to include a still photo of the anchor as well. Here it is.
Do not clip your belay device by the keeper wire, of course.

rope anchor
rope anchor


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 5, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

I fiddled with the other method some more, and I was able to tie in tight while keeping the master point at chest level. So scratch what I wrote above, I can see how it would work with the same horizontal orientation. I feel like both methods are about the same in terms of speed and complexity, but the method I posted certainly uses an extra carabiner.

I really like how the anchor is divided into the belayer strands and the follower strands. That seems to be a significant advantage to the second method.

FWIW, in the horizontal orientation as shown in my video, the second method will use an extra 3 feet of rope. A minor difference, but worth pointing out since either method will use a lot more rope than a typical cordelette anchor.

Good stuff, thanks for the feedback, eveyone.


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By wivanoff
May 5, 2013
High Exposure

Thanks for making the video and posting.

There'a a lot of discussion in this post from rc dot com about building anchors with the rope. www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_f>>>

You probably saw that thread when doing your research.

What you posted seems to be a variation on the method rgold posted some years ago. His method is pretty simple and quick to implement. Can you tell us what you think are the advantages to your variation?


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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
May 5, 2013

Thanks, Jason, good work.


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 5, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

wivanoff wrote:
Thanks for making the video and posting. There'a a lot of discussion in this post from rc dot com about building anchors with the rope. www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_f>>> You probably saw that thread when doing your research. What you posted seems to be a variation on the method rgold posted some years ago. His method is pretty simple and quick to implement. Can you tell us what you think are the advantages to your variation?


Methinks you didn't read my entire post :)

No advantages to my variation, just another way of doing it.


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By kenr
May 6, 2013

rogerbenton wrote:
> here's another method i really like ... can easily be
> redirected for upward when your partner sets off on the next lead.

I think that gets at the fundamental problem with building the anchor out of rope: It works great with a party of two "swinging" leads -- so it's the partner of the one building the anchor who leads the next pitch. But what to do if the same person is leading several pitches in a row?

My guess is that rope anchors got abandoned by guide-persons, because the guide was going to lead all the pitches, and didn't have a simple way to handle that with minimal client cooperation. Therefore they adopted of the cordelette. Then their clients assumed that the cordelette must be the "right" way because it's what the guide used.

And nowadays with leading "in blocks" popular, this problem is live for lots of parties of more equal ability, where no one person is in a quasi "guide" role.

So I'd be glad to hear more about how Method A versus B versus whatever addresses the situation of the same climber leading the next pitch - (perhaps with more-than-minimal cooperation by the non-leading partner).

Thanks a lot,

Ken


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
May 6, 2013
The route in it's entirety.

With the belay off your hip regardless of guide mode or re-direct escaping the belay will still be much harder with this set up. isolating the belay master point will solve this (only to a certain extent obviously if using the rope in the anchor). Remember to not get sucked into one method, but instead have a full bag of tricks up your sleeve.


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 6, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

kenr wrote:
So I'd be glad to hear more about how Method A versus B versus whatever addresses the situation of the same climber leading the next pitch - (perhaps with more-than-minimal cooperation by the non-leading partner). Thanks a lot, Ken


Indeed, if not swinging leads it is hard to beat the cordelette in terms of speed and efficiency. However, it is not THAT difficult to swap positions using a rope anchor like this. It only takes a minute or so for the follower to clip in to each piece, effectively building their own rope anchor on top of the original one. The pieces are already there.

Unless you're truly hauling ass, it's really a non-factor IMO. Most would probably disagree, though. Definitely more potential for clusterfuckage.


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 6, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

Greg G wrote:
With the belay off your hip regardless of guide mode or re-direct escaping the belay will still be much harder with this set up. isolating the belay master point will solve this (only to a certain extent obviously if using the rope in the anchor). Remember to not get sucked into one method, but instead have a full bag of tricks up your sleeve.


Why would it be more difficult to escape the belay with this set up?


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
May 6, 2013

Robin like the bird wrote:
KISS? I have never heard of this one. Could some one explain


An acronym: Keep it simple stupid

It is designed to remind us that simple systems are less prone to user error, therefore tend to be safer. It isn’t confined to climbing, but is used in many fields…


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By john strand
From southern colo
May 6, 2013

Very good,, an advantage to a cordalette? I doubt it Use the rope, you paid $$ or it

I never used a cord to speed climb anythinging Yosemite, etc.. it's just another bit of geardalet

None of this crap about " easier" BS be safe.use your 10mm "cordalette" instead/


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
May 6, 2013
Cleo's Needle

Jason Kim wrote:
Why would it be more difficult to escape the belay with this set up?


The fallen climber's weight is already on the anchor if you belay from the anchor; all you have to do is secure him or her. If you belay off the harness and need to escape the belay you have to transfer the fallen climber to the anchor before you are free.


