Simplify belays with an unequal-length equalette.


Original Post
Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230

Forgive me if this has been discussed already, and alert me if I'm totally wrong and setting people up to build an unsafe anchor, but I recently started tying my equalette with one tail twice as long as the other. Like this:

Unequal Equalette

I kept finding that at three-piece anchors (which is what I usually try to build) I was always tying a knot in one of the tails just to shorten it, since it was attached to only one piece, the piece furthest from where I wanted the power point of the anchor.

If you tie the equalette like this correctly, the shorter tail is just the right length so the power point is right where you want it (usually) when you attach the short tail to the furthest piece in the anchor system. Like this (I know, a little twisted, but you get the idea):

The unequal equalette

The furthest piece:

The high piece in the system

The two nearer pieces:

two lower pieces

When you break the anchor down, you can fold the long end in half:

Folded once

Then tie the thing in a big knot of your choice and clip it to your harness:

Equalette tied for carry.

Saves a little time at each belay over the way you're instructed to tie it in Long's anchor book (I only have the second-most-recent edition, so not sure this is still true).

Anyway, hope it saves you a minute or two at belays.

David Appelhans · · Medford, MA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 410

Why not just belay from your harness while sitting in the chair?

But seriously, I like your furniture.

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
David Appelhans wrote:Why not just belay from your harness while sitting in the chair? But seriously, I like your furniture.
Thanks. My local crag has a prohibition on taking teak on the route. Something about raptor nesting. I got a big fine the last time I hauled that chair up a multipitch route, but dude...it's the best belay you ever had.
Derek W · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 20

I like it! The only thing I didn't like about the equalette when I tried it out for a while was its a PIA to untie the limiter knots if you want to use this big loop in a self-rescue type situation. yeah yeah, I know, when was the last time that happened right? But for real, looks like you have a good idea here.

Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 273

But how does it stack up to the Dorkalette
or the ACR?

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

Your rig saves rigging one clove hitch. Otherwise, nothing new.

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
Greg D wrote:Your rig saves rigging one clove hitch. Otherwise, nothing new.
Correct, except that rather than a clove, I usually shortened the tail attached to only one piece with a figure eight or some other nonsense that was a hassle to untie after each belay.

I think my favorite thing about the rig is that the short tail really is just about the right length to position the power point of the system where I want it without me having to fiddle with knots to get it there.

Part of the problem I have with the equalette is that despite a lot of use, I'm just not that good at getting the cloves tied and adjusted quickly so that everything is the right length. This configuration remedies part of that incompetency on my part.
Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
Matt N wrote:But how does it stack up to the Dorkalette or the ACR?
The subject of anchor building is certainly beat to death, and then beaten some more. I've climbed with people who clip together chains of carabiners at the belay, old timers who tie into the anchor gear directly with a bunch of cloves on the climbing rope, people who won't climb on anything but a standard cordalette, whatever. I'm fine with most of it.

I just like the equalette when I have the necessary anchor components available, and this configuration of it saves me some time.
NickinCO · · colorado · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 155

I don't see how that's more simple than just using a rabbit runner.

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
Nick Mardirosian wrote:I don't see how that's more simple than just using a rabbit runner.
I don't know what that is. A quick search didn't turn up much either.

I'm not advocating a revolutionary new system, just something to save you a couple of seconds if you, like me, enjoy using the equalette. If you don't, use whatever system you want. They all work pretty well, right?
NickinCO · · colorado · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 155
Chris D wrote: I don't know what that is. A quick search didn't turn up much either. I'm not advocating a revolutionary new system, just something to save you a couple of seconds if you, like me, enjoy using the equalette. If you don't, use whatever system you want. They all work pretty well, right?
Weird... Googling "rabbit runner" brings up a ton of hits. Rabbit Runner is what Yates calls them, Webolette for Mtntools.

I used to use a cordelette, then tried the ACR but found it a pain in the ass when building a belay from a not so comfortable stance, now I have a 10' and 12' rabbit runner from Yates and they're awesome. Before I bought the sewn ones I did the same thing with 7mm cord, worked equally well just more bulky.

http://www.yatesgear.com/climbing/slings/index.htm

http://www.mtntools.com/cat/mt/webolette/webolette.html

I'm not dissing the equalette, I have a buddy that uses it for TR anchors. I just think my way is easier (which is probably pretty common for climbers lol)
Tommey-James · · Boulder,Colorado · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 10

One of my climbing partners tried to use this system. He really never got super proficient at setting it up. That being said this system really was a pain in the ass. While it is good in select cases in general I find that it is messy and slightly diffcult to completly equalize the sysyem. But if it works for you that is cool and I think it is totally safe to climb on.

