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First pro after the anchor


Original Post
A Johnson · · Paso Robles · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 125

When leaving the anchor after one or more pitches, do I want to first clip one of my anchor pieces? or the shelf to avoid a factor 2 fall. Does it matter which? Thanks for the help.

Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 849
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Trevor. wrote: Will Gadd on Anchor Clipping
One thing that I'd add which I didn't see in this great read is I always make sure my first piece off the belay is a cam.
Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

I wouldn't clip the shelf.

You can clip one piece of the anchor. You can also have the belayer unclip it once you have a some gear in.

Best case is to get gear in soon. Its debatable if clipping part of the anchor will actually help you in the real world, but it is common practice.

A Johnson · · Paso Robles · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 125

Great article link. So based on what Gadd says, how close is too close to put in the first piece after the anchor? It seems like he would advise being a certain distance away in order to not just re-create the same nearly 2 factor out of the anchor system.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
Trevor. wrote: Will Gadd on Anchor Clipping
Wow. That is literally the best thing I've read on this subject to date. +1
steverett · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 105

Part 2, which goes more into the pros (1st one seemed mostly cons):

willgadd.com/anchor-clippin…

steverett · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 105

As mentioned in the comments on the first Will Gadd post: if feasible, the belayer can lengthen their attachment to the anchor to reduce FF and likelihood of being pulled into the anchor, if the 1st piece is clipped. Obviously very situational (slab climbing probably being the easiest scenario to do this).

A Johnson · · Paso Robles · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 125

Ok, I just read through part two and I'm glad that this is actually as confusing to the author as it is to me. Obviously the best thing to do is not fall - but let's disregard that part. So the way I read it, the top piece should be clipped IF the belayer can be anchored to prevent a violent launch, and/or the belayer should lower themselves several meters below the anchor to add more rope to the system. That is reasonable.
Second question now, when clipping the top piece of the anchor (lets say they are all cams), should I clip the rope into the carabiner that's involved in the anchor or use an alpine draw on the webbing built into the cam?

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,085
Scott McMahon wrote: One thing that I'd add which I didn't see in this great read is I always make sure my first piece off the belay is a cam.
this is generally a good rule of thumb, although a keyed in stopper (or hex or whatever) that can handle multi-direction pulling is ok also. my wife used to get so mad if my first piece wasn't a cam until i demonstrated this. sometimes you can't get a good cam as your first piece due to the crack shape.

sometimes you can't get a multi-directional piece of any type for a bit, so you just have to get what you can and have your belayer position themselves in the best way possible. then, asap get some good gear in.

another, and better option if it looks like the general situation is not going well is to position the belayer well below the anchor and use the anchor as the first piece. (looks like steverett beat me to it).
Kaleb H · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 5
Trevor. wrote: Will Gadd on Anchor Clipping
Looks like a lot of good comments already. I really enjoy the AAI climbing blog and they had post on this topic as well. First Piece In a Multi Pitch Setting
steverett · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 105
A Johnson wrote:Second question now, when clipping the top piece of the anchor (lets say they are all cams), should I clip the rope into the carabiner that's involved in the anchor or use an alpine draw on the webbing built into the cam?
I would always use a draw or at least a second biner. With a shared biner, in a fall, you'll have the climbing rope moving quickly alongside or on top of a non-moving cordalette or sling. Could severely abrade your anchor.

slim wrote:another, and better option if it looks like the general situation is not going well is to position the belayer well below the anchor and use the anchor as the first piece. (looks like steverett beat me to it).
Keep in mind the second will have to climb up to the anchor with a bit of slack, so if your belay is right above a roof or ledge or otherwise dicey spot, you might not want to do that (assuming they tied to the anchor with the rope). If you have extra rope, you could have the rope go Second->Anchor(through locker)->Second(clove on locker)->up to leader.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

Another option that hasn't been mentioned is to have the leader of the prior pitch climb past the belay to get in a solid piece of gear then lower back to the belay. No FF2 unless the jesus piece fails. Obviously this isn't something you always want to do for every belay but if it seems like the climbing off the belay is hard or difficult to protect then it's a good option.

A Johnson · · Paso Robles · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 125

Eli, that is a great suggestion too. Thanks to everyone for the metered responses and links to some insightful articles. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
eli poss wrote: Another option that hasn't been mentioned is to have the leader of the prior pitch climb past the belay to get in a solid piece of gear then lower back to the belay. No FF2 unless the jesus piece fails. Obviously this isn't something you always want to do for every belay but if it seems like the climbing off the belay is hard or difficult to protect then it's a good option.

This is something I've always wondered about, but not something I've been able to find a way that actually works: is there a way of actually clipping the current second/future leader's rope when you do this?  Every scenario I can envision would lead to Z-clipping and prevent you from belaying the second up, but maybe I'm just not picturing it correctly.  If you intentionally back-clip that piece and then clove directly to the anchor, could you pull the rope through the new Jesus piece and still belay off the anchor?  The scenario where I'm picturing this is a multipitch slab scenario with bolts for pro and tricky moves off of the deck for the second pitch.

