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Question regarding AMGA / ACMG / IFMGA standards for masterpoints.
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By steitz
From midcoast, maine
Jun 12, 2012
I've been working the google but can't seem to find the answer to this question.

What is the AMGA / ACMG /IFMGA standard for the type and number of carabiners to use in masterpoints for 1) A multipitch anchor & 2) A top rope anchor.

I'm looking for the exact standards the guides get examined on / taught, rather than all our assorted best practices.

Thanks to any and all that can help with this.

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By Dylan Weldin
From Austin, Texas
Jun 12, 2012
Summit of my first tower, the Rectory via Fine Jade
Top rope:
-Reversed and opposed lockers (x2) Aluminum (saves weight). Screwgate (inexpensive). Pear shaped to reduce friction (mini D's won't allow rope to slide smoothly). Three stage autolock also acceptable (two stage have been known to unlock when swinging back and forth over low angle slab climbs)

Multipitch:
-Munter on an HMS locker
OR
-Gri Gri on any locker

SOURCE:

Fresh out of my SPI course in Brevard, North Carolina

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By coppolillo
Jun 12, 2012
lately i'm seeing TRs with a locker and non-locker, gates reversed...and as for multipitch, 99% of guides are using a reverso or ATC guide (occasionally a GiGi--not GriGri, but GiGi) at their master point...that seems to me the standard stuff these days, having done an SPI, RIC, and alpine course with the AMGA...i'm not sure on ACMG stuff, but they occasionally have slight tweaks to stuff, as do individual guides (in my experience) within the AMGA system. you might email Adam Fox (Fox Mountain Guides, down in NC, i think) and ask his opinion. he runs the SPI program for the AMGA...

good luck and hope it helps! rob c

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By Max Tepfer
From Bend, OR
Jun 12, 2012
It's not as cut and dry as you're looking for. One of the biggest themes throughout the entire guide program is to apply the right tool/technique to the right situation. In other words, it's totally situationally dependent. Various assorted options are as follows:

TR: Locker and non-locker opposite and opposed, three non-lockers opposite and opposed, two lockers opposite and opposed

Multipitching has way more shades of gray. It's pretty much never the best option to belay off your harness redirected through the anchor, but if you did, the above guidelines would apply. (you might be able to skimp on material because you're sitting there monitoring the masterpoint) More common is to belay directly off the anchor with a plaquette style device (guide atc, reverso, gigi, etc.) hanging it from one locker. A grigri is an option but is less ideal because it's not truly a hands-free device (especially when being used to belay a second from above!) and it's heavy. A munter off a locker (ideally HMS) is also acceptable, but again, is less frequently the best tool to solve the problem. These scenarios assume that you're pitching out steep, sustained 5th class rock. If you're short-pitching, the answer to your question gets much, much more subjective and complicated.

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 12, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
Dylan Weldin wrote:
Top rope: -Reversed and opposed lockers (x2) Aluminum (saves weight). Screwgate (inexpensive). Pear shaped to reduce friction (mini D's won't allow rope to slide smoothly). Three stage autolock also acceptable (two stage have been known to unlock when swinging back and forth over low angle slab climbs) Multipitch: -Munter on an HMS locker OR -Gri Gri on any locker SOURCE: Fresh out of my SPI course in Brevard, North Carolina


Interesting. I took a SPI course last year and two lockers were not required at the master point. And, why would the multipitch requirement be either a munter or a gri gri? I understand why they'd require knowing the munter. But, why is the only other option a gri gri? Why not an auto-block belay device? That doesn't make any sense to me.

I'd like to see Eli or one of the other AMGA/IFMGA certified guides on this site provide some insight here.

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By Karsten Delap
From North Carolina
Jun 13, 2012
Ok, so Max is correct that it is the right tool for the right application. Another "rule" the AMGA uses is safe and efficient.
At the SPI level we teach the gri-gri and munter hitch mainly because it is out of the terrain guidelines for the SPI to bring more than one client up to a belay with out a walk off escape. So typically the client is up and back down. The reason to not use a plaquette would be also that it takes a technical sequence to release and lower a weighted rope.
The plaquette is taught at the Rock Instructor level where the course focuses on multi-pitch terrain.
So there are many factors to what you might use at a master point to secure yourself and or the rope based on your given situation.

