Tying into the anchor

The belayer ties in to the anchor with the climbing rope itself, using the first few feet of rope as it comes from its tie-in at the belayer's harness. The rest of the rope is available for use by the climber. The belayer faces quite an array of choices when it comes to knots and methods for tying in to the anchor. Let's take a look at them to identify some of the more useful.

One method of dealing with a large natural anchor is the simple technique of looping rope around it and clipping the loop back on itself with a carabiner (in a quasi-girth hitch). Tie an overhand knot in the end of the loop and clip the carabiner through that (fig. 7-4).

When a knot is needed to tie to an anchor carabiner, the figure-8 knot or the clove hitch is usually preferred. The figure-8 is strong, stable, and easy to untie. The clove hitch has the advantage of being adjustable after it is tied, and is the easiest way to back up a stance with a taut line from you to the anchor.

An anchor is often backed up with one or two other anchors. Because of its adjustability, a clove hitch on the carabiner at each anchor is the most convenient way to minimize slack between the anchors (fig. 7-5a). (Make sure the clove hitch is tight, or normal rope play will make it expand and possibly open the carabiner's gate. Beware of any

Buoy Knot Instructions
Fig. 7-4. Anchoring to a large object with a quasi-girth hitch

pull on a clove hitch that makes it slide away from the end of the carabiner, which could also make it expand and open the gate.)

There is quite a disadvantage, however, in tying separate knots in a series of anchor carabiners, as in the series of clove hitches. If the anchor takes the force of a fall, all the impact first goes to a single anchor. The other anchors come into play only if the first one fails.

There are a couple of ways to overcome this disadvantage and spread the load so that more than one anchor takes the initial impact.

One way is to tie a clove hitch to each anchor carabiner, as before—but to run the rope back to a

Clove Hitch Series Anchor
Fig. 7-5. Tying into several anchors: a, with a series of knots—only one anchor holds weight at any given time; b, so that they all hold weight simultaneously.

locking carabiner at the harness and tie in (with a clove hitch) after every other clove hitch at an anchor (fig. 7-5b). This results in a section of rope tied between your seat harness and each anchor carabiner. You can then adjust the clove hitches to snug up the strand to each carabiner. Then if the anchor takes the force of a fall, the impact will be shared by the multiple placements, and if one fails, no drop results before the others come into play.

Another way to spread the load is the technique of self-equalization, which automatically distributes any force among all the anchors.

Two-point equalizing, using two anchors, is the simplest method of self-equalization (fig. 7-6a). Put a half twist in a high-strength runner (such as one made of Spectra), which divides the runner into two parts, and clip each end into an anchor with a carabiner. Then clip a locking carabiner over the X formed in the middle, from one half of the runner to the other, and tie into that carabiner.

Multipoint equalizing, using any number of anchors, is another technique in setting up a secure belay (fig. 7-6b). Take one high-strength runner, and clip it into the carabiners on each of the three anchors. Grasp the runner between each anchor, twist it 180 degrees, and clip each resulting loop into the main carabiner. Such twists guarantee that the main carabiner is clipped into, and not around, the runner, so that it will stay attached to the runner even if two of the three anchors fail. The smaller the runner, the smaller the drop if one anchor fails. Therefore, if the anchors are widely

Three Point Self Equalizing Anchor
Fig. 7-6. Equalization: a, two-point; b, multi-point.

separated, bring them together with other slings before equalizing.

How well an equalization setup reduces the pull on each individual anchor depends on the angle at the bottom where the parts of the runner come together. The smaller the angle, the less force each anchor will have to absorb. As the angle increases, each anchor is subject to an increasing force. Be sure that the angle is always less than 120 degrees. Above that, each anchor will actually be subject to a greater force than if equalization wasn't even used. This is true whether it's two-point or multipoint equalization.

Climbers also use the "triangle" method, instead of equalization, to spread the weight between two separate anchors. In a triangle, the runner simply goes through each carabiner in turn, without returning to the main carabiner between each anchor. Just as in equalization, the angle at the bottom where the two sides of the runner come together is critical. But with triangles, a significantly greater force hits each anchor for any given angle, compared with equalization (fig. 7-7). With

Knotting Dyneema



























Fig. 7-7. The force on two anchors depends upon the method of sharing the force and the angle at the bottom of the sling.

triangles, the maximum angle can only be 60 degrees; beyond that, each anchor faces a greater force than if the method wasn't used at all. And for any given length of runner, the triangle puts more force on the anchors than equalization.

The triangle performs better when it comes to another aspect of hooking into two anchors. If one of the anchors fails in either the equalization or triangle methods, the belay will drop as far as needed to throw the weight onto the remaining anchor. This drop, though usually quite short, hits the remaining anchor with additional force. The drop will be less in a triangle setup, for any given length of runner used, than with equalization. This difference in the length of the drop increases with the length of the sling and with the distance between the two anchors.

Sometimes the length of the tie-in from you to the anchor is critical to the stability of your stance. Until now we have mainly discussed the situation in which the knots are located at the anchor. But if the anchor is out of reach, you can't adjust the knots while in your stance, so precise adjustment is tedious or impossible. The solution is to tie in with a knot only on your harness. Take the rope—after it has run from the harness and simply been clipped through the anchor carabiner—and tie it again at the seat harness. Make the new tie-in with a clove hitch, so you can easily adjust the tension on the rope between you and the anchor. In this option, the rope runs freely around a natural anchor or through a main anchor carabiner (fig. 7-8).

to allow convenient adjustment of tension on the anchor rope

Continue reading here: The belay stance

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