Dan Africk · · Brooklyn, New York · Joined May 2014 · Points: 285

Will Gadd makes some interesting points, but I think it's generally a good idea to clip either the strongest / highest piece of the anchor, or if the belayer is far enough below the anchor, then clip the master point or shelf. Usually I use a quickdraw, but sometimes just a single locker. Clipping the piece or the biner attached to the piece is fine. 

I think one of the main benefits is keeping the belay device, and the belayer, in the correct orientation. If the leader falls directly on the belayer, even if they are snugly attached to the anchor (as they should be), they will now be in an unnatural position to to brake the rope- the belayer will have to pull the brake end of the rope upwards, which is counter-intuitive. In addition, the belayer will likely be in an very awkward position, with the climber and anchor pulling them in opposite directions.

Usually I'll tell the belayer to unclip the quickdraw once I have two solid pieces of pro in.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,085
Ted Pinson wrote:

This is something I've always wondered about, but not something I've been able to find a way that actually works: is there a way of actually clipping the current second/future leader's rope when you do this?  Every scenario I can envision would lead to Z-clipping and prevent you from belaying the second up, but maybe I'm just not picturing it correctly.  If you intentionally back-clip that piece and then clove directly to the anchor, could you pull the rope through the new Jesus piece and still belay off the anchor?  The scenario where I'm picturing this is a multipitch slab scenario with bolts for pro and tricky moves off of the deck for the second pitch.

ted, when you climb above your anchor to set your partner's first piece, you basically 'backclip' your rope.  then, as you come down to the anchor and belay your partner up they will be clipped correctly through the first piece.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
Ted Pinson wrote:

This is something I've always wondered about, but not something I've been able to find a way that actually works: is there a way of actually clipping the current second/future leader's rope when you do this?  Every scenario I can envision would lead to Z-clipping and prevent you from belaying the second up, but maybe I'm just not picturing it correctly.  If you intentionally back-clip that piece and then clove directly to the anchor, could you pull the rope through the new Jesus piece and still belay off the anchor?  The scenario where I'm picturing this is a multipitch slab scenario with bolts for pro and tricky moves off of the deck for the second pitch.

I've only actually used this when leading in blocks. You are essentially belaying the second up through a redirect, although if you really wanted to you could probably make it work for guide mode belaying. If you're swinging leads it's a little bit more complicated. When the second gets to they belay they exchange gear and start off on the second pitch. When they get to the jesus piece they will probably be backclipped but they can just fix it when they get there. The problem with a backclip where the rope gets unclipped only happens when you take a lead fall so it still does it's job of protecting against a FF2. I guess if it makes you really squirmy then you can use a locker or you can just switch ends of the rope. 

Obviously it's not perfect but it's a whole lot better than taking a factor 2. 

Dan Africk · · Brooklyn, New York · Joined May 2014 · Points: 285

Belaying with a single piece as a redirect is pretty unsafe imo. Whenever you have a redirect which is  above the anchor or significantly off to the side, whether that redirect is used for belaying, top roping, etc, the redirect basically needs to be it's own anchor. It's going to bear the full force of a fall, and if it blows, the consequences for the climber and belayer and 'primary' anchor can all be very serious.

I think this is a very common and dangerous mistake many climbers make. People will say "it's only a redirect" and think it's okay just to put one piece in. We should stop thinking of it as simply a redirect and start thinking of it as another anchor, because that's what it is.

Marty C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 70

Ted - if you do this technique (i.e. place a piece high above the belay anchor), then the leader should back clip his rope to the high piece (it will be correct when the second eventually leads the next pitch).

When I use this technique, I don't belay off the masterpoint; I belay off my harness using the high piece as a re-direct (similar to a regular top rope belay).

You shouldn't be concerned with this high piece holding a second's top rope fall; if it can't hold such a low force fall, then it certainly is not going to serve as a "jesus piece" on the next pitch catching a leader fall. 

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,085
Dan Africk wrote:

Belaying with a single piece as a redirect is pretty unsafe imo. Whenever you have a redirect which is  above the anchor or significantly off to the side, whether that redirect is used for belaying, top roping, etc, the redirect basically needs to be it's own anchor. It's going to bear the full force of a fall, and if it blows, the consequences for the climber and belayer and 'primary' anchor can all be very serious.

I think this is a very common and dangerous mistake many climbers make. People will say "it's only a redirect" and think it's okay just to put one piece in. We should stop thinking of it as simply a redirect and start thinking of it as another anchor, because that's what it is.

hmmm, not really any different than when leading the next pitch...  by your reasoning it seems like you would basically need to place an anchor at each piece.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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