Cheers,

Karsten

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By coppolillo
Jun 13, 2012
max is spot on: right tool at the right time...that's the only "rule", really....

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By steitz
From midcoast, maine
Jun 13, 2012
Follow up question -

So there's no document or standard in these certifying bodies that says this is the minimum carabiner requirement for the anchor to be AMGA acceptable?

I ask because I've been talking with a guy who's asserting that he was taught by a friend who's an ACMG guide that one non-locker is acceptable as the carabiner in the masterpoint for belaying off of.

This strikes me as silly, and a needless risk, but I was wondering if he was misunderstanding what his friend said, and if there's an actual minimum guideline standard anywhere.

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By Derek Doucet
Jun 13, 2012
steitz wrote:
Follow up question - So there's no document or standard in these certifying bodies that says this is the minimum carabiner requirement for the anchor to be AMGA acceptable? I ask because I've been talking with a guy who's asserting that he was taught by a friend who's an ACMG guide that one non-locker is acceptable as the carabiner in the masterpoint for belaying off of. This strikes me as silly, and a needless risk, but I was wondering if he was misunderstanding what his friend said, and if there's an actual minimum guideline standard anywhere.


Your friend is probably referring to a top-belayed system in which some sort of plaquette, assisted locking device, or munter hitch is being used to belay directly off the anchor. In that circumstance, a single locking carabiner is entirely acceptable, and the only practical solution in any case. He almost certainly misunderstood about a non-locking carabiner in that application. That would indeed be considered inappropriate in any AMGA course or exam.

I have a very hard time believing any AMGA or ACMG guide would consider it acceptable to have a single carabiner, locking or otherwise, at the master point of a base-managed TR system. As one who teaches AMGA SPI courses and conducts the exams, I certainly would not.

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By Max Tepfer
From Bend, OR
Jun 13, 2012
No. There's no document. There's the Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides, which is kind of like Freedom of the Hills for Guiding, but (without actually checking) I doubt that it's ever that specific.

Again, the amount of security you build into your belay is proportional to the terrain you're on and the ability of the client/second. Theoretically, I'm sure that your friend is right when he says that one non-locker is acceptable. What's mis-leading is that this would only be acceptable in a very small minority of situations that would take a high level of training and judgment on the part of the person employing the technique to use appropriately.

In other words, it's not acceptable in 95% of situations, but one could likely brainstorm a situation where it made sense.

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jun 13, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
steitz wrote:
Follow up question - So there's no document or standard in these certifying bodies that says this is the minimum carabiner requirement for the anchor to be AMGA acceptable? I ask because I've been talking with a guy who's asserting that he was taught by a friend who's an ACMG guide that one non-locker is acceptable as the carabiner in the masterpoint for belaying off of. This strikes me as silly, and a needless risk, but I was wondering if he was misunderstanding what his friend said, and if there's an actual minimum guideline standard anywhere.

As a master-point at a belay, i.e. I am there with the carabiner to ensure that it remains locked then yes, one locking biner is sufficient. As a TR anchor where nobody is present to ensure that the carabiner remains locked then no, one locker is not sufficient IMO.

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By wivanoff
Jun 13, 2012
High Exposure
[sigh] I swear, everytime I hear "I have a friend who is a [insert AMGA/ACMG/IFMGA/whatever] guide and HE says...." I weep for the future of climbing.

Does anyone, anywhere have any common sense anymore?

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 13, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
The thought that two locking carabiners are required at the master point seems silly to me.
Why would you need that?

A common response is that the locker can be unlocked by movement against the rock but, if you're setting up an anchor that way, you're setting it up incorrectly. If the carabiner is rubbing against the rock like that then the rope is also being pressed in between the rock and the carabiner. That's not good.

Below is the description of key points about and anchor from my SPI course manual. Notice that it says 'master point carabiner' - singular. Below that is a pic from the guide showing how to set up a sliding X. Again, just a single locker at the master point.

Key Points
The Anchor Should:
1. Be as simple as possible.
2. Have redundancy to the master point carabiner.
3. Have little or no possible extension (shock loading).
4. Distribute loads as equally as possible to all placements/anchor points.
5. Be easy to work with and convenient.
6. Have no angles that exceed 90
7. Be quick and easy to set-up and dismantle.

Pic of master point set up on bolts from AMGA SPI course manual.
Pic of master point set up on bolts from AMGA SPI course manual.

