Anchor building with the rope


Original Post
JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is my first full year leading trad. I mostly climb in the Gunks and have been using cordalette for my gear anchors or a dyneema quad when there are bolts. I had been wanting to develop proficiency in using the rope to build anchors and have become pretty comfortable. However, I am not entirely comfortable with the tether/PAS aspect.

Essentially, I am building a three piece anchor where I clove the first piece, clip the second, and clove the third. Pull down the legs between pieces 1-2 and 2-3 to a master point. The rope before piece 1 runs to my tie in points and the rope post- piece 3 runs to the climber.

What I'd like to do is have a tether adjustable at my harness so I can comfortably and easily belay from the cliff edge for easy communication with my Second. Up until now, I've clipped a locker to either a piece or master point and cloved a locker at my harness. However something just doesn't feel entiely safe to me and sometimes I add another piece close to the cliff edge and clip that with my PAS.

Am I just being a silly paranoid gumby? Any thoughts/suggestions or resources?

Thanks!

Jeremy

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

Your tie-in is your tether. Adjust the clove hitch closest to you to be the right length, then build your anchor. Done.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

Its fine to clove into the masterpoint once it's built. Another option, if it's a big ledge and you want to be a distance from the anchor, is to redirect your tie in through a biner on the master point and clove it to your belay loop at the desired length. That way, you don't have to estimate the distance and amount of slack to leave in your clove. Another option if you know you're going to be belaying close to the anchor would be rgold's set with an alpine butterfly and a few cloves. A little bit of searching should turn up the photo since BB isn't here to dig it up for you anymore...

Adam Fleming · · Moab, Utah · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 303
John Wilder wrote:Your tie-in is your tether. Adjust the clove hitch closest to you to be the right length, then build your anchor. Done.
John's got it. You have to adjust your tether length before you build you're anchor. Once you're belaying your second, you're stuck with whatever length you've established. Make sure you get nice an comfy before giving that "belay on" command. It's one of the disadvantages of using the rope, but it's one many people are fine with.
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
Adam Fleming wrote: John's got it. You have to adjust your tether length before you build you're anchor. Once you're belaying your second, you're stuck with whatever length you've established. Make sure you get nice an comfy before giving that "belay on" command. It's one of the disadvantages of using the rope, but it's one many people are fine with.
Oh, you can still totally adjust the length, its just a bit more complicated (knots, carabiners, loops, can all be used to shorten the rope). Better to go a bit long than short if you're using the 'masterpoint' method as described by the OP.
JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
John Wilder wrote:Your tie-in is your tether. Adjust the clove hitch closest to you to be the right length, then build your anchor. Done.
Yeah, I've done it that way a couple times. The reason I don't like it is as mentioned in other responses, once the length is set there's no more options. Two wkends ago I lead High E and there's a perfect horizontal crack about 25' from the cliffs edge. i needed to be able to see my second and It would have been a royal pain in the ass to try and get that just right, going back and up to the anchor then down to test multiple times. I figured there was a different way I hadn't been schooled to yet, but from the initial responses maybe I've already got
My options and just need to deal.

Thanks for your time.
Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 8

If you run the rope from your tie in through the master point, you can just walk back and clove the rope on the climber's side of the master point to a locker on your belay loop when you are at the cliff edge...no back and forth. I am pretty sure this is what John Wilder was saying above.

JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
Xam wrote:If you run the rope from your tie in through the master point, you can just walk back and clove the rope on the climber's side of the master point to a locker on your belay loop when you are at the cliff edge...no back and forth. I am pretty sure this is what John Wilder was saying above.
Aha! So I'd leave plenty of slack between my tie-in and first clove, then the rope coming from the third clove to the climber could make a pit stop via a clove hitch to my belay loop? That'd make sense but then then where do I belay from?

What about this: same situation described above, but coming from the last clov, tie an 8 on bite to hang my ATC/grigri, then run it a bit further to a clove on my harness?

This would form a big loop starting with my tie in, cloved first piece, legs of piece 2 ties in a MP, cloved third piece, figure 8 with belay device, cloved at my harness, down to climber. But for I do that, what even tie a master point???
Owen Witesman · · Springville, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 53

The top rope anchor systems in Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual might be instructive for you. Even though you aren't setting a top rope, the rope anchor and instructor tether systems in the book are similar to what you're trying to accomplish.

