Climbing Anchors - By John Long and Bob Gaines. Outdated?


Original Post
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

I've been reading the latest 2013 edition book, Climbing Anchors, to see if there is any gaps in my knowledge of climbing to fill. I've so far gained a few useful minor bits of information which is reassuring that I don't necessarily have large gaps in my knowledge... What I've noticed is that the rock protection information is wildly outdated. Some of it reads like a history lesson, some of it is no longer relevant, and some of it is no longer true. I'd guess a lot of this text has not been updated since the early 1980's. I'm given the impression that the only thing updated in this last revision was the photographs. This has me wondering how accurate to todays standards and understanding of climbing systems and gear this book still is. 

For example, in the book they endorse the sliding X as a great way to have dynamic equalization between two pieces. Yet I know that here on mountainproject that this is hotly contested. If I remember correctly, the dispute is that the clutch effect from the the twisted strand under load does not equalize anywhere near as well as was previously thought. If this is the case, how accurate and useful is the rest of the information in this book if we are recommending this book to people new to climbing to learn from? 


FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

2013 is pretty recent. I doubt that anything in a book by those two is "wrong." Part of gaining experience is seeing different ways things are done and being able to decide what is best for you and your situation.

And I hope this thread doesn't turn into a sliding-X debate. But it might!

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

Frank, If something is outdated enough, it could no longer be the recommended way of doing something such that it is wrong. Much like having the friction hitch backup for rappel off of your leg loop which is now outdated. People new to the sport reading this don't yet have the experience to know what to decide what is right for them, that's why they bought an educational book to tell them this. Yes, there are many ways of doing things, but if a large portion of the text on rock protection is not current and accurate, how can a relatively knowledgeable climber be sure that the sections on systems is up to date and accurate? 

I hope it doesn't turn into a sliding X debate. I only used it as an example of information in the book and knowledge here on MP going contrary to each other.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Be careful with hard and fast rules. The autoblock on the leg loop works fine.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Long places too much faith in dynamic "equalization ," but otherwise it's a good book with nice primers on  placing pro and fundamental principles.  Funny thing, the data about equalization was available before he published the 2013 book and even shared with him (think it was Rich?), but unfortunately he chose to ignore it, so by your definition it was outdated when it was published.

Also, sliding Xs are fine in the right situation.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,497

The book is not outdated.  And keep in mind that MP posts are often made by good people with infinitely less experience than those two.

Much much much more care is needed with recommending variants one reads about here than with recommending that book.

Equalette: It is the one topic of that book I explicitly do not recommend, especially the part implying that beginners not knowing how to judge good gear might be able to get by due to the superior dynamic equalization of the equalette.

cdec · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 460
FrankPS wrote:

Be careful with hard and fast rules. The autoblock on the leg loop works fine.

Except when the ATC tends the prussic or the buckle gets released.

Dave Kos · · Temecula, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 55

The book is not perfect, as there will never be a definition of perfect for this topic. 

All that matters is that if you follow the principles and techniques in the book, your anchors will not fail when you need them.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
FrankPS wrote:

Be careful with hard and fast rules. The autoblock on the leg loop works fine.

Hard and fast rules? My understanding is that the AMGA no longer recommends this method. If the person rappelling becomes unconcious they can potentially invert, and if the friction hitch is off of the leg loop will cause it to bump into the rappel device and be defeated. Hence friction hitch off of the belay loop doesn't cause this problem when the rappel device is extended. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
cdec wrote:

Except when the ATC tends the prussic or the buckle gets released.

Yes, you have to make sure your autoblock is not too long  As with many things in climbing, it must be done properly!

Anyway, these are digressions from my original point - there's nothing wrong with the book and you have to have the judgement to apply the techniques in the book.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Bill Lawry wrote:

The book is not outdated.  And keep in mind that MP posts are often made by good people with infinitely less experience than those two.

Much much much more care is needed with recommending variants one reads about here than with recommending that book.

Equalette: It is the one topic of that book I explicitly do not recommend, especially the part implying that beginners not knowing how to judge good gear might be able to get by due to the superior dynamic equalization of the equalette.

Bill, Thank you for posting this. I guess it just surprised me that the information about rock protection is so outdated and no longer accurate that it had me wondering how much the other parts of the book were like this. 

cdec · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 460
FrankPS wrote:

  As with many things in climbing, it must be done properly!

As in use an extension and move the friction hitch to the, full strength, belay loop off the, less than full strength and possibly releasable, leg loop.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

The basic ideas put forth in the book are still valid. Newer gear and options may make some of the placements different, but everything is still correct. The sliding x that you mention, while not ideal for every situation is EXTREMELY strong, so there is no need to avoid it completely. The AMGA guides are all about the quad anchor now, but it has its deficiencies too. Just read up and practice all of the options so that whatever the situation you're in you're able to build a good anchor. 

M. Morley · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 6,565
Bill Lawry wrote:

...keep in mind that MP posts are often made by good people with infinitely less experience than those two.

Bingo!

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
cdec wrote:

Except when the ATC tends the prussic or the buckle gets released.

If it can reach the ATC you've tied it wrong. If your harness buckles spontaneously release get a different harness immediately. 

Scott Baird · · Hagerstown, MD · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115
anotherclimber wrote:

Bill, Thank you for posting this. I guess it just surprised me that the information about rock protection is so outdated and no longer accurate that it had me wondering how much the other parts of the book were like this. 

Give some examples of the outdated rock protection information. I haven't read the book, I'm curious to see what you're referencing.

Russ Walling · · www.FishProducts.com · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,175

#MuchHandWringing

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350
Bill Lawry wrote:

And keep in mind that MP posts are often made by good people with infinitely less experience than those two.

Experience with climbing does not equate to understanding of the physics of an anchor. 

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285

'Outdated' as opposed to what? Winging it? Basic Rockcraft? Freedom of the Hills? Though Basic / Advanced Rockcraft and FoH is exactly how the world learned to climb once upon a time and if they were still all you had you'd be just fine.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
kevin deweese wrote:

Experience with climbing does not equate to understanding of the physics of an anchor. 

I don't think he was referring to solely their climbing experience. 

PosiDave · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 65
cdec wrote:

As in use an extension and move the friction hitch to the, full strength, belay loop off the, less than full strength and possibly releasable, leg loop.

1. auto block isn't requiring full strength to act as a brake.

2. If you are worried your leg loop will come undone, You should probably look at the identical buckle (on some harnesses) that hold your waist in the harness.

3. Just because something is "outdated" doesn't mean it isn't effective and safe. apparently they also say that the Grigri is standard for guiding nowadays. stupid mistakes are made and organizations use the "fail safe" models which require less skill and less overall knowledge to operate (more $$$ on newbies and expensive gear). Sprat/Irata have done the same things with industrial work and now with all this "safe" technology there are more accidents and near misses on record.

Had people telling me how the Grigri+ is safer than a standard Reverso in guide mode and my techniques were "unsafe". They proceeded to embark on a moderate multi pitch and had a ledge fall on a easily protected spot requiring them to self rescue and bail (which they didn't have the knowledge of and required my "outdated" assistance to lend them a rope and retrieve gear. don't see how you trust a buckle on a harness and not the identical buckle on a leg loop. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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