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By Robert Cort
May 6, 2013

Hmm, no issues with what you wound up for the autoblock setup, but for what you've shown for the redirect and belay off of the harness, I see an issue (someone correct me if I've missed something). The issue is that whenever you re-direct off the anchor, you put double the load of the fall on the anchor. In this case, you've isolated one of your anchor points, so only two of the three points will experience double the force of the followers fall. Yeah, not likely to be a problem for the follower on top-rope. But...


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 7, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
The fallen climber's weight is already on the anchor if you belay from the anchor; all you have to do is secure him or her. If you belay off the harness and need to escape the belay you have to transfer the fallen climber to the anchor before you are free.


If you watched the video, or look at the picture I included, you can see that I am belaying off the anchor with an ATC-Guide.


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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 7, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />

Robert Cort wrote:
Hmm, no issues with what you wound up for the autoblock setup, but for what you've shown for the redirect and belay off of the harness, I see an issue (someone correct me if I've missed something). The issue is that whenever you re-direct off the anchor, you put double the load of the fall on the anchor. In this case, you've isolated one of your anchor points, so only two of the three points will experience double the force of the followers fall. Yeah, not likely to be a problem for the follower on top-rope. But...


Redirecting does increase the force on those two pieces, but as far as I am aware it is common practice, and perhaps even more common to redirect through a single piece?

I don't redirect and never have, but I would speculate that those who choose to are not redirecting through the power point (cordelette or rope).


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By rogerbenton
May 7, 2013
Whoever this guy is, he's just plain irresponsible.

kenr wrote:
rogerbenton wrote: > here's another method i really like ... can easily be > redirected for upward when your partner sets off on the next lead. I think that gets at the fundamental problem with building the anchor out of rope: It works great with a party of two "swinging" leads -- so it's the partner of the one building the anchor who leads the next pitch. But what to do if the same person is leading several pitches in a row? My guess is that rope anchors got abandoned by guide-persons, because the guide was going to lead all the pitches, and didn't have a simple way to handle that with minimal client cooperation. Therefore they adopted of the cordelette. Then their clients assumed that the cordelette must be the "right" way because it's what the guide used. And nowadays with leading "in blocks" popular, this problem is live for lots of parties of more equal ability, where no one person is in a quasi "guide" role. So I'd be glad to hear more about how Method A versus B versus whatever addresses the situation of the same climber leading the next pitch - (perhaps with more-than-minimal cooperation by the non-leading partner). Thanks a lot, Ken



Ken-

when not swapping leads i almost always use a cordelette. exceptions would be if there are bomber bolted belays in which case i'd probably use a long sling (48").

to be honest, my cordelette just about always gets racked because where I climb there are a good amount of belay trees and it's my preference to back up the existing tat with my own cord. the decision to use the rope on a gear anchor or a long sling at bolts is basically because that's faster for me than unraveling the cordelette. I guess it goes back to what someone said earlier, we should be ready for anything and have as many options ready to go as possible.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
May 7, 2013
OTL

Robert Cort wrote:
Hmm, no issues with what you wound up for the autoblock setup, but for what you've shown for the redirect and belay off of the harness, I see an issue (someone correct me if I've missed something). The issue is that whenever you re-direct off the anchor, you put double the load of the fall on the anchor. In this case, you've isolated one of your anchor points, so only two of the three points will experience double the force of the followers fall. Yeah, not likely to be a problem for the follower on top-rope. But...


If one of your anchor pieces can't withstand 2x a TR fall...


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By Walter Graf
May 8, 2013

Overall, I like your method for using the rope. My only complaint is that it isn't easy to adjust the distance between yourself and the master point. For this reason I like to tie my master point coming off a couple of the pieces, and attach myself to it using a clove to a biner. Then it's really easy to adjust without removing anything.


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By Puzman
May 20, 2013
Little finger

This is a great thread, thanks. A couple of follow-on questions for all of the posters on this thread:

- what if you're climbing with double ropes? Do you clove the first strand to the 1st piece, and then the 2nd strand to the 2nd and 3rd pieces, with the masterpoint knot in between the 2nd and 3rd pieces? Or some variation?

- Also, an ignorant question: why is the masterpoint tied from a bight off the belayer's strand, and not using the loops between the pieces on the anchor? (Jason's method shows a biner cloved to a loop between 2nd and 3rd pieces, then a figure 8 on a bight as the masterpoint tied to the strand coming off his harness).

Thanks,
John


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
May 20, 2013
The route in it's entirety.

Jason Kim wrote:
Why would it be more difficult to escape the belay with this set up?


Because you and the rope are part of the anchor system. Minimizing the amount of rope used, and contact you have helps alleviate escape issues. It's all a moot point if you don't know what to do after you've escaped or don't have enough line to rap to the 2nd or set up a haul so take my opinion with a grain of salt.


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