On a more philosophical note, once you've used your rope as your anchor, you're pretty much f-ed if anything goes wrong and you need to not be part of the anchor. Just something to consider.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0
Owen Witesman wrote: On a more philosophical note, once you've used your rope as your anchor, you're pretty much f-ed if anything goes wrong and you need to not be part of the anchor. Just something to consider.
I'm not sure that is true. Just escape the system using standard methods. Only takes a minute or two.
David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0

Jeremy,
just incase you mis-read some of the above, the general idea is that if you can't reach the piece, clove on a locker on your belay loop, rather than clovering on the piece. This means that you will be able to adjust from the stance.

It you don't want to belay off your harness, then tie a butterfly in the rope 18inch from your harness and put the cloved locker on that, and hang the belay device from the butterfly too. See people.bath.ac.uk/dac33/hig... for photos.

As a general point, if the anchor is 25ft away and made of three pieces, you don't want to be running the rope back and forth from the anchor 3 times, so bring the pieces together with a cordelette or slings first, then run the lead line from the powerpoint. But I guess you knew that.

I hope that helps.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55
David Coley wrote:Jeremy, just incase you mis-read some of the above, the general idea is that if you can't reach the piece, clove on a locker on your belay loop, rather than clovering on the piece. This means that you will be able to adjust from the stance. It you don't want to belay off your harness, then tie a butterfly in the rope 18inch from your harness and put the cloved locker on that, and hang the belay device from the butterfly too. See people.bath.ac.uk/dac33/hig... for photos. As a general point, if the anchor is 25ft away and made of three pieces, you don't want to be running the rope back and forth from the anchor 3 times, so bring the pieces together with a cordelette or slings first, then run the lead line from the powerpoint. But I guess you knew that. I hope that helps.
That's almost too easy, bearbreeder wouldn't approve ;)
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
JRZane wrote: Yeah, I've done it that way a couple times. The reason I don't like it is as mentioned in other responses, once the length is set there's no more options. Two wkends ago I lead High E and there's a perfect horizontal crack about 25' from the cliffs edge. i needed to be able to see my second and It would have been a royal pain in the ass to try and get that just right, going back and up to the anchor then down to test multiple times. I figured there was a different way I hadn't been schooled to yet, but from the initial responses maybe I've already got My options and just need to deal. Thanks for your time.
In that situation, I'd use a sling to make a three point anchor with a master point, clip my grigri to the top shelf, pull up rope and put my partner on belay, clip my rope to the master point, walk back to wherever i needed to stand, then clove into my belay loop on the other side of the rope.

The rope isn't always the answer- sometimes it really is better to use a sling/cord.
Owen Witesman · · Springville, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 53
David Coley wrote: I'm not sure that is true. Just escape the system using standard methods. Only takes a minute or two.
Even many relatively experienced climbers have no idea how to escape a weighted rope anchor. Certainly not in just a couple of minutes. Others do, of course, but I would wager it isn't the norm. The debate on the "best" way to build an anchor goes round and round, but I think it's important for newer climbers like this poster to be encouraged to at least think about the implications of both choices. As soon as you make yourself part of the anchor, any future scenario that differs from your original plan becomes harder. Not impossible, but harder. Say your second gets up and decides he doesn't want to lead the next pitch like you were planning. Now you're building an entirely new anchor, which needs to be underneath the lines you have weighted. Not a huge deal with two bolts, but kind of a cluster if you've got a complicated trad anchor going on. With a cord or sling anchor, it just isn't an issue.

For all the times that everything goes exactly the way you planned, using the rope as the anchor may have some benefits to setting up a new cord anchor, especially for bolted anchors, although maybe not if you have a pre-tied quad. For trad anchors, I'm a skeptic. For all the times things don't go the way you expected, the rope anchor tends to become a liability. What is the probability of case 1 times the time saved vs the probability of case 2 times the time lost? Who knows?

It's certainly good to have both set of tools in your kit. But like the use of plaquettes for belaying from above by climbers who don't know how to release them safely, there can be hidden dangers lurking that not everyone has considered.
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
Owen Witesman wrote: Say your second gets up and decides he doesn't want to lead the next pitch like you were planning. Now you're building an entirely new anchor, which needs to be underneath the lines you have weighted. Not a huge deal with two bolts, but kind of a cluster if you've got a complicated trad anchor going on. With a cord or sling anchor, it just isn't an issue.
Having done this exact thing dozens of times over the year, I would say there is little to no advantage in this scenario of using a cord over the rope.

Owen Witesman wrote: For all the times that everything goes exactly the way you planned, using the rope as the anchor may have some benefits to setting up a new cord anchor, especially for bolted anchors, although maybe not if you have a pre-tied quad.
The quad thing is, imho, vastly over-rated. A super-8 on bolts is about as fast and bomber as it gets.