Another pic from SPI course manual
Another pic from SPI course manual


Edit to add another pic with redundancy built into the sling.

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By Andy Hansen
From Longmont, Colorado
Jun 13, 2012
Intruder, 5.11+. Zion National Park. Photo: Matt Kuehl
wivanoff wrote:
[sigh] I swear, everytime I hear "I have a friend who is a [insert AMGA/ACMG/IFMGA/whatever] guide and HE says...." I weep for the future of climbing. Does anyone, anywhere have any common sense anymore?


It's my understanding that "common sense" is what leads to disastrous accidents in the climbing world. A great majority of what we learn in the climbing world is not common knowledge, therefore, having a friend who is a guide as a knowledgeable resource might be a good thing. Whether or not the information conveyed is accurate is another matter. And I believe this is why the question was brought up with regards to carabiners at the masterpoint. Instead of weeping for the future of climbing, let a brother know what is up and contribute to the knowledgeable future of the sport.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Jun 13, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
For TR, a locker and non locker seem to be the normal accepted combo. BUT be sure that you don't mix 2 different sizes, lengths of carabiner. The rope should run through and over both of them with equal force. One should not be longer, thus missing out on the contact with the rope to share the forces. I keep my 'biners in matched length pairs on my long matched length toprope slings, at the ready for placing as TR anchors.

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By Karsten Delap
From North Carolina
Jun 13, 2012
Csproul is correct that if you can manage a single locking carabiner on the master point then it is fine.
In the SPI setting we typically have plenty of looking carabiners as well as we won't be at the anchor while managing the rest of the climbing site so 2 opposite and opposed carabiners are recommended. However I can still think of instances where I could see differences in what one might do.

Bottom line in exams: you have to justify what you do.

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By Derek Doucet
Jun 13, 2012
Crag Dweller wrote:
The thought that two locking carabiners are required at the master point seems silly to me. Why would you need that? A common response is that the locker can be unlocked by movement against the rock but, if you're setting up an anchor that way, you're setting it up incorrectly. If the carabiner is rubbing against the rock like that then the rope is also being pressed in between the rock and the carabiner. That's not good. Below is the description of key points about and anchor from my SPI course manual. Notice that it says 'master point carabiner' - singular. Below that is a pic from the guide showing how to set up a sliding X. Again, just a single locker at the master point. Key Points The Anchor Should: 1. Be as simple as possible. 2. Have redundancy to the master point carabiner. 3. Have little or no possible extension (shock loading). 4. Distribute loads as equally as possible to all placements/anchor points. 5. Be easy to work with and convenient. 6. Have no angles that exceed 90 7. Be quick and easy to set-up and dismantle.


You're correct. You don't always need two lockers at the MP.

In a top-managed system, as I said earlier, a single locker is entirely acceptable. The reason is that you are there, at the anchor, in close physical proximity to the carabiner, to ensure it remains locked.

In the vast majority of base-managed set-ups (i.e. a typical slingshot TRs), where rope movement and rock features absolutely can unlock gates, despite your best efforts to prevent it from happening, I do not consider a single locking carabiner acceptable because I can't easily visually monitor it from the base of the climb. Were you to build such an anchor on an SPI course, I would correct it. Were you to do so on an SPI exam, it would show up in my scoring.

I agree with Karsten in that I can envision scenarios where a single locker could be acceptable, but the emphasis in this discussion has been on top rope environments and the SPI curriculum, where there is no real excuse for having an insufficient supply of carabiners on hand.

Finally, the picture you posted from the SPI handbook is from the section depicting various options for joining two anchor components in an anchoring system. It's an example of the sliding X, and not intended as a complete TR anchor.

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By bearbreeder
Jun 13, 2012
God i love these arguments about TR anchors ;)

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By Karsten Delap
From North Carolina
Jun 13, 2012
Derek Doucet wrote:
. Finally, the picture you posted from the SPI handbook is from the section depicting various options for joining two anchor components in an anchoring system. It's an example of the sliding X, not a complete and adequate TR anchor.



I was going to post this as well; Derek beat me to it!

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By wivanoff
Jun 13, 2012
High Exposure
Andy Hansen wrote:
It's my understanding that "common sense" is what leads to disastrous accidents in the climbing world.

It is my understanding that "common sense" instead of blindly following
some rules that "someone" told you and you don't understand is what prevents disastrous accidents in the climbing world.

