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Purcell Prusik as a Personal Anchor System
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By IanHunter
From Golden, Colorado
Nov 11, 2013
St. Mary's Glacier

I am becoming a huge fan of the Purcell Prusik. I have read a little and experimented a little with the standard Purcell Prusik that has an additional prusik loop added. This second loop can be clipped into a second anchor point. See below picture. This system makes the tether highly customizable and gives it amazing adjustability while moving around.

Has anyone had any experience or input for this system as a Personal Anchor System?

Purcell Prusik Anchor system with Second Anchor Tether
Purcell Prusik Anchor system with Second Anchor Tether


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By WillamR
Nov 11, 2013

I like the idea behind it, but I could never justify making one when a clove hitch on the rope is just as adjustable and quick with no added weight.


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By cerickson
From Portland, OR
Nov 11, 2013

Your purcell seems a bit overly complicated. Purcells are excellent tools and useful in several companion/counterbalance rescue situations. I use them all the time, in many applications, but my go-to PAS for most multi-pitch climbing is:

Primary - Regular Purcell
Back-up - Clove from Rope.

The one in your picture, to me, seems to have an extra moving part or two that starts to degrade the simplicity vs. functionality ratio.


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By Patrick Shyvers
Nov 11, 2013

I'm with these guys, it's a neat idea but it seems overly complicated, and the purcell-prusik still isn't redundant. That said I do use a combo of basic purcell-prusik + clove hitch; gives me more flexibility and options.

It might be nice for straightforward single-pitch sport climbing, but in that circumstance I'd probably just use a pair of slings and never climb above the anchor. Even simpler, lighter.

P.S. It looks like the PP is girth hitched to the belay loop in the photo. Most folks I know would suggest girth hitching to the tie-in loops instead.


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By Jared Garfield
Nov 11, 2013
Romancing the Stone

I just like to clove in with the rope, its quick, it's easy, and it's still safe, why not use it?


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 11, 2013
smiley face

use something similar when dealing with static systems, otherwise I just use cloved rope as my primary, and a pas as a quick utility tie-in/back-up.


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By cdec
From SLC and Moab, ut
Nov 11, 2013

Just wondering why anyone feels the need to back up when tied in with a clove?
You feel comfortable with 60, 70 or 80 meters of single cord between you and the belayer but when there's only a foot between you and the masterpoint it needs to be backed up?

If somehow the rope between you and the masterpoint gets the chop your not going to be left standing either.

Sometimes some things don't need to be redundant.


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By IanHunter
From Golden, Colorado
Nov 11, 2013
St. Mary's Glacier

Thanks for the words of wisdom guys!!


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 11, 2013
smiley face

probably alpine/transitional terrain where I need to get exposed without the rope, or if I needed to untie from the rope, for some reason and also grab an anchor; works well for a jumar or also a tyrol transition to an anchor. It's just nice to have a quick adjustable tie-in.


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By IanHunter
From Golden, Colorado
Nov 11, 2013
St. Mary's Glacier

Buff Johnson wrote:
probably alpine/transitional terrain where I need to get exposed without the rope, or if I needed to untie from the rope, for some reason and also grab an anchor. It's just nice to have a quick adjustable tie-in.


This is a situation where I feel that this system would be useful.


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By Patrick Shyvers
Nov 11, 2013

Ian Green wrote:
This is a situation where I feel that this system would be useful.


No disagreement that a PAS can come in handy, but if you're clipping to a bolt you've probably only got one to clip to, and if you're setting a couple pieces just add a sling to join them. As I said, I like the purcell-prusik, just questioning the add-on second attachment point.


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By Matt Shove
From Ragged Mountain
Nov 11, 2013

This is worth a read.
strikerescue.com/Purcell-Prusiks/48/purcell-prusiks


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By Doug S
Nov 11, 2013
Edge of Time <br />

I love the purcell prussic for a PAS! I use whatever suits the occasion to make it redundant: When climbing trad, I use it to clip to my first piece, then clove to the master point. On sport, I clip it first to one bolt, then use the sling from that bolt to clip the other bolt to my belay loop. I'm not sure I'd want that extra prussic on my harness like you have pictured, but it's a cool idea maybe for other applications.


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By IanHunter
From Golden, Colorado
Nov 11, 2013
St. Mary's Glacier

For those of you that use the purcell-prusik, have you tried a PP made from dynamic prusik cord?


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By Doug S
Nov 11, 2013
Edge of Time <br />

7 mil static cord.


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By bearbreeder
Nov 11, 2013

I use 8mm dynamic half rope thats has alpine butterflies and is terminated by a barrel knot as a PAS

It should take one factor 2 fall, and keep the impact force under 8 KN or so

I personally found the purcell hard to adjust one handed

;)


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By Max Supertramp
Nov 11, 2013

yer gunna die.


7mm static. love it for aid.


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By Max Supertramp
Nov 11, 2013

cloves supposedly slip at 2.5 kn. tested it? nope.


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By cdec
From SLC and Moab, ut
Nov 11, 2013

Max Supertramp wrote:
cloves supposedly slip at 2.5 kn. tested it? nope.