Owen Witesman wrote:For trad anchors, I'm a skeptic. For all the times things don't go the way you expected, the rope anchor tends to become a liability. What is the probability of case 1 times the time saved vs the probability of case 2 times the time lost? Who knows? It's certainly good to have both set of tools in your kit. But like the use of plaquettes for belaying from above by climbers who don't know how to release them safely, there can be hidden dangers lurking that not everyone has considered.
I've done my share of climbing, first ascents, and multi-pitch, and I've never had to escape an anchor. I've always kept it in mind when building anchors, so I have a plan in mind if necessary, but its never happened. So, probability of needing to escaping anchor is pretty low in most cases.

There are a handful of scenarios where a rope anchor isn't ideal- and for those scenarios, i do something else. YMMV- but yes, understanding the risks and advantages of a given anchor setup is really important.
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Owen Witesman wrote: Even many relatively experienced climbers have no idea how to escape a weighted rope anchor. Certainly not in just a couple of minutes. Others do, of course, but I would wager it isn't the norm. The debate on the "best" way to build an anchor goes round and round, but I think it's important for newer climbers like this poster to be encouraged to at least think about the implications of both choices. As soon as you make yourself part of the anchor, any future scenario that differs from your original plan becomes harder. Not impossible, but harder... For trad anchors, I'm a skeptic. For all the times things don't go the way you expected, the rope anchor tends to become a liability.
Using a rope doesn't necessarily make the leader part of the anchor. The leader can either belay directly off a loop tied in the rope just above their harness, or belay off the harness and redirect through that loop. In both cases, it's nearly functionally equivalent to using a cordelette-type / master point anchor -- the rope becomes the "cordelette".

Owen Witesman wrote: Say your second gets up and decides he doesn't want to lead the next pitch like you were planning. Now you're building an entirely new anchor, which needs to be underneath the lines you have weighted. Not a huge deal with two bolts, but kind of a cluster if you've got a complicated trad anchor going on.
A new anchor isn't required. You can swap ends.
Owen Witesman · · Springville, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 53
John Wilder wrote: Having done this exact thing dozens of times over the year, I would say there is little to no advantage in this scenario of using a cord over the rope. The quad thing is, imho, vastly over-rated. A super-8 on bolts is about as fast and bomber as it gets. I've done my share of climbing, first ascents, and multi-pitch, and I've never had to escape an anchor. I've always kept it in mind when building anchors, so I have a plan in mind if necessary, but its never happened. So, probability of needing to escaping anchor is pretty low in most cases. There are a handful of scenarios where a rope anchor isn't ideal- and for those scenarios, i do something else. YMMV- but yes, understanding the risks and advantages of a given anchor setup is really important.
I wonder whether we're imagining the same scenarios. Anyway, I've personally been surprised how much hassle lurks in using the rope, which seems like it should be such a clean solution. I think it's a bit deceptive.
Owen Witesman · · Springville, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 53
Kent Richards wrote: Using a rope doesn't necessarily make the leader part of the anchor. The leader can either belay directly off a loop tied in the rope just above their harness, or belay off the harness and redirect through that loop. In both cases, it's nearly functionally equivalent to using a cordelette-type / master point anchor -- the rope becomes the "cordelette". A new anchor isn't required.
The point is that the rope you are bringing up is less useful for you at the anchor since you have the anchor between you and that slack. You only have whatever tether you gave yourself initially, usually just a couple of feet or so. When you don't use the rope for the anchor, you have instant access to any rope you bring up for adjusting your stance or whatever you need to do with it.

Kent Richards wrote:You can swap ends.
Yet another additional step with lurking dangers that is unnecessary when you just use a cordelette.

I hope the OP enjoys learning to set anchors with the rope.
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Owen Witesman wrote: Yet another additional step with lurking dangers that is unnecessary when you just use a cordelette.
My point is that the particular drawback you mentioned isn't actually a drawback. As you noted, there are pros and cons to each, and the solution needs to fit the situation.

I agree that new climbers should know and weigh the drawbacks of either option. But the OP is asking for better ways to solve the problem, and "just use a cordelette" isn't any better of an answer than "just use the rope".

The OP was asking about a particular scenario: extending the anchor to belay closer to the edge. I've encountered that situation plenty of times on trad routes, usually at the top of the route when backing off the next pitch isn't even an issue. In some cases, there wasn't any pro period and slinging a large boulder with the rope was the best option.
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
Owen Witesman wrote: Yet another additional step with lurking dangers that is unnecessary when you just use a cordelette.
You switch ends of the rope no matter what anchoring system you're using- it's the most efficient way of doing it most of the time.
RickG Gutz · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 20

Here's another option. Seems a bit busy, but solid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAQRIbQQgs4

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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