In this particular case, the OPs common sense triggered an alarm and the little voice told him that what his friend suggested was not safe. He then investigated. More people should listen to their common sense.

Andy Hansen wrote:
Whether or not the information conveyed is accurate is another matter.

Thank you for the qualifier. My tongue in cheek comment simply meant that just because someone says "A guide told me this.." does not mean it's right..... or safe.

I think you and I would actually agree on this, Andy.

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By Derek Doucet
Jun 13, 2012
bearbreeder wrote:
God i love these arguments about TR anchors ;)


Given what appears to have been a TR anchor failure leading to a recent fatality in the Gunks, I for one see value in these discussions. If you don't, I respectfully suggest you refrain from reading them or posting to them.

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 13, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
@Karsten & Derek

It seems as though there may be some level of variation in the way the SPI course is taught. And/or, my memory is not 100%, which is definitely the case at times but I have a distinct recollection of the anchor set up inspection because I'd run out of gear when leading the route and had to get creative with two cams when setting it up. So, there was a bit of discussion about it. But, perhaps, that discussion overshadowed the master point component.

In any case, it's good to get the input from others who teach the course.

Note to self and others: when undergoing the lead climbing assessment don't simply take your gear back from the guy who led another route before you without first checking to see what you do/don't have. It kind of sucks to get points deducted for not having the gear to protect the crux and set up a three-point anchor even if you do get creativity points, which don't count for much.

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By bearbreeder
Jun 13, 2012
Derek Doucet wrote:
Given what appears to have been a TR anchor failure leading to a recent fatality in the Gunks, I for one see value in these discussions. If you don't, I respectfully suggest you refrain from reading them or posting to them.


given that the best place to learn aint on the intrawebs ... i respectfully suggest that anyone who is serious gets a good anchor book, take a course, or at the very least join an alpine club

i was almost killed by someone who learned something on the "internet"

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By Derek Doucet
Jun 13, 2012
bearbreeder wrote:
given that the best place to learn aint on the intrawebs ... i respectfully suggest that anyone who is serious gets a good anchor book, take a course, or at the very least join an alpine club i was almost killed by someone who learned something on the "internet"


Well we agree on that much at least! And I'm very happy you're still kicking...

FLAG
 
By Karsten Delap
From North Carolina
Jun 13, 2012
Crag Dweller wrote:
@Karsten & Derek It seems as though there may be some level of variation in the way the SPI course is taught. And/or, my memory is not 100%, which is definitely the case at times but I have a distinct recollection of the anchor set up inspection because I'd run out of gear when leading the route and had to get creative with two cams when setting it up. So, there was a bit of discussion about it. But, perhaps, that discussion overshadowed the master point component. In any case, it's good to get the input from others who teach the course. Note to self and others: when undergoing the lead climbing assessment don't simply take your gear back from the guy who led another route before you without first checking to see what you do/don't have. It kind of sucks to get points deducted for not having the gear to protect the crux and set up a three-point anchor even if you do get creativity points, which don't count for much.



There will always be some level of variation as the climbing and more specifically, guiding and instructing realms are very dynamic environments. The core concepts however will be the same and reflect safe and efficient systems and methodology to give the client the best day out on the rock.

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By wivanoff
Jun 13, 2012
High Exposure
Crag Dweller wrote:
Unless I completely overlooked it, the manual doesn't explicitly spell out whether or not two lockers are required to meet AMGA guidelines.

As nearly as I can see, it does not. And yet, that is the manual that is used by AMGA for SPI. Do you agree? Perhaps there is no standard. Or the standard is different for AMGA and ACMG. Or the standard depends on the instructor. That would inspire confidence, wouldn't it?

Nonetheless, the manual shows a single locker (not a single non-locker) on page 49 and the text calls it an anchor masterpoint. That should be enough to have steitz show his friend and say: "It shows at least one locker. Not one non-locker. Maybe you misunderstood or your guide friend is wrong." See below.

steitz wrote:
I ask because I've been talking with a guy who's asserting that he was taught by a friend who's an ACMG guide that one non-locker is acceptable as the carabiner in the masterpoint for belaying off of.

Which brings me back to my thought about common sense. Do you feel safe with one non-locker as an anchor masterpoint? No? Neither do I. Does your common sense tell you to add another O&O or to add a locker? Good. So does mine.

FLAG


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