Geir did. Broke the rope at 2700 lbs. Didn't slip! www.geir.com/mythbuster.html

"The clove hitch does not slip under body weight. Jeff Fassett and I pull tested a clove hitch tied around a carabiner with a heavily-used 9.6mm rope. After tieing it on a carabiner, we tightened it by pulling it to 1150 pounds. Tightening the knot required one end of the clove hitch to be pulled out about 5 inches. (Tape was used to mark the starting point on the load strand). The clove was then pull tested to failure. No slip occurred as it was pulled to higher loads. Ultimately, even when pulled to failure, the clove hitch did not allow rope to slide through. The rope broke at the clove hitch at 2700 pounds."


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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Nov 12, 2013

I don't see the need for additional loops, but that could just be me. Easier, as others pointed out, to just use a clove-hitch (or figure-8 on a bite, if I'm paranoid) for the times when I need to put a belay-load on it, and use a spare sling in other applications.

Also, I have mine tied through the tie-in points with a figure-8-retrace. Although its semi-permanent, there's no cord-on-belay loop concerns, and the harness fits right, even when I'm hanging from it. Your system looks needlessly complicated for what it is.


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By Injured Climber
From Bloomington, MN
Nov 12, 2013

Agree with what most people here said about the additional Prusik...not necessary. Furthermore, based on your diagram, I would say it could be dangerous (!) because it looks like your Purcell is a component of your entire anchor and serves as equalization. This will make escaping you anchor difficult in an emergency because you are permanently attached to it. You would need to rebuild your anchor with some other material in that situation. Your anchor is also not ideally equalized, the lower anchor point actually bears more weight than the upper. I do think the Purcell has an application as a quick tie in. For example, if you're at some tricky hanging belay and you need to clip yourself in quickly before the clove comes on or maybe clipping to some piece of protection for french freeing or whatnot. That being said, it is also good to know how to tie a clove hitch with one hand- that takes care of the anchor situation. But the Purcell can be useful and there is a reason guides like it a lot. I use it on longer routes sometimes. The other thing I don't like about your setup is the girth hitch on the belay loop. Girth hitches are weak knots and when they are tied taught like that they are at their weakest. I would thread it through both strong points or, ideally, use another knot. Lastly, the main reason I stopped using the Purcell regularly is that when you always keep it on your harness, it wears the harness down. It constantly rubs against your belay loop and strong points. With the girth hitch like you have it, that's going to cause major wear (another reason to thread through strong points) This is especially true for more dynamic chords. So even though being dynamic is an advantage, its also a real big disadvantage. I believe that Todd Skinner died as a result of the wear caused by a sling girth hitched to his harness. His belay loop broke...so it is a very real concern. I noticed some unusual wear on my metolius waldo big wall harness (which has two belay loops and is made to be really tough) and that's when I stopped keeping it on my harness save for special occasions. You don't get that kind of wear with a climbing rope and I suspect it is because its strands typically have a tighter weave and because of its greater diameter, it exerts less force on a specific point. So keep all this in mind when you use the Purcell.


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Nov 12, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

There's no reason for all the extra hullabaloo. You're only attaching to two points. If you want extra adjustment, just construct a regular purcell out of a longer piece of cord. All the extra bulk and knots and hitches and extra strands everywhere does nothing for the system. You can do everything with a regular purcell prusik that you can with that monstrosity in the picture. Use 7mm and don't take a fall on it.

Of course, you could just use the rope, as other people state, but you don't always have to use a clove hitch. A bowline on a bight is simple and a very adjustable way to anchor with the rope, as you can adjust the length of each strand to make one longer and the other shorter. And when you can't use the rope, like when you're rapping (although it can be done- it's just complicated and unecessary), you can either use your monster purcell, PAS or just a couple slings, which you should already have on you. This is why many people argue against a dedicated anchoring system. It really isn't a necessary piece of gear in most any scenario. The only one I can think of is if you arrive at an anchor to find that you have spent all your slings and draws en route.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
Nov 12, 2013
Edge of a Dream

I guess it could be useful when rapping routes, when your not able to clove in with the rope. I clove while on route and use daisy chains when going in direct on rappel.


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 12, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

I tried a Purcell prussik and found it outstanding for cutting up and using for rap anchors, after which I never replaced it. For all around anchoring use it is inferior to a PAS because of its limited adjustability and poor performance on the occasional improvised aid move (e.g. when the second has to free both hands to work on a stuck piece).

I never use any kind of tether as part of the load-bearing connection to a belay anchor, except in some circumstances while in the process of either building or breaking down the anchor.


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By IanHunter
From Golden, Colorado
Nov 12, 2013
St. Mary's Glacier

Excellent feedback guys!! Thank you all!!

I wanted to clarify that this system would be girth hitched to the hard points on a harness and not the belay loop. As with anything that is girth hitched to my harness, I always remove it when I'm done climbing for the day. I agree that leaving this system or any other sling or tether girth hitched to your harness is sketch and could result in a lot of wear-and-tear.


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By Brasky
Nov 12, 2013

I've used Purcell Prussia before as an anchor and they don't work very well in rope that isn't braided. And they especially don't hold well on static line if you tighten it down and keep it constantly waited it's ok but not my first choice on the cliff


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