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
Nick Mardirosian wrote: Weird... Googling "rabbit runner" brings up a ton of hits.
Good stuff.

I had searched MP, assuming I'd get a bunch of non-climbing hits if I googled it. Ha!
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

I've never understood set-ups like this. Various experiments have shown that the typical "equalized" cordelette ends up transferring about half the load to one of the pieces. This configuration does the same by design. There is a small, I think unimportant, possible advantage in that an off-vertical load might, in some cases, be distributed to two pieces rather than one, but on the other hand there is the inevitable loss of versatility that comes from the positioning of the knots.

For equalizing two pieces, maybe. Once past that, I don't get it.

Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 273
Nick Mardirosian wrote:I don't see how that's more simple than just using a rabbit runner.
If you tie a masterpoint in the rabbit runner it has zero equalization as soon as the direction of pull slightly changes. That's why the entire equalette and pages upon pages of discussion has been done.

With no distinct answer.

Except "YER GUNNA DIE!!!"
Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230
rgold wrote:Once past that, I don't get it.
If you set it up right and you're lucky, the equalette allows your anchor to be equalized both for belaying your second up to the belay and for continuing on with the next pitch without any adjustment to the anchor. Doesn't always work that way, but that's another benefit of the equalette.

I'm considering this exclusively in a multi-pitch context.
Cory Harelson · · Boise, ID · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 2,410
rgold wrote:I've never understood set-ups like this. Various experiments have shown that the typical "equalized" cordelette ends up transferring about half the load to one of the pieces. This configuration does the same by design. There is a small, I think unimportant, possible advantage in that an off-vertical load might, in some cases, be distributed to two pieces rather than one, but on the other hand there is the inevitable loss of versatility that comes from the positioning of the knots. For equalizing two pieces, maybe. Once past that, I don't get it.
If I'm going to take a cordallete for anchors, I think a regular cordallete and an equallete are both safe enough, but once you get good with the equallete it's slightly faster to set up and take down (at least for me). Leaving the limiter knots in the cord, all you need to do at each anchor is tie 3 cloves (takes seconds). When taking it down the cloves untie themselves once unclipped. There is no big messy knot to tie/untie at every anchor.
Yarp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 0
Matt N wrote:But how does it stack up to the Dorkalette
"Impaled by a unicorn"

...now that's some funny shit!
Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268
Cory wrote: once you get good with the equallete it's slightly faster to set up and take down (at least for me). Leaving the limiter knots in the cord, all you need to do at each anchor is tie 3 cloves (takes seconds). When taking it down the cloves untie themselves once unclipped. There is no big messy knot to tie/untie at every anchor.
+1 I also find it to be faster. If I know I am going to swing every pitch I'll anchor with the rope.
Caleb Padgett · · Rockville, utah · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 85

Is it possible to have a truly equalized 3 point anchor with an equalette?

Correct me if my logic is flawed but it seems to me that there are two load strands leaving the power point of an equalette, each supporting 50% of the load. If you introduce a third piece into the anchor you clove two pieces to one shared leg and the last piece is on its own leg. 50% of the force goes to the two pieces at 25% each and the last piece holds 50% of the load.

This may be beneficial in the instances where you have one bomber piece and two shaky pieces but when you have 3 good pieces and you want your load equal this seems inferior and unable by design to achieve equalization. (and if my assumptions are correct I find the name quite ironic.)

It seems like you can only make it truly equalized if your anchor has two or 4 pieces.

Tying your cord into an equalette drastically reduces your options and what you can use it for. If your anchor pieces are spaced out it is nice to untie your cord from a loop and tied bights into each end. You get more usable length from the cord this way. Not to mention the hundred other uses of a cordalette, most of which require it to be in a clean loop with no knots.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

It is very easy to equalize four pieces with an equalette. If the direction of loading changes you will still have two pieces equalized.

There are four load strands